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Restore, great Chief, thy country's light !
And brighter suns shall gild the year. * The most respectable of the Roman Muses have scarcely any thing more elegant, I will add at the same time, that they have scarcely any thing bolder on any similar occasion. But the Hebrews, upon a subject more sublime indeed in itself, and illustrating it by an idea which was more habitual to them, more daringly exalt their strains, and give a loose rein to the spirit of poetry. They display, for instance, not the image of the Spring, of Aurora, of the dreary Night, but the Sun and Stars, as rising with increased splendour in a new creation, or again involved in chaos and primeval darkness. Does the sacred bard promise to his people a renewal of the divine favour, and a recommencement of universal prosperity ? In what magnificent colours does he depict it! such indeed as no translation can illustrate, but such as none can obscure : « The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, t.
And the light of the sun shall be sevenfold. I But even this is not sufficient: “ No longer shalt thou have the sun for thy light by day; Nor by night shall the brightness of the moon enlighten thee : For JEHOVAH shall be to thee an everlasting light, And thy God shall be thy glory. Thy sun shall no more decline, Neither shall thy moon wane; For JEHOVAH shall be thine everlasting light;
And the days of thy mourning shall cease.” In another place he has admirably diversified the same sentiment:
• Hor. Carm. iv. 5.
— " another morning
Ris'n on midnoon,” &c.-Par. Lost, v. 308.-S. H. Isa. xxx. 26. These and the following descriptions of the increased splendour of the sun and the stars, are not taken from natural objects, but from fable. The remarkable felicity of the people is compared with that golden age of which the prophets had acquired a knowledge from the Egyptians. Isaiah has expatiated very much upon this image, of which more in the Notes to the 9th Lecture.-M.
§ Isa. Ix. 19, 20.
“ And the moon shall be confounded, and the sun shall be
ashamed; For Jehovah God of Hosts shall reign On Mount Sion, and in Jerusalem;
And before his ancients shall he be glorified."* On the other hand, denouncing ruin against the proud king of Egypt: “ And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heavens,
And the stars thereof will I make dark; -
- vah.”+ These expressions are bold and daring; but the imagery is well known, the use of it is common, the signification' definite; they are therefore perspicuous, clear, and truly magnificent.
There are, moreover, other images from natural objects, which, although in some measure common to other nations as well as the Hebrews, are nevertheless, from the situation and nature of the country, much better known and more familiar to them. There is no metaphor more frequent in the sacred poems, than that by which sudden and great calamities are expressed under the figure of a deluge of waters. This metaphor seems to have been remarkably familiar to the Hebrews, as if directly taken from the nature and state of the country. The river Jordan was immediately before their eyes, which annually overflowed its banks; for the snows of Lebanon and the neighbouring mountains being melted in the beginning of the summer, the waters of the river were often suddenly augmented by the torrents which burst forth from them. The whole country of Palestine indeed was watered by very few perennial currents; but, being chiefly mountainous, was exposed to frequent floods, rushing violently along the valleys and narrow passages, after great tempests of rain, which periodically took place at certain seasons: and on this account Moses || himself commends to the Israelites the country which they were about
+ Ezek. xxxi. 7, 8. # Josh. iii. 15. ; 1 Chron. xii. 15. ; Ecclus. xxiv. 26. § See Sandy's Travels, B. iii. .
* Isa. xxiv, 23.
| Deut. viii. 7. xi. 10, U.
