Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

he was magnified in the sight of all nations, from thenceforth. 2 Chron. xxxii. 23. If other nations made presents to the Temple at Jerusalem, it cannot but be thought, that the Jews, when disposed to fall in with the idolatries of their neighbours, would send gifts to their more celebrated temples, in honour of the deities worshipped there, and especially when they courted superstitious princes, zealously attached to the worship of their country gods.

Can we imagine that the messengers of king Ahaziah went empty-handed, when they were sent to consult Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether Ahaziah should recover or not? 2 Kings i. 2.

Oil is now very frequently presented to the objects of Eastern religious reverence, and as it is apparently derived from ancient usages, the sending oil by the Jews to Egypt, in the time of Hosea, might probably be for a like purpose.

The Algerines, according to Pitts, “when they are in the Straights-mouth, they 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 over-board, as a present to the marabbot or saint, which lies entombed there, on the Barbary shore, near the sea, and has so done for many score of years, as they are taught to believe ; not in the least doubting but the present

P P. 17. 18.

will come safe to the marabbot's hands. When this is done, they all together hold up their hands, begging the marabbot's blessing, and a prosperous voyage. And if they at any time happen to be in a very great strait, or distress, as being chased, or in a storm, they will gather money, and do likewise. Besides which, they usually light up abundance of candles in remembrance of some dead marabbot or other, calling upon him with heavy sighs and groans. At such times they also collect money, and wrap it in a piece of linen-cloth, and make it fast to the ancient staff of the ship, so dedicating it to some marabbot; and there it abides till the arrival of the ship, when they bestow it in candles, or oil, to give light, or in some ornament to beautify the marabbot's sepulchre."

I have, in a preceding volume, considered this passage of Hosea, but I then only considered that

passage as expressive of the largeness of the quantity of oil produced in the Holy Land: but it now appears to me capable of being viewed in a stronger point of light, and to express something of idolatry: the two purposes of courting the Egyptian monarch, and honouring the idols of that country, might, very possibly, be united together.

There is a long account, in Maillet,' of the processions of the ancient Egyptians on the Nile, in the four months of June, July, August, and September, the time of the inundation of that 9 Stretch out their hands, in the language of Scripture.

Lett. 2d.

river. If we may believe his accounts, deduced from old Arab authors, the ancient princes of Egypt, attended by their nobles, and infinite multitudes of their common subjects, passed up and down the Nile, in order to visit the tempies of their idols, as well as for pleasure. These large and pompous boats were illuminated with vast multitudes of lamps, as were doubtless their temples, though Maillet says nothing, I think, in particular about them.

But it is natural to suppose this, since he tells us, that these solemn river-processions are, in some measure, still continued, only their devotions transferred from the old idols of Egypt to later Mohammedan saints, and the ancient idolatrous Egyptian festivals succeeded by those of Sidy Ibrahim, Sidy Hamet Bedouin, and other Turkish saints, whose tombs are still annually visited, with the same concourse of people, and nearly the same ceremonies.' And we know, from the citations already produced under this article, that the consecrated oil is now employed in illuminating these sacred sepulchres.

The sending then oil to Egypt might be, not only to assist in making the idolatrous processions on the Nile more brilliant, but also with the direct unequivocal design of illuminating the idol temples of that country.

And if this be allowed, there will appear an emphasis in this complaint of Hosea,' which

• P. 82.

· Their conduct will be just the reverse of that of those heathens who brought gifts to the temple of Jehovah, and presents to Hezekiah, according to that place of 2 Chron. just now cited.

must be very much diminished, if we consider it only as an act of common national perfidiousness. But I do not recollect that commentators have understood the words in this more provoking sense.

OBSERVATION VIII.

Of the Illuminations made on the Nile.

I indistinctly mentioned the illuminations that are wont to be made on the Nile, in the time when it overflows Egypt, in the preceding article; but here I would propose it to the learned to consider, whether they are not referred to by the son of Sirach, when he

says, that God maketh the doctrine of knowledge appear as the light, and as Geon in the time of vintage."

He had before compared God's filling all things with his wisdom, to the Tygris as filled with water in the time of the new fruits; and had described his causing understanding to abound, as Jordan abounds with water in the time of harvest; and many have been ready to suppose that Geon is mentioned in the same view, as a third river that was wont to overflow, from the copiousness of the descent of water down its channel in the time of vintage. But it is to be observed, that from the swelling of some rivers he had been mentioning, the writer

a Eccles, xxiv. 27.

had passed on to another thought, comparing it to light. He maketh the doctrine of knowledge appear as the light, and as Geon in the time of vintage ; which could rather lead us to apprehend, that he compares it to the light of Geon, at that time of the year when grapes are gathered for the making of wine.

This thought is so natural, that it struck the celebrated Grotius, who accordingly, in his comment on this place, explains it of the clearness of this river at the time of vintage, and that on the account of its being so limpid then, he compares it to light. This is the time indeed when the Euphrates is most clear, and consequently it may be believed its various branches, the water having settled after its riodical inundation, and the rains not having fallen, in such quantities at least, as to make the water foul and muddy ; * but it must be a terrible sinking from the image used in the first part of the verse, where he compares knowledge to the light of the morning, when in the second part of the verse he goes on to compare it to the clearness of a river, not at all more remarkable than other rivers for that quality; but if by Geon he meant the Nile, as many have supposed he did, considering he resided in Egypt, where this book was written, or at least received the finisbing hand, and as well acquainted with the pompous illuminations there, whose light was so gloriously reflected

Phil. Trans. abr. vol. 3, part 2, ch. 2, art. xl. 2, re. lating to a 2d voyage to Tadmor, under October 11.

pe

X

« ForrigeFortsæt »