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which was best adapted to the purpose, and which grew with the greatest rapidity, was selected to make the shade.
Is there any reason to suppose that, after all, it was not a gourd, but some other plant, that of the castor-bean, for example, as many learned critics have concluded ?
It would be impertinent to say, or imply, that there is no reason for this, or for any other opinion adopted by learned and impartial men, after careful examination; but their arguments do not for a moment disturb my settled conviction that it was a gourd. The cause of their mistake may probably be found in the fact that, in these modern Shemitic dialects, the word kūr'ah-gourd-closely resembles, both in form and sound, khărwah-castor-bean—just as the kikion -gourd—of Jonah resembles the Egypto-Greek kiki-castor-bean—according to Dioscorides. These accidental resemblances may have led Jerome and others into the opinion that they were the same plant. But Orientals never dream of training a castor-oil plant over a booth, or planting it for a shade, and they would have but small respect for any one who did. It is in no way adapted for that purpose, while thousands of arbors are covered with various creepers of the general gourd family. As to ancient translations, the Septuagint gives colocynth, a general name for gourd, and the Vulgate, castor-bean. Augustin differed with Jerome about this vine, and even quarreled over it, according to a bit of patristic scandal. Let us not imitate them, for, though I believe it was a gourd, I am quite willing that
any one should adopt that opinion which he thinks best supported.
The brief history of Jonah has always appeared to me to be encumbered with a large share of obscurities. For example, who were those sailors? They were not Jews, were wholly unacquainted with the prophet
, and yet they conversed with him without difficulty.
In all probability they were Phoenicians, and their language was therefore so closely related to the Hebrew that an interpreter was not needed.
Where was Tarshish, to which port or country the ship belonged or was bound?
Scarcely any name in Biblical geography suggests more unanswered and unanswerable questions than this. The Arabs believe it was Tarsus, the birth-place of Paul, and their Bible naturally suggests this idea. In English the name is variously written-Tarshish, Tarsis, and Tarsus. The Seventy do not translate it always alike, and the Vulgate is still more confused. When I first came to the East I resided some time in Joppa, and the friends with whom I became acquainted traded largely with Tarsus. Ships, loaded with soap and other articles, were constantly departing from “ Joppa” for “ Tarshish," as they appear to have done in the days of Jonah. I had then no doubt as to the identity of the places. Subsequent examination, however, has led me to modify this opinion. It is true that Palestine has always traded with Asia Minor through Tarsus; true, also, that from Tarsus to the Grecian islands the distance is not great, and the connection by trade is natural and uninterrupted to this day. It is not forced, therefore, to connect Tarsus and the Greek islands together, as is frequently done in the Bible. Doubtless the first trading voyages from Phoenicia northward were along the coast, and round the head of this sea by Tarsus, and thence westward to the islands. It was not until after long experience in coasting that mariners acquired courage and skill to strike out boldly into the shoreless ocean. It is doubtful whether they did this in the days of Jonah, although the pilots of Hiram's ships were
celebrated even in the times of David and Solomon. I am inclined to adopt the opinion that Tarshish or Tarsis—to whatever city or country first applied—early became a general name for large merchant ships, just as we speak of an East India-man, or a whaler, or liner. The name may have been derived, first of all, from this Tarsus of Cilicia, and subsequently given to Tartessus-country or city, or bothin Spain, which was a colony perhaps from Tarsus. Arrian, Diodorus, and Strabo,: all mention such a city, and I think it probable that Jonah meant to flee thither. Tarsus, nearly on the route to Nineveh from Palestine, would not have been selected by the rebellious prophet for the place of concealment. However this may be, we must give a very wide latitude to the expression "ships of Tarshish.” They sailed every where—west, along all the shores of the Mediterranean, and out into the Atlantic; and south and east, through the Red Sea, along the African and Arabian coasts as far as India. From Asia Minor and from Spain they brought gold, silver, lead, tin, and iron; and from India and the East came spices, and ivory, and ebony, and apes, and peacocks, as we read in the accounts of the Jewish and Phoenician merchant navies. By the aid of this theory, we can reconcile the Biblical statements as to the time occupied by these ships of Tarshish in their expeditions-once in three years. Those trading with the far East, or with Ireland or England, might require that length of time to complete their sales and purchases, and to return home.
How do you account for the very pious and becoming language used by these heathen sailors, and the humble and penitent deportment of the king of corrupt Nineveh ?
There is nothing very strange in this to Orientals, or to one familiar with them. Such language is universal. No matter how profane, immoral, and even atheistical a man may be, yet will he, on all appropriate occasions, speak of God--the one God, our God-in phrases the most proper and pious. We Americans are abashed and confounded in the presence of such holy talkers, and have not courage, or, 1 Alex. iii, 86. 2 Diod. Sic. v. 35.
3 Strab. iii. 147.
rather, have too much reverence for sacred things to follow them in their glib and heartless verbiage. The fact is, I suppose, that Oriental nations, although they sank into various forms of idolatry, never lost the phraseology of the pure original theosophy. We are struck with this in all the Bible histories, in which these people have occasion speak of God and his attributes. The Canaanites could talk as devoutly as Abraham, and Nebuchadnezzar with as much propriety as Daniel. And the same is wonderfully true at the present day. A hard old Druse of Lebanon would edify a Payson or a Martyn. Indeed, there is nothing in which modern custom corresponds more completely with the ancient than in this pious talk. There is scarcely an expression of the kind we are considering which has not its perfect parallel in the daily living language of the people around
Place an Arab in the circumstances in which these old heathen are represented as acting and speaking, and his expressions will be so similar, even to the very words and peculiar idioms, as to suggest the idea that they have been learned from the Bible. And yet this can not be, because the remark applies, in all its extent, to the wild Bedawîn, in whose tribe there never has been a Bible, nor a man able to read it, had there been one.
In regard to the profound impression produced by the preaching of Jonah in Nineveh, we must suppose that he was attended by such credentials of his prophetic office and mission as commanded attention and belief. What these credentials were we do not know. Jonah was a “sign to the men of Nineveh.” Perhaps he carried with him, or there had preceded him, such well-authenticated proofs of his wonderful preservation in the whale's belly as deeply alarmed the Ninevites, on whose account, in an important and portentous sense, the miracle had been wrought. Nor is it difficult to discover how such reports would have been spread abroad. The sailors of the ship could testify that they threw Jonah overboard in a tempestuous sea; very likely they saw him swallowed by the great fish. They would therefore be immensely amazed to find him on shore, alive and
well. Such a thing would now make a prodigious noise in the world, and the news of it would fly from city to city with incredible speed. There is no reason to doubt, there. fore, that the story of the prophet had preceded him to Nineveh, and prepared the way for the success of his preaching.
Was that company of horned ladies near Neby Yunas a party of pilgrims to the shrine of the prophet?
Yes; Druse sits (princesses), from Deir el Kamar. It is no uncommon thing to meet them here, either making or paying vows. The objects in view are very various. Some, whose sorrow is like that of Samuel's mother, seek relief from Jonah ; others vow in times of sickness, either of themselves or of their friends, and come to fulfill them upon recovery, etc., etc.
Do you imagine that these horns, that stand upon their foreheads like tent-poles for their veils, have any connection with those so often mentioned in the Bible?
No. These tantours have grown, like other horns, from small beginnings to their present enormous size by slow degrees, and pride is the soil that nourished them. At first they consisted merely of an apparatus designed to finish off the headdress so as to raise the veil a little from the face. Specimens of this primitive kind are still found in remote and semi-civilized districts. I have seen them only a few inches long, made of pasteboard, and even of common pottery. By degrees the more fashionable ladies used tin, and lengthened them; then rivalry made them of silver, and still farther prolonged and ornamented them; until finally the princesses of Lebanon and Hermon sported gold