to invade, as being totally different from every thing they had experienced in Egypt, or in the Desert of Arabia. This image, therefore, though known to all poets, and adopted by most, may be accounted peculiarly familiar, local in a manner, to the Hebrews; and of consequence we cannot wonder at its frequent introduction into their compositions. The prophet seems to have depicted the face of nature exactly as it appeared to him, and to have adapted it to the figurative description of his own situation, when from the banks of Jordan, and the mountains at the head of that river, he pours forth the tempestuous violence of his sorrow with a force of language and an energy of expression which has been seldom equalled: “ Deep calleth unto deep, in the voice of thy cataracts;
All thy waves and thy billows have gone over me."* It may not be improper to remark in this place, that though this metaphor is so usual in all the other sacred writers, whenever an occasion presents itself of introducing it, the author of Job, in the whole of that poem, which from the nature of the subject presented excellent opportunities of employing it, has not more than twice,t and then but slightly, made the least allusion to it. Nature, indeed, presented a different aspect to the author, whoever he was, of that most noble poem, if, as many learned men conjecture, it was composed in some part of Arabia—for which, I confess, there is great appearance of argument from that famous similef in which he compares his friends with the perfidious brook; a comparison manifestly taken from the rocky parts of Arabia, and adorned by many images proper to that region.
Finally, there is a species of imagery, derived also from natural objects, altogether peculiar to the Hebrews. Among the mountains of Palestine, the most remarkable, and consequently the most celebrated in the sacred poetry, are Mount Lebanon and Mount Carmel : the one, remarkable as well for its height as for its age, magnitude, and the abundance of the cedars which adorned its summit, exhibiting a striking and substantial appearance of strength and majesty; the other, rich and fruitful, abounding with vines, olives, and delicious fruits, in a most flourishing state both by nature and cultivation, and displaying a delightful
• Psal. xcii. 8. + See Job xxii. 11. xxvii. 20. Job vi. 15—20.
appearance of fertility, beauty, and grace. The different form and aspect of these two mountains is most accurately defined by Solomon, when he compares the manly dignity with Lebanon,* and the beauty and delicacy of the female with Carmel. Each of them suggests a different general image, which the Hebrew poets adopt for different purposes, expressing that by a metaphor, which more timid writers would delineate by a direct comparison. Thus Lebanon is used by a very bold figure for the whole people of the Jews, or for the state of the church it for Jerusalem ;f for the temple of Jerusalem ;g for the king of Assyria || even, and for his army; for whatever, in a word, is remarkable, august, and sublime: and in the same manner, whatever possesses much fertility, wealth, or beauty, is called Carmel.** Thus too, by the fat rams, heifers, and bulls of Basan,tt by the wild beast of the reeds, it or lion of Jordan, are denoted the
* Cant. v. 15. vii. 5.
† Isa. xxxiii. 9. xxxv. 2. Isa. xxxvii. 24. ; Jer. xxii. 6. 23. Ś Zech. xi. 1. || Isa. x. 34.
Isa. xi. 13. See Ezek. xxxi. ** See as above, and Isa. x. 18.; Mic. vii. 14. ; Jer. iv. 26. tt Psal. xxii. 13. ; Ezek. xxxix. 18.; Amos iv. 1. # Psal. Ixviii. 31. Chaiah Kanch, “ The wild beast of the reeds," is a periphrasis for “the lion;" and that by no means obscure, if we bestow upon it a little attention. The lions make their dens very commonly among the reeds. Innumerable lions wander about among the reeds and copses on the borders of the rivers in Mesopotamia." Am. Mar. lib. xviii. c. 7. This is so familiar to the Arabs, that they have a particular name for the den or haunt of a lion, when it is formed among the reeds. Bochart. Hierog. Par. I. lib. iii. c. 2. The river Jordan was particularly infested with lions, which concealed themselves among the thick reeds upon the banks. Johan. Phocas, Descrip. Loc. Sanct. c. 23. See also, Maundrel's Travels, Jerome upon these words of Zechariah, xi. 3. “ The voice of the roaring of young lions, for the pride of Jordan is spoiled." “ With the river Jordan, (says he), which is the largest in Judea, and near which there are many lions, the Prophet associates the roaring of those animals, on account of the heat of the climate, the vicinity to the desert, the extent of that vast wilderness, the reeds and the deep sedge which grow about it.” Hence, in Jer. iv. 7, the lion is said to go forth Me-sobechou (from his thicket); and, xlix. 19. “to ascend from the overflowing of Jordan."--In this place, therefore, (Psal. Ixviii. 31.), the wild beast of the reeds, the herd of the strong, and the calves, are the lions, the bulls, and the beasts wantoning about, or, in plain terms, the fierce and insolent tyrants; of whom, by a continuation of the metaphor, the Propbet adds, “ each of them eagerly'' (for there is that force in the distributive in the singular number, and in the conjugation Hithpael) “ striking with their feet, and disturbing the silver, or perhaps desirable, rivers ; that is, destroying and laying waste the pleasant places of Judea. This very image is adopted by Ezekiel, xxxii. 2. and again xxxiv. 18, 19. in which places the verb raphas thrice occurs in that sense : see also Dan. vii. 19. But whether rutz be spoken of the motion of the river, as in the Latin eurrere, (Virg. Georg. i. 132.), so as to signify the river, is not altogether so plain.
