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XXIX. 17. — “ Ye have seen their abominations, and
their idols.” Hebrew has, for idols,
gods ! ”
Calmet supposes it was in derision that Beel-Zebub, or rather Zebul, was called the “god of ordure ;” and Dr. A. Clarke says of “ Baal-Zebul, the dung god, a title expressive of the utmost contempt."
The “ dungy gods” here alluded to, were seen by the Israelites, in their journey from Egypt, among " the nations" through which they “ passed.” The question is,-Are we to understand this offensive appellation as an epithet of contempt; or as a description of the origin, nature, or mode of worship of the idol ?
The prophet Malachi, in reproving the priests for their idolatry, in having “married the daughter of a strange god” (ii. 11.)*, and by consequence, no doubt, partaking with the people in their ceremonies, says, “I will — spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts." Why say, “ dung of solemn feasts ?”
The god Pulliār, corresponding with the Ganesa of Bengal, is, for all domestic offerings, made of cow-dung. In every house, when ceremonies are performed, whether for shaving the child's head for the first time, giving it rice, or a name, or teaching the alphabet the first time, or for a great
The marginal reference to Ezra, chap. ix. 1, 2., shows what is meant by being married to the daughter of a strange god.
“ The Levites have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons; so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands."
Here then we find the Levites, and others, had literally married the daughters of a strange god,” and joined in the abominations of the people.
+ In the temples he is made of brass and other metals. This god is said to have come from the ordure of the goddess Pārvati.
variety of other objects, an image made of cows' dung is used. Farmers, before they plough or reap their fields, soldiers before they go to battle, merchants before they enter into new speculations, men or women before they commence new engagements, or relations, attend to the same thing.
The holy ashes used by the heathen to rub their foreheads and bodies are the ashes of burnt cows' dung. For all sacred and purifying purposes, cows' dung is used to smear the floor of the temple, house, or place of ceremony. Men of high caste have the place where they sit, while eating, smeared in the same way, to remove the defilement and sanctify the place. When the corpse has been taken from a house, the floor is also smeared for a similar object.
In many of the most sacred ceremonies, a composition of the following articles (all from the cow) are regularly used ; dung, its urine, milk, curds, and ghee.
The Israelites had come from Egypt, where was worshipped the apis, or consecrated bull, connected with which all things were sacred; and it is a melancholy fact that, the children of the patriarchs did imitate the idolaters in all their abominations.
23.-" The whole land thereof is brimstone." When a place is noted for being unhealthy, or the land very unfruitful, it is called a kenthaga poomy, a place or country of brimstone. Trincomalee, and some other places, have gained this appellation on account of the heat and sterility of the soils.
Xxx. 14. — “ The word is very nigh unto thee, in thy
mouth.” Does a person pretend that he cannot understand another, that he must make additional enquiries, it will be said, “Do not understand ? In thy mouth are the words.” Should a child at school be troublesome to the master, he will peevishly ex
claim. In thy mouth are the words; meaning the enquiry was unnecessary, that the subject was well understood.
19.-" I call heaven and earth to record.” In solemn oaths, people point to the clouds, to the earth, to the grass, to the herbs, to the trees, as witnesses to the truth of what they have said. “ O ye clouds above ! have I not said the truth ? Ah ! well do you know it: speak to this, unbeliever.” 6 Ah ! these trees can bear testimony to my veracity.”
When mariners are at sea, they appeal to it, or to Varuna the god. In storms, they say to the water, “O mother! be calm.”
XXXII. 2. — “My doctrine shall drop as the rain
the small rain upon the tender herb." Oriental writers often speak of beautiful language as dropping upon the hearers. The Hebrew has for “ prophesy ” in Micah, ii. 6. “ drop.” The same word is used for drops of rain, for tears, or for the dew dropping from flowers. When a man has received consolation from another, he says, “ his words were like rain upon the scorched corn.” Of a beautiful speaker, and an appropriate subject, “ Ah! his speech is like the honey rain, upon the pandal bower of sugar.”
5. - “ Their spot is not the spot of his children.” Dr. Adam Clarke is, I believe, correct in supposing this alludes to the spot which idolaters have on the forehead*, to show what deity they serve. The worshippers of Siva have a spot on the brow, in a line with the nose, made of the ashes of cow's dung. The followers of Vishnoo have yellow marks, others have vermilion, and some black.
* Which had not worshipped the beast; neither had received his mark upon their foreheads. (Rev. xx. 4.)
7. — “Ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders,
and they will tell thee.” Language of this description is often used, by way of contempt, to young people, or to those who make great pretensions. To say thus, “Go, ask the aged; they will tell thee,” has a surprising effect on an assuming young man.
10.-—“In the waste-howling wilderness — kept him as
the apple of his eye.” (Zech. ii. 8.) Where the wild beasts are, is called the place of howling. Thus relations, when their friends are on a journey, say, “Ah! they are now in the place of howling.” “My friend, go not through the howling desert.”
Precious things are spoken of as being the apple of the eye. Affectionate husbands say to their wives, “En kan mulli,” i. e. “apple of my eye.” Of a beloved child, in relation to his parents, it is said, “ He is the apple of their eye.”
15.—“Thou art waxen fat—thou art grown thick.”
(Job xv. 27.) This does not appear to mean that Jeshurun had become fat in person, but fat or proud in spirit. Thus, of people who have risen from obscurity, and who conduct themselves proudly, it is said, “ They have become fat.” To hear, “how fat that man is now," might lead a stranger to suppose it was meant so literally; whereas the individual alluded to may be as meagre as one of Pharaoh's lean cattle.
36.—“ Their power is gone.” The Hebrew has, for power, their “hand is gone,” which agrees exactly with the Tamul idea. “His hand is now gone.” “His hand fails.” “ The strength of his hand is gone."
42.-" I will make mine arrows drunk with blood.”
This figure of speech is often used in Hindoo books; and heroes are made to say of the foe, “My sword shall soon be matham, i.e. drunk, or mad, with his blood.”
XXXIII. 14. — “ Precious things put forth by the
moon.” The moon, amongst the Hindoos, is spoken of in the masculine ! gender, and is believed to have a most favourable influence on all fruits and vegetables used by man.
66 Whilst the sun burns, the moon cools." From the time of the new moon, to its becoming full, all plants and all kinds of young grain are said to gain more strength than at any other period. In places where the young rice plants have failed, the farmer says, “I must put down some plants there in the new moon*; from an idea that they will derive much nourishment from it. Before the time of reaping it is often said, “The moon will bring forth the ears." +
In the Purāna it is written that “rain is produced by the moon; viewing it, say, May rain be produced.” The beams of the moon are often called amutham (ambrosia); and people who have had the fever during the day, or those who have been much exposed to the heat of the sun, go outside for some time in the evening to look steadfastly on the moon, which, they say, has a very cooling effect on the body. I
The people of the East, in very remote antiquity, were also acquainted with the influence of the moon on the sea. Thus, in that ancient book, the Scanda Purāna, mention is made of the restoration to life of the king of the Assurs by the supreme Siva, to whom he had offered himself as a sacrifice. When
* Some of the people think the sap of trees rises according to the increase or waning of the moon.
+ Not the “ Harvest Moon.” The reaping time is in February and March.
I Query, do the gardeners, farmers, and even physicians, pay sufficient attention to this?