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was from the sea. In consequence of this, wherever her worship prevailed, fish were esteemed sacred ; and the inhabitants would not feed upon them. This was the case at Edessa, called Hierapolis, where Atargatis, or Derceto, was held in particular veneration, Xenophon, in his march through these parts, observed, in a river called Chalus, many large fishes, which appeared tame, and were never taken for food : the natives esteeming them as gods. Lucian tells us, that this worship was of great antiquity; and was introduced into these parts from Egypt. The same
* Βαμβυκη πολις-ην και Εδεσσαν, και Ιεραν πολιν καλεσιν. εν και τις μωσι Συριαν θεον, την Αταργατιν. Strab. 1. 16. p. 1085. Katu την παλαι Βαμβυκην ιχθυες εισιν ιεροι. Εlian de An. 1. 12. c. 2.
Ibi prodigiosa Atargatis, Græcis autem Derceto dicta, colitur. Pliny, l. 5. c. 28. p. 266. Theon tells us, that out of honour to the goddess, the Syrians abstained from fish, ha • Evgsou oyOuwe atsxovt. Schol. in Aratum, p. 32. Some
that Derceto was turned into a fish. Συρων γραφοι δε λιγεσιν ιχθυς αρτης γενεσθαι Οθεν εδ' εσθιασι τινων ιχθυων Συροι,
Joh. Tzetzes. Chil. ix. Hist. 275. 172. --πληρη ιχθυων μεγάλων και πραεων, ες οι Συρι θεες ενομιζον. Arab. I. 1.
254. 3 De Syriâ Deâ, p. 877. He stiles the temples--exes και μεγάλα έρα. ibid. P.
custom seems to have been kept up in • Babylonia : but what was of more consequence to the Israelites, it prevailed within their own borders. Dagon of Ashdod, or Azotus, was the same deity : and represented under a like figure as Atargatis. The same rites and abstinence were observed also at Ascalon.
3 Die odorus Siculus speaks of this city, which he places in Syria, rather than Palestine; at no great distance from which he says was a large lake, abounding with fishes. Near it was a noble temple of the goddess Derceto, whom they represented with the face of a woman, but from thence downwards under the figure of a fish. The history of Derceto in this place was, that she threw herself into this lake, and was changed to a fish. ;On which account the * inhabitants of Ascalon, and of some parts of Syria, abstained from fish: and held those of the lake as so many deities.
* Cogitat, et dubia est, de te Babylonia' narret Derceti, quam verså, squamis velantibus artus, Stagna Palæstinæ credunt celebrâsse figurâ.
Ovid. Met. l. 4. V. 44, 45. Manilius makes it a Babylonish history ;
Scilicet in piscem sese Citharea novavit,
Astronom. I. 4. v. 577. 1 Samuel c. 5. v. 2, 3, 3 Diodorus. Sic. 1. 2. p. 92.
* Διο και τες Συρες μεχρι το νυν απιχεσθαι τοτε το ζωε, και σιρμαν TUS OXBus ds JosDiodor. ibid.
Extent of this Worship.
However strange this idolatry may appear, yet we see how very far it reached; and with what a reverence it was attended. It was to be found not only in Syria, which was sufficiently near; but in the borders of' Lebanon; also at Ascalon, Ashdod, and Joppa; which cities were within the precincts of the tribes of Dan and Judah. These prodigies therefore in Egypt were very salutary and well directed. They must have had a great influence upon the Israelites; and been attended with a permanent disgust and abhorrence.
The fallacy too of the worship must have been apparent : when judgments were thus executed upon these reputed deities: who could neither
protect their votaries, nor defend themselves. Whose priests and magicians were obliged to sue to the servants of the true God to remedy those evils, which the popular gods were not
Tες ιχθυς ετω σέβεσαι περιττως, ως Hλειο: τον Δια. Clemens Alex. Cohort. p. 35.
Δερκετες δε ειδος εν Φοινικη αθηησαμμην. Lucian de Syria Dei,
able to avert. Herein were verified the words of God to Moses-Against all the gods of Esypt I will execute judgment. Exodus xii. 12.
I thought it might be attended with some utility to shew, what appeared to me to be the purpose of divine wisdom in this judgment displayed upon the Egyptians. For I cannot help thinking that without this explanation we see neither the extent nor the propriety of the punishment.
THE SECOND PLAGUE.
Ch. viii. Ver. 1. And the Lord spake unto Meses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may
And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs:
V. 3. And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, &c.
V. 5. And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thine hand with thy rod over the streams, over the rivers, and over the ponds, (or lakes) and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.
V. 6. And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.
V. 13. And the Lord did according to the word of Moses: und the frogs died out of the houses, out of the villages, and out of the fields.
V. 14. And they gathered them together upon heaps; and the land stank.
This evil, like the former, arose from their sacred river, in which they so much confided; and of whose sanctity and excellence they were so much persuaded. Its streams by these means became a second time polluted, and disgraced, to the utter confusion both of their gods and priests. The land also was equally defiled, and their palaces and temples rendered hateful : so that every native was infected, and had no way to perform any lustration, and to cleanse himself from the filth, with which he was tainted. Every stream, and every lake, was in a state of pollution. Whether the frog among the Egyptians was an object of reverence, or of abhorrence, is ' uncertain:
' The wolf, Avros, was sacred to the God of Light, because at the appearance of the sun he retires.