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A description of the ancient plough, with its pole or beam (temo), and its yoke (jugum), may be seen in Virg. Georg. i. 169. Temo dictus à tenendo, says Varro*; is enim continet jugum. Which jugum (from Cuyos, yoke), being, as above described, a staff or rod, passing over the necks of the beasts, was early and very universally used, for the badge and symbol of slavery. “ Thou shalt serve thy brother,” says the Patriarch to his eldest son;
" and it shall come to pass " when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt “ break his yoke (Suyon) from off thy neck f. ' It was under this kind of yoke, or under a staff, beam, or spear representing it, that the nations of antiquity had the custom to pass their conquered enemies, in token of subjection.
It is in this its obvious and primary sense that I understand the word Guyos in this passage. In this sense it is used throughout the New Testament; and in no other sense whatsoever I. It is used metaphorically to signify the burthensome ceremonies of the Mosaic law, from which the Christian “ law of liberty” has delivered us $; and in this law of liberty we are exhorted to “stand fast, and to resist every attempt " to subject us to ordinances and a yoke of bondagell."
the horses brought under it in ancient carriages, is ruinutely described by Homer :
Ts (scil. διφρυ) δ'ιξ αργυρεος ρυμος σελεν αυλαρ επ' ακρω
Il. v. 729-733. • Lib. vi. + Gen. xxvii. 40. See also Is. ix. 4. X. 27. Nah. i. 13. Jer, xxvii. 13. 1 Matt, ii. 29, 30. 1 Tim. vi. i. Acts xv. 10. Gal. v. 1. | Jam, i, 25. ii, 12. Il Gal. v. i. Col. ii. 16. 1 Pet. ii. 16.
With thesė attempts
“to put a yoke on the neck of “ “the disciples,” the history of the church abounds. Attempts of this kind are to be traced so early as in the second century* ; but these were only “the be
ginnings of evil.” As the stream of Christianity flowed farther from its fountain, it became more and more corrupt, and as the centuries advanced, superstition advanced with them ; and unauthorized mortifications and penances, and rigorous fastings, and vows of celibacy t, and monkish retirement and austerities, and stylitism, and the jargon and repetition of prayers not understood, and tales of purgatory, and pious frauds, and the worship of saints, relics, and images, took the place of pure and simple Christianity: till at length, the book of God being laid aside for legendary tales, and “the traditions of men,” all these corruptions were collected into a regular system of superstition and oppression, well-known by the name of the papal yoke, and which was expressly foretold by the Holy Spirit, as about to be produced in the latter times I. The Eastern Church, for some time,
* Mosheim, Eccl. Hist. ch. iv.--In a fragment of Ignatius, pre served by Grabe, (Spicileg. sect. ii. p. 24.) that apostolical father says, Παρθειας ζιγον μηδενι επλ.βει: Lay upon none the yule of virginity.” And Augustine, in the 5th century, complains, that the jugum Judæorum sub lege, the yoke of the Jews under the law, was more tolerable than the ceremonies, &c. then introduced. Epist. xix.
+ See Socrat. Hist. i. 11. where it is called the yoke : for iv the first Nicene Council, when some of the bishops had proposed that the married clergy should separate from their wives, Paphnutius, & prelate of great authority among them, successfully opposed the motion: εεοα μακρα, μη βαρυ» ζυγον επιθειναι τοις ιερωμενοις ανδρασι: vehemently calling upon them, not to lay a heavy yoke on the clergy. Thus the disposition to impose the yoke in this instance strongly appeared and was defeated : but the evil day was only deferred. 1 Tim. iv. 1.
kept kept pace with the Western, in the introduction of burthensome unauthorized observances; and the Mahometan religion, derived from the corrupted Jewish and Christian, has imposed a similar kind of yoke in those parts where it has prevailed.
Ver. 5. A voice in the midst of the four living creatures.] This voice is from the throne; for the Cherubim, or living creatures, were stationed close around the throne*. The progress of the yoke, through the ages of dark ignorance and superstition, has been indeed alarming; threatening to annihilate the pure law of Christian liberty. A voice therefore, of the highest authority and most dread command, is uttered, to restrain its pernicious consequences.
