Page images

which he wears on state occasions being, together, deemed 18. . He bade them teach the children of Judah the use worth a million sterling. This use of the bracelet was of the bow.'—The words the use of' not being in the not, in ancient times, unknown in our own country. Thus original, some commentators think that the Bow' was the emblems of supreme authority among the British the title of the ensuing elegy, and that this is what was kings were golden bands, worn around the neck, arms, commanded to be taught. This is possible ; but the comand knees (Turner's Anglo Saxons, i. 383). One such mon reading seems more than equally so, as the expeornament, set with jewels, and supposed to have belonged | rience of the efficacy of this weapon, in the recent engageto Caractacus, was found at the Herefordshire Beacon ment with the Philistines (1 Sam. xxxi. 3), was well

calculated to direct David's attention to the subject, and induce him to desire that more attention should be paid to that arm for warlike purposes. David's own stay among the Philistines was also calculated to operate for the same result. The bow was indeed well known to the Hebrews long before this time, but it does not appear that it was used to any considerable extent as a military weapon. We read of no corps of archers in the Hebrew army till after David's time; but very large bodies of archers are subsequently mentioned. They appear to have been chiefly Benjamites, who seem, throughout their history, to have been remarkable for their partiality to missile weapons. The archers of Ephraim are, however, mentioned once (comp. 1 Chron. viii. 40; 2 Chron. xiv. 8, and xvii. 17; Ps. lxxviii. 9). The frequent reference to archery in the Psalms would alone suffice to shew the interest which David took in the subject. The Bible

itself bears witness to the extreme antiquity of the bow. oooooo

Ishmael, when banished from his father's tents, dwelt in

the wilderness, and became an archer; and his nephew, PERSIAN ARMLETS.

Esau, employed the bow in his hunting (Gen. xxi. 20, (Nash's Worcestershire, ii, 142). In the early Saxon era, and xxvii. 3). Very probably the invention of the bow such ornaments, although become more common, were originated in the desire to obtain a weapon for the distant confined to persons of high distinction, and if of gold, attack of animals, whose strength or swiftness rendered were considered proper presents for the sovereign.

a close assault difficult or dangerous. Such a weapon

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

TEACHING THE USE OF THE Bow.–From a Sculpture at Thebes. would, of course, soon come to be employed against man; to be those which are the most universal; because that and to this we find allusions towards the end of Genesis, simplicity of construction which leads to early invention, where, speaking of Joseph, the dying Israel says: “The leads also to independent discovery among different and archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and unconnected nations. This applies to the bow, which we hated him. But his (owu) bow abode in strength, and find to have been very extensively diffused. It exists the arms of his hands were made strong' (Gen. xlix. 23, among nations the most brutal, or ignorant, or savage, 24). Here the strength of the arms is properly alluded and even in the islands which lie most remote from any to, a strong arm being necessary to bend a strong bow. continent; although, indeed, there have been some nations The aged patriarch had, on a former occasion, told Jo among whom no trace of its existence can be discovered. seph: Behold I have given thee one portion above thy The ancient bows were for the most part of wood, but brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with we sometimes read of horn being employed. Those of my sword and with my bow' (xlviii. 22).

wood were tipped with horn, and those of horn with metal The most ancient offensive or defensive arms seem also -often gold or silver. Indeed the bow was sometimes


AscieXT EGYPTIAN Boirs, wholly of metal, as steel or brass ; and such are mentioned paid great attention to archery, was usually of wood, and in Scripture (Job xx. 24 ; Ps. xviii. 34). These of course about five feet in length. It appears from the sculptures were, from their stiffness, bent with great difficulty ; that, in stringing it, the Egyptians fixed the lower point of whence David, in the last-cited text, properly mentions the bow in the ground, and, either standing or sitting, it as a proof of the extraordinary strength with which the pressed the knee against the inner side of the bow, while Lord had endowed him, that a bow of steel was broken they bent it with one hand, and with the other passed the by his arms. Thus, on account of the force required to string into the notch at the upper extremity. While bend some ancient bows, whether of wood, metal, or horn, shooting they frequently wore a guard on the left arm, to it was often proposed as a trial of strength to bend some prevent its receiving an injury from the string; and this particular bow; and we find ancient heroes glorying in was not only fastened round the wrist, but was secured by the possession and use of a bow which no one but them. a thong tied above the elbow. Sometimes a groove was selves could bend. Such was the famons bow of Ulysses. fixed upon the fore knuckle, in which the arrow rested It had remained among his treasures during the twenty and ran when discharged; and the huntsman, whose bow years of his absence from Ithaca. In the end, it was appears to have been less powerful than those used in war, agreed that the hand of his supposed widow should be occasionally held spare arrows in his right hand while he given to him who, out of the numerous suitors, should be pulled the string. - See Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians, able to bend this bow and to send the arrow through ch. iii. twelve rings. The bow was of horn, and the string had