insolent and cruel tyrants of the Gentiles. In this and other imagery of the same kind, though the sacred writers presume to attempt what would not be allowed in the Greek and Latin poets, yet they cannot be accused of any deficiency in perspicuity or elegance, especially if it be remembered that the objects which furnished them with this imagery were all familiar, or, if I may be allowed the expression, indigenous to the Hebrews.
In a word, we may generally remark upon this head, that all poetry, and particularly that of the Hebrews, deduces its principal ornaments or imagery from natural objects: and since these images are formed in the mind of each writer, and expressed conformably to what occurs to his senses, it cannot otherwise happen but that, through diversity of situation, some will be more familiar, some almost peculiar to
“ This word (retzi) seems in the Arabic to convey the idea of water. For there is a verb tuz, to afford plenty of drink ; or to contain stagnant water, as a fish-pond, or valley; and the noun rutz, a quantity of water lying in the bottom of a lake or cistern."-H.
A gentleman of great learning and genius has furnished me with another explication of this passage, which perhaps will attract the attention of the learned reader.
This learned man interprets the whole verse in this manner : Consume the wild beast of the reed; the multitude of those who are strong in the calves of the nations ; who excite themselves with fragments of silver : disperse the people who delight in war." The wild beast of the reed is the hippopotamus, which lives among the reeds of the Nile: Under this metaphor the people of Egypt is properly delineated, which of itself opens the way to the explication of the whole verse. For the Egyptians are indeed alluded to through the whole of the passage : they were remarkable for the worship of calves, and that of Isis and Apis in the form of an ox; and for their religious dances before these idols to the music of timbrels. The Chaldee runs thus : “ The assembly of the strong, who put their trust in the calf-idols of the nations."—“ Strong in the calves of the nations,” is a phrase analogous to that, Eph. vi. 10. “ Be strong in the Lord,” and is an Hebraism. The manner of dancing in the worship of the Egyptian idols is confirmed from Exod. xxxii. 6. 19. ; also both it and the use of the timbrel, Herod. lib. ii. The word won is totally different from DD7, which is also found in Prov. vi. 3. where the Vulgate renders it hasten thee, or better, excite thee, since it is in Hithpael. In the Chaldee it means to trample; in the Syriac to dance ; in the Arabic to spurn; whence in this place, “ excite or stimulate themselves to dancing."--" With fragments of silver," (so literally); that is, with the small pieces or laminæ of metal round the timbrel, which produce the jingling noise when the instrument is beaten. The timbrel was formerly a warlike instrument: “ The Queen calls forth the band with warlike timbrels," Virg. Whence Propertius also opposes the Egyptian timbrel to the Roman trumpet in the battle of Actium, (lib. iii. ix. 43.) If we consider it in this light, it will serve much to clear up what follows: “ Disperse the people who delight in war."
Thus we have not only a clear description of the Egyptians, but one that agrees admirably with the context : “ Princes, come out of Egypt," &c. - Author's Note.