The effect of this will be seen in the ensuing note.
Ib. A chænir of wheat for a denarius, and three chænices of barley for a denarius; and the oil and the wine thou mayest not injure.) Wheat, barley, oil, and wine, were with the Eastern nations of antiquity the main supports of life. Under these terms therefore, in scriptural language, we find plenty to be generally expressed t. Now it is proclaimed from the throne, that during the progress of the black horse, how desolating soever, there shall be still a certain price, at which wheat and barley may be bought, and a certain preservation of the more precious commodities, wine and oil. These prices will be found to be very high, which infers great scarcity of the commodity. But still, there is not to be an utter failure; they are to be purchased at some price. A chenix of wheat (that ancient universal measure) is to be bought for a denarius, and three measures of barley for the same.
# Cb. iv. 6.
+ Gen. xxvii. 28. Deut. xi. 14. xviii. 14. 2 Chron. ii. 15. Is. Ixii. 8. Jer. xxxi, 12. xli. 8. Ps. iv. 7. Hos. ii. 8. 22. Joel i. 24, Hag. i. 11.
We may judge concerning the degree of plenty or want attending this arrangement, if we obtain a knowledge of the quantity of corn contained in the chenix, and compare it with the value of the denarius, which was a coin of universal circulation in the Roman empire. The chønix appears to have contained just so much wheat, as to supply a slender allowance for the daily food of one man. This we collect from ancient authors, who represent it as the allowance of a slave: and in particular from Herodotus, who, in calculating the corn consumed by the army of Xerxes in their daily march, says, Ει χοινικα πυρών εκαστος της ημερης ελαμβανε, και μηδεν πλεον *: which shews this measure to have been but a short allowance for the sustenance of one man. The denarius, (in the Scripture translation called a penny,) appears to have been the daily pay of a labouring man t. But the labouring man has many other things to provide for himself besides bread. Those times therefore must be accounted very dear and oppressive, wherein the whole daily pay must be employed to purchase the daily food; and that but scantily. In the times of Cicero, it appears that a clenarius would purchase sixteen chenices of wheat, and in Trajan's reign tweuty I. The times of the yoke, or black horse, were therefore times of great scarcity. A coarser bread might, it seems, be then had in greater proportion for a denarius, even as three to one; a bread of barley, which appears to have been used by
• “ If each person received a chønix of wheat per day, and no more." (Herodot. Polymn. edit. Stephani, Genevæ, 1618; p. 446.) + Matt. XX. 2. I See the authorities in Daubuz, in loc.
the poorer Jews *, and which is represented to be still produced in the East; viz. “ a black, coarse barley, “ yielding fifty-fold, and principally consumed by “cattle f.” Hence we may collect, that the provision of food for the support of life was, under this seal, to be slender in quantity, or coarse in quality ; and that the stored dainties, the wine and oil, were to be in danger of total failure.
But by these provisions for food, what are we to understand? wheat, barley, wine, oil, in their plain and proper meaning ? Surely not. The tenour of prophetic language forbids,—directing our attention, as our Lord has directed it I, to another kind of scarcity, even that of which the prophet Amos speaks, $famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of “ hearing the words of the Lord Ş.” This kind of scarcity is frequently lamented by the prophetical writers, who delight in describing the spiritual plenty of Christ's kingdom by such sensible images,
and wine, and oil ll." By these are signified that food of religious knowledge, by which the souls of men are sustained unto everlasting life. Such we are invited by the Evangelical Prophet to buy, even, " without price.
Such are recommended to the purchase of the Laodiceans by their divine Lord **. Such were dispensed throughout the world, at the first preaching of the Gospel, and upon terms of the easiest acquisition;" freely ye have received,” said
" Not a
* Judg. vii. 13. John vi. 9. Joseph. Ant. v. c. vi. 4; Bell. Jud. v. c. X. 2. + Niehburgb's Travels.
I See note, ch. ii. 7. & Amos viii, 11.Qui terrena sapiunt, famem verbi Dei patiun. tur, Origen, in Gen, hom. 16. Il Ps. lxii. 16. Hos. ii. 22. Jer. xxxi. 12. Matt. ix. 17. Is. lv. 1.
** Rev. iii. 18.