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This "0-P Book" Is an Authorized Reprint of the 
Original Edition, Produced by Microfilm-Xerography by 
University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1966 








VOL. I. 


(Sufcutor to CAoxneej Otodrick.) 


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1 J< 1 ^ 1968 

Eente>e(J- according to Act of Congress in the year 1^33, by 


in the office of the Clerk of the District of Vermont. 


The work, of which a translation is here offered to 
the publick, has long been celebrated in Germany, as 
one of distinguished merit. On its first publication it 
did much to awaken and cherish the taste for Oriental 
and especially Hebrew antiquity, which has since so 
extensively prevailed among the scholars of that coun 
try. It taught them, too, in the study of Hebrew an 
tiquity and Hebrew poetry, as the works of Lessing, 
Winkelmann, and others had done in regard to Grecian 
antiquity, to divest themselves of the conceptions, and 
modes of thought, which are peculiar to their own 
country and institutions, and of the peculiar spirit of 
their own age ; by the force of imagination to place 
themselves in the condition of those ancient patriarchs 
and prophets, whose thoughts and feelings they seek to 
apprehend ; to see the world as they saw it, to feel as 
they felt, to imbibe and to express their spirit in its truth 
and simplicity. Hence, though Germany has since 
been fruitful in works connected with Hebrew poetry 
and history, and though the great work of Bp. Lowth 
has been translated and is appreciated there, this 
still retains its place, as a classical and standard work. 

These general facts might seem sufficient, in the 
view even of those, who are not personally acquainted 
with the work, to claim for it a plac*e in the biblical 
literature of this country, and the few among us, who 
are acquainted with it, have long wished for a transla 
tion, which should render ft accessible especially to 
all who are professionally engaged in biblical studies. 
The same influence, it is believed moreover, is needed 
here, and indeed among English scholars generally, 
which, as above remarked, it exerted, in concert with 
other works, in the country which produced it. The 
work of Bp. Lowth is the only one of much distinction, 
whose influence is felt either in England or in this 
country, in cultivating in the minds of students a genial 
love for the spirit of Hebrew antiquity. What that is, 
as compared with the work of Herder, is readily seen 
by any one, who is acquainted with both, and capable 
of appreciating the difference between them. Valua 
ble, and indeed indispensable as it is, to the student 
of the Bible, from the richness of its thoughts and the 
nice discrimination exhibited in its learned criticism, 
it differs essentially from that of Herder in the point 
of view, from which it contemplates the subject of 
which it treats. It seeks to illustrate and make in 
telligible the beauties and sublimities of Hebrew poet 
ry, by comparing it in all its varieties, with the pro 
ductions of Grecian and Roman art, and has done per 
haps all that can be desired in following out that mode 
of critical comparison. It exhibits the views, which 
must naturally be taken, and are therefore justly taken, 
by a mind thoroughly disciplined and cultivated by a 
study of what in English literature is exclusively un 
derstood by classical learning both ancient and modern, 

But in one sense it may be justly said, that the more 
thoroughly one s understanding is moulded by the 
forms, and occupied with the conceptions exhibited in 
the literature of one age and country, the less is it qual 
ified to imbibe the genuine spirit, and feel the simple 
power of every other national literature. This must 
necessarily be the ease, if it be so pre-occupied and 
biassed as to judge of all others, and test their merits, 
exclusively by the result of comparison with that, 
from which its own character was derived. Unless 
it have the higher power of divesting itself of all that 
is peculiar in its acquired forms of thought, and in 
those conceptions by which it takes cognizance of the 
objects of its knowledge, of clothing itself anew in 
the forms of thought peculiar to another people, and 
of so adopting their conceptions for its own, as to 
contemplate the world around them under the same 
relations with them, the man can never participate in 
their emotions, nor breathe the spirit of their poetry. 
He must not only be acquainted with the facts of their 
history, the modes of life, and the circumstances of 
every kind, by which their habits of thought and feel 
ing were moulded, as a mass of antiquarian lore, but 
must learn to place himself entirely in their point of 
view, and to see all these particular* in the relation to 
each other, and to the observer, which they would 
then assume. When he has done this, he will be 
prepared to understand why they thought, and felt, 
and wrote as they did ; and if he have the feeling and 
inspiration of the poet, he will sympathize with their 
emotions, and the living spirit of their poetry will be 
kindled up in his own imagination How difficult it 

is for us to do this, however, in relation to the poetry 

of a people so widely diverse from us in all the cir 
cumstances of their earthly existence, can be under 
stood only by those who have looked at the subject 
with enlarged and philosophical views. Thus to enter 
into the spirit of Grecian poetry, to understand the 
child-like simplicity of Homer, and appreciate the 
truth of feeling in his representations, is a high attain 
ment for the classical student, yet the Greeks were 
our neighbours and kindred, when compared with the 
more ancient and Oriental Hebrews. When we place 
ourselves in the tents of the Hebrew patriarchs, on 
the plains of Arabia, or the mountains of Palestine, 
every tiling is to be learned anew. The language, 
the habits of life, the modes of thought and of inter 
course, the heavens above, and the earth beneath, all 
are changed, and present to us a strange and foreign 
aspect. When in addition to this we consider, that 
the poetry, which we are here called to study, belongs 
to the earliest periods of recorded time, and embodies 
many of the first simple and child-like conceptions 
of the human mind, and when we reflect, too, how 
difficult it is for us to return upon our own childhood, 
and revive the faded conceptions and forgotten feel 
ings, with which we then looked abroad upon the 
works of nature, observed the conduct of our fellow- 
men, or contemplated our own being and destiny, we 
may apprehend something of the difficulties, which 
an author has to overcome, who would fully enter 
into the spirit of Hebrew poetry, and make it intel 
ligible to a more English reader. We may under 
stand too how impossible it would be by the method, 
which Lowth has pursued, and by that alone, to do full 
justice to a body of poetry so peculiar, and so diverse 

in its whole spirit, from that with which he brings it 
into comparison. Hence the necessity of the work 
of Herder ; and the end, which he sought to accom 
plish, was to supply that, which was wanting in the 
celebrated lectures of Bp. Lowth. He has aimed by 
tracing the simple and child-like conceptions, which 
had been transmitted from the infancy of the race, 
and which had a predominant influence, in connexion 
with the outward circumstances of their existence, in 
giving its character and spirit to their poetry, in a 
word, by looking at these in their causes, to place us 
in the proper point of view, and enable us to feel and 
appreciate them for ourselves. But what farther is 
necessary to be said on this point the author has him 
self said in the plan of his work, in his preface, and in 
various parts of the work itself. 

How far the author hag succeeded in regard to the 
attainment of his end, the reader, with proper qualifi 
cations for forming an opinion, must judge for himself. 
That he has always apprehended in their true sense 
the early conceptions o e the Hebrews is not to be 
supposed, nor would any one probably undertake to 
defend all his views, even of important matters, con 
nected with the early traditions of the race. The bib 
lical representations of Paradise, of the garden of Eden, 
of the temptation and fall of Adam, of the Cherubim, 
of the deluge, and of what Herder denominates my 
thological representations generally, have ever fur 
nished an ample field of speculation, in which every 
critick feels at liberty to form his own opinions, and 
for the most part to interpret by his own rules. So 
far as philosophical and theological considerations in 
fluenced the author, he seems to have aimed chiefly at 

meeting the popular objections to the representations 
of Scripture, which were then very generally preva 
lent, and are so more or less in every age, by showing, 
that, although we cannot understand these, as they 
would at first seem to mean, when seen from our point 
of view, they yet exhibit when seen from the right 
position, and in their true relations to the age and peo 
ple, for which they were originally made, a sense both 
natural and rational. To judge fairly of the author, as 
a man of piety and of sober and correct views, from 
the representations, which he has given of these mat 
ters, we must consider moreover the atmosphere, in 
which he wrote, and the free spirit of Biblical criti 
cism, as exhibited at the same time by Eichhorn and 
other .contemporary German writers. But after making 
due allowances of this sort, it will still be felt, that 
the work contains some things irreconcilable with just 
views, nor would I be understood as subscribing to all 
the sentiments, which I am herewith exhibiting to the 

If it be asked, why then do I exhibit opinions, which I 
deem erroneous, I can only say, that others, as well as 
myself, and those in whose judgment I place the highest 
confidence, have thought it extremely desirable, all 
things considered, that the work should be given to 
the publick, and my views of duty to my author, as a 
faithful translator, did not permit me to misrepresent 
his opinions in any thing of importance.* I was at 

*I fear that in one or two instances, the translation, through 
inadvertence, is such us may seem to convey a sense farther re 
moved from what are considered correct views, than the original. 
An instance of this occurs on page It, where "Hell" properly 
means the pluce oi the dead. It is explained by reference to page 

first disposed to avoid the difficulty by accompanying 
the work with notes, and giving in them my own re 
marks, on whatever would probably be considered 
objectionable by the lovers of divine truth. I soon 
found, however, on considering the nature of the sub 
jects that would require to be noticed in this way, that 
I must either give a naked opinion, where a sense of 
propriety would not permit me to do so, or enter into 
discussions of a philosophical and theological kind, 
unsuited to the character, and beyond the proper limits 
of the work. My belief is, moreover, that such is 
the character and spirit of the work, taken as a whole, 
as to give it an influence highly beneficial to the cause 
of truth and of sound Biblical learning among us, if 
only it be read in the spirit that dictated it, and to cor 
rect in the general result, whatever individual errors 
of opinion it may contain. It is only to be regretted, 
that the author had not completed the plan which he 
had sketched, and we could then, no doubt, have judg 
ed more fairly, of the proportions and bearings of the 
parts which we have. 

What, and how comprehensive his plan was, will 
be seen from his own sketch of it, immediately fol 
lowing this preface. It seems, too, to have been his 
favourite enterprise, and cherished with fondness, as 
he remarked to one of his friends, from his very 
childhood, His hopes, however, were never fully 
realized, and only a part of the general plan was 
ever executed. During the latter part of his life, 
when he had hoped for leisure to accomplish it, he 
was so much oppressed with other duties, as at last to 
be removed in the midst of his labours, when he had 
scarcely entered upon the third division of his work. 


Even the two first divisions still required some impor 
tant additions and corrections from the author s hand. 
The work however was published by him, and nearly 
in its present form, at Dessau, in 1782 and 1783. Af 
ter his death, which took place in 1803, a second edi 
tion with such additions, as could be made from the 
papers, which he had left, was published by his friend 
J. G. Mueller of Schafl hausen, in 1805 and*1806. The 
third edition, with some small contributions of his ow r n, 
was published in 1822 by Prof. Justi, of Marburg, in 
twovols. 8vo. This is esteemed the best edition, and 
from it the present translation has been made. 

Of my own undertaking as translator I have no dis 
position to say any thing further, except that I have 
been very well aware of its difficulty, and have aimed 
to perform it with all reasonable exactness and fidelity 
to the original. As a work of taste, it requires more 
care and labour than would be necessary, where less 
regard was had to elegance of composition, and I have 
aimed, as far as as I was able, to give a fair expression 
of the original. The numerous translations from the 
Hebrew, and other poetical efl usions especially, I have 
endeavoured to exhibit with as much accuracy as could 
well be attained in a matter of so much difficulty. 
These were regarded by the author, as the chief object 
of his work, and his translations from the Hebrew 
were made with peculiar care. lie aimed to preserve 
and exhibit, as far as possible, not the thoughts merely, 
but their form and colouring, and the precise tones of 
feeling which were associated with them in the minds 
of the authors, and of those for whom they were 
originally written. In this he has succeeded, undoubt 
edly, far better than Lowth, whose poetical paraphrases 


serve only to convert the simplicity of the Hebrew 
into the more, artificial forms of expression, which 
belong to the classick poetry of more modern times. It 
was a matter of course, therefore, in giving a transla 
tion of Herder, to consider this as the part of his 
work, which he would most value himself, and to pre 
serve, as far as possible, his peculiar views of the sen 
timent of the original Hebrew. Yet, in so regarding 
it, I have thought it necessary also to have reference 
to the language of the English translation, and have 
always preferred it, where it could be done without 
misrepresenting the sense of Herder. Regard to this 
has led me also to be less careful of metrical arrange 
ment, than I should otherwise have been. Herder has 
for the most part, though not uniformly, adhered to the 
Iambic measure, though with little regard to the length 
of the lines. \Vhen this could not be done without 
giving the translation a more artificial colouring than 
suits our notions of simplicity in such things, I have 
in most cases merely preserved the parallelisms, and 
aimed only at the most simple rhythm. In translating 
other poetical effusions, than tlio-e from the Hebrew, 
a few of which the author has inserted in the work, I 
have merely followed the form of the original. My 
aim has been in all things of importance, to give a 
faithful representation of the author s work in regard 
both to matter and form. I could not learn till quite 
recently, that a version of any portion of the work 
had been previously made either in England or this 
country ; but within a few days have received a copy 
of a work under the title of " Oriental Dialogues," 
which is a translation of a part of the first volume of 
this work. Several of the dialogues are omitted, and 


the order of the remainder changed by the translator, 
so that it can hardly be considered a satisfactory ac 
count of the original, and, had I known of its existence, 
would not have saved me the labour which I have 
bestowed upon the work. 

The first volume, which is now ready for publica 
tion, it will be observed by comparison with the plan 
of the Work, contains only the introduction and a brief 
account of the life and character of Moses. Tne other 
volume, containing the first and second parts of the 
work itself, will be prepared for publication, as soon 
as the pressure of other duties will permit. That it 
may do something to promote a genuine taste for an 
cient learning, and the simplicity of primitive antiqui 
ty generally, and more especially love for those inspir 
ed records of Hebrew antiquity, which have so many 
and so peculiar claims upon the regard of every stu 
dent, is the sincere wish of the 



The beautiful and justly celebrated work of Bp. 
Lowth, de sacra poesi Hebraeorum, is universally 
known, and might seem to preclude the necessity of 
the present undertaking. A nearer comparison of its 
contents, however, will show, that the present work is 
neither a translation, nor an imitation of it. Whether 
the sphere, which it occupies, be of equal or inferior 
importance, it is at least sufficiently distinct, and can 
not be without its interest and use to the lovers of the 
most ancient, simple, and sublime poetry in general, 
nor indeed to all, who cherish a liberal curiosity re 
specting the progress of knowledge, divine, and human, 
as connected with the earlier history of our race. 

In a prolonged introduction are investigated three 
principal particulars, from which in its origin the char 
acter of the poetry of the Hebrews was derived. In 
the first place, are exhibited the poetical characteris 
tics of their language in its structure and copiousness ; 
then the primitive conceptions, which they had re 
ceived as a legacy from the most ancient times, and 
which constitute, as it were, a cosmology as sublime 
as it is poetical ; and third, the history of their patri 
archs down to their great law-giver, and whatever 
in it was fitted to distinguish, as well the whole na 
tion generally, as more particularly their writings and 
the spirit of their poetry. 


The work itself properly commences with Moses, 
the law-giver of the nation ; and proceeds to show 
what influence he exerted, or failed to exert, on the 
spirit of the people, and of their posterity, by his deeds, 
by his legislation, and by the exhibition of both in his 
history and in his own poetical effusions. It points out 
what conceptions, transmitted from more ancient times, 
he adopted and practically applied, and what he al 
tered in this legacy of the patriarchs ; what view of 
their promised land, and of the nations around them, 
he aimed to impress upon their minds ; and finally, by 
what means he formed the poetry of the nation, gave 
it its pastoral and rural character, and consecrated it 
to the uses of the sanctuary and of the prophets of 
Jehovah. The causes by which these effects were 
brought about are unfolded out of the history of the 
race, and their influence exhibited in the most striking 
examples of later times. 

In the next place, the history itself is carried for 
ward from Moses to the period of the highest national 
prosperity, and of the most powerful king, under whom 
and his son occurred-the second marked development 
of national poetry. The most beautiful specimens of 
it, produced during this period, are explained from 
the causes, which gave rise to them, are placed in that 
true Oriental light, which is necessary to a perception 
of their beauties, and the effects produced by them 
in after times unfolded. It is implied of course, that 
some of the most interesting and instructive of these 
sp _ Amiens are inserted in the work, in a translation 
both intelligible, and capable of exhibiting something 
of Lieir true spirit. 

The work then passes to the third period of the art, 


as it existed among this people long before their down 
fall, to the voice of the prophets. The characters 
of these patriotick and divinely prompted leaders of 
the people are unfolded, an introduction given to their 
writings, and some of their most touching, beautiful, 
and sublime passages here and there embodied in the 

Next come the sorrowful tones of lamentation, which 
accompanied and followed the downfall of the nation; 
and those which breathed hope and admonition in re 
gard to its re-establishment ; the effects produced by 
the writings of this people, when collected together, 
and made known in other languages, especially the 
Greek, and their influence through the writings and 
teachers of Christianity down to our own times. 

A few chapters at the end of the work investigate 
the history of the mode, in which this poetry has been 
regarded and treated by the Jews and other nations ; 
the different success, with which it has been imitated 
at different times, and in different languages, and final 
ly, what may have been the result of these writings 
and of their spirit in the whole history of cultivation, 
and of revolutions in the world, so far as known to us. 

This annunciation, it is hoped, will be received not 
as ambitious pretension and high-sounding phrase, but 
simply as the purpose, which the author of the work 
has ventured to form and place before him. Inmagnis 
voluisse sat est, is here his chosen motto. 



The foregoing annunciation of the plan of the work, 
supersedes the necessity of dwelling at large upon it 
in this place. I shall, therefore, only state briefly how 
it is carried out in this first part. 

The general purpose of the work, required that this 
part should emhrace the general and characteristick 
traits of Hebrew poetry, which mark its essential out 
lines, its cosmology, the most ancient conceptions of 
God, of Providence, of Angels, of the Elohim, and of 
the Cherubim, and individual objects, and poetical 
representations of nature. With these, it must contain 
also, especially, the traditions of the patriarchs, which, 
as among all nations, so peculiarly among this people, 
were the spurce from which were derived all the 
peculiarities of their modes of thinking, consequently 
also the genius of their poetry. To set forth these, 
and unfold them correctly, was here so .much the 
more necessary, since most traditions of this kind have 
themselves more or less of poetical colouring, and 
what is worse, are often greatly misapprehended. In 
doing this, I have aimed as much as possible at brevity, 
have endeavoured not unnecessarily to say for the hun 
dredth time, what had been repeated ninety-nine 
times already, and where on account of the connexion 
I was obliged to do so, have passed over it as briefly 


as possible ; for where in common-place matters we 
cannot read with interest, we can much less write 
with it. 

I sought, therefore, rather to set in their true light, 
the obscure and misinterpreted histories of Paradise, 
of the fall, of the tower of Babel, of the wrestling 
with the Elohim, &c., together with particular mytho 
logical representations, and personifications, which 
show most clearly the character of Hebrew poetry, 
and will at the same time prove of the greatest service 
to us hereafter; for before one can say much, either 
of the beauty or deformity of an object, he must first 
learn to understand it. A right understanding of words, 
of figurative language, and of things, will give, with 
out long discourses and a tedious explication of it, 
the conception of beauty to one who has the capability 
of emotion. To one who is destitute of this, it can 
hardly be communicated by exclamations, and repeti 
tions of similar passages from other poets, and much 
less by abstract discussions respecting the nature of 
poetry, and its various kinds. From all this, therefore, 
the present work will be free. 

If I have occupied as much as I could of the work 
with the translation of select passages, no one, I hope, 
will think it too much, for these are in fact, the very 
purpose and subject of the work. They are the stars 
in an otherwise empty space. They are the fruit, and 
my book is only the shell. Could I have succeeded 
fairly in setting forth the specimens which I have 
here given, in all their ancient dignity and simplicity, 
I should not, at the least, have failed altogether of my 
aim ; for in regard to this, 1 am of Luther s opinion, 
" that we must let the Prophets sit as teachers, and at 


their feet listen with humility to what they say, and 
not say what they must hear," as if we were their 
teachers. In this early period, the Book of Job was 
especially appropriate to my purpose, and I only wish 
that I may have expressed something of that which 
my own soul felt in the study of this sublime, simple, 
and perhaps most ancient of all regular compositions. 
Ardua res est, vetuslis novitatem dare, novis auctori" 
tatem, obsoletis nitorem, obscuris lucem, fastiditis gra- 
tiam, dubiis fidem, omnibus vero naturam et natura 
suse omnia. Something of this I would have attained, 
in what I have said of the patriarchs, of Job, and of 
Moses. With mere learning and the characters of a 
foreign language, I could not consent to burden my 
pages. To ihe unlearned they are of no use, and the 
scholar who has the original language and the ancient 
translations at hand, can easily accommodate himself 
with them ; for him indeed, especially for the young 
scholar, it is a source of pleasure to supply for himself 
the grounds of the opinions which he is taught, and 
to have something left for him to search out, to compare, 
and weigh by his own reflections. Hence, I have 
availed myself of the rich helps of more recent phi- 
loUgists, where I could do so, without making a display 
of it, or seeking crodit by disputing them. To those 
whose aid I have experienced, my silent use of it will 
be my thank-offering ; and where I could not adopt 
their opinion, there 1 had my own opinion. 

And in order to advance this always in the mildest 
terms, and in the clearest light, I have chosen the 
form of dialogue, though unusual, I am aware, in sub 
jects of this sort. How difficult it was for me, too, I 
know very well, and to have aspired to rival the graces 


of the dialogues of Plato, of Lord Shaftsbury, of Di 
derot, and of Lessing, would have been, in treating 
such matters, and with such aims, the extreme of folly. 
Here was no opportunity for devising interesting 
situations, nor for unfolding new characters, nor finally 
for artfully drawing out thoughts from the mind of the 
respondent, in which the greatest art especially of 
didactick dialogue consists. The aim here was not to 
invent in general, but to elucidate, to exhibit, and 
point out to view, to find what is already before us. 
The only speakers admissible, therefore, are the de 
monstrator, and he to whom he demonstrates, friend 
with friend,, teacher and scholar. My pattern for the 
general plan of the dialogue was not Plato, but the 
book of (Jorsi, or indeed the catechism. 

But why then did I choose the form of dialogue: 1 
From more than one cause. First, and more especially 
for the sake of brevity. In the dialogue a single let 
ter, the index of a new train of thought, a brief how? 
or rvhena :/ expresses what in the systematic-It form 
would require periods or half pages. Thus I am 
spared Mich tedious forms of expression, and such 
transitions as " it may be said on the other hand" &c. 
In the second place, I might in this way be able to 
escape tlu: uniform, peremptory, or controversial tone, 
of the professorial chair or of the pulpit, which other 
wise could scarcely be avoided throughout the work, 
on a subject of this sort. A dialogue, even in the 
worst style, gives to the subject animation, variety, 
and human interest, if only it do not (as was often the 
case here,) treat of matters that are too dry, and con 
tinue too long. In the third place, I escaped, for 
which I am heartily thankful, the necessity of contra- 


diction, of strife, and of numberless citations, and 
thus avoided a very serious evil. In the form which 
I have adopted, the speakers are Alciphron and 
Euthyphron. The former speaks very much such 
sentiments as are uttered by the publick with its hun 
dred heads, but they speak to one another alone, teach 
and controvert nobody in the world besides themselves. 
Whoever does not agree with Euthyphron, may retain 
the opinion of Alciphron, or have his own opinion. 
Finally, I venture to confess, that the older I become, 
the more difficult for me is the tone of an instructer. 
Whom does one teach, moreover, when he teaches 
the publick as a mass ? Where does this publick dwell ? 
and in what style should we address it, that we may 
neither assume too lofty nor sink to too humble a 
tone? Here two individuals speak, and whoever will, 
may listen, improve what they say, and be either 
learner or teacher. 

Let me venture to say, however, whom I would 
most gladly chuosu for readers of this work. Alci 
phron is a youth ; he studies this poetry not from com 
pulsion, not from the necessity of his profession, or of 
bread, but from a love of it. Young men then like 
him, and lovers of Scripture, lovers of the most ancient, 
the most simple, perhaps of the most truely heart-felt 
poetry in the world ; lovers, in a word of the most an 
cient records of the human mind and heart, unbiased, 
fresh, and ardent men of the same character, I would 
choose before all others for my readers. Of the child 
hood and youth of the human race, we can best speak 
with children and youth. The times antecedent to the 
Mosaick bond-service those feel with most congen. 
iality whom the yoke of rules has never oppres- 


sed, and in whom the dawn of the world harmonizes 
with the dawning of their own souls. If my book con 
tains any thing of worth, he is my best friend, who 
without either praise or censure procures for it readers 
of this description. Each one can always omit, what 
does not suit his taste, and. for this purpose the con 
tents of the dialogues are prefixed to them. 

And if, as I could wish, there be among these youth, 
those engaged in the study of theology, I venture to 
say a word more particularly to them. The basis of 
theology is the Bible, and that of the New Testament 
is the Old. It is impossible to understand the former 
aright without a previous understanding of the latter ; 
for Christianity proceeded from Judaism, and the gen 
ius of the language is in both books the same. And 
this genius of the language we can no where study 
better, that is, with more truth, depth, comprehensive 
ness, and satisfaction, than in its poetry, and indeed, 
as far as possible, in its most ancient poetry. It pro 
duces a false impression and misleads the young theo 
logian to commend to him the New Testament to the 
exclusion of the Old. Without this, that can never be 
understood in a scholar-like and satisfactory manner. 
In the Old Testament we find as an aid to this, a rich 
interchange of history, of figurative representation, of 
characters, and of scenery ; and we see in it the many 
coloured dawn, the beautiful going forth of the sun in 
his milder radiance. In the New Testament it stands 
in the highest heavens, and in meridian splendour, and 
every one knows which period of the day to the natu 
ral eye of sense imparts most life and strength. Let 
the scholar then study the Old Testament, even if it 
be only as a human book full of ancient poetry, with 


kindred feeling and affection, and thus will the New 
come forth to us of itself in its purity, its sublime glory, 
and more than earthly beauty. Let a man gather into 
his own mind, the abundant riches of the former, and 
he will be in the latter also, none of those smatterers, 
who, barren, and without taste or feeling, desecrate 
these sacred things. 

Weimar, April 9M, 1782. HERDER. 


PREJUDICES against the poetry and language of the Hebrew?. Causes 
of these. The language full of action and animation from the mode 
of forming its verb*. Importance of this to its poetical character. 
Its nouns also express action. The want of adjectives supplied by 
multiplicity of names. In what classes of objects these are to be 
sought. Names of the productions of nature, synonyms, numerals, 
words relating to ornament and luxury derived from the neighbouring 
nations. Reasons why the Hebrew was not developi d in the same 
manner as the Arabick. Of the roots of verbs. They combine 
sensuous form and feeling. Organic formation of words in Northern 
and Southern nations. Of derivation from radical words. Wish for 
a lexicon formed on philosophical principles. Of the tenses ot He 
brew verbs and their poetical character. Conjunction of many ideas 
in one word. Significancy of Hebrew letters. How to be decyphered. 
Of parallelism. Founded in that correspondence of quantity which 
pleases the ear. Of parallelism in Greek metre. How far it lies in 
the nature of language and feeling. Something analogous even 
among the Northern nations. Causes of its peculiarity in the Hebrew 
language. Its influence and use. Whether the language had ori 
ginally its present number of regular conjugations. Study of it as 
a poetical language. Study of its poetry. 

ALCIPHKON. So I find you still devoted to the study of 
this poor and barbarous language ! A proof how much early 
impressions can effect, and ho\v indispensably necessary it is, 
that our young minds be kept clear of the rubbish of anti 
quity. There is afterwards no hope of deliverance. 

EUTHYPHKOX. You speak like one of our modern illumi 
nators, who would free men not only from the prejudices of 
childhood, but if possible from childhood itself. Do you 
know any thing of this barren and barbarous language ? 
What are the grounds of your opinion concerning it ? 


A. I know enough of it to my sorrow. It was the tor 
ment of my childhood, and 1 am still haunted with the recol 
lection of it. when in the study of theology, of philosophy, of 
history, and of what not, I hear the echo of its sublime non 
sense. The rattling of ancient cymbals and kettle-drums, 
in short, the vhole music-baud of savage nations, which you 
love to denominate the oriental parallelism, is still ringing in 
my ears.. I still see David dancing before the Ark of the 
covenant, or the prophets summoning a player, that they may 
feel his inspirations. 

K. You seem then to have become acquainted with the 
language, but to have studied it with no very good will. 

A. 1 cannot help that ; it is enough th it I studied it 
methodically with all the rules of Dant/.. 1 could cite the 
rules, but never knew their meaning. 

E. So much the worse, and 1 comprehend now the reason 
of your disgust. But my dear Sir, shall we permit ourselves 
to hate a science, which we have the misfortune to learn at 
first under a bad form ! Would yon judge a man by his dress 
alone ? And that too when the dress is not his own, but 
forced upon him . 

A. By no means, and I am ready to abandon all prejudi 
ces, so soon as you will shew them to be such. This, howev 
er, I think will be dillieult, for I Inve pretty well tried both 
the lan<rua<je and its contents. 

K. \Ve will make the experiment, and one of us will be 
come the teacher of the other. Truth is, indeed, to be be 
wailed, if men can never be at one respecting it. For myself 
I would execrate the impressions of my youth, if they must 
bind me through life with the fetters of a slave. But be as 
sured, I have no youthful impressions from the poetical spirit 
of this language ; I learned it as you did. It was long before 
I acquired a taste for its beauties, and only by degrees that I 
came to consider it, as I now do, a sacred language, the 
source of our most precious knowledge, and of that earljr 


cultivation, which extending over but a small portion of the 
earth, came to us gratuitously and unsought. 

A. You are driving at an apotheosis, at once. 

E. At no such thing : we will consider it as a human 
language, and its contents as merely human. Nay, more, to 
give you better assurance of my perfect fairness, we will speak 
of it only as an instrument of ancient poetry. Are you 
pleased with this subject ? It has at least nothing insidious. 

A. Certainly nothing, and with such a discussion I should 

be delighted in the highest decree. Iain glad to converse 
_ i 

of ancient languages, when they are treated only in relation 
to men. They are the form, in which human thoughts are 
moulded moie or less perfectly. They exhibit tlic most dis 
tinguishing traits of character, and (lie manner in which 
objects are contemplated by dillerent nations. Comparison 
of one with another in these points is always instructive. 
Proceed then to discuss the dialect, even of these Eastern 
Ilurons. Their poverty may at least enrich us, and conduct 
us to thoughts of our own. 

E. What do you consider most essential to a poetical 
language ? No matter whether it belong to the Ilurons or 
Otaheitans. Is it not action, imagery, passion, musick, 
rhythm ? 

A. Undoubtedly. 

E. And the language that exhibits these in the highest 
perfection is most peculiarly poetical. Now you are aware, 
that the languages of people but partially cultivated may have 
this character in a high degree, and are in fact in this par 
ticular superior to many of the too refined modern languages. 
I need not remind you among what people Ossian, or at what 
period even the Grecian Homer sang. 

A. It does not follow from this, that every savage race 
has its Homer and Ossian. 

E. Perhaps many have even more, exclusively indeed for 
themselves, and &ot for the language of other nations. In 


order to judge of a nation, we must live in their time, in 
their own country, must adopt their modes of thinking and 
feeling, must see, how they lived, how they were educated, 
what scenes they looked upon, what were the objects of their 
affection and passion, the character of their atmosphere, their 
skies, the structure of their organs, their dances and their mu- 
sick. All this too \ve must learn to think of not as strangers 
or enemies, but as their brothers and compatriots, and then 
ask, whether in their own kind, and for their peculiar wants, 
they had an Homer or an Ossian. You know in regard to 
how few nations we have instituted or are even now prepared 
to institute an inquiry of this kind. With regard to (lie lie- 
brews we can do it. Their poetry is in our hands. 

A. Hut what poetry! and in what a language! How 
imperfect is it ! how poor in proper terms and definitely ex 
pressed relations ! How unlixcd and uncertain are the ten 
ses of the verbh 1 One never knows whether the time referred 
to by them be to day or yesterday, a thousand years ago, or a 
thousand years 10 come. Adjectives, so important in descrip 
tion, it scarcely has at all, and must supply their place by 
beggarly combinations. How uncertain and far-fetched is 
the signification of their radical words, how forced and un 
natural the derivations from them ! Hence the frightful forms 
of the catachresis, the far sought images, the monstrous 
combinations of ideas the most heterogeneous. The paral 
lelism is monotonous, an everlasting tautology, that, without 
a metrical arrangement of words and syllables, after all very 
imperfectly satisfies the ear. Aures perpetuis tautologiis 
Jii dunt, says one of those best acquainted with them, Orienti 
jucundis, Hurop:r invisis, prudentioribus stomachaturis, dor- 
mitaturis reliquis. And he says the truth. This is obser 
vable ir. all the psalms and productions, that breathe the spirit 
of this language. Finally, it had no vowels, for these are a 
more modern invention. It stands as a lifeless and senseless 
hieroglyph, very often without any key or certain index of its 


meaning, at all events without any certain expression of pro 
nunciation and knowledge of its ancient rhythm. What do 
you find here of Homer and Ossian ? As well look for them 
in Mexico, or upon the sculptured rocks of Arabia. 

E, I thank you for the beautiful sketch you have traced 
out for our conversation. You have brought forward the 
rich materials, and that too with the reflection, and fine ar 
rangement, that might be expected from one skilled in many 
languages. Let us proceed first to consider the structure of 
the language. Did you not say, that action and vivid image 
ry was the essence of poetry ? and what part of speecli paints 
or sets forth action itself to view, the noun, or verb ? 

A. The verb. 

E. .So the language, that abounds in verbs, which present 
a vivid expression and picture of their objects, is a poetical 
language. The more too it has the power of forming its 
nouns into verbs, the more poetical it is. The noun always 
exhibits objects only as lifeless things, the verb gives them 
action, and this awakens feelinu, for it is itself as it were 
animated with a living spirit. Recollect what Lessing has 
said of Homer, that in him all is bustle, motion, action, and 
that in this the life, the influence, the very essence of all po 
etry consists. Now with the Hebrew the verb is almost the 
whole of the language. In other words every thing lives and 
acts. The nouns are derived from verbs, and in a certain 
sense are still verbs. They are as it were living beings, ex 
tracted and moulded, while their radical source itself was in a 
state of living energy. Observe in modern languages, what 
an efl ect it has in poetry, when verbs and nouns are still 
nearly related, and one may be formed into the other. Think 
of the English, the German. The language, of which we 
are speaking, is an abyss of verbs, a sea of billows, where 
motion, action, rolls on without end. 

A. It seems to me however, that this abundance must 
always maintain a certain proportion to the other parts of 


speech ; for if all be action, then; is nothing, that acts. There 
must be the subject, predicate, and copula so says logick. 

E. For logick that will do, and for its masterpiece the 
syllogism it is necessary, but poetry is quite another thing, 
and a poem in syllogisms, would have few readers. In po 
etry the copula is the main thing, the other parts are neces 
sary or useful only as accessories. Even should I admit, that 
for an abstract reasoner the Hebrew language may not be 
best, still it is, in regard to this active form of it so much the 
more favourable to the poet. Every thing in it proclaims 
" 1 Jive, and move, and act. The senses and the passions, 
not abstract rcasoners and philosophers were my creators. 
Thus J am formed for poetry, nay my whole essence is 

A. But how if they use nouns for adjectives likewise ? 

J]. Then they have adjectives. Tor every language has 
that, which it uses ; only we must not judge of it according to 
our own necessities. There are many names of things, which 
this language has not, because the people neither had, nor 
knew the things themselves ; so on the other hand it has ma 
ny others, which we have not. In abstract terms it is barren, 
but in sensuous representations it is rich, and it has numerous 
synonyms to denote one and the same object for the very rea 
son, that tins object is always mentioned, and as it were paint 
ed in its multifarious relations with all the circumstances, that 
accompany it, when presented to the senses. The lion, the 
sword, the serpent and the camel have even in the Arabick, 
the most cultivated of the Oriental languages this multiplicity 
of names, because each of them originally represented the 
object under a peculiar form, and in a particular point of 
view, and these streams afterwards flowed together. In He 
brew too this superabundance of sensuous terms is very ob 
servable, and yet how few of them have we remaining. More 
than 250 botanical terms occur in the small volume, that is 
left to us, of the writings of the Hebrews, and that too in 


writings of a very uniform character in regard to their sub 
jects, and composed mostly of history and the poetry of the 
temple. How rich then would the language have been, had 
it been handed down to us in the poetry of common life with 
all its diversity of scenes, or even in the writings, that were 
actually produced. Jt fared with the Hebrews probably, as 
with most nations of antiquity, the Hood of ages has passed 
over them, and only a small remnant, such as Noah could 
preserve in the ark has escaped. 

A. Jn my opinion we have enough notwithstanding, for 
even in those few books the same thing repeatedly occurs. 
But we are wandering from our subject. 1 can very well 
believe, that the language, of which we are speaking, in the 
hands of another people, might have become rich and refined. 
How copious has the Arabick become, and the Phoenician too 
may have been rich enough in the language of trade and 
numbers, but for this beggarly race of herdsmen, from what 
resources could they form a language ? 

K. Wlicnce the genius of the people called, and where 
their wants required it. It were unjust to expect of them the 
language of trade belonging to the Phoenicians, or that of 
Arabian speculation, since they neither traded, nor speculated, 
and yet all this wealth may be said to belong to the language, 
for Phoenician, Arabick, Chaldee and Hebrew are radically 
and essentially but one language. The Hebrew has numer 
als to an amount that we cannot easily designate, and a mul 
titude of terms for the products of nature, as well as for the 
forms of fashionable ornament and luxury, with which they 
were enough acquainted at an early period. It was used in 
the neighbourhood of the Phoenicians, the ishmaelites, the 
Egyptians, the Babylonians, in short of the most cultivated 
nations of antiquity, and as it were of the then cultivated 
world, and borrowed from all enough to supply its wants. 
Had it continued a living language, it might have appropria 
ted all that now belongs to the Arabick, which can justly 


boast of being one of the most copious and refined languages 
in the world. 

A. The Rabbins have in fact made contributions to it. 

E. Of nothing valuable however, nor in accordance with 
the genius of its original structure. When they wrote, the 
nation was sunk in poverty, and dispersed over the world. 
Most of them conformed their mode of expression to the gen 
ius of the languages, that were spoken around them, and thus 
produced a sorry medley, not to be thought of in a discussion 
like this. We are speaking of the Hebrew, when it was the 
living language of Canaan, and of that too only during the 
period of its greatest beauty and purity, before it was corrupt 
ed by the introduction of Chaldce, Greek and other foreign 
terms. Within this limit you will not refuse to give it its 
due, as a poor, but yet a fair and uncorrupted child of its na 
tive hills, the simple language of the country and of herdsmen. 
The finery which it has borrowed from its neighbours, 1 would 
very gladly have dispensed with. 

A. In regard to simplicity 1 admit its claims with all my 
heart. This trait, particularly in scenes of nature, I havo 
felt with the emotions of childhood. Still, my dear Sir, this 
characteristick seems to me too limited in extent to have 
much redeeming el Ice t and recurs with too much monotony , 
nothing has compass ; their poets are forever sketching, but 
cannot give the finer touches of the pencil) 

K. Yes, 1 grant you, they sketch, as few of our poets do. 
Their productions are not loaded with delicate and over 
wrought refinement, but vigorous, entire, instinct with life 
and spirit. Of their verbs we have already spoken. They 
are all action and emotion. Their radical forms combine 
the representation of a sensuous image with the feeling of 
the heart. The nouns too, retaining the properties of the 
verb, are still active agents, and exnibit a continual personi 
fication. Their pronouns stand out with the prominence, 
that they always possess in the language of passion, and the 


want of adjectives is so supplied by the conjunction of other 
words, thut the qualities merely of a subject, assume the form 
of distinct individual agents. From all these peculiarities 
the language seems to me, I confess, more poetical, than any 
other language on earth. 

A. It will be most to our purpose, if \ve conduct the dis 
cussion by means of individual examples. Ijegin, if you 
please, with the radical forms, with the verbs. 

E. The roots of the Hebrew verbs, I rennrked, combine 
form and feeling, and 1 know no langu age in which the simple 
and unstudied combination of the two is so miich an all air of 
the senses, and so remarkable. Not so sensible and obvious, 
I admit very willinirlv, to an ear accustomed only to the ac 
cents of .Northern languages, but to you, who are acquainted 
with the principles of formation in the (Jreek language, to 
you, my dear ^ir, it will not be diliicuh to go a few steps 
further, and observe with a congenial feeling, the method 
more forcible 1 indeed, but not therefore more clumsy, of form 
ing words in the Mast. 1 repeat it au ain, in the most preg 
nant terms of the language arc combined the sensuous form 
and the sensation or sentiment that it produces. The lan 
guage was moulded and tittered \\ith a (idler expiration from 
the luntrs, wi h organs yet pliable and vigorous, but at the 
same time under a clear and luminous heaven, with powers 
of vision acute, and seizin<_ . as it were upon the very objects 
themselves, and almost always with some mark of emotion 
or passion. 

A. Form and feeling, trnnquility and passion, accents 
strong and yet light and flowing ! these arc rare combinations! 

E. Let i<s then analyze them and explain the matter more 
carefully. All Northern languages imitate the sounds of 
natural objects, but roughly, and as it were only by the me 
chanism of the outward organs. Like the objects they imi 
tate, they abound with creaking, and rustling, and whizzing, 
and crashing sounds, which wise poets may employ sparingly 


with effect, but which the injudicious will abuse. The cause 
of this is obviously to be found in the climate, and in the 
organs, in and by which the languages were originally formed. 
The further South, the mom refined will be the imitation of 
nature. Homer s most sounding lines do not creak and hiss, 
they are sonorous. The words have passed through a refining 
process, been modified by feeling, and moulded as it were, in 
the vicinity of the heart. Thus they do not present uncouth 
forms of mere sound and noise, but forms on which feeling 
has placed its gentler impress. In this union of feeling from 
within, and form from Without, in the roots of their verbs, 
the Oriental languages, I meant to say, arc the best models. 

A. Is it possible you are speaking of those barbarous arid 
uncouth gutturals ? And do you venture to compare them 
with the silvery tones of the Greek ? 

E. I make no comparison. Every language sutlers by 
being thus compared with another. Nothing is more exclu 
sively national and individual than the modes of gratifying 
the ear, and the characteristick habitudes of the organs of 
speech. We, for example, discover a delicacy in articulating 
and uttering our words onlv from between the tongue and the 
lips, and in opening our mouths but little, as if we lived in an 
atmosphere of smoke and fog. The climate, our manners 
and the prevailing custom require it, and the language itself, 
has been gradually moulded into the same form. The Italians 
and still more the Greeks, think otherwise. The language 
of the former abounds in full and sonorous vowel sounds, and 
that of the latter with dipthongs, both of which arc uttered 
not with the lips compressed together, but ore rotundo. The 
accents of the East are uttered forth more ab imo pcctore, 
and from the heart. Elihu describes it, when he exclaims, 

I am full of words, 

My inmost spirit labours ; 

Lo ! it is like wine without vent ; 

My bosom is bursting, like new bottles i 


I will speak, and make myaelf room ; 
I will open my lips and answer. 

When these lips are opened, the utterance is full of anima 
tion, and bodies forth the forms of things, while it is giving 
vent to feeling, and this, it appears to me, is the spirit of the 
Hebrew language. It is the very breath of the soul. It does 
not claim the beauty of sound, like the Greek, but it breathes 
and lives. Sucli is it to us, who are but partially acquainted 
with its pronunciation, and for whom its deeper gutturals re 
main (muttered and unutterable ; in those old times, when 
the soul was unshackled, what fulness of emotion, what store 
of words that breathe, must have inspired it. It was, to use 
an expression of its own, 

The ppirit of God thut*p;ike in it, 

The hrcalh of the Almighty that gave it life. 

A. Once more you have nearly accomplished its apotheo 
sis. Yet all this may be so in relation to the radical sounds, 
or the utterance of feeling that was prompted, while the ob 
ject itself was present to the senses. But how is it with 
the derivations from these radical terms ? What are they 
but an overgrown jungle of thorns, where no human foot has 
ever found rest . 

K. In bad lexicons this is indeed the case, and many of 
the most learned philologists of Holland have rendered the 
way still more dillicult by their labours. But the time i? 
coming, when this jungle will become a grove of palms. 

A. Your metaphor is an Oriental one. 

E. So is the object of it. The root of the primitive word 
will be placed in the centre and its offspring form a grove 
around it. By influence of taste, diligence, sound sense, and 
the judicious comparison of different dialects, lexicons will be 
brought to distinguish, what is essential from what is accidental 
in the signification of words, and to trace the gradual process of 


transition, while in the derivation of words, and the application 
of metaphors we come more fully to understand the logick of 
ancient figurative language. I anticipate with joy the time, 
and the first lexicon, in which this shall be well accomplished. 
For the present I use the best we have, Castell, Simon, Coccei- 
us, and their rich contributors Schultcns, Schroedcr, Storr, 
Scheid, and any other, who lias individually, or in associations 
contributed to the same object. 

A. It will be long yet, before we shall repose ourselves in 
your palm-grove of Oriental lexicography. 1 ray in the mean 
time illustrate your ideas of derivation by an example. 

E. You may find examples every where, even as the lexi 
cons now are. Strike at the first radical form that occurs, 
as the primitive " he is gone," and observe the easy gr;ulation 
of its derivatives. A scries of expressions signifying loss, 
disappearance and death, vain purposes, and fruitless toil 
nad trouble succeed by slight transitions ; and if you place 
yourself in the circumstances of the ancient herdsmen, in 
their wandering unsettled mode of life, the most distant deri 
vative will still give back something of the original sound of 
the words, and of the original feeling. !t is from this cause, 
that the laii ju-.ige addresses itself so much to our senses, and 
the creations of its poetry become present to us with such 
stirring effect. The language abounds in roots of this char 
acter, and our commentators, who rather go too deep, than 
too superficially, have shown enough of them. Thev never 
know when to quit, and if possible would lay bare all the 
roots and fibres of every tree, even where one would wish 
to see only the /lowers and fruits. 

A. These are the slaves I suppose upon your plantation 
of palms. 

K. A very necessary and useful race. We must treat 
them with mildness, for even, when they do too much, they 
do it with a good intention. Have you any further objections 
against the Hebrew verbs ? 


A. A good many more. What kind of an action is it, 
which has no distinctions of time. For the two tenses of the 
Hebrew are after all essentially aorists, that is, undefined 
tenses, that fluctuate between the past, the present, and the 
future, and thus it has in fact but one tense. 

E. Does poetry employ more. To this all is present time. 
It exhibits actions and events as present, whether they be 
past, or passing, or future. For history, the defect, which 
you remark, may be an essential one. In fact, the languages, 
which incline to nice distinctions of time, have exhibited them 
most in the style of history. Among the Hebrews, history 
itself is properly poetry, that is the transmission of narratives, 
which are related in the present tense, and here loo we may 
discover an advantage derived from the indefmiteness or iluc- 
tuation, of the tenses, especially in producing conviction, and 
rendering what is described, related or announced, more 
clearly and vividly present to the senses. Is not this in a 
high degree poetical ? Have you never observed in the style 
of the poets or the prophets, what beauty results from the 
change of tenses . IIo\v that, which one hemistick declares 
in the past tense, the other expresses in (lie future ? As if 
the last rendered the presence of the object continuous and 
eternal, while the first has given to the discourse the certainty 
of the past, where every thing is already finished and un 
changeable. By one tense the word is increased at the end, 
by the other at the beginning, and thus the car is provided 
with an agreeable variety, and the representation made a more 
present object of sense. The Hebrews be.- iies, like children 
aim to say the whole at once, and to (. :*:;.; ss by a single sound, 
the person, number, tense, action ami siill more.. HQ\V vast 
ly must this contribute to the sudden and simultaneous ex 
hibition of an entire picture ! They express by a single word, 
what we can express often only by five or more words. With 
us too these have a hobbling movement from the small and 
frequently unaccented syllables at the beginning or end ; with 


them the whole is joined by way of prefix, or as a sonorous- 
termination to the leading idea. This stands in the centre 
like a king with his ministers and menials close around him. 
Rather they may be said to be one with him, coming in his 
train with measured steps and harmonious voice. Is this, 
think you, of no importance to a poetical language ? Sono 
rous verbs, which convey at once so many ideas, are the finest 
material for rhythm and imagery. When 1 can utter, for 
example, all that is expressed by the words " as he has given 
me,"* in a single well sounding word, is it not more poetical 
and beautiful, than if I express the same idea in so many sepa 
rate fragments ? 

A. For the eye I have sometimes considered this lan 
guage as a collection of elementary paintings, which are to 
be decyphcred, as it were, in a similar manner with the wri 
ting of the Chinese, and have often lamented, that children or 
youth, who are to learn it, are not early accustomed to this 
habit of dccyphering or analyzing with the eye, which would 
aid them more than many dull and unmeaning rules. 1 have 
read of examples, where young persons, especially those whose 
senses were acute, have made great progress in this way in a 
short time. We neither of us enjoy.ed this advantage. 

E. We may gradually acquire it however by employing 
the eye and the ear in conjunction. You will in this way 
too, remark the harmonious arrangement of vowels and con 
sonants, and the correspondence of many particles and pre 
dominant sounds to the things signified. These are of great 
use too, especially in marking the metrical divisions, and de 
noting their mutual relation. The two hemisticks have a 
kind of symmetry, in which both words and ideas correspond 
in an alternation of parts, which are at the same time paral 
lel, and give a free indeed, but very simple and sonorous ; 

As the German and English correspond in this case, in the number 
of words, which express the idea, I have translated the illustration. T. 


A. You are describing, I suppose, the celebrated paral 
lelisms, in regard to which I shall hardly agree with you. 
Whoever has any thing to say, let him say it at once, or car 
ry his discourse regularly forward, but not repeat forever. 
When one is under the necessity of saying every thing twice, 
he shows, that he had but half or imperfectly expressed it the 
first time. 

E. Have you ever witnessed a dance ? Nor heard any 
thing of the choral odes of the Greeks, their strophe and 
antistrophe ? Suppose we compare the poetry of the He 
brews to the movements of the dance, or consider it as a 
shorter and simpler form of the choral ode. 

A. Add the systrum, the kettle-drums, and the symbals, 
and your dance of savages will be complete. 

E. Be it so. We are not to be frightened with names, 
while the thing itself is good. Answer me candidly. Does 
not all rhythm, and the metrical harmony both of motion and 
of sound, I might say all, that delights the senses in forms 
and sounds, depend on symmetry ? and that too a symmetry 
easily apprehended, upon simplicity and equality in the pro 
portion of its parts ? 

A. That I will not deny. 

E. And has not the Hebrew parallelism the most simple 
proportion and symmetry in the members of its verse, in the 
structure of its figures and sounds ? The syllables were not 
indeed yet accurately scanned and measured, or even number 
ed at all, but the dullest ear can perceive a symmetry in them. 

A. But must all this necessarily be at the expense of tha 

E. Let us dwell a little longer upon its gratefulness to 
the ear. The metrical system, of the Greeks, constructed 
ivith more art and refinement, than that of any other language, 
depends entirely on proportion and harmony. The hexame 
ter verse, in which their ancient poems were sung, is in re 
gard to its sounds a continued, though ever changing par- 


allelism. To give it greater precision the pentameter was 
adopted and especially in the elegy. This again in the struc 
ture of its two hemisticks exhibits the parallelism. The finest 
and most natural species of the ode depend so much on the 
parallelism, as nearly to justify the remark, that the more 
a less artificial parallelism is heard in a strophe in conjunc 
tion with the musical attenuations of sound, the more pleasing 
it becomes. I need only to adduce as examples the Sapphic 
or Choriambic verse. All these metrical forms are artificial 
circlets, finely woven garlands of words and sounds. In the 
East the two strings of pearl are not twisted into a garland, 
but simply hang one over against the other. We could not 
expect from a chorus of herdsmen a dance as intricate, as 
the labyrinth of Diedalus or of Theseus. Jn their language, 
their shouts of joy, and the movements of the dunce we find 
them answering one to another in regular altcrnai.ii. us and 
the most simple proportions. Even this simplicity seems to 
me to have its beauties. 

A. Very great undoubtedly to an admirer of the parallel 

E. The two divisions of their chorus confirm, elevate and 
strengthen each other in their convictions or their rejoicings. 
In the song of Jubilee this is obvious, and in those of lamen 
tation it results from the very nature of the feelings, that 
occasion them. The drawing of the breath confirms, as it 
were, and comforts the soul, while the other division of the 
chorus takes part in our afllictions, and its response is the echo, 
or, as the Hebrews would say, " the daughter of the voice" 
of our sorrow. In didactic poetry one precept confirms the 
other, as if the father were giving instruction to his son, and 
the mother repeated it. The discourse by this means ac 
quires the semblance of truth, cordiality and confidence. In 
alternate songs of love the subject itself determines the form. 
Love demands endearing intercourse, the interchange of feel 
ings and thoughts. The connexion between these difl erent 


expressions of feeling is so unaffected and sisterly in short, 
that I might apply to it the beautiful and delicate Hebrew ode, 

Behold how lovely and pleasant 

For brethren to dwell together, 

It is like soothing oil upon the head, 

That runs down upon the beard, 

Even upon the beard of Aaron, 

And descends to the hem of his garment. 

It is like the dew of llcrmon 

Descending upon the mountains of Zion, 

When the Lord commanded a blessing, 

Even life eternal. 

A. A fine view of parallelism undoubtedly. But granting 
that the ear may become accustomed to it, what becomes of 
the understanding ? It is constantly fettered and can make 
no advances. 

E. Poetry is not addressed to the understanding alone 
but primarily and chiefly to the feelings. And are these not 
friendly to the parallelism ? So soon as the heart gives way 
to its emotions, wave follosvs upon wave, and that is parallel- 
ism. The heart is never exhausted, it has forever something 
new to say. So soon as the first wave has passed away, or 
broken itself upon the rocks, the second swells again and 
returns as before. This pulsation of nature, this breathing 
of emotion, appears in all the language of passion, and would 
you not have that in poetry, which is most peculiarly the off- 
epring of emotion. 

A. But suppose it aims to be and must be at the same 
time the language of the understanding ? 

] ]. It changes the figure and exhibits the thought in an 
other light. It varies the precept, and explains it, or impresses 
it upon the heart. Thus the parallelism returns again. What 
species of verse in German do you consider as best adapted 
to didactic poetry ? 

A. Without question the Alexandrine. 


E. And that is parallelism altogether. Examine care- 
liilly why it so powerfully enforces instruction, and you will 
(ii:d it to be simply on occount of its parallelism. All simple 
songs and church hymns are full of it, and rhyme, the great 
delight of Northern ears, is a continued parallelism. 

A. And to this same Oriental source we are indebted 
both for rhyme, and the uniform movement of our church 
mu.-ick. The Saracens have the former and the doxologies 
have introduced the latter. Otherwise we should and might 
very well have been without cither. 

E. Do you think so? Rhymes were in Europe long 
before the Saracens, correspondencies of sound either at the 
beginning or end of words, according as the ears of a people 
wete accustomed, or as suited the form of their language. 
Even the Greeks had hymns and choral songs as simple as 
our own church hymns can be. The Hebrew parrallelism 
has however, we must admit, this advantage over our Northern 
languages, that with its small number of words it makes a 
more choice arrangement, and admits in the utterance a 
greater magnificence of sound. .For us therefore it is nearly 
incapable of translation. We often use ten words, to express 
three of the Hebrew, the small words produce confusion, 
and in the end the piece becomes either harsh or wearisome. 
We must not so much imitate, as study and reflect upon it. 
In our languages the figures must be more extended and the 
periods rounded because we arc accustomed to the Greek and 
Ronvan numbers. But in translating from the Orientals this 
must be laid aside, for by such a course we lose a great part of 
the original simplicity, dignity and sublimity of the language. 
Tor here too 

He spnke, and it was done : 
He commanded, anil it stood fust. 

A. And yet monosyllabic brevity seems to me conducive 
to sublimity. 


E. The Laconic style is neither the^style of friendship nor 
of poetry. Even in the commands of a monarch, we wish 
to see the effects of the command, and so here the parallel 
form returns, in the command and its consequence. Finally, 
the concise structure of the Hebrew language, gives to the 
parallelism generally something of the style of command. 
It knows nothing of the oratorical numbers, of Greek or 
Roman eloquence. From its general spirit it uses few 
words ;these have mutual relations, and, from the uniformi 
ty of inflection being similar, they acquire both from the 
position of individual words, and the predominant feeling of 
the whole, a rythmical movement. The two hemisticks 
correspond as word and deed, heart and hand, or, as the 
Hebrews say, entrance and exit, and thus this simple 
arrangement of sound is complete. Have you any thing 
further against parallelism ? 

A. I have even something to add in its favour. For, in 
regard to the understanding, I have often been thankful for 
its existence. Where should we be left in the explanation of 
so many obscure words, and phrases, if this did not serve for 
our guide. It is like the voice of a friend, that tells you far 
off in the thick and gloomy recesses of a forest, " Here, here 
are the dwellings of men." But indeed the ears of the ancients 
were deaf to this voice of friendship. They followed after 
the echo, as if it were itself a voice, and expected to find in 
the second member of the sentence some new and precious 

E. Let them go, while we endeavour to keep ourselves in 
the right way. But in regard to this pathless forest I think 
you have overdone the matter. In the beginning of our 
conversation, if you recollect, you represented the language, 
as a lifeless hieroglyphic!; without vowels, and without a key 
to its signification. Do you indeed believe, that the Orientals 
wrote entirely without vowels ? 
A. Many say so. 
E. And say too what is absurd. Who would write letters 


without any means of giving them utterance ? Since on the 
vowel sounds every thing terminates, and they must in reality 
be designated in some general way sooner than the various 
consonants, certainly when the more dificult task was 
accomplished, the easier would not be neglected, when too 
the whole object of the work depended on it. 

A. Where then arc these vowels ? 

E. Read on the subject a work,* which throws much light 
upon this, and many other points of Hebrew antiquity. It is 
the first introduction respecting the language and writings of 
the Hebrews, in which taste and learning arc equally united. 
It is probable they had some, though few vowel marks (for 
those we now have are a later device of the Rabbins) and the 
matrcs lectionis arc, it appears to me, a remnant of them. 
Grammatical nicety however, was not sought for in thoso 
ancient times, and the pronunciation was perhaps as unfixed 
as Otfried says, it was in the ancient German. Who has ever 
found an alphabet for every sound of every dialect, in which 
we speuk ? and who would use it if it were found ? The 
letters stand as general signs, and every one modifies tho 
sound to suit his own organs. A series of refined grammatical 
rules respecting the change of vowels, the mode of deriving 
the conjugations, &.c. are, I fear, but empty sound. 

A. And yet boys urc tormented with them. I could never 
myself imagine, that a language so unrefined as the Hebrew 
could have so much regularity even in the import of tho 
different conjugations, as young students are taught to find in 
every vvcml.t The multitude of anomalous and defective 
words shows that it is not. The confidence in such distinctions, 
is derived from other Oricnta llanguages, by which the Rabbins 
were fond of modifying this. They carried into the little 
Hebrew tent whatever it would hold. 

* Eichhorn s Einlcitung ins Alte Testament, Leipzig 1782. Th. 1 
S. 12G. 

t In a work on the origin of language, p. 30. Herder says, tho more 
uncultivated a language the more conjugations. 


E. Here again we must not go too far. It is well to have 
seized upon the technical artificial form of the language, and 
for us it is necessary, although it is improbable, that such 
was its earliest form, or that every Hebrew had the same 
notion of it. I low few even of our authors, have the entire 
form of their language to its minutest inflection so fully in 
their heads, as never to commit an error ? How much too, 
does the structure of language vary with time ? It is well 
that we have at last found men, who are directing thei r 
thoughts even to the grammar of this language. 

A. After all it appears to me, that every one must make 
his own philosophical grammar, lie may omit the vowels 
and other marks now and then, and bring the conjugations 
nearer together. His not necessary always, to go through all 
the seven changes of a verb, to learn its form, 

E. He may become too, by this method, a second Masclef 
or Ilutchinson. The best course is to have the eye diligently 
practised with the paradigms, and the ear with the living 
sounds of the language, and both habitually associated. In 
this manner one corncs at the jrenius of the language, and 
makes the rules more easy. The language will then be no 
longer a schoolboy and Rabbinical jargon, but the old Hebraic, 
that is, a poetical language. The attention of the boy must 
be awakened to it, that of the youth rewarded by its poetry ; 
and I am confident, that not only boys but old men, would 
hold their Bible as dear, as their Homer or Ossian, if they 
knew what was in it. 

A. Perhaps I may also, if you proceed with me, as you 
have begun. 

K. We will continue the discussion of the subject in our 
walks, and more especially in our morning rambles. The 
poetry of the Hebrews, should be heard under the open sky, 
and if possible in the dawn of the morning. 

A. Why at this particular time ? 

E. Because it was itself the first dawning of the illumination 


of the world, while our race was yet in its infancy. We sea 
in it the earliest perceptions, the simplest forms, by which the 
human soul expressed its thoughts, the most uncorrupted 
affections that bound and guided it. Though we should be 
convinced that it contained nothing remarkable, yet the 
language of nature in it, we must believe, for we feel it. 
The first perceptions of things, must be dear to us, for we 
should gain knowledge by them. In it the earliest Logick of 
the senses, the simplest analysis of ideas and the primary 
principles of morals, in short, the most ancient history of the 
human mind and heart, arc brought before our eyes. Were 
it even the poetry of cannibals, would you not think it worthy 
of attention for these purposes ? 

A. We meet again, you say, in the morning. 


Dawn of the morning. It presents an image of the creation of tho world. 
Earliest views of nature. First feeling and conception of the Great 
Spirit, ns a powerful being. Whether this feeling was a slavish fear, 
or brutul stupidity. Probable origin of ideas of the terrible in the reli. 
gions of antiquity. Example of clear notions of God, as a God of 
power, and also as supreme in wisdom. Of the Elohim. Probable 
origin of the idea of them. Whether it gave occasion to idolatry. Ne. 
cessity and use of the idea of one God to the human understanding. 
Service of poetry in confirming and extending it. Simple means to 
this end, the parallelism of the heavens and the earth. What the po. 
etry of the Orientals gained by connecting them and exhibiting their 
relations. Its mode of representing God at rest and in action. His 
word. Early notions of tho angels. Images of God as the ever ac. 
tive Lord of Creation. 

The first rays of the dawn were not yet visible, when tho 
two friends found themselves together at an appointed spot, 
a delightful eminence, that furnished a wide and beautiful 
prospect. They saw before them all the objects of nature 
[lying yet formless and undi.stingui.shed, for the night had 
wrapt them up in its veil of obscurity. But soon the night 
breeze spranir up, and the morning appeared in its loveliness. 
Its going forth was as if the Almighty had cast a reviving 
look upon the earth and renovated its existence ; while his 
glory accompanied it, arid consecrated the heavens as his mag 
nificent and peaceful temple. The higher it rose, the more 
elevated and serene appeared the golden firmament, that grad 
ually purified itself from the subsiding waters, clouds and 
vapours, till it stood displayed, as an upper ocean, an expanse 
of sapphire interwoven with gold. In the same manner also 
the earth seemed to rise up before them. Its dark masses 


became distinguished, and at length it stood forth like a bride, 
adorned with herbage and flowers, and waiting for the bless 
ing of Jehovah. The soul of man elevates and purifies itself 
like the morning sky ; it wakes and rouses itself from slum 
ber, like the virgin earth ; but at no moment is the delightful 
view attended with such sacred awe, as at the first existence 
of light, the breaking forth of the dawn, when, as the lie- 
brews say, the hind of the morning is struggling with the 
shades of night, and, with its head and knros bended together, 
waits for the moment of release. It is, as it were a birth of 
the day ; and every being shudders with a pleasing dread, as 
if conscious of the presence of Jehovah. The most ancient 
nations made a distinction between the light of the duvn, and 
that of the sun ; considering it an uncreated bcinir, a bright 
ness that gleamed from the throne of Jehovah, but was re 
turned again, so soon as the sun awoke to shine upon the 
earth. It i.-: the vicegerent of the Deity, behind which Jeho 
vah himself is concealed. 

EuTiiYi iiuoN. Observe, my friend, the peculiarity and 
splendour of the view which at (his moment opens before us. 
It was from this that knowledge first dawned upon (lie hu 
man mind, and this perhaps was the cradle of the first poetry 
arid religion of the earth. 

Arni iiKox. You agree (lien with the author of " Tlio 
earliest Monuments," but remember his views have been con 

E. So far as our purpose is concerned, nothing has been or 
can be objected to them, so long as the morning dawn remains 
what it is. Have we not at this moment beheld and admired 
all the changing scenes in this vast work of creation ? From 
the dark moving pictures of night to the magnificent uprising 
of the sun, with whom all beings in air and water, in the 
ocean and upon the earth seem to awake into being, the whole 
has passed before us. Is it objected, that the moon and stars 
do not cornc forth simultaneously with the sun ? Perhaps 


too you may add with equal force on the other hand, that all 
the phenomena of the morning belong to every day, while 
those of creation are to be divided into the labours of six. 
But why waste our time with such discussions ? Not only / 
the first brief history of the creation, but all the Hebrew \ 
songs in praise of it, nay the very names of those glorious ) 
phenomena, that we just now saw before and around us, were 
for the most part formed, as it were, in the immediate view of 
those very scenes ; and it was this view that prompted the > 
most ancient poetry of nature on the subject of the creation. , 

A. \Vhen, and by whom, was such poetry formed ? 

E. I know not, for my understanding cannot carry back 
its researches to the cradle of human improvement. It is 
sufficient, that the poetical roots of the language, the hymns, 
that celebrate the creation, and fortunately the first sketch 
of a picture, after or in conjunction with which both seem to 
have been formed, are still extant. What if we, in our pre 
sent interview, inquire into the earliest ideas, derived from 
the contemplation of nature, and from the connexion and pro 
gress of its changing and varied scenes, which are exhibited 
in tliis childlike and beautiful poetry of nature ? \Ve can 
hardly spend our morning hours in a more suit.-ible manner. 

A. With all my heart ; and 1 am convinced, that to the 
great being who pervades and surrounds us, nothing is more 
acceptable than the thankful ollering of our inquiring thoughts. 
The morning of the day will remind us of the morning of in 
tellectual illumination, and give to our souls the vigour of 
youth, and the freshness of the dawn. In general I have 
remarked, that the poetry of every people is characterized by 
the influence of the climate, in which it is formed. A de 
pressing, cold, cloudy atmosphere, gives rise to images and 
feelings of the same character; where the sky is serene, open, 
and expanded, the soul also expands itself, and soars without 

E. I could say much against such a theory, but let it pass. 


Those features of poetry, and those images, to which I wish 
now to direct your attention, are those which spring from the 
earliest and most childlike intuitions and feelings of the hu 
man mind, and are occasioned by the more obvious appear- 
ances and events of the external world. These are every 
where the same. In all climates, and under every sky, night 
is night, and morning is morning. The heavens and the earth 
are every whore spread above and beneath us ; and the spirit 
of God, which fills them, which gives to man his elevation, 
and, at the view of the glories around him, kindles up the na 
tive poetry of the heart and the understanding, extends to all 
its creative energies. 

A. Begin, then, if you please, with the primitive notions 
of the human mind. 

E. With what else could I begin, than with the name of 
Him, who in this ancient poetry animates and binds every 
thing together ; whom it denominated the strong and the migh 
ty ; whoso power was every where witnessed ; whose unseen 
presence was felt with a shuddering of reverential fear; 
whom men honoured ; whose name gave a sanction to the 
solemnities of an oath ; whom they called by way of eminence, 
the Great Spirit, and whom all the wild and untaught nations 
of the earth still seek alter, and feel and adore. Even among 
the most savage tribes, how elevated does poetry and senti 
ment become through the all-pervading feeling of this infinite, 
invisible Spirit ! To them the remarkable phenomena, and 
the active powers of nature, appear as the index of his imme 
diate presence and agency, and they fall down and worship 
/him. Not from slavish fear and senseless stupidity, but \\ith 
the lively feeling, that in these manifestations of his power, he 
! is nearer to them, they offer up, in honour of the great Spirit, 
their dearest possessions with childlike forms, and awe-struck 
j adoration. This feeling pervades the history of all ancient 
i people, their languages, their hymns, their names of God, 
, and their religious rites, of which, from the ruins of the an- 


cient world, a multitude of monuments and proofs will occur 
to your observation. 

A. They do so, but the philosophers have explained this 
feeling of awe in a far different manner. Fear and ignorance, 
say they, have produced imaginary gods. Slavish terror and 
brutal stupidity have paid them homage, as powerful but ma 
lignant beings, in short as invisible and evil demons. In all 
languages religion employs terms of fear and dread, and in 
the Hebrew they adduce as proof a catalogue of the most an 
cient names of God. 

E. The hypothesis, like most others that are brought 
forward, is not a new one, and I fear is as false as it is old, 
for nothing is more easily misinterpreted by frigid, and at the 
same time superficial thinkers, than unsophisticated human 
feeling. So far as I am acquainted with antiquity, I think I 
discover continually increasing evidence, that this feeling of 
reverential homage is, in its simple and primitive character, 
neither the servile homage of a slave, nor the stupidity of a 
brute. The circumstance, that all nations worship gods of 
some kind, distinguishes them from the brutes ; and almost 
universally the feeling has prevailed, lhat our existence \3 a 
blessing, not a curse ; that the Supreme Being is good, and 
that the service, which we ought to yield to him, must not be 
an ofl ering of fear and terror, presented as to an evil demon. 

A. Hut are you not acquainted with many observances 
that spring from terror, and have you never read the books 
of an author,* who derives all reliiM Mis from the desolation 
of the world by the flood, and fearful forebodings of renewed 
destruction . 

E. Do not disturb his ashes lie was a superintendent of 
bridges and dikes, and so must ex-oHicio believe in a Neptu 
nian philosophy. His books are so bad, his learning so full 
of uncertainty, and his imagination so confused, that they al- 

* Boulangcr. , 

.* v * 


,- ...-f ^ 


together very much resemble the waters of the deluge. But 
we will go upon safe ground, and admit, that the religion of 
many ancient nations had indeed a mixture of terror ; especi 
ally of nations who dwelt in inhospitable regions, among rocks 
and volcanoes, on the shores of a tempestuous sea, or in caves 
and mountain dill s, or whose minds were impressed by some 
great devastation, or other terrible events. But these are 
plainly exception.-;, for the whole earth is not a perpetual de 
luge, nor a burning Vesuvius. The religion of nations in 
milder regions we find mild, and even among those most 
impressed with i leas of the terrific, the existence of a power 
ful good spirit is never wholly given up, and still almost 
always predominates in its influence. Finally, all these ap 
pendages, the oil-spring of fear, superstition, and priestcraft, 
belong in fact to later times. The ideas of the most ancient 
religions, are grand and noble. The human race seems to 
have been originally furnished with a fine treasure of knowl 
edge, unbiassed and uncorruptcii ; but their degeneracy, their 
wanderings and misfortunes, have alloyed it with baser metal. 
But let us leave this tumultuous crowd of nations ; we are 
now to speak of one people, and of one language. 

A. Of one, however, in which the most ancient names of 
God are indicative, not of benevolence and love, but of power 
and reverence. 

K. True, these are the first impressions in relation to the 
incomprehensible Creator. Power, boundless power, is the 
attribute, that first fixes the attention of a feeble creature of 
the earth. He cannot but feel this, and his own comparative 
weakness, since his breath is in the hands of (iod, and his 
very existence but the ell ect of his will, his to us incompre 
hensible power. The ancient book of Job furnishes the clear 
est proof of this on every page. 

Well do I know, that it is thus, 
For what is a man, against God ? 
Even the wise, and the powerful, 


Who hath withstood him, and prospered 7 

He removeth mountains in a moment, 

He ovcrturncth them in liia wrath. 

He shaketh the earth from its foundation, 

And its pillars tremble. 

He conimandelh the sun, and it risethnot; 

He sealcth up the stars in their dwellings; 

He spreadcth out the heavens alone, 

And wulketh upon the summit of the waves. 

He hath made Libra and the polar star, 

The seven stars and the chambers of the South. 

He doeth great things, that are unsearchable, 

And wonderful things, without number. 

Lo ! he pa.xseth by me, and I see him not; 

Before me, and I am not aware of it. 

He taketh away, and who shall restore? 

Who shall say, what doest thou ? 

Do you not believe, that this lofty feeling is. the feeling of 
nature . and tint the more clear and comprehensively a peo 
ple beholds in every thing the power ol (joJ, the more stirring 
and forcible will be the expression of it ? Even the wisdom 
of the God, whom they worship, by uhich he has formed not 
only the inanimate but the animate creation, is to them but 
.1 form of power, a vast ocean of intellectual energies, in 
whose dept! s they are lost. Do you not recollect an example 
of this in Hebrew poetry ? 

A. You allude- to my favorite psalm ; it shall now be also 
my morning prayer. 

Jehovah, thou searchcst and knowcst me. 
Thou knowest when I sit down, and when I arise, 
Thou hcholdest my thoughts from afar. 
Whether I am going, or lying down, thou seest me, 
And art acquainted with all my ways. 
Before a word is formed upoii my tongue, 
Lo ! I) Lord, thou knowest it all. 
Thou hast shapen me in every part, 
And placed thy forming hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 


It is high, I cannot attain to it. 

Whither shall I go from thy spirit ? 

Whither shall I flee from thy presence? 

If I ascend into heaven, thou art there ! 

If I make my bed in the abyss, thou art there ; 

If I sour on the wings of the dawti, 

And dwell in the uttermost sea, 

Even there shall thy hand lead me, 

And thy right hand guide me, 

If I say, the darkness shall cover me, 

The night shall be for day to me, 

Even the darkness shall not hide from thee. 

The night is clear to thee, as the day; 

Darkness and light are alike to thee. 

For thou hast formed my inward parts, 
Thou didst environ me in my mother s womb. 
I will praise thee for the wonders of my form; 
All thy works are wonderful; 
My soul knoweth it well. 
My bones were not hid from thee, 
When I was shapen in secret, 
Curiously wrought in the depths of the earth. 
When yet unformed, thine eyes beheld me, 
And in thy book was I already described; 
The days of my life already numbered. 
How weighty are thy thoughts to me, O God ! 
Iluw overwhelming the sum of thetn ! 
Do I number them? they are more than the sand: 
I awake as from a dream, and am still with thee. 

E. You hive contended boldly with the expression of the 
original ; but, to !>< frank, I confess tin; heartfelt simplicity 
of Luther, even when less minutely correct, seems to mo 
more stirring to the feelings, perhaps because my car was 
accustomed to it at an early period. Can you name to me 
such a hymn as this, full of the finest natural theology, from 
any other people equally ancient ? Here are the purest con 
ceptions of (iod, of his omniscience, and his fore-knowledge, 
his intimate acquaintance with the human soul, his omni 
presence, the ellicucy of his purpose in our formation aS in 


the creation and government of all things, and that too set 
forth with energy and fervour. Eveo the thoughts, of which 
many modern philosophers make so much, that God in his 
being has no analogy with any created object, that night and 
day are alike to him, are in many passages, of Job, and the 
prophets ; and even in the simple word holy, that is, wholly 
incomparable, so appropriately expressed, that I know no 
purer Theism than prevails in these songs of praise. 

A. Bui recollect to what period these fine passages be 
long, and that in >he most ancient hymn to the creation, the 
Elohim still prevail. 

K. Witlu-ut doubt Moses found the term in this ancient 
picture of the creation ; for he, the great enemy of polytheism, 
and of all that might lead to it, would certainly not have in 
troduced it. 

A. Such is my belief, and he joined with it perhaps the 
word created in the singular to guard against the tendency 
to polytheism. But notwithstanding the primitive idea of 
Elohim remained still polytheistick. It was the Elohim, at 
whose wisdom the serpent taught the first man to aspire and 
who probably in (lie opinion of Eve derived their wisdom 
from the Iruit of the tree of knowledge. The East, as you 
well know, is peopled with invisible beings, and has especial 
ly one race- of refined spirits, which subsist on the fragrant 
exhalations of trees, wage war with the giant spirits of evil, 
and preside over plants, trees, flowers, mountains, even the 
elements, the stars, &.c. Polytheism of this kind is suited to 
all uncultivated nations, and the rich imaginations of theOii- 
cntials could hardly remain free from it. To them every 
thing appeared instinct with life, and they peopled the uni 
verse with living beings. Such are the Elohim, the Adonim, 
and Schiidim of the Hebrews, the l/eds of thcParsi, the Lain 
of the Thibetians, (a name that seems to resemble Elohim,) 
the Demons of the Orphic hymns ; in a word, the most ancient 
spirits and gods of the uncivilized world. 


E. Be it so if you please. Do you find any thing debasing 
in the idea, that a weak creature of the earth, like man, who 
looks with wonder upon the beauty of the world, and meets 
with no visible author of it ; who beholds every where power 
and wisdom, a self-regenerating and exhaustless creative en 
ergy, and becomes attached to particular objects of beauty 
should assign to these objects each its own invisible creator, 
preserver, and restorer? To the bodily eye the theatre of 
the world is destitute of causes, and yet intensely filled with 
effects. How natural then for one to imagine to himself 
distinct and appropriate creative agents, of which one formed 
this, another that fair work of creation, as a tree, a plant, 
or an animal, with perhaps a fond partiality for it, and a pro 
found feeling of its wants, and the capacities of its nature for 
enjoyment. These creative beings maintained an afl cction- 
ate sympathy with every part of the creatures of their power, 
and, according to the more common representation, trans 
formed sometimes plants into their own form, and sometimes 
themselves to that of plants. The genius of each living pro 
duct was believed to perish and revive along with it ; in 
short, those Mlohim were then perhaps the (icnii of the 1 crea 
tion, but probably connected in this more ancient f.iith with 
none of those fabulous talcs, which the later mythology in 
vented for them. As the angels properly so called, of whom 
we shall speak by and by, came into vogue, these Mlohim 
and Genii fell into neglect ; those stood around the (Jirone of 
(jod, and were princes of heaven, these but the attendants 
and protectors of the lower orders of the creation, and so 
subaltern spirits. The later mythologies of the have 
many fables respecting the relations and contests of these two 
orders of beings, telling us how the Genii secretly listened 
behind the curtain of the Great King in the councils of the 
angels, how they were watched, and punished, &,e. If tho 
origin of these representations of the Klohim was entirely as 
I have now described it, was it not innocent ? or could you 
have any thing to object to it. 


A. So far as feeling and poetry are concerned, nothing 
at all. To the imagination, indeed, it is even a benefit. It 
places man in a world full of animation, where every flower, 
every tree, every star rejoices with us, has its own spirit, and 
feels its own principles of life. What pleases and improves 
the imagination here, however, may not be so acceptable to 
the understanding. 

K. Why not ? Even in the most ancient times this idea 
had among these nations no connexion with polytheism. 
From one of the psalms of David we learn, that the Klohim 
were spirits but little superior to man in rank and excellence, 
while at the same time the doctrine of the unity of (iod the 
Creator, cannot be mistaken in the first picture of the crea 
tion. This one doctrine too, as it seems to me, has given an 
elevation and truth, a simplicity and wisdom to the poetry of 
these Orientals, which rendered its subsequent influence, as 
the guide of civilization, a blessing to the world. It is im 
possible to say what treasures of knowledge and morality 
were destined to accrue to our race from the idea of the uni 
ty of Cod. lie turned away in consccpience from superstition, 
from idolatry, from the ( \ iccs and abominations of divinely 
authorized disorder, and became accustomed to remark in 
every thing unity of purpose, and so by degrees wisdom, love, 
and benevolence in the laws of nature ; to- find unity in mul 
tiplicity, order in disorder, and light in darkness. From the 
idea of one creator the world came to be considered as a 
united whole ; (xoawo,-;) the mind of man was directed to its 
combined glories, and learned wisdom, order and beauty. 
The contributions of philosophy and poetry to the same end 
have also produced the most beneficial effects, especially the\ 
poetry, of which we arc treating. It was the most ancient! 
obstacle to the progress of idolatry, of which we have any \ 
knowledge, and it poured the first bright beam of unity and 1 
order into the chaos of the creation. Can you tell by what \ 
means it has accomplished all this ? \ 

A. What are they ? 


E. A very simple matter, the. parallelism of the heavena 
and the earth. The works of creation must in some way 
be separated and classed in order ; the more unstudied, the 
more obvious, clear, and comprehensive the division, the more 
likely to he perpetuated, and this has been so. 

A. Where > 

E. In this whole body of poetry, which I might there 
fore almost denominate the poetry of heaven and earth. The 
earliest picture of the creation is arranged after this model, 
and the division of the so callt-d six days work has also a ref 
erence to it. When the heaven is lifted up, the earth is 
brought forth also and adorned ; when the air and the water 
are peopled, the earth also becomes inhabited. The same 
parallelism of the heavens and the ,eaith pervades all the 
hymns of praise that are grounded on this picture of creation ; 
the psalms, where all the works of nature are invoked to praise 
their Creator ; the most solemn addresses of Moses aiul the 
prophets ; in short, it appears most extensively throughout the 
poetry and the language. 

A. And yet the division seems to me to have no useful 
relation between its parts. What is the earth in comparison 
with the heavens, or what relation have the heavens to the earth? 

E. It is one of the very objects of this poetry to contrast 
the boundlessness of the heavens with the nothingness of the 
earth, their elevation with our abasement. For this end the 
radical forms of the language employ all their descriptive 
powers and bold imagery. Do you recollect no examples 
of it? 

A. Examples in abundance. 

Heaven is my throne, 
The earth my footstool. 

E. An image so grand that I might add to it, 
My limit is infinity, 

Or, with Job might ask, 

Wilt thou find out the wisdom of Eloah 7 
Wilt thou fathom the perfection of ShaddaiT 
It is high as heaven, what wilt thou do? 
Deeper than the abyss, what dost thou know? 
Its measure is longer than the eurth, 
And broader than the sea. 

Here you perceive the notion of the boundlessness of the 
world of sense. Of that which we call the universe, these 
ancient nations knew nothing. The name world Aeon in 
later times gave to them the idea of every thing despicable,- 
worthless, and evanescent. The heavens grow old, and are 
changed like a garment, the earth is a theatre for phantoms, 
and senseless apparitions, and a burial place for the dead ; 
but it is the Cod of the heavens and the earth, who was be 
fore the mountains, and remains eternal as the heavens. He 
it is, who created and renews them, before whom the heavens 
flee away and the earth is scattered and dispersed in im 
mensity like the dust. 

A. But what, I must ask still, has poetry gained by thia 
parallelism, that has no correspondencies ? 

E. To me it seems to have gained much. By this it was 
led to compare the finite and the infinite, and to contrast 
immensity with nothingness. All that is fair, grand and sub 
lime, is, in the imagination of the Orientals, heavenly ? the 
low, weak, and insignificant, is placed in the dust of the earth. 
All power descends from heaven : all that is beneath, by 
means of invisible but powerful ties, is ruled, guided, and 
disposed of from above. Above, the stars emit their ever 
lasting radiance ; there are expanded the clear and cloudless 
heavens, and the sky lifts its azure arch in undisturbed sereni 
ty ; beneath, all is mutable, earth-born dust, and corrupted. 
The more the human soul connected the two, and learned to 
contemplate them together, the more its views became enlarg- 


ed, correct, and marked with wisdom. It learned to define, 
to measure, and to number the earthly by means of the hea 
venly. It reached a point above the world, from which to 
direct and govern the world itself. Do you not believe, that 
mere earthborn poetry, however refined, must be necessarily 
poor and grovelling ? All elevating and sublime poetry is 
by an influence from above. 

A. Yet, let me say, it is mother earth that gives to all 
forms their characteristick outline, and consequently their 

E. For that reason too, the Orientals associate the hea 
vens and the cajth together. From the former their poetry 
gains sublimity, compass, clearness, and energy, just as our 
souls icct ive the impress of sublimity when we direct our 
eyes to heaven. The heavens are the cilicicnt cause, the earth 
the instrument and theatre of its cll ects, only not the perpctu- 
!al theatre. -Even in the formation of man the heavens and 
(the earth co-operate; from this he receives his body, from 
t those his living spirit. As the atom on which we walk is 
encompassed by the heavens, so the little sphere of our ob 
servation and knowledge floats in the immensity of the eter 
nal, where all ; s glory, energy, and spotless perfection. To 
me that poetry seems great which holds us to the steadfast 
contemplation of what we are, arid what we are not; of the 
high, the low, the weak, and the powerful ; it would be false 
and delusive, should it give one part only of these opposite 
views, and mutilate, or withhold the other. All sublimity 
requires the boundless and immense, in short, the heavens ; 
as all beauty and truth requires definite limits, that is the 

A. You have very well defended your parallelism, and I 
am desirous to follow it myself through the poetry of Job, the 
Psalms, and the Prophets, and know whether, as you say, so 
much that is great and beautiful is dependent on it, as to re 
ward the frequent appeal, 


Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak, 
And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. 

Show me now, however, in what manner the one God of 
heaven and earth is instrumental in poetry also in associating 
and binding them together. 

E. He connects them at some times in a state of rest, at 
others in action. At rest, when, as an eastern king, he sits 
enthroned in the heavens, and commands the creation of the 
world by a word. And here again the first and most sublime 
parallelism of the two became the model for the manner of 
representation in after times : 

God said let light be, 
And light was. 

This sublime language of Cod becomes in various ways, in 
the poetry of the Hebrews, the form for the most concise and 
forcible images, in which the style always is, 

Ho spake, and it was done, 

He commanded, and it stood fast. 

The more strange and obscure the object, which God com 
manded, and which obeyed his will, the more wonderful, and 
the greater the beauty which it confers: 

He said to the snow, be upon the earth, 

To the rain also, and torrents were poured forth. 

One of the psalms, that is generally indeed interpreted in a 
too spiritual sense, exhibits a similar picture : 

He sendeth forth his word upon the earth. 

His word runneth swiftly. 

He giveth snow, like wool, 

He scattereth hoar-frost, like ashes. 

He casteth forth his ice like morsel*, 


Who can stand before his frost 7 

He sendeth his word again, they are melted. 

Ilia wind returns, the waters flow freely. 

Here the word of God is personified, as a messenger, as it 
often is by the Hebrews. 

A. In that they do wisely ; for if the command and the 
effect are always to be repeated, their sublime poetry must 
soon become monstrous, and tediously uniform. 

E. It is not wanting in personifications, for indeed all its 
employment of angels is nothing more. The most ancient 
idea was not, that they stood as inactive beings, and sung 
around the throne of God, but rather, that all the objects of 
nature at his command became angels and living beings. 

He ninketh the winds, his messengers, 
His ministers, the flaming fire. 

The book of Job is full of these personifications. The 
stars especially afford us one of the earliest and finest concep 
tions of angels, as the messengers of God. Their sublimity 
and beauty, their untroubled radiance, and ceaseless motion 
excite at once the idea of sustained delight, and the harmoni 
ous movements of musick, and the daiice. At first they were 
the daughters of God, who encompassed his throne with joy 
ful exultation ; soon they became his host of warriors, in splen 
did battle array ; and then they appear also in the form of his 
messengers and servants. In Job we shall see admirable ex 
amples of all this, and contrasted with them, his earth-born 
servants, sunk in comparative debasement. Thus the God of 
the Elohim, that is of the Genii and the rulers of the lower 
creation, is still in a higher sense the king of angels, and of 
the host of heaven, Jehovah Sabaoth ; although this was in 
deed an idea of somewhat later times. 

A. Why so ? 

E. Because in earlier times God was not thought of, as an 


unconcerned and inactive king, enthroned apart in the heavens, 
but as a father and master of a family, whose busy agency 
was every where felt. As in the picture of the creation noth 
ing was too small or insignificant to be beneath his creating 
power, so he daily creates and orders every thing anew. lie 
daily stretches out the heavens, as when he first created them, 
and goes for this end on the billows of the ocean to the utmost 
bounds of the hori/on, where he pitches his tent. Daily he 
calls forth the dawn, as he called it at first, divides out the rain, 
and opens the treasures of his household. lie ties up the clouds, 
like leathern bags, traces out channels in heaven, and gives the 
lightnings his commands ; clothes the flowers and cherishes the 
plants, generates the dew, and provides for all beneath the sky. 

Job and the Psalms aro full of images, in which, as the ev 
er active father of his family, no work, and no creature is be- 
neatli his care. AVhat heartfelt interest, what wakeful and 
ever increasing confidence in Cod this must give to Hebrew 
poetry, is better felt than described. Uut not the Hebrew poet 
ry alone ; all the poetry of the Orientals is full of praises of 
the Divine Being, that would be surpassed with as much diffi 
culty, as the childlike confidence in him and submission to 
iiis will, which fonn the groundwork of their religion. 

