תמונות בעמוד

Job, who is supposed to have lived between three and four thousand years ago, alludes (as in the marginal reference) to them in chapters xxxii. and xxxviii.

Jacob began and went on with his sons according to their age ; consequently the order could not correspond with that of the zodiac.

With the people of the East, astronomy is a most interesting and important science, as it involves much of their system of theology, as well as astrology, which is supposed to bear on all the affairs of life. No wonder, then, that they should often refer to the planetary system, as the fruitful source of all their pleasures, or of all their pains. The good or evil star, under which a person has been born, is believed to be the certain regulator of future life. Thus, men of good or evil dispositions are often compared to the planets or signs with which they are supposed to correspond.

Many of the ancient kings of India, from some fancied correspondency of temper or disposition, were named after the signs of the zodiac, either by their parents, or posterity. There was a king called Kumban, whose name signifies Aquarius. The great sovereign of Pandium was also named Meenam, i.e. the sign Pisces. The king Kadakkiyan means Cancer, and Singam, Leo, is affixed to vast numbers of the names of the sovereigns of the East. One of the names of the god Rāman is Sagittarius; and, what is rather strange, his sister Asamugge is called Aries. The wife of a celebrated hermit was named Macha-Kenthe, Pisces: and females are often called


In the book called Péerapóthaga-Santheróthium, an account is given of a king called Anguvesāran, who had six sons and six daughters, to whom he gave the names of the twelve signs of the zodiac.

When a number of people are seated in a circle, it is common to say of them, “ Ah ! there they are like the twelve signs of the zodiac.”

Should a mother have twins, she is believed to have been under the influence of Gemini! An unfortunate person is often called Saniyan, i.e. Saturn. When a child is born under the influence of a malignant planet, the father endeavours to counteract its power by giving to his child the name of a superior constellation. On some occasions, however, he will not give the whole of the name of the predominant sign, but will simply choose one in common use, which has for its first letter that of the name of the friendly sign. For instance, suppose an infant to be born under Scorpio when he is in his evil moods, should Leo be the ruling power, the name of the child will begin with the letter L.

An aged man at the point of death calls together his children, and beginning with the eldest, he gently notices his failings, his seniority, and consequent power over the rest; and advises him not to oppress them. He then goes through the others, alludes to their failings, and shows how to avoid them.

With these facts before us, we are not surprised at the conduct of Jacob in alluding to the twelve signs, and to the corresponding dispositions of his sons.

I am, however, of opinion, that it is unwise to insist upon the perfect resemblance of each son to one of the signs. How is Gemini to be made out ?— to do this would require thirteen sons; or to adopt the plan of Dr. Hales, and make Dan stand for Libra and Scorpio. How also does Virgo, a female, correspond with the individual assigned to her? I think, therefore, it has been an error to force the similitude; the more so, because sufficient has been said to show that Jacob did refer to the zodiacal signs.

Of Reuben it is said, " unstable as water," which is supposed to refer to the sign Aquarius. And this certainly includes the Eastern idea of that element. at the funeral pile of his father breaks an earthen vessel, which has been filled with water. It sinks into the ground, and cannot be gathered up again. Many of their allusions in reference to uncertainty or instability are borrowed from wa

Of the promises of a faithless man it is said, “ write

A son


them in water," i.e. the characters may soon be formed on the surface, but not a trace will be left behind.

Judah, “as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?" This probably refers to the sign Leo.

Zebulon, “an haven of ships.” In the Eastern zodiac, Virgo is represented as sitting in a ship, with a lighted lamp in her right hand, and an ear of corn in her left; which


refer to the assistance the light would give to find the way, and the ear of corn to the value and importance of her cargo.

Issachar, “a strong ass.” Supposed to be Taurus, which is the principal beast of burden in the East.

Dan, “ judgment, or the judge.” “ Shall judge his people.” “A serpent by the way that biteth the horse heels.” The first part of his character appears to refer to the sign Libra, the emblem of justice; but the latter to Scorpio. The scorpion is a most cautious reptile in taking its prey ;


goes slowly along, with its claws nearly closed. When within reach, it seizes its prey with great force, and its powerful sting is soon shot into the victim.

The whole of the conduct of Dan and his tribe shows the portrait drawn by his father to have been very accurate.

“Gad, a troop,” probably Sagittarius. “Out of Asher his bread shall be fat - shall yield royal dainties.” I know of nothing among the signs which could be considered as a royal dainty except the crab, and only then when the sovereign lived far inland. It may, therefore, allude to Cancer.

Naphtali, “a hind let loose.” This may refer to the ram.

“ Joseph is a fruitful bough.” This may allude to the sign Pisces, as great fecundity in the East is often compared to the great increase of fish. That Jacob had this idea in his mind, in reference to the sons of Joseph, is most certain ; for he said, when blessing the lads, let them grow (as in the margin) “as fishes do increase.” It is rather singular that the grandchildren should be blessed first. Perhaps it would be no very great stretch to suppose that Manasseh and Ephraim refer to Gemini.

“Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf.” It does not follow from this that there was a wolf in the zodiac. Benjamin was to get his food violently like a wolf. In the Eastern zodiac, Capricornus is represented as a sea monster, with its mouth open, showing a frightful set of teeth. Looking at the conduct of that fierce tribe, the comparison is not inapplicable. (See 2 Kings xxiii. 5.)

L. 10. — “ And they came to the threshing-floor of

Atad; there they mourned with a very great and

very sore lamentation.” It seems to be very unlikely that the funeral procession should remain at a threshing-floor, as the place would be rendered most impure. The word Atad is said to mean a “bramble, or thorn ;” which conveys a correct idea of the places where the dead are buried, and also of the probable place where they would rest.

26.— “ Joseph

was put into a coffin.” The people of the East do not in general put their dead into a coffin ; they simply fold up the corpse in a mat. When dying, the head is always placed towards the south, and in the grave also in the same direction. When a person is very ill, should another ask how he is, he will reply, “Ah! his head is towards the south;” meaning there is no hope.

Some Yogees or Sanyasis (holy men) are buried in a sepulchre, some in a sitting position, and are covered with salt. It is customary to put a large stone, or a block of wood, on the breast ; and a person stands upon it, to press it down. The reason assigned for this is, that it prevents evil spirits from doing any injury to the deceased.


CHAP. I. verse 14. 66 Made their lives bitter." Of a bad man it is said, 6. He makes the lives of his servants bitter." Also, “Ah! the fellow: the heart of his wife is made bitter.” “My soul is bitter.” “My heart is like the bitter tree.”

6. When


do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them


the stools.” The females of the East are not accouched as their sex in England. Instead of reclining on a couch or a bed, they sit on a stool about sixteen inches in height, or the rice mortar turned upside down, or on a bag filled with sand. Sometimes they do not use any of the articles alluded to, but stand upright, having a rope fastened to the roof, by which they pull themselves up and down, to produce a more speedy delivery.

In the forty-sixth plate of Calmet, which is taken from “an ornamented basso relievo on a sepulchral urn," is represented a mother who has just been accouched. She is seated on a chair, and appears to be much exhausted. There are four female attendants, two of whom seem to be busy about the child.

These facts, then, illustrate the word stool, which has caused so many doubts and learned disquisitions.

21. — “And it came to påss, because the midwives feared

God, that he made them houses." Who made them houses ? God; for He “dealt well with” them, because they “feared” Him, and “saved the men children alive.”

Midwives in the East are taken from the lowest classes of

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