by "ibis," as has been done by the LXX. But "owl” better answers the context. This is pointed out below.

The vegetable marks of the desolation were nettles (see under Zeph. . 9) and brambles (under Judges ix. 14). The tangled thicket was to have its inhabitants—dragons (tanninim), see under Gen. i. 21; and owls (bath yănāh, lit., daughters of the owl), see under Job xxx. 29. These are again noticed in ver. 14. Tanninim may include “wild

[merged small][graphic]

Sacred Ibis (Geronticus Æthiopicus). beasts of the desert, wild beasts of the island, and satyrs;” while bath yănāh, owls in general, takes in the "screech-owl.” Before looking more closely at these we notice, ver. 15:

“Great Owl,” Heb. kippōz. See under Lev. xi. 17.

“Vulture,” Heb. dayah. Two species have been already specially referred to under Lev. xi. 14, which see. Several species seem to be mentioned here. The words, "every one with her mate,” are not to be understood as pointing to males and females, for both “vulture” and “her mate” are feminine. The popular belief was, that as the females of the birds of prey are generally larger than the males, so for the most part they are more rapacious, and the prophet names the female vultures, to give intensity to his threatening. As if he had said, Such birds of different species will be gathered, each one agreeing with the other, in the wild region to be left desolate. Three species may be specially named. The Arabian vulture (Vultur monachus; Plate XXXIV., fig. 1), the Egyptian vulture (Neophron Percnopterus, ibid., fig. 2), and the Bearded vulture (Gypaëtos barbatus, ibid., fig. 3). Another species,




7. Rosmhariducto llatin or Horse

Fig. 143.

[ocr errors]

which may chiefly be regarded as a European bird, is also to be met with in the north of Africa, in some parts of Asia Minor, and in Persia. This is the griffon or tawny vulture, which has already been noticed under Lev. xi. 14 - which see. We have now before us the outstanding points in this chapter, and may return to ver. 11. Taking kāath, cormorant, as pelican, the first clauses name birds noted as loving such desert regions as that described in the last clause. The pelican and the bittern haunt the pool and the marsh land; the owl and the raven frequent the lonely forest or the wild mountain cliffs. Their presence is at once suggestive of the absence of man: “They shall call the nobles thereof to the kingdom, but none shall be there, and all her princes shall be nothing” (ver. 12).

The explanation of ver. 13 given above, is much truer to nature than the proposal to render tanninim "wolves,” and bath yănāh "daughters of the ostrich.” If the words of verse 14 be regarded as referring to particular forms of life embraced in the general statement at the close of the preceding verse, the whole may be rendered thus :“Desert creatures shall meet with howling creatures, and the shaggy monster (satyr) shall call to his mate; only there shall the great bird of night (the screechowl) repose, and find for herself a resting-place. The desert creatures referred to were most likely wolves, and the howling creatures jackals.” The shaggy monster may have been the hyæna, which is still to be met with in the same region, and the screech-owl the bird so called.

“Screech-owl,” Heb. lilith, is not met with elsewhere. The original word indicates the bird's nocturnal habits. The screech-owl of Britain is the howlet or tawny owl (Strix stridula = S. aluco). It is, however, more likely that the great eagle owl (Bubo maximus) is the species referred to in this passage. It sometimes ventures abroad in the daytime, but is always most active at night, when its weird cry may be heard in the wild districts which it loves.


Tawny Vulture (Gyps fulvus).



[ocr errors]

HE general scope of xxxv. 7 has already been referred to under Exodus ii. 3. The word dragons (tanninim) means ravenous beast, whether of the land or sea.

The Syrian wolf or the jackal may be specially intended, but more

likely the term was designed to leave the species undetermined. The pouring out of the Spirit, and therewith the

revival of the church, are set forth under the figures of pools in the parched ground, and springs in thirsty lands. The characteristic vegetation which fringes the water is then alluded to. In the lair of the beast of prey “shall be grass with reeds and rushes.' "

Reed,” Heb. kāneh-see under 1 Kings xiv. 15. “Rush,” Heb. gõme-see under Exod. ii. 3.

Chapter xxxvii.-Rabshakeh's blasphemous boasting was taken to heart by the king, who deeply humbled himself before God, and committed his cause to him. On this the prophet was sent with the re-assuring message —"Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard." He then recounts the topics in Sennacherib's message, in order to bring out in bold contrast the purposes of God concerning the Assyrian. Among other things the messengers of the heathen king had said in his name-"By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, and the choice fir-trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, and the forest of his Carmel" (ver. 24). The last clause would be better rendered—“I will reach its extreme height, the garden (Carmel) of its forest.” The foreigner's power to do mischief is then represented by cutting down the cedars, erez (Cedrus Libani), and the fir-trees, berösh (Abies). See under 1 Kings v. 8, 10. The fir is again mentioned by Isaiah as one of the trees which were to be planted in the desert (ch. xli. 19), as that which was to take the place of the thorn (ch. lv. 13), and which was to be associated with the cedar, the pine, and the box, in beautifying the place of God's sanctuary (ch. lx. 13); the references being all figurative of times of spiritual revival and large spiritual blessing:

Other prophets allude to the berosh, or fir, in a figurative way also.

« VorigeDoorgaan »