A. Is theirs a good "round work however ? If God is thus 
concerned in the control of the smallest objects of nature, 
will not men become unconcerned and inactive ? If ihe hosts 
of God are every where encamped to relieve our labours, of 
what use is human efi ort and skill ? 

I j. Of this we shall have an opportunity to speak here 
after. At present the sun is in the heavens, and warns us, that 
our chosen hour is past. Go we then to our labours : the 
morning will return, when we meet again. 

As an appendix to the German there is published here a hymn to the 
Deity from the Persian, to exemplify the remarks on the general charac- 
<er o/ this class of Oriental poe-try. It is taken by Herder from an En- 
glieh work, "Specimens of the Institutes of Timour, by Hunter and 

White." As it is not very necessary to the general object of the work, 
I have not thought it worth the while to retranslate it, and know not 
where to find the work from which it wu* taken. 


Thoughts suggested by night nnd twilight. The stute of unborn souls. 
Job s description of ancient night. Had the Orientals any idea of a 
chaos ? Their notions of the most ancient condition of the earth. 
The Spirit upon the waters. Origin of the sensuous idea of Spirits. 
Voice of a nightly apparition in Job. First appearance of liht. Its 
gladdening effect. Glowing pictures of it in the poetry of the Orien. 
tals. Personifications of light, and of the dawn. Poetical images of 
heaven, as an arch of waters, as a treasure house of all that is anima 
ting and refreshing; as sapphire, and as the tent of the father of 
creation. Poetical geogony of- the Orientals. How far it corresponds 
to the natural history of our earth. Animation of plants. Its ellect 
in giving a delicacy of spirit, and comprehensiveness of feeling to 
poetry. Why have the Hebrews no hymns to the sun and stars ? 
Personifications. Beautiful and correct use of them in Hebrew poetry. 
Representation of the stars, as angels ; as daughters of God, as an ar- 
my, as a flock of sheep under the Supreme Shepherd. Particular pas 
sages respecting them. Of the lively sympathy of Oriental poetry 
with the brute creation. Of God as their universal parent. Why in 
this poetry brutes are sometimes put before man. Of men. David s 
hymn to the creation. 

On the following day Alcipliron (!K not fail to be punctual 
at the morning hour of poetry. Wo must not dwell to day, 
as \ve did yesterday, said Kuthyphron, when they met togeth 
er, on individual ideas, but ! will direct you to a more general 
picture, and at the same time richer, than the tablet of Ccbes. 
Is not one suggested to you by this fearful obscurity, in which 
all beings arc at this moment involved, as if impatiently 
waiting for the light. 

A. Do you mean the state of the dead among the Ori 
entials ? 


E. That is not the topic, with which to begin our con 
versation. I was thinking indeed, of Sheol, but rather as 
the state of things yet unborn, which are waiting for the 
light, and hoping to find along with it unraingled joy. Rec 
ollect, for illustration, the night to which Job doomed in his 
imprecations the hour of his birth. There sleep unborn 
nights and days. God looks down from his elevation, and 
calls forth this or that as he pleases, and it eornes forth with 
exultation to join the choir of its companions in the circular 
dance of the year. 

Perish the day, in which I was born ; 
The night when they said, a son is brought forth. 
Let that day bs darkness, 
Let not God inquire after it from above, 
And let no light shine upon it. 

Let darkness and death-shade seize it, 
The clouds ever rest upon it. 
The blackness of misfortune terrify it. 

That night! le: darkness take it awuy, 
That it join not thn days of the year, 
Nor come into the number of the months. 

Let that night be set apart by itself; 
Let no song of joy resound in it. 
May those curse it, who curse the day, 
Who can call up the monsters of the deep. 

May the stars of its twilight be dark ; 
Let it wait for the light, and light come not; 
Nor let it see the eyelids of the dawn, 
Because it shut not up my mother s womb, 
Nor hid evil from my eyes. 


Where have you seen the ancient night to which this unhap 
py man consigned his birth-day, or the gloom of a starless, 
rayless, and horrible darkness, that waits in vain for the morn 
ing, more fearfully described ? No song of gladness cheers 
it, and its silence is interrupted only by the muttered spells 
of those, at whose enchantments the day goes not forth to 


interrupt them in their works of darkness. You know how 
Shakspeare describes a night like this. 

A. He does not yield to the Orientals. But you said 
something of the state of unborn souls. The passage you 
have repeated seems to me to have no reference to such a 

E. The realms that contain them, however, are silent and 
formless as the night. They are shaped in the deepest ob 
scurity, in (he centre of the earth, and there wait the light, 
as at this moment all creatures wait for it. The hour of 
their birth is struck God calls them forth. 

A. The representation is remarkably adapted to the senses. 

fi. Like all the poetical fictions of the Hebrews. They 
knew nothing for example of a chaos, in which before the 
formation of our world the atoms that compose it, were driven 
about, as chance directed ; a fiction, for which we are indebted 
to the Creeks. In their minds its place was supplied by a dark 
gloomy sea, upon which the wind of the Almighty was hover 
ing with an agitating effect ; and the picture, as it appears to 
me, is so much the finer for being true. Such was in fact the 
first condition of our earth, as the structure of it shows, and so 
it must have stood for ages, until, by the wonders of creation, 
it became inhabitable. This picture has something in it 
natural and conceivable ; that formless chaos has neither. 

A. The spirit, to which you allude, that brooded over the 
waste and fathomless abyss, is to me peculiarly striking, and 
never fails to inspire me with awe. 

E. It was to the Orientals the first and most natural image 
of that which constitutes life, power, impulse in creation ; for 
the idea of a spirit seems originally to have been formed from 
the feeling of the wind, especially at night, and combined with 
power, and the sound of a voice. 

A. You remind me of the appearance of an apparition in 
Job. There is form and yet no form ; a gentle whisper, a 
murmuring like the voice of the wind, but with it also the pow- 


er of the wind, the energy of spirit. It raises the hair on 
end, and rouses all the terrors of the soul. " It harrows up 
the soul with fear and wonder." 

A word stole secretly to me, 

Its whispers caught my ear; 

At the Tiour of night visions, 

When deep sleep falleth upon man, 

I was seized with fear and shuddering, 

And terrors shook my frame. 

A spirit was passing hefore me, 

All my hair stood on end. 

He stood still, but I saw not his form, 

A shadowy image was hefore my eyes; 

It was silently whispered to me, 

How can man, <tc. 

E. There is as you say a form without form, silence, and 
yet a voice, and after all the powerful eflect alone indicates 
the formless figure, and so it must be. The more closely de 
fined its features, the feebler would their eflect become. Form 
and definitpness are incompatible with our notions of spirit : 
it is the oiK-pring of the wind, and must preserve the character 
of its origin. Hut look ! yonder come the glories of the morn 
ing. Let us leave the visions of night to their repose, while 
we adore the Father of Light. 

Jehovah, my God, thou art full of majesty, 
Thou art clothed with dignity and glory. 
He puttcth on the light, as a garment, 
lie sprcadeth out the heavens as a tent. 

When the first morning beam shot forth, thou, the creator, 
didst declare the light to be good, and didst consecrate it to 
be an eternal emblem of thy presence, and of thy divine glory, 
of all delight and purity, of all wisdom, goodness, and blessed 
ness. God dwells in light, and his countenance beams with 
paternal goodness, and paternal joy. lie enlightens" the hearts 


of all good men, and illuminates their path. In their original 
darkness he sent them the first ray of light, in the nisrht of 
affliction and death he sends into their hearts a beam of unceas 
ing joy and hope. As God, he displayed his glory in the cre 
ation of light, as the father of the universe in irradiating with 
its beams the souls of men, and leading us onward from this 
twilight of existence to brighter habitations. Is there any cre 
ated existence, that would better deserve to be the garment 
of Jehovah, who, as to the essence of his nature, dwells in eter 
nal obscurity . Light is his swiftest messenger, winged almost 
with the pinions of his omnipresence, and the emblem of Di 
vine purposes and joys. 

A. The poetry of the Hebrews has consequently fine image 
ry drawn from this source. 

E. Perhaps no poetry in the world has drawn from it with 
more beautiful effect. The very name of light has in this 
language a lofty and noble sound, the emblem of all that is 
joyous and transporting. While it paints darkness in images 
of fear and horror, it places in animating contrast, the bright 
eye of day, the eyelids of the opening dawn. All the pictures 
of the dawn associate with it the idea of waiting, of expecta 
tion, of desire, and its appearance brings fruition. The morn 
ing star, which we see before us, is here a fair son of the twi 
light ; for like every thing else, light and darkness has each its 
palace, its peculiar and inaccessible dwelling. The dawn ap 
pears in Job as a hero, who scatters the bands of misdoers, de 
prives the robber of the covering of darkness that protects 
him, gives to all things their form, and stamps them, as it were, 
with a new impression of his seal. From the womb of the 
morning dawn, is born the dew, her numerous host of glitter 
ing children. See you not there the fair mother before you, 
in that beautiful blending of light and darkness ? observe too, 
how the Eternal Father is gradually expanding and arching 
over us the tent of his azure heavens. 


He sits above the circle of the earth, 

The inhabitants of the world are grasshoppers before him. 

He Btretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, 

He spreadeth it out as a tent to dwell in. 

But let us pass, if you please, to the mythology of the hea 
vens themselves. 

A, The Orientalists must have, I fear, great disputes to 
decide what Moses meant by his firmament between the wa 
ters and the waters. V. hcthor it be a tent, an arched cov 
ering above, or a chrystal firmament on which the waters 
rested, it seems difficult to determine. 

E. No disputes are necessary, for the pictures are all 
common, and, rightly understood, are also suitable and dig 
nified. The most ancient idc;i is certainly not of a -firmament 
or foundation of glass, since glass was unknown till a late 
period. The most ancient mythology represents the hcav;-ns, 
as an arch of water, and even the tlirone of Cod as begirt 
with darkness in the midst of the waters. In the celebrated 
song of David even it is said, 

He stretcheth out the heavens us a tent, 

lie placed! amid the waters the arch of this dwelling. 

He muketh the clouds his chariots, 

lie goeth forth on the wings of the wind. 

Even at this late period we sec nothing of the chrystal fir 
mament, but a tent, a sublime palace arched over with the 
waters of heaven. Such also is the tradition of the Arabi 
ans God called forth the heavens from the waters, and form 
ed them for a habitation. The beautiful correspondence 
with truth too, in these representations, considered as pic 
tures of natural history, is matter of wonder. 

A. I have always admired it, and also the descriptions 
of the clouds, of the lightning and the rain, as peculiarly 
beautiful. The droughty Orientals, seem to look upon the 
heavens only as a store-house for their refreshments, a sup- 


ply of the blessings, which their earth so often denied them. 

E. And they have clothed this beautiful idea in a variety 
of imagery. At one time he binds up the waters in the clouds, 
as in leathern bags, and their airy tissue ia not broken. In 
them is the water of life for man and beast. At another he 
drives them, filled with the stores of his bounty, hither and 
thither, to refresh the thirsty regions of the earth, and pours 
them out with a profusion, that overflows even the deserts, 
where no man dwells, nor blade of grass springs. lie is often 
described, as going forth majestically in these waters, passing 
from land to land, for its relief, and treading upon the swel 
ling floods of heaven. There he has his treasures of waters, 
and traces furrows in heaven, and opens channels, by which 
to conduct them. Again he rends asunder his tent, and lets 
the rain descend, divides the heavens, or opens the windows 
of his royal palace, and deluges the earth with torrents. The 
last were probably conceptions of a late period, when God 
was represented as the king of heaven. 

A. And was he not so represented at an early period ? 

E. Whether early or not, he was still earlier represented 
as the father of a family, who extended his parental care to 
man and beast. Observe the numerous passages of this kind 
in the Psalms and prophets. What "heartfelt prayer (or rain 
and refreshing waters ascend to heaven ! How do all eyes 
wait, and the parched tongue, now animated anew, abound 
in thanksgiving ! The finest images of the bounty, the uni 
versal goodness, and providence of God are borrowed from 
the rain and the dew. Ho also the most earnest prayer and 
cordial longing after God, are represented under the image of 
burning and consuming thirst : 

As the hart pantcth for the fresh fountain, 

So panteth my soul after thee, 

My soul thirsteth for God, 

For the living God. 

When shall I eome to him, 

And behold his face ? 

Images of this kind give to poetry ^a community of feeling 
and sympathy between brute animals, men, plants, and all 
that has life ; the Supreme and Eternal Father, is the father 
of all. 

A. But how then were the heavens represented as solid ? 

E. It was on account of their sapphire appearance, their 
glowing splendour, their unchangeableness, and their beauty. 
Perhaps the most ancient notion was, that this solid firmament 
was ice, from which the hail descended. The Arabs have 
pictures, according to which the lightnings are but sparks, 
that fly off from the sapphire firmament. Finally, when the 
heavens came to be represented as a temple and palace of 
God, this pure azure of the sky was the ground floor of his, 
and the covering of our habitation. To those who dwelt in 
tents, however, the idea of a heavenly tent seems to me to 
have been the gieatest favorite. They represent Cod as dai 
ly spreading it out, and making it fast to the mountains, the 
pillars of heaven. It is to them, an emblem of security, of 
rest, and of the paternal intercourse and friendship, in which 
God lives with his creatures. 

A. And how do they treat the earth ? 

E. You will learn from their own words, if you go on 
with the psalm, in which David has given a picture of the 


He hath established the earth upon its foundation, 

It shall not be moved for ever and ever. 

He hath covered it with Hoods, as with a robe ; 

The waters stood above the mountains; 

At thy rebuke they lied, 

At the voice of thy thunders they hasted away. 

Then rose up the mountains, the valleys sunk down, 
To the place which thou didst appoint for them. 
Thou settest boundaries to the floods, 
They shall not pass over and return 
To deluge the earth. 


Thou sendest forth springs in the valleys, 
They run between the mountains, 
They give drink to the beasts of the field, 
The wild beasts quench their thirst. 
Above them dwell the fowls of heaven, 
They sing among the branches. 

Thou watorest the hills from thy store-house above, 
From the fruits of thy works* thou satisfiest the earth, 
Mukest grass to grow for cattle, 
And seed for the service of man, 
That he may bring forth bread from the earth.t 
And make his face to shine with plenty, 
Wine also that maketh glad the heart of man, 
And bread, that strengthened man s heart. 

The trees of (Jod are lull of sap, 
The cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted, 
Whure the birds build their nests, 
And tho fir trees the house of the heron. 
The mountains he made for the wild goats, 
The rocks as a refuge for the conies. 

E. With what a joyful expression that poet surveys the 
earth ! It is a green mountain of Jehovah, which he has 
raised up from the waters ; an Klysian Held, which he has 
established above the seas for the habitation of his living 
multitudes. The scries of images, which the poet has made 
use of, contain exactly the natural history of the earth. At 
first the waters stand above the mountains, at the command 
of God they shrink beneath. Now the mountains rise up, 
the valleys sink, as the waters rush through and level them. 
Finally God sets bounds , to the Hoods, and makes fast the 

With the fruit of thy work, i. e. with the blessings which thou crea- 
test. Go-1 is represented as the father of a family, always busy and 
providing for the earth. 

t The production of bread from the earth is referred not to God, but 
men. He has caused seed to grow for them, that they may sow it and 
procure themselves bread. I have transposed parts of the 14th and 15th 
verses, by which they acquire more symmetry, and even tho words a 
better consonance and arrangement. 


earth Then the fountains break forth in the rallies, the 
streams run between the mountains, where their beds are 
already hollowed out ; to them the beasts resort, and above 
them the birds sing, for the banks of streams were first cov- with trees. We shall find in Job more sublime pictures 
of the formation of the earth ; more true or beautiful are 
scarcely possible. 

A. And in truth whatever is most consonant to nature is 
most perfect in beauty. What are all the mythologies to me, 
if they teach me nothing ? What profit do I gain, for exam 
ple, when the Northern Edda represents heaven, as the skull 
of a slaughtered giant, the earth as formed from his bones, 
and the rivers from his blood ? Poetry, in order to afi ect the 
heart and the understanding, must combine beauty with truth, 
and animate both with sympathetick feeling. 

E. The poetry of the Orientals seems to me to combine 
all these. What sympathy, for example, does it exhibit with 
flowers, plants and herbs ? As it ascribes to all in a certain 
degree the principles of life, and more than figuratively per 
sonifies them, so God is represented as their father, who 
bestows his blessings upon them, who nourishes them with 
rain, and serves them with the breath of spring. Their res 
toration and the renewal of their verdure was a beautiful 
emblem of the resurrection of the dead, as their preservation 
was a memorial of his universal providence. The leaves of 
plants seem to have been early remarked, and the palm tree, 
the cedar, the vine and the olive have furnished beautiful and 
sublime images to the poetry of the Hebrews But this, alas ! 
is all which they have furnished. Had we more of their 
pastoral fables like that of Jotham, or of the class to which 
the Song of Solomon belongs, what fine poetry and personi 
fications should we find in them ! Perhaps more beautiful and 
diversified, than the dialogue of our own poet between the 
rose and the zephyr, or those in the Persian between the rose 
and the nightingale, the wanderer and the turtle dove. As 


it is we must content ourselves with a single collection of 
such songs, but one that breathes throughout the fragrance 
of the rose, and brings back the musical notes of the turtle ; 
I mean the Songs of Solomon. But the sun, my friend, is 
rising high. 

A. Be not in haste. Point me rather to some examples 
of fine personification and hymns addressed to the sun. The 
Hebrews I believe have none of these. 

E. Hymns addressed to these, or to any other object of 
nature, this poetry could not have. It would be idolatry, and 
you are aware how conscientiously this was avoided. Job says, 

Hud I looked at the sun, when it shone forth, 
And the moon going abroad in its beauty, 
So that my heart had burned in secret, 
And I had kissed my hand for them, 
This would have been an abomination, 
For 1 should have denied the dod of Heaven. 

When this feeling was so sincere and earnest, no hyrnna 
to the hosts of heaven were possible. The Hebrew poetry , 
guarded against this species of idolatry with the more extreme 
caution, because (lie Orientals in general were not so much 
attracted by any inferior idols, as by the king and queen of 
heaven, and to these their hearts were very greatly inclined. 
It became therefore a direct object of this poetry to represent 
the sun and moon as the servants of God, and to ascribe to 
him also all glory and truth, righteousness and beauty. 

God said, Let there be two great lights in heaven 

To rule over the seasons. 

He placed them in the firmament 

To have dominion over the season s. 

They are kings of the world, but only subordinate to God, 
his representatives, his creatures and messengers. In those 
characters alone the Hebrew poetry has employed them. 

A. It has used them you mean but little ? 


E. Yea, much and appropriately too. The sun, moon and 
stars also were animated. They had their dwelling places 
and tents in heaven, as they still have in the minds of the Ara 
bians and other nations. You know the beautiful passage, for 
which you may seek a parallel among the Greeks in vain. 

For the sun he hath pitched a tent in the heavens, 

From which he goeth forth as a bridegroom 

Out of his chamber, 

And rejoiceth as a hero 

In the career of victory. 

He goeth forth from the end of heaven, 

And goeth onward to the end of it, 

And iilleth the world with his beams. 

The moon and stars also have their dwellings, in which, 
when they are to be darkened, God seals them up, or in which 
they timidly shrink and hide themselves, when the glory of 
Jehovah appears. Thus in Ilabakkuk, for example, God 
comes forth in his war-chariot to conquer and divide the land; 
the sun and moon come in astonishment to the doors of their 
tents ; his lightnings are shot forth, his arrows fly round him, 
and they hide themselves in confusion before the presence of 
his greater glory. , 

The mountains saw thee and trembled, 

The waters passed away, 

The deep uttered its voice, 

And lifted up its hands on high. 

The sun and moon stood still in their tents; 

When they saw the brightness of thine arrows, 

The glittering splendour of thy lightnings, 

They hasted away. 

A more sublime personification I consider hardly possible. 
All nature listens ; its swiftest objects stand still, its brightest 
are obscured. In the same spirit the stars are made the mar 
tial host, the exulting children of God. Whatever is pure, 


fair, and immortal, is compared with the stars, and the angels 
are often personified in them. 

A. But for what purposes are these glittering hosts sent 
and employed ? 

E. Those for which God employs his servants. The sun, 
as even its name indicates, is a messenger, but never the ori 
ginal fountain of blessedness and beauty. Even the nourish 
ment of plants is not ascribed to it, but to the Supreme Fa 
ther, who refreshes and waters them with the air, the dew, 
and the rain : it only brings about the seasons a king 
of the earth, but in subordination to the King of kings. 
The stars as his army go out and engage in battle. To them 
were ascribed the water-spouts and the overflowing of rivers ; 
and in the song of Deborah they are beautifully personified in 
this character. In their character of angelick messengers 
they are capable of failure. He discovers them out of the 
way, and docs not trust them with confidence. He finds im 
perfection in their brilliancy, and the heavens are not pure in 
his sight. 15ut finally, when the future days of his own peculiar 
reign shall arrive, then shall the sun shine with sevenfold bright 
ness, and the light of the moon shall be as the light of the 
sun. That poetry, which so profoundly comprehends the na- 
1 ture of things ; which binds all the objects of creation together 
in such admirable order, and, in a sublime choral song which 
represents God as the great shepherd of heaven, who knows 
and calls for the stars by name as his sheep, and feeds them 
.under a variety of images on the azure fields of the sky ; who 
: girds Orion, and consoles the nightly wanderer for the loss of 
her children ; who binds together the seven stars in their sis- 
1 terly union, and hides his secret treasures in the South ; such 
/ poetry is the daughter of heaven and earth. When we come 
to treat of the book of Job, what elevated views of the stars 
will it furnish us. 

A. I anticipate it with delight, and am for ever reconciled 
to the most ancient poetry of the world. I have been particu- 


larly, struck by its perfect sympathy with brutes, and the whole 
animate creation, and was delighted even in childhood to find, 
that it treated the brute animals (so called because they are 
dumb) as the brothers of man, who wanted nothing but the 
power of speech. The wild beasts it denominates living crea 
tures, or the living, because the domistick animals are, in the 
comparison, as it were still and dead. I was delighted, when 
I found the voice and language of brutes so forcibly expressed 
in the language ; when the prophet coos with the crane and 
the turtle dove, and mourns with the ostrich in the wilderness. 
I rejoiced at finding the form of the stag, the lion, and the ox, 
sometimes their strength, statelincss, and velocity, at others, 
the acuteness of their senses, their habits of life, and their 
character described and painted in appropriate terms, and wish 
ed that in place of some of the sacred songs we had more of 
its fables, parables, riddles respecting the brute creation, in 
short, more of the poetry of nature ; for this seems ty me to 
be among this people the most happy, and of the most perfect 

E. The name of God, however, must always belong to it, 
as a necessary accompaniment, for he is the parental head of 
this whole animate creation. lie gives to every creature its 
food ; all eyes wait upon him, and lie lights them up with 
joy. The young and hateful raven does not cry unheard, and 
the wild chamois goat experiences his parental care, and is de 
livered in her time of need. lie lives as it were with every 
animal in its peculiar sphere, feels its wants, and fulfills its 
wishes, because he has given to all their natures. To him 
nothing is wild, nothing dumb and despised. He roars with 
the lion after his prey, and looks down from his mountain eyry 
with the glance of the eagle. The wild ass lives upon his pas 
tures, and the hawk flies by his wisdom. He too is the great 
deep, the realm of monsters. The hated crocodile is the object 
of his paternal love, and behemoth is the beginning of the ways 
of God, the most magnificent of his works on earth. In short, 


this poetry is full of natural feeling, full of the universal 
providence and goodness of God in his wide empire. It was 
nourished in the bosom of nature, and cherished in the lap 
of our mother earth. 

A. I now discover (what I have often wondered at with 
some perplexity) why it is, that in this poetry a reference is 
sometimes given to the biutes over men, and the ass of Ba 
laam has more influence with the angel, than the prophet 
who rode her. In the book of Job, God is represented as 
delighting in the horse, and the lion, as being proud of behe 
moth and leviathan, but is silent respecting man. 

E. It does not however pass over man with neglect ; he 
is the image of God, the masterpiece of his works, and one 
of the visible Klohim here upon the earth. But of this at 
another time. Finish now your song of praise, and I will 
close with one to correspond with it. 

A. . 

He made the moon to divide the seasons, 
The sun knoweth his going down. 

Thou makest darkness, and it is night, 
In which every beast of the forest creeps forth ; 
The young lions rotir after their prey, 
And seek their food from (iod. 

The sun riseth, they hurry away, 
And lay themselves down in their dens. 
Then man goeth forth to his labour, 
And to his work in the field until evening. 

How manifold are thy works, O God, 
In wisdom hast thou made them all ; 
The earth is full of thy treasures. 

The sea too, so vast, so wide in extent, 
There are swarms innumerable, 
Living things small and great. 
There go the ships, 
There sports the leviathan, 
Which thou hast made to play therein. 

These all wait on thee, 
To give them meat in its season ; 
Thou givest it them, they gather it ; 


Thou openest thine hand, they are satisfied with good. 

Thou turneat away thy countenance, 
They are filled with terror ; 
Thou takest away their breath, 
They return back to their dust ; 
Thou sendest forth thy breath, 
They are created anew, 
And.thou renewest the face of the earth. 

The glory of Jehovah endureth forever. 
Jehovah rcjoiceth in his works, 
He looketh upon the earth, and it trembleth, 
He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke. 
I will sing to Jehovah as long as I live, , 
I will praise rny God, while I have being. 
My song of him shall be sweet, 
I will be joyful in Jehovah. 
Praise the Lord, O my soul, 

E. I remain pledged for a corresponding specimen ; but 
since you prefer hymns, here is one entirely in the Oriental 
style. In my opinion there is indeed but one style in this 
class of poetry in all the living European languages, and that 
is the style of Job, the Prophets and the Psalms. Milton has 
especially interwoven it in the composition of his immortal 
poem. Thompson has trodden with feeble steps in the same 
path, and among us Kleist has very philosophically adorned 
it. For this style and this imagery we are indebted to the 
simplicity of the Hebrew poetry.* 

* Reference is hud in the last paragraph to Milton s morning Hymn 
of Adam in the 5th Book of Paradise Lost, which it is not thought ne- 
cessary to copy in the translation. TR. 


Transition to the book of Job. Best method of reading it. Descrip. 
tionsofGod, as judge of the stars, the creator of the world, the 
stiller of the tempest. Style and character of Elihu in his descrip 
tions. Examples of his style. Discourse of God out of the tempest. 
Elucidation of its sublime pictures of nature. Of the poetry of nature 
in general. Whether it be a lifeless species of poetry, and unde. 
serving of the name. Object of the poetry of nature. First means 
of attaining it, personification, animation. Examples from Job. Wheth. 
er the most ancient times have an advantage over us in this respect, 
and why. Secpnd requisite for this class of poetry, that it be the in. 
teipreter of nature. Examples from Job. Influence of the poetry of 
nature on the feelings. Third requisite, that it have an object and 
purpose. Illustrations from Job. 

WHEN Euthyphron enquired for his friend, he found him 
reading the book of Job. 

ALCIPHKON. You see how your scholar is employed, and 
it is hardly necessary to say, that I arn reading this book 
with delight. I cannot yet indeed accustom myself to the 
long speeches, the tedious complaints and claims to innocen- 
cy, and still less the vindications of Providence, which cannot 
themselves be vindicated. Of the guiding thread of the dia 
logue, I yet know nothing. But the descriptions of nature 
in it, the sublime and yet simple account of the attributes of 
God, and his government of the world, elevate the soul. If 
you are inclined to listen then, I will (as these people say) 
open the treasures of my heart, ;>nd read a few passages to 
you. I leave it to you afterwards to set me in the right way 
in regard to the plan/the antiquity and author of the book. 

EuTiivi HKON. It is a very proper course for you to begin 
in that way of selecting particular passages. To read tho 


work continuously is for us perhaps too strong meat. We 
are accustomed to prefer brevity in the dialogue, and a more 
obvious sequence of ideas, than we find here. The Orien 
tals in their social intercourse heard each other quietly 
through, and were even fond of prolonged discourses, espe 
cially in verse. They are pearls from the depths of the ocean 
loosly arranged, but precious : treasures of knowledge and 
wisdom in sayings of the olden times. 

A. But of what time ? One must be surprised to find 
here so much intelligence, and furnished so abundantly with 
unpervcrted impressions and ideas of nature ; and yet again 
there are other ideas so poor, so childlike. 

E. Pass over, if you please, the consideration of time 
and authorship, and confine yourself to the work, as it is, in 
its poverty and its richness. Beyond all contradiction the 
book is from very ancient times, and 1 lake it up whenever I 
venture to decypher its thoughts, with a species of reverence. 
My thoughts are carried to distant countries and remote ages, 
the ruins of the great revolutions that have taken place as 
well in matters of taste, as in the governments of the world. 
I listen to a voice that comes to me from a distance, perhaps 
of three or four thousand years, and instead of sitting in judg 
ment on the book, or bringing it to the test of my own times, 
I say to myself in the words of the book itself, 

We arc of yesterday, and know nothing, 
Our life on earth is but a shadow. 
The fathers, they shall teach and tell us. 
They give us the language of their hearts. 

Proceed then with its beautiful descriptions of God and na 
ture. My ear is open, and listens with attention to the ideas 
of the most ancient of the infant world. 

Power and its terrors are his, 

He is arbiter in the heights of heaven. 


Are not his hosts without number, 

And his light prevails over all < 

Shall man then be just before God ? 

One born of woman be pure ? 

Behold even the moon abides not with its tent, 

The stars are not pure in his eyes. 

And shall man, who is a worm, be pure ? 

A child of earth, a worm ! 

E. A sublime representation of God, the Supreme Judge 
of heaven ! the arbiter among the stars and angels. His glit 
tering hosts are numberless, his splendour obscures them all ; 
his lights, his purity, the truth and justice of his judicial decree 
puts them to silence. The moon with its tent disappears, 
the stars are impure in his sight. Then from these bright 
eminences we glance at man, and ask, 

Shall man, who is a worm, be pure ? 
A child of earth, a worm ! 

A. Your explanation of the obscure words, " He maketli 
peace among his heights, over whom doth not his light arise? 
The moon pitcheth not her tent before him," pleases me much. 
I see the Eastern judge, who dicides between angels and stars. 
How finely and poetically too is the. darkened moon intro 
duced. Its tent is gone from heaven, it has concealed itself 
from the presence of its judge. 

E. Proceed to the remarks of Job ; they are better still. 


Whom helpest thou ? him who hath no strength ? 
Whom dost thou vindicate ? whose arm hath no power? 
To whom give counsel? one without wisdom ? 
Truly much wisdom hast thou taught him ! 
To whom dost thou give knowledge by words ? 
And whose breath dost thou breathe ? 

E. To whom do you suppose this passage to relate ? 
A. It seems to me to refer to God. Job means to sayi 


that God needs not to be vindicated by him, that his very breath 
is the breath of God, and that a helpless creature cannot be 
come the defender of his Creator. 

E. Proceed, I shall not again interrupt you. 


The shades are moved from beneath, 

The abyss, and those that dwell in it. 

The realms of darkness are naked before him, 

And uncreated night without a covering. 

Over the wasteful deep he spreadeth out the heavens, 

He hangeth up the earth upon nothing ; 

He bindeth up the waters in his clouds, 

And the clouds are not rent under them. 

He closeth up his throne round about, 

He spreadeth the clouds around him. 

He appointeth a boundary for the water*, 

To where the light is ended in darkness. 

The pillars of heaven tremble, 

They are shaken at his reproof. 

By his power he scourgeth the sea, 

By his wisdom he bindeth its pride. 

By his breath he garmslieth the heavens, 

His hand seizetli the fleeing serpent.. 

Lo these arc a part of his ways, 
A whisper that we have heard of him ; 
But the thunders of his power, 
can comprehend ? 

E. A splendid passage, and, as you are turned poet, I will 
become your commentator. Job surpasses these opponents 
in the excellence of his effusions, as much as he has the ad 
vantage of them in the result of their contest. He paints 
only a single representation of the power and majesty of God, 
but he draws his image from the deepest abyss, and carries 
his picture to the highest point of sublimity. The realms of 
non-existence are spread before the Almighty, the boundless 
depth of vacancy stretch beneath him ; and as these were 
conceived, as we have before seen, under the form of a rest- 


less ocean, he represents this, the vast realm of ancient night 
and unborn ages, as appearing before the Almighty, unveil 
ing its wild abyss, and the horrid commotion of its billows. 
The shades tremble, the shapeless forms of future being are 
moved with expectation, the abyss, which never before saw 
the light, is without a covering. Now begins the work of 
cijcation. lie spreads out the heavens over this dark and 
bJVmdless deep ; he establishes the earth and causes it to rest, 
and as it were to be suspended over nothingness and vacancy. 
(For these realms of night and of the shades were supposed to 
be subterraneous.) Now he arranges the heaven in order, 
binds up the waters in clouds, and forms for himself the open 
expanse; builds and adorns his throne, in the midst of the 
waters ; encloses it around, and spreads the thick clouds as 
a carpet beneath it. Then he measures and designates the 
boundaries of the watery heavens to where the light and dark- 
liess mingle, that is, to the extremity of the hori/on. Next 
his power is exhibited in the thunder, and still more to mag. 
nify the effect, in a storm at sea. The waves are represented 
as rebels, whom he drives before him, and can in a moment 
bind in chains. A single breath from him, and the sea is 
calm, the heavens clear ; his hand meets only with the Hying 
serpent (either according to an image occuring in other pas 
sages Ps. Ixxiv. 13. Is. xxvii. 1) the monsters of the deep 
in the neighbouring seas, as the crocodile, or perhaps the 
flying and curling waves themselves, which his hand smooths 
and levels. Either way the picture closes with a stillness as : 
sublime and beautiful, as the tumult, with which it commen- f 
ced, was terriflck. And these, says Job, are but a single 
sound, a small part of his wonders. 


The thunders of his power, who can comprehend them? 

Every morning, as day breaks from the darkness of night, 
every storm, especially at sea, brings the magnificent picture 
before us. Have you any other passage ? 


A. Take, if you please, tlie laudatory hymn of the inspired 
Elihu, immediately preceding the final and magnificent re 
sponse of the Divine Being. 

E. Observe however by the way, that it stands there only 
as a foil to the effect of that response. Much as El- 
iliu thinks, and finely as he speaks, he is still, as he himself 
says, but new and fermenting wine, that rends and escapes 
from the bottles. lie has splendid images, but directs them 
to no end ; and the finest of them are only amplifications of 
those, which Job and his friomls had employed in a more 
concise form. Hence no answer is returned to him. lie pre 
pares the way for the entrance of the J)ivine Beiiii r , and pro 
claims it without himself being aware of it. In describing a 
rising tempest in all its phenomena he paints, without knowing 
it, the coming of the judge. 

A. I had never remarked this prospective design in the 
progress of the picture. 

E. It is however, as I think, the soul of the whole, with 
out which, all that Elihu says would bo mere tautology. 
As the passage is too long to be taken entire, bcj/1n at the 
words " Lo ! God is great." I will occasionally alternate 
with you. 

Lo, God is mighty in his power, 

Where is a teacher like him ? 

Who shall try his ways? 

And who shall say thou hast erred ? 

Consider and praise his doings, 

For all men celebrate them, 

And all men behold them, 

Uut weak man sees them from far. 
Lo, God is great, and we know it not, 

The number of his years is unsearchable. 

He draweth up the drops of water, 

Rains are exhaled upwards in vapour; 

The clouds pour them down again, 

They drop upon men abundantly. 


Who can understand the outspreading of his clouds, 
And the fearful thunderings in liia tent ? 
Behold, he encompasseth it with lightnings, 
And covereth with floods the depths of the sea. 
By these he executeth judgment upon the people, 
And giveth also their food abundantly. 

With his hands he holdeth the lightnineB, 
And conunundeth them where they shall strike. 
He pointeth out to them the wicked ; 
The evil-doer is the prey of his wrath. 

E. All these images will occur in a more concise and 
beautiful form in the language of God, that follows. The 
tempest is now vising upon them, and Klihu proceeds 

Therefore my heart is terrified, 

And leaps from its place with alarm. 

Hear yc ! (.) hear with trembling his voice, 

Thu word, that goctli out of his mouth. 

It goeth abroad under the wholo heaven, 

And his lightning to the ends of the earth. 

Behind him sound aloud his thunders, 

He uttereth the voice of his majesty, 

And we cannot explore his tlmnderings. 

God thundereth marvellously with his voice, 

He doeth wonders, which we cannot comprehend. 

He saith to tlic snow, be tliou upon the earth, 

To the dropping shower, and the outpouring of his might ; 

So that all men acknowledge his work. 

A. In tlic last words I like better tiic interpretation He 
puts the seal upon the hand of every man, that is, they stand 
astounded and ama/cd, feeling, that they are powerless a 
feeling, that every thunder-shower awakens in us. 

E. The terrors of the storm arc farther described. 

Tlic wild beast fleeth to his cave, 

He cowers himself down in his den. 

Now comcth the whirlwind from the South, 


And from the North cometh the frost ; 

The breath of God goeth forth, there is ice, 

And the broad sea is made firm. 

And now his brightness rendeth the clouds, 

His light scuttcreth the clouds afar. 

They wheel about in their course as he willeth, 

They go to accomplish his commands 

Upon all the face of the earth. 

We miist be Orientals in order to esiimate the good effects 
of rain, and to paint with such careful observation, the fea 
tures and the course of the clouds. It is obviously a present 
scene, which Klihu is describing in what follows 

Attend ! () Job, and hear this, 

Stand and consider the wonders of God. 

Knowest thou how God disposeth them, 

How he kindleth up the light of his clouds? 

Knowest thou how the clouds are swayed 

The marvellous doings of the all-wise ? 

How thy garments become warm to thee, 

AVhen he warmcth the earth fr.m the South 

Hast thou with him spread out the firmament, 

That stands strong and like a molten mirror? 

Teach us what we shall say to him, 

We cannot speak by reason of darkness. 

Shall it be told to him when I speak ? 

Let one open his mouth Lo ! lie is gone, 

His light is no longer beheld. 

Ilis splendour i=> behind the clouds; 

The wind passqth, and they are dispersed. 

Now cometh the gold from the North, 

Tlio fear-awakening glory of Eloah. 

As for the Almighty, we ciiimot find him, 

The great, the powerful judge, 

Unspeakable in righteousness. 

Therefore do men reverence him, 

The wisest behold him not. 

E. The consequence of the young pretender s forwardness 
you perceive is, that he shows that to be impossible, which 


in the face of his declaration is on the point of taking place. 
At the moment, when he is convincing himself, that the dark 
ness of the clouds is a perpetual harrier between men and 
God, and that no mortal shrill ever hear the voice of the Eter 
nal, God appears and speaks and how vast the dillerence 
between the words of Jehovah and the language of Elihu! 
It is but the feeble, prolix babbling of a child, in comparison 
with the brief and mnjcstick tones of thunder, in which the 
Creator speaks. He disputes not, but produces a succession 
of livinir pictures, surrounds, astonishes, ;uid overwhelms the 
faculties of Job with the objects of his inanimate and anima 
ted creation. 

A. Jehovah spake to Job from out of the tempest, and 
.said to him, 

Who is it, that darkcneth thr counsels of God 

15y words without knowledge? 

(iinl up thy luiiis like a man ; 

I will uak time, teach .hou me. 

Where \va>t tliou, 

When I founded the earth ? 

Tell mi 1 , if ihou knowcst. 

Who fixed the measure of it? dost thou know? 

Who stretched the line upon it ? ... 

Whereon stand its deep foundations ? 

Who laid the corner-stone thereof, 

When the morning stars sany in chorus 

And all the sons of God shouted for joy ? 

E. We forget the geology and all the physics of more 
modern times, and contemplate these images, as the ancient 
poetry of nature, respecting the earth. Like a house it has 
its foundations laid, its dimensions arc fixed, and the line is 
atretched upon it : and, when its foundations arc sunk, and 
its comer-stone is laid in its place, all the children of God, 
the morning stars, his elder ollspring, chant a song of joy to 
the great architect and the glad welcoming of their younger 
sister. Next follows the birth of the sea. 



Who wrapped up the sea in swaddling clothes 

When it broke forth from the mother s womb ? 

I gave it the clouds for garments, 

I swathed it in mists and darkness, 

I fixed my decrees upon it, 

And placed them for gates and bars. 

I said thus far shall thou come, and no farther, 

Here shalt thou dash thy stormy waves. 

E. I do not believe, that this object was ever represented 
under a bolder figure, than that, by which it is here expressed, 
of an infant, which the Creator of the world swathes and 
clothes with its appropriate garments. It bursts forth from 
the clefts of the earth, an from the womb of its mother, the 
ruler and director of all things addresses it as a living being, 
as a young giant exulting in his subduing power, and with a 
word the sea is hushed, and obeys him for ever. 


Hast thou in thy lifetime commanded the dawn? 
And taught the day-spring to know its place, 
That it seize on the far corners of the earth, 
Ami scatter the robbers before it ? 
Like clay the form of things is changed by it, 
They stand forth, as if clothed with ornament. 
From the wicked their light is taken away, 
Their haughty arm is broken. 

E. It is unfortunate, that we cannot more clearly repre 
sent the dawn, as a watchman, a messenger of the Prince of 
heaven, sent to chase away the bands of robbers how differ 
ent the ollicc from that, which the Western nations assigned 
to their Aurora ! It points us to ancient times of violence, 
when terror and robbery anticipated the dawn.* 


Hast thou entered into the caverns of the sea ? 

* It is still the custom of the Arabs to go .out on plundering excursions 
before dawn. 


Hast thou explored the hollow depths of the abyss ? 
Huvo the gates of death opened for thce ? 
And hast thou scon the doors of non-existence ? 
Is thy knowledge as broad as the earth ? 
Show me, if thou knowest it all. 
Where dwelleth the light? where is the way to it? 
And th<j darkness, where is its place ? 
That tliou niuyest reach even the limits thereof, 
For thou knowest the path to its house, 
Thou knowest, for thou wast already born, 
And the number of thy days is great. 

K. llveiy tiling IRTO is personified, the light, the darkness, 
death and nothingness. These have their palaces with bars 
and gates, those their houses, their kingdoms and boundaries. 
The whole is a poetical world and a poetical geography. 


Hast thou been into the store-house of the snow? 
And seen the treasury of the hail, 
Which I have laid up for the time of need, 
For the day of war and of slaughter ? 

E. A vein of irony runs through the whole passage. God 
fears the attack of his enemies, and has furnished and secured 
his vaulted treasury of hail as the armoury of war. In the 
clouds too, as well as in he al>\.-3, every thing breathes of 


Where doth the light divide itself, 

When the East wind streweth it upon the earth ? 

Who divided the water courses of heaven? 

And traced a path for the storms of thunder? 

To bring rain upon lands, where no man dwelleth, 

Upon deserts, which no man inhabiteth, 

To refresh the wilderness, and the barren place, 

And cause the tender herb to spring forth. 

Who is the father of the rain? 

The drops of dew, who hath generated tkom? 

From whose woinb came forth the ice ; 


The hoar-frost of heaven, who gave it birth ? 
The waters hide themselves and become as atone, 
The surface of the abyss is confined as in chains. 

E. Rich and exquisite pictures both of the heavens and 
the earth ! Above, the fountains of light gush forth, and the 
East wind scatters it over the countries of the earth, the pa 
ternal ruler of the heavens traces channels for the rain, and 
marks out their paths for the clouds. Beneath, the water 
becomes a rock, and the waves, of the sea are chained with 
ice. Even the rain, the dew and the hoar-frost have their 
father and their mother. And then follows one of the most 
beautiful and sublime views of the Universe 


Canst thou hind together the brilliant Pleiades? 

Or canst thou loose the bands of Orion? 

Canst thou bring the stars of the Zodiack in their season ? 

And lead forth the Bear with her young ? 

Knowt. st thou the laws of the heavens above ? 

Or hast thou given a decree to the earth beneath? 

Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, 

And enter into them clothed with floods? 

Canst thou send the lightnings, that they shall go, 

And say to thee, "here are we ?" 

Who gave understanding to the flying clouds? 

