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venteenth chapter of Isaiah: A gleaning shall be left in it, as in the shaking of the olive tree.*
In peaceful times, the press in which the grapes and olives were trodden, was constructed in the vineyard ; but in time of war and danger, it was removed into the nearest city. This precaution, the restored captives were reduced to take for their safety, at the time they were visited by Nehemiah. In a state of great weakness themselves, without an efficient government or means of defence, they were exposed to the hostile machinations of numerous and powerful enemies. For this reason, many of the Jews brought their grapes from the vineyards, and tred them in Jerusalem, the only place of safety which the desolated country afforded. “ In those days," said Nehemiah, “saw I in Judah, some treading wine-presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; and also wine grapes and figs, and all manner of burthens which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day.”+ Had these wine-presses been at a distance from Jerusalem, Nehemiah, who so strictly observed the precept of resting on that day, would not have seen the violation of which he complains.
Our translators, in Mr. Harmer's opinion, seem to have been guilty of an oversight in the interpretation of this verse, which plainly supposes, that sheaves of corn were brought into Jerusalem at the very time men were treading the wine-presses. T'bis, he observes, is a strange anachronism, since the harvest there was finished in or before the third month, and the vintage was not till the seventh.
But it may be replied, in favour of our translators, that by Mr. Harmer's own admission, they have at present a species of corn in the east which is not ripe till the end of summer; which made Rauwolf say, it was the time of vest when he arrived at Joppa, on the thirteenth of September. But if they have such a species of corn now, it is more than probable they had it then; for the customs and management of the orientals, suffer almost no alteration from the lapse of time, See Iarmer's Obs.
+ Neh. xji. 15.
and change of circumstànces. If this be admitted, the difficulty vanishes ; and there is nothing incongruous or absurd in supposing, that Nehemiah might see his countrymen bringing this late grain in sheaves from the field, to tread it out in the city, for fear of their numerous and malicious foes, who might have set upon them, had they not taken this precaution, as the Arabs frequently do on the present inhabitants, and seized the heaps on the barn floor. Mr. Harmer translates the Hebrew term, parcels of grapes; bat as the word sig. nifies a heap of any thing, it may with equal propriety be rendered parcels or sheaves of corn, especially as grapes are mentioned afterwards. It is true, our author makes them dried grapes, but for the word dried, he has no authority from the original text; there is no good reason, therefore, to find fault with our translators in this instance.
In the gardens around Aleppo, commodious villas are built for the use of the inhabitants, to which they retire during the oppressive heats of summer.* Here, amid the wild and almost impervious thickets of pomegranate, and other fruit-bearing trees, the languid native, and exhausted traveller, find a delightful retreat from the scorching beams of the sun. A similar custom of retiring into the country, and taking shelter in the gardens at that season, appears to have been followed in Palestine in ages very remote; for in the Song of Solomon, this invitation from the church to the Redeemer occurs : “ Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field ; let us lodge in the villages ; let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth ; there will I give thee my loves.”+ In another passage, she says to her companions : “ My beloved has gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and gather lilies ;" I and in another, she addresses her beloved in these appropriate terms: 66 Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice.” The exquisite pleasure which an oriental feels, while * Russel's Hist. of Aleppo. † Song vii, 11, 12. - Song vị. 2,
be reclines under the deep shade of the pomegranate, the apple, and other fruitful trees in the Syrian gardens, which, uniting their branches over his head, defend him from the glowing firmament, is well described by Russel: “ Revived by the freshening breeze, the purling of the brooks, and the verdure of the groves, his ear will catch the melody of the nightingale, delightful beyond what is heard in England ; with conscious gratitude to heaven, he will recline on the simple mat, and bless the hospitable shelter. Beyond the limits of the gardens, hardly a vestige of verdure remains; the fields are turned into a parched and naked
One almost feels the scorching beam, and sickens under its irresistible force, in perusing the description of nature's bard :
« 'Tis raging noon, and vertical the sun
And keen reflection pain." But attend the oriental to the refreshing shade of his garden, and then,
" Cool through the nerves his pleasing comfort glides ;
And life shoots swift through all the lighten'd limbs." Not only the actual enjoyment of shade and water diffuses the sweetest pleasure through the panting bosom
of an oriental, but what is almost inconceivable to the • native of a northern clime, even the very idea, the sim
ple recurrence of these gratifications to the mind, conveys a lively satisfaction, and a renovating energy to his heart, when ready to fail him in the midst of the burning desert.
He who smiles at the pleasure we received,” says Lichtenstein, « from only being reminded of shade, or thinks this observation trivial, must feel the force of an African sun, to have an idea of the value of shade and water."*
* Trat, in Africa, p, 104.
These descriptions will enable us to form a more correct notion of the inexpressible delight wbich the longing Christian feels, when he is admitted to fellowships with the Father, and with his son Jesus Christ.” The very conception of such fellowship, revives his fainting soul; the sure expectation, kindles a holy ardour in his bosom; and the actual possession fills his heart with “joy unspeakable, and full of glory.” “I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste; stay me with flaggons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love."*
Parties of pleasure frequently repair to the Syrian gardens, in the spring and summer, to regale themselves with the fruits, or to gather flowers ; a custom to which the royal preacher alludes in several parts of the Song. Thus, the spouse, after inviting the refreshing breezes to awake, and blow upon her garden, that the spices, which adorned and enriched it, might exhale their fragrance, addresses her Lord : “ Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits;" let him regard with complacency, the delightful effects of his grace, produced in the hearts, or displayed in the lives of his people. And to her invitation, he replies : 6 I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse : I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honey-comb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk; eat, O friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, I beloved.”+ In allusion to the same custom, she presents, in the seventh chapter, another supplication : “ Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field ; let us lodge in the villages; let us get up early to the vineyards ; let us see if the vine flourish ; whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth ; there will I give thee my loves." Like those that, weary of the bustle and noise of the crowded city, and exhausted with the increasing heats of the rising year, long for the tranquil pleasures of the garden, or the fruitful field, the reviving coolness of the shade, and the murmur of the streaming rill,--the heaven-born soul desires to Song ii. 35.
Song iy. 16. and y. 1:
leave for a while, the cares and hurry of this world, to enjoy, in secret retirement or with fellow believers, the presence and smiles of his Lord; to mark the growth of divine grace in his heart; and whether the fruits of righteousness are advancing to maturity; whether new dispositions of holiness are beginning to appear, and new resolutions to expand, which require the skill and care of the Great Plusbandman, to defend and cherish. And while he requests the presence of his Redeemer, in the ordinances of his grace, he promises him the best affections of his heart; the renewed professions of his love; the ardent breathings of holy desire, kindled and sustained by the smiles of his favour; he engages to entertain him with a display of all the fruits of the Spirit, which are valuable and lovely as the mandrake, and numerous as the products of the varied year, devoted to bis service, reserved for his honour, and ex: hibited for his glory.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE FROM THE HOUSES,
CITIES, WALLS, AND TOWERS OF THE EAST.
THE aboriginal inhabitants of those regions, appear to have taken up their abodes in caves, in dens, and in holes of the rocks, the excavations of nature or art, of which many remain to the present times, and afford occasional shelter to the wandering shepherd and his flock, and in times of danger, to the trembling fugitive and his family. But as their flocks and herds multiplied, the Syrian shepherds were compelled to go in quest of distant stures, from which they found it impossible to return at night to their immoveable retreats. Necessity, the mother of the arts, taught them to construct the tent, which they might carry along with them in their wanderings, and set up and take down