« PreviousContinue »
ancient and still subsisting custom of hiring professed mourners to lament over the dead. The Jewish doctors acknow ledge the custom, and inform us that it was so common, that the poorest man in Israel, when his wife died, never had less than two pipes and one mourning woman. The root of this rather singular though very prevalent custom seems to be, that the eastern nations require manifestations of strong feeling to be marked, palpable, and exaggerated. Hence their emotions, particularly those of grief, have a most violent and loud expression; and still unsatisfied, and apprehensive that their own spontaneous manifestations of sorrow, when a death occurred, were inadequate to the occasion, and rendered insufficient honour to the dead, they thought of employing practised women to add their effective and manifest tributes of apparent grief. Thus mourning became an art, which devolved on women of shrill voices, copious of tears, and skilful ia lamenting and praising the dead in mournful songs and eulogies. When a person in a family died, it was customary for the female relatives to seat themselves upon the ground in a separate apartment, in a circle, in the centre of which sat the wife, daughter, or other nearest relative, and thus, assisted by the mourning women, conducted their loud and piercing lamentations. At intervals, the mourning women took the leading part, on a signal from the chief mourner ; and then the real mourners remained comparatively silent, but attested their grief hy sobs, by beating their faces, tearing their hair, and sometimes wounding their persons with their nails, joining also aloud in the lamenting chorus of the hired mourners. Mr. Lane's account of the existing practice in Egypt is very illustrative. “ The family of the deceased generally send for two or more neddabens (or public wailing women); but some persons disapprove of this custom ; and many, to avoid unnecessary expense, do not conform with it. Each neddábeh brings with her a tár (or tambourine), which is without the tinkling plates of metal that are attached to the hoops of the common tár. The neddábehs, beating their társ, exclaim several times, • Alas for him!' and praise his turban. his handsome person, &c.; and the female relations, domestics, and friends of the deceased with their tresses dishevelled, and sometimes with rent clothes), beating their own faces, cry in like manner, * Alas for him! This wailing is generally continued at least an hour.” It is of course resumed at intervals. The details vary in different parts of the East, and in some places the musicians form a separate body, as they did among the Hebrews.
The custom of employing hired mourners was also in use among the Greeks and Romans, who probably borrowed it from the East. Some of the Roman usages may contribute to illustrate those of Scripture. When a person expired whom his relatives or friends wished to honour by every external testimony of grief, some mourners were called, who were stationed at the door, and who, being instructed in the leading circumstances of the life of the deceased, coin posed and chanted eulogies having some reference to these circumstances, but in which flattery was by no means spared. Then, when the time arrived for the body to be carried to the funerai pile, a choir of hired mourners attended, who by their bare breasts, which they often smote, their dishevelled hair, and their mournful chants, and profuse tears, moved, or sought to move, the minds of the spectators in favour of the deceased. aud to compassion for his bereaved friends, whose respect for his memory their own presence indeed indicated. These women were under the direction of one who bore the title of præfica, who regulated the time and tone of their lamentations. They were attired in the black robe of mourning and affliction, called by the Romans pulla. It will be observed that, as intimated by the prophet in the next verse, a principal object of the displays of the hired mourners was to rouse the sorrow of the bereaved relatives, maintaining the excitement of affliction by enumerating the virtues and qualities of the deceased, as well as, by the same means, to excite the sympathising lamentations of those not immediately interested in the event. It neer's actual observation of the gaiety or indifference which these hired mourners resume, when their service has ended, to be convinced that there was nothing sincere in the real tears which they shed, and in the " lamentation, mourning, and Woe” which they pour forth in the chamber of grief, or when following the dead one to the grave.
6 Forasmuch as there is none like unto i The unequal comparison of God and idols. 17
thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy The prophet exhorteth to flee from the calamity name is great in might. to come. 19 He lamenteth the spoil of the taber- 7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nacle by foolish pastors. 23 He maketh an hum
nations? for 'to thee doth it appertain : forble supplication.
asmuch as among all the wise men of the Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is unto you, O house of Israel:
none like unto thee. 2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the 8 But they are altogether 'brutish and way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities. the signs of heaven; for the heathen are 9 Silver spread into plates is brought dismayed at them.
from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the 3 For the 'customs of the people are vain: work of the workman, and of the hands of for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the the founder: blue and purple is their clothwork of the hands of the workman, with ing: they are all the work of cunning men. the ax.