Or intelligence to the meteors of the air? 

Who by his wisdom hath numbered the drops of rain ? 

Hath scut down the gentle showers from heaven, 

And watered the dust, that it might unite, 

And the clods of the earth cleave together ? 

E. T!io description of the so called inanimate creation is 
here ended. But in the description no part of creation is 
without life. The stars, that joyously usher in the spring, 
are bound together in a sisterly union. Orion (or whatever 
constellation Chesil may be) is a man girded for action, and 
is the pioneer of winter. The constellations of the Zodiack 
rise in gradual succession like a wreath encircling the earth. 


The Father the of heavens lets the Bear with her young feed 
around the North pole ; or (in accordance with another mytho 
logy and interpretation) the nightly wanderer, a mother of 
the stars, who is seeking her lost children, the stars, that are 
no longer visible, is the object of his consolation (perhaps ef 
fected by bringing forth to her view new stars in place of those 
that were lost.) One who by night observes the Hear in its 
course as if feeding with its young on the fields of the sky 
or the Zodiack, that, like a girdle with its beautifully embroi 
dered figures, encompasses the earth, and rises gradually to 
view with the revolving seasons, and then reflects upon the 
times, when the nightly shepherds under an Oriental sky had 
these images continually before them and in accordance with 
the fancy and feeling, that belong to a shepherd s life, ascribed 
to them animated being and form one, who does this, I say, 
will perceive at once the starry brilliance and beauty of this 
passage, although, as to its conciseness and symmetry, and 
the connexion of its parts, it can be but imperfectly transla 
ted. It is the same also with the passage, in which God is 
represented, as giving understanding to the darkness, to the 
roving clouds, and meteors. The personifications both of 
feeling .aid of form in poetry vanish in another language. 
Yet all these images, the sending out of the lightnings, and 
their reply, the going forth of God among the clouds, hi3 
numbering of the drops of rain, their gentle but copious de 
scent at his command, arc in the style of the most beautiful 
descriptive poetry. 

A. You seem to be an admirer of this whole species of 
poetry and yet our critics hold it to be the most barren and 
inanimate in the whole compass of the art. Some indeed will 
riot even accord to it the name of poetry, and denominate 
it a heartless description of tilings and forms, that arc inde 

E. If such he the fact, I agree with all my heart, that it 
does not deserve the name of poetry. Those miserable wri- 


ters, who describe to us the spring, the rose, the thunder, the 
ice, and the winter, in a tedious and unaflecting style, are 
neither good in poetry, nor in prose. The true poetry of 
nature has something else, than a dull description of individu 
al traits, to which in fact it is not principally devoted. 

A. And what has it in the place of it ? 

E. Poetry. It makes the objects of nature to become 
things of life, and exhibits them in a state of living action. 
Look at Job. Here the earth is a palace, of which the build 
er laid the corner-stout 1 , while all the children of God shouted 
for joy at the event. The ocean was bom and wrapt in gar 
ments, like a child. The dawn is an active agent, and the 
lightning speaks. The personification is kept up, and carried 
through with consistency, and this gives to poetry its anima 
tion. The soul is hurried forward, and feels itself in the 
midst of the objects described, while it is a witness of their 
agencies. Tedious descriptions, on the other luih.l, disjoin 
them, and paralyze their powers. They exhibit but a tatter 
ed dress of words, abstracted and partial .shadows of forms, 
where in true poetry we see actual and ihing beings. 

A. Cut who. my friend, could venture to write poetry in 
th<; style of the Orientals . to present the ocean as a child in 
swaddlinir clothes, the arsenals of snow and hail, and channels 
for water in the heavens I 

]]. No one should do" it. Tor every language, every na 
tion, every climate has its own measure in matters of taste, 
and the peculiar sources of its favourite poetry. It shows a 
lamentable poverty to attempt to borrow from a people so di 
verse, yet we must adopt the same principles, and create out 
of the same material, lie, to whose eyes and heart nature 
has no life, to whose apprehension it neither speaks, nor acts, 
was not born to be its poet. It stands lifeless before him, 
and it will still be lifeless in his writing. 

A. It follows then, that the ages of ignorance had great 
advantages over those, in which nature is studied, and becomes 


the object of knowledge. They had poetry we have only 

E. What call you the ages of ignorance ? All senauoua 
tribes have a knowledge of that nature, to which their poetry 
relates ; nay, they have a more living, and for their purpose a 
better knowledge of it, than the Linmean classifier from his 
bookish arrangement. For a general knowledge of species 
this method is necessary, but to make it the foundation of 
poetry would bo about as wise, as to write it out of Ilubner s 
rhyming dictionary. For myself I admire those times, when 
man s knowledge of nature was perhaps less extended, but 
was a living knowledge, when the eye was rendered discrim 
inating by impassioned feeling, when analogies to what is hu 
man struck the view, and awakened feelings of astonishment. 

A. It were to be wished then, that the times, in which 
those feelings prevailed, wero again experienced. 

E. Every age must make its poetry consistent with its 
ideas of the great system of being, or if not, must at least be 
assured of producing a greater efl ect by its poetical fictions, 
than systcmatick truth could secure to it. And may not this 
often be the case ? I have no doubt, that from the .systems 
of Copernicus and Newton, of BuHbn and Priestley, as eleva 
ted poetry may be made, as from the most simple and child 
like views of nature. But why have we no such poetry? 
Why is it, that the simple pathetic fables of ancient or un 
learned tribes always ailed us more, than these mathematical, 
physical, and metaphysical niceties I Is it not because the 
people of those times wrote poetry with more lively appre 
hensions, because they conceived ideas of all things, including 
God him.ii -If, under analogous forms, reduced the universe 
to the shape of u house, and animated all that it contains 
with human passions, with love and hatred ? The first poet, 
who can do the same in the universe of Buflbn and Newton, 
will, if he is so disposed, produce with truer, at least with 
more comprehensive ideas, the effect which they accomplish- 


ed with their limited analogies and poetic fables. Would 
that such a poet were already among us, but so long as that 
is not the case, let us not turn to ridicule the genuine beau 
ties in the poetry of ancient nations, because they understood 
not our systems of natural philosophy and metaphysics. Ma 
ny of their allegories and personifications contain more ima 
ginative power, and more sensuous truth, than voluminous 
systems and the power of touching the heart speaks for 

A. This power of producing emotion, however, seems to 
me not to belong in so high a degree to the poetry of nature. 

E. The more gentle and enduring sentiments of poetry 
at least are produced by it, and more even than by any other. 
Can there be any more beautiful poetry, than God himself has 
exhibited to us in the works of creation ? poetry, which lie 
spreads fresh and glowing before us with every revolution of 
days and of seasons ? Can the language of poetry accom 
plish any thing more affecting, than with brevity and simpli 
city to unfold to us in its measure what we are and what we 
enjoy ? We live and have our being in this vast temple of 
God ; our feelings and thoughts, our sufferings and our joys 
are all from this as their source. A species of poetry that 
furnishes me with eyes to perceive and contemplate the works 
of creation and myself, to consider them in their order and 
relation, and to discover through all the traces of infinite 
love, wisdom, and power, to shape the whole with the eye of 
fancy, and in words suited to their purpose such a poetry 
is holy and heavenly. What wretch, in- the greatest tumult of 
his passions, in walking under a starry heaven, would not 
experience imperceptibly and even against his will a soothing 
influence from the elevating contemplation of its silent, un 
changeable, and everlasting splendours. Suppose at such a 
moment there occurs to his thoughts the simple language of 
God, " Canst thou bind together the bailds of the Pleiades," 
&c. is it not as if God himself addressed the words to him 


from the starry firmament ? Such an effect ha3 the true po 
etry of nature, the fair interpreter of the nature of God. A 
hint, a single word, in the spirit of such poetry, often suggests 
to the mind extended scenes ; nor does it merely bring their 
quiet pictures before the eye in their outward lineaments, but 
brings them home to the sympathies of the heart, especially, 
when the heart of the poet himself is tender and benevolent, 
and it can hardly fail to be so. 

A. Will the heart of the poet of nature always exhibit this 
character ? 

E. Of the great and genuine poet undoubtedly, otherwise 
he may be an acute observer, but could not be a refined and 
powerful expositor of nature. Poetry, that concerns itself 
with the deeds of men, often iu a high degree debasing and 
criminal, that labours, with lively and affecting apprehensions, 
in the impure recesses of the heart, and often for no very 
worthy purpose, may corrupt as well the author as the reader. 
The poetry of divine things can never do this. It enlarges 
the heart, while it expands the view, renders this serene and 
contemplative, that energetic, free, and joyous. It awakens 
a love, an interest, and a sympathy for all that lives. It ac 
customs the understanding to remark on all occasions the 
laws of nature, and guides our reason to the right path. This 
is especially true of the descriptive poetry of the Orientals. 

A. Do you apply the remark to the chapter of Job, of 
which we were speaking ? 

K. Certainly. It would be childish to hunt for the system 
of physics implied in -the individual representations of poetry, 
or to aim at reconciling it with the system of our own days, 
and thus show that Job had already learned to think like our 
natural philosophers ; yet the leading idea, that the universe 
is the palace of the Divine JJeing, where he is himself tho 
director and disposer, where every thing is transacted accord 
ing to unchangeable and eternal laws, with a providence, 
that continually extends to the minutest concern, with be- 


nevolence and judgment this, I say, we must acknowledge 
to be great and ennobling. It is set forth too, by examples, 
in which every thing manifests unity of purpose, and subor 
dination to the combined whole. The most wonderful phe 
nomena come before us, as the doings of an ever active and 
provident father of his household. Show me a poem, which 
exhibits our system of physics, our discoveries and opinions 
respecting the formation of the world, and the changes that 
it undergoes, under as concise images, as animated personi 
fications, with as suitable expositions, and a plan comprising 
as much unity and variety for the production of effect. But 
do not forget the three leading qualities, of which I have spo 
ken, animation in the objects for awakening the senses, inter 
pretation of nature for the heart, a plan in the poem, as there 
is in creation, for the understanding. The last requisite al 
together fails in most of our descriptive poets. 

A. You require, I fear, what is impossible. How little 
plan are we able to comprehend in the scenes of nature ? 
The kingdom of the all-powerful mother of all things is so 
vast, her progress so slow, her prospective views so endless 

E. That therefore a human poem must be so vast, so slow 
in progress, and so incomprehensible ? Let him, to whom 
nature exhibits no plan, no unity of purpose, hold his peace, 
nor venture to give her expression in the language of poetry. 
Let him speak, for whom she has removed the veil, and dis 
played the true expression of her features, lie will discover 
in all her works connexion, order, benevolence, and purpose. 
His own poetical creation too, like that creation which in 
spires his imagination, will be a true xo vuo;, a regular work, 
with plan, outlines, meaning, and ultimate design, and com 
mend itself to the understanding as a whole, as it docs to the 
heart by its individual thoughts and interpretations of nature, 
and to the sense by the animation of its objects. In nature, 
all things arc connected, and for the view of man are connect 
ed by their relation to what is human. The periods of time, 


as days and years, have their relation to the age of man. 
Countries and climates have a principle of unity in the one 
race of man, ages and worlds in the one eternal cause, one 
God, one Creator. He is the eye of the universe, giving ex 
pression to its otherwise boundless void, and combining in a 
harmonious union the expression of all its multiplied and mul 
tiform features. Here we arc brought buck again to the East, 
for the Orientals, in their descriptive poetry, however poor or 
rich it may be judged, secure, first of all, that unity, which 
the understanding demands. In all the various departments 
of nature they behold the Cod of the heavens and of the earth. 
This no Greek, nor Celt, nor Roman has ever done, and how 
far in this respect is Lucretius behind Job and David ! 


Descriptions of the animate creation in Job. Leading traits of his im 
agery. Where Job lived. Whether in the valley of Gutah near Da 
mascus. Grounds considering the proverbs of this book as the 
wise sayings, or the philosophy, of the children of Edom. Egyptian 
imagery in the book. Whether the author of it was an Egyptian. 
What extent and variety its imagery embraces. Whether behe 
moth be the elephant, or the hippopotamus. Whether Moses wrote 
the book, translated it from the Arabick, or found it with Jethro. 
When it was brought to Judaea. Whether it was imitated in the po 
etry of the Hebrews. Whether the historical introduction is as an 
cient as the book itself. Whether the Satan of this book is a concep 
tion of Chaldee origin. Of the juridical forms, under which Job rcpre-* 
gents objects both in heaven and on earth. Plan of the book, as a ju 
dicial process, and a wit-combat. Whether the friends of Job are 
distinctively characterized. Whether thtir several discourses, as put, 
together, exhibit a connected train of thought. That the book is no 
drama in successive acts, but a consensus of wise men after tiie manner 
of the East. Whether it is founded on historical facts. Its poetical 
style and composition. Appendix. 

I am eaircr to proceed to the second part of 
God s address to Job. In this we shall find the brute forms 
also not only animated, but all become ensouled with human 
feelings. I will read, and then wait for your interpretation. 

The king of beasts is the first to advance. 

Dost thou hunt tor the lion his prey ? 

The. hunger of the young lions dost thou satisfy, 

When they lie in wait in their dens, 

And croucli under covert in ambush ? 

Who. provideth for the raven his food, 
W T hen his young cry unto God, 
And wander for lack of meat ? 

Dost thou know when the chamois-goat brings forth ? 


And mark the birth-throes of the hind? 
Dost thou number the months they fulfil, 
And know the period of their bringing forth? 
They bow themselves, and give birth to their young, 
They cast forth the offspring of their pains. 
Their young ones increase in strength ; 
They grow up in the wilderness ; 
They go from them, and return no more. 

EUTHYPHKOX. The terrific cruelty of the lion, the hate- 
fulness of the young raven, for which yet Cod provides, and 
its hoarse cry of distress, here so briefly described, all speak 
for themselves. The paternal tenderness of God also, with 
which he regards and provides for the wild chamois of the 
rock, we have already remarked.- Observe now, moreover, 
the recompense with which God rewards her pains. " Her 
young soon grow up, and no longer demand her care." In re 
gard to other animals also, we find notice of this fatherly feel 
ing, with which God spares them and compensates the evils 
of their condition. The following is an example. 


Wlio sent forth the wild nss free, 

And broke for him his slavish bonds ? 

The wilderness have I made an housu for him, 

And the barren desert his dwelling. 

He scoffs at the uproar of the city ; 

The cry of the driver, he heedetli it not. 

He spieth out in the mountains his pasture; 

He searched! after every green thing. 

E. With how true a feeling of liberty is the nature of 
this timid animal described. The unfruitful desert is its 
dwelling place ; and this it barters not for the noise of the 
city, nor will listen, like its enslaved brother, to the driver s 
voice. It looks away rather to the green herbage of the 
mountains, and spies out the smallest blade of grass. It lives 
in the wilderness unoppressed, free, and joyous. 


Will the buffalo be willing to serve thee, 


And abide through the night at thy crib? 

\Vilt tliou bind him with hia band in the furrow, 

And will he harrow the valleys after thee? 

Wilt thou trust him, because he is strong,, * 

And commit unto him thy labour? 

Believest thou in him, that he will gather thy harvest, 

And that thy threshing floor shall be filled ? 

E. The wiltl and tame ox are here contrasted w each 
other, aad the former will not perform the work of tt><. latter. 
In short, every creature is fashioned for its own ends, and 
lives and finds enjoyment after its own way. But the three 
finest descriptions are yet to come, those of the ostrich, the 
horse and the ea^lc ; and they close magnificently these pic 
tures of the brute creation. 


A win:, with joyous cry is uplifted yonder; 
Is it the wing and feather of the ostrich ? 
When she commits her eggs to the earth, 
And leaves them to be warmed on the sand, 
She heeds it not, that the foot may crush them, 
And the wild beast trample upon them. 
She casts oil her young for none of hers ; 
In vain is her travail, but she regards it not ; 
For God hath made her forgetful of wisdom, 
And hath not imparted to her reflection. 
At once she is up, and urges herself forward. 
She laughs at the horse and his rider. 

Hast thou given the horse his strength, 
And clothed his neck with its (lowing mane ? 
Dost thou make him leap like the locust? 
The pomp of his neighing is terrible ; 
He puweth the earth and joyeth in his strength, 
When he gocth against the weapons of war. 
He scoiletli at feat, and is nothing daunted, 
And turneth not back from facing the sword. 
Above him is the rattling of the quiver, 
The lightning of the spear and the lance. 
With vehemence and rage he devoureth the ground, 
Andbelieveth not that the trumpet is sounding. 



The trumpet sounds louder ; he cries aha ! 

And from far he snufTeth the slaughter, 

The war-cry of the captains, and the shout of battle. 

Is it by thy understanding that the hawk ilieth, 
And sprcadeth his wings to the south wind ? 
Is it nt thy word, that the eagle is lifted up, 
And huildcth his nest on high? 
He inhabited! the rock, and all night is there, 
High upon the cliff, his rooky fortress. 
From this lie spieth out his prey, 
His eye seurcheth it out from afar. 
His young ones are greedy of blood, 
And whurc tl.e carcasses arc there is he. 

E. Mark now the peculiar boldness of these three descrip 
tions. The ostrich, on its first rising to the view, is sketched 
with an expression of eagerness and exultation. Such is the 
feeling of surprise and wonder too, that the name is at first 
forgotten, and it presents itself to the sight, as a winged giant, 
exulting in the race and shouting for joy. What is stupid for- 
getfulnoss in the bird, appears as the wisdom of the Creator, 
by which he has kindly adapted it to its shy and timid life in the 
desert. Had it more consideration and tenderness, it would 
mourn for its abandoned young ; and hence Clod has denied 
it understanding, but given it its wild cry of joy, and its 
winged speed in the race. The description of the horse is 
perhaps the noblest, which has ever been given of this animal, 
as the region also, in which the book was written, produces tlie 
noblest of horses. It is here, as the Arabians regard it, an 
intelligent, brave, war-like animal, that partakes in the ex 
ultation of victory, and by its loud neighing joins in the 
battle-cry of heroes. Last comes the eagle with its upward 
flight and sovereign eye. His royal tower, his sanguinary 
propensities, and his piratical omnipresence also arc truly 
marked, and he closes the list as king of the feathered tribes, 
as it was begun with the lion, the sovereign of another king 
dom in the brute creation. Behemoth and leviathan, th 
monsters of the watery world, are still to follow. 


A. These I will peruse by myself; and instead of dwel 
ling upon them at present, explain to me rather the general 
sense, the aim of introducing these pictures, the connecting 
thread of discourse through the book, and as far as may be, 
also, the time and place, in which the author lived. 

E. So you venture to enquire also, where the author lived. 
But how can we know this, if we know not the author him 
self? The enquiry must cleaily depend for its result upon 
another, namely, where is the scene of the book laid, where 
did Job dwell ? If the historical introduction prefixed to the 
poetical part of the book is ancient and worthy of credit, 
(and it is certainly something more than a newly invented 
story), he dwelt in the land of I z. JSut where was this land 
of Uz ? 

A. It inns t have been the delightful \alley of Gutali 
around Damascus. 

E. On this supposition, however, the introduction of the 
book is at variance with the book itself; for here, obviously, 
we meet with no Syrian, but with Arabian and Egyptian 
scenes. In all its poetical imagery there i:s no picture which 
is distinctively Syrian, though that country is so rich in natu 
ral scenery peculiarly its own. We must then give up this 
place, whose claim is founded upon a resemblance of its name 
alone, and that probably given at a later period, and look 
into the Hebrew writings for ourselves. Do yon know of no 
other Ux. besides this little colony from Damascus ? Read 
Genesis, xxxvi. 28. 

A. So one of the children of Edom had this name also. 

E. And where docs Jeremiah place the daughter of 

A. ".Oh daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of 

E. Nothing can be plainer. And whence came the friends, 

Lam. iv. 21. 


who visited Job, and who lived in his neighbourhood ? In 
the books of Moses even, we find both Eliphaz and Toman 
among the sons of Esau. In many passages of the prophets* 
Teman is referred to as a country or city of Edom, distin 
guished for prudent counsels and wise sentences, just as we 
find it represented in the character of Eliphaz. Bildad of 
Shuah, Zophar of Naamah, and Elihu of Buz are all from 
places in or near Iduma-a. Shuah was a near relative of 
Dedan,t and Dedan dwelt on the borders. of Iduniica. The 
other cities named were in the same region ; and in general, 
the manners and customs represente J in the book are Idumajan, 

A. Can there have been at that early period such a degree 
of intellectual cultivation in Idmnu-a . 

E. If not, the poet is at fault in his introduction, in fixing 
the scene of his poem without regard to the proprieties of 
time and place ; but of this, 1 am disposed to believe, he 
knew better than we do. Were it left wholly to us, we should 
probably deny the representations of the book, and say, that, 
in times so ancient and rejions so uncultivated, such wisdom 
and such accurate knowledge of nature could never have ex 
isted. Yet several of the prophets were clearly of a different 

A. Which of the prophets ? 

E. Those who in their own time, when Edom had been 
often subdued and placed under the yoke, still treated it as 
the classic land of Oriental, that is, Arabick wisdom. The 
prudent men of Teman, and the wise men of Edom seem to 
have been proverbially spoken of.j Now we know in what 
this Oriental or Arabick wisdom consisted. It was made up 
of poetry, proverbs, lofty figurative representations and riddles, 
as this book represents it, it gives evidence in itself of the 
region, to which it belongs, for the scene and the whole cos- 

*Jer. xlix. 7. Obad. viii.9. + Gen. xxv. 2. 3. Jer. xlix. 8. Ezek. 
xxv. 13. Uer. xlix. 7. Obad. viii.9. 


tume are entirely Idumaacn. Job is an Eastern Emir, as his 
friends probably were also, and of the same character with 
the princes of Edom mentioned in the books of Moses. Jor 
dan occurs in the book, as the name of a river. It no where 
recogni/.cs the laws of Moses, or contains any allusion to 
them ; and though it abounds in ideas pertaining to judicial 
forms and proceedings, they are all adapted to the tribunal of 
an Oriental Emir. This mode of representation pervades the 
whole, and is the very soul of the book. 

A. Jiut it has also numerous representations of objects 
pertaining to Mgypt of the Nile, (which here, as in Egypt, is 
called the sea), of the papyrus reed, of the crocodile and the 
islands of the dead. 

E. Sud er me to proceed, and I \vi!l add also the behe 
moth, (which \vas probably the hippopotamus of the Nile, and 
not the elephant,) the tombs of the kin-js, not forgetting the 
elephantiasis : and why should it riot . Job surely did not 
live in Egyptj or in other words, the scenery and mode of 
thinking in the book, are not Egyptian. The mythology 
which prevails through all the poetical representations is He 
brew, or rather Oriental, (taking this latter word to express 
the general notion of what belongs to the Hebrew in common 
with its kindred dialects). The ideas of God, of the world 
and of its origin, of man, of destiny, of religion, arc all lie- 
brew or Oriental, such as are expressed in no other language 
but these. If you have not discovered tin s from our former 
conversations, you may nevertheless find it on every page of 
the book itself. Thus the Egyptian imagery is Egyptian still, 
and wears an aspect of extraneous and far-sought ornament. 
Jt is not to be mistaken, that in the whole book, this kind of 
Asiatic pomp of style prevails, both in the figurative represen 
tations and in the facts presented. We shall find in another 
part of our enquiries all the treasures of Oriental imagery 
in a poetic strain where we should least expect it, in a eulo 
gy of wisdom ; and the same is observable in many other de 


scriptions in this book. They are introduced as something 
strange and beyond the knowledge of the vulgar. In respect 
to the ostrich, the behemoth, and the leviathan this is unde 
niably the case. Had these two last animals [been common 
in the country, where Job lived, they could not have been 
described as so gigantick, nor with such an air of solemnity. 
They appear as foreign and strange monsters, as objects of 
curiosity and wonder ; and this is the purpose for which they 
are introduced. 

A. Is it possible, then, to determine with any degree of 
precision the sphere in which the author of the book was at 
home, and what among the objects presented in it was strange, 
or what was familiar . 

K. With tolerable precision. The mode of life, the pos 
sessions, the judicial tribunal, the happiness of the Kmir are 
all his own conceptions, and on these the whole is built. lie 
is acquainted with the oll ering of sacrifices, but it is the pa 
triarchal ofl ering, conducted by Job himself, the father of 
the family. Arabian deserts, streams failing from drought, 
moving hordes and caravans are images of most frequent oc 
currence in the book. Bands of robbers, dwellers in caves, 
lions, and wild asses, the avenger of blood, all the formalities 
of an Asiatic court of justice, and a number of other less im 
portant circumstances, which cannot so easily be reckoned 
up, together point out, in accordance also with the LXX and 
the historical introduction, Iduma-a as the place, in which 
the scene of the book is laid. On the other hand, the treasures 
brought from Africa, the rarities of Kgypt stand out as orna 
ments derived from rare and far-sought knowledge. The 
leviathan and behemoth, at the end of the book, are the pil 
lars of Hercules, the ultima Thulc of the author s chart of 

A. You consider the behemoth, it seems, as the hippo 
potamus. According to the common opinion the elephant 
was intended. 


E. The latest common opinion I have little chance of al 
tering ; but that of earlier times supposed it to be the rhi 
noceros ; and not only respectable authorities, but obvious 
traits of the description favour this view. They are however 
not conclusive. In general, the description is undoubtedly 
that of an animal whose usual resort is the river, since it is 
introduced, as something singular, that he cateth grass like 
the ox, that the mountains bring him forth food, and the 
beasts of the field play around him. He sleeps among the 
reeds, and lies concealed among the marshes on the shore of 
tlie river, which clearly does not suit a dcsciiption of the ele 
phant, lie goes against the stream, as if ho would drink up 
the river with his enormous mouth, a character not well fit 
ting a land animal. His strength too is in his loins, and his 
force is in the navel of his belly, where on the contrary the 
elephant is weakest. His bones are like brazen rods, and his 
back-bone like a bar of iron. He that made him has fur 
nished him with a sword, for the sharp-pointed and projecting 
tusks of the hippopotamus may be considered his weapons ; 
and the language applies better to these, than to the weapons 
of the elephant. Since, moreover, the name behemoth itself 
is prob;il)ly the Egyptian name of this animal, p-ehe-mouth, 
(here modified, as all foreign words were by the Hebrews 
and Greeks, to suit their own forms), and since, in company 
with the crocodile, it is placed apart from the land animals, 
which also are arranged in a separate discourse by themselves, 
and represented, as all creatures of the watery realm are by 
the Orientals, as something foreign and monstrous ; it seems 
to rnc, that this opinion has at least a balance of probabilities 
in its favour, and will at length become the prevailing one. 
Read Bochart, Ludolf, and llcimar, and I believe you will 
find the description as accurate, as it could well be of a re 
mote and strange animal. 

A. But the proboscis, which he movcth like a cedar ? 

E. It is not a ^roboscis, but the tail, which the language 


here indicates ; nor is the length of the cedar the point of the 
comparison, but its bending over as the cedar bends its branch 
es. This is the sense expressed by the ancient versions, and 
the image fits the appearance of this round-shaped monster. 
But enouglu Who, think you, was the author of the book ? 

A. It is said Muses wrote it, while he was with Jcthro. 

E. I am sorry that I cannot find reason to adopt this pret 
ty general and quite ancient opinion. J, too, rank .Moses very 
high as a poet, but find no more evidence that lie wrote the 
book of Job, than that Solon wrote the Iliad and the Eumeni- 
dcs of jEschylus. I can boast, 1 believe, of having studied 
the poetry of .Moses and this also without prejudice. 1 make 
allowance too for the difference which a change of circum 
stances, age, occupation, &c, would produce ; still they ap 
pear to me as directly opposed to each other, as the East 
and the West. The poetical style of Job is throughout con 
cise, full of meaning, forcible, heroick, always, I may say, in 
the loftiest tone of expression and the boldest imagery. Mo 
ses, even in the sublimesl passages, lias a more Mowing and 
gontlc style. The very peculiarities in the style of Moses 
and in the arrangement of his imagery arc foreign to this 
book. The voice, to which we are here listening, comes 
forth in rough and interrupted tones from among the rock?, 
and can never have been trained in the low and level plains 
of Egypt. The style of thought is that of an Arabian, of an 
Idumiean, as well in the jirncral scope of his imagery, as in 
those little favourite traits, wh ch are often even more char- 
acteristick than any otiier. The fancy of the poet acquires 
its character in youth, and as it then shapes itself it always 
remains, especially in its great features, which early impres 
sions render indelible. Job abounds so much in images 
drawn from the paternal and judicial character of an Oriental 
LImir, whit ii he applies even to Cod, that we see in what 
sphere he w:is educated and his imagination formed. But of 
this Moses saw nothing in Egypt, nor did any of his fathers 


sustain the character of an Eastern prince, such as is here 
exhibited. To him the whole of this was foreign ; and it 
would be a fact truly marvellous, if together with the poetry 
admitted to be his, his laws and institutions, he had produced 
also this collection of poetry, in the s|>irit of an entirely dif 
ferent race of people, of a different mode of life, of a world, 
in short, to which he was a stranger. By going over a few 
passages I might have saved the necessity of saying so much 
as I have ; but you can easily make the comparison for your 

A. May we not suppose, then, that Moses, while with 
Jethro, translated the poem from the Arabick ? 

E. I might be willing to admit it, if it should seem to 
have come among the Hebrews by his means. But how are 
we to prove this ? In my opinion it is not a translation, but 
was written in Hebrew. 1 know of no ground there is to sup 
pose it a translation. It approaches the poetical style of the 
Arabians, as Idumaea borders on Arabia, and their customs and 
the spirit of their poetry naturally exert a reciprocal influence. 
1 find nothing farther than this to give credit to the hypothesis. 
Rather the strong features of originality in the book are at 
variance with it. 

A. At least, then, Moses may have found it during his 
residence with his father-in-law. 

E. So that we may not leave him idle, while tending the 
flocks of Jethro. Yet I must say, that even this opinion, how 
ever gladly I might entertain it, seems to me improbable. 
Had this book- accredited by their respect for Moses, come at 
that period into the hands of the Hebrews with its assemblage 
of incomparable imagery and genuine poetry, we should have 
found many more traces of its having been imitated by the 
Hebrew poets, than are now perceivable. How often do tho 
prophets crowd and encroach upon each other! borrowing their 
images one from the other, in a confined and narrow circle, 
and only filling it out and applying it each in his peculiar way. 


This ancient and venerable pyramid stands for the most part 
unimitatcd, as it is perhaps inimitable. 

A. But are there not then imitations in the Psalms ? 

E. Imitations perhaps of particular passages and of indi 
vidual images. * But do you see no nearer way for the Israel 
ites of the age of David to be acquainted with Edorn, than 
through the intercourse, which they had in the time of Moses ? 

A. David we know reduced Eclom to subjection. 

E. While Moses came in collision with them by their re 
fusing him a passage. It was besides not accordant with the 
sentiments of Moses to borrow from the people bordering on 
Canaan, either books or religious notions, since he aimed as 
far as possible to make the Israelites in every thing a separate 
people. In the time of David the matter was otherwise. 
When he cast his shoe over Edom, as a servant, both its strong 
cities and whatever treasures of knowledge it might possess, 
were at his command ; and a king, who valued himself more, 
and gained greater honour, on account of his poetical produc 
tions, than of his throne, would probably take some pains to 
obtain them. Thus came into his hands, this book of ancient 
wisdom, celebrating in lofty and poetical strains the steadfast 
piety of otic of their ancient Emirs ; and well was it worthy 
to bo read by a prince and patriarch like David. If in his 
later Psalms, (for in these alone are similar expressions obser 
vable), he strove to imitate it, this proves, that he too felt the 
sublimity of its style, and aimed to join it with his pastoral 
strains. I do not myself, however, discover so many passages 
even in the Psalms, which appear to be properly imitations of 
this, still fewer in the prophets ; and Ezckiel is the first, who 
mentions Job by name. This occurs in c. xiv, 20 ; and the 
name is here placed after those of Noah and Daniel. In short, 
I follow the most ancient notice we have of this book. It is 
attached to (lie translation of the LXX and is as follows. 
" This book is translated from the Syriack, (a manuscript in 
the Syriack character). Job, whose proper name was Jobab, 


lived in the district of Ausitia on the borders of Idumeea and 
Arabia. On the father s side he was descended from Esau, 
and was the fifth from Abraham. The kings of Edom were 
Balak the son of Beor, Jobab, who was called Job, &c. The 
friends, who came to him were Eliphaz, an Edomite, prince 
of Teman ; Baldad, Ernir of Shuah ; Zophar king Naarnah." 
This account cannot be supposed entirely factitious, especially 
nothing in the book contradicts it, though indeed it may easily 
be said, that it grew out of the resemblance of the names Job 
and Jobab, and \a founded on the family register of the Edom- 
ites furnished by Moses. But certainty cannot be attained in 
matters of so high antiquity, and it is happily unnecessary for 
the understanding of the book. 

A. Do you then consider the historical introduction equal 
ly ancient with the poetical parts ? 

E. I have sometimes had doubts on this point, but found 
them of little weight. The first chapters are written with 
such patriarchal simplicity, such commanding brevity, and un 
studied sublimity, that they are fully worthy of the author of 
the poetry. I may add too, that the scene presented in the 
first chapter is obviously the groundwork of the whole book. 

A. But how is the mention of Satan to be accounted 
for a notion of so much later origin. 

E. The representation of Satan, as he appears here, I hold 
to be very ancient. lie is simply one of the angels, i. e. one 
among the attendant train of the Supreme Sovereign. In this 
character he is sent as a messenger to search through the world 
and bring information. He merely acts in accordance with 
the duty of his office, and God himself directs his attention 
to Job. He goes no farther than he is authorized to do, and 
this he does only by way of trial. God maintains the right, 
though for a long time, indeed, he permits Job to be severely 
tried ; and at the end of the book Satan i? no longer heard of. 
This conception of him, as an angel or messenger commis 
sioned of God, is so widely different from the later Chaldee 


conception, that I cannot but wonder how it should have led 
Heath and others to consider the whole book of Chaldee origin. 
Such a conclusion falls very wide of the mark. The Chaldee 
Satan is the opposer of Orniuzd, r.nd the primitive cause of 
all evil. The agent represented in Job cannot even be com 
pared with the Typhoti of the Egyptians, or what the ancients 
called a man s evil genius. He is nothing but the attendant 
angel of. the tribunal, a messenger sent out to make enquiry, 
to chastise and to punish. 1 have already remarked, how much 
the reference of every tiling to a court of justice prevails 
throughout the book. 

A. Yet I confer this view of tlio subject not a little sur 
prises me. 

K. Why should it ? Every age and every nation transfers 
the picture of its ov, n customs both to the upper and nether 
world. As in the- fn.-t chapter here it is represented, that God 
sits in the heavens, as an Emir, and at certain periods gathers 
around him his servants, the angels, in order to receive inform 
ation from the earth, and as Satan is sent with a court commis 
sion to prove Jo!), whether he be a true worshipper of God, 
and faithfully i dhercs to him. so Job appears through the whole 
book, as one uho is punished without a hearing, as an aggriev 
ed person, who has been unjustly treated. lie wishes only, 
that he may sco his judge, and thai hu would himself take cog- 
ni/ance of the matter. His friends are the advocates of God, 
who assume to ju.-tily the Supreme and All-powerful Judge 
against him as already condemned, and resort to various sub 
terfuges for that end. At last the sovereign appears in his 
own person, and in the attributes of majesty calls Job to 
account. Job i* silent, restitution is made, and lie is richly 
compensated for the irrievances which he had sufi ered. This 
is the plan of the book. 

A. ]t would be very instructive to see it exhibited in detail. 

E. 1 have sketched some farther outlines of it, which you 
can read. You will find the connecting thread of discourse, 
and the characters of the speakers pointed out. 


A. Is there, then, a methodical connexion among the 
speakers, an intelligible relation of parts, and a progression 
in the action represented, discoverable ? 

E. Certainly there is, only not after our fashion. Job 
begins with uttering his complaints :* the three opponents 
make their several speeches, and Job answers. This process 
is repeated three times,! except that in the third, the part of 
Zophar is wanting. Job after defending himself against them 
keeps the ground alone, and sets forth his cause in represent 
ations, which are unquestionably among the finest passages in 
the book.J HQ pictures his former happy condition, his 
present wretchedness, and his innocence, in a style at once so 
beautiful and affecting, that at the close, in the fulness and 
simplicity of his heart, he utters the wish 

Oh that I had one, who had heard me, 
Now that I have made my defence ! 
Oh that the Almighty had answered me, 
And one had writ my cause in a book ! 
Aa a mantle I would lay it on my shoulder, 
As a diadem would I bind it to my turban, 
I would number all my steps before him ; 
As a prince would I draw near unto him. 

As such too, he stands before us in the book, and listens to the 
discourse of Elihu,|| till God appears, as the supreme in author 
ity and wisdom, to decide the contest. 

A. Is the book, then, to be considered a kind of drama ? 

E. Not according to our conception of the drama ; for 
how would such an one be possible, in exhibiting what is here 
placed before us ? Here is no action ; all is motionless, and 
the time is spent in prolonged discourses. The historical 
statements before and after are obviously but the prologue and 
epilogue, the entrance and the exit. But I shall not contend 

Chap. iii. t Chap, iv xiv. xv xxi. xxii JUYI. 

t Chap, xxvii jjcxi. (| Chap, xxxii xxxvii. 1) Chap, xxxviii xlii. 


about a word. The discourses are indeed divided off at inter 
vals ; yet the words Scene, act, would seem to me entirely 
misplaced here. It is in fact simply a consessus of wise men, 
engaged pro and contra in discussing the justice of the Supreme 
Governor of the world, a conflict of argument and of wisdom 
respecting the case of Job. In this alone consists its dramatic 

A. Do you suppose the book to be founded on historical 

E. That is to mo a matter of indifference. Its powerful 
and profound poetry makes it a history, such as we have few 
examples of. It becomes, by the depth and truth of its exhi 
bitions, a history of afllicted and suffering innocence all over 
the world. It does, indeed, render the picture more grateful 
to think a man like Job actually lived and that he gave proof 
of a soul so firm, of a spirit so elevated as this book exhibits. 
In that case the book is for him the perpetual memorial which 
he wished, a monument more noble than brass, more durable 
than marble. It is written with deep impression upon the 
hearts of men, and its living imagery will be preserved in 
everlasting remembrance. 

A. But the discourses which are contained there, the tri 
bunal and the appearing of God, the representation of Satan, 
and the substance of the images presented cannot be all 
history. Who could discourse extempore in such style as 
this ? 

E. In the style of composition it is poetry from beginning 
to end. Of this there is no doubt, but poetry of a kind, which 
is of all the most natural. The Orientals are fond of these 
learned consessions, and of long discourses in a lofty, figura 
tive style, which they hear through, and listen to with patience, 
and then answer after the same fashion. This ^ UJ D mashal, 
is their philosophy, the stately ornament of their rhetorick and 
poetry. To gratify a taste for this, to indulge the cherished 
Fondness for hearing lofty sentences, and for celebrating the 


combats of wit and wisdom, the poet meditated and wrote this 
conflict of suffering virtue, of human wisdom overcoming and 
again overcome. How much of it may be history, how. much 
of it may over have been actually spoken as here recorded, it 
is of no use for us to know. The poet heard it all and has 
composed it into a harmonious whole, which is still extant and 
perhaps the most ancient composition of art in the world. 

A. 1 rejoice at it, for I arn deeply interested in the sub 
ject of it also, as showing how wise men of the most ancient 
times discoursed of the providence of God and the destiny of 

E. In order to the last, however, we must previously treat of 
the Oriental traditions, which relate to the creation and des 
tination of man, by themselves. We shall there find ourselves 
in a garden, where the earliest germs of poetry were cultivated, 
and learn what flowers and fruits have been derived from it 
to the poetical productions of later times. You well know 
the estimation, in which the Orientals and all nations, whose 
minds are equally under tho dominion of sense, hold such 
traditions of the olden time, the sayings, names, and historical 
notices of their fathers. The most ancient poetry, and the 
style of thought in this book, receive their form and character 
wholly from this state of mind. 

A. I shall gladly accompany you into this garden of the 
primitive Hebrew world. 

E. Here arc the few pages respecting the book of Job, 
to which I alluded. 


Brief outline ol the book of Job considered as a composition. 

The scene presented in the book is two-fold, in heaven, 
and on earth. The scene of action is above ; that which is 
below is occupied with discourse only respecting what is 


acted in the other, without comprehending its true import. 
Hence the uncertain and fluctuating speculations the every 
day condition- of all the philosophies and theodiceea in the 

The object, of which the book treats, ia an upright, guilt 
less man, in a condition of suffering, and even of bodily an 
guish. We forgive him all his lamentations and sighs, for 
even a hero is permitted to groan from bodily pain. He sees 
death near, and longs for it ; his life is embittered, why should 
he not groan ? 

Job s sufferings are inflicted to promote the honour and 
glory of God ; they are designed to maintain the truth of what 
God had spoken in praise of his servant. Can human suffer 
ings be represented in a light more honourable to the suffer 
er ? In this general view of the contents of the book, it may 
be considered a theodicee, or philosophical justification of 
the Governour of the world in the permission of evil ; not a 
partial justification such as the wise ones of the earth con 
trived, though these too said much that is ingenious. 

But however ingenious the speculations of these worldly 
philosophers, they yielded no consolation to the afflicted suffer 
er, but rather embittered his sorrows. Job surpassed them in 
his representations of the powei and wisdom of God, in those 
views, by which they sought to silence his complaints, but 
remained miserable still the customary picture of worldly 
consolation. Their views are too narrow, and too much ob 
scured. They look in the dust of the earth for that which 
they should seek above the stars. None of them look so far ; 
no one even conjectures, that the reason of Job s afflictions 
was what the first chapter represents it. 

In the mean time what honour is bestowed upon the 
sackcloth and ashes of the humble sufferer ! He is made a 
pectacle to angels and to the whole host of heaven. Job 
maintains his integrity, justifies the word of his maker, and 
*lod holds the crown in readiness to adorn his brow. Thia 


two-fold scene, and the invisible spectators of Job s patience 
in suffering, give a sacredness to the representations of the 
whole book. 

But the man, whom the inhabitants of heaven are con 
strained to regard as a model of human fortitude and constancy, 
is upon the earth, involved in a conflict of argument, and here 
he is human like other men. The poet has given him a char 
acter of rashness and warmth of feeling, which at the first 
address of Eliphaz, though really of a soothing character, hur 
ries him away. This leaven of his natural temper is the 
condiment of his virtue, and indeed of the dialogue itself, 
which would be tedious and uninstructive, if it contained 
only the complaints of the sufferer, and the condolence of his 

An accuracy of discrimination, and a nice sense of proprie 
ty in adapting the parts, pervade the whole work. The three 
philosophers exhibit distinctive characters in their discourses, 
and Job is made to surpass them in their several attempts 
botli as a philosopher and as a poet. Eliphaz is the most sen 
sible and discerning, and so modest, that in the first lesson 
which he aims to give to Job he does not speak his own 
thoughts altogether, but communicates an oracle.* Bildad 
treats Job more severely, and Zophar for the most part only 
repeats what Bildad had said. lie is also the first to with 
draw from the scene. 

The round of interlocutory discourse between the parties 
is thrice repeated.! At the close of the first, they are already 
so much at variance, that Job formally appeals from them a3 
his accusers to God.J In the second, the thread of the argu 
ment is most involved, and the plot, if we may so call it, 
most intricate ; for at the end of this, Job affirms in answer 
to Zophar, that the wicked even prosper in the world 1 though 
he is only seduced to do so in the heat of discussion. Eli 
phaz seeks, by an ingenious turn, to produce a better 

* Chap. v. 12. t Chap, iv xiv. xv xxi. xxii xxvi. 

J Chap. xiii. II Chap. xxi. 


standing, but the matter has gone too far. Job declares his sen 
timents;* Bildad has little,! and Zophar nothing to say in reply, 
and Job comes off* triumphant. He then proceeds with ^ calrn 
confidence, like a lion among his defeated enemies, retracts 
what he had uttered from the excitement of the contest,! and 
in three successive paragraphs exhibits specimens of thought 
and imagery, which are the crown of the whole work.ll 

However monotonous all these discourses may have sounded 
to us, they have in fact their lights and shades ; and the course 
of thought, or rather, the complication of the argument be 
comes more and more intricate from one discourse to another, 
till Job returns upon his own steps, and modifies his former 
expressions. Whoever has not been guided by this thread* 
and especially, if he has not remarked how Job wrests always 
from his hand his opponent s own weapon, and either says the 
same thing better, or assumes the same grounds for his own 
discourse, has failed of apprehending the animated and pro 
gressive character, in short, the very soul of the book. 

