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often refer to the Chronicles of the kings of Judah and Israel. Solomon wrote three thousand parables, and one thousand and five songs: he wrote treatises upon all sorts of plants and animals, and he himself complains that of making books there is no end.P All these, and perhaps many others that we pever heard of, are lost; as those of the Egyptians, Syrians, and other eastern people. The only books that remain of so great antiquity are such as God dictated to His prophets, and has preserved by a particular providence.
It is not at all likely that the Israelites studied the books of foreigners, from whom they were so careful to separate themselves. And this study might have been dangerous; since it would have taught them the impious and extravagant fables of which the theology of idolaters was composed. But they abhorred it to that degree, that they would not so much as pronounce the name of false gods ;' and if they made part of any proper names, they changed them. Thus they said Ishbosheth and Mephibosheth, for Eshbaal and Meribbaal; Bethhaven for Bethel ; and Beelzebub instead of Beelsemen.'
These fables, which comprehend the
1 Kings iv. 32, 33.
Eccles. xii. 12. 4 Psal. xvi. 4. Wisdom xiv. 27.
• Compare 1 Chron. viii. 33, 34, with 2 Sam. ii. 8. and iv. 4.
EshBAAL, Syavs the fire of Baal, or of the Idol, changed into IsuboshETH, nwa u't the man of shame.
MERIBBA AL by 'n the contention of Baal, changed into MEPHIBOSHETH, we op from the mouth of shame, both names
whole doctrine of false religions, were a heap of lies established by long tradition upon the foundations of antient truths, and embellished by the invention of poets. Mothers and nurses taught them to their children from their cradle; and sung them at their religious worship and feasts. The wisest of the heathens saw plainly that they tended only to create a contempt of the divinity, and corruption of manners : but the evil was past remedy.'
The Israelites were the only people that related truths to their children, capable of inspiring them with the fear and love of God, and exciting them to virtue. All their traditions were noble and useful: not but they made use of parables and riddles, besides simple narrations, to teach truths of great importance, especially to morality. It was a practice among the ingenious to propound riddles to one another, as we see by the instances of Samson,' and the queen of Sheba." The Greeks tell
being intended to ridicule those 'which appear to have been imposed in honour of the idol.
BETHEL, 5* nia the house of God, which, when Jeroboam set up the worship of his golden calves in it, was called BETH. AVEN, 1980's the house or temple of iniquity.
BEELSEMEN, S'Du bya Lord or ruler of the heavens, was through contempt changed into BEELZEBUB 3197 bya the fly god, or god of flies; and BEELZEBUL 511 by the god of dung. In this latter form the word is read in the Greek Testament. • Plato, Rep. ii. in fine, et init. iii. Judg. xiv. 14.
1 Kings 2. 1. Our translation says, she came to prove him with hard questions : but the Abbé follows the Vulgate, venit tentare cum in ænigmatibus, which is the same with fy annig
us the same thing of their first sages.' They made use too of these fables, as Æsop did, the fiction of which is so plain that it can impose upon nobody. We have two of them in Scripture : Jotham's, the son of Gideon ;' and that of Joash, king of Israel." But the chief use of allegories and a figurative way of speaking was to comprehend the maxims of morality in a few words and under agreeable images, that children might learn them more easily ; and such are the parables or proverbs of which the books of Solomon are composed.
These parables are commonly expressed in verse, and the verses were made to be sung; for which reason, I believe, the Israelites learnt music too. I judge of them by the Greeks, who had all their learning and politeness from the eastern people. Now it is certain that the Greeks taught their children both to sing and play upon instruments. This study is the most antient of all others. Before the use of letters, the memory of great actions was preserved by songs.
The Gauls and Germans retained the same custom in the times of the Romans, and it is still preserved among the people of America. * Mars (with riddles or enigmas) of the Septuagint; which is the true import of the Hebrew word nitna bacheedoth, from 171 chadah, to penetrate ; because such sayings penetrated the mind, and engrossed the attention more than others. * Plutarch. Comm. Sept. Sap. Judg. ix. 8.
2 2 Kings xiv. 9. This custom prevailed also among the Hindoos, witness the great and ancient epic poem of India, the Mahabarat ; among
Though the Hebrews had letters, they knew that words in measure and set to a tune were always best remembered; and from thence proceeded that great care which they always took to compose songs upon any important event that had happened to them. Such are those two songs of Moses :-one at passing through the Red Sea ;' the other a little before he died, to recommend the observation of the law. Such likewise is that of Deborah," that of Samuel's mother, and many others; but, above all, the Psalms of David. These poems are wonderfully instructive, full of the praises of God, the remembrance of His loving kindness, containing besides moral precepts, and such sentiments as a good man ought to have in every station of life. Thus the most important truths, and exalted notions, were agreeably instilled into the minds of children by poetry set to music.
And that was the right use of them. God, who created great geniusses and fine voices, designed, without doubt, that the owners should employ them to recommend virtue, and not to foment criminal passions. The Greeks themselves own, that the most antient and best sort of poetry was the lyric, that is to say, hymns and odes in praise of the Deity, and calculated to inspire virtue.' Dramatic
the Persians, witness the famous Shah Nameh of Ferdoosee ; among the Irish, Welsh, and Scotch, witness the remains of their ancient bards, Ossian, Urran, Oscar, &c.
• Deut. xxxii. 1, &c. • Judg. v. 1, &c.
• 1 Sam. ii. 1-10. Plato, leg. vii.
• Exod. xv. l,
poetry, which consists only in imitation, and aims at nothing but to divert by moving the passions, was of later invention. We see nothing of it among the Hebrews; and though Solomon in his Song makes different persons speak, it is more to express their sentiments in a lively manner, than to represent an action, as is done in theatrical performances.
There are no remains of the Hebrew music, but there are several of the structure of their verse; and if we may judge of the beauty of their songs by that of the words, they must have been excellent ; grave and serious, but affecting and diversified. And if we may form an opinion of them from their effects, the Scripture seems to impute supernatural ones to them. We see, by the instance of Saul, who found himself well and refreshed when David played upon the harp, that their music charmed evil spirits.' The sound of their instruments likewise became a means which the Spirit of God sometimes used, when He spake by the prophets, as we find by the example of those whom Saul met, as Samuel had foretold, and with whom he himself entered into holy transports of joy ;' and by that of Elisha, who asked for a player upon a minstrel, that he might prophesy :' that is, this music appeased the motion of the spi
See the Supplement to this Chapter, Appendix, No. III.
See Lowth's Dissertation on the Poetry of the Hebrews, and Kennicott's Hebrew Bible. i 2 Sam. xvi. 23.
1 Sam. x.-5. ' 2 Kings iii. 15.