10 But the Lord is the true God, he is 4 They deck it with silver and with gold; the living God, and an "everlasting king: they fasten it with nails and with hammers, at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and that it move not.
the nations shall not be able to abide his 5 They are upright as the palm tree, 'but indignation. speak not: they must needs be 'borne, be- 11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The cause they cannot go. Be not afraid of gods that have not made the heavens and them; for "they cannot do evil, neither also the earth, even they shall perish from the is it in them to do good.
earth, and from under these heavens. 1 Heb. statutes or mordinances are vanity. 7 Or, it liketh thee.
10 Heb. God of truth. 11 Heb, king of eternity.
Psai. 115. 5. Isa. 46.1, 7. Isa. 41. 23.
5 Psal. 86.8, 10.
6 Rev. 15. 4.
Heh, is one, or, at once.
12 He hath made the earth by his 19 I Woe is me for my hurt! my wound power, he hath established the world by his is grievous : but I said, Truly this is a grief, wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens and I must bear it. by his discretion.
20 My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my 13 When he uttereth his voice, there is a cords are
cords are broken: my children are gone forth 18 multitude of waters in the heavens, and he of me, and they are not: there is none to causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends stretch forth my tent any more, and to set of the earth; he maketh lightnings "with up my curtains. rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his 21 For the pastors are become brutish, treasures.
and have not sought the LORD: therefore 14 Every man is brutish in his know they shall not prosper, and all their flocks ledge : every founder is confounded by shall be scattered. the graven image: for his molten image 22 Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, is falsehood, and there is no breath in and a great commotion out of the ''north them.
country, to make the cities of Judah deso15 They are vanity, and the work of late, and a soden of dragons. errors: in the time of their visitation they 23 T O Lord, I know that the "way of shall perish.
man is not in himself: it is not in man that 16 "'The portion of Jacob is not like walketh to direct his steps. them: for he is the former of all things; 24 O LORD, "correct me, but with judgand Israel is the rod of his inheritance: ment; not in thine anger, lest thou "bring The Lord of hosts is his name.
me to nothing 17 | Gather up thy wares out of the 25 "Pour out thy fury upon the heathen land, Ö 18inhabitant of the fortress.
that know thee not, and upon the families 18 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I that call not on thy name: for they have will sling out the inhabitants of the land at eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and conthis once, and will distress them, that they sumed him, and have made his habitation may find it so.
l® Chap 61, 17, 18.
Chap. 1. 15, and 5. 15, and €. 22. * Chap. 9. 11. * Psal. 6. 1, and 38. I. Chap. 30. 11.
24 Psal. 79. 6. Verse 2. “ Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven.”—This is generally applied to astrology; but we should rather think it to refer to those unusual natural phenomena, such as eclipses, which in the ancient superstitions certainly did “ dismay the heathen," being regarded by them as the harbingers and tokens of great public calamities. Many instances of the dismay which eclipses inspired might be cited. We may quote two of them. Nicias, the Athenian general, had determined to quit Sicily with his army; but an eclipse of the moon happening at that juncture, filled him with such alarm that he lost the favourable moment. This was the occasion of his own death and the ruin of his army; and this was so unhappy a loss to the Athenians, that the decline of their state may perhaps be dated from that event. Kven the army of Alexander, before the battle of Arbela, was so frightened at an eclipse of the moon, that the soldiers, deeming it a sign that the gods were displeased at the enterprise of their leader, refused to proceed on their march from the Tigris till assured by the Egyptian soothsayers that an eclipse of the moon was an omen of peculiar evil to their enemies the Persians. R. Jarchi expressly refers the present text to the terror which eclipses occasioned.