Job commences with a beautiful elegy, and closes for the 
most part each of his discourses with an allecting lamentation 
of the like kind. These may bo compared to the chorus of 
the ancient tragedy, and serve to give universality of charac 
ter and human interest to the argument of the piece. 

After Job has silenced the threo wise men, a younger pro 
phet ushers himself upon the ? cene.^I Like most inspired men 
of the same sort, he is assuming, bold, and supercilious. Ho 
discourses in a lofty style, and accumulates figurative expres 
sions without end, and to no purpose ; and hence no one 
even returns him an answer. Ho stands there as an empty 
.shadow, between the discourses of Job and the address of 
the Supreme Judge, who by his actual appearance only shewa 
his nothingness, and the shadow vanishes. His introduction 

* Chap. ixir. t Chap. xxvi. t Chap. uii. || Chap. xviii xxxi. 
$ Chnp. iii, 1 Chap, xxxii xxxvil. 


in its relation to the composition of the whole is wisely and 
instructively arranged. 

God himself appears upon the scene unexpected and with 
overpowering magnificence. He breaks in upon the prophet, 
who, without being aware of it, had described his coming, 
and treated it as an impossible event ; passes by the wise 
men, who had assumed to be his advocates, and directs his 
discourse to Job. With him too, he speaks not at first as a 
judge, but as a teacher.* He proposes problems and hard 
questions to him, who had overcome all opponents and ex 
hausted as it were all the treasures of wisdom. These relate 
tp the mysteries of creation and providence, and confound 
and put to silence the worldly wisdom even of Job himself. 

He places before him seven striking forms of the brute 
creation, and finally the monsters of the dcep,t all which, as 
the paternal author of the universe, he has created, and for 
all \\hicli, with paternal fondness, he daily provides. " Where 
fore arc these creatures hero ? They ate not for man s behoof, 
most of them are even injurious to man." With all his world 
ly wisdom, Job is put to silence and confounded. Submission 
therefore to the infinite understanding, the incomprehensible 
plan, but obvious and acknowledged goodness, of the great 
father of all, who cares for the crocodile and the raven this 
is the sohrtion of the problems concerning providence and 
destiny from the mouth of the Supreme Ruler himself, who 
utters his voice in the tempest, with the conspiring move 
ment, as it were, of the whole creation. The true theodicee 
for man is a study of the power, wisdom, and goodness of 
God in all the works of nature, and an humble acknowledg 
ment, that his understanding and his plan surpass the com 
prehension of ours. 

God does not make known even to Job, wherefore he had 
subjected him to trial. He restored him to happiness, and 
recompensed him for the injuries, which he had suffered, 

* Chap, xxxfiii. t Chap, xxxix-xli. 


and this was all that he could ask. So far, on the other 
hand, were those who had placed themselves in God s stead 
from being honoured and rewarded, that they were required 
to seek atonement by an offering from the hand of Job. 

Thus lofty and divine is the plan of the book, of which I 
have sketched only some feeble outlines. If not the produc 
tion of a sovereign prince, it is worthyjo have been so, for the 
style of its representations is princely. Through the whole book 
Cod acts as the king, as the father, as the superintendant and 
director of the wide creation. Angels and men, the raven 
and the behemoth are all equal in his sight. The finest 
descriptions of the attributes and of the government of God, 
the most persuasive grounds of consolation, and whatever 
can be said, on opposite grounds of argument, of providence 
arid human destiny are scattered throughout the book ; but 
the divincst consolation and instruction are found in the gen 
eral conception and plan of the book itself. In this view it 
is an epic representation of human nature, and a theodicee or 
justification of the moral government of God, not in words, 
but in its exhibition of events, in that working, that is without 
words. Kcce spectaculum dignum ad quod respiciat intcntua 
opcri suo Deu.s. Ecce par Deo dignum vir fortis cum male 
fortuna compositus. 

But who shall answer our enquiries respecting him, to 
whose meditations we are indebted for this ancient book, 
this justification of the ways of God to man, and sublime ex- ; 
altution of humanity, who has exhibited them too, in this ; 
silent picture, in the fortunes of an humble sull erer, clothed * 

in sackcloth and sitting in ashes, but fired with the sublime 


inspirations of his own wisdom ? Who shall point us to the. 1 ; 
grave of him, whose soul kindled with these divine concep-^ 
tions, to whom was vouchsafed such access to the counsels of\ 
God, to angels and the souls of men, who embraced in aX 
single glance the heavens and the earth, and who could send 
forth his living spirit, his poetic fire, and his human affections 

to all that exists, from the land of the shadow of death to the 
starry firmament, and beyond the stars ? No cypress, flour 
ishing in unfading green, marks the place of his rest. With 
his unuttered name he has consigned to oblivion all that was 
earthly, and, leaving his book for a memorial below, is en 
raged in a yet nobler song in that world, where the voice of 
sorrow and mourning is unheard, and where the morning 
stars sing together. 

Or if he, the patient sufferer, was here the recorder of hi? 
own sufferings, and of his own triumph, of his own wisdom 
first victorious in conflict, and then humbled in the dust, how 
blest have been his afllictions, how amply rewarded his pains! 
Here, in this book, full of imperishable thought, he still lives, 
gives utterance to the sorrows of his heart, and extends his 
triumph over centuries and continents. Not only, according 
to his wish, did he die in his nest, but a plurnix has sprung 
forth from his ashes, and from his odorous nest is diffused an 
incense, which gives and will forever give reviving energy to 
the faint and strength to the powerless. lie has drawn down 
the heavens to the earth, encamped their host invisibly around 
the bed of languishing, and made the afllictions of the suflerer 
a spectacle to angels ; has taught, that God too looks with a 
watchful eye upon his creatures, and exposes them to the trial 
of their integrity for the maintenance of his own truth, and 
the promotion of his own glory. Behold, we count them 
happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, 
and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pi 
tiful and of tender mercy.* 

James, T. 11. 


OfPurodiio. Poetical idem* of it exhibited in picture* of youth, of loo, 
and of the scenery of nature. Whether it ever had a real existence. 
Why Moses placed it in the remoteness of an enchanted land. From 
what cause also this region particularly became the scene of so many 
tales of enchantment. Of the tree of life. Beautiful peculiarity of it 
in the poetry of the Hebrews. Whether the representations of Para. 
disc tend to hold men too much under the inlluence of sense. Wheth. 
er they contribute to cherish the Oriental love of repose. Of Adam s 
conversing with the brutes. Pictures of the golden age in the peace 
ful intercourse of all animals wiih each other. Of love in Paradise, 
The same ideally represented in all songs of love. Whether Adam 
received Eve with songs and prophetick anticipations. Delicate ex. 
preBeion of the aflectiona of the sexes in these primeval traditions. 
Of the tree of knowledge. What in meant by the knowledge of good 
and evil. Why the serpent might cat of the tree, but man not. Char- 
ucter of the serpent as an artful, crafty animal, and a deceiver. Why 
men wished to be as the Eloliim. Distinction between true and false- 
wisdom. Whether the tradition of the tree of knowledge is an yEso. 
pic fable. Explanation of it as an ancient tradition. Consequences 
of eating of the forbidden tree. Change in the condition of man. 
Analogy of what is here related to our own experience. The original 
germs of various kinds of Oriental poetry contained in it. Of the 
Cherubim. Whether they were a mythological representation of the 
thunder storm in the form of horses. Of the war-chariot, in which 
God is represented in Habakkuk. Of the Cherubim in the tabernacle 
of .Moses, in the temple of Solomon, and in E/.echiel s visions. Of 
Ezechicl s Cherub on the mountain of God. Traditions of the most 
ancient fabled animals of the primitive world, who guarded the 
treasures of Paradise. Whether the Cherubim of Moses were 
Sphinxes. How from the ark of the covenant these representations 
were transferred to the clouds, and at last appeared in visions of tlio 
prophets. Their origin and composition. Of the Oriental mountains 
of God. Of the chariot of Elijah, and of the chariots of God in thfi 
wilderness. Most ancient representations of thunder. Appendir. 
Biblical poems descriptive of the Cherubim and of thunder. 

We are again together, and are fafoured 
with a delightful morning. 


ALCIPIIRON. Yes, very opportunely, and with singular ap 
propriateness to the subject of our present conversation. 
You are to carry me back, you will recollect, to the infancy 
of our raco, and so ut tho twino tiino to tlio Paradise of my 
own early years ; for in fact, the race, as a whole, in my 
apprehension, no less than the individual, has its distinct and 
successive periods of developement ; and those of tfie one 
are analogous to those of the other. Thus the morning will 
be to me one of delightful recollections. 

E. Recollections of your own youth do you mean ? 

A. It was the delight of my childhood to wander in 
those scenes of beauty and innocence, which we picture to 
ourselves in the primeval Paradise, to accompany tho patri 
archs of our race with affectionate regard, or with tears of 
regret, in the earliest events of their history. Early impres* 
sions from the poets without doubt contributed to this ; and 
indeed we have very line poets, who have given us picture;! 
of such objects. 

E. Every people has them. Among all nations, who are 
not wholly savage, a feeble echo at least is still heard re 
specting the blissful golden age of their ancestors. The 
poets, always the most uncorrupted and susceptible of im 
pressions among a people, the childicn as it were of the Mu 
ses, have seized upon these tnulitions ; the young have a 
natural fondness for them, and rej eat in their own dreams 
the pictures of happiness, which they present, while the spring 
revives the recollection of them in the minds of all, and re 
stores their original freshness as it were from year to year. 
Thus pastoral sons, poetical delineations of the good old 
times, and scenes of Paradisiacal peace and happiness have 
been multiplied, and will always remain the favourite objects 
of contemplation for the young. What indeed does man aim 
at with all his ardent wishes and longings, what can he have, 
but Paradise ? that is, beauty and repose, health and love, sim 
plicity and innocence ? 


A. But how sad to reflect, however, that most of what is 
thus represented is but a dream, or soon to become so. The 
primeval Paradise is lost, the Paradise of spring and of youth 
passes rapidly away, and we are driven out of it into the 
open field of labour, amid the summer heats of anxious toil 
and care. Wherever, too among the nations, a race may be 
found in the enjoyment of innocence, of peace and of Paradise, 
there we soon see the serpent intruding, and happiness trifled 
away through groundless and self-excited passion. Close by 
the tree of life grows always for man the wished for tree of 
that proud knowledge and understanding, of which he par 
takes at the expense of his life. Such is the fate of mortals. 

E. You are a very eloquent interpreter, I perceive, of 
those traditions, of which we are to speak, and must have felt 
deeply the refined yet natural sense, which they express, 

A. Yet there is much of which I have my doubts. Had 
Paradise ever a real existence, or is the whole a poetical tra 
dition . Moses clearly represents it as a wide extended and 
to him unknown fairy land. lie places it, too, precisely in 
those remote regions, wnere fable has placed every thing 
marvellous, including in its wide compass Colchis and Cash- 
mire with their golden streams, the Phasis and the Oxus, as 
well as the regions of the Indus and Euphrates. In this broad 
land, to which he gives the name of Eden, or the land of de 
light, he represents God as planting a garden. Where, then, 
in a country so extensive was the garden situated ? Whcro 
are the marvellous trees, which grew in it the tree of life 
and the tree of knowledge ? Have these ever come to ma 
turity ? Where are they now, and where stood the Clieiubim ? 
All this, I confess, has to me, the appearance of fable. 

E. So it should have ; and the purpose, which we arc now 
seeking to accomplish, is to distinguish between fable and 
truth, that is, between historical fact and the dress in which it 
is clothed. You have remarked correctly, that Moses, or the 
tradition copied by him, gives the situation of Paradise only 


within very wide and vague limits, and that the region in 
which it is placed, is just that fable-land, in which the nations 
of antiquity placed their finest pictures of all that is visionary 
and enchanted the golden fleece, the golden apples, the plant 
of immortality, &.c. It was the garden of their Gods and 
Genii, of their Peris and Neris, with other creatures of en 
chantment. But do not all these later marvels show, that 
there must have been some more simple tradition, and some 
real fact in primeval history, in which they had their origin ? 
There must have been some cause for the singular fact, that 
the traditions of the whole world chance to point towards 
one and tlie same region. The human race, which, so far 
as history and the progress of cultivation enables us to judge, 
has been only gradually spread over the earth, must some 
where have had a beginning ; and where more probably 
whether we look at history, or the formation of the earth s 
surface than in those very regions, to which these traditions 
direct us ? Here we find the most elevated places in the 
continent of Asia, the back-bone, as it were, of the ancient 
world. They are the most fertile, too, on which the sun 
shines. Here nature seems almost spontaneously to yield her 
agency to man, and anticipate his labour. Moreover the 
very indefiniteness, which you speak of in Moses account of 
the situation of Paradise, is an evidence of its truth. He 
would give no more than tradition had furnished. He had 
neither traversed the country, nor could have found there, had 
such ever been made, the original archives of Paradise ; so 
that what he did was all which lie had the means of doing. 
But it is not our business at present to trace historical truth. 
We may therefore leave this tradition in its original vague 
ness, and consider only to what poetical representations it 
has given rise. 

A. It has indeed been a fruitful source, a tree with many, 
branches, and adorned with flowers. For the traditional ideas 
of Paradise infuse themselves into the boldest anticipations of 


the prophets, and the tree of life still blooms in the very last 
of the books of scripture. It is thus the beginning and the 
end of Hebrew poetry. 

E. And still beautiful at the end, as in the beginning. 
How has the Paradise of Adam been ennobled by the prophets! 
They have exalted and transferred it to the times of the Mes 
siah, while the writings of the New Testament have raised it 
to still higher dignity in the representation of heaven itself. 
There blooms the tree of life, there we have placed all the 
scenes of Paradise, and seek beyond the rivers and the ocean 
the golden regions of antiquity and the islands of the blest. 
In the whole compass of Oriental poetry, even among the 
Arabians and Persians, the ideas of Paradise contain the high 
est ideal of human happiness and bliss. It is the dream of 
their love, of their youth, of their hopes, both for the present 
and even the future world a land, 

Where vain illusions shall deceive no more, 
Nor thought revive the anguish of the past; 
Where all, that is, endures, and all is bliss, 
An endless bridal and perpetual dawn. 
A land, whose streams a sweeter fragrance yield, 
And trees cast round a more substantial shade, 
That never wastes nor vanishes away. 

A. But may not such pictures have had an undue effect 
in holding men under the influence of sensuous objects ? 

E. And what pictures, either of this or of the future world, 
should the poet make, but such as are representable to sense ? 
Beyond the limits of our own fair world of sense, too, we 
know no other, whose images might be employed ; and men 
of those primeval times had no more abstract instruments of 
thought even, than the images of sense. If those, who were 
already given up to sensual indulgence, have still continued 
so, if Mohammed, in accordance with his previous propensities 
has conceived the joys of Paradise with the grossness of sensu- 


ality, the fault is in the abuse of sense, not in the thing itself. 
And yet injustice is sometimes done in this point even to the 
disciples of Mohammed. Their poets and philosophers have 
shown as much metaphysical refinement respecting their future 
Paradise, as any of the Northern nations. In general too, it 
seems to me, we must make some allowance here for the 
characteristick spirit of Eastern nations. They feel and enjoy 
more exquisitely ; why should not also their poetical expres 
sions of love, of delight, of desire, and hope, breathe the same 
spirit of refined and voluptuous enjoyment ? 

A. It seems a thing of course ; and in poetical pictures of 
innocence, or of the beauties of spring, I gladly admit it, and 
fear only, that representations of Paradise, in the same spirit, 
may too much cherish that relaxation and repose of mind, to 
which the Orientals in general are so much given. 

E. Suppose they do. I know not, since we are so well 
furnished with tusk-masters in the community, why the nation 
al poetry should be a task-master also. To me it is gratifying 
rather, that in their burning plains, wherever they meet with 
shady trees, or hear the sound of bubbling fountains and 
cooling streams, their lively imaginations picture to them the 
tranquil joys of Paradise, and that, in the poetick fervour of 
their feelings, they denominate this the land of Eden, that the 
dwelling place of repose, the strong hold of pleasure, or by 
other terms of the like kind. Would it have been better, think 
you, that like the Northern heroes they had transformed their 
Paradise into a golden banqueting hall, or had conceived 
Ilobbes representation of wild and universal war, as the 
original state of nature ? It is the office of poetry, I appre 
hend, to soften the manners of men, not to make them 
savage. All representations, which contribute to this end, 
promote their improvement. Pictures of a Paradise of inno 
cence, of love, and enjoyment in the bosom of nature have 
undoubtedly done so 

A. Have those two marvellous trees also contributed to 
the effect ? 


E. The tree of life certainly. It is, in the poetry of the 
Orientals, even in itself considered, a most agreeable and 
delightful image. Did we but know where it blooms, should 
we not all go on a pilgrimage to visit it ? Now that the fear 
of God, temperance, and wisdom are represented as a tree of 
life, which blooms for us all, should we be less excited ? Can 
we be unaffected by it, where represented, as in the last book 
of the New Testament, as the tree of immortality ? There 
it stands before us, at the end of our course and of the strife 
of our pilgrimage, in the Paradise of God. It is there to 
revive and restore the conquering but wearied soldier, to heal 
all nations with its unfading leaves, and to nourish them with 
its ever fresh and new returning fruits. When my tongue 
shall no longer be sensible to the fruits of the earth, let me 
die in the hope, which this representation inspires. 

A. And the tree of knowledge ? 

E. We will talk of that hereafter. Did it never strike you 
also, as a fine incident in the account of Paradise, that God 
brings to Adam the animals of the brute creation to see what 
he would call them ? By this living intercourse and study of 
nature, man cultivated his faculties of perception, of compar 
ison and abstraction, his reason and language. The first names 
in his dictionary were the living cries of brute animals, modifi 
ed by their relation to his organs, and to his feelings. The first 
perception, which he had of the various dispositions and 
characters of the soul, was in the brutes ; for in their looks, 
their gait, and whole mode of life, that which peculiarly 
characterizes each is distinctively, consistently, and unchang 
ingly expressed. The divinity has here exhibited before us, 
as it were, in a sportive representation, a continual .Esopick 
fable. Nor has any poetical tradition of Paradise forgotten 
moreover, to represent man here in conversation with the 
brutes. He is their king, their master, their eldest brother. 
They live at peace among themselves, and in quiet subjection 
to him. 

A. A fabulous nge truly, in a two-fold sense. 


E. At least a golden age. Listen to a single description 
of it in the language of Isaiah. 

* The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, 
The leopard shall lie down with the kid, 

The calf, the young lion, and the tailing together, 
And a little child shall lead them. 

The cow and the bc- r shall feed quietly; 
Their young ones shall lie down together, 
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 

The suckling shall play on the hole of the asp, 
The weaned child on the cockatrice s den; 
There slmll be none to hurt nor destroy 
In all my holy mountain, 
For the earth is full of the knowledge of Jehovah, 

As the waters cover the sea. 

Of such pictures as this the prophets are full, and with the 
most skilful and animating application. 

A. And the rfpicsentation of love, as it existed in Para 
dise what can you say iu praise of that ? Milton and others, 
it is true, have given very fine descriptions of it. 

E. Many others have done so besides Milton. The love 
of Paradise is the artless and primeval description of all love. 
The new and mysterious longing of the man, who finds him 
self alone, and is unable to express the want* which he feels, 
but which is responded to, as it were, from the heart of his 
paternal Creator, his sleep, his dream perhaps, the forming of 
his wife out of his own breast, out of the shield and resting 
place of his own heart, the farther particulars, that God brought 
her to him, and blessed them both, that Adam embraced her 
with the natural expression of admiration and delight, that 
both were naked, but as yet without the occasion or the 
feeling of shame all this is so delicately felt, so briefly, yet 
so beautifully expressed, that were it even a mere poetical 
representation, it is yet worthy to be the poetry of Paradise. 

* Isaiah xi. G. 


Love of this description belongs to Paradise. It is the first 
incipient waking of the heart in the beautiful visions and 
dreamy anticipations of youth. All the genuine inspirations 
and poetry of that age, indeed, are drawn from the quiet 
fountains of this garden of Eden, these feelings so full of 
simplicity and innocence. The Oriental poets moreover are 
accustomed to draw their pictures of love and youth in this 
same spirit. The Song of Solomon, for example, might seem 
to have been written in Paradise. Adam s simple expressions 
of admiration and love, " thou art my own, thou art my other 
Helf," are heard in its alternating voices from one end of it to 
the other. 

A. You do not suppose, however, that Adam himself ut 
tered the words ascribed to him, with the prophetic!; expres 
sion which they include ? 

E. Whether he did or not, the feeling, which animates 
them, was his feeling, otherwise neither tradition nor the 
writer, who recorded it, would have put the language in his 
mouth. Let him have uttered it as he would, and as he was 
able, by tones, or gestures, or perhaps by both together, it 
is that simplest, fullest, and purest emotion, which, united 
\vilh innocence and prophetick anticipation, makes up the 
whole Paradise of the heart. The developement of other 
propensities, according to this account, was the fruit of the 
forbidden tree, the step, as it were, by which they went out 
fioin Eden, and you know the consequences, which were 
brought upon the mother of our race. 

A. You have made out a rather refined analysis of the 
history of Paradise. Could it be the aim of these ancient 
traditions to explain and analyze it for us in this manner ? 

E. It is at least an incidental purpose of traditions so full 
of meaning and of sentiment as these, for the narrative is ob 
viously directed to this end. At first " they are naked and 
are not ashamed," they eat of the tree, and see their naked 
ness ; the Paternal Judge appears and makes known to them 


their future lot, plainly the state of marriuge and of family 
cares and anxieties, and the divine being himself provided 
them with clothing. The Paradise of their emotions is over, 
the scene is changed, and they are involved in the toils and 
troubles of life. 

A. This view resembles the hypothesis 

E. I beg you will mention no mere hypothesis* like that 
to which you seem to allude. Nothing is more foreign to 
the language and allegorical style of the Orientals, than this, 
and several others, which are yet more improbable and far 
fetched. The Orientals know no .allegorical dress of such 
fashion, as would make the tree of knowledge what this hy 
pothesis assumes. A fiction of this sort is but one of the 
impure inventions of our own age, unworthy of a narrative 
so ancient, of such child-like simplicity and such purity, as 
the history of Paradise. The event alluded to in .regard to 
Adam and his wife is directly spoken of, and on the other 
hand the feelings, which sprung from partaking of the tree, 
are given with truth and simplicity. They were new, but 
disturbing and disagreeable emotions, and they lied to conceal 
themselves among the trees of the garden. Their father s 
voice breaks in upon the tumult of their unquiet anticipations, 
and you know what followed, if all this was what your hy 
pothesis supposes, then we may prove that white is black. 

A. I wish you would explain your views more clearly also 
respecting the tree itself, and the instrument, by which de 
ception was produced. In doing so you are unfolding and 
explaining to me perhaps the most ancient fables and hiero 
glyphics in existence, and that too without going aside from 
our proper purpose. 

2. Whether this narrative be a fabulous and hieroglyphick 
picture, will appear hereafter ; at present let us consider it 
simply in its proper character, as an artless, child-like tradi- 

Probably that of Beverland is her* meant. 


tion. What think you was the tree of knowled ? What is 
the import of the expression ? 

A. The knowledge of good and evil means, in the lan 
guage of the East, so far as I know, prudence, discretion. 
It is commonly predicated of those years, in which a man 
comes to understanding, or it denotes one s moral judgment, 
his capacity for the exercise of this, in short, his practical un 

E. And thus, when a man comes to years of understanding, 
he knows how to distinguish what, hitherto, he has been 
learning to distinguish good and evil. If he remains true to 
his duty, and resists all temptations to the contrary, he distin 
guishes good and evil. If by a faulty step he is made to ex 
perience the fact, that the punishment of his fault immediately 
follows his not distinguishing, then he knows what is good 
and evil, but not in the most agreeable way. Here you see 
the whole history of this tree, and its true meaning. God 
forbade man the use of it, and hence he was charged with a 
specifick duty in relation to it. This was the first easy exer 
cise in the distinguishing of good and evil. All other trees 
were good, for the use of them was permitted ; this was evil, 
for it was forbidden. The serpent interpreted otherwise, and 
said " this tree is forbidden to you, because it gives the knowl 
edge of good and evil, that is, a higher knowledge. Eat of 
it ; and from being children you shall become men, from be 
ing men you shall become Elohim." This was a second and 
different meaning. Finally they ate of it and were indeed 
enlightened. They saw truly, that they had done wrong ; 
and feelings and views were awakened in them, which they 
might well have done without. These the Creator made for j 
them the occasion of new trials and duties. lie placed them : 
in a different condition, and aided them with the first neces 
sary inventions. This was a third meaning. God might now 
say, either in derision or in earnest, " Man has become aa 
one of the Elohim, he has learned to distinguish good and 


evil." Thus, as we look at the narrative in different points 
of view, we find one and the same idea, having different as 
pects, but essentially the same thing. Can any thing be more 
satisfactory, than a development of this sort, so complete and 
so simple ? 

A. It is very well in a fable, but I know not whether it 
be equally so in a history, on which so much depends. Mil 
lions of men have tasted death in the eating of this apple, and 
yet it was eaten, it seems, through a misunderstanding. 

E. The doctrinal consequences remain as they were, and 
do not concern us at present. We are treating here of a 
tradition handed down from ancient times, and from the in 
fancy of our race, which must be considered in the spirit of 
those times. Let us proceed to examine it more closely in 
this relation. It contains in fact the fundamental ideas of all 
moral poetry in the East. 

A. If so much depends upon it, I would very gladly do so. 

E. In the first place, then, the man had obligations of du 
ty to discharge ; the brute which probably ate of the tree, 
and by his example (the most powerful language) excited the 
man to eat, had none. For the brute to eat was no sin, for 
man it was otherwise. Do you observe the distinction ? 

A. It occurs to me also, that the Orientals divide created 
beings into those, which are free, and those which have obli 
gations of duty. The first includes all brutes, since they 
have no command given them ; man alone is bound by com 
mands and a law of duty. 

E. This distinction throws light upon the whole matter. 
The serpent acted in simple accordance with its nature, 
when it ate of the tree ; the man when he would eat of it, and 
follow the example of the brute, neglecting the dictates of 
reason, acted in violation of his duty. Do you remember 
what was said of Adam s intercourse with the* brutes ? 

A. He learned from them, and made nse of their example. 
On this occasion too he learned a lesson of evil. 


. And what sort of animal did God employ as the ac 
cidental cause of the first aberration of his reason, of hia 
faculties of perception and imitation ? Could he have used 
a more fit one ? The character of the serpent is that of sub- 
tilty and craft. Here he acts and speaks in accordance with 
it, and is afterwards exhibited in the same character. He is 
the symbol and receives the reward of a deceiver and seducer. 

A. The history I perceive assumes a new character. 
Would that it were a fable ! It would indeed be a beautiful 

E. In regard to its outward form and colouring, it should 
always be considered as such. It was a fable, but one rep 
resented in outward act. Without doubt you are acquainted 
with numerous traits in the fables of yEsop and Lockman, 
which resemble our account here of the serpent s character, 
and the curse inflicted upon him. 

A. Yes, the fables and traditions of the East are full of 
them. They ascribe to the serpent manifold art and wisdom, 
the art, for example, which men have so much sought after, 
of becoming young again, and restoring their sigh* in old 
age, that also of hiding themselves in danger with great 
skill, especially the head, in which their power and life are 
concentrated. It is said too, they possess the secrets of na 
ture, and are actuated by a spirit. I have read many marvel 
lous tales how seipcnts heal the sick, understand the voice of 
the charmer, and stop their cars against disagreeable words 
of enchantment ; how they listen to inusick, and follow the 
voice of their priests, indeed a multitude of traditions, of 
which one scarcely knows what to think, or how far to credit 

E. Many of them may only exhibit the natural history of 
the animal, of which our knowledge is too limited ; others 
are derived fipm fragments of this primeval tradition, to 
which more and more of the marvellous and incredible lias 
been continually adhering. These marvels have at length 


become the belief of the common people, and contribute very 
serviceably to the inventions of the poet, and to the self-inter 
ested craft and deception of the magician and the priest. But 
enough for us. Throughout the East, the serpent is celebra 
ted as a knowing, crafty brute ; and we need not prove, that 
it is a base and noxious one. Observe now with what cor 
rectness all these traits are brought out in this narrative. At 
first, he appears as a knowing, and showy, or glistening animal; 
afterwards, as a base deceiver, creeping slyly upon the earth, 
and aiming his blow at the heel. At first he eats the food 
of the Cods, knows the secret powers of nature, and has fel 
lowship with the Elohim ; afterwards he creeps upon his 
belly, and is condemned to eat the dust of the earth. So far 
is he from being immortal, that man has power to bruise his 
head, while he can only repay it with a blow upon the heel. 
At first, a friend of Eve, whom he wishes to make a Goddess ; 
then, an enemy of her and her children, so that the mother 
of serpents is treated, as it were, as the proper enemy of her 
whole race. Can you conceive a more instructive contrast 
in one animal ? A base worm ! and shall it aspire to teach 
man who is formed in the image of God ? The folly of man in 
imitating so. degraded a being is placed in the strongest light. 

A. Immediately after the fact also, the man sees his ser 
pent-seducer as he is involved in the curse, which is here 
pronounced upon him. The story is finely turned ; and if 
the facts related ever happened, the man could not have had 
a more instructive apologue. The tree, the serpent, the ac 
tion are the teachers here, and the words only express what 
alas ! experience too clearly taught. From this view I can 
perceive the errour of those, who have puzzled their brains to 
determine whether the serpent had feet before this, or a hu 
man understanding to perceive the import of the curse, &c. 

E. The Rabbins have still more mischievous conceits ; 
but let us not disturb these people, for we have still many 
traits of this instructive picture to bring out. The serpent 


was, by means of the tree, to open the man s eyes, and to 
give him the clear-sightedness and wisdom of the Elohira. 
Why was this ? Why betray man with this hope in particu 
lar ? Do you remember what we have before said of the 
Elohim ? 

A. I understand, I believe, to what you refer. By the Elo 
him you suppose to be meant those beings, who, more 
knowing than men, with open vision look upon the secrets 
of nature, and, as it were, behind the curtain, listen to the 
working of its hidden powers. 

E. The existence of such powers of knowledge is a wide 
spread faith among the Orientals, who strive after this mys 
terious knowledge of nature, as we once did after the phi 
losopher s stone. It is incredible what stories and fables 
respecting this hidden wisdom have been handed down from 
the highest antiquity. Here it grows upon a particular tree, 
now it is concealed in a figure, a seal, a talisman ; then the 
fowls of heaven prate of it, but for the most part it is 
spirits, Genii, who feed on the fragrance of the flowers, with 
tliis food of the Gods partake also the knowledge of the Gods, 
and here and there especially under compulsion impart 
their wisdom to individual men. The moral instruction of 
the Orientals also has taken a very peculiar direction in pre 
cepts and poetical fictions associated with these traditions. 

A. Even their precepts also ? 

E. They always warn men to shun forbidden arts, and care 
fully to distinguish this false and hurtlil knowledge from the 
true, the sole and simple wisdom. 1 could adduce for you 
here a multitude of sayings, in which the fear of God, and the 
fear of demons, obedience to God, and fleeing before the en 
chantments of false knowledge, are placed in opposition to 
each other. That is the tree of life, this the forbidden tree 
of a false and depraving knowledge. But let us return to our 
history. Is it not such, or do you prefer to consider it a fa 
ble ? 

A. I cannot dcnv that I do. 


E. I would like to see then with how much consequent- 
ness you can connect together in it the causes with their 
effects. For it is the essence of a fable, that it be a consis 
tent whole, and that what is represented in act be represented 
in a manner picturable to the sense. Take the tree, then, 
in any one of the senses, which the language admits, and 
there still remain superfluous and irreconcilable traits. It is 
a tree, to which, as God declared, either obedience or death 
was attached ; yet death did not follow, but rather effects of 
a different kind not included in the threatening. If we at 
tach knowledge to the tree under the same notion of knowl 
edge which the serpent held out, to make the fable consistent, 
we must admit the language of God to be untrue ; for to 
some extent at least, the promise of the serpent seems to have 
come to pass. Their eyes were in fact opened, and they 
became, as God himself declares, like the Elohim. Why 
then had he forbidden them the tree ? And why does this 
newly acquired knowledge, like that of the Elohim, bring 
after it thorns and thistles, agriculture and the pains of child 
birth ? \Vliy too must these new Elohim go out of Paradise ? 
It would rather seem, that they ought to remain with their 
brethren the Elohim. Are we to suppose then, that God in 
reality feared, as they had tasted of the tree of knowledge, 
they might also eat of the tree of life, and become immortal, 
as they had become knowing, against his will ? Your fable 
needs a defender. 

A. I leave that for you. 

E. That I cannot become, so long as it must be consid 
ered a fable. But suppose it to be a tradition, a narrative of 
an instructive history, the facts of which actually took place 
with the parents of the human race, and every thing follows 
naturally. Begin the explanation where we left it, " they 
were naked and were not ashamed ;" could men continue in 
this state ? 

A. Some enthusiasts say so. They hold that Eve would 
not have conceived and borue children as women now do ; 


that this is the wages of sin, and an equivalent for the pun 
ishment of death. 

E. So Eve was not formed, as women of the present day 
are ; for in their formation they are designed to become 
mothers ; and the first blessing pronounced expressly shows, 
that men were formed with the intention that they should 
people the earth. The earth also is fitted to be the habitation g 
of men, and the sweat of the brow belongs to the cultivation 
of the earth, as necessarily as pain tochildbearing. In short, 
till the authors, to whom you refer, show us another earth, 
and another humanity, than we are acquainted with, and than 
that to which the blessing at the creation of our race obviously 
had reference, we may leave them to dream of Adam s glass 
body, and a Paradise under the North pole. We have said too 
much of them already. 

A. You suppose then, that God actually created man for 
the condition, in which we now find him ? 

E. And who else should have formed him for it ? The 
Devil, the enemy of man, surely did not, and God, who formed 
him out of the dust, necessarily foresaw the development, 
which tool; place. He weighed the dust in his hand, and knew 
what would come out of it ; he measured the powers of his 
soul, and knew every errour of which it was susceptible. 
In truth, if we deny this, we make ourselves unworthy of our 
reason, of our humanity, and of our earth. No philosophy is 
more odious to me, than that which employs every art to put 
out a man s eyes, in order that he may not know himself. The 
poetry of the Hebrews, indeed the philosophy of both Testa 
ments, knows nothing of this sublime nonsense. In none of 
the Psalms, or of the prophets, is this history introduced in 
such a sense, and that shown from it, which this pseudo-phi 
losophy would have it show. Adam, says the scripture, sinned 
first, and we all sin as he did ; we must therefore die also, as 
lie die.]. As Eve was betrayed, so we arc betrayed, and 
estranged from our Bimplicity^-this the scripture affirms, but 
not that so soon as he sinned he lost his humanity, and suffer- 


ed foi himself and his posterity ten thousand actus and raptus, 
new powers introduced, and former ones taken away, in his 
understanding and will, his senses and all his members. 
What he did suffer is here plainly described. 

A. What then was it, and how did it follow from the 
prohibition and the tree in question ? 

E. Admit the supposition, that it was a noxious but not a 
deadly tree, of which God had warned them not to eat. We 
may then conclude, that God denominated the effect of it 
death, partly as opposed to that of the tree of life, and partly 
as the severest threatening, by which he could restrain man 
from the use of it. In the mean time, He who knoweth the 
bounds of all things, foresaw this aberration from duty, and, 
since it would have been inconsistent with his wisdom to 
create a human race to no other end but to perish in the first 
moment of existence, he placed in the way, and as the occa 
sion of his disobedience, a tree which, in the plan contem 
plated for humanity, both answered a present purpose, and 
must serve alter a sort to introduce his subsequent condition. 

A. I do not understand you. 

E. The fruit of the tree inflamed his appetites, gave an 
impulse to his blood, placed him in a state of fear and 
unquietness, of terrour and astonishment. This state of his 
feelings the Creator made use of, and pointed out to his children 
the consequences of their first transgression, to themselves and 
their seducer. This latter he made an object of abhorrence 
to them, and even from their present feelings, before inexpe 
rienced, predicted for themselves in future, new scenes of life. 
The maid of Paradise must hereafter become a mother ; she, 
who had hitherto been the betrothed bride of Adam, was to 
become Eve, the housewife, the ministering attendant of the 
living beings, who by her should be born into the light of the 
world. The quiet dweller in Paradise, who had spent only 
the first period of his youth in this nursery of his earliest 
development, had now more toilsome labours before him, 


which yet belonged also to his proper destiny ; and finally the 
painful word death, was announced, and for this fate also he 
was prepared in the tenderest manner. In short, his first 
errour was made under a paternal guidance, to promote the 
progress of his being ; the punishment, which God inflicted, 
was the chastisement of a father, a blessing in disguise. The 
household door must be opened for man, and his own fault 
must be the occasion of opening it. 

A. What a new aspect does the history in this view of it 
assume. Now the whole of it interprets itself, and no feature 
of it is useless ; even in the tone of the punishment inflicted, 
all is fatherly and forbearing ; it is a progressive history of 
humanity. The father permits his child to fail in his weakest 
point, to break for itself the apple of future cares and discords, 
and to owe it to itself, that it is no longer in Paradise, in which 
it could not and should not always continue. The man has, 
by his own arbitrary and self-willed conduct, turned himself 
out of his father s house ; he must now be his own master, 
and his own provider. 

E. Do you see nothing more in this history, no analogy 
with our present condition ? 

, A. A continued analogy. Our life also passes through 
the same conditions. We too sin like Adam, and like him are 
I punished, that is, brought into a state of greater hardships, but 
{ yet a necessary one. 

E. Can you draw no conclusion from it with regard to the 
proper nature of evil ? 

A. That it consists primarily in a deviation from truth 
and simplicity of heart, through alien, indefensible and delu 
sive principles of action. The commandment is always at 
hand, the law is ever present, either in us or without us, in our 
consciousness and conscience, or in a positive obligation of 
outward duty. The serpent, which seduces us, too, is always 
there, and always tempting the inclinations of the senses and 
of our sensual nature, the false representations and illusive 


promises of the too confident and proud. understanding, or ell 
these together. The consequences of transgression, too, are 
ever the same ; and I trust in God, that the chastisements also, 
which he awards to each of his erring creatures, will prove to 
be paternal favours, dispensations of Providence for our best 
good, though for the present not joyous but grievous. 

E. Here we see human nature, in its general character, 
and in its various relations, just as the poetry of the Orientals 
in later times has represented it. At first we have nature, 
Paradise, love, innocence, a kingdom of beasts, in short every 
thing with which the fancy of youth so delights to occupy 
itself; in the midst stands the tree, by which man s obedience 
was to be tried, and to which, in the moral poetry of the East, 
every thing is referred ; and from the eating of its fruit com 
mence those evils, which are lamented in such touching 
elegies in Job and in the Psalms, toil, bondage, sickness and 
death. 1 might indeed denominate this short chapter an en- 
cyelopa dia of humanity, and wish in vain, that 1 were able 
to set forth, in poetry or proso, its every condition and re 
lation in a manner as free and natural, as that with which it 
is unfolded in this simple narrative. The fables of Prome 
theus and Pandora are poor in comparison. But one object 
in this history yet remains, and a very poetical one. 

A. The Cherubim with the flaming sword ? That I sup 
pose means the steeds of the tempest, the horses of the 

E. The horses of the thunderer ? and at so early a period ? 
How improbable a representation must it have been in a 
tradition of those primeval times ! a tradition, too, that pic 
tures every thing else so entirely correspondent to those 

* The view of the Cherubim, here referred to and controverted, was 
maintained about the middle of the last century, by J. 1). Michaelis, in a 
dissertation, de Cherubis equia tonantibus, and at the time, when this 
work was written, was thought more worthy of attention, than it would 
be now. TR. 


times. Did Adam know any thing of these horses ? What 
meaning would they have for him, and how came he by such 
an image ? And moreover what have they to do here ? 
Tempest-steeds with a flaming sword to keep the way of the 
tree of life ! 

A. You do indeed make me somewhat at a loss. Yet 
such is the image expressed by the Cherubim throughout the 
poetry of the Hebrews. 

E. I know not a single passage, which gives even plau 
sibility to it. In one of the later prophets* God is represent 
ed with horses, but these are by no means the Cherubim. 
There he is described with a war-chariot, to which indeed 
horses are properly attached, but in this image he is not 
represented as thundering. lie stands upon his war-chariot, 
and measures out the land to the Israelites ; before him goes 
the pestilence, and birds of prey are flying to his feet. He 
beholds and drives asunder the nations, and a panick fear 
falls upon the tents of the land of Midian. Now he draws 
his bow and shoots forth his arrows, he smites and dashes in 
pieces his enemies ; in short, he wields the whole armoury 
of ancient warfare. lie returns in rnajestick array ; and his 
horses go, as they came, before his triumphant car, through 
the sea, through the heaps of great waters. Is this the same 
image with the other, and does he here speak of the Cheru 

A. But the Greeks gave his chariot and horses to Jupiter, 
the thunderer, and Virgil has beautiful representations of the 

E. Is Jupiter Jehovah ? Are the Greeks Hebrews ? Is 
Virgil a Hebrew poet ? The Peruvians represent thunder 
as the shattering of a vessel, which the fair Goddess of rain 
holds in her hand. Her brother comes and dashes it in 
pieces, then it thunders, and the rain pours down. Such is 

Hab. iii. 8. 


the mythology of the Peruvians, but what would*be the effect 
of attempting by the aid of this to interpret the poetry of the 
Hebrews ? Do we then know nothing of the Cherubim from 
the language of the Hebrew poets themselves ? Are they 
not distinctly represented to us as works of art ? 

A. Let us go through an examination of the passages ; 
and first of the form, in which they are represented standing 
over the ark of the covenant.* 

E. There they have wings and faces, look down upon 
the covering of the ark, and overshadow the mercy-seat. 
This is neither the figure nor the position of your thunder- 
bearing steeds. And probably in the same figure, in which 
they stood here, they were also wrought in the tapestry or 
carved on the walls. In Solomon s temple they stood in the 
same form, only more large and magnificent. The descrip 
tion is wholly a repetition of the same.j 

A. But after all there is not much described in it, for 
how many different forms might agree in having faces and 
wings ? 

E. Look then at the temple of Ezechiel.| In his de 
scription the Cherubim have the heads of a man and of a 
lion, without any conception of the form of a horse. To the 
same prophet the Cherubim appeared in the clouds. || One 
Cherub stretches forth his hand, and it is a man s hand, which 
takes the fire from the altar. The countenance appears, and 
by the comparison and distinction n.ade, its form becomes 
obvious. Each of the creatures has four faces, those of an 
ox, of a man, of a lion, and of an eagle, according to the 
side from which they were seen. These four faces John saw 
also, only not all on the same animal. Therefore 

A. What then do you infer from the form ? 

E. Two inferences follow from it beyond dispute. First, 
that the Cherubim are a compound of several distinct ani- 

Ex. xxv. 17. 18. xxxvi. 8. 35. 1 1 Ki. vi. 23. 2 Chr. iii. 7. 
t Ezech. xli. 18. H Ezech. i. 10. x. 14. 


male, and second, that among these the figure of the horse is 
not found at all. 

A. Is there no other passage ? 

E. One more, and that a decisive one in regard to the 
present question. The proud king of Tyre is called by 
Ezechiel* a Cherub, who dwells in Eden, in the garden of 
the Elohim, upon the holy mountain, and walks up and down 
in the midst of the stones of fire. This is employed as the 
highest representation of his might, and of his proud mag. 
nificence. All the splendour of precious stones is employed 
for his ornament, and the day of his creation is a day of re 
joicing. He appears as a creature exalted and perfect in his 
ways. Now we know what forms of the brute creation were 
employed in the primeval world, and especially, l>y the Ori 
entals of these regions, as symbols of magnificence and 
pride precisely those four, which are included in the com 
position of the Cherubim, the lion, the ox, the man, and the 
eagle. The proverb of the Hebrews respecting them is well 
known. " There are four creatures of statelincss and pride 
in the world, the lion among the wild beasts, the ox among 
the tame, the eagle among birds, and man above all." 

