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No. 1068.xiii. 17. Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, who shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.] That is, they were not to be induced by large offers of gold and silver for ransom to spare the lives of those whom they have subdued in battle; their rage and cruelty will get the better of all such motives. We have many examples in the Iliad and the Æneid of the addresses of the vanquished to the pity and avarice of the vanquishers, to induce them to spare their lives.
Est domus alta: jacent penitus defossa talenta
High in my dome are silver talents roll’d,
No. 1069.xiii. 18. Their bows also shall dash their young men in pieces.] Both Herodotus (i. 61.) and Xenophon (Anab. iii.) mention that the Persians used large bows; and the latter says particularly, that their bows were three cubits long. (Anab. iv.) They were celebrated for their archers, Jer. xlix. 35. Probably their neighbours and allies the Medes dealt much in the same sort of arms. In Psalm xviii. 34. and Job xx. 24. mention is made of a bow of brass. If the Persian bows were of metal, we may easily conceive that with a metalline bow of three cubits length and proportionably strong the soldiers might dash and slay the young men, the weaker and unresisting part of the inhabitants, in the general carnage on taking the city.
Bp. LowTH, in loc. Vol. II.
No. 1070.-xvii. 6. An olive-tree.] The olive-tree, from the effect of its oil in relaxing and preventing, or mitigating pain, seems to have been from the beginning an emblem of the benignity of the divine nature; and particularly after the fall to have represented the goodness and placability of God through Christ, and the blessed influences of the holy spirit in mollifying and healing our disordered nature, and in destroying or expelling from it the poison of the old serpent, even as olive oil does that of the natural serpent or viper. Hence we see a peculiar propriety in the olive leaf or branch being chosen by divine providence as a sign to Noah of the abatement of the deluge, Gen. viii. 11. we may also account for olive branches being ordered as one of the materials of the booths at the feast of tabernacles, Neh. viii. 15. and whence they became the emblems of
peace to various and distant nations. See VIRĠ. Æn. vii. 1. 154. viii. 1. 116. xi. l. 101. Livy. lib. xxxix. cap. 16. et lib. xlv. cap. 25.
Our late eminent navigators found that green branches carried in the hands, or stuck in the ground, were the emblems of peace universally employed and understood by all the islanders, even in the South Seas. See Capt. Cook's Voyages pass.
PARKHURST's Heb. Lex. p. 193.
No. 1071.xviii. 1, 2. Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia; that sendeth ambassadors by the sea even in vessels of bulrushes. upon the waters, saying, go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose lands the rivers have spoiled.] The circumstances of this prophecy accord perfectly well with Egypt. In this country wings universally obtained as hieroglyphics of the wind, Maurice's Ind. Ant. vol. ii. p. 386.) and a sort of light ships or boats built of papyrus were commonly used on the Nile. Exclusive of the deserts on each side of it, Egypt is one continued vale above seven hundred miles long; and from the heart of Abyssinia the Nile brings a species of mud, light and fat, which by the inundation of this river, overspreads, smooths, and fertalizes the face of a country naturally barren. An event of such importance to the inhabitants as the overflow of the Nile would naturally induce them to measure its different heights. As soon as it retired within its banks, and the earth became sufficiently dry, the Egyptians sowed their land, and sent forth their cattle to tread the seed into the ground: and without any further care expected the harvest.
No. 1072.-xxiv. 22. As prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in prison.] In this verse the image seems to be taken from the practice of the great monarchs of that time; who, when they had thrown their wretched captives into a dungeon, never gave themselves the trouble of inquiring about them; but let them lie a long time in that miserable condition, wholly destitute of relief, and disregarded.
Bp. Lowru, in loc.
No. 1073.—xxviii. 1. Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower.] The city of Sebaste, the ancient Samaria, beautifully situated on the top of a round hill, and surrounded immediately with a rich valley and a circle of other hills beyond it, suggested the idea of a chaplet, or wreath of flowers, worn upon their heads on occasions of festivity; expressed by the proud crown and the fading flower of the drunkards. That this custum of wearing chaplets in their banquets prevailed among the Jews, as well as among the Greeks and Romans, appears from Wisdom ii. 7, 8.
Bp. Lowth, in loc.
No. 1074.-xxix. 1. Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the eity where David dwelt.] At Jerusalem vast quantities of flesh was consumed at their sacred feasts, as well as burnt upon the altar. Perhaps this circumstance will best explain the reason why the holy city is called Ariel. According to the Eastern taste, the term is applied in this sense; that is, to places remarkable for consuming great quantities of provision, and especially flesh. “ The modern Persians' will have it,” says D'Herbelot, in his account of Shiraz a city of that country,
66 that this name was given to it because this city consumes and devours like a lion, (which is called Shir in Persian) all that is brought to it, by which they express the multitude and, it may be, the good appetite of its inhabitants.”
The prophet pronounces woe to Zion, as too ready to trust to the number of its inhabitants and sojourners, which may be insinuated by the term Ariel, which he
HARMER, vol. i. p. 212.
No. 1075.-xxix. 4. And thy speech shall whisper out of the dust.] That the souls of the dead uttered a feeble stridulous sound, very different from the natural human voice, was a popular notion among the heathens, as well as among the Jews. This appears from several passages of their poets; Homer, Virgil, Horace. The pretenders to the art of necromancy, who were chiefly women, had an art of speaking with a feigned voice; so as to deceive those that applied to them, by making them believe that it was the voice of the ghost. From this art of the necromancers the popular notion seems to have arisen, that the ghost's voice was a weak inarticulate sound, very different from the speech of the living,
Bp. Lowth, in loc.
No. 1076.xxix. 8.
Or as when a thirsty man
dreameth, and behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite.] As the simile of the prophet is drawn from nature, an extract which describes the actual occurence of such a circumstance will be agreeable.“ The scarcity of water was greater here at Bubaker than at Benown. Day and night the wells were crouded with cattle lowing, and fighting with each other to come at the trough. Excessive thirst made many of them furious: others being too weak to contend for the water endevoured to quench their thirst by devouring the black mud from the gutters near the wells; which they did with great avidity, though it was commonly fatal to them. This great scarcity of water was felt by all the people of the camp;' and by none more than myself. I begged water from the negro slaves that attended the camp, but with very indifferent success : for though I let no opportunity slip, and was very urgent in
solicitations both to the Moors and to the negroes, I was but ill supplied, and frequently passed the night in the situation of Tantalus. No sooner had I shut my eyes, than fancy would convey me to the streams and rivers of my native land ; there, as I wandered along the verdant bank, I surveyed the clear stream with transport, and hastened to swallow the delightful draught; but, alas ! disappointment awakened me, and I found myself a lonely captive, perishing of thirst amidst the wilds of Africa.” Park's Travels in Africa, p. 145.
No. 1077.-xxxiii. 18. Where is he that counted the towers ?] That is, the commander of the enemy's forces, who surveyed the fortifications of the city and took an account of the height, strength, and situation of the walls and towers, that he might know where to make the assault with the greatest advantage. As Capaneus before Thebes is represented in a passage of the Phe,