9. “ Uphaz.”—This is probably the same as Ophir. “Blue and purple is their clothing.”—This of course alludes to the idol-statues, and to the custom of clothing them with real dresses of rich stuffs. This was a very ancient and general practice, which still subsists in Pagan Asia, where may be seen pagodas full of coloured images, clothed in costly manufactured stuffs and ornaments. This practice arose in the early state of the imitative art, or rather it exemplifies imitation without art; and scarcely perhaps even imitation-being rather the repetition of a reality. Although this practice was peculiarly in Asiatic taste, and was in its origin a substitute for skilful imitation by art, we have ample evidence of its existence in Europe ; and, as consecrated by antiquity and appropriated to particular idols, of its being retained and extensively displayed in Greece and Rome, even when the art of sculpture had attained its most perfect condition. Pausanias mentions numerous statues thus attired in the various cities of Greece which he visited ; and there is much other testimony to the same effect. Tertullian says, that the gods and goddesses, like opulent females, had ministers particularly entrusted with the duty of arraying their images. The practice was far more general than is commonly supposed ; for not only were imperfect statues, made to be dressed, thus attired, but perfect and highly-finished ones of bronze and marble. Vopiscus has an anecdote, which furnishes a very striking illustration of the present text. Sextus Julius Saturninus, a general under Probus, having been saluted as Augustus at Alexandria, and wishing to avoid this dangerous honour, retired into Palestine. But he was there also assailed by the soldiers, who extorted from him a reluctant acquiescence; when, in their haste to invest him with the ensigns of his imperial rank, they divested a statue of Venus of its purple robe, and covered with it the new emperor.
However strange this practice of clothing statues with real draperies may appear to us; there can be no doubt that it told effectively upon the minds of the undiscerning multitude, to whom the less there was of art, the more perfect was the illusion. Images so arrayed were thus adapted to impress upon their credulous minds the sense of a material existence, effective and local, in the god which was thus placed before them in a palpable form, invested with the attributes of reality and life. Thus the superstitious spirit of all idolatry concurred with the attachment
13 Or, noise. 18 Heb. inhabitress. 19
15 Or, is more brdish than to know.
21 Prov. 16. 1, and 20. 84 33 Heb. diminish me.
to ancient customs to keep up this usage. And a still more operative reason was found in the interest of the priests, who derived no small profits from the robes and ornaments which were lavishly offered by the devotees, and which, when they had been a little worn by the idols, became their due. It seems that, at least in some instances, the illusion was carried on so far, that the dresses of the idols were changed according to the season. Thus Pausanias mentions a brazen statue of Neptune at Elis, which was about the size of a large man, and was clad sometimes in woollen raiment, and at others in linen and byssus. There is much information in this and other matters concerning the ancient idols in the sixth chapter of the Apocryphal book of Baruch. Of the Babylonian idols it is said, "Whose gold, and silver, and garments wherewith they are clothed, they that are strong do take, neither are they able to help themselves."..."The priests also take off their garments to clothe their wives and children."..." And ye shall know them to be no gods by the bright purple that rotteth upon them” (verses 32, 58, 72). See · Le Jupiter Olympien,' par M. Quatrèmere de Quincy, par. 2 ; where this subject is fully and very ably investigated.
of their forefathers, which refused to hear 1 Jeremiah proclaimeth God's covenant, 8 rebuketh my words; and they went after other gods
the Jews' disobeying therenf, 11 prophesieth evils to serve them: the house of Israel and the to come upon them, 18 and upon the men of Ana- house of Judah have broken my covenant thoth, for conspiring to kill Jeremiah.