A. But it seems to me, that this proverb does not decide 
with certainty for those earliest times ; for the composition of 
the Cherubim does not appear to include uniformly the same 

E. As all forms of art, especially when used for embellish 
ment, vary in some degree with the times; yet the spirit of 
the composition is not to be mistaken. Ezechiel places his 
king of Tyre, where the most ancient cherubim stood, on the 
holy mountain of God in Paradise, and gives him a form and 
character of splendour, of wisdom, and over-awing magnifi 
cence. He derived this impression probably from his actual 
appearance, and very naturally employed, to express it, the 
image of the Cherubim, which, on account of their fearful 

* Ezech. xxviii. 14. See Appendix II. 


and awe-inspiring forms, were placed to keep the way of the 
tree of life. It seems to me, that this description of Ezechiel, 
in connexion with the other traditions of the Orientals, gives 
us so distinct a conception of these shapes of wonder, that 
we may venture to leave out of view altogether the represen 
tation which you suggested. 

A. To what other traditions do you allude ? 

F. Do you know of no other fabled form of the brute 
creation, that lived upon the mountains of the primeval world, 
in the very region in which our account places Paradise, and 
guarded there the treasures of the past? 

A. The dragons and griffins of antiquity guarded treasures 
of gold or golden apples, 

E. That was a tradition of a later period, or more Northern 
tribes. The Orientals have a winged animal that dwells 
upon the mountain Kaf, and had many a war with the giants 
of the olden time. It is a creature, they say, of reason and 
religion, speaks all the languages of the world, has the wisdom 
of the sphinx, the artifice of the grillin, and guards the way 
to the treasures of Paradise. It is a prodigy among the works 
of God, a creature not to be overreached by craft, nor to be 
overcome by power. The sphinx of the Egyptians, the dragon 
of the Greeks, and the grill m of the Northern mythology, 
are all of one and the same composition, modified only by 
differences of age and country. In tracing the history of 
these, you will see the later fables, and marvellous tales of 
the guardians of the tree of immortality at the gates of 
Paradise, the dazzling forms of terrifick grandeur upon the 
holy mountains, with the flaming sword which turns every way, 
just as E/echicl has described the Cherub. Every nation has 
retained the same in poetry and traditions, added to it from 
time to time, and modified it by its own fictions. For us it 
will be sufficient to trace the history of the Cherubim in the 
poetry of the Hebrews. At first they appear here as a guard 
with a flaming sword (not as destroyers to lay waste Paradise, 


aa some have i ancied in contradiction to the literal sense). 
They appear again in the tabernacle made by Moses, who, 
perhaps because he discovered a resemblance between them 
and the sphinx, placed them after the Egyptian form upontho 
ark of the covenant. From the ark of the covenant they 
were transferred to the clouds ; for since the divine glory 
descended upon them there, they must be placed as its support 
ers here also. It thus became a peculiar poetick image of 
the Hebrews, and at last appeared in the visions of the prophets. 
The transfer of the Cherub, which was originally a work 
of art upon the ark of the covenant, to the clouds, as a crea 
ture bearing up the throne of Jehovah, was indeed very 
naturally suggested by the expression, " Cod enthroned upon 
the Cherubim," which occurs, as a designation of the Divine 
Majesty, even in the books of Samuel.* So soon as it had 
been applied to the representation of God in the clouds, the 
imagination of the poet had full scope for employing it in its 
pictures of celestial objects, and David seems to have been 
the first, who availed himself of the image.! Vet so far is 
the Cherub, as employed by David in describing a thunder 
storm, from suggesting the tempest-steed, that even had some 
ground existed in other passages, it must have been excluded 
from this. David s Cherub is a winged animal, upon which 
(iod flies, and corresponds in the parallelism with the wings 
of the wind, while the thunder and lightning are described 
by their own proper imagery. Kvcn in the age of lsaiah,| 
Cod who sitteth upon the Cherubim, is no more than the old 
Mosaick representation, which occurs in the books of Samuel 
and the Psalms. When Cod appeared to him, there were no 
Cherubim in the form of his It was not till 
later times, and out of Juda:a, among the captives by the river 
Chebar, that the old poetick image came to appear in prophet- 

* 1 Sam. iv. 4. 2 Sam. vi 2. t Ps. xviii. 11. (Appendix III.) 
} Isa. xxxvii. 16. II Isa. vi. 1 8. 


ick visions ; and here the Cherubim are seen in their fullest 
splendour.* It was however no thunderer s car which they 
bore, and much less drew after them. They bore up the throne 
of divine majesty, and above them was as it were sapphire, that, 
is, the clear and luminous heavens. Like the rainbow in the 
clouds, so was the appearance of the brightness round about, 
tranquillity, majesty, and grandeur in their most impressive- 
form, but certainly no picture of a thunder storm. 

A. The Cherubim, then, according to your theory, had 
three distinct periods, as works of art in the temple, as repre 
sented in the clouds, and as seen in the visions of tlie prophets. 

E. To these you may add also that of their mythological 
representation in the tradition of Paradise, for this was the 
original ground of all. Had they not been exhibited in this 
tradition, Moses would not have placed them upon the ark of 
the covenant, and so they would not have been transferred to 
the clouds, nor finally have appeared in prophetick vision. You 
will readily see moreover how, in the course of these changes 
in the mode of its use, the image itself must also experience 
a change. In the most ancient tradition it was a creature 
inspiring wonder and awe, in the tabernacle a lifeless work of 
art, in the Psalms a poetick image, and finally in the prophet 
ick visions a ^wov, a celestial creature, the bearer up of the 
divine majesty. The dill erence of use, and the distinct sphere 
of each, Ezechiel himself gives. In the heavens he describes 
their forms, as living and majestick, with their four marvellous 
faces ; in his temple he leaves them only two of these, either 
because he would not represent a human countenance in (he 
temple, in order to avoid idolatry, or because he doubted 
respecting the skill of the artificers. In the tabernacle of 
Moses both circumstances were combined, and the form in 
which the Cherubim were there represented, was undoubted 
ly very simple. 

* Ezech, i and x. 


A. The conception of the Cherubim, then, as we learn 
from these views, was, in its leading character, that of a 
creature of marvellous and supernatural form, a compound of 
several distinct animals. 

E. That is undeniable. It appears also, from the de 
scription of their form, which Josephus gives as traditionary, 
that the Cherubim were winded animals (wa) of a form, to 
which nothing seen by human eyes had any resemblance, a 
fabulous compound of the majeatick, the terrible, the power 
ful and the marvellous. Undoubtedly within its own limits, 
embracing as it did, in its elements, the four proudest forms 
of earth and air, the eagle, the ox, the lion, and man, it va- 
licd, according as the poet intioduced it in his imagery, or 
art could mould it into its own shapes. The Arubick tradi 
tions also mention respecting the Cherubim of the ark, that 
they weie a winged being in human form, with a look, which 
was dazzling like a llame of lire, and in time of war sent a 
tempestuous wind upon the enemy a fable, the ground of 
which we may find in Biblical history. 

A. lint how do you account for the origin of the first and 
most ancient mythology of the Cherubim at the gates of Par 
adise ? 

E. Of this also the same universal tradition gives a very 
probable explanation. That these Cherubim weie stationed 
to keep the way to the tree of life, to the garden of tho 
Hesperidcs, is the unanimous report. That the Cherub of 
the Orientals had his station upon a mountain, and walked 
up and down in the midst of the stones office, is the testimo 
ny of K/cchiel, and is confirmed by traditions, which prevail 
throughout the East. They all assign him his place upon a 
mountain of farther Asia, behind which lies Paradise, proba 
bly in the same region in which Moses has placed his also. 
Do you know of no other mythology which speaks of a moun 
tain of God ? 

A. I know of none. 

E. It is known and familiar to all the Eastern nations 


from Thibet to the Red Sea, a mountain on which dwell the 
Gods, the Lahi, the Elohim, the Demons and happy men, and 
which some few traditions, that have found their way into 
Hebrew poetry, place toward the North. Who was the king, 
that in the ironical representation of Isaiah says, 

I will ascend up into heaven, 
Above the stars of God will I exalt my throne | 
I will sit upon the mount of the congregation, 
Upon the heights of the North ? 

This mythology could not have originated with the. Hebrews, 
since they have Sinai and Zion, for their holy mountains ; 
and you know, with how much zejl Isaiah exalts his holy 
mount Zion above all the mountains of the earth. But in 
the discourse of Elihu* God comes also from the North in 
golden splendour. He breaks f^ rth from his holy congrega 
tion, or assemblage of Gods, as he did to the Israelites from 
Mount Hiimi. Perhaps this mountain of the North was the 
same mount of the Cherubim, on which the King of Tyre in 
Ezechiel walked up and down before the garden of God, and 
in the midst of the stones of fire. 

A. And how did the notion of Cherubim upon this daz 
zling mountain originate ? 

E. Jt was at first undoubtedly, as simple as the tradition 
of Paradise itself. Men were banished from it, and a lofty 
mountain-range lay probably between them and the happy 
residence of their childhood. This too, abounded perhaps in 
wild animals, of which the adventurous wanderers, who would 
have searched out the way thither, brought back marvellous 
and frightful talcs. Above, upon the mountain, hung the 
thunder-clouds, or it may be the mountain sent forth volcanick 
flame. These, mingling in the .tale of the wanderer, would 
naturally enough be combined, and thus form the fabulous 

* This will be understood by referring to the author s interpretation of 
Job, Chap, xxxvii. 22, as given in the fourth dialogue p. 87. TV. 


animal, with a flaming sword, which turned every way, a 
compound of many phantoms. Or it may be, that, when the 
first men were compelled to go out from Paradise, and cast 
a look behind them, they beheld flames shooting here and 
there, with other dazzling meteorick sights, and wild forms of 
the brute creation, and thus received an impression, which 
they transmitted, and which afterwards, from seeing tho 
mountain and from the tales of travellers, of adventurers, and 
poets, shaped itself to a creature of strange and marvellous 
form. But be that as it may, there is at least no ground for 
the fiction, that the Cherubim carried man from Paradise, as 
poets and painters have sung and pictured it. God himself 
removed them out of the garden, and the Cherubim came as 
its guardians. 

A. But was not Elijah taken up to heaven by a chariot 
and horses of fire ? 

E. That too was a war-chariot, a triumphal car, not a 
mythological thunder-car, much less a Cherub. So Klisha 
understood it, who witnessed the phenomenon. The import 
of his exclamation was, " Thou hast been the champion of 
Isiael, his chariot and horse ; therefore also heroick and war 
like is thy ascent, an.l as a conqueror dost thou appear in 
the heavens." So when the chariots of God are said to bo 
thousands of thousands, the image is taken from war and 
triumphal chariots, as the whole Psalm shows. God came 
forth from Sinai to go before Israel, and to conquer the land ; 
the mountains tremble, kings flee before him. lie divides 
the spoil, and soars aloft with his chariots ; he carries his 
captives away in triumph, and distributes his gifts. It is 
the same representation, which -we saw in the imagery of 
Habakkuk, and which, in describing the conquest of the land 
of Israel, is set forth in the finest songs of triumph. 

A. But \\ hat other image do you give me, as a represent 
ation of th< Hider ? 

E. Tl., e of a reproving father. This image still 

presents it.- to the minds of all children, and is found in 


the simple history itself, in which the thunder-hones have 
been sought. " They heard the voice of Jehovah walking in 
the garden in the cool of the day." Nothing is more proba 
ble, than that this voice was the sound of thunder, and that 
by this expression the image was introduced and continued 
in the poetry of the Hebrews. And if so would it not be 
unreasonable to suppose that an image, so accordant in its 
primeval simplicity and artlessness with the child-like and 
artless character of the narrative, and one so complex, bear 
ing the artificial character of a later age, were used with 
reference to one and the same thing ? I have now exhibited 
to you, I believe, the history of the Cherubim, in its origin 
and progress, and with adequate proof; and that is all that 
can be expected with regard to a mythological conception in 
poetry so ancient. Read and compare, and you will no longer 
have any doubts on the subject.* We see in them mysterious 
and incomprehensible creatures, of superhuman wisdom and 
majestick form, bearing up the canopy, on which rested the 
throne of the Most High ; and by whom could this be more 
appropriately sustained, than by the symbols of all that is 
sublime and awe-inspiring on the earth, combined with an 
idea of the inconceivable and unapproachable, of profound 
knowledge, and unuttered wisdom. 


Ezcchicl s Vision of God enthroned above the Cherubim. 

I looked, and lo ! a whirlwind from the Northt 
Came sweeping onward, a vast cloud, that rolled 
Its volumes, charged with gleaming fire, along, 
And cast its dazzling splendours all around. 
Now from within shone forth, what seemed the glow 

* See Appendix I. 

t Here too, as in Job. xxxvii, 22. the vision of God comes from the North 
and probably also from the mountains of the Gods. Isa. xiv. 14. Ezech. 
xxTiii. 14. Again in the vision of Zechariah vi. 1 8 the horses, which 
have gone to and fro through the earth, go towards the North as their 
place of rest. 


Of gold and silver,* molten in the flame, 
And in the midst thereof the form expressed, 
As of a four-fold living thing a Bhape,t . 

That yet contained the semblance of a man. 
With four.fold visage each, and each four wings, 
On upright limbs and cloven feet they stood, t 
And shone with splendour as of burnished brass. 
Withdrawn beneath their wings, on every side 
Were human hands, for each four-sided seemed, 
And four.fold had their faces and their wings. 
Then, wing to wing, and each to each close joined, 
They turned not in their going, but went forth, 
Advancing each with look and course unchanged. fl 

Properly an amber-coloured metul, compounded of the two, ofpecn, 
liar brilliancy, and highly valued in ancient times, but for which we have 
no name. TR. 

t In this view I have adhered strictly to the sense of Herder, who mi. 
derstands the whole as one living creature. See E/ech. x. 15. 20. and 
Geaenius Lexicon. TH. 

t In the form of the Cherubim, particularly in its having the cloven 
feet of the ox, we cannot but recognize a resemblance to the spiling, 
though this latter was modified in accordance with the forms of Egyp. 
tian mythology and art. 

|| An image of the omnipresence of the throno of God, and of the un. 
returning progress of his working throughout the natural world. [It 
could not of course be understood from this, that each face, or even each 
of the four-fold forms of the living creature, went forward by itself, in 
such a way as to separate the one from the other ; nor that there was no 
change of direr-tion in the motion of the whole. The whole obviously 
moved as one, and below they are described as going and returning, 
The meaning then must be, that each several face looked constantly in 
the same direction, and when it advanced moved in a direct line without 
turning. In the lines following that, to which this note is attached, I 
have exhibited the direction of the different faces more distinctively per. 
haps, than the author intended to do. My conception of the matter is, 
that, as the whole approached him from the North, the human face, in 
each of the four.fold forms, was directed towards the prophet, those of 
the lion and ox, to the right and left, and the eagle s backward, or to* 
wardi the North. Thus the four human faces looked to the South, thow 
of the lion to the East, and ao of the others, being directed to the four 


In all the four.fold risaged four wai seen 
The fac of man; the right a lion, and an ox* 
The left distinguished, and to all the four 
Belonged an eagle s visage. By itself 
Distinct, their faces and their wings they each 
Extended upward, joining thus, it seemed, 
Two wings for flight, while two their bodies veiled.f 
With course direct, ond forward each advanced, 
Whither the spirit moved they went, nor ever turned. 

.The several living forms, like glowing coals 
Appeared. What seemed the flame of torches played 
Between them, and the dazzling light of fire. 
From out the fire went gleaming lightnings forth; 
And quick, as lightnings flush, the living forms 
Were here and there, went forth and Luck returned.t 

Cardinal points, and those of the same kind always to the same point, 
whether in motion or at rest. When therefore the whole moved in the 
direction of the human face, it went South without turning or changing 
its direction ; but when the whole went North, or in the direction of the 
eagle s face, the human must necessarily move backwards, and so of 
the others, but each always looked in the same direction, or to the same 
cardinal point, and went (brwurd in no other. This view seems to me 
to agree with the original of the tenth verso, and with the whole descrip. 
tion in this chapter ; and though in Ezech. x. 11. the face of a Cherub 
(see the following note) is named as the first, it scerns probable at least 
from the context, that the whole was seen in a different direction, or to 
wards the East. Tn.] 

* What the prophet here calls the face of an ox, in Chap.x. 14. he 
calls the face of a Cherub ; and it was perhaps commonly considered as 
peculiarly such, from the fact, that the form of the ox was the predom 
inant one in the wholo composition, as the aspect of the sphinx shows. 

t This veiling of their bodiep, us appears from the vision of Isaiah, 
Chap. vi. 2. was a symbol of their unworthiness to serve the Lord of 

t I have omitted here the description of the wheels beneath tho throne, 
as indeed they are not found in the description of John, Rev. iv. They 
aervo however to show, that the Cherubim did not draw the throne of 
(he Divine Majesty, as horses harnessed before it, but bore it up at 


Aboro tkeir heads, higk orer.arching, seemed 

An azure firmament outspread, like clear 

Transparent crystal, that inspired with awe. 

Approaching near the firmament, their wings, 

Extending wing to wing, were upward spread. 

With two they bore themselves aloft, with two 

They veiled their bodies round. And as they went, 

I heard the rushing sound of wings, like rush 

Of mighty waters, or the distant sound 

Of thunder, the dread voice of Shaddai.* 

They went with sound of tumult, like an host, 

And when they stopped, they closed again their wings, 

For when, from the o er-arching firmament 

Above a voice was uttered forth, they stood 

With wings depending, and close veiled around. 

And high upraised above the firmament 

There seemed the sapphire splendour of a throne, 

And on the throne there sat, what seemed the form 

Of man. It shone with amber glow of gold 

And silver intermixed, as burning fire. 

Botli inward and without, and from the loins 

Above and underneath it seemed like fire, 

And shone with radiant lustre all around. 

As shines the rainbow in the day of rain, 

So seemed the lustre of that radiant form. 

winged creatures. The Cherubim and the living wheels entirely cor. 
respond to each other, as well in regard to number, as to the rapidity 
and direction with which they moved. 

* Obviously the thunder is distinguished from the sound and still more 
from the essential being of the Cherubim. It is here introduced simply 
as an image by way of comparison, just as rushing waters and the moving 
of an army are introduced. It is here called the voice of Shaddai, as it 
generally is in Hebrew poetry. Even when the Cherubim stand still, 
and let fall their wings, it thunders in the firmament above them. In 
the vision of John also, Rev. iv. 5. the thunder proceeds from the throne, 
and they contribute nothing to it. They are the bearers up of the Ma 
jesty of God, the image of all that is majestick in his creation, berving 
and unceasingly praising him ; the symbols of hidden wisdom. When 
the seals of the book are opened, (Rev. vi.) these living creatures call to 
the apostle, in vision, to come and see what was contained in the book. 


The aspect of Jehovah s Majesty 
I saw IB thii, and fell upon my face 
And heard the Toice of one that spake. 


Lamentation orer the downfall of the King of Tyre ntdertlu image of 
a Cherib." 

Oh thou, the crown of art, with wisdom filled, t 

And perfect in thy form, in Eden thou 

Hast been, the garden of the Elohitn. 

With every precious stone wast thou adorned, 

With ruby, emerald, and the diamond s fire, 

With hyacinth and jasper, onyx stone, 

And sapphire, and with gold. They welcomed tfc**, 

The day of thy creation, with the voice 

Of joy and praise, with drum and trumpet s sound.! 

I placed thee for the Cherub, that outstretched 

Its wings, and guarded Eden ; thou didst stand 

Upon the holy mountain of the (iods, 

The Elohim, and up at didst walk 

Amidst the stones of hi .,, *., all thy ways 

* Ezech. xzviii. 12. This passage is an imitation of the lamentation 
of Isaiah over the King of Babylon, Isa. xiv. 2. n translation of which 
will be found in one of the subsequent dialogues. It is placed here on 
account of the description of the Cherub, which E/echiel, according to 
his custom in using figurative language, has carried out in detail. 

t Tyre was the richest commercial city of its day, and as the terms, 
Phoenician or Sidonian work, was in ancient times the common native 
of works of art, so the object here represented could not be more affect- 
ingly bewailed, than under the form of a rich and finished work of art. 

t Perhaps this applies, as matter of fact, to the beautiful situation of 
Tyre, which seemed purposely designed for trade and magnificence. 
As a figurative representation, it is a weJl-known custom of the East to 
accompany birth-day and other celebrations of that sort, with musick 
and sound of kettle-drums. 

|| I know not whether these stones of fire, or glowing stones, are to be 
considered precious stones, or whether they are something accompany, 
ing the flame of the sword, that turned every way. I could wish, that 
ih mythology of this mountain of the Gods were explained by more nu 
merous traditions, and hope it may be so hereafter. 


Hait thou been unpolluted, from the day 
Of thy creation, till transgression now 
Is found in thee. By all thy merchandise 
Hast thou been filled with violence and fraud, 
And therefore will I thrust thee, as profane, 
From out the mountain of the Elohim. 
Thee, the protecting Cherub, I destroy, 
And cast thee from amidst the stones of fire. 
Thine heart was lifted up with ornaments 
Of beauty, by the brightness of thy form 
Wast thou despoiled of wisdom ; therefore now 
Will I reject and throw thee to the ground, 
And make of thee a gazing.stock for kings.* 
By all tliy many crimes, and by the fraud 
Of traflick in thy merchandise, hast thou 
With shame defiled the glory of thy name ; 
And from thy bosom shall go forth n fire.t 
That shall devour thee. Thou shall be but dust 
And ashes, in the sight of all, that look 
Upon thee. They among the nations round, 
That know thy greatness, with astonishment 
Shall see thy downfall. Thou hast been the prido 
Of earth, but henceforth shah thou be no more. 


Description of the thdnder.t 

* In imitation of Isaiah, xiv. 16. 

t Perhaps this trait also in the picture of the Cherub has reference to 
the devouring flame, that turned every way. It is the way of Eiechitl 
to fill up his pictures even to the minutest point. The fire of the Cherub, 
if such be the meaning, is here turned against himself. 

t Ps. xviii. Tliis is introduced here to illustrate the mythology of the 
thunder and of the Cherubim. The whole movement of the Psalm is 
beautiful. David, in imminent danger of death, calls upon God, and his 
cry is heard without delay. God delivers him by means of a thunder- 
storm, perhaps in the midst of battle, from death and from his enemies. 
That death is represented here, as a hunter with nets and cords, is well 
known. The other images, of the rivers of Belial, and the kingdom of 
the dead, will be explained in the following dialogue. 


The floods of death encompassed me. 
The rivers of Belial filled me with dread. 
Around me were the cords of the grave,* 
The snares of death were before me. 

In my distress I said I will call on the Lord, 
And unto my God will I cry aloud. 
He will hear me from his palace, 
My strong cry shall reach his ear. 

Then the earth shook and trembled, 
The foundations of the mountains moved, 
And were shaken, because he was wroth. 
There went up smoke out of his nostrils;! 

The expression "cords of the grave" is sufficiently harsh, but could 
not well be softened without losing the personification, which Herder 
intended tn exhibit. (See the previous note.) Fidelity seemed to re- 
quire, thut I should exhibit this, though I like better in regard to the 
sense of the original, the opinion of De Wette, that no personification 
was intended. Tu. 

t A tempest, perhaps accompanied by an earthquake, is here pictured 
forth with all its sir-king phenomena. The earth shakes. The smoke 
goes forth from his nostrils, that is (v. 1C.) the violent wind loaded with 
vapour, which precedes the tempest; now the lightnings commence ; the 
heavens become darker and more depressed, and seem to sink towards 
the earth ; the storm sweeps along with increasing fury; the darkness 
becomes intense, interrupted only by the lightning s flash. At length 
the loud thunders nre heard, the lightnings are redoubled, and shoot 
forth in al directions, speeding themselves onward. All this, in its sev. 
eral successive traits, is clothed in continuous mythological imagery. 
The ruler of the tempest casts forth in his wrath, smoke from his nos 
trils, ard then fire from his mouth, by which the icy arch of heaven is 
made to glow like burning coals. Now he inclines the canopy of the 
heavens, as it were, towards the earth, wraps himself in the darkness of 
night, and shoots forth his arrows, hurls abroad his lightnings, and wings 
them with speed. In this rich imagery, by which the thunder is repre 
sented, the Cherub is no more than a correspondent to the wings of the 
storm, as the parallelism shows. He is merely the vehicle, on which 
God moves, just as he is often said to move on the wings of the wind. 
In this Psalm, then, the leading image, by which the thunder is repre 
sented, is that of the voice of an angry and reproving God >a figure, 
that in the 29ih Psalm alone occurs seven times. 


Fire from his mouth devoured around, 
Coals were kindled before it. 

He bowed the heavens and came down, 
Darkness was under his feet, 
He rode upon a Cherub and did fly, 
He flew on the wings of the storm. 

Now he wrapped himself in darkness, 
Cloude on clouds enclosed him round. 
At the brightness before him the clouds vanished, 
Hail-stones fell, and coals of fire. 

The Lord thundered in the heavens, 
The Highest uttered forth his voice, 
There were hail-stones arid coals of lire. 
Then he shot forth his arrows around, 
Redoubled his lightnings, and sped them forward, 
The depths of the sea were luid open, 
The foundations of the earth revealed, 
At the reproving voice of the Lord, 
At the blast of the breath of his nostrils. 

He reached down from on high, 
And took hold upon me ; 
From deep waters he drew me forth, 
And freed me from my strong enemies, 
From foes, that were too powerful for me. 


The voice of Jehovah.* 

Give to Jehovuh, ye worshippers of idols, 
Give to Jehovah honour and power. 
Give to Jehovah the glory of his name, 
Worship Jehovah, arrayed in his Majesty. 

The voice of Jehovah is above the waters.t 

* Ps. xxix. 

t The parallelism shows that these waters are not the Mediterranean 
Sea but the waters of heaven the dense rain-clouds. In the sequel it 


The God of glory thunders on high. 
Jehovah thunders upon the great waters, 
The voice of Jehovah sounds with might, 
The voice of Jehovah sounds with majesty. 

The voice of Jehovah shivers the cedars, 

Jehovah shivers the cedars of Lebanon. 

He makes them to skip like a calf, 

Lebanon and Sirion like a young ox of the desert.* 

The voice of Jehovah scattereth the flames, 
The voice of Jehovah ehaketh the desert, 
Jehovah shaketh the desert of Kadesh. 
The voice of Jehovah maketh the hinds bring forth, 
And layeth the forest bare of its leaves. 

Jehovah sitteth and poureth out the floods, 
Jehovah is enthroned as a king forever. 

will be shown why Jehovah is specially represented as the God of thun 
der. That this Psalm is a continuous description of a tempest U too 
clear to be disputed. 

* A wild animal of the ox kind resembling the buffalo. T*. 


Tradition of the origin of man. Name taken from the notions of his 
tendency to dissolution, his feebleness, and relation to the earth. 
Elegy of Job on the destiny of man. Of the breath of God, as tha 
sensuous image of power, in thought, word, and deed. Hymn on the 
strength and Godlike character of human nature. Sublime foreto. 
kening of the same in the creation. From what conception can Epic 
poetry impart to human nature, in its physical and spiritual relations, 
ideal elevation and dignity ? How far has the poetry of the Bible de. 
veloped this? Whether this conception be too pure and divine? 
Why the moral sentiments of the earliest times and the poetical ex. 
pression of them must have immediate reference to God. The useful 
effect, which this produced. Whence the conception of a kingdom of 
the dead originated. Elegy concerning it. Whether it is at variance 
with the immortality of the soul, or rather presupposes it. Poetical 
view of places of burial, and of the life of those entombed in them. 
Poetical description of the kingdom of the shades among the Hebrews, 
Celts, and other nations. Whence probably originated the notion of 
giants in the Oriental kingdom of the dead ? Why whole kingdoms 
and cities sleep in it. Of Belial tho king of the shades, and of School, 
his palace or kingdom. What images has this representation furnish, 
ed for the New Testament ? The influence of this conception on tho 
minds of men. Language of God on the subject of immortality in na. 
ture in revelation. Translation of Enoch. Whether it is a frag. 
ment of poetry a reflection awakened by his premature death. Re. 
ception of the patriarchs into the unseen world, as the true friends of 
God. Impression produced by the conception of the congregation, 
the kingdom of the faihers. Two Psalnid with their explanation. 
That the 16th Psalm was by David, and contains tho notion of an 
eternal dwelling in the presence of God. Whether the Israelite! 
borrowed or derived from the Egyptians the representation of the 
Islands of the blessed. Origin of the notion of a resurrection of tho 
dead. Appendix containing a description of the kingdom of the dead, 
as represented by Job, an Arabick Song of consolation respecting tho 
condition of one deceased, and a designation of the probable course, 
in which the Hebrew notions of the state of the dead were unfolded. 

A considerable time intervened, before these conversationa 
were resun.ed. Alciphron had lost his best friend by death, 


and his mind was oppressed with gloomy feelings. At length 
during an evening walk, while the setting sun was beauti 
fully exhibiting the daily repeated image of our own depart 
ure, he began again, after some other conversation, with a 
subdued and melancholy tone as follows. 

AU;IPHRON. You have forgotten, Euthyphron, the beauti 
ful tradition of the origin of man, with which is so nearly 
associated his whole earthly destiny earth to earth. From 
this Adam came forth, and to this he returned, into the bo 
som of the mother that bore him. Earth to earth ! is re-echo 
ed from the whole life of man. I seem, even now, to hear 
it reflected in the hollow sound of the last sod of earth thrown 
upon the grave of my friend, and I have recently found a 
melancholy pleasure in reading many of these Oriental po 
ems, for which formerly I had no relish. All the terms, by 
which man is here designated, are indicative of nothingness 
and decay. He is a clayey tabernacle, which moths and worms 
are incessantly destroying ; a flower, which the wind passeth 
over arid it is gone, or which the sun shines upon and it is 
withered. Perhaps no poetry has represented the images of 
this perishable and shadowy character of man in so touching 
a manner, and at the same time they all flow naturally out of 
the radical forms of the language, as if they were the ori 
ginal conceptions of the character and destiny of the race. 

la it a pleasure for tbce to oppress, 
Thus to disparage the work of thy hands ? 
Consider yet, I beseech thec, 
That thou hast formed me as clay, 
That I must soon return to the dust 

Permit me, in this tranquil evening twilight, when the aun, 
the task-master of our earthly labour, is sinking beneath the 
horizon, and all creatures seem to be enjoying their release 
from an oppressive, but vain and unsatisfying toil after the 
perishable objects of sense, permit me to read to you an ele- 


gy, which I have never myself BO deeply felt as now. Job 
was a great and philosophick poet. He understood what the 
life of man in, and what it is not, and what we hare to hope 
for in the end. 

Hath not man the task of a servant on earth ? 

Are not his days the days of an hireling ? 

As the servant longeth for the shade, 

And the hireling looketh for his reward, 

So to me have evil months fallen, 

And wearisome nights been counted out to me. 

When I lay myself down, I say 

When shall I rise again ? 

The night is irksome to me, 

I am wearied with restless dreams, 

Till the dawning of the morning. 

My flesh is clothed with worms and decay, 

My skin becometh closed and healed up, 

But breaketh forth again in new sores. 

My days have flown, and are passed away 

Swifter than a weaver s shuttle, 

They failed when hope was gone. 

Oh ! remember, that my life is a breath, 
Mine eyes shall never turn back 
To see good upon the earth. 
The eye, that seeketh, shall not find me, 
Thine eye will seek me, but I am no more. 

As a cloud wasteth and vanisheth awar, 
So man goeth down to the grave, 
And comcth up again no more. 
He rcturneth not into his house, 
And the place of his dwelling 
Shall know him no more forever. 
Therefore will I not refrain my mouth, 
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, 
I will cry out in the bitterness of my soul. 
Am I the river and its crocodile, 
That thou seuest a watch over me ? 
If I say my bed shall comfort me. 


My coach shall relieve ray sorrow, 
Thenthou acarcstme with dreams, 
And terrifiest me with visions, 
So that my soul chooseth death, 
Death, rather than this frail body. 

I am weary of life, I would not live always. 
Let me alone, for rny days are vanity. 
Whut is man, that he is so great to thee, 
And thou settcst thine heart towards him? 
That thou visitest him every morning, 
And provcst him every moment ? 
How long wilt thou not look away from me, 
Nor let me rest, till I draw my breath ? 
Have I tinned ; what did I against thee ? 
Oh thou, that lookest upon men, 
That thou settest me as a mark for thee, 
And makcst me a burthen to myself. 
Why wilt thou not forget my transgression, 
And suffer my guilt to go into oblivion ? 
For in a moment I lie down in the duet, 
In the morning thou seekest me, and I am not. 

Such is tlie fate of man -earth to earth ! the first and only 
oracle of God respecting our destiny. What will a taberna 
cle of clay, in which a fleeting breath sports itself, in its pride 
ask more ? 

EuTiiYriiRON. But you forget, my friend, that this taber 
nacle of clay is ensouled by the breath of Jehovah. In the 
inspiration of God is imbreathed the spirit of immortality, 
and of all living energies. Have you never remarked the 
representations of similar origin, which ascribe to the breath 
of God all the powers and miracles of thought, and of a will 
of Godlike energy, nay, as the word of truth itself declares, 
the imparting of a divine spirit and of a Godlike faith ? 
Your grief has led you to contemplate one aspect only of 
human destiny ; the other is presented in the poetry of the 
Hebrews with no less force and clearness. 

A. With force, do you say ? What is a breath ? You 


would not look here for the metaphysical soul of our phi- 
loaophera ? 

E. Most certainly not, nor an analysis of its faculties 
according to our methods. But the essential, the eternal in 
its substance, that it came from God and returns to him, that 
in its perishable tabernacle it puts forth divine energies, and 
proceeds in a special manner from the word, from the bieatb 
of the mouth of God, this is clearly and fully expressed in 
this language and poetry. 

A. Hardly so ! for how late was all this thought of. In 
a book* belonging to the period of the captivity we are 
first told, that the breath returns to God, who gave it ; and 
there it is plainly a sentiment of Chaldee philosophy super- 
added to the simple traditions of antiquity. In the account 
of Adam, in Job, in the Psalms, there is nothing of it. 

E. Will you not examine more carefully these concep 
tions of the immortality of man, of his weakness and his 
strength, especially in regard to the peculiar notion, that his 
soul is the breath of God. I think you must have overlooked 
many things, or suffered yourself to be led away by novel 
opinions ; and surely the matter is too important, and too 
deeply concerns our humanity, to be lightly disposed of. 

The spirit of God blowreth upon me, 
The breath of the Almighty giveth me life. 
My countenance is as thine before God, 
I also am formed out of the clay 
So long as a breath is in me, 
And the spirit of God in my nostrils, 
My lipi shall not speak wickedness, 
Nor my tongue utter calumny. 

la this feebleness or strength ? 

A. The highest degree of force in words. 

E. And among the Orientals a word is the utterance of 
thought, of will, of all the inward energies of the soul. It 
waa early remarked, how great a mystery is involved in the 

Eccleaiastes, zii. 7. 


fact, that the soul thinks, the tongue speaks, and the hand 
executes ; that our soul thinks, and others understand and 
listen to it merely by means of the breath of the mouth. To 
God himself nothing could be ascribed, it would seem, more 
powerful than a word, a breath. It is compared to the flame 
of fire, to the hammer which breaks the rock in pieces. 
When all things fail, the breath of God still endures and is 
still efficient efficient as wind, reviving as rain that de 
scends and imparts life and fertility. 

A. That is the breath of God in nature, the immediate 
working of his omnipotent will but the breath of God in 

i nnn 

K. He too, man himself is mighty, because he partakes 
of a divine inspiration ; so that flesh, and spirit, i. e. human 
weakness, and Godlike energy, are placed in continual con 
trast. Recollect an expression, which we find even before 
llic flood, and in the mouth of God himself. 

My spirit shall not always 
Continue to act in men, 
For they are flesh. 

Observe too, how their fleshly nature, by a general corruption 
of manners, shows its character especially in sensuality and 
imbecility. Nay, go back to the first representation of man, 
with which God introduces him into the world. He was to 
be an image of the Elohim, a visible manifestation of their 
invisible powers, disposing and ruling like them, and in their 
stead. Let me too, since you have been gratified with an 
elegy on the weakness of man, repeat to you a Psalm* de 
scriptive of his dominion and power ; a Psalm, which in the 
prattling of infants establishes for God a strong hold of ad 
miration and praise, at which every enemy falls prostrate ; 
a Psalm, which crowns man with the dignity and majesty of 
the angels, as a God of this lower world, as a triumphant 
ruler over all the works of Jehovah, which lie prostrate at his 

Ps. viii, 


feet. It is worthy, and might seem intended, to be uttered 
forth beneath the open and wide expanse of the starry heaven, 
which is even now outspreading itself over our heads. 

Jehovah, our God, how excellent ia thy name 
In all the earth! 
Thy praise is sounded above the heavens. 

From the mouth of babes and sucklings 
Hast thou prepared a strong hold of praise 
Against thy foe, at which he is prostrate. 

If then I look at thy heavens, 
At these, the work of thy fingers, 
The moon, and the stars, which thou hnst ordained 

What is man, that thou art mindful of him, 
The son of man, that thou visiteft him, 
In rank, thou hast placed him nearest the Elohim, 
Thou hust crowned him with honour and majesty, 
Hast ninde him lord of all thy works, 
Hast placed all things under his feet. 

His are the herds of sheep and oxen, 
The beasts of the field are his also, 
The fowls of heaven, and the fish of the sea, 
And whatever passeth the paths of the seas. 
Oh Lord, our God, how excellent is thy name 
In all the earth ! 

Carry back now this Pindarick song of praise into the history 
of the creation, from which it was taken, and with what 
majesty docs man appear! When all else is created, God 
pauses, as it were, takes counsel with himself, and seems to 
bring forth the form of man, as from his own heart. The 
yet uncrowned creation stands still, and waits for its visible : 
God, and creator. If we were to form a representation of 
man in the style of genuine cpick dignity, and elevation, 
from what more lofty and comprehensive idea could it pro 
ceed ? 

A. Hebrew poetry however has not furnished such a 


E. To furnish such in the worldly sense of poetical 
representation, was not its purpose ; since man has provided 
himself with this, in manifestations of both good and evil. 
What have not men done upon the earth, in works of art, and 
in the exercise of power ? What have they not attained ? 
To what have they not aspired ? What a splendid and lofty 
theme is presented to the poet, who would merely celebrate 
this historically, in its leading and most important facts! 
and that whether he sung the triumphs of the spirit of man 
in the inventions of science and art, or the operations of his 
hand, the deeds of his almost omnipotent will. But, as was 
remarked before, it was not the aim of this poetry to carry 
out the ideal of man in a physical, but in a spiritual sense. 
How sublime and beautiful are the conceptions, which it has 
drawn from the image of God in the human form, and exhi 
bited through the Old and New Testament ! Son of God was 
predicated of Adam ; friend of God, of Enoch, of Abraham, 
and the most favoured of the patriarchs. A second Adam 
appeared, to exhibit, and to verify to his brethren the true 
form and character of a son of Jehovah, to build up the 
tinman race to this idea in all worth and perfection of being. 
It seems to me, there is no purer and more sublime conception 
of the ultimate end and aim of the being of man in either 
the poetry or prose of all other nations. 

A. If only it be not too pure, and too lofty for our com 
prehension ! What know we of God ? and how can men 
imitate God, unless he humbles himself below the proper 
powers of his being ? The view, which we take of our des 
tination, and of our duty, rn^st be human, not divine. 

E, The moral views exhibited here unite both ; for you 
just now observed, that the weakness and abasement of man, 
was pictured in it with no less truth. In relation to our 
bodies we cannot be the sons of God according to the pure 
conceptions of the East, for God has no outward figure, and 
we are formed of the earth. But his finger has fashioned us ; 


and the lips of Jehovah have moved, as it were, over the 
mouth and countenance of man with a breathing of kindness 
and love. There they still move and breathe upon us ; for in 
the animated countenance the Spirit of Cod is visible. In 
poetry, which does not overlook the weakness of man, in 
order vainly to ascribe to him the self-sufficiency and indepen 
dence of a divine being, but which at the same time is not 
seduced by his weakness to deny his real dignity and high 
destination ; in this appears a child of God formed for eternity, 
but yet a feeble and a mortal child. 

A. Yes, truly a child ! for the poetry and morals of tins 
people are extremely child-like. All their conceptions are 
referred back to God, and every thing is derived from the 
will of God, so as at length must enfeeble the will of man, 
as well as his powers of research. It becomes a blind or 
fanatick devotion, in short, Islamism. 


Can the papyrus grow up without Hap? 
The water lily increase without moisture? 
It is yet green, and has not been cut down, 
Hut while all else flourishes, it withers away. 
So is tho course of all, that forget God, 
The hope of the ungodly shall perish. 
That is cut off in which he trusted, 
His confidence is the spider s web. 
She leans upon her house, it will not stand, 
She holds fast to it, but it cannot endure. 
So he stands green and fresh, at early dawn, 
And sends forth his branches in the garden, 
He entwines the rock with his roots, 
They encompass the whole wall. 
At once he is away from his place, 
Which says to him " I never saw thee." 

A. You have given me a prolonged image, but no answer. 
E. The picture itself is an answer. Poetry without God 


is a showy papyrus without moisture ; every system of morals^ 
without him, is a mere parasitical plant. It makes a flowery | 
display in fine words, and sends forth its branches here and 
there; nay, it insinuates itself into every weak spot and crevice \ 
of the human soul ; but the sun rises, and it vanishes. The 
man that invented it himself denies it, and its place and condi- 
tion arc no where known. Yet 1 would not by this, detract I 
any thing from the worth of psychological investigations, or * 
even descriptions ; but the first, the most ancient and child-like 
poetry and morals, could not be psychology, otherwise it ; 
would forever remain a labyrinth of dark sayings. What was 
admitted with regard to the poetry of nature, holds still more 
in repaid to the ethical poetry of the most ancient times ; the 
idea of God must give it intelligibility and simplicity, feeling 
and dignity. The child is directed by the word of his father, 
the son is formed by the modes of thinking, and character of 
the author of his existence. The fear of God, which admits 
not a spirit of argumentation, was here also the beginning of 
human wisdom. 

A. For the beginning it was well, and helped him on his 
way. But why must it always accompany him ? It holds 
him perpetually in leading strings, and the child never learns 
to go alone. Must not this be the case in the East ? From 
the childish habits and feelings transmitted from the prime 
val world, come the burdensome and slavish Mosaick ceremo 
nial, and instead of the human spirit s elevating itself, it sank 
still lower. Why was this, but because it always looked to 
God with a slavish fear, and never learned to know its own 
powers ? 

E. What occasioned the Mosaick ceremonial, we shall 
learn in its proper time, and will transfer no later notions to 
a period, when milk and honey yet flowed for the child-like 
capacity of man in morals also. FOP the child it is well, 
when it follows implicitly the instruction of the father. la 
the ethical poetry of the Orientals the idea of God is the 


sun in the firmament, which illuminates the whole horizon 
| of human existence, and even at a late period marked, with 
, its clear and distinct radiance, the dial plate of particular 

* relations and duties. To us of the present day, this sun seems 
too burning and oppressive ; then its light was indispensable ; 

* for this simple, child-like morality, enforced by reverence for 
i the Divine Being, and wholly derived from him, was to guide 

the nations of the earth in the way, and must therefore be im 
parted to them with a character thus child-like, simple, rigid, 
and elevated. Both in this, and the future world. God was 
here represented as the guide and father of men. 

A. In the future world too ? There we come upon the 
subject of which we at first intended to speak. At how 
late a period then, let me remark, and how gradually, from 
what trifling considerations, and these mostly inferences, 
which infer too much, and proofs, which prove too much, 
nay, from blind wishes, and obscure presentiments, has man s 
hope of immortality been produced ! Adam was earth, and 
knew of no immortality. He saw Abel lying in blood; the 
first death was bewailed, although there was no dead to be 
wail, yet no angel came to comfort the mourners with the 
least hope of immortality. His soul was in the blood, and 
was poured out upon the earth ; thence it cried towards 
heaven, and was buried with the blood. Such was the faith 
of the first world, and even after the flood.* The fathers 
fell asleep, and their life was ended. Their age is named, 
and nothing more ; or they are gathered to their fathers, that 
is, to the grave. This was in time shaped into a realm of 
shades. But read, throughout the Old Testament, the dark, 
indistinct, and disconsolate, poetical representations of this 
realm of shadows or permit me to ofler only one of them to 
the remembrance of my deceased friend. If it were possible 
for him to be about us , he would surely now be hovering here ; 
but even this truth-telling elegy declares, that it is impossible, 
that there is no return from the dominions of the dead. 
* Gen. ix. 4 G. 


