Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

that leviathan whom thou hast made to play therein.] The terms of the original Hebrew are here so very strong, that we cannot doubt of the author's intention to couch a figurative sense under the literal and more obvious acceptation of his expressions. Leviathan is unquestionably the prince and people of Egypt, exhibited under the apt emblem of their own crocodile. It is not unusual with the sacred writers to allude to that country under this formidable image. Compare Isaiah xxvii. 1. with Ezek. xxix. 3. If therefore it be here said literally of the great and wide waters to which the Psalmist is pointing, there ships shall make procession, that leviathan thou hast fashioned to perform the actions of his feast therein, the author must intend to speak of the rejoicings of the Egyptians at the height of their flood, rather than of the sports of the leviathan, of which natural history affords no proof. The very term here applied is used to express the action of the multitude when Aaron celebrated the Egyptian feast of the golden calf, and they rose up to dance and sing before it. It is also used to denote the gestures of the triumphal procession of the Hebrews, the motions of the women who sung with timbrels, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. That the Egyptians did anciently make processions by water to their temples, Herodotus bears witness. The feast of Bubastis, which is mentioned by him as the greatest of the Egyptian feasts, commenced with a procession by water. He


that “ both men and women embark together, a vast multitude of each in every vessel ; some of the women being furnished with crotala, play with them, while some of the men perform on the pipe, during the whole of the voyage. The remainder both of women and men sing and clap hands. This they particularly do when they draw near to any city. The women also at such times call upon the female inhabi

tants of those cities severally to exert themselves, and they accordingly come forth and dance.”

Hurdis's Diss. p. 133.

No. 1011.--cix. 24. My knees are weak through fasting ; and my flesh faileth of fatness.] A sentiment similar to that which is suggested by this passage, and expressed in words not very different, is to be met with in several ancient writers. Thus Tryphiodorus, (Destruction of Troy, v. 252.)

Lest faint and wearied e'er the task was done,
Stretch'd through the length of one revolving sun,
Their knees might fail, by hunger's force subdued,

And sink, unable to support their load. MERRICK. Plautus, in his Curculio, has taken notice of this effect of hunger.

Tenebræ oboriuntur, genua inediâ succidunt. Ac. ii. sc. 3. So also Lucretius,

Et quoniam non est quasi quod suffulciat artus,
Debile fit corpus, languescunt omnia membra:
Brachia palpebræque cadunt, poplitesque procumbunt.

Lib. iv. 948. See Levit. xxvi. 26. Ezek. iv. 16.

No. 1012.-cxvi. 13. The cup of salvation.] It has been observed that the expression, the cup of salvation, was at least imitated by the Greeks in their phrase, the bowl of liberty. It occurs in Tryphiodorus, (Destruction of Troy) but is supposed to be borrowed from Homer, Il. vi. 526.

[merged small][ocr errors]

The free bowl, or bowl of liberty, was that in which

[ocr errors]

they made libations to Jupiter, after the recovery of their liberty. Athenaus mentions those cups which the Greeks called γραμματικα εκπωμαία, and were consecrated to the gods in consequence of some success.

He gives us the inscription of one of this sort, which was AIO ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ. .

No. 1013.—cxviii. 27. Bind the sacrifice with cords even unto the horns of the altar.] Luther would render this passage, adorn the feast with leaves : and others, bind on the feast-day branches, as was usual on the feast of Tabernacles, Levit. xxiii. 40. The heathens used to strew their altars with green herbs and flowers, particularly vervain,

-Ramis tegerem ut frondentibus aras.

Virg. Æn. iii. 25.

See also Ovid de Trist. I. iii. El. 13.

No. 1014.-cxxix. 6. Let them be as the grass upon the house tops.] The tops of the houses in Judea were flat, and so grass grew upon them, being covered with plaister of terrace. As it was but small and weak, and, being on high was exposed to the scorching sun, was soon withered. (Shaw's Travels, p. 210.) Menochius says, that he saw such roofs in the island of Corsica, flat, and having earth upon them, on which grass grew of its own accord; but being burnt up in summer time by the sun, soon withered. (De Republica Heb. I. vii. c. 5. p. 666.) But what Olaus Magnus relates is extraordinary. He says, that in the northern gothic countries they feed their cattle on the tops of houses, especially in a time of siege; that their houses are built of stone, high and large, and covered with rafters of fir and bark of birch: on this is laid grass-earth, cut

out of the fields four-square, and sowed with barley or oats, so that their roofs look like green meadows: and, that what is sown, and the grass that grows thereon, may not wither before plucked up, they very diligently water it. (De Ritu Gent. Septent. 1. ix. c. 12.) Maundrell (Journey from Aleppo, p. 144.) says, that these words allude to the custom of plucking up corn from the roots by handfuls, leaving the most fruitful fields as naked as if nothing had ever grown in them; and that this is done, that they may not lose any of the straw, which is generally very short, and necessary for the sustenance of their cattle, no hay being made in that country.

No. 1015.-cxxxii, 18. Upon his head shall the crown flourish.] “ This idea seems to be taken from the nature of the ancient crowns bestowed upon conquerors. From the earliest periods of history the laurel, olive, and ivy furnished crowns to adorn the heads of heroes, who had conquered in the field of battle; gained the prize in the race; or performed some other important service to the public. These were the dear-bought rewards of the most heroic exploits of antiquity. This sets the propriety of the phrase in full view. The idea of a crown of gold and jewels flourishing is at least unnatural: whereas flourishing is natural to laurels and oaks. These were put upon the heads of the victors in full verdure.”

PIRIE's Works, vol. iii. p. 124,

No. 1016.--cxxxiii. 2. It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beurd, that went down to the skirts of his garments.] The manner of performing the ceremony of anointing the high priest has been particularly transmitted to us by the rabbinical writers. They inform us that the oil was poured on the top of the priest's head,

which was bare, so plentifully, as to run down his face upon his beard, to the collar (not the lower skirts) of his robe. It has been said, that at the consecration of the high priest the unction was repeated seven days together, an opinion founded upon Exod. xxix. 29, 30.

JENNINGS's, Jewish Ant. vol. i. p. 210.

No. 1017.-cxxxvii. 9. Happy shall he be that takethe and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.] This was an instance of cruelty frequently exercised in the sacking of towns. Thus Isaiah (c. xiii. v. 16.) foretells to Babylon, that her children shall be dashed in pieces before her eyes by the Medes. See also Hosea xiii. 16., So also in Homer one exclaims,

My city burnt,
My bleeding infants dash'd against the floor;
These I have yet to see, perhaps yet more.

Il. B. v. 22. Pope.

He also represents Andromache lamenting over Hector:

Thou too, my son! to barb'rous climes shalt go,
The sad companion of thy mother's woe;
Driv'n hence a slave before the victor's sword;
Condemn'd to toil for some inhuman lord:
Or else some Greek, whose father press'd the plain,
Or son, or brother, by great Hector slain,
In Hector's blood his vengeance shall enjoy,
And hurl thee headlong from the tow'rs of Troy.

Il. xxiv. 732. POPE.

No. 1018.-cxlix. 5. Let them sing aloud upon their beds.] Among some of the most celebrated of the ancients war was proclaimed by the ministers of religion, and military expeditions were opened by devout processions and public sacrifices. The 149th Psalm was doubtless composed on such an occasion. It was sung when David's army was marching out to war against

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »