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over the soil is as distinctly expressed as his sovereignty over man himself. Take the following as examples :
“He turneth rivers into a wilderness,
And the water-springs into dry ground;
For the wickedness of them that dwell therein."—(Ps. cvii.)
But when he meets with a people willing to acknowledge that though "iniquities prevail against them,” yet they know he is willing to “put them all away,” then of what pictures of beauty and fertility does he enable them to sing
“ Thou visitest the earth and waterest it;
Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water;
Indeed there are few relative subjects of truer and deeper interest than this one, in which we see the ways of God as just and holy, set before us in his attitude even to the soil. The passages quoted sufficiently indicate this; but how abundant the illustrations afforded by a survey of the present condition of those lands in which, in past ages, he made himself truly known to man! Let him only bind up his clouds that they drop not rain for a series of years, in any large tract of country, and even most fertile spots would become like the Sahara. This is the principle involved in the curse on the ground, and yet a blessing lies alongside of it. The shadows, however, are all the darker because of the brightness of the light around them. That under any circumstance it was to yield bread, implied God's willingness to bless the man when the now averted face should come to be turned to him again. Blessing was to go hand in hand with effort: bread was to be given as the reward of work. But there was an exception, which is brought out as the stream of history widens—" The Lord said unto Cain, When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength.” He might work, and reap the fruits of work, yet these to him would not bring satisfaction: his face was turned away from God, and he could have no comfort in all the works of his hands. An unquiet conscience can take the blessing from the good things of the world. Then, as now, it was true that "the meek shall inherit the earth.”
Let it be borne in mind here that the curse in its absolute form is stated immediately after the fall, and when there was no evidence of repentance, but the contrary. The promise to man, however, implied under the threatening against the great head of sin, in verse 15, was to be fruitful in results of varied blessing, especially when believed on. The world owes all the good it has ever enjoyed to the attitude which the eternal Son assumed towards man. So wide-spread is the influence, that even those who never feel personally blessed by it, are indebted to it for all the blessing which falls to their lot.
(2.) Thorns and Thistles are mentioned first in connection with the change in man's relation to the soil. The terms, as used in this pas
1. Christ's Thorn (Rhamnus spini Christi). 2. Prickly Rest-harrow (Ononis spinosa). 3. Prickly Mad-apple (Solanum
spinosum). 4. Blackthorn (Prunus sylvestris). 5. Boxthorn (Lycium horridum).
sage, are to be regarded as employed in a very wide sense, and to include every plant which has spines and is hurtful to the fertility of the soil. The words have a wider range than that of merely pointing to plants held to be natives of Palestine, or of the countries associated
with the birthplace of the human race. It would thus be aiming at greater precision than the context demands, to try and identify the two words used here—thorns (kotz) and thistles (dardar)—with any particular species. The terms are generic, not specific—they point to all plants bearing thorns or prickles, and not to certain species. They are met with together in another passage :—“As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water. The high places also of Aven, the sin of Moab, shall be destroyed. The thorn (kotz) and the thistle (dardar) shall come up on their altars” (Hos. x. 7, 8). When species are mentioned, other words are generally used, and of these there are about twenty different ones referred to under corresponding terms. These will be noticed as they occur; meanwhile, it may be stated here, that, in so far as they have been identified, they may be arranged in the following manner. The British species mentioned are such as the reader must be familiar with, and will help to give definiteness to knowledge of corresponding plants mentioned in the Bible. The British species, however, are not given as equivalents, but merely as illustrations.
Körz, DARDAR = THORN, THISTLE.
nus spini Christi), Christ's (Rhamnus catharticus).
