« PreviousContinue »
and the whole of his history, with many fabulous additions, was known among the Syrians, Chaldeans, and Arabians; among the latter of whom, many of the noblest families are distinguished by his name, and boast of being descended from him, (Elmacir, Hist. Saracen, p. 3. D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient. voce Aiúb.)*
The history of Job, then, though greatly disguised, is well known among the Asiatics. He is called by Arabian and Persian historians Ayoub, which is merely a different pronunciation of the Hebrew 17, Eeyov, which has been strangely metamorphosed by Europeans into Job. In the Tareekh Muntekheb, his genealogy is given thus: "Ayoub the son of Anosh, the son of Razakh, the son of Ais (Esau), the son of Isaac. He was a prophet; and was afflicted with a grievous malady three years, or, according to others, seven years; at the end of which, when eighty years of age, he was restored to perfect health, and had a son called Bash ben Ayoub. Other writers say he had five sons, with whom he made war upon a brutal people called Dsul Kefel, whom he extirpated because they refused to receive the knowledge of the true God, whom he preached to them." Abul Faragius, who calls him Ayoub assadeek, Job the righteous, says that the trial of Job happened in the twentyfifth year of Nahor, son of Serug; thus making him prior to Abraham. Khondemir, who entities him Job the patient, says he was descended by his father's side from Esau, and by his mother from Lot; and then proceeds to give his history, the same, upon the whole, as that contained in this book, though blended with fables. The facts are, however, the same, and we find that, with the oriental historians, the personality, temptation, and deliverance of Job are matters of serious credibility. In fact, whatever uncertainty and variety of opinion may have existed respecting the country, parentage, and age of Job, the reality of his history has never been, and never can be, successfully questioned; and whoever was the author of this book, and in whatever time or language it may have been written, it has ever been received by both the Jewish and Christian churches, as perfectly authentic, and written by the inspiration of the Almighty.t
(14.) The history of Jonah.-The fame of the prophet's deliverance appears to have been widely propagated among the heathen nations; and the Greeks, ever fond of adorning the memory of their heroes by every event and embellishment which they could appropriate, added to the fictitious adventures of Hercules, that of having continued three days and nights in the belly of a sea monster, kaрxapоç кvwv, or shark, cutting and hacking his entrails, and afterwards coming out of the monster without any injury, except the loss of his hair. The fable of Arion and the Dolphin, of which the date is fixed at a period nearly coeval with that of
* Comprehensive Bible, Introd. to Job.
+ Idem. Concluding Remarks to Job.
Jonah, is probably also a misrepresentation of the particulars recorded in this sacred Book.*
(15.) The fertility of Palestine.-See Josephus, (Ant. l. v. c. 1, § 21; 1. xv. c. 5, § 1; Bell. 1. iii. c. 3, § 2), Hecatæus, (in Joseph. cont. Ap. l. i. § 22), Pliny, (1. v. c. 17), Tacitus, (l. v. c. 6), Justin, (l. xxxvi. c. 3), and Ammianus Marcellinus, (l. xix. c. 26.) See also Maundrell, Shaw, Dr. E. D. Clarke, (Trav. P. ii. pp. 520, 521, 4to.) &c.†
(16.) The destruction of the Canaanites by Joshua and the Israelites.— Besides several of the transactions related in the Book of Joshua being confirmed by the traditions current among heathen nations, and preserved by ancient profane historians of undoubted character, there are ancient monuments extant, which prove that the Carthaginians were a colony of Syrians who escaped from Joshua; as also that the inhabitants of Leptis in Africa came originally from the Sidonians, who abandoned their country on account of the calamities with which it was overwhelmed.§ Procopius relates, (Vandal. 1. ii. c. 10), that the Phoenicians fled before the Hebrews into Africa, and spread themselves abroad as far as the pillars of Hercules, and adds, “In Numidia where now stands the city Tigisis, (Tangiers,) they have erected two columns, on which, in Phoenician characters, is the following inscription: We are the Phoenicians, who fled from the face of Jesus (or Joshua) the son of Naue (Nun)." The overthrow of Og, king of Bashan, and the Anakim, is considered as having given rise to the fable of the overthrow of the giants; || and the tempest of hail-stones was transformed by the poets into a tempest of stones, with which Jupiter overwhelmed the enemies of Hercules in Arim, exactly the country where Joshua fought with the children of Anak.¶
(17.) Jephthah's devoting his daughter-which gave rise to the story of Iphigenia (Iphthygenia, i. e. the daughter of Jephthah,) being sacrificed by her father Agamemnon to gain the gods over to his side.**
(18.) The history of Samson.-The Vulpinaria, or feast of foxes, celebrated by the Romans at the feast of Ceres, in the month of April, (the Jewish harvest, but the Roman seed-time,) in which they fixed burning torches to the tails of a number of foxes, and let them run through the circus till they were burnt to death, said to be in revenge upon that species of animal for having once burnt up the fields of corn,†† was evidently derived from the story of Samson, probably conveyed into Italy by the Phœnicians.
• Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Jonah. See Grotius, de Veritate, l. i. c. 16. Huet, Demonstrat. Evangelica, prop. iv. vol. i. p. 433. 8vo. edit. Bocharti Opera, tom. iii. p. 742. et seq. Pfeiffer, in Difficiliora loca Scripturæ, Cent. iv. Locus 86. Opera, tom. i. pp. 447, 448.
+ Comprehensive Bible, Introd. p. 59.
See particularly Justin, 1. 36. c. 2. and Tacitus, 1. 5. c. 2, 3.
§ Allix's Reflections on the Books of the Old Testament, ch. 2.
|| Polybius Frag. 104. Sallust. Bell. Jugurthin. c. 22.
Allix's Reflections ut supra. Huet. Demonstrat. Evangel. vol. i. p. 273, et seq. Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Joshua.
In the history of Samson and Delilah, we have the original of Nisus, king of Megara, and his daughter Scylla, who cut off the fatal purple lock, upon which victory depended, and gave it to his enemy Minos, then at war with him, who by that means destroyed both him and his kingdom.* And, to mention no more, it appears highly probable, that Samson is the original and essential Hercules of fable; for, although the poets have united several particulars drawn from Moses and Joshua, and have added their own inventions, yet the most capital and considerable belong to Samson, and are distinguished by characters so peculiar to him, as to render him easily discerned throughout the whole.t
(19.) The history of Samuel and Saul.—The following history is given by the Afghans, a people generally supposed to be of Jewish origin: "In a war which raged between the Children of Israel and the Amalekites, the latter being victorious, plundered the Jews, and obtained possession of the Ark of the Covenant. Considering this [as] the God of the Jews, they threw it into the fire, which did not affect it. They afterwards attempted to cleave it with axes, but without success: every individual who treated it with indignity was punished for his temerity. They then placed it in their temple; but all their idols bowed to it. At length they fastened it upon a cow, which they turned loose in the wilderness. When the prophet Samuel arose, the Children of Israel said to him, 'We have been totally subdued by the Amalekites, and have no king. Raise to us a king, that we may be enabled to contend for the glory of God.' Samuel said, 'In case you are led out to battle, are you determined to fight?' They answered, What has befallen us, that we should not fight against infidels? That nation has banished us from our country and children.' At this time the angel Gabriel descended, and delivering a wand, said, 'It is the command of God, that the person whose stature shall correspond with this wand shall be king of Israel.' Melec Tálút was at that time a man of inferior condition, and performed the humble employment of feeding the goats and cows of others. One day, a cow under his charge was accidentally lost. Being disappointed in his searches, he was greatly distressed, and applied to Samuel, saying, 'I have lost a cow, and I do not possess the means of satisfying the owner. Pray for me, that I may be extricated from this difficulty.' Samuel perceiving that he was a man of lofty stature, asked his name. 6 He answered, Tálút.' Samuel then said, 'Measure Talut with the wand which the angel Gabriel brought.' His stature was equal to it. Samuel then said, 'God has raised Talut to be your king.' The Children of Israel answered, 'We are greater than our king. We are men of dignity, and he is of inferior condition. How shall he be our
Ovid. Metam. 1. 8. fab. 1.
This is clearly shewn by M. Lavaur, Conference de la Fable avec l'Histoire Saint; a translation of part of which is given by Dr. A. Clarke on Judges 16. Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Judges.