Man, born of woman, 

Is of few days, 

And full of trouble. I 

He cometh forth as a flower, and it cut down, 

He fleeth also as a shadow, < 

And continueth not. 

Upon such doit tliou open thine eye, 
And bring me into judgment with thee ? 

Among the impure is there one pure ? j 

Not one. 

Are his days so determined ? 
Hast thou numbered his months, 
And set fast his bound for him, 
Which he can never oass ? 
Turn then from him, that he may rest, 
And enjoy, as an hireling, his day. 

The tree hath hope, if it be cut down: 
It becometh green again 
And new shoots ure put forth. 
If even the root is old in the earth, 
And its stock die in the ground, 
From vapour of water it will bud, 
And bring forth boughs, as a young plant. 

But nun dieth, and his power is gone : 
He is taken away, and where is he ? 

Till the waters waste from the sea, 
Till the river faileth and is dry land, 
Miin lieth low, and riseth not again. 
Till the heavens are old, he shall not awake, 
Nor be aroused from his sleep. 

Oh ! that thou wouldst conceal me 
In the realm of departed souls,* 
Hide me in secret, till thy wrath be past, 
Appoint me thon a new term, 
And remember me again. 
But alas! if a man die, 

To make the sense here intelligible to the English reader, I hY 
amplified the expression, but without adding to the meaning of the Gr- 
man. Whether the original Hebrew means any thing more than th 
grave, as given in our common version, seems at least very questiona 
ble. T*. 


He shall never revive. 

So long, then, as my toil endureth, 
Will I wait, till a change come to me. 

Thou wilt call me, and I shall answer, 
Thou wilt pity the work of thy hands. 
Though now thou numbereet my steps, 
Thou shall then not watch for my sin. 
My transgression will be sealed in a bug, 
Tliou wilt bind up and remove my iniquity. 

Yet nlaj! die mountain falleth and is swallowed up, 
The rock is removed out of its place, 
The waters hollow out the stones, 
The floods overflow the dust of the earth, 
And thus thou destroyest the hope of man. 

Thou contendcst with him, till he t aileth, 
Changes! his countenance, and sendcsthim awny. 
Though his sons become great und happy, 
Yet he knoweth it not 
If they come to shame and dishonour, 
He percciveth it not. 

Could the sentiment be more forcibly expressed, that there is 
no return from the realms of death, that there no knowledge 
of the happiness or misery of our friends ever reaches us, 
and that nothing dwells there, but gloomy obscurity, silence, 
and everlasting oblivion ? 

E. You are right. But of what return do you suppose 
the language here is to be understood ? Obviously of a re 
turn to this life again, to taste the good things of the earth, 
which Job was so little able to enjoy. And this it seems to 
me does not interfere with the strongest convictions of im 
mortality. Whose soul after death has ever returned to 
enjoy the blessings of the earth ? That Job fully believed in 
the continued existence of something in the kingdom of the 
dead, we see oven here, from the wish, that Cod would hide 
him there, till his anger was laid aside, and then restore him to 
life ; although he saw, that this was too presumptuous a hope, 
and himself abandoned it. But let us examine more nearly 


the belief of the Orientals respecting a realm of shades, and 
trace from early times the circumstances, which gave occa 
sion to it, as well as the original notions of the thing itself. 

A. In the first conception undoubtedly it was the grave 
simply, the abiding and everlasting dwelling place of the 
dead ; only that they thought of them to be still living in 
their graves. These therefore they denominated houses, of 
rest, the dwelling places of endless peace. I have read some 
poems 01 the Arabians, in which they are represented, as 
visiting the grau their friends like dwelling places, con 
versing with them, , tiile yet in their graves, and watering 
the dust of their dwellings, or planting them with herbage. 
In short this has been in the East an ancient and wide-spread 
illusion, which came down among the Hebrews even to a 
late period, and gave occasion to numerous traditions of dia 
logues, of visijns, of sufferings, and of journeyings in the 
grave, As the soul was conceived to be a mere shadow, a 
living breath, so its place was assigned in subterraneous re 
gions, in a place of rest, and of perfect equality. This it is, 
which the complaint of Job represents so feelingly, that there 
kings and shives, servants and their taskmasters, are all free, 
all equal and all alike,-at rest but powerless, as a shadow with 
out distinction of members, as a nerveless breath. Thus the 
whole you perceive was a mere illusion. The dead were 
held so dear, one could not and must not think of them 
as dead, even in the grave, and thus they were represented 
there, as still having an animate though shadowy existence. 
Their living power and energy were destroyed, and they only 
wandered and flitted in the realms of the dead, in the dark 
nether-world, as limbless and powerless beings. There flow 
with a noiseless current the rivers of sadness and sorrow, 
there dwells the king of unsubstantial shadows : there earth- 
subduing conquerors still delight in their tragick scenes, and 
cannot free themselves from the dreams of earth ; but they 
are empty shadowy scenes. So David often prays, that God 


Would still give him here his songs of joy and triumph, for 
In the realms of death all is voiceless and still ; there no songa 
of thanksgiving for triumph over conquered enemies are ever 
Bung. So too the philosophical author of the Book of Eccle- 
diastes, whom you have adduced as testifying to the doctrine 
of immortality, says briefly, but well, 

What thine hnnd findcth to do, 
Do quickly, while thou hust power, 
For there is no work nor device, 
There is no knowledge nor prudence, 
In the shadowy realm, whither thou goest. 

Call to mind now your favourite Ossian, and his Celts. The 
fathers of his heroes, whose shadow-realm was in the clouds, 
grasp at the sword, but it is only air or vapour, a cloud with 
reddening hues, their arm itself too is a shadow, a breath, 
that flits with the air. Like them, and like the Hebrews, all 
ancient nations have had a kingdom of their fathers, a realm 
of departed souls, \ihere each followed still the employment, 
to which he had been accustomed on earth. Some have rep 
resented them as assembling in green fields, others in the 
clouds ; the Orientals, who adhered to the primitive concep 
tion of the grave, placed them under the earth. The whole 
is only a cherished illusion, not a clear and well assured 
conception of the immortality of the soul. It is only a 
shadow, like the subject-matter, which it represents. 

E. Every shadow presupposes a substance, a real being. 
An illusion itself is a shadow of truth. Would the illusion of 
immortality have been, or have become, as you acknowledge 
it has, so universal, if it had not had a universal ground in 
the hearts or in the traditions of the human race ? 

A. In the hearts of men was a wish, a friendship, a hope, 
which produced the pleasing, or the painful dream, and even 
shaped it perhapg into a universal tradition. Must a man 
utterly perish as the brutes ? Would not one gladly wish 


to live with the sleeping objects of his affection, his fathers, 
or his children buried in a premature grave ? Among the 
Orientals without doubt the flood gave the first great occasion 
for the poetical representation of an empire of the dead.* 
Consider what an impression upon the subsequent traditions 
must be produced by this monstrous event, the engulfing of 
the whole living world. 

In those Jays liveil the world-subdue rs, 

The offspring of the sons of Cod, and tho daughters of men. 

They were men of power and violence, 

The renowned heroes of the ancient world.* 

Thus it was the Rcphaim, the giants, who groan and wail 
beneath the waves, whose voice perchance was thought to be 
heard in the roaring billows, and whose restless motion was 
felt in the earthquake and the storm at sea. But these were 
the most ancient and gigantick inhabitants of the empire of 
death. Jn process of time these traditions were softened 
down, and it was the silent congregation of the dead, which 
Job and the Hebrews described. Still the ghosts of heroes 
continued always to wander in the nether-world. Ghostly 
kings were seated upon shadowy thrones ; nay, kingdoms and 
states were there, and armies of the slain. (For among the 
Orientals not persons only, but things, the instruments of pow 
er and pride, had each its spirit, and consequently its ghost). 
Thus this subterranean realm came to have in time its king 


also, Belial, the king of powerless and unsubstantial shades ; 
und School became his palace, a royal residence of invincible 
strength, with brazen gates and bolts. What once became 

* Gen. vi. 4. The name Sehfol itself is derived from that, which 
sinks under or is buried, as from the depths of the earth, or the bottom 
of the sea. In many representations Scheol occurs as the ground of a 
sunken world, and the Rcphaim, the shadow-forms, the ghosts, have al 
ways in Job and the prophets something of the gigantick. The passages, 
in which Scheol occurs, have been collected and critically examined by 
Scheid (diss. ad cantic. Iliskue). 


his prey he never suffered to escape, and no captured soul 
could ever be redeemed from his grasp. Even in. the New 
Testament this mythology has given occasion to many con 
ceptions, as of the king and the conqueror of hell, and of 
death, who opens the gates, which none could open, who 
subdues powers, and frees captive souls, which none could 
subdue and set free. The sense of these images is quite 
unappropriate, if we apply them to our notions of hell and of 
dsath, but within the proper sphere of ancient poetical de 
scription they present a sublime picture of a hero, and of a 
ruler, whose dominion is universal. He in whose power 
were the souls of men, (he who had the power of death), 
was an unrightful usurper, and the anointed of God wrested 
from him his prey. For four thousand years you perceive 
men were, without assistance, a prey to these terrific, ghost 
ly powers, slaves, who all their lives long must tremble in 
the bonds, and with the fear of death. To this is to be as 
cribed such sorrowful lamentations, as those of Hczekiah, 
and such want of coinage in view of death, which other na 
tions met with heroick resolution. The Hebrews were still 
in this point one of the weakest nations of the earth. The 
sad and tnournful images of their ghostly realm disquieted 
them, and were too much for their self-possession. They 
were even more painful, than a belief in utter annihilation. 

E. I have permitted you to carry through your discourse, 
and your historical deduction of the kingdom of the dead has 
been to me like the melancholy plaint of one in atlliction, 
who finds pleasure in wandering among the shades. You 
have studied these realms it seems with much attention. But 
turn your eyes now upward to the stars. That is the book 
of immortality which God unseals and spreads open to us, 
and to all. people and nations, with every returning night. 
Think too of the quickening, life-giving iufluence of the 
morning, which every day is the symbol of our resurrection, 
as sleep is an image of death a symbol that speaks with 


clearness, and is every where understood. But do you know 
of no other hope, that was revealed to men at a period suf 
ficiently early to support them against the terrors of the grave ? 
Who was it, of whom it was said at an early period ? 

He lived the friend of God, 
And while he walked with God, 
He was seen no more, 
For God had taken him up. 

A. You do not consider this saying, the fragment perhaps 
of an ancient song, as a narrative surely of the translation 
of Enoch to heaven ? It is the soothing echo from the grave 
of one, who had prematurely died, and had not attained to 
the years of his father, and his brothers. When children 
have yet no conceptions of the other world, we say to them, 
" Your brother is with God ! God has taken him away so 
early, because he loved him, because your brother was so 
innocent." The first generations of men were still in the 
same sort of childhood. 

E. I willingly admit it, and at all events a premature re 
moval of an object of affection would make the child-like 
impression, which you describe ; just as other nations have 
said and believed, " This innocent and beautiful youth the 
Gods have carried off; this delicate and guileless maiden 
Aurora has stolen away." But permit me to say, that this 
softening of the language in my opinion is hardly satisfacto 
ry for the narrative in question. The pervading tradition 
even of other nations has connected with it a more pregnant 
sense, and the poetry of the Hebrews has obviously attributed 
to it the same, and built upon it. " God took him to himself, 
God took him to his own dwelling place," became afterwards 
on many occasions the expressive phrase to denote the fate 
in the other world of those, who were the favoured of God, 
and without doubt the notion was derived from this most an 
cient friend of God. He lived in evil days, and was zealous 


for the honour of God ; perhaps was scoffed at and perse 
cuted, as in later times was Elijah, the partaker of the same 
glorious fate, and the former, as well as the latter, God would 
also in the end distinguish with the marks of his approbation. 
Not perhaps in so brilliant a manner as Elijah, yet with the 
same majestick dignity surely, God conducted his chosen 
friend into his own eternal dwelling. So Paul understood 
the expression, so the last book of scripture received and 
applied it in the image of the two witnesses ascending to 
heaven in a cloud, and so it is understood by the kindred na 
tions of the East. The Arabians have a multitude of fables 
respecting the wise, the innocent, the lonely, the zealous, the 
prophetick, the persecuted and despised Idris, (so they call 
Enoch) whom God received into hcaren, and who dwells in 
Paradise. Other nations place him upon Albordy, the daz 
zling mountain, on which was held the assembly of the Gods, 
as tradition also speaks of his intercourse, not with Jehovah, 
but with the Elohitn. This translation of Enoch, iastructive 
as it was, came at once to be also a matter of peculiar in 
terest, and full of hope, as prefiguring a like removal to 
himself of other friends of God. 

A. What others ? I recollect no other example but 

E. Abraham was a friend of God like Enoch, and you 
know how distinctively God is called the God of Abraham, 
of Isaac, and of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but 
of the living, and for him they all live.* For this world these 
patriarchs were dead, and without enjoying the promises, 
which God had given them ; they entered into the dwelling 
place of their heavenly friend, into a better Canaan ; and the 
congregation of their fathers became the beautiful family and 

Nothing is proved here from the language of the New Testament. 
The argument there on the contrary (Mutt. xxii. 32. Heb xi. 13 16) 
derives increased evidence from the fact, that these conceptions wert 
made the ground of representations in the Old Testament. 


national phrase of the Hebrews, their kingdom of tht dead, 
or of the blessed. They were like Abraham, like Enoch, in 
th* Paradise of God their friend. 

A. I understand the expression of being gathered to their 
fathers, as meaning nothing more than the depositing of one s 
dead body, with those of his fathers, in the family tomb. 

E. Certainly this external custom, which with good rea 
son is held dear by every people, that has not been broken 
off from its own stock, and that retains an affection for ita 
ancestry, this I say has undoubtedly had an influence in pre 
serving the faith spoken of, and rendered it visible, as it were, 
to the sense, but by no means includes the whole of it 
Abraham was gathered to his fathers, though he was not 
buried with them, and Jacob wished to go down to the realm 
of shades, to his beloved son, although he supposed him to 
have been torn in pieces by wild beasts. You have even 
yourself related, how all the nations of the earth, even those 
we call savage, believe in such an assemblage of their fathers 
in the realm of departed souls ; and it is affecting in a sur 
prising degree with what joy the father goes thither to the 
embraces of his son, the son to meet with his father, the 
mother with her child, and friend with Iriend. I will giro 
you an affecting elegy, as a proof of this, and in books of 
travels we have a multitude of such witnesses and proofs. 
Such were those nations, whose departure was among thu 
shades, and who must have formed their notions on the old 
tradition alone. From this each nation formed for itself its 
kingdom of the dead, its congregation of the fathers, accord 
ing to its own notions and modes of life. The Hebrew 
race adhered to the conceptions of their fathers, and since il 
was the highest glory of the race, that Abraham, that their 
father, was the friend of God, could it be, that God who 
loved him here, and who had accompanied him with support 
and consolation to the brink of the grate, would now desert 
him in the grave ? that he would leave him to the gloomy 


night of a tyrannical and all observing kingdom of the dead ? 
Even now, was the language of their faith, he shows himself 
as a friend, and hospitably opens to him his light and glori* 
ous dwelling. He has taken him to himself is the beautiful 
language even of the I salms. 

A. I recollect one ; but to me it is very obscure. 

E. We are even now arrived at the house, and will read 
a couple of them before wo separate. One of them* sounds 
very much like an evening prayer, and some have even con 
sidered it us a funeral elegy of the poet himself. 

Hear this, all ye nations, 
Give ear, nil inhabitants of the world ! 
Ye men of low, and men of high degree, 
The rich arid the poor, listen together. 

My mouth shall speak wisdom, 
My heart shall meditate of prudence, 
I will give ear to a dark parable, t 
I will solve my deep problem on the harp. 

Why should I fear in the days of evil, 
Though the injustice of foes environ me? 
These have confidence in their strength, 
And boast themselves of their great riches. 

Can one of them, then redeem his brother, 
And deliver him from death ? 
Can he even give to God a ransom for him? 
Too costly is the price of the soul, 
He bringeth no ransom furever. 

That he may always continue to live? 
That he may never behold his grave ? 
He must behold it; for even the wise die, 
Just as the fool and the senseless perish,t 

* Ps, xlix. 

tThe poet listens to his song on the harp, as if it came to him from 
the strings of his instrument. Lyrick poetry, singing and instrumental 
musick, were then united. The problem, which the poet proposes to 
aolve, is the prosperity of the ungodly, as we see from what immediately 

t The fool and the senseless person are here synonymous, as the last 
terse of the Psalm shows. 


And leave their wealth to strangers. 
Their grave is now their house forever, 
Their tent henceforth from age to age. 

If they call countries by their names, 
The man in honour* abideth not always, 
In death ho shall be esteemed as the brute, 
He must go hence. 

This is their fate ; they also perish ; 
And those after them make them their Bong.t 
As sheep they are driven to Hades, 
There death shall feed upon them, 
And soon the upright shall rule over them. 
Their image is with empty shades beneath, 
And there is their habitation. t 

But my soul will God redeem from Hades, 
He will receive me to his habitation. 

Fear not then, when one is made rich, 
When the glory of his house is increased. 

* The man in honour, is one of those distinguished men, who give 
their names to countries. 

1 1 leave it undetermined, whether we ore to understand here a song 
of praise, or of reproach and mockery. Of both in the mean time they 
would be alike ignorant in the realm of shades. 

t Herder expresses briefly some doubt in regard to the sense of the 
last words here, and the editor, Prof. Justi, has given a few critical 
remarks upon the whole verse. Instead of translating it, I have thought 
it better to give the substance of both his and De Wette s views. The 
words translated, " death shall feed upon them," they understand, as a 
continuance of the metaphor in the preceding line. Death is a shep 
herd, and after driving them to the nether world, " feeds them there." 
The next line they translate, "the upright shall tread upon them," i. e. 
upon their graves, or their dead bodies, with triumph. The remainder 
Prof. J. translates " their rock decays" i. e. the rocky cave, in which they 
are buried, and "the realm of shades is their dwelling," henceforth their 
only dwelling. De W. " The nether, world mars their form." " By 
reason of thei* dwelling place," i. e. the grave. In the preceding parts 
of the Psalm, where Herder differs from the English translation, De 
Wctte very nearly coincides with it. Ta. 


In death he shall carry nothing away, 

And his glory shall not descend with him. 

While he lived, he did well for himself, 

And thou art praised, if skilled for thine own good. 

Soon he goes to the dwelling of his fathers, 

His eternal house, and sees the light no more ; 

Now proud of wealth, and void of sense, 

Then like a brute, and banished hence. 

A. I have never apprehended so clear a connexion in the 
sentiments of the Psalm. 

E. Yet it is accordant with the meaning of the words ; 
and the distinction, which we spoke of, is clearly recognized. 
The merely sensual souls, who indulge in vain boasting and 
display, who know nothing but the pleasures of sense, and 
are without understanding, are driven down like sheep, where 
(according to a representation sufficiently horrible) death 
feeds upon and devours them ; while God redeems the souls 
of the upright from Hades, and receives them into his own 
habitations. The former waste away a prey to death, and 
the upright rule over them in the morning, i. e. soon, early, 
as after a night of sleep, the light of a fairer morning goes 
forth. The other Psalrn, to which I referred, marks this 
distinction still more clearly. la that, God takes the dead 
body of his chosen under his protection even in the grave, 
and from the night of the grave points out a secret path to 
the dwelling places of his own heavenly light. 

A. I understand that Psalm as little as the former one. 
It must be I suppose the prayer of a priest labouring under 
disease, whom God supplies with food and drink, and who 
prays for a speedy restoration to health. 

E. It is as clearly a prayer of David, as it is one of his 
most peculiar and characteristick Psalms. His form of ex 
pression, and his personal character may be traced in every 

Preserve me God, for in thee do I trust, 


I said to Jehovah, thou art my God, 
My happiness hangs all upon thee.* 

The sanctuaries of his land, 
I hold them dear,t 
In them is all my delight. 

Let others servo their many idols, 

And offer them strange sacrifices. , 

They are offerings of blood ; such will I not ofler. 
I will not take their names upon my lips, 

Jehovah is my portion, and my cup, 
In abundance thou hast cast me my lot, 
Pleasant places have fallen to me, 
And I have a goodly heritage. 

Therefore will I praise Jehovah, 
Who hath given me counsel, 
By night also my heart goeth after him. 

Jehovah is continually before me, 
He is my defence, I shall not bo moved. 
Therefore my heart rejoiceth, 
My soul exulteth within me, 

My body also shall rest secure, 
For thou wilt not leave my soul 
To dwell in the realm of shades, 
Nor suffer thy faithful servant 
In the grave to see corruption. 
Thou wilt show me the way to life, 
The fulness of joy in thy presence, 
And of pleasures with theo forever. 

This Psalm seems to me, both in regard to its contents, and 
in its relation to the character of David, to be perfectly clear. 
The expression, " God is on my right hand," i. e. as a friend 
he acts in conjunction with me and for me, the circumstan 
ces enumerated, that God has given him a fair inheritance 

* Herder defends this translation by supposing a different reading of 
the text. De Wette translates "there ia no happiness for roe without 
thee," or independent of thee. TR. 

t Here also a conjectural reading ii adopted and the conjunction at 
tached aa the suffix pronoun to a preceding word. Tn. 


not received from hia father, (the crown among God s pecul 
iar people) ; this has fallen to him through the councils of 
God and his disposition of the lot, (as their lot once fell 
to the tribes, and God often instructed and sustained him in 
his afflictions) ; therefore he cleaves so fast to God, longs 
after him, esteems so highly the sanctuary of Jehorah, and 
thinks upon it by day and by night, will have no intercourse 
with foreign idolatrous kings and their offerings ; but esteems 
Jehovah his portion and his cup, i. e. an inherited golden 
cup, used on festival occasions, the honour and ornament of 
the family, a costly inheritance, which he will exchange for 
nothing else do not all these appear to you very intelligi 
ble, and characteristick of David ?* Every trait can be au 
thenticated from his life and from other Psalms. 

A. And what further in relation to the future world ? 

E. God, who was his friend, his father, and his portion 
here, will not leave him even in the night of the grave : (there 
his body rests under the special protection of God) ; his 
faithful friend and sorvant Chasid he will not give over to 
the terrors of the realms of death ; he will show him a way 
from the darkness of the grave, to his own dwelling of light, 
and receive him there with hospitality as a father and friend. 
You see clearly in this the conception, which was formed 
from the translation of Enoch, which the congregation of the 
Chasidim, the friends of God, Abraham, Moses, &c. more 
distinctly impressed, which afterwards the translation of Eli 
jah confirmed, and which finally became the Paradise, the 
dwelling of the fathers, and a perpetual banquet of joy in 
Abraham s bosom conceptions, which we still find in the 
New Testament, and which here were spiritualized, illustra- 

That David is to be regarded in this Psalm, as the typo of the Mcs. 
aiah, is seen from the New Testment, but does not belong here. We 
peak here of the character of the person there speaking, and of tho sen- 
timents contained in the Psalm according to their proper connexion. 


oci, and beautifully confirmed, as the last poetical book of 
Bcripture especially shows. 

A. But it is said, the Hebrews adopted the Egyptian my* 
thology of the Islands of the dead. 

E. Two poets, who were fond of Egyptian imagery, Mo 
ses and Job, have once used an expression denoting a quick 
passage by ship into the other world ; and these are the only 
traces of it. This mythology never gained a place among 
the Hebrews, and could not ; for they had much better images 
belonging to the traditions of their own race and nation. 
They knew nothing of judges in Hades, nor of Charon ; and 
their Belial is any thing else rather than one of these forms. 
He is, as you observed, a king of powerless shades, and 
Scheol, hell, is his kingdom, his dwelling place. Their king 
dom of the fathers in the presence of God, is surely not de 
rived from Egypt. 

A. And the resurrection of the dead ? 

E. It is a conception pertaining to the kingdom of the 
Messiah, as this was already confirmed by the figurative de 
scriptions of the prophets ; and we shall speak of it hereafter. 
For the present I must bid you good night ! we are both 
going into the arms of the representative and image of death, 
and, according to the later analogical representation of the 
poets, the souls of the good are even in sleep in the Paradise 
of God. 



Wherefore did I not perish in the womb ? 
Why not expire, as soon as I waa born? 
Why did the knees receive and sustain ma? 
Why did I learn to hang upon the breast ? 
Now should I have lain still and been quiet, 

Job, iii. 11. x. 20. 


I should have slept and been at rest 
With kings and rulers of the earth, 
Who built desolate places for their graves ; 
With princes who had abundance of gold, 
And filled with treasures their bosses of death. 
Like an untimely birth I had been buried, 
Like infants which never beheld the light. 
There the wicked cease from troubling, 
There the weary are at rest. 
There the prisoners rejoice in their freedom, 
And hear not the voice of the oppressor. 
The small and the great are equal, 
The servant is free from his master. 

Are not my days few, and my life as nothing ? 
Let me alone, that I may rest a little, 
Before I go hence, and return no more, 
To the land of darkness and the shadow of death, 
The land of dark obscurity and gloomy shadows, 
Where disorder reigns, and even the light is aa darknesa. 



We held our swords and lances ready, 
Yet fato without an onset slew us. 
We held swift horses on the foot, ... 
And yet they bore us not away 
From swift destruction s touch. 
Whoever lived and loved not this fair world? 
And yet enjoyment here is sought in vain. 
Thy portion in this life and all we love 
Imparts but visions and phantastick dreams. 

* This is inserted here to show how poor are the consolations of a 
people, who are without the hope of immortality. The leading thought 
in Arabick poems of this kind is, " the grave is our eternal dwelling, 
the dead are inhabiters of the dust, which waits for us all. The voice, 
which they utter there, is but the hollow and sepulchral sound of the 
dead," &c. How much more beautiful ideas on the other hand were 
gradually unfolded in the poetry of the Hebrews will be shown in the 
pecimen following this. 


Divine compassion strews the hanuth,* 
Upon the face, whose beauty is its veil. 
The body wastes away beneath the earth, 
While thought to us still paints it fresh and new. 
The robe of honour over thee is spread, 
For thine own son thy power retains. 

Now may thy lowly bed of restf 
Imbibe the droppings of the morning cloud, 
Gentle as thine own hand hath been. 

To thine own place hast thou thyself betaken, 
Where not the South, nor yet the Northern breeze, 
The sweet perfume of incense wafts to thee, 
Nor sprinkles o er thee soft and cooling showers. 

A dark abode, where every dweller stays 
A stranger, banished always from his home, 
And all its ties asunder torn. 

There dwells the chaste, the self-protected, 
Still pure as water in the clouds of heaven, 
Reserved, but true and faithful in discourse ; 
The great physician now has healed her pain. 

We still but help each other to our graves, 
And generations following after still, 
But trample on the heads of those before. 
How many an eye that once was gazed upon, 
Is now filled full with stony earth and sand t! 
How many now their eyes have closed forever, 
Whom no misfortune ever blinded. 
Take refuge, Saiphoddaulah, in thy patience, 
And mountains cannot reach thy firmness; 
For much of time and change hast thou endured, 
And through all change hast thou remained the same. 

* A fragrant powder, which the Arabians strewed upon the face of the 
dead. The veil here spoken of is that, with which the body of the dead 
was covered. 

t A common wish uttered by the Arabians at the grave. They believed 
that even the dead were refreshed by it. They planted their graves 
also with evergreen trees, and with flowers, which the women on festival 
days sprinkled with water. See Reiske in Motanabbi, from the trans, 
lation of which the traits exhibited in this little piece aio taken. 

t An allusion to a powder for the eyes, a well known ornament among 
the Orientals. 



He s gone from earth ! to what far region going ? 
The friend of God but here no longer known, 

The friend of God our God his love bestowing 
Has placed him near hia throne. 

The vile and Godless crew, to sin consenting, 
Go down in death beneath the ocean s waves, 

Their ghosts with rage and shame themselves tormenting 
In hell s deep hollow caves.t 

Bat after him the Godlike throng pursuing 
Shall dwell in Paradise at God s right hand, 

Where now, as strangers here the prospect viewing, 
They sue th promised land.) 

Thy friend, Elijah, there at length appearing,]) 

Shall soar a conqueror to the lofty eky, 
Upborne by fiery steeds, no danger fearing, 

To thee, our God, on high. 

Nor shall his chosen in their graves deserted, 
Be left by him, theif friend, to endless night, 

But in the realm of shades his rights asserted, 
Shall raise them to the light. 

For thy supporting hand, Jehovah, pleading, 
I ll enter death s obscure and gloomy road.T 

Thy hand shall hold me fast, and upward leading, 
Shall guide to thine abode. 

Gen. v. 24. Enoch s translation. 

t Gen. vi. 17. The deluge is here referred to, as the probable 
origin of the Hebrew notion of the Rephaim in the kingdom of th dead. 
Job. xi vi. 5. 6. 

t Gen. T. 8. The congregatioa of the fathers. 8e Matt. xxfi. 
32. Heb, xi. 1316. 

H 9 Kinga li. 11. 12. Pi. Ixviii, 18. Hab. iii. 8. $ Pa. ii. 10. 11. 
T P. uiii. 4. 6. Pa. Ixziii. 23. 24. 


Though from ray sight the earth and sky are vanished, 
Though Boul and body languish, faint, and die, 

Yet thee shall I behold, nor e er be banished, 
In fairer worlds on high.* 

And hell with all its captive throng restoring, 
Shall he, who once descended, upward bring, 

I hear them cry, in realms of light adoring, 
Oh death I where is thy sting ?t 

Pa. LMiii. 25. 26. 1 1 Cor. xv. 5557. 


Of poetry which relates to providence. Whether it represents the events 
which take place in the world, as resulting from a game of chance, 
which God is playing with them. Whether ita sublime representations 
of the agency of God, as contrasted with that of man, tends to bring 
the soul to a state of inaction. Explanation of certain ancient tra. 
ditions, from which the later representations of providence were de. 
rived. Representation of God, as the avenger of secret sins in the 
history of Cain. Affecting and poetical traits in the narrative. Rec 
titude united with benignity in early apprehensions of God. Transi. 
tion to certain animated personifications in the poetry of later times. 
Of blood calling for vengeance, of crying sins, of the bird of retribu- 
tion, &c. Explanation of the language of God to Cain. Of the 
judgment of the deluge. By what principles we are to judge of events 
of this sort. In what style of representation the traditions of this 
event were conceived. New form and appearance of the earth after 
the deluge. Of the traditions respecting giants, the sons of God, the 
journal of events in the Ark, the olivo leaf, the rainbow and the in 
cense of the first offering upon the renewed earth. Why the rainbow 
became the sign of a new covenant. Of the rainbow in the poetry of 
Northern nations, represented as a giant s bridge. Of the tower of 
Babel. Of the aim and the style of the whole narrative. What is 
meant by the expression, a mighty hunter before the Lord. Implied 
derision and mockery in the whole tradition. Gcneial character of 
poetry relating to Babylon throughout the Scriptures. Isaiah s elegy 
on the king of Babylon. Of God as the conqueror and punisher of 
tyrants. Vindication of the brief antitheses, which occur in the poet, 
ical descriptions of providence. Impression made by this poetry on 
the heart. Comparison of Oriental with other forms of poetry in 
regard to providence. Pictures of providence from Job. Service 
which this poetry has rendered to humanity. Appendix, containing 
two Psalms and Job s Pindaric odo in praise of true wisdom. 

In a social conversation, at which our two friends were 
present, many touching proofs of an over-ruling providence 
were related. Examples were mentioned showing how 
singularly many were forewarned of misfortune, and even 
thereby snatched from danger, how richly the children of the 


poor and virtuous are often provided for, bow unexpectedly 
deeds of baseness are brought to light, and punished accord 
ing to the law of rigorous retribution, and how the prayers 
of the upright and pious are often answered in a remarkable 
manner, with other things of the like kind. Each of the 
company had contributed his mite from his own experience, 
and the company separated with very agreeable impressions. 
Our Oriental friends remained together, and Alciphron pur 
sued his mode of thinking as follows. 

ALCIPIIHOX. Did not the conversation, with which we 
have been entertained, seem to you, my friend, now and then 
to partake a little too much of human weakness ? If we 
consider every event, as the result of divine purpose, regard 
all events as having moral relations, and refer back to God 
every act, which we ourselves do, with its happy or unhappy 
results, every thing seems too little, too narrow, and con 
strained. In our conversations on the subject, you have in 
deed taken decidedly the opposite side, but have rather 
calmed my feelings, than convinced my judgment. Even in 
the poetry of the Orientals, men are disposed of by a game 
of chance, as the objects, which the invisible mover changes 
about as he wills, and independently of any choice of theirs. 
This may indeed, as you recently remarked, give to their 
poetry a species of dignity and simplicity. Yet I fear it 
must be only in words, or at best a sort of beclouded and 
unedifying simplicity. It reduces men to a state of stupidity 
and weakness, in which at length they give themselves op 
passively to the will of God, and cease to act freely at alL 
They only sing, praise God in hymns, and in short keep a 
perpetual holyday. The poetry, of which we are speaking, 
which shows in sublime contrasts how God works and con 
trols all things, is like a somniferous sound, that puts an end 
to our doings, a gentle opiate of the soul. It extols the 
works of God, but neglects to describe with distinctness and 
effect the characters and doings of men in their progress to- 


wards the happinesa and misery, which are the consequence 
of these. It leaves men undistinguished in the dazzling and 
overpowering light of God s glory, and blinds them in regard 
to a knowledge of themselves. Or if man will be a judge 
of the ways of God according to his own limited rule of moral 
judgment ; how short-sighted, harsh, partial, and arrogant a 
judge does he become ! The poetry of the Orientals, taken 
in connexion with their history, shows this abundantly. The 
former flies, the latter creeps ; in history all is quiescent, or 
wicked, in poetry comfort is sought by ascribing it to God 
and there the matter is ended, It seems to me, that in this 
point of view it has rendered but little service, either to the 
understanding, or the heart of man. It has rather held him 
back, and veiled him with a cloak of divine magnificence, or 
by bringing his doings in comparison with the course of divine 
government, placed him upon stilts, where he must either 
fall, or learn to go alone with great difficulty. 

EDTHYFHKON. I see, my friend, the root of your prejudi 
ces is still always in yourself, and unless this is eradicated, 
it is in vain to discourse of the beauty of any poetry whatever. 
What would be the use of the sublimest poetry in the world, 
if it were but an opiate for the soul, or a veil for the eyes, 
to prevent our knowing the real forms of things, and the true 
course of events. But how, think you, shall we best pursue 
the inquiry ? Have not these notions, and this representation 
of divine providence, resulted from the influence of particular 
traditions and events ? They have at least remained closely 
connected with these ancient events, rfnd, in their later appli 
cation even, reference is always had to these. Shall we not 
then trace the stream from its fountain ? for I confess to you 
I would not willingly enter into vague and barren discussions 
under this azure firmament. 

A. Neither would I ; and the histories of Cain, of Abel, 
of the flood, of the tower of Babel, of Sodom and Gomorrah, 
of the patriarchs, are all alike before us, and from these per 
haps all such notions have originated. 


E. Let us first consider, then, the history of Abel. It 
stands there like a mournful flower, marked with blood, and 
in its simplicity just as poetical as it should be, for a proof of 
the punitive justice and the providence of God. 

Where is Abel thy brother ? 
What deed hast thou done ? 
The voice of thy brother s blood 
Cries to me from the earth. 

And now cursed art thou, an exile in the earth, 
Which hath opened her mouth, 
The stream of thy brother s blood 
To drink from thy hand. 

When thou shah till the ground, 
It shall not yield thee its strength, 
A fugitive and vagabond shall thou be in the earth. 

What do you most admire in this language, the severity oi 
the judge, or the tenderness of the father ? And who shall 
inflict vengeance here, if God does not inflict it ? The fa 
ther ? But shall the father avenge the blood of his son upon 
his first-born ? And must the guilt remain unpunished ? 
Shall the blood of a brother be shed like the blood of a brute, 
and nion be hardened in savage cruelty and wickedness ? 
And how if the murderer conceal his crime, and [when called 
in question, rebel against his father himself ? The voiceless 
earth could not reveal the transgression to the father of the 
race, but to God it made known the deed ; the blood cried 
out and called for punishment. Observe how naturally, and 
how forcibly, every thing is set forth here, the blood crying 
for vengeance, (and for a long time the living soul was sup 
posed to be in the blood ;) the ground proclaiming the deed ; 
the maternal earth, which received the blood of her son from 
the hand of his brother, drank it, as it were with horror, and 
afterwards refused to the murderer the free enjoyment of her 
fruitful energies. Observe, with what strict justice God in- 

* Gen. iv. 9. 


flicta punishment ; for the curse, which he pronounces, only 
unfolds the consequences of sin. The murderer could no 
longer remain in the house of his father, for there he would 
be the occasion of misery to himself and to all. lie could 
not stay in the region, where the crime was committed ; for 
the blood raised its voice, the echoing earth cried out, and 
he himself said, " Every one that finds me, will slay rne ; 1 
must be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth." The mer 
ciful judge, therefore, did what the perplexed criminal knew 
not how to do. He removed him from his family, and from 
the circumstances which awakened his recollection arid hor 
ror of the deed. lie gave him another, perhaps unfruitful 
and mountainous, but for him secure region, and even became 
himself surety for the preservation of his life. Thus the 
blood of his brother was atoned for without a bloody revenge. 
The living is spared and punished. Do you not then consider 
this history, as a model of paternal justice ? and is not the 
whole tradition, in its several traits, fitted to alarm, to warn, 
to sooth, and to benefit ? 

A. And has it produced these effects ? 

E. Certainly. Recollect the example of blood crying for 
vengeance even in the last book of the scriptures. The souls, 
which are represented as under the altar,* are the blood of 
the slain, which had been spilled, as Abel here may be con 
ceived, in a figurative sense, to be an oll ering, as it were, upon 
the altar. They call for vengeance upon their persecutors, 
but white robes are given thorn ; they are withdrawn from 
their blood, and put oil in their expectations to the day of 
God s vengeance. So through the whole of the Old Testa 
ment the blood of prophets and witnesses for the truth calls 
for revenge, but God has reserved it for himself. He is 
the judge of all violence and outrage, especially of all secrei 
ains and deeds of shame. That, of which no man makes 

Rev. vi. 9. 10. 


complaint, has a voice for him. That, which none on earth 
can or will punish, he must call to account in right of his 
authority, as the father and judge of the whole race of man. 

Thou host set our iniquities before thee, 

Our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.* 

This is the pervading peculiarity of Biblical poetry, and truly 
a sublime and instructive idea for the human race. By 
means of this, God awakened the consciences of men, and 
softened them, at least through the inlluence of fear and 
terror. Their hands were to be restrained from deeds of 
blood, even the blood of revenge, and hence the voice of 
misdeeds was made to speak thus audibly. 

A. But this purpose is not attained. How unn.erciful is 
the avenger of blood in v\rabia even to the present day ; and 
among the Hebrews, it became necessary for Moses to soften 
and moderate the existing custom by special laws. 

E. From this nothing more can be inferred, than that the 
fire of revengeful passions was kindled deep in the hearts of 
this people, and that what was of a good tendency only sof 
tened and moderated ihcir ciuel and hard-hearted propen 
sities in a less degree, than it should have done. According 
to the representations of Arabick poetry, the poison of asps 
distils from the dead body of the slain, and continues to do 
so, till he is avenged, that is, sprinkled with fresh blood. t A 
bird of bloody omen rises from the blood, and follows the mur 
derer. Thus, the office of the avenger of blood is inherited 
from generation to generation, and the avenger becomes in 
his turn the prey of the avenger. Every tone and word, that, 
in regard to this maddening passion, tends to soften the 
human heart, and direct the thoughts upwards, is a gift from 

Ps. xc. 8. 

t A number of Arabick poems containing such sentiments may b 
seen in the Hamasa, and many proofs of such a belief are found in their 


heaven, and it is not the fault of the instruction, contained in 
these traditions and this poetry, but of the revengeful spirit 
of the Orientals, that it has been applied with no better effect. 
But there are, in fact, undeniable evidences of moderation, 
and beautiful examples of it in the Psalms and Prophets. 
How forcible and concise is the complaint of Job. 

Mine eye is dim with weeping,* 

On mine eyelids rest already 

The shadows of death. 

No robbery is in my hands, 

And my prayer is pure. 

O Earth, cover not my blood ! 

Let my cry go up continually ! 

For lo ! my witness is in heaven, 

My witness dwelleth on high. 

My friends are but mockers; 

Mine eye looketh with tears to God. 

Tender and subdued feelings of this sort are the most beau 
tiful aim of the poet, as they are an honor to humanity. 

A. But would it not have been better, if the judge, as a 
father, had anticipated the crime of Cain, and so every crime, 
rather than have punished it after it was committed ? 

E. He did what was possible in the nature of things, and 
so he does now and always. He did in fact anticipate. 

Jehovah looked not upon the offering of Cain, 
And Cain was wroth, and his countenance fell. 
Then said Jehovah, why art thou wroth ? 
And wherefore is thy countenance fallen? 
In doing well, shall thou not be accepted ? 
And if thou doest evil, lo, sin is lurking 
(As a ravenous beast t) at thy door. 
He aims at thee, and thou shall subdue him. 

* Job. xvi. 1C 20. 

t The verb here is used in the Arabick of the lurking of wild beasts ; 
And there is no doubt, that sin is here personified as a ravenous beast, a 
lion, or tiger, that, hungry and blood-thirsty, was lurking at the door of 


This was all which could be said to Cain. God spake with 
him. as with a froward child, and dissuaded him from yielding 
to that, which was sleeping in his heart, and lurking at his 
door, like a beast of prey. The crime so near being commit 
ted could not have been pictured more truly or more fearful 
ly. And what God did to Cain, he does to every man, if he 
will but look to his own heart, and listen to the voice of God 
in his coitsciencc. 

A. But how will you vindicate the judge in regard to the 
deluge? How is it to be justified, that on account of a few 
leading men and giants he inflicted punishment upon the 
whole world, suHbrcd every living creature, even the brutes, 
to perish, because all flesh had corrupted his way," and 
delivered eight persons with what could be taken with them into 
the ark, as alone innocent ? Does not this tradition give the 
most narrow and partial impression, that can be conceived ? 

E. The judge of the world needs the vindication of none 
of his creatures ! Those destinies, to which the whole earth 
is subjected, are laws of nature, to which every individual 
must be subject. It is ill philosophizing over the ruins of a 
sunken capital of an empire, or of a perished continent. As 
to the brutes, do they not always follow the destiny of man ? 
and, if we must philosophize, might we not, on the ground 
of their daily abuse, without much difficulty reason them out of 
the world ? VV r e must not then judge of this event and tradition, 
and contemplate it as metaphysicians, but in its physical and 
moral reiaiio:<d, and then see what impression it is fitted to 
make. All its accounts rf the corruption of the human race 
seem to meet together with a heavy and sad impression. 

A. Because they are taken from traditions of a violent 

Cain. Lettc (in Symbol, liter. Bremens, P. III. p. 563.) adduces two 
vesaes out of the Tograi, which are very apposite here. "My friend 
ia where enemies are lurking as lions lurk round the liauntaof the young 
deer." So too the resisting of temptation, and (he overcoming of BID, 
could not be represented to Cain under a more apposite imag*. 


and gigantick race, and come to us only through those, who 
escaped the deluge. 

E. So much the more original are they. The painful 
and distressing part of the account, and of the whole record 
of the ark, is the best pledge of its antiquity. Compare our 
years and our faculties with the years and the faculties of 
those Titans, the first-born of the ancient world, who yet felt 
in themselves the fresh energies of creation, and devoted them 
to oppression, luxury, licentiousness, and crime alone. How 
much even now can a base man, possessed of power and 
distinction, accomplish in his brief spun of life and how 
much, then, could they ellect in their thousand years ? per 
haps too with much cultivation, and an entire predominance 
of the power of evil. On these grounds, I can readily credit 
the ancient tradition. 

Jehovah saw the wickedness of men, 

That it was great upon the earth. 

