the young twig” cropped off by the eagle was Jehoiachin, the son and successor of Jehoiakim, the Jeconiah of Jeremiah xxiv. 1, the Coniah of Jeremiah xxxvii. 1, and the Jechonias of Matthew i. 12. The “seed of the land” represented the people of Judah, who also with their king are spoken of as “the vine, its roots, and its branches.” The land of traffic (ver. 4) was Babylonia, and “the good soil by great waters (ver. 8) leads us at once to the rich alluvial plains in the valley of the Nile. Babylonia and its rivers, Euphrates and Tigris, are named as the fruitful field and great waters, in verse 5. With this general outline we can have little difficulty in filling the subordinate particulars, and in understanding the whole in the light of the context. There are only two other points which must be noticed :

The cedar placed by great waters is said to have been “set as a willow-tree”---Hebrew tzaphāphāh, the safsaf (Salix safsaf) of Hasselquist. This plant is abundant in Syria and in Babylonia, where like our sallow, or goat willow (Salix caprea), it grows luxuriantly in moist places, but is met also in dry and sandy places. It gives its name to one of the peaks of the range of Sinai, Ras es Súfsâfeh, so called from the willows which grew in the Wady Súfsâfeh. This passage is the only one in which this species is referred to. See for “ willow" under Isa. xliv. 3.

The people who trusted in Pharaoh-hophra were to begin to be satisfied with their condition. At the close of the parable they are warned by the prophet not to do so: “Thus saith the Lord God, Shall it prosper? shall he not pull up the roots thereof, and cut off the fruit thereof, that it wither? it shall wither in all the leaves of her spring, even without great power, or many people to pluck it up by the roots thereof. Yea, behold, being planted, shall it prosper ? shall it not utterly wither when the east wind toucheth it? it shall wither in the furrows where it grew” (ver. 9, 10). This allusion to the east wind has led some to seek for an extra-Egyptian influence for the evil which was to overtake the people who rested under the shadow of Pharaoh's protection. But the point and force of the passage is, that the hurt to the Jews was to come from the very power in which they trusted. The evil influence of this power is described by the east wind, a reference which would at once be understood by all who had had dealings with Egypt. At different times, in the months of April and May, Egypt is subject to a wind similar to the sirocco, the Shu-Kizeh of the Arabian deserts. In Egypt it is known as the Khamsin. During its prevalence dark clouds loom in the firmament, the atmosphere is


3 T

heated to a high degree, and the wind is strong. It frequently brings a blight on vegetation. When the protector shall become the persecutor, , shall it not be with the people as with the plants stricken by the Khamsin? “Shall it not wither when the east wind toucheth it?"

Chapter xxvii. 15.—Among the riches brought to Tyrus were elephants' tusks, called here “horns of ivory.” The elephant itself is only indirectly mentioned in Scripture—see above, 1 Kings x. 11. However, the mode in which it is alluded to, and the circumstances associated with the passages in which the references occur, have attached much interest to it. The Hebrew word for tooth is shēn—"tooth for a tooth ” (Levit. xxiv. 20). This is translated ivory eight times in its simple form, and twice in which it may be regarded as part of a compound word, in this passage, and again in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

If Psalm xlv. be a psalm of David, which there is every reason to believe, ivory is first mentioned (ver. 8) in his day (B.c. 1055) :

"All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia,

Out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad." It has been proposed to render“palaces” by casquets, or boxes—perfume boxes of ivory; but this falls altogether short of the requirements of this royal song. The scene of the king's palace, and the filling in of the picture, must consist with this. Horsley and others are disposed to take “whereby” as a proper name, Minni (Jer. li. 27), and to render the line—"From the ivory palaces of Armenia they make thee glad." There is much to be said in favour of this version. It gives strength to the description of the bringing in of the Gentiles, and preserves the true meaning of the “ivory palaces.” Amos when threatening judgment on “the backsliding house of Jacob,” whose luxurious habits fostered its departure from God, says—“I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end” (iii. 15). The dwellings of ivory thus alluded to are again mentioned in connection with the “acts of Abab” _“the ivory house which he had made” (1 Kings xxii. 39). They appear to have been houses whose internal decorations consisted chiefly of ivory-panels of ivory on their walls—couches of ivory on which their inmates reclined—and, if palaces, a throne of ivory for the king. “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall” (Amos vi. 3, 4.

[merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][graphic]

Gorgoma patula

7 I Meandra Limo sa


JWI») sul


When Solomon, leaving the royal simplicity of his father, took to imitating the luxurious arrangements of neighbouring courts," he made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold” (1 Kings x. 18). And in ver. 6 of this chapter, among other evidences of the luxury of Tyrus in building her ships, it is said that “the company of Ashurites made the (rowing) benches of ivory, brought out of the land of Chittim,” or Kittim, Cyprus, which appears to have been a depot of merchandise brought by the Phænicians from Africa and Southern Asia. Many illustrations of these remarks occur in classic literature. Ivory is described by Homer as used in the decoration of the palace of Menelaus:--

"Above, beneath, around the palace shines
The sumless treasure of exhausted mines :
The spoils of elephants the roofs inlay,

And studded amber darts a golden ray."—(Odys. iv.)
The bed in Penelope's nuptial bower was overlaid with ivory :

" Ithwart the frame, at equal distance lie
Thongs of tough hides, that boast a purple dye;
Then polishing the whole, the finish'd mould

With silver shone, with elephant and gold."- (Odys. xxiii.)
Penelope's key also was ornamented with ivory :-

“The prudent queen the lofty stair ascends,
At distance due a virgin-train attends ;
A brazen key she held, the handle turn'd,
With steel and polish'd elephant adorn'd:
Swift to the inmost room she bent her way,

Where, safe repos'd, the royal treasures lay.”(Odys. xxi.) The ivory was supplied to Tyrus by the Ashurites or Assyrians, whose geographical situation near the great river routes between central and southern Asia, would put them in possession of the merchandise of regions in which ivory abounded. Mr. Layard met with many traces of the skill of the Assyrians in working in ivory, when examining the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon.

The Hebrew term used by Ezekiel (karnoth-shēn) lets light on the popular idea of the nature of ivory. The prevailing opinion in his day seems to have been, that the ivory formed the horns of the animal from which it was obtained. This goes also to show that the Hebrews were not, up to that period, familiar with the elephant. This may account for its being named only as a foreign animal by the voyagers of Solomon and Hiram. They brought from the distant region visited

« VorigeDoorgaan »