The bowstring was, among the ancients, formed of 1 remained unhitched at one end, as usual when the weapon leathern thongs, horsehair, catgut, or string. The arrous was not in use. Not one of the suitors was able even so were usually either of reed or light wood, headed with far to bend the bow as to hitch on the string at the bone, ivory, 'sharp stone, brass, or iron. They were some loosened end, although they tried to relax the rigidity of times simply pointed, but oftener barbed, or leaf-shaped, the bow by chafing it with suet before the fire. At last like a spear-head. Arrow heads of bronze have been Ulysses himself, who was present in the disguise of a found in Egypt, triangular, in the shape of an elongated beggar, takes it, and the description of the manner in cone, with a barb at each angle. The horrible practice of which he deals with it is highly interesting.

poisoning the points of arrows, which now exists among

many barbarous nations, is very ancient. Ulysses is re. He now, with busy look and curious touch,

presented in Homer as having made a voyage to the island Explored the bow, now viewing it remote,

of EphyreNow near at hand, aware that, haply, worms Had, in his absence, drilled the solid horn.'

• In his swift bark, seeking some pois'nous drug,

Wherewith to taint his brazen arrows keen,
At last-

Which drug, through fear of the eternal gods,
When the wary hero, wise,

Ilus refus'd, but readily my sire
Had made his hand familiar with the bow,

Gave to him, for he loved him past belief.'
Poising it and examining-at once-
As when in harp and song adept, a bard

It is thought that St. Paul alludes to such poisoned wea i Strings a new lyre, extending first the chords,

pons when he exhorts the Ephesians to take the shield He knits them to the frame at either end, With promptest ease! with such Ulysses strung His own huge bow, and with his right hand thrillid The nerve, which in its quick vibration sang As with a swallow's voice . . . . . He seized a shaft, which at the table's side Lay ready drawn . . . . He lodged the reed Full in the bowstring, drew the parted head Home to his breast, and aiming as he sat, At once dismiss'd it. Through the num'rous rings Swift flew the gliding steel, and, issuing, sped Beyond them.

Odyss, xxi. COWPER. It is observable that in the above extract, and in the other descriptions of Homer, the end of the arrow is drawn home to the breast, rather than to the right ear, as in Egyptian and Persian figures, and in the more modern practice both of the east and west. The leugth of the ancient bows seems to have been very various, but so far as we can collect, those intended for efficient use, and not merely for teaching archery, were seldom less than four feet long, or more than six. Somewhat above five feet may have been the average proportion of its length. The bow of the Egyptians, who



ef faith, where with ye shall be able to quench all the fiery feathered, generally with the wing feather of a goose or darts of the wicked. But more probably the allusion is other large bird; hence, and with reference to their to another use of arrows --which was, to fasten combus- swiftness, there was a two-fold propriety in the poetical tibles to them, and to send fire against the evemy or epithet of 'winged,' so often applied to these destructive among the dwellings of a besieged place, or the works and missiles. engines of a besieging army. There seems a most dis The arrows were kept in a quiver, which was generally tinct reference to poisoned arrows in Job vi. t; and either round or obeliscal, and wider at the open than at to the custom of shooting combustibles in Ps. cxx, 4; the closed end, as the feathered ends of the arrows, which and perhaps the latter reference may be detected in the were uppermost, required more room than the points. In figurative language which compares lightning to the arrows action, the Egyptian soldier usually bore the quiver in an of the Almighty (Zech, ix. 14). The pestilence, and almost horizontal position at his back, kept in that posiother sudden, devastating, and unavoidable calamities, aretion by a weight which counterpoised its heavier end, and also described as the arrows of God. Arrows were usually I drew out the arrows from beneath his arm. Many in.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

count of the supposed proximity of the date of the Trojan war to the times now under consideration :

stances, however, occur, as in the above engraving, in which the quiver is so placed at the back as to project over the top of the shoulder; but this appears to have been only during a march, or at a time when the arrows were

not required. The quiver seems to have been closed | by a lid or an over-lapping flap of skin, when no imme

diate occasion for the arrows was contemplated. The bow also had its case to preserve its elasticity, and protect it from sun and damp. It was usually of leather or cloth, and was commonly suspended from the girdle, as represented in the opposite figure from the ancient sculptures of Persepolis. Among the Egyptians, bow-cases, more corresponding to the shape of the bow itself, were attached to the war-chariots, and were often very richly ornamented: but the only thing of the kind that appears to have been in use aniong the infantry, was a sheath of pliable substance, probably of leather, which covered only the centre, leaving the extremities exposed. As this only appears when the soldiers hold the bow in their hands during a march, it seems to have been chiefly intended to protect the bowstring from the perspiration of the hand. Taking it from the case, in preparation for action, is what Habakkuk alludes to in-Thy bow was made quite naked' (ch. iii. 9). The bow when out of its case was usually carried on the left arm or shoulder ; but in a sculpture at Tackt-i-Bostan, a king is represented with his bow about his neck, in such a fashion as might have suggested the Turkish use of the bowstring in strangling state offenders.

Many of the above particulars are strikingly illustrated in the account which Homer gives of the archery of Pandarus; and we cite it with the more satisfaction, on ac.


• He complied,
And at the word uncas'd his polish'd bow,
The horn of a salacious mountain-goat.
Full sixteen palms his measur'd length of horn
Had spir'd aloft; the bow-smith, root to root,
Adapted each, shav'd smooth the wrinkled rind,
Then polish'd all, and tipp'd the points with gold.
That bow he strung, and, stooping to his task,
Prepared it well for use, behind a fence
Of Lycian shields, lest, seeing him, the Greeks
Should fly to smite him ere the wound were giv'n.
His quiver's lid displaced, he chose a dart
Unflown, full-fledg’d, and barb'd with bitterest woe;
He lodg'd it on the cord, but ere it flew,
To Lycian Phæbus vow'd, at his return
To Zélia's walls, in honour of his aid,
A hecatomb, all firstlings of the flock.
Then, seizing fast the reed, he drew the barb
Home to his bow, the bowstring to his breast.
And when the horn was rounded to an arch,
He twanged it. Whizz'd the bowstring, and the reed
With fell impatience started to the goal.'

Iliad, iv. 110-133. CowPER. The bow was however by no means generally used in the Trojan war; though it was preferred by some individual chiefs. The spear seems to have been considered the more honourable weapon in battle. It would seem, however, that the use of the bow was cultivated as an accomplishment, useful in the chase and in occasional combats. Achilles and Ulysses we know to have been able archers, though we do not find them use the bow on the field of battle. In later times we find bodies of archers in the armies of Greece, Persia, and Rome, as well as in that of the Hebrews. The Cretans and Persians were the most famous archers of antiquity. The latter are spoken of in Scripture (Isa, xiii. 18; Jer. xlix. 35; 1. 9, 14, 29, 42).

19. - The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places.' --Jonathan is here intended, as appears from v. 25: 0 Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. With Jonathan the poem begins, and with Jonathan, that tender and magnanimous friend, it ends. The word (zy tzebi)

rendered .beauty' in the present text, and elsewhere
• glory' and 'honour,' means also the antelope or gazelle,
which is regarded in Western Asia as the symbol of agility
and beauty. It is probable that the animal comparison
should be preferred, since the figure is then more sus-
tained in the second clause. Under this view Geddes
translates it: 'O antelope of Israel! pierced on thine own
mountains !' and the learned translator understands that
the last clause refers to the habit among animals of the
deer kind, when closely pursued, of running at last to
their usual haunt, and there awaiting the fatal stroke.
We see the allusion repeated in v. 25, and still with ap-
plication to Jonathan. There may also be a reference in
this comparison to the swiftness for which Jonathan was
celebrated, for in v. 23 Saul and his son are described as
being 'swifter than eagles.' We must be content with
this single observation, without attempting to analyze this
impressive elegy, or to expatiate on the several circum-
stances of beauty and true pathos which it offers.

26. Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women,' or, as the word is frequently rendered, wives.' Dr. Chandler, in his Life of David, remarks: This figure has been censured as not well chosen, and insinuations dropped highly to the dishonour of the two noble friends. But the expression gives no countenance to it. It appears to me that there was somewhat in the conduct of Michal, David's wife, in too hastily consenting to be married to Phalti, that gave occasion to this comparison. It is certain from her behaviour to him, at the bringing the ark to Jerusalem, that she had not that high esteem and affection for him that she ought to have had, as she took this opportunity 60 bitterly to reproach him. It is certain also that her marriage to Phalti must have been preceded by a divorce from David, otherwise her second marriage would have been real adultery: and her consenting to a divorce, though by her father's order, shewed great want of affection and fidelity to David. On this supposition no comparison could be better chosen, nor

more tenderly and delicately expressed. The brother's | love to him, as a friend, was more generous and constant | than the sister's, though a wife. The compliment to

Jonatban was very high, and just; and the concealing the sister's name was truly polite.'


4 'And the men of Judah came ; and there

they anointed David king over the house of 1 David, by God's direction, with his company goeth i Judah. And they told David. saving. That up to Hebron, where he is made king of Judah. 5 He commendeth them of Jabesh-gilead for their

* the men of Jabesh-gilead were they that buried kindness to Saul. 8 Abner maketh Ish-bosheth king

Saul. of Israel. 12 A mortal skirmish between twelve of 5 | And David sent messengers unto the Abner's and twelve of Joab's men. 18 Asahel is

men of Jabesh-gilead, and said unto them, slain. 25 At Abner's motion Joab soundeth a retreat. 32 Asahel's burial.