Their imaginations, the thoughts of their hearts, 

Were only evil and continually. 

It repented him, that he had nmde men, 

that is, men, who could be so early and so widely sunk and 
abandoned in wickedness. Here too, therefore, he acts, as 
a judge, and a father ; he gave the earth another ordinance, 
and subjected it to new laws. 

A. To new laws do you say ? 

E. Obviously. After the flood, the period of human life 
is visibly diminished, and however one may account for the 
deluge, it certainly resulted from the natural laws of the 
earth in the existing stage of its formation. It had been 
gradually and slowly formed, and raised above the waters. 
Tor a long time, and at different periods, the water had stood 
above the earth, and in the first period of its being inhabited, 
extensive deluges in all parts of it were not unfrequent. 
Perhaps too, at that period, only the higher elevations of the 
earth s surface were at all inhabitable, the remainder being 


still under water, or exposed to sudden overflows. A sudden 
shock, or any essential change, might bring back the water 
upon the inhabited parts of the earth ; and perhaps this was 
done by a change in the position of the earth s axis. In 
short, every thing at that time came into the course, in which 
it is now proceeding, and the first heroick age must necessa 
rily perhaps be only the temporary condition of the race in 
the early progress of its development, while shaping (and 
misshaping) itself in the exercise of its untried powers ; 
which condition also had been designed with reference to 
this change in the state of the earth. To the beginning of the 
development and formation of our race pertained a. kng pe 
riod of life, such as scarcely belongs to our condition now. 
Without doubt there was then a corresponding state of the 
earth, such as no longer exists. After the flood, God made 
a new covenant, a new ordinance for the seasons, the customs 
of life, laws and length of days, and from this point, properly 
speaking, though still in a dim and obscure dawning of light, 
our history has its origin. The antediluvian history sounds 
to us, only as a fabulous account of heroes and giants, coming 
over the Hoods of a sunken world. 

A. Would that we knew something more of these fables 
of giants. 

E. We ought to wish for no such thing, and even the few 
traces that we have of them have been wickedly abused. 
What fictions have not been invented out of what is said of 
the sons of God, who went in to the daughters of men ? and 
yet the expression " sons of God," i. e. nobles, heroes, men of 
superior power, beauty, and strength, is common and current 
in all heroick songs:-but we are wandering from our purpose. 

A. 1 do not think so. That this sad fate of the earth, if 
it was only the course of nature, should be considered as a 
punishment of the giants, aad of their intercourse with the 
daughters of men ; that Noah should learn to regard himself, 
as the one alone chosen for deliverance, as the favorite of 


God, and the only worthy and upright man needs an expla 

E. He was so, and therefore ought so to regard himself. 
As his name implies, God through him procured the earth 
rest from the tyrants. He had been greatly afflicted, and saw 
himself, though in a difficult and painful manner, alone de 
livered from death. How narrow and limited is his confine 
ment in the ark ! With what longing does he open the 
window of the ark, and permit the birds to fly out ! With 
what emotion, and what feeling of returning confidence, is 
the first discovered olive leaf of the dove regarded ! The 
whole nairative contains not a word of insult, or malicious 
joy, over the perished world, but rather the saddened emotion 
of the little band, who had escaped, who looked upon the first 
lovely rain-bow, as a sign of the retaining sun, and of the 
favor of God, and who stepped forth, with a kind of dream 
ing joy, upon the muddy surface of their ancient mother 
earth. " Jehovah smelled the sweet savor of their first oiler- 
ing, and blessed the earth, and resolved that ho would not 
again destroy it." Can the feelings of men be more strongly 
expressed, than God himself here feels them as it were for 
them? He sees the returning bow in the cloud with the joy 
of a father, and makes it, the image of his own goodness, 
the first glance of the joyous eye of the world upon the dark 
masses of clouds, to become the sign of his unchangeable 
covenant, lie encompasses the earth with a fresh and in 
separable chorus of joyful seasons, and these still attend its 

A. I have never contemplated the account in this light, 
and have often wondered, how a fleeting phenomenon in the 
clouds could become the memorial of a perpetual covenant. 

E. Of a covenant so sure, that, as Isaiah* beautifully 
interprets this account, the mountains and hills shall be re- 

* I*a. liv. 710. 


moved, before this promise of God shall fail. So the tradi 
tions of the North, after their fashion, represent the rainbow 
as a bridge, which shall stand firm even to the end of the 
world, and can be broken asunder only at the final shaking 
of the firmament a stiff and harsh derivation, it must be 
confessed, from this original and child-like tradition, but yet 
containing the sense of it. The other wide spread gloss on 
the subject is indicated here too, that since the world is not 
again to be destroyed by water, it is to be consumed by fire. 
In short, my friend, man is a moral being, and should learn 
to view every thing under its moral aspect. The earth must 
be punished by the waters of the flood, and those, who wero 
saved, must bring with them into their new world the im 
pression, how fearfully God punished the predominance of 
crime. The la\vs prescribed by Noah are therefore strict 
and determinate. They indicate the height, to which cor 
ruption had attained in former times, and sketch, as it were, 
the first rights of the people, I might say, of brutes and men, 
on the renewed earth. So soon as in the building of the 
tower of Babel, an appearance of like proceedings on the 
part of the great and powerful occurred, the judgment of 
heaven is again awake to confound them. 

A. Here we come upon a delightful fable ! All men arc 
of one speech and one language, and, as if they might always 
have remained so, as if such marvellous confusion would 
scarcely have been necessary in the least degree in the 
natural course of things, they must build a tower, whose top 
shoulu reach to heaven, and God must find it necessary to 
keep a watch upon the progress of the building, and use 
earnest precautions respecting it. lie came to the conclu 
sion, it seems, that they would not desist, until he performed, 
I know not what miracle, upon their lips and language, in 
order that what had always happened might happen again, 
that is, that they might be scattered abroad upon the earth. 
Pardon me, if I find the narrative in itself, and as a specimen 


of the judgments of heaven, rather too strongly characterized, 
by simplicity. 

E. If you look at it in this light, it is so. But do you 
observe in what connexion the tradition occurs ? 

A. In the midst of genealogical registers.* 

E. And immediately after those, which are divided ac 
cording to languages, countries, and nations. The collector 
of these traditions had some experience and understanding, 
as well as we, and knew, that with nations, tribes, and wan 
dering migrations, languages also were distinguished. But 
on this very account he inserted here (his singular tradition, 
in order to show by what event men were brought under the 
hard necessity of being dispersed and separated from each 

A. And this you suppose was the child-like enterprise of 
building a tower up to heaven ? 

E. It is here represented as childish, and has a childish 
result. Because they were of one speech and language, they 
would build a tower to heaven, and even while they were 
building they become diverse in speech and language. They 
would have a visible mark to prevent their being dispersed, 
and became dispersed. The purpose of the narrative is ob 

A. But the descent and fearful precaution of Cod on ac 
count of it ? 

E. It is obviously said in mockery, as in fact, the whole 
tradition is of this character. Have you never read the Psalm, 

Why do the nations rngc, 

And imagine a vain thing ? 

The kings of the earth are assembled, 

The rulers take counsel against Jehovah 

lie that dwelleth in the heavens shall laugh, 

Jehovah shall hold them in derision. 

Gen. xi, 


Here you have the best commentary on the whole narrative. 
Look at the foregoing chapter. Who ruled in Babel ? who 
was the builder of it ? 

A. " Nimrod, the mighty hunter before the Lord." 

E. Arid why is he called so ? Certainly not for the foolish 
reason, that he hunted foxes and hares on the plains of Shi- 
nar, where there were neither mountains nor forests, not to 
mention, that one does not hunt such animals before the Lord, 
in any peculiar sense. If it were intended to say this, it 
would indeed be the most weak and simple of all sayings. 
But what is meant by a hunter in Hebrew ? 

A. A lurking enemy. 

E. " A mighty hunter," therefore means a crafty, lurking 
enemy, of great power, one who ensnares men, and oppresses 
them with cunning and force. Such was Nimrod, according 
to the universal tradition of the East, in which he is often 
mentioned, and the same thing is contained in the narrative, 
which you are so much disposed to ridicule. He found a 
delightful plain, materials, and willing laborers, for building 
himself a residence and a royal tower. To the subdued and 
easily deceived savages, that he had drawn together, he pre 
tended, that it was a token of their security and of their 
lasting union, but in his own purpose it was a monument of 
his pride and of their slavery. Now you are aware, that the 
most ancient times represented the skies as the dwelling 
place of God, and therefore, whatever approached them ob 
truded itself upon the region peculiarly belonging to him, 
and, as it were, encroached upon his throne. In just thi 
sense the narrative says, 

Go to, let us build a city and tower, 
Whose top may reach to heaven. 

And God, condescending to imitate their resolve, says in turn. 

Go to, let us go down now, 

And there confound their language. 


They have begun their work, 
And nothing will be restrained, 
Till the work ia accomplished. 

Do you not perceive a continued strain of sarcasm very ob 
vious here ? 

A. I am surprised, that I never remarked it before. 

E. And the greatest reproach of all lies in the result of 
their mighty enterprise. They resolved to scale the heavens, 
God stood in fear for the safety of his throne, was assured 
that they would not desist from their gigantick enterprize, 
and to prevent their success only laid his finger upon their 
lips, changed the articulation of the breath, and there are 
the ruins of their enterprize. It is called confusion, Babel, 
an everlasting monument of their pride, brought low by a 
mere nothing. The narrative accords with the spirit of 
the thing. It is the finest example of satire expressed, 
with unaffected simplicity, by the event itself, where the 
great and the little, the purposed ascent of men, the des 
cent of God, the confidence and arrogance of the former, the 
insecurity and dread of the latter, together with the singular 
means, by which he knows how to free himself from danger, 
are placed silently side by side. The confusion of that little 
particle of air, which is articulated in the mouth, does more 
than a tempest of lightning and thunder ; the usurper of the 
throne of Cod stands confounded and put to shame. He 
and his royal tower arc a proverb of reproach. " This 
was the mighty hunter before the Lord," who ventured to 
compare himself with him, and resolved to raise himself con 
spicuously before his eyes, and mount upward towards the 
heavens upon the shoulders of betrayed and oppressed hordes 
of the human race. That my explanation is the true one is 
witnessed by all the writings of the Hebrew poets respect 
ing Babylon. They all have precisely the tone and character 
of this first tradition. 

A. The same tone and character ? 


E. All are satires upon Babylon, in accordance with the 
general spirit and expression of this tradition. As it is here, 
so every where, Babylon is another name for pride, mag 
nificence, arrogance, oppression of the people and of nations, 
crafty policy and tyrannical domination. It is continually, 
as it is here, the symbol of daring impiety against God, of 
arrogant and ambitious enterprises, aspiring to the heavens, 
and a throne among the stars ; but, at the same time, of con 
fusion and desolation, and of the derision with which God 
looks upon the giant projects of men. The haughty queen 
has always, as here, the cup of trembling in her hand, from 
which she first causes the nations to drink, and must at last 
drink herself. Her glory is then brought down to the dust, 
and its scattered ruins are called Babel. 

A. You will enable me, I perceive, to look at all the 
prophets more understandingly, for the poetry which they 
contain respecting Babylon is in this character. 

K. The poetry of the Bible respecting other nations is 
equally distinct and characteristick, as we shall see at an 
other time. Even in the last book of Scripture, Babylon ia 
exhibited in the same form and character, as that in which I 
have represented it. She has in her hand the cup of abom 
inations, with which she intoxicates the nations ; on her 
forehead is a name indicative of licentiousness and impiety ; 
she finally sinks like a millstone cast into the ocean, and 
over her ruins is heard a song of derision and lamentation, 
in the same spirit, which this tradition breathes. The con 
trolling mistress of the world, the mighty huntress of men, 
who arrogated to herself the attributes of Jehovah, is forever 
put to shame. 

A. I recollect a beautiful elegy of Isaiah, with which I 
made myself familiar on account of its reference to the realms 
of the dead.* It exhibits the same silent derision, the same 

* Iso. xir. 


sepulchral tones of lamentation, which you have mentioned. 
It moves in lengthened elegiack measure, like a song of la 
mentation for the dead, and is full of lofty scorn and contu 
mely from the beginning to the end. 

E. Will you read it ? 


In the day, when Jehovah shall give thee rest 
From thy distress, and anxiety, and thy slavish bondage, 
Then shall thou take up a song over the king of Babylon, 
And shalt say, 

How hath the taskmaster become still ! 
The exactor of gold ceased to oppress! 
Jehovah hath broken the oppressor s rod, 
The sceptre of the tyrants, 
That which smote the nations in anger, 
With strokes, which were never remitted, 
Which ruled them with stern severity, 
And oppression that nothing restrained. 

Now the whole world is quiet and at rest, 
The nations send forth a song of joy, 
Even the lir trees exult over thee, 
The cedars of Lebanon, 
" Since thou wast laid low, no one comes up 
To hew us down and destroy us." 

The ghostly realm beneath was roused for thee, 
It moved to meet thee at thy coming. 
It stirred up for thee the ghostly shades, 
Even all the mighty ones of the earth. 
It raised them up from their thrones, 
All the kings of the nations. 
They all welcomed thee, and said, 
" Art thou also become a shadow like us ? 
Art thou, too, made even as we ?" 

Brought down even to the dead is thy pride, 
And low the triumphal sound of thy harps. 
Thy couch beneath thee is the worm, 
The mould of death thy covering. 

How art thou fallen from huuven ! 
Bright star ! thou son of the dawn ! 
How art thou crushed to the earth, 


That didst conquer the nations ! 

Thou saidst in thine heart, " I will mount to heaven ! 
Above the stars of God will I exalt my throne ! 
I shall sit aloft where the Gods assemble, 
Upon the mountain heights of the North ! 

" I will mount up above the heights of the clouds, 
I shall become like the Most High !" 
But down to the abyss art thou hurled, 
To the hollow caves of the dead. 

And those, that see thee, gaze upon thee, 
They narrowly scan thee, "Is this the man, 
Who made the earth to tremble ? shattered kingdoms in pieces ?" 

" The world around he made like a desert, 
He rendered its cities desolate, 
He opened not the prison door of his captives. 

The kings of the nations all sleep in glory, 
Each in his own house, his spacious tomb. 
Hut thou art cast forth from thy grave, 
Like an.onstrous and abhorred birth.* 

Covered with slain, whom the sword hath pierced, 
Who sink down among the stones of the pit, 
Thou liest there like a carcase trodden under foot. 
Thou shall not be united with them in burial, 
For thou hast made thine own land desolate, 
Thine own people hast thou smitten. 

The seed of evil-doers shall not be named, 
Nor called to remembrance forever. 
Give their sons to death for the sake of their fathers, 
That they rise not again and inherit the land, 
And fill the country with cities." 

I will rise up against thee, 
Saith Jehovah of hosts. 
I will destroy the name and race of Babel, 
The child and grand-child, sailh Jehovah. 
I will make it a hold for the porcupine, 
A morass of stagnant water; 
I will sweep it into the rubbish of desolation, 
Huitli Jehovah of hosts, 

It is customary with Isaiah to compare a family to a tree, and A 
member of it to a branch. An abhorred and cast off branch, therefor*, 
i* without doubt a monstrous and deformed birth. 


E. Here you see the haughty oppressor of the nations, 
her, who arrogantly aspired to heaven, and to build her throne 
above the stars ; and immediately after the object of God s 
derision, humbled to the dust, and thrust down to the abyss ; 
she lies amidst the cast off rubbish of desolation. " The 
desolate daughter of Babylon" is the name and representation 
of all biblical poetry respecting Babylon, and many traits in 
the elegy, which you have read, would seem as if intended 
for Nimrod and the first building of the tower. But our 
thoughts are becoming as much dispersed, as the people of 
whom we are speaking. The leading trait, which we were 
to remark upon at present, was this, that the poetry of the 
East tends to make us observe more particularly, how the 
providence of the heavenly judge dashes the pride of tyrants, 
and thrusts down to hell that which would exalt itself to 

A. And exalts too that which is low ; here we have there 
fore an example of those sublime contrasts in the agency of 
providence, of which we spoke at first. They seem to me 
quite too monotonous and full of repetition. 

E. Just as the parallelism in its general character seemed 
to you, when you first considered it. These contrasts are 
one kind of parallelism ; the loftiest and most powerful 
maahal, or poetical exhibition, which such general represen 
tations of worldly scenes can admit. Do they not also ex 
hibit the nature of things, and give us a view of the occur 
rences and changes of the world, as they are in themselves ? 
What do we see in the world, and the things of the world 
universally, but continual ebb and flow, exaltation and 
abasement ? Nothing continues, nothing can continue at 
the same point of elevation. All here below is lluctuating 
like the waves, and in the sight of God what is this drop of 
a world, with all its giants and heaven-daring conquerors, but 
a swelling and bursting bubble. Ilesiod and Homer, /Esehy- 
lus and Pindar, could paint the fleeting billows of worldly 


change, at contrasted with the unchanging and unchangea 
ble God of fate, under no form more true or expressive. 
They picture the contrast of the high and the low, the strong 
and the weak, as if they had derived it from the East. Now 
I willingly believe, that such changes of destiny under the 
despotick government? of the East may be more frequent, 
more sudden, and more striking. But as to their essential 
grounds, they are every where the same, the burden and end 
of the song, the result of human history. To him, who, in 
reading these contrasts, finds no examples to illustrate them, 
they stand as unmeaning ami empty sounds ; but to one, 
whose memory is stored with facts and the treasuers of ex 
perience, they are a poetical abridgment of all history, and 
on this account I place a high estimate upon Job, the Pro 
phets, and Psalms. 

A. And our church hymns of course no less, since in 
these too such contrasts, in regard to the course of providence, 
are imitated from the Psalms, 

E. Certainly. They sound here, to be sure, comparative 
ly unanimated, dull, and unnatural ; yet many hymns and 
Psalms respecting providence are among the finest in our 
collections. Some are beautifully versified, the sentiment 
universally intelligible, I might say common place. These 
hymns too have sufficiently proved their power and influence 
on the human heart. They are the consolation of the un 
fortunate, and the support and strength of the poor. They 
come to him, as a voice from heaven, to console him in his 
desolation, and they calm and quiet his soul. Job and the 
Psalms are a store-house of observations and moral reflections 
on human life, on good and ill fortune, on pride and humility, 
true and false self-confidence, and confidence in God. And 
since, throughout the whole, the eye of God is represented as 
watching over the course of human events, we may say with 
truth, that this poetry has exhibited the same unity and sim 
plicity in the succession of events in the world, which, u 


wo before observed, it exhibited in the scenes of nature. 
The exhibition of art in the poetry of the Greeks is but taw 
dry ornament compared with this child-like and pure simpli- 
city ; and in reading the Celtick poetry, fond as I am of [it, 1 
always feel as if wandering beneath a clouded evening sky. 
It presents indeed beautiful scenes in the clouds and on the 
earth, but without a sun, without God, and without a purpose 
which is determinate, and capable of giving unity to the 
whole. Man at last vanishes like a cloudy vapour, while iii 
the East he stands upon a rock, with tlte everlasting God for 
his sure foundation. 

I will betake myself to God, 

To God will I lift up my voice, 

Who docth great things and unsearchable, 

Marvellous things without number. 

He giveth rain upon the wide earth, 
And sendeth streams upon the dry fields, 
That he may exult those that are low, 
And raise to happiness those that mourn. 

He maketh vain the devices of the crafty, 
And their hands perform not their enterprise. 
He taketh the wise in their own craftiness, 
And precipitateth the counsels of the intriguer, 
So that they meet with darkness in the day-time, 
And grope at noon-day, as in the night. 

Thus he saves the poor from their sword, 
And the weak from the hand of the strong, 
So that hope is given to the poor, 
And iniquity stoppeth her mouth. 

Happy is the man whom God correcteth, 
And the chastening of the Most High despise not. 
For he maki th sore, and bindeth up, 
He woundeth, and his own hand healeth. 

In i..\ troubles will he deliver theo, 
And in seven shall no evil touch thee. 
In famine he shall save thee from death; 
la war, from the hand of the sword. 


From the scourge of the tongue* ahalt thou be hid, 
Nor be afraid, when the destroyer cometh. 
At the destroyer and at hunger thou shall laugh, 
Nor fear the wild beasts of the earth. 

The stones of the field are thy sure allies, 
And the wild beasts are at peace with thee. 
Thou knowest that thy tent is secure, 
Thou returnest, and findest it in safety. 

Thou knowest that thy seed shall be many, 
Thine offspring aa the grass of the earth. 
Thou shall come to ihy grave in full age, 
As a shock of corn cometh in, in its season. 

Let us be thus favoured by the care of providence, and it 
would be our own fault, if we should on that account become 
careless and inactive. I leave every one to his own taste, 
but to me it is obvious, that those simple and unstudied con 
trasts, (child-like and artless reflections on the course of 
events from the mouth of aged and experienced men), had a 
peculiar tendency to nourish the tender plant of a kind of 
poetry, that breathes confidence in God and in his special 
and provident! il regard for the human race. The Orientate, 
beyond a doubt, produced them ; and the most ancient poetry 
of the Greeks is, in this respect, entirely Oriental in its char 
acter. But it was only in this simple form, that tlrcy could 
be apprehended moreover by the most simple and undisci 
plined understanding, and seize upon the heart of man, when 
most depressed and most in need of their influence. They 
are a kind of mirror of the world, and sum up the experi 
ence of the long and instructive life of the patriarchs. Aa 
mountains grow old, so empires fall into decay ; as the fresh 
leaf puts forth, so new fortunes and new hopes spring up for 
man thus the seasons of the year and the periods of human 

The scourge of the tongue is, according to the parallelism, the bit* 
of a blood-thirsty brute. The destroyer is the lion, which in ihe follow, 
ing verse is connecled with hunger, i. e. a hungry, ravenous deslroyer. 
The last verse clearly explains the three preceding. 

life, the scenes of nature and the varying aspects of human 
destiny, are connected together, and God is the controller of 
them all. Even at the present day we may hear experienced 
and moralizing old men, when the fermenting elements of 
life have worked themselves clear, discoursing in the same 
tones with Job, the Psalms, and the Prophets, and the in 
credulous and headstrong youth finds by experience at last, 
that they have discoursed truly. For the most part, too, the 
reflections in praise of providence are suggested by the pic 
tures and historical traditions, which we have treated of, or 
shall treat of, the flood and the memorials of Divine pun 
ishment, the confounding of human purposes and exposure 
of hidden crimes. From these they proceed, as their source, 
and terminate throughout in the silent fear of God and wis 
dom of man forming without doubt the richest treasure, the 
most useful poetry and instruction, as the guide of our 
shadowy and fleeting life. I could wish I were acquainted 
with a poem, that combined together in its representations 
the most striking and affecting scenes of providence in our 
own history. The more simple, the more Oriental would it 
become in its general characteristicks. 



God is our refuge and strength, 

A sure defence in time of need, 

Therefore we fear not, though the world be shaken, 

And the mountains sink in the depths of the sea. 

Let its floods roar and be tumultuous ! 

Let the mountains tremble at his majesty ; 

Yet will his refreshing streams 

Make glad the city of God ; 

The dwelling place of the Most High. 

God is in the midst of her ! be is still unmoved ! 

Pi. xlri. 


God helpeth her, looking down upon her 

In the time of her need. . 

The nations rage, and empires Kink, 

He thundereth, and the earth is melted. 

Jehovah, the God of hosts is with us ! 

The God of Jacob is our refuge ! 

Come, behold the works of Jehovah ! 

Who now maketh the countries deserti, 

And now, even to the end of the world, 

Maketh wars to cease. 

Breaketh the bow and cutteth asunder the spear, 

And burneth the chariot in the fire. 

" Be still and know, that I am God ! 

The king of nations, the ruler of the world !" 

Jehovah, the God of hosts, is with us ! 
The God of Jacob is our refuge. 


Praise ye the Lord ! 

Praise Jehovah, () my soul ! 

While I live, I will praise Jehovah, 

I will praise my God, while I have being! 

Put no confidence in men of might, 
In a son of man, who hath no strength. 
His breath vanisheth, he returneth to the earth, 
And all his purposes are cut off. 

Happy is he, whose help is the God of Jacob ! 
Who Uusteth in Jehovah, his guardian God, 
That created the heavens, and the earth, 
The sea, and all that is therein, 
And keepeth truth forever. 

He procurcth justice for the oppressed, 
He provideth bread for the hungry. 
Jehovah giveth eyes to the blind, 
Jehovah raiscth up the bowed down, 
Jehovah loveth the righteous, 
Jehovah prescrveth the strangers, 
He supplieth the fatherless and widows, 
And subverteth the counsels of the oppressor. 

* Pi. cxlvi. 


Jehovah will reign forever ! 
Thy God O Zion from generation to generation ! 
Praise ye the Lord ! 


Man hath found an outlet for the silver, 
The place of the gold, which he finelh. 
He hath taken iron out of the dust, 
And molten brass out of the stone. 

He hath set bounds to darkness, 
And every extreme hath he searched out, 
The stone of dark obscurity, 
And of the shadow of death.* 

A flood goeth out from the realm of oblivion,! 
They draw it up from the foot of the mountain, 
They remove it away from men. 

From the earth upward, goeth forth bread, 
And underneath it is changed as by fire. 
There in its rocks is found the sapphire, 
Interspersed with dust of gold. 

The way no mountain bird hath seen, 
The vulture s eye hath not discovered it j 
No stately beast hath trodden it, 
No lion hath ever passed through it. 

Man placeth his hand upon the rock, 
He overturneth the mountain by the roots. 
He cuttethout rivers from among the rocks, 

* Probably the last stone in the mining investigations of Job; the cor 
ner and boundary stone, as it were, of the kingdom of darkness and an 
cient night. II. 

The language here used must designate metalliferous stones, veiled 
in the deepest night, and deposited in the darkest depths of the earth, 
but which yet the unwearied miner searches out. J. 

t According to this division and mode of reading, the dwelling of 
the forgotten would be the kingdom of the dead, and at a greater depth 
than the deepest mines have reached. Streams break forth from the 
river of eternal oblivion beneath, and yet are overcome by the miners, 
pumped dry, and turned out of the way, Yet I confers the passage re 
mains obscure to my own mind. 


And whatever is costly his eye seeth. 

He nearcheth the floods in their deep fountain. 

And that which is hid he bringeth to light. 

But where shall man find wisdom T 
And where is the place of understanding? 
Man knoweth not the seat thereof, 
It is not found in the land of the living. 
The abyss crieth, it is not in me ! 
The sea respondeth, not in me ! 

It cannot be purchased for gold, 
Nor silver weighed as the price thereof. 
Gold from Ophir cannot equal its worth, 
Neither the precious onyx and sapphire. 

It is never ranked with gold and chrystal, 
No precious jewel is ever exchanged for it. 
Ramoth and Gabish are not to be named, 
For the possession of wisdom is better than pearls. 
The topaz of Ethiopia is not compared with it, 
The most fine gold cannot equal it.* 

Where then shall man find wisdom ? 
And where is the place of understanding ? 
It is hidden from the eyes of the living, 
Kept secret from the fowls of heaven. 
Nothingness and death answer, 
We have heard the rumour thereof from afar. 

God marketh out the road to it, 
He alone knoweth its abiding place. 

* All this variety of wealth indicates the Idumeean origin of the book 
of Job. The Idumtuans at an early period had the trade by way of Ezi. 
on Gebcr and Eluth on the Red Sea, which the Israelites first gained 
under Solomon. Hence their acquaintance with Ophir, JEihopia, and 
the costly articles here named. From the passages relating to mining, 
which occur in this book, doubts have been started in regard to its anti 
quity, but wholly without reason. So soon as gold and precious stones 
were dug from the mountains, mining existed, and there are proofs 
enough, that it existed very early. The passage of Job, in which it is 
aid, " gold comes from the North," is wholly misunderstood, when ap. 
plied to trade in gold. The trade of which Job speaks was wholly with 
the South by way of the Red Sea, and the parallelism of that passage 
speaks of the golden splendour, in which God appeared from the North, 
as was clearly shown in the previous dialogues. 


He seeth even to the ends of the earth, 

He looketh abroad under the whole heavena. 

And aa he appointed their weight to the wind*, 
And gave to the waters their measure, 
And established its law for the rain, 
And marked a path for the tempest, 
A path for the flashes of the lightning ; 
Then he saw it, ana computed it,* 
He determined it, and searched it out. 
And to man he said ; 

"For thee, the fear of the Lord is wisdom, 
And to avoid evil, that is thy understanding." 

* Wisdom here is not yet properly personified, as in the Proverbs of 
Solomon, and the poetry of Job is far older, than that in the writings of 
Solomon. The latter is brilliant, the former sublime ; the latter full of 
thought, and in a polished style, but has nothing of the energy and 
strength, which characterize the genius of this ancient Idumccan book. 
I wonder therefore how any one could imagine the author of Solomon s 
Song to be the poet of the book of Job ; two works at opposite ei- 
iremes as to the style of poetry and the modes of thinking. 


Objections, which have been made against the Israelites u a people, 
and must also have a bearing upon the spirit of their poetry ; their 
narrow, self-satisfied and exclusive views, their inactive or profligate 
ancestors, their denunciation and hatred of all the nations of the earth, 
as well as of the race, which had the nearest affinity with them. The 
point of view for investigating these objections. Of Ham s transgres. 
sion and punishment. What this was, and how far it must necessarily 
fall upon Canaan. Of th? drunkenness of Noah, the sojournings of 
Abraham, and the rights which the Canaanites themselves admitted 
him to have. Of his conduct in Egypt, his magnanimous and noble 
character. Of his being the friend of God. Description of it, as the 
most calm and contemplative ideal of humanity, as the highest aim of 
the choice, and vocation of a people, i. e. of a national cultivation. 
First characteristick of Hebrew poetry, its expressiveness of friendly 
communion with the Supreme Being. Passages from Isaiah respect, 
ing Abraham, as a pattern to his descendants. Of the delinquencies 
of the patriarchs, especially of Jacob. Whether he received the name 
Israel in a dream. Explanation of the narrative of his wrestling with 
the Eloliim. Of the conflicts of mortals with Gods among other na 
tions. The essential destinction between them, and the symbolical 
import of this narrative. Jacob s dream of the ladder that reached to 
heaven, and his notions of the angels. Whether the blessings, which 
the patriarchs pronounced upon their sons, showed partiality. Bless- 
ing of Ishmncl. Description of Hagar s wandering in the desert. 
Blessing of Esau and of Jacob. Glance at the land of Canaan. Sec. 
ond charucteristick of its poetry, its relation to the promised land and 
to the patriarchs. Appendix. Poetical extracts from Job for mark 
ing his character, as an ideal of the happiness, of the moral character, 
and virtue of an Oriental prince. 

ALCIPIIRON. The belief in providence, which you lately 
unfolded to me out of the writings and from the history of 
the Hebrew nation, and which you extolled as a flower full 
of beauty and interest for the human race, has no adversary 
in me. I could wish rather, that the writings of this peoplq 
had in fact unfolded it in a form unmixed with national pe 
culiarities, and interesting to the whole human race. But 


has it been done in this form ? Was not this belief among 
them a mere national faith, so narrow arid exclusive, that it 
might rather be considered offensive and hostile, than friendly 
to the race. They were God s peculiar people, chosen and 
set apart even in their ancestors. No blessing comes upon 
any new offspring in the successive generations of their pa 
triarchs, but a curse must at the same time fall upon a neigh 
bouring race, even if it be that of a brother or a near kins 
man. Noah is not content with blessing Shem, he must at 
the same moment pronounce a curse upon Ham. Isaac can 
not receive a blessing, but Jshmael must be thrust out from 
his home and family ; nor Jacob, without corresponding and 
injurious neglect of Msau. h*o it is throughout. Moses and 
Joshua shy the ancient and rightful inhabitants, in order to 
convert to the benefit of God s chosen people a country, 
which according to human laws did not belong to them. 
You know how much sarcas.ii and how many invectives are 
utteied respecting the history of this people, in which I have 
no participation, because they often give pain to innocent 
persons, who have no knowledge of the subject or of the 
times. Yet it is difficult to controvert ihe leading idea, that 
this people, even fiom their origin, cherished narrow, exclu 
sive, and arrogant views, which have, impressed themselves 
also upon their poetry, and have spoiled the best part of it 
by a mixture of denunciations and hatred of other nations. 
And yet 1 can discover in the history of their patriarchs no 
appearance of extraordinary merit. What hcroick deeds have 
they to exhibit, which would not be far outdone by the records 
of other nations ? Wlrit great names, on which the glory of 
their race can be even tolerably well sustained ? Can they 
appeal to Noah, an example of drunkenness ; to Abraham, 
who disowned his wife in Egypt ; to the timid Isaac; to Jacob, 
whoso cunningly overreached his father, his brother, his fa 
ther-in-law, and the whole world; to the incestuous Judah; the 
revengeful Simeon and Levi ; or finally to Moses, who with 


hard-hearted insensibility cut off whole nations ? Aod could 
such men be the founders of a nation chosen of God, of 
God s peculiar people? In this people all the tribes of the 
earth arc to be blessed ; and yet they imprecate curses upon 
all nations, though they know only their names, and often, in 
the songs of their prophets, weakly and with hostile feelings 
rejoice, that their future king will at last reduce them all to 
subjection. They have no representation more delightful to 
them, tlnn that of their king coining from Mount Seir, as a 
treadcr of the wine-press, and with garments dyed in the 
l.lood of a kindred people. The whole earth must be laid 
waste, ni order that their poor and barren land, their race 
despised by all nations, may bear rule alone. Answer me 
now, my friend, in regard to these objections, but, I beg of you, 
not mystically and theologically ; of such vindications I have 
read enough and more than enough. \Yliy did not Abraham 
continue where lie was ? Why must the unoffending Canaan 
ppy (he forfeit of his father s indiscretion or villainy? or the 
unfortunate Ksau suffer, because his mother cooked a kid, 
before he could prepare his wild venison ? And yet on these 
old wives (ales depends all the peculiar distinction of this 
people, their ancestral honour, and the lofty triumph of their 
prophecies and V.viluis. The most beautiful poetry in the 
world becomes poor and contemptible, when it grounds itself 
with an exclusive and hostile feeling on traditions of this sort. 
EiTHYj iiuoN. You have overwhelmed me, my friend, with 
objections, which I have reason to be thankful, do not affect 
my own race. 1 am no Hebrew, and have no interest in this 
people, as a people, "i he) were not certainly chosen for 
their own worthiness, and no one has exposed their weakness 
and shame with more force, than their own prophets. I 
willingly grant you, that they greatly misapprehended the 
purpose of their election and peculiar privileges, and sadly 
profaned with superstition and idolatry, with stupid pride, 
obsequious vanity, and other vices, that Palladium, for which 


they assumed far too much credit to themselves, their faith 
in Jehovah, as the only and the true God. But we are not 
here called upon, as it seems to me, to vindicate the nation, 
as a nation, much less their national prejudices and vices, but 
the purpose of God in the events of their history, and the 
flowers ol that poetick growth, which, in the results of its de 
velopment has actually, (for this is matter of fact and no 
theological mysticism), produced fruits for the benefit of so 
many otln r nations. And since we are conversing about a 
shepherd race, let us recline under this spreading tree ! We 
will imagine it to be Abraham s terebinth tree at Mainre, and 
even speak m the tones of calm contemplation, like the pa 
triarchal shepherds ; not with the artful wit of Voltaire, nor 
with the dark malignity of Bolingbroke and Morgan. The 
tranquillity of nature around us awakens peaceful emotions 
and we will endeavour to keep at peace with these forms of 
ancient simplicity. 

First, then, of Noah. You call the conduct of Ilarn to 
wards him indiscretion or villainy. Let it be the one or the 
other, you must give the father permission to punish it. 

A. To punish it ? 

E. That is the sense of it ; and I know not why, when we 
fall upon a word that is misunderstood, we should not put an 
intelligible one in the place of it. The father was a king in 
his own family, and had sovereign power even over the life of 
his sons. Noah was the second Adam, the patriarch of a 
new world. He must appear to his family almost in the char 
acter of a God ; for it was only through him and for his sake, 
that they had been delivered from the general judgment. Now 
no greater oH ence could have been committed against him, 
than Ham, who was himself a man of mature years, and had 
sons, committed in this case. You know with what rigour 
the laws of filial reverence and modesty in domestick inter 
course are guarded in the East, and in a period so early were 
rightfully regarded as sacrod. Those members which Ham 


created with mockery, were held sacred. He offended his 
brothers, and was guilty, if you will allow the expression, of 
violating the injured majesty of his father. His transgression 
was domestick, and so was the punishment. He had insulted 
the patriarch of the race, and punishment was inflicted upon 
the son and his offspring. In short, ne was deprived of the 
rights pertaining to a son, and was degraded to the condition 
of a family servant among his brethren. 

A. Is that the import of the words ? 

E. Look and see. 

Cursed be Canaan ; 

Let him be a servant of servants to his brethren. 

Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Shem, 

And let Canaan be his servant. 

Let the Elohirn enlarge Japheth, 

Let him dwell in the tents of Shem, 

And let Canaan be his servant. 

Whether Canaan participated in his father s offence or not, he 
naturally participated in the punishment ; for when the father 
was deprived of his filial rights, his children must suffer with 
him. So it is now in regard to all family misfortunes, and it 
seems to me, that Noah inflicted a punishment, which, ac 
cording to the then prevailing customs and mode of thinking, 
if not light, was yet not unjust ; ignominy with ignominy, 
scorn with scorn, insult with insult. 

A. But why was Canaan, the youngest son of Ham, alone 
named ? for Ham had older sons. A wishful glance at the 
land of Canaan seems to have had its influence here. 

E. If it were so, then it was an application merely of the 
tradition to a case, in which the Israelites were more par 
ticularly concerned. You know, that the national rights of 
ancient nations depended on such traditions, and the relations 
of the tribes in their origin to each other. In the East, in 
India, 1 might say, indeed among all small tribes, which re 
main attached to their original stocky the same is true, even 
at the present day. Yet I believe, that, as to the fact, Ca- 


iman, the youngest son, participated in the transgression, and 
perhaps the peculiar expression, " Noah knew what his young 
er son had done unto him," points to this. The narrative ia 
too concise to decide this point ; and, if it did, the privilege 
of indulging misanthropy, and of conquering the Canaanites, 
wherever found, could not be given by this sort of prophetick 
narrative. Jacob imprecated curses upon his two sons, 
Simeon and Levi, even on his death-bed, because they had 
revenged the deepest stain upon the honour of his house 
with the blood of a Canaanitish family. 

A. And yet Joshua destroyed them without mercy. 

E. We will speak of that hereafter ; let us confine our 
selves for the present to the history of the patriarchs. You 
called Noah a drunkard. I have no doubt you will retract 
the expression, when you read the narrative in its connexion. 
It was the first experiment in the cultivation of an unknown 
plant, which might have resulted in the same way to Bac 
chus himself. 

A. Forget the word, and let it pass. Why did not Abra 
ham remain where he was, in his own country ? His leaving 
it was the occasion of the subsequent mischief. 

E. Because he was a iNomade, and all Nomades live a 
wandering life. They are wanderers still, even to the pre 
sent day, though three thousand years, it may be presumed, 
must have made a considerable difference in the populousness 
of these countries. Besides, it was not he that first became 
a wanderer ; his father was a Nomade before him, and his 
father s father. The brothers of Peleg had wandered with their 
tribes even down to Arabia, and the brothers of Abraham, 
and his brothers sons, had planted the best countries of the 
neighbouring region, Mesopotamia, Syria, and Chaldaja. In 
regard to physical advantages, Abraham obtained by no 
means the best country, and God promised on this account to 
make his portion good with blessings of a different kind. 
And finally, in the land of Canaan there was no collision of 

; 223 

interests between Abraham and any one there. He moved 
about here and there, as a godlike prince, showed his mag 
nanimity to Lot, and towards the kings whom he delivered 
from their enemies, and his integrity of character to the Ca- 
naanitcs, of whom he purchased a burying place. This they 
offered him as a gift, but he would not receive it without 
paying its price ; and you are aware what they allowed him 
along with it. Obviously, the occupation in common with 
them of their country for himself and his latest posterity. 
Where the fathers slept, there must the children sleep also. 
This was the first principle of national rights among all an 
cient nations. " We will meet you at the graves of our fa 
thers," was the common expression in maintaining their 
rights against the encroachment of their enemies. In truth 
one who would convict Abraham of misanthropy, of oppres 
sion, of self-seeking, and narrowness of soul, must discover 
some new history of his life. 

A. Yet he dissembled, and disowned his wife in Egypt 
E. It was not however for him, but for the politick 
Egyptians to be ashamed, that a stranger, though even upon 
half groundless apprehensions, must do what he did ; and 
the result proved that the fear was not wholly groundless. 
Besides, \ve must not regard a patriarchal shepherd, as a 
gallant lover, or a knight by profession, who is ready to die 
a thousand deaths for his mistress. Abraham committed an 
orrour ; and I am not displeased, that in the history of a great 
man the weakness of being needlessly cautious stands record 
ed. In the mean time, the narrative no where says what 
vulgar slanderers, in their ignorance of the ancient customs 
of the East, represent. We will overlook, then, the mistake 
of a herdsman, who knew not how to conduct himself at 
court, and observe with what uprightness, dignity, benevo 
lence, and simplicity, he conducted in his tent, his own shep 
herd s lodge. Can any thing be more noble, than the mode 
of his intercession for Sodom, his declaring himself to th 


king of Salem respecting the spoils, and to Lot ? Can any 
thing be more beautifully pastoral in its character, than hia 
reception of the angels, and entertainment -of them beneath 
the tree ! In reading it, one is transported into the very re 
gion, and breathes the true spirit, of pastoral innocence, and 
expects, as it were, angels to present themselves before hia 
own hospitable and simple tent. Finally, his intercourse 
with God himself, how full of interest and instruction ! 
With what calm and unquestioning faith, when his divine 
friend required it, did he offer up the dearest object which 
he possessed, that on which all his hopes were suspended, 
which he had waited and longed for, as the highest prize of 
hia life ! Pardon me, my friend, for saying, that I scarcely 
know any thing to be compared with this calm, heroick faith, 
this artless confidence between a simple herdsman and the 
God of heaven. The poetry of no other people has any 
thing to equal it. The poetry of other nations represents 
men as holding intercourse with false Gvds, with Genii, and 
departed heroes, but not with the true and only God of heaven 
and earth, and in a way so calm and confiding. The stranger 
has no other friend but God, who sent him a pilgrim into 
this land of strangers ; but him he hold sfast as the best of all 
friends. What delicate passages occur in the conversation 
and intercouse of God with him, where he comforts and di 
rects him, encourages him in regard to the future, gives him 
now a token of his covenant and friendship, now a new name, 
then memorial signs, and requires of him, now this, and now 
that return of affectionate confidence. 

Fear ihou not Abram, 

I am thy shield thy exceeding great reward." 

And he brought him forth abroad, and said, 

" Look towards heaven, and tell the stars. 

Art thou able to number them ?" 

And he suid " so shall thy seed be." 

And he had fuith in Jehovah, 

And he counted his faith to him 

For righteousness. 


So long as artless simplicity affects the human heart, so long 
will the beauty of such passages be felt. So also, when God 
makes a covenant with Abraham, and condescends in the 
form of a column of smoke to pass through between the sepa 
rated parts of the offering, and like a mere mortal to confirm 
his covenant by an oath. It was a covenant of friendship for 
Abraham and his posterity, which was to make him an ex 
ample of the severest virtue, and hid race distinguished for 
the same characteristick ; which was to set them apart for 
no other end but to be the tribe, in which all the tribes of 
the earth should be blessed. Do you not discover in this 
purpose of God, this ideal of a national cultivation, some 
thing great and sublime ? And where do you find it, con 
sidered merely as a preconceived purpose, as an ideal, among 
all the other nations of the earth ? Their noblest purposes 
were nothing higher, than the attainment of political cultiva 
tion for themselves, or of power and dominion over other 

A. But where then does the corresponding result show 
itself among this people ? 

E. In the patriaich of the race at least. He stands forth 
as a sort of type and symbol of the covenant. He must leave 
his paternal home for a dwelling with strangers, and be con 
tent with a pilgrimage in a foreign and uninviting country. 
Long he waited for the promise, and saw it not. When at 
last he received an earnest of it in Isaac, he was required to 
offer up even him as a sacrifice. You see that, in its sym 
bolical character, it is all as it should be