king?' Samuel informed them, they should know that God had constituted Talut king, by his restoring the Ark of the Covenant. He accordingly restored it, and they acknowledged him their sovereign." Asiatic Researches, vol. ii. p. 119, et seq.*
Similar accounts are current among the Orientals. They relate, that Samuel having made his report to God, that the Hebrews were resolved to have a king, God gave him a vessel or horn full of oil, and a staff, revealing to him, that the man in whose presence the oil should boil in the vessel, and whose stature should be equal to that staff, was appointed for their king. No sooner was this determination published among the people, but all the chiefs of the tribes came with great eagerness to measure themselves by the staff, and to try if the oil would boil in their presence; but in vain. Saul, otherwise called Sharek, and surnamed Talut, i. e. the Tall, who was no more than a carrier of water, or dresser of leather, came to the prophet among the rest, and immediately the oil began to boil in his presence, and he was found just the height of the miraculous staff. On these tokens, Samuel declared him king; but the heads of the tribes, especially that of Judah, to whom the royal dignity had been promised, expostulated, saying, How can this man be our king, who has no estate? How can he support the expence and dignity of the royal state? Samuel replied, The Lord has chosen him, who disposes of kingdoms without control, to whomsoever he pleases. The Israelites would not yet submit, but insisted on having a sign from Samuel, that they might be assured from God, that this was his will. Samuel answered them, This is the miracle that God gives you to confirm his choice; the ark of the Lord which was taken away by the Philistines, shall be brought back to you by the angels. When, therefore, the election of Saul was proclaimed, the Philistines being resolved to conceal the ark of the Lord, which had caused them so many misfortunes by its presence, they hid it in a dunghill, but they were smote with a shameful disease, which determined them to send it back to the confines of the land of Israel. It was no sooner arrived at this place, than the angels of the Lord took it up, and carried it to the tabernacle of Shiloh; and this miracle secured Saul in his kingdom. (See D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. p. 735, 1021.) These traditions may justly be regarded as a confirmation, if such were really wanting, of the Scripture History; and as genuine instances of the variations of tradition from that precision which belongs to truth, even while it approaches near to truth. In reading this, and similar tales, it is impossible the observation should escape our notice, how much sUPERIOR the simple narrations of Scripture are to whatever is current elsewhere; what additional authority they derive from their simplicity, and their unlaboured, unassuming manner; what nature there is in them, what
* Comprehensive Bible, note on 1 Sam. 10. 9.
ease and verisimility. No person, whose taste and judgment is undepraved, can hesitate which system to prefer, even supposing the nonexistence of other criteria.*
(20.) The slaying of Goliath.-The tradition of the combat between David and Goliath, in which the latter was killed, is preserved among the Arabs; for he is mentioned in the Koran, (sur. ii. 250.) where he is called Galut or Jalut. The Arabs also call the dynasty of the Philistine kings, who reigned in Palestine, when the Hebrews came there, Galutiah or Jalutiah. Achmed al Fassi, in his book called Ketab al Jamman, says, 'those kings were as well known by the name of Jalaut, as the ancient kings of Egypt by that of Pharaoh. David killed the Jalaut, who reigned in his time, and entirely rooted out the Philistines, the rest of whom fled into Africa, and from them descended the Brebers or Berbers who inhabit the coast of Barbary.' (D'Herbelot under Gialut.) It is remarkable that the Berbers themselves should acknowledge their descent from the Philistines. "The name Goliath, which they pronounce Sghiàlud, is very common among the Brebers, and the history of the champion of the Philistines is very well known to the Moors. When children quarrel, and the bigger one challenges the smaller to fight, the latter answers, 'Who will fight with you? (Enta men ulid Sgialud.) You are of the race of Goliath.' The Jews who dwell among them, on the mountains, all call themselves Philistines." Host's Account of Morocco and Fez, p. 133t.
(21.) Many remarkable circumstances respecting David and Solomon, which are mentioned by Eupolemus and Dius, as quoted by Eusebius, (Præp. Evang. lib. ix. c. 30-34, 39-41.) agreeing with those detailed in the Sacred books; and furnishing additional external evidence, if such were needed, of the truth of these inspired records.‡
(22.) The narrative of the invasion of Israel by Shalmaneser, and the deportation of the ten tribes, which is confirmed by certain ancient sculptures on the mountains of Be-Sitoon, on the borders of the ancient Assyria. For the knowledge of these antiquities we are indebted to the persevering researches of Sir R. K. Porter, by whom they were first discovered and delineated; and to his Travels we refer our readers for a very luminous and interesting description. §
(23.) The destruction of Sennacherib's army, which is confirmed by Herodotus, (1. ii. c. 142.); who, quoting the Egyptian priests, says, that Sethon, being attacked by Sennacherib, king of the Arabians and Assyrians, and seeing himself deserted by his own soldiers, begged of Vulcan some speedy assistance. Vulcan appeared to him the night following, and promised him help. Sethon therefore, marching with a few troops, advanced to Pelusium; and the same night, a great number of rats came into the camp of the Assyrians, and gnawed their shield straps, quivers,
Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to 1 Samuel.
+ Idem, Note on 1 Samuel xvii. 50. Idem, Concluding Remarks to 2 Samuel. Travels in Georgia, Persia, &c, vol. ii. pp. 154-162. Concluding Remarks to 2 Kings.