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No. 1136.-HOSEA iii. 4.
As to the external form of the teraphim, Jurieu represents it thus. The eastern nations preserved in one of the remote parts of their house the relics of their ancestors; if they had none of these, their posterity being numerous, they erected empty tombs of stone, wood, or earth, and upon these they set the teraphim at the two extremities. Micah (Judges xviii. 14.) having obtained a sight of some of these oracles among the heathen, and being ignorant of the abominations they practised by them, thought they might be sanctified by dedicating them to God, though by idolaters they were designed for inquiring of the dead.
No. 1137.-viii. 11. Ephraim hath made many altars to sin.] The ancient idolaters were not satisfied with worshipping one deity, or with sacrificing upon a single altar, but greatly multiplied both. They embraced every opportunity of adding to the number already received and established. The Romans were remarkable for the erection of altars upon any sudden benefit received. Tacitus mentions one consecrated to Adoption; and another to Revenge. When they felt an earthquake, they betook themselves by public command to religious observances: though they did not, as on other occasions, name the god to whom they dedicated such solemnities, lest by mistaking one for another they might oblige the people to a false worship. A. Gell. I. ii. c. 28.
No. 1138.-xii. 1. And oil is carried into Egypt.] Oil is now presented in the East to be burnt in honour
of the dead, whom they reverence with a religious kind of homage. It is most natural to suppose that the prophet Hosea refers to a similar practice in the times of antiquity, when he upbraids the Israelites with carrying oil into Egypt. The Algerines, according to Pitts ( Account,p. 17.) when they are in the Streights Mouth, make a gathering of small wax candles, which they usually carry with them, and bind them in a bundle; and then, together with a pot of oil, throw them overboard, as a present to the marabbot or saint, who lies entombed there on the Barbary shore near the sea.
HARMER, vol. iv. p. 305.
No. 1139.--xiv. 6. And his smell as Lebanon.] Not only both the great and small cedars of Lebanon have a fragrant smell, but Maundrell (Journey, May 9.) found the great rupture in that mountain, which “ runs at least seven hours travel directly up into it, and is on both sides exceeding steep and high, clothed with fragrant greens from top to bottom, and every where refreshed with fountains, falling down from the rocks in pleasant cascades, the ingenious work of nature. These streams all uniting at the bottom, make a full and rapid torrent, whose agreeable murinuring is heard all over the place, and adds no small pleasure to it."
No. 1140.-AMOS ii. 6.
They sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a
pair of shoes. MAILLET, (Lett.x.p.86.) amongst other articles which are carried before a bride on the day of marriage, mentions wooden sandals; these in the East are called cobcal. They are not of much value, though sometimes they are ornamented. What Rauwolf says, in connection with the above circumstance, greatly illustrates this passage of Amos. “ The Turkish officers and also their wives go very richly clothed with rich flowered silks, artificially made, and mixed of several colours. But these clothes are commonly given them by those that have causes depending before them, (for they do not love to part with their own money) to promote their cause, and to be favourable to them.” See also Amos viii. 6.
HARMER, vol. ii. p. 21.
No. 1141.-ji. 8. The lion hath roared, who will not fear?] “ The strength of the lion is so prodigious, that a single stroke of his paw is sufficient to break the back of a horse ; and one sweep with his tail will throw a strong man to the ground.” Kolben says, that when he comes up to his prey, he always knocks it down dead, and seldom bites it till the mortal blow has been gived. This blow he generally accompanies with a terrible roar.
“ The roaring of a lion when in quest of prey resembles the sound of distant thunder; and, being re-echoed by the rocks and mountains, appals the whole race of animals, and puts them to a sudden flight: but he frequently varies his voice into a hideous scream or yell.”
Bingley's Animal Biography, vol. i. p. 253, 267.
No. 1142.-iv. 10. The pestilence after the manner of Egypt.] Abp. Newcome says, that this means the unwholesome effluvia on the subsiding of the Nile, which causes some peculiarly malignant diseases in this country. Maillet (Lett. i. p. 14.) says, that “ the air is bad in those parts, where, when the inundations of the Nile have been very great, this river, in retiring to its channel, leaves marshy places, which infect the country round about. The dew is also very dangerous in Egypt.”
No. 1143.vii. 14. A gatherer of sycamore fruit,] or more properly, a dresser of sycamore fruit. Pococke gives the following account of it. "The dumez (of Egypt) is called by the Europeans Pharaoh's fig; it is the sycamore of the ancients, and is properly a ficus fatuus, (wild fig.) The fig is small, but like the common figs. At the end of it a sort of water gathers together; and unless it be cut, and the water let out, it will not ripen. This they sometimes do, covering the bough with a net to keep off the birds : and the fruit is not bad, though it is not esteemed. It is a large spreading tree, with a round leaf, and has this particular quality, that short branches without leaves come out of the great limbs all about the wood; and these bear the fruit. It was of the timber of these trees that the ancient Egyptians made their coffins for their embalmed bodies, and the wood remains sound to this day.” Travels, vol. i. p. 205.
This shews the propriety of rendering Psalm 1xxviii. 47. He destroyed their sycamore trees with frost.
No. 1144.-OBADIAH, ver. 18.
There shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau.
THEY shall all be cut off by, or swallowed up among, the Jews: not so much as a torch-bearer left, one that carries the lights before an army, as the Septuagint and Arabic versions; which versions, and the custom alluded to, serve very much to illustrate the
It was usual with the Greeks (Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. 1. v. c. 3.) when armies were about to engage, that before the first ensigns stood a prophet or priesť bearing branches of laurels and garlands, who was called Pyrophorus, or the torch-bearer, because he held a lamp or torch; and it was accounted a most criminal thing to do him any hurt, because he performed the office of an embassador. This sort of men were priests of Mars and sacred to him, so that those who were conquerors always spared them. Hence, when a total destruction of an army, place, or people was hyperbolically expressed, it used to be said, not so much as a torch-bearer, or fire-carrier, escaped. (Herodot. Urania, sive l. viii. c. 6.) So Philo the Jew, speaking of the destruction of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, says, there was not so much as a torch-bearer left to declare the calamity to the Egyptians. And thus here, so general should be the destruction of the Edomites, that not one should be left in such an office as just described.