which I made with their fathers. The word that came to Jeremiah from the 11 | Therefore thus saith the LORD, BeLORD, saying,
hold, I will bring evil upon them, which they 2 Hear ye the words of this covenant, and shall not be able to escape; and though speak unto the men of Judah, and to the they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken inhabitants of Jerusalem ;
unto them. 3 And say thou unto them, Thus saith the 12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inLORD God of Israel; 'Cursed be the man habitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the that obeyeth not the words of this covenant, gods unto whom they offer incense : but they
4 Which I commanded your fathers in shall not save them at all in the time of the day that I brought them forth out of their trouble. the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, 13 For according to the number of thy saying, 'Obey my voice, and do them, ac- 'cities were thy gods, O Judah ; and accordcording to all which I command you: so ing to the number of the streets of Jerusashall ye be my people, and I will be your lem have ye set up altars to that 'shameful God:
thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal. 5 That I may perform the 'oath which I 14 Therefore "
pray not thou for this have sworn unto your fathers, to give them people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is them: for I will not hear them in the time this day. Then answered I, and said, So be that they cry unto me for their "trouble. it, O LORD.
15 13 *What hath my beloved to do in 6 Then the Lord said unto me, Proclaim mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdall these words in the cities of Judah, and in ness with many, and the holy flesh is passed the streets of Jerusalem, saying, Hear ye from thee ? 'when thou doest evil, then thou the words of this covenant, and do them. rejoicest. 7 For I earnestly protested unto your
'16 The LORD called thy name, A green fathers in the day that I brought them up olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the out of the land of Egypt, even unto this day, noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire rising early and protesting, saying, Obey my upon it, and the branches of it are broken. voice.
17 For the Lord of hosts, that planted 8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for ear, but walked every one in the 'imagina- the evil of the house of Israel and of the tion of their evil heart: therefore I will house of Judah, which they have done bring upon them all the words of this cove against themselves to provoke me to anger nant, which I commanded them to do; but in offering incense unto Baal. they did them not.
18 | And the LORD hath given me know9 And the LORD said unto me, A con- ledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewspiracy is found among the men of Judah, edst me their doings. and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is 10 They are turned back to the iniquities brought to the slaughter; and I knew not 1 Deut. 97. 26. Gal. 3. 10.
6 Heb. to go forth of 7 Pros. I. 28. Isa I. 15. Chap. 14. 12. Ezek, 8 18. i1 Chap. 7. 16, and 14. 11.
14 Heb. What is to my beloved in my house? 15 Or, when thy evil is.
? Lev. 26. 3, 12. * Deut. 7. 19. 4 Heb. Amen. * Or, stubbornness.
Micah 3. 4. # Heh, evil. 9 ChaP. 9. 98, 1% Heb. evil. 18 Isa 1. II, &c.
10 Heb. shame.
that they had devised devices against me, men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the thou die not by our hand : land of the living, that his name may be no 22 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, more remembered.
Behold, I will punish them : the young 20 But, O Lord of hosts, that judgest men shall die by the sword; their sons and righteously, that 'triest the reins and the their daughters shall die by famine: heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: 23 And there shall be no remnant of for unto thee have I revealed my cause. them: for I will bring evil upon the men of 21 Therefore thus saith the Lord of the Anathoth, even the year of their visitation. 17 1 Sam. 16. 7. I Chron. 23. 9. Psal. 7. 9. Chap 17. 10, and 30. 12. Rev. 2. 25.
18 Heb visit apoa. Verse 13. “ According to the number of thy cities were thy gorls.”—This seems to indicate about the lowest depth of idolatry. This deplorable manifestation of the corruption of the Hebrews was evidently borrowed from their heathen neighbours, among whom there were not only certain great gods worshipped everywhere in common, but others who were honoured as the tutelary divinities of particular towns; and there was scarcely any town without one. Some of these idols were little known beyond the town or district in which they were specially honoured. The gods particularly selected as tutelary divinities were such as, from some cause or other, were supposed to regard the place with peculiar favour; and many were believed to have been born in the towns they protected. This practice certainly existed among all the nations bordering on Palestine ; but it is best known to us as existing among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. There are instances in Scripture of the disposition of the heathen to regard Jerovah as such a god as this, without allowing that the above was entitled to the general and exclusive worship of mankind. See 2 Kings xvii., and the note there.
