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No. 336.--HOSEA iii. 2.
An homer of barley.
CHARDIN observed in the East, that in their contracts for their temporary wives, (which are known to be frequent there) there is always the formality of a measure of corn mentioned, over and above the sum of money which is stipulated. This will perhaps account for Hosea's purchasing a woman of this sort for fifteen pieces of silver and a certain quantity of barley.
HARMER, vol. ii. p. 573.
No. 337.--iv. 12. Their staff declareth unto them.] The method of divination alluded to by the prophet in these words, is supposed to bave been thus performed. The person consulting measured his staff by spans, or by the length of his finger, saying, as he measured, “I will go, or, I will not go; I will do such a thing, or, I will not do it;” and as the last span fell out, so he determined. Cyril and Theophylact, however, give a different account of the matter. They say that it was performed by erecting two sticks, after which they murmured forth a certain charm, and then, according as the sticks fell, backwards or forwards, towards the right or left, they gave advice in any affair.
No. 338.-ix. 10. The first ripe in the fig-tree at her first time.] “ In Barbary, and no doubt in the hotter climate of Judea, after mild winters, some of the more forward trees will now and then yield a few ripe figs, six weeks or more before the full season. Such is probably the allusion in this place.” Shaw's Travels, p. 142.
No. 339.--xi. 2. Graven images.] “We read frequently of graven images, and of molten images, and the words are become so familiar, as names of idolatrous images, that although they are not well chosen to express the Hebrew names, it seems not advisable to change them for others, that might more exactly correspond with the original. The graven image was not a thing wrought in metal by the tool of the workman we should now call an engraver: nor was the molten image an image made of metal, or any other substance melted, and shaped in a mould. In fact, the graven image and the molten image are the same thing, under different names. The images of the ancient idolaters were first cut out of wood by the carpenter, as is very evident from the prophet Isaiah. This figure of wood was overlaid with plates either of gold or silver, or sometimes perhaps of an inferior metal; and in this finished state it was called a graven image (i. e. a carved image), in reference to the inner solid figure of wood, and a molten li.e. an overlaid, or covered) image, in reference to the outer metalline case or covering. Sometimes both epithets are applied to it at once. I will cut off the graven and molten image. (Nahum i. 14.) Again, What profiteth the graven and molten image? (Hab. ii. 18.) The English word molten conveys a notion of melting, or fusion. But this is not the case with the Hebrew word for which it is given. The Hebrew signifies, generally, to overspread, cover all over, in whatever manner, according to the different subject, the overspreading or covering be effected; whether by pouring forth a substance in fusion, or by spreading a cloth over or before, or by hammering on metalline plates. It is on account of this metalline case, that we find a founder employed to make a graven image (Judges xvii. 3.); and that we read in Isaiah xl. 19. of a workman that melteth a graven image ; and in another place (cap. xliv.) we find the
question, who hath molten a graven image? In these two passages the words should be overlayeth, and overlaid."
Bp. HORSLEY's Hosea, p. 134.
No. 340.--xiv. 5. I will be as the dew unto Israel.] The earth while it supplies the various plants which grow upon it, is supplied for that purpose very much by the dew, which is full of oleaginous particles. “The dews seem to be the richest present the atmosphere gives to the earth; having, when putrefied in a vessel, a black sediment like mud at the bottom; this seems to cause the darkish colour to the upper part of the ground; and the sulphur which is found in the dew may be the chief ingredient of the cement of the earth, sulphur being very glutinous, as nitre is dissolvent. Dew has both these.” (Tull's Husbandry, c. 6.) A lively comment this upon the promise in this passage, I will be as the dew unto Israel.
No. 341.-JOEL i. v.
Howl all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, for
it is cut off from your mouth.
That old wine was most esteemed in the East is clear from the words of our Lord. No man also having drank old wine, straightway desireth new, for he saith the old is better. (Luke v. 39.) By a false translation in these words of Joel, new is put instead of sweet wine. Wine of this sort, as appears from the ancient eastern translators of the Septuagint, was chiefly esteemed formerly ; for that which our version renders, royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king, (Esth. i. 7.) they translate much and sweet wine, such as the king himself drank. A remark that Russel makes on the white wines of Aleppo may help to explain this. They are palatable, but thin and poor, and seldom keep sound above a year. (Hist. of Aleppo, p. 19.) Such, however, as were capable of being kept till they were old, and which those that loved drinking desired, were those of the sweet sort, and consequently proper subjects for the threatening of the prophet. But what completes and finishes the illustration of this passage is a curious observation of Dr. Shaw (Trav. p. 146.) concerning the wine of Algiers. “ The wine of Algiers, before the locusts destroyed the vineyards in the years 1723 and 1724, was
, not inferior to the best hermitage, either in briskness of taste or flavour; but since that time it is much degenerated, having not hitherto (1732) recovered its usual qualities.” It is a desolation of their vineyards by locusts that Joel threatens, which, it seems, injures their
produce for many years, and consequently nothing was more natural than to call the drunkards of Israel to mourn on that occasion. See Acts ii. 13. which probably is to be understood of sweet wine also.
HARMER, vol. i. p. 386.
No. 342., 17. Garners.] Dr. Shaw informs us, (Trav. p. 139.) that “ in Barbary, after the grain is winnowed, they lodge it in mattamores, or subterraneous magazines, two or three hundred of which are sometimes together, the smallest holding four hundred bushels." And Dr. RUSSELL says, (Hist of Aleppo, p. 18.) that “ about Aleppo in Syria their granaries are even at this day subterraneous grottos, the entry to which is by a small hole or opening like a well, often in the highway; and as they are commonly left open when empty, they make it not a little dangerous riding near the villages in the night.”
No. 343.-i. 19. The flame hath burnt all the trees of the field.] There are doubtless different methods for felling timber, practised by various nations. In more rude and uncivilized times, and even still among people of that description, we may expect to find the most simple, and perhaps, as they may appear to us, inconvenient contrivances adopted. Prior to the invention of suitable implements, such means as would any way effect this purpose would certainly be resorted to. We must not be surprised then to find that formerly, and in the present day, trees were felled by the operation of fire. Thus Niebuhr says, “we cannot help condemning the unskil- . ful expedient which these highlanders employ for felling trees: they set fire to the root, and keep it burning till the tree falls of itself.” (Travels, vol. i. p. 300.) Mr. Bruce mentions whole forests, whose underwood and ve