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1052.-ISAIAH i. 14.
Your appointed feasts. The sabbath, though it recurred every seventh day, was much the greatest feast the Jews kept. On that day they could not lawfully dress any meat. They had recourse to a very curious method of obtaining hot victuals. They preserved heat in their pipkins by wrapping them up in baskets in hay, and putting their provisions, perhaps previously dressed, into them, by which means the heat was preserved. The poorer Jews, who had not houses of their own capacious enough to make entertainments in, upon their feast days, in the city of Rome, used to hire the grove which was anciently dedicated to Egeria, and meet there. They carried their provisions in these baskets of hay; and the Romans, not knowing the reason why they did so, derided them, and called this basket and hay, a Jew's household stuff. Juvenal has an allusion to this practice in the following passage:
Nunc sacri fontis nemus et delubra locantur
Sat. iii. 13.
Now the sacred shades and founts are hir'd
No. 1053.-1. 18. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.] Mr. Henry in his exposition of Levit. xvi. informs us, that the later Jews had a custom of tying one shread of scarlet cloth to the horns of the scape-goat, and another to the grie of the temVol. II
ple, or to the top of the rock where the goat was lost; and they concluded that if it turned white, as they say it usually did, the sins of Israel were forgiven; as it is written, Though your sins have been as scarlet, they shall be as wool. They add, that for forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans the scarlet cloth never changed colour at all; which is a fair confession
that having rejected the substance, the shadow stood '. them in no stead.
No. 1054.-i. 18. Sins ås scarlet.] This colour was produced from a worm or insect, which grew in a coccus or excrescence of a shrub of the ilex kind, (.Plin. Nat. Hist. xvi. 8.) like the cochineal worm in the opuntia of America. (Ulloa's Voyage, b. v. cap. 2. p. 342.) There is a shrub of this kind that grows in Provence and Languedoc, and produces the like insect, called the kermes oak, from kermez the Arabic word for this colour, whence our word crimson is derived.
Neque amissos colores
says the poet, applying the same image to a different purpose. To discharge these strong colours is impossible to human art or power: but to the grace and power of God all things, even much more difficult, are possible and easy.
LOWTH, in loc.
No. 1055._i. 4. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks.] This description of well established peace is very poetical. The Roman poets have employed the same image. Martial xiv. 34. Falx ex ense.
Pax me certa ducis placidos curvavit in usus :.
The prophet Joel hath reversed it, and applied it to war prevailing over peace. Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruning-hooks into spears. Joel iii. 10. and so likewise the Roman poets:
Dignus honos ; squalent abductis arva colonis, . .
Virg. Georg. i. 506.
So also Ovid Fast. i. 697. Lowth, in loc.
No. 1056.-*. 5. O house of facob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord.] “ In the evening when they (the Jews) proceeded to testify their joy for the effusion of water, the temple was so completely illuminated by means of lights placed fifty yards high, that it is said, there was not a street in Jerusalem which was not lighted by them. Many carried lighted torches in their hands. Deyling supposes that there is an allusion to this custom in the beautiful invitation given by believ: ing gentiles to the Jews, as above cited.” .
JAMIESON's Use of Sacred History, vol. i. p. 449.
No. 1057.--iii. 23. The fine linen.] This must refer to garments of the Lacedæmonian kind, which might be seen through. We are informed by ancient writers, that those worn by the Lacedæmonian maidens were so made as to be highly indecent, and not to answer a principal end of clothing. It is possible that some of the Jewish ladies might wear dresses of a similar fashion. Parkhurst (Heb. Lex. p. 123.) supposes that the prophet means vestments of the cobweb kind, which would not hinder the wearers from appearing almost naked: such as Menander calls diapaves Xotwvrov, a transparent yest, and mentions as the dress of a courtesan: and such as Varro styles vitreas vestes, . glassy 'vestments: and
Horace, from the Island of Ccös where the stuff was made, denominates Coan :
Cois tibi pæne videre est
Lib. i. sat. 2, 1. 101.
Through the Coan vest
This Coan stuff was probably a kind of very thin silk or gauze. Lady M. W. Montague describes part of her dress as being of fine white silk gauze, closed at the neck with a diamond button, but the shape and colour of the bosom was very well to be distinguished through it. Letter xxix.
No 1058.-ii. 26. And she being desolate shall sit on the ground.] Sitting on the ground was a posture that denoted mourning and deep distress. Lam. ii. 8. “We find Judæa on several coins of Vespasian and Titus in a posture that denotes sorrow and captivity,—sitting on the ground. I fancy the Romans might have an eye on the customs of the Jewish nation, as well as those of their own country, in the several marks of sorrow they have set on this figure. The Psalmist describes the Jews lamenting their captivity in the same pensive posture. By the waters of Babylon we sat down, and wept when we remembered thee, O Sion. But what is more remarkable, we find Judæa represented as a woman in sorrow sitting on the ground, in a passage of the prophet that foretells the very captivity recorded on this medal.” Addison on Medals, Dial. ii.
No. 1059.--v. 2. And planted it with the choicest vine.] And he planteth it with the vine of Sorek, Lowth. The vine of Sorek was known to the Israelites, being mentioned Gen. xlix. 11. There is something remark
able in the manner in which it is there spoken of: binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine. Chardin says, that at Casbin, a city in Persia, they turned their cattle into the vineyards after the vintage, to browse on the vines. He speaks also of vines in that country so large, that he could hardly compass the trunks of them with his arms. (Voyages, tom. iii. p. 12.) This shews that the ass might be securely bound to the vine; and without danger of damaging the tree by browsing on it. Lowry, in loc. :
No. 1060.-V. 2. And made a wine-press therein.] And he hewed out also a lake therein. LOWTH. By this expression we are to understand not the wine-press itself; but what the Romans called lacus the lake, the large open place, or vessel, which, by a conduit or spout, received the must from the wine-press. In very hot countries it was perhaps necessary, or at least very convenient, to have the lake underground, or in a cave hewn out of the side of a rock, for coolness, that the heat might not cause too great a fermentation, and sour the wine. The wine-press in Persia, Chardin says, are formed by making hollow places in the ground, lined with mason's work. Nonnus describes at large Bacchus hollowing the inside of the rock, and hewing out a place for the wine-press, or rather the lake.
He pierc'd the rock ; and with the sharpen'd tool
Lowry, in loc.
No. 1061.vi. 6. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar.] Hoc quoque