Page images
PDF
EPUB

HUZZAB—DOVES' EYES.

417

wilderness. And there you will meet these timid birds far away from the haunts of cruel hunters, of whose society they are peculiarly suspicious.

To what does Nahum allude when he says, And Huzzab shall be led away captive; she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves, tabering on their breasts ?2

The prophet is probably not responsible for all this English; but I suppose that Huzzab is another name for Nineveh, who was to go into captivity, led by her maidens tabering on their breasts as doves do, for it was the mourners, and not the doves, who tabered; there is foundation, however, in the manners of our bird for the comparison. When about to utter their plaintive moan, they inflate the throat and throw it forward until the neck rests upon the bosom. Thus they "taber" on their breasts. Now, if you have ever read the Thousand Nights, you will readily recall the favorite mode of introducing the great ladies who figure in those gorgeous and luxurious scenes. They are preceded by troops of "high-bosomed" beauties—"a temptation to the servants of God”—bearing tabrets and other instruments, upon which they discourse soul-melting music. In the present case, these "high-bosomed" damsels, with tabrets resting on their breasts, sang sorrowful strains before their captive queen.

David speaks of a dove whose wings were covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold. I have seen none that could have suggested these comparisons.

He refers to a kind found at Damascus, whose feathers, all except the wings, are literally as yellow as gold; they are very small, and kept in cages. I have often had them in my house, but their note is so very sad that I could not endure it; besides, they keep it up by night as well as by day. Nothing can exceed the plaintiveness of their midnight lamentation.

Solomon repeatedly mentions the eyes of the dove. Behold, thou art fair, my love; thou hast doves' eyes. And 1 Ps. lv. 6, 7.

? Nah. ii. 7. 3 Ps. lxviii. 13. 4 Song i. 15.

[graphic][merged small]

again: Thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks, which (singularly enough!) are as a flock of goats that appear from Mount Gilead. That is, her locks (not the doves' eyes) were jet, glossy black, like the Syrian goats; but all Oriental poets are fond of doves' eyes. The bride also repeats the compliment to her beloved, and even exaggerates it: His eyes are as the eyes of doves, by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.? There is a luxurious, delicious haze and indistinctness about such poetic extravagances which captivate the Oriental imagination. Nor is the comparison wholly extravagant. Doves delight in clear water-brooks, and often bathe in them; and then their liquid, loving eyes, “fitly set" within a border of softest skyey blue, do look as though just washed in transparent milk. To the millions who devoutly sing of the

“Heavenly Dove,

With all his quickening powers,' no other symbol either in or out of the Bible suggests so much precious instruction and spiritual comfort as this Song iv. 1.

2 Song v. 12.

[ocr errors]

HEBER THE KENITE--ANCIENT COIN.

419

sweet bird of ours. Pure and gentle, meek, loving, and faithful, the appropriate emblem of that Holy Spirit that descended from the opened heavens upon our blessed Lord at his baptism—0 may that heavenly dove

"Kindle a flame of sacred love

In these cold hearts of ours.' Our pleasant discourse has brought us up from the depths of Muaddămîyeh to this poor village of Alma. Whether it be known to sacred history or not, its site is certainly that of a very ancient town. There is nothing of interest in the village itself, but those black tents which dot the hillside bring to mind the children of the Kenite, Moses' father-inlaw, who left their original home in the Desert, entered Palestine with Israel, and settled first at Jericho, and then in the wilderness of Judah. Some time after this, Heber severed himself from his brethren, came north, and pitched his tent at Zaanaim-plain, oak, or terebinth — near Kūdes. . There is a curious tradition of this thing lingering among the dwellers hereabouts, though confused, and mixed up with incredible fables. An old Metāwely sheikh once greatly amused me with his version of the story. It is not worth telling, but it is nevertheless worthy of note that such a tradition is still kept alive in this very neighborhood, and it suggests the question whether these Arabs here may not sustain some remote relation to Heber and his heroic wife.

We are coming out upon a very naked and desolate country. It seems quite incapable of cultivation.

The path lies along the dividing ridge between the Hûleh and the great wady Leimûn, and such places are always barren. But if the peasants can not grow corn, they find coin. When I last traveled this road, some children had just discovered a large deposit of silver coin, of the Seleucidæ kings of Antioch, on the mountain a short distance ahead of us, and the whole country was in an uproar about it. I purchased some of the coin for the worth of the silver, which was a fraction less than a dollar. But there is Safed directly before us, with its castle rising conspicuous in the centre. As our visit is not to the people, but to see the town and the magnificent prospect from the castle, we shall proceed at once to it. When I was here in 1833, the walls were entire, and the interior was a prison for political offenders against the recently established authority of Mohammed Ali. Not being of that class, I could not then gain admittance, but since that time I have often visited it, and the whole is perfectly familiar to me. Let us tie our horses in this interior fosse, and climb to the top. You observe that the shape of the hill is a well-described oval, and the wall corresponds to it. The bottom of the outer ditch is now a very flourishing vineyard, and the entire circuit is not far from half a mile. The wall is mostly modern, but built on one more ancient, portions of which can be seen on the east side. The interior summit rises about a hundred feet higher than this wall, and was a separate castle, strongly defended. By creeping under these broken vaults, you obtain a sight of the true antiquities of Safed. Here are beveled stones, as heavy, and as aged in appearance, as those of the most celebrated ruins in the country; and they prove that this has been a place of importance from a remote age.

Is Safed mentioned in the Bible?

It has been identified with the Bethulia of the Maccabees, but erroneously, of course. The fables of the rabbis do not deserve notice. Maundrell, Jowet, and others throw out the hint that this was the city set on a hill which could not be hid;' and if that greatest of sermons was preached on the horns of Hŭttîn, or near them, as tradition affirms, and if any particular city was referred to, there would be plausibility enough in the suggestion. These ancient parts of the castle render it all but certain that there was then a city or citadel on this most conspicuous “hill” top; and our Lord might well point to it to illustrate and confirm his precept. The present Hebrew name is Zephath, and may either refer to its elevation like a watch-tower, or to the beauty and grandeur of the surrounding prospects. Certainly they are quite sufficient to suggest the name.

There lies Gennesaret, like a mirror set in frame-work of dark mountains and

| Matt. v. 14.

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »