Page images



we are told (Maundrell's Travels, p. 81.) several sorts of wild beasts, which are wont to harbour among the trees and bushes by the river side, are forced out of their covert, and infest the neighbouring plains. This circumstance is particularly alluded to by the prophet, Ch. xlix. 19. and seems likewise to have been here in his view. For among all the dire effects incident to a country from the approach of a foreign enemy,

this is not one of the least formidable, that evil-minded persons within the state are emboldened to throw off all legal restraints, and taking advantage of the general confusion, openly commit the most daring outrages on their fellow citizens, not only with impunity, but often under a pretence of zeal for the public welfare. Şilent leges inter arma, is a well known adage ; and the prophet found it verified to his cost, when even the authority of the king himself, as we learn from the following history, Ch.xxxviii. 4, 5. was insufficient to protect him from the malice of his persecutors.

6. Rely not upon them that they will speak friendly unto thee] That is, their former behaviour plainly shews, that thou canst not reasonably depend upon them for that countenance and support, which a man naturally looks for from that quarter, against the hostilities of strangers.

7.- the beloved of my soul] 01779 is more properly written in forty six MSS. and nine Editions 717974, See the first paragraph of the Note on Ch. xi. 15.

9. As the ravenous bird Tseboa-) Bochart (De sacr, animal. Par. 1. lib. iii. Cap. 11.) hath undeniably proved, that 1133 frequently signifies that fierce wild beast called the Hyæna; but not exclusively; for the same author admits in another part of his work a species of serpents to be designed by the same name, and that both these animals are so called from the various colours with which their bodies are marked, See Par. II. Lib. iii. Cap. 7. But this learned man has not, I think, so incontrovertibly maintained his opinion, that the Hyæna is here intended ; because in order to make good his assertion, he is obliged to construe n'y "a beast” instead of " a bird of prey.” And why not, says he, since the verb 29 or zowy belongs not to birds only, but to any animal that rushes on its prey.? I must confess I see no better reason to the contrary, nor does the nature of language require a better, than that common use,


arbiter in the case, hath restricted it to birds only; for it does not any where appear, as far as I know, to be used for a beast of prey, which is usually designed by a different word.—“ But to shew,” continues Bochart, “ that the name of our belongs not to birds only, 7103 a bird is sometimes added to it öva xpstixws, as Ezek. xxxix. 4. “ I will give thee unto the ravenous birds, 790% wys;" every d'r not being a bird, but beasts of the ravenous and carnivorous kind being included in that name.” This however shews nothing at all, being a mere circular fallacy; for without previously admitting the truth of the conclusion, that the name or belongs not to birds only, it does not appear that 7703 is added diacritically, and not rather pleonas


tically, or in some other manner *But what seems more probable is, that it is y12%, and not b'y, which is of ambiguous use, and may signify a species of bird so called from its variegated plumes, as we have already seen it attributed to a species of serpent, as well as to the Hy-æna, for a similar reason. And here I shall beg leave to borrow the words of Bochart, which follow those above cited, as much to the purpose. “ Nor is it a new thing,” says he, “ that the same name should belong in common to a ravenous bird and a carnivorous beast. In Greek, as every one knows, rigxos signifies a species of hawk, expewe a species of eagle, and IXTIVOS a kite. Yet Oppian enumerates among the different wolves κιρκον, ακμονα, and ικτινον. On the other hand the Greeks call a kite 28an from the similarity of disposition. And why a species of monedula (Anglice, a jackdaw) is called Aukos, is owing to its rapacity.” Now these reasons, though they may not prove, as I think they do not, that w'y is a generic name for a ravenous beast as well as a ravenous bird, since the instances adduced are of specific names only in the lowest degree; yet may well serve to evince by analogy, that 1938 may denote a species of bird, (of the eagle or falcon kind perhaps, some of which are known to have beautifully speckled or spotted feathers) as well as the Hyæna, and the serpent so called ; and accordingly the generic name n'yn, “ the bird of prey,” may be added in order to give it its proper discrimination. It may

further be observed in confirmation that y's ovyot means a ravenous bird, and not a beast, in this place, that in the subsequent part of the verse the birds of prey are called upon to come in a body, distinctly from the beasts of the field, whose attendance is likewise particularly required. This I am sensible might be looked upon as a kind of begging the question, were not the point in a manner determined not only by the text of Ezekiel just now cited, but also by another, Isa. xviii. 6. where both beasts and birds are found joined together in a manner exactly parallel. Now if o'yn be admitted in the second instance in this verse to signify a bird of prey, it is most likely that it bears the same sense in the first instance also. And indeed the context furnishes a good presumption of its so doing. God in the preceding verse had set forth, that his heritage or people had acted towards him as a lion, a particular kind of wild beast; in this he is supposed to liken their behaviour to that of a bird of prey equally fierce and rapacious ; hence he calls in return upon other ravenous creatures, birds as well as beasts, meaning the Chaldeans and Babylonians, to come forward and avenge his cause, by falling upon this ungrateful race and devouring them.

As there is no determining with certainty the particular species of

* From a view of the passage Ezek. xxxix. 4. I am inclined to think that 70'70 there is not a noun, but the infinitive verb with the prefixed; for if 71% piyly signified " to the ravenous birds,” we ought to read afterwards ninyo and to the beasts; but the words seem more properly to be rendered, “I have given thee to be fallen upon by (literally, to the falling upon of) the birds of every kind, and the þeasts of the field, for devouring; that is, I have given or appointed thee to be fallen upon and devoured by them.

bird to which the name 042% is given, the Hebrew name is therefore left in the version.

11. They have made it a desolation.] I know 'not how you can admit of being rendered passively free according to the Roman, or Syeinen, according to the Alexand. MS. of the LXX. All the other versions seem either to have read 7112w, ot to have supposed now to have been written contractedly for it.

12. Upon all the plains in the wilderness] By 12992 DDV the same I apprehend is meant as by 7279 nixCh. ix. 10. namely the smooth plots of greensword in the waste, or uncultivated country, which afford pasturage to the cattle. See notes on Ch. iy. 11. and Ch. ix. 10.

Ibid. -by JEHOVAH's appointment - ] 7107 - See notes on Ch. iv. 12. xv. 8,

&c. 13.—and shall not be benefited] Twenty MSS. and two Editions read by instead of Ny before i'; the Syr. and Vulg. also ptefix the Conjunction.

14. Thus saith JEHOVAH] Two MSS. read na '," Surely thus" and this seems to have been the reading in the copies used by the LXX. who have expressed 'a by otı.

16. Then shall they be built in the midst of my people] The aca ceptance of the believing Gentiles is here clearly intimated, and their union with the Churce of God, the middle wall of partition being thrown down. See concerning the actual accomplishment of this prophecy, Ephes. ii. 13_22.


This Chapter contains a single and distinct prophecy, which under two symbols, a linen girdle left to rot, and all vessels being filled with wine, foretels che utter destruction that was destined to fall upon

the whole Jewish nation, including the individuals of every rank and denonination, v. 1---14. An exhortation to humiliation and repentance is subjoined, v. 15.- 21. and the cause of all the evils is assigned in the general corruption and profligacy of manners that prevailed without prospect of amendment; v. 22. to the end. The particular mention of the joint downfal of the king and queen, ver. 18. seems to justify, the opinion which ascribes this prophecy to the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, whose fate with that of his queen is in like manner noticed together ; Ch. xxii. 18.

1.---but put it not in water] God explains at ver. 11. what was meant by the symbol of the girdle or sash worn about the loins, námely, his people Israel, whom he purchased and redeemed of old, and attached to himself by a special covenant; that as a girdle serveth for an ornament to the wearer, so they should be subservient to the our and glory of his name. But it is added, “ they would not hearken," or conform to his intentions ; therefore being polluted with the guilt of their disobedience, they were in that state, and on that very account, to be carried into captivity ; conformably to which the prophet was directed not to put the girdle in water, that is, not to wash it, but to leave it in that filthiness, which it had contracted in the wearing.

4.---go to Euphrates] In the margin of our ancient English Bibles it is remarked, that “ because this river Perath or Euphrates was far from Jerusalem, it is evident that this was a vision.” And the generality of the best commentators seem to have been of this opinion. Nor indeed is it very credible, that the prophet should have been sent twice upon a journey of such considerable length and difficulty, to a very great loss of his time, when every purpose would have been answered altogether as well, if the transaction had been represented in vision.

The same supposition of a vision must be admitted in other cases also, particularly Ch. xiv. 15---29. for it would be a downright absurdity to believe, that Jeremiah actually went round with a cup in his hand to all those kings and nations there enumerated, and made them drink of its contents. And

yet the prophet makes no more distinction in this latter case, than in that now before us, between mental and bodily action. The reason of which in both cases most probably was, that as to the inatter in hand it made no difference, whether the performances related were visionary or real; for either way they served equally to represent the events, which it was God's pleasure to make known. In like manner St Paul, who says of himself

, that he was caught up once into the third heaven, and another time into par...lise, where he heard things beyond the power of utterance, was at the same time himself left in a state of uncertainty, whether he was in the body, or out of the body; but though he could not decide this point, he was not in the least degree doubtful of the truth of what was then revealed to him. 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3, 4.- Bochart however supposes, that Jeremiah's journeys and all the transactions were real ; but that by 778773 is to be understood

tox, Ephrata, a town not far distant from Jerusalem ; and supports his conjecture by saying, that the elision of the first letter or syllable * is not uncommon; and that when the Euphrates is meant, the word 9773, river, always precedes.-But supposing that to be the case, the symbolical representation would not be near so perfect, as wanting that allusion to the place of the captivity of the Jews, which is to be found in the river Euphrates, emphatically called, “ The rivers of Babylon," Ps. cxxxvii. 1.

9.-exceedingly] 577 is probably the adjective 24 used adverbially with the article 7, to denote the superlative degree; See Ps. li. 4. where ann is adopted by the Masoretes instead of 172777, and is the reading found in twenty seven MSS. and three Editions.

12, And they will say unto thee, Do we not know, &c.] This answer, which God foretels would be made by the people to the foregoing denunciation, seems to imply that by a wilful mistake they would put a literal construction upon his words, as if he had meant to tell them of a plentiful vintage that was coming on, which would fill all their wine vessels; and of this they claim to be as good judges as he from the

[ocr errors]

promising appearance of the vineyards.“ Do you tell us this as a piece of news, or a supernatural discovery? Is it not evident to us as well as to you ?!! But the prophet is directed to deal more plainly with them, and to tell them that the wine he meant was not such as would exhi. larate, but such as would intoxicate ; being no other than what would be poured out of the wine cup of God's fury to the subversion of all ranks and orders of men among them. Compare Ch. xxv. 15-29. and see Bp. Lowth's notes on Isa. i. 22. li. 21.

13. in David's stead-] This is evidently the literal construction of 7972, the particle 2 signifying vice, loco, " in the stead of.” See Noldius.

16. Before it grows dark] 7wm. Three and twenty MSS. and three Editions read yown', according to which our English translators have rendered, “ before he cause the darkness.” But the more general reading is qurt', the future in Kal of yun, which signifies “ to be or grow dark.” This seems rather preferable, and is conformable to the version of the LXX. Syr. and Vulgate, " before it grows dark ;" that is, before the time of darkness or distress comes on ; darkness being common emblem of distress or misery.

Ibid.- the mountains of gloominess] By. nwo 7 I imagine those caverns and holes in the mountains are meant, which the Jews were wont to make use of for burying places; the gloomy shade of which probably gave rise to that expression we meet with both here and elsewhere," the shadow of death.” The prophet Isaiah makes use of much the same images, Isa. lix. 9, 10. where he represents the people as thus complaining of the wretchedness of their situation :

We look for light, but behold darkness !
For brightness, but we walk in obscurity.
We grope for the wall like the blind,
Even as those that are eyeless do we grope :
We stumble at midday, as in the dusk,

In desolate places, like the dead. Our translators seem rightly to have derived on wy in the last of these lines from Wx, to make desolate ; and the “ desolate places” probably intend the same as “the dark mountains," those solitary and gloomy mansions, at which when “the dead” arrive, they may by a poetical image be supposed to stumble because of the darkness, and to fall so as never to rise more. Compare Ps. xliv. 20. cxliii. 3.

Ibid. It there be turned, &c.] The Masoretes for 17 w substitute nowy; and so it is found in sixteen MSS. and four Editions. This variation affords ground to suspect a mistake in the text; but it is pro

, , future in Niphal, which the sense seems to require ; and is indeed only a transposition of the 1 and · in miwi. The LXX. render nowy, zoo tres, and none of the ancient versions express more than one verb.

17.-- whilst ye are in secure 'places) s'inona-90 in Hiphil signifies to secure or protect from danger or evil ; Ps. xvii. 8. xxxi. 21.

the ,ישות but ,ושית nor ישית bable that the true reading was neither

« PreviousContinue »