16 Heb. the stalk with his bread.
ously with thee; yea, they have called a 1 Jeremiah, complaining of the wicked's prosperity, multitude after thee: believe them not,
by faith seeth their ruin. 5 God admonisheth him though they speak 'fair words unto thee. of his brethren's treachery against him, ? and la- 7 | I have forsaken mine house, I have menteth his heritage. 14 He promiseth to the left mine heritage; I have given the dearly penitent return from captivity.
beloved of my soul into the hand of her eneRIGHTEOUS art thou, O LORD, when I plead mies. with thee: yet 'let me talk with thee of thy 8 Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in judgments : 'Wherefore doth the way of the the forest; it "crieth out against me: wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy therefore have I hated it. that deal very treacherously?
9 Mine heritage is unto me as a 'speckled 2 Thou hast planted them, yea, they have bird, the birds round about are against her ; taken root: 'they grow, yea, they bring forthcome ye, assemble all the beasts of the fruit: thou art near in their mouth, and far field, come to devour. from their reins.
10 Many pastors have destroyed my vine3 But thou, O LORD, “knowest me: thou yard, they have trodden my portion under hast seen me, and tried mine heart toward foot, they have made my "pleasant portion thee: pull them out like sheep for the a desolate wilderness. slaughter, and prepare them for the day of 11 They have made it desolate, and being slaughter.
desolate it mourneth unto me; the whole 4 How long shall the land mourn, and the land is made desolate, because no man layherbs of every field wither, 'for the wicked-eth it to heart. ness of them that dwell therein ? the beasts 12 The spoilers are come upon all high are consumed, and the birds; because they places through the wilderness : for the sword said, He shall not see our last end.
of the LORD shall devour from the one end 5 ( If thou hast run with the footmen, of the land even to the other end of the land : and they have wearied thee, then how canst no flesh shall have
peace. thou contend with horses? and if in the land 13 "They have sown wheat, but shall reap of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thorns : they have put themselves to pain, thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling but shall not profit: and they shall be of Jordan ?
ashamed of your revenues because of the 6 For even 'thy brethren, and the house fierce anger of the LORD of thy father, even they have dealt treacher- 14 I Thus saith the LORD against all
3 Heb. they go on.
1 Or, let me reason the case with thee. 9 Job 21.7. Psal. 37.1, and 73. 3. Hab. 1. 4.
15 Heb. portion of desire.
13 Or, talented. 24 Or, cause them to come. 16 Levit. 26. 16. Deut. 28. 38. Micah 6. 15. Hag. 1.6.
4 Psal. 17.3. 10 Heb. the love,
mine evil neighbours, that touch the inhe- 16 And it shall come to pass, if they will ritance which I have caused my people Is- diligently learn the ways of my people, to rael to inherit; Behold, I will "pluck them swear by my name, The Lord liveth; as out of their land, and pluck out the house they taught my people to swear by Baal; of Judah from among them.
then shall they be built in the midst of my 15 And it shall come to pass, after that I people. have plucked them out I will return, and 17 But if they will not obey, I will uthave compassion on them, and will bring terly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith them again, every man to his heritage, and the LORD. every man to his land
17 Deut. 30. 3. Chap. 32. 37. 18 Isa. 60. 12. Verse 5. " Run with the footmen," &c.—There is perhaps an allusion here to the running footmen, concerning whom an explanation has been given under 1 Sam. viii. 11, which we are now enabled to illustrate by a suitable engraving.
9. " A speckled bird.”—The words (yay Dyn ha-ait tzeboa) have occasioned considerable perplexity to the interpreters of Scripture. The Seventy render it " hyena” (iaion), which is sanctioned by the use of the word tzeboa in the Arabic, and is followed by Bochart, Gesenius, Boothroyd, and many others. In the language of the Talmud it means a she leopard or panther. But then some difficulty arises from the fact that Wy, usually denotes birds of prey, and the above explanations render it necessary that it should be a beast in the present instance. This consideration operated so strongly with Dr. Blayney, that he translates," the bird Izeboa,” not professing to understand what bird the tzebon was. Jerome supposes it was the peacock, and various doubtful alternatives of speckled or spotted birds, have been suggested by others.