Blessed be ye of the LORD, that ye have shewed

this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, And it came to pass after this, that David and have buried him. enquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up 6 And now the LORD shew kindness and into any of the cities of Judah ? And the truth unto you: and I also will requite you LORD said unto him, Go up. And David this kindness, because ye have done this said, Whither shall I go up? And he said, thing. Unto Hebron.

7 Therefore now let your hands be strength2 So David went up thither, and his two ened, and be ye valiant: for your master Saul wives also, Abinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abi is dead, and also the house of Judah have gail Nabal's wife the Carmelite.

anointed me king over them. 3 And his men that were with him did | 8 | But Abner the son of Ner, captain of David bring up, every man with his hous- | 'Saul's host, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, hold : and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. and brought him over to Mahanaim;

3 Heb. be ye the sonis of valour. + Heb. the host which was Saul's.

11 Mac. 2. 57,

& 1 Sam, 31. 13.



9 And made him king over Gilead, and thee aside from following me: wherefore should over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over I smite thee to the ground ? how then should Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all I hold up my face to Joab thy brother ? Israel.

23 Howbeit he refused to turn aside : 10 Ish-bosheth Saul's son was forty years wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the old when he began to reign over Israel, and spear smote him under the fifth rib, that the reigned two years. But the house of Judah spear came out behind him ; and he fell down followed David.

there, and died in the same place: and it 11 And the 'time that David was king in came to pass, that as many as came to the Hebron over the house of Judah was seven place where Asahel fell down and died stood years and six months.

still. 12 And Abner the son of Ner, and the 24 Joab also and Abishai pursued after servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went | Abner: and the sun went down when they out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.

were come to the hill of Ammah, that lieth . 13 And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the before Giah by the way of the wilderness of servants of David, went out, and met 'together Gibeon. by the pool of Gibeon: and they sat down, the 25 9 And the children of Benjamin gaone on the one side of the pool, and the other thered themselves together after Abner, and on the other side of the pool.

became one troop, and stood on the top of an 14 And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us. And Joab 26 Then Abner called to Joab, and said, said, Let them arise.

Shall the sword devour for ever? knowest 15 Then there arose and went over by thou not that it will be bitterness in the latter number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained end ? how long shall it be then, ere t to Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the people return from following their brethe servants of David.

thren ? 16 And they caught every one his fellow 27 And Joab said, As God liveth, unless by the head, and thrust his sword in his fel thou hadst spoken, surely then in the mornlow's side; so they fell down together: where ing the people had gone up every one from fore that place was called 'Helkath-hazzurim, following his brother. which is in Gibeon.

28 So Joab blew a trumpet, and all the 17 And there was a very sore battle that people stood still, and pursued after Israel no day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of more, neither fought they any more. Israel, before the servants of David.

29 And Abner and his men walked all that 18 [ And there were three sons of Zeruiah night through the plain, and passed over Jorthere, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel ; and dan, and went through all Bithron, and they Asahel was as light of foot 'as a wild roe. came to Mahanaim. ..

19 And Asahel pursued after Abner; and 30 | And Joab returned from following in going he turned not to the right hand nor Abner: and when he had gathered all the to the left ''from following Abner.

people together, there lacked of David's ser20 Then Abner looked behind him, and vants nineteen men and Asahel. said, Art thou Asahel? And he answered, I 31 But the servants of David had smitten am.

of Benjamin, and of Abner's men, so that three 21 And Abner said to him, Turn thee aside hundred and threescore men died. to thy right hand or to thy left, and lay thee | 32 | And they took up Asahel, and buried hold on one of the young men, and take thee him in the sepulchre of his father, which was his "'armour. But Asahel would not turn aside in Beth-lehem. And Joab and his men went from following of him.

all night, and they came to Hebron at break 22 And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn of day. 5 Heb. number of days. Heb. them together.

8 Heb. of his feet. Heb, as one of the roes that is in the field. 10 Heb. from after Abner. 11 Or, spoil. 12 Heb. from the morning. 18 Or, gone away.

7 That is, the field of strong men.

Verse 9. Made him king over Gilead,' etc.-From this, his life, by precluding him from being present at the battle it appears that no tribe but Judah took part in the nomina- | in which his brothers perished. This measure was protion of David. On the contrary all the other tribes elected bably promoted by that radical jealousy between the tribes Saul's only surviving son, Eshbaal, as he was originally of Judah and Ephraim which prevented the latter (which named, but nicknamed Ish bosheth (a man of shame), from took the lead among the other tribes) from concurring in his weakness and incapacity, which, it would appear, saved l the appointing a king of the rival tribe, or indeed from

« PreviousContinue »