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ed, as it were, within the very house of the Lord; and their presence there was not only ornamental, but appropriate and highly suggestive. The very best emblem, not only of patience in well-doing, but of the rewards of the righteous
-a fat and flourishing old age—a peaceful end—a glorious immortality. The Jews used palm-branches as emblems of victory in their seasons of rejoicing, and Christians do the same on Palm Sunday, in commemoration of our Saviour's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. They are often woven into an arch, and placed over the head of the bier which carries man to his "Iong home," and speak sweetly of victory and eternal life. We shall meet this striking and beautiful tree all along our journey, every where repeating, as an old friend, the same lessons of piety and encouragement.
What large black birds are those which fly furiously across the horizon, as if driven by some interior impulse of despair? The raven. Austere bird of ill omen! I never hear its
1 Levit. xxiii. 40.
harsh croak, or see it hurrying hither and thither, as if it could not rest, without thinking of Noah and the ark on Ararat. He sent forth this uneasy bird, which went to and fro until the waters were dried up, and never again sought safety or repose by returning to the ark. Sad emblem of those who fly from the
true ark, and only refuge against that other deluge which shall drown the ungodly in everlasting destruction!
And now we are entering the vast olive-orchards of Shwoifat. See! our noisy approach has frightened a timid dove from the midst of that fine old tree.
The dove and the olive! another association to remind us of the ark, and the second father of mankind. Who can see the dove sitting in this tree without thinking of that evening when she returned to the ark, and lo! in her mouth was an olive-leaf plucked off? Mute messenger from the world below, by which Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
The olive-tree, its fruit, and oil must have been known before the i Gen. viii. 11.
deluge, but whether the dove and the branch were emblems of peace and good-will by previous custom, or whether the hint was taken from this transaction, I shall not attempt to determine. The tradition among the Greeks that the first olive-branch that reached their country was carried by a dove from Phoenicia to the temple of Jupiter in Epirus, is certainly very remarkable. The connection of the dove with the olive, however, is quite natural. These groves are their favorite resort. In them they build their nests and rear their young, and there may be heard all day long their low, soft cooing, in sweet unison with the breeze which whispers peace to the troubled and repose to the weary.
It seems a fair deduction from the narrative in Genesis, that the flood must have risen in such a quiet way as not to destroy the trees, and must also have remained but a short time universal, else the olive would have perished.
We may at least conclude that lands sufficiently low and warm for the olive had been for some time uncovered when the dove went forth, or it could not have found young leaves upon them. This tree does not flourish in Syria more than three thousand feet above the sea, and in the interior not so high. Indeed, it is scarcely found at all in countries adjacent to Ararat, and the dove had probably to make a long flight for its leaf, which it could easily do before "evening.” And the objection to the literal meaning or strict veracity of this statement has no solid foundation, in the fact that the olive is not an inhabitant of the cold mountains of Armenia.
Have you ever met with any certain traces of the flood in this country?
There are myriads of fossil shells on Lebanon and elsewhere, even on the tops of the highest ranges, but no geologist would appeal to them in proof of the Noahic deluge. That was an event wholly miraculous, and the evidence of the fact is to be found in the sacred record, not in geological researches. I would by no means intimate, however, that future investigation may not uncover many well-ascertained footprints of that mighty catastrophe. But it is altogether foreign to our purpose to wander off into geological speculations, and we are not yet done with the olive-tree.
Far from it. There are many references to it in the Bible, some of which I am not able yet to appreciate. Thus Hosea says, His beauty shall be as the olive-tree. It does not strike me as very beautiful, but perhaps one's eye needs to be educated before it can distinguish properly and decide correctly on such questions in new and strange circumstances. .
No doubt. To me this noble grove, spreading like a silver sea along the base of the hills, and climbing their ascending terraces, is perfectly charming; and it speaks of peace and plenty, food and gladness. The olive-tree and its fruit make the face of man to shine in more senses than one. To a stranger it is necessarily destitute of these pleasing associations; but to me it is at all times both charming and refreshing to ride through such a grove when clothed with flowers, or when bowed down with fat and oily berries.
Moses, in that last ode which he taught the children of Israel, speaks of oil out of the flinty rock ;2 and until now I had supposed that this tree delighted in hard, rocky soil; but this vast grove spreads over a soft and sandy plain.
You were not mistaken-only misled by appearances. The substratum of this plain is chalky marl, abounding in flint, and the sand is merely an intruder blown in from this desert on our right. In such soil our tree flourishes best, both in the plains and upon the mountains. It delights to insinuate its roots into the clefts of the rocks and crevices of this flinty marl, and from thence it draws its richest stores of oil. If the overlying mould is so deep that its roots can not reach the rock beneath, I am told that the tree languishes, and its berries are small and sapless. There is, however, another explanation of this figure of Moses. In ancient times generally (and in many places at the present day) the olives were ground to a pulp in huge stone basins, by rolling a heavy stone wheel over them, and the oil was then expressed in stone presses established near by Fre| Hos. xiv. 6.
? Deut. xxxii. 13.
quently these presses, with their floors, gutters, troughs, and cisterns, were all hewn out of solid rock, and thus it literally poured out rivers of oil, as Job hath it in his parable. There is a ruin above Tyre, near Kânâh, called Im-il-'Awamîd, where scores of such presses are still standing, almost as perfect as they were twenty centuries ago, although every vestige of the groves which supplied the oil has long since disappeared.
I notice that the branches of some trees have been cut off, and then grafted; why is this done?
Simply because the olive, in its natural wild state, bears no berries, or but few, and these small and destitute of oil.
St. Paul has an extended reference to this matter. Stay till I turn to the passage, for there are some things in it which I have never understood. Here it is: If some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive-tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive-tree, boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. And then, in the 24th verse, For if thou wert cut out of the olive-tree, which is wild by nature, and wert grafted, contrary to nature, into a good olive-tree, etc., etc. Now here is my difficulty, and the exact point of inquiry. The olive, you say (and so says the Apostle), is wild by nature, and it must be grafted by the good before it will bear fruit; but here the Apostle speaks of grafting the wild into the good, not the good upon the wild.
True, he does; but observe, he says expressly that this is contrary to nature, as it really is. I have made particular inquiries on this point, and find that in the kingdom of nature generally, certainly in the case of the olive, the process referred to by the Apostle never succeeds. Graft the good upon the wild, and, as the Arabs say, it will conquer the wild, but you can not reverse the process with success. If you insert a wild graft into a good tree, it will conquer the good. It is only in the kingdom of grace that a process thus contrary to nature can be successful; and it is this circumstance 1 Job xxix. 6.
? Rom. xi. 17 and 18, 24.