תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

Those who are unacquainted with Oriental literature sometimes affect to smile at the addresses which are made in Scripture to animate and inanimate nature. “How ridiculous," say they, “to talk about the mountains skipping like rams, and the little hills like lambs !” but they know not that this is according to the figurative and luxuriant genius of the people of the East. The proprietor of lands, forests, orchards, and gardens, often exclaims, when walking amongst them in time of drought, “ Ah! trees, plants, and flowers, tanks and cattle, birds and fish, and all living creatures, sing praises to the gods, and rain shall be given to you.”

CL. 3, 4, 5.-“ Praise him with the sound of the

trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Praise him upon the loud cymbals." Instruments of music were used in the worship of the Most High God: and the Hindoos, in singing praises, and performing religious ceremonies to their deities, always have the same accompaniments. Thus the trumpet and the “high sounding cymbals,” the timbrels (which correspond partly with the tambourine), the harp, 9732 kinnor (also called kinnora in Tamul !) is a stringed instrument, played with the fingers : and may be heard in all their temples at the time of service. The devotee engaged in making offerings often exclaims, “ Praise him, Oye musicians ! praise him; praise the Swamy:" and great is their enthusiasm ; their eyes, their heads, their tongues, their hands, their legs, are all engaged.

At a marriage, or when a great man gives a feast, the guests go to the players on instruments, and say, “ Praise the noble host, praise the bride and the groom; praise aloud, O cymbals! give forth the voice, ye trumpets; strike up the harp and the timbrel; praise him in the song; serve him, serve him.”

PROVERBS.

CHAP. I. verse 6. — “ To understand a proverb and

the interpretation." The people of the East look upon the acquirements of antiquity as being every way superior to those of modern times : thus their noblest works of art and their sciences are indebted to antiquity for their invention and perfection. Instead, therefore, of their minds being enlightened and excited by the splendid productions of modern genius, they are ever reverting to the wisdom of their forefathers, and sighing over the loss of many of their occult sciences. We, on the other hand, by contemplating the imposing achievements of the present age, are in danger of looking with contempt on antiquity, and of pursuing with thoughtless avidity the novelties and speculations of modern inventions.

Solomon could repeat “ three thousand proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five;" and many of the philosophers of the present age in the East have scarcely any other wisdom. Listen to two men engaged in argument: should he who is on the point of being foiled, quote an apposite proverb against his antagonist, an advantage is considered as having been gained, which scarcely any thing can counteract. See a man who is pondering over some difficulty: his reason cannot decide as to the course he ought to pursue, when, perhaps, some one repeats a palla-mulle, i. e. an old saying: the whole of his doubts are at once removed, and he starts with vigour in the prescribed course.

“ Young man, talk not to me with infant wisdom, what are the sayings of the ancients ! you ought to obey your parents. Listen !

The father and the mother are the first - I am

deities a child has to acknowledge. Is it not said, Children who obey willingly are as ambrosia to the gods?»» « Were you my friend, you would not act thus; because, as the proverb says, " True friends have but one soul in two bodies.' told you have been trying to ruin me; but will the moon be injured by the barking of a dog ?'“ You have become proud, and conduct yourself like the upstart who must 'carry his silk umbrella to keep off the sun! at midnight!”” “ You talk about your hopes of some coming good: what say the ancients? • EXPECTATION is the mid-day dream of life."” “ Cease to be indolent, for, as our fathers said, Idleness is the rust of the mind."” “That you have been guilty of many crimes I cannot doubt, as the proverb says, “Will there be smoke without fire?'t Your wife has, I fear, led you astray, but she will be your ruin: what said the men of antiquity? • As is the affection of a file for the iron, of a parasitical plant for the tree which supports it; so is the affection of a violent woman for her husband: she is like Yama (the deity of death), who eats and destroys without appearing to do so.""

With these specimens, the English reader may form a tolerable idea of the importance which is attached to proverbs.

III. 8.-“ Shall be health to thy navel.” The navel of an infant is often very clumsily managed in the East: hence it is no uncommon thing to see that part greatly enlarged, and diseased. The fear of the Lord, therefore, would be as medicine and health to the navel, causing it to grow and prosper. Strange as it may appear, the navel is often spoken of as a criterion of prosperity; and Solomon appears to have had the same idea, for he mentions this health of the navel as being the result of trusting in the Lord, and of acknowledging Him in all our ways. He says in the next

Diogenes Laertius relates that Aristotle once made a similar obseryation.

+ This proverb is common in several other languages.

verse, “ Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase : so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” And this reference to the navel, as being connected with earthly prosperity, is common at this day. arisen from poverty to affluence, it is said, “ His navel has grown much larger.” Should he insult the man from whom he has derived his prosperity, the latter will ask, “ Who made your navel to grow ?”

Has a person

IV. 13. — “ Take fast hold of instruction; let her not

go: keep her; for she is thy life.” It is said of the fixed will or purpose of those who take fast hold of learning or any other thing, “ Ah ! they are like the hand of the monkey in the shell of the cocoa-nut; it will not let go the rice.”

« On the banks of a broad river there was once a very large herd of monkeys, which greatly injured the fields and gardens of the inhabitants. Several consultations were held as to the best way of getting rid of those troublesome marauders : to take their lives was altogether contrary to the religious prejudices of the people; and to take them in traps was almost impossible, as the monkeys never approached any place without well examining the ground. At last it was determined to procure a sufficient number of cocoa-nuts; to make in each a small hole, and fill them with rice. These were strewed on the ground, and the people retired to watch the success of their plan. The offenders soon went to the place, and seeing the rice (their favourite food) in the nuts, they began to eat the few grains scattered about on the ground: but these only exciting their appetite, they each thrust a HAND through the small hole into the nut, which was soon clasped full of rice. The Hand now became so enlarged that it could not be withdrawn without losing its booty: to leave such a dainty was more than the monkey could consent to: the people therefore came forward, and soon seized their foes, as the cocoa-nut attached to the hand prevented them from getting quickly out of the way. They were, therefore, all made prisoners, and ferried across the river, and left to seek their food in the wilderness.”

« Take fast hold of instruction ; let her not go; keep her; for she is

thy life.”

V. 19.-“ Let her be as the loving hind.” The hind is celebrated for affection to her mate; hence a man, in speaking of his wife, often calls her by that name. “ My hind, my hind ! where is my hind ? ” “ Alas! my hind has fallen; the arrow has pierced her life.”

VI.5.- " Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the

hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler." Does a man complain of his numerous enemies, it will be said, “ Leap away, friend, as the deer from the snare.” « Fly off, fly off, as the bird from the fowler.” “ Go slily to the place; and then, should you see the snare, fly away like a bird.”

13. -" He speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his

fingers." It should be remembered, that when people are in their houses, they do not wear sandals; consequently their feet and toes are exposed. When guests wish to speak with each other, so as not to be observed by the host, they convey their meaning by the feet and toes. Does a person wish to leave a room in company with another, he lifts up one of his feet; and should the other refuse, he also lifts up a foot, and then suddenly puts it down on the ground.

“ He teacheth with his fingers.” When merchants wish to make a bargain in the presence of others, without making known their terms, they sit on the ground, have a piece of cloth thrown over the lap, and then put each a hand under, and thus speak with the fingers! When the Brahmins convey

« הקודםהמשך »