Thorn. 2. Pod-bearing Tribe (Legu- 2. Kotz, Jud. viii. 7 (Ononis 2. Rest - harrow (Ononis minosa).
spinosa), Rest-harrow. spinosa). 3. Nightshade Tribe (Solana- 3. Hhēdek, Prov. xv. 9 (S0- 3. Woody Nightshade (Socea),
lanum spinosum), Mad lanum Dulcamara).
apple. 4. Rose Tribe (Rosacea). 4. Hõabb, Hos. ix. 6 (Prunus 4. Sloe (Prunus spinosa).
sylvestris), Blackthorn. Barkānim, Jud. viii, 7 (Rosa Dog Rose (Rosa canina),
canina), Briers. 5. Liliaceous Tribe (Liliacev), 5. Atād, Psal. lviii. 9 (Ruscus 5. Butcher's Broom (Ruscus
aculeatus). 6. Composite Tribe (Compo. 6. Dardar, Hos. x. 8 (Carduus 6. Field thistle (Carduus sitæ).
I syriacus), Syrian thistle. I arvensis).
This table is given solely as a guide for references to be afterwards made to several other words, and to many other passages of Scripture in which certain prickly plants are mentioned under the names_thorn, thistle, brier, &c. Of course, any arrangement like that given above is to be held only as an attempt to indicate what may have been the species
referred to, and what, in all likelihood, must have been the families under which the different species might be grouped. Even the closest study of the plants of Palestine and the adjoining countries, could not give us complete certainty as to species, because, in the allusions made to them, the writers of Scripture had no scientific ends in view. The references would, however, answer their purpose, which was that of popular instruction in spiritual and moral truth. The plants whose modern botanical names are given under their Hebrew designations, are all to be met with in Bible lands.
Are we to regard the thorns and thistles as the expression of the
1. Brier (Rosa canina). 2. Bramble (Rubus fruticosus). 3. Hawthorn (Cratægus Oxyacantha). 4. Knee-holly (Pruscus
aculeatus). 5. Syrian thistle (Carduus syriacus).
curse on vegetation ? Much, and to little purpose, has been written on this. Fancy has been allowed to override sober science, and the general conclusion has been hastily come to, that but for the fall there
would have been neither thorns nor thistles. There is, however, nothing in the Scripture narrative to warrant this; the words are, “ Thorns also
og forth to thee”-instead of plants good for food and pleasant to the sight, noxious weeds were to prevail. If the gifts were withheld which would naturally develope the good, profitable, and beauteous forms of vegetation, so that they should overtop and keep down the thorns and the thistles, the consequence would be the triumph of the latter. Everywhere this may still be seen. Man's toil was to be put forth, and God was to bless it, so that he should eat bread as the reward of work. This toil is the effort which man makes to neutralize the curse; and as all improvement co-operates with the goodness of God in order to good results, the blessing comes in that being made up by labour which had been withdrawn from the earth because of man's sin. These remarks are not, as at first sight they might seem to be, applicable only to temperate or to cold climates, in which there is no spontaneous luxuriance of vegetation; they are equally applicable to the production of the staple article of man's food in all climates, whether that be wheat (Triticum vulgare), maize (Zea Mays), or rice (Oryza sativa).
Looking at the thorn in the light even of physiological botany, I would be unwilling to concede that thorns are the fruit of a permanent blight on certain plants. They are no more so than the quills of the porcupine, or the spines of the sea urchin, or the bristles on the hedgehog. In plants bearing true thorns, one or other of two things is true: the thorns are either a special form of the branch, or of the leaf. The usual way of characterizing them is, to call them abortions or arrested growths. The Hawthorn, the Sloe (Prunus spinosa), and many other plants bear spines, which are developed from buds identical with those which have, in other cases and on the same plants, become well-formed branches. In the common furze (Ulex Europaeus) again the spines are so-called aborted leaves. Now, it has not, so far as I am aware, ever been alleged that the Rose bears about it any evidence of blight. Both in Scripture, and in the poetry of almost every nation where it is to be met with, it is spoken of as a symbol of sweetness, of beauty, and of fertility—“I am the Rose of Sharon ;” “The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.? From the testimony of Hasselquist, we learn that all the leading varieties of the Rose are represented in Bible lands—some of which are, indeed, noted for this plant. Yet its hairs have in part undergone a change analogous to that seen in the branch buds of the hawthorn (Cratogus oxyacantha), and in the leaves of the furze; they have united, become hardened, and formed into prickles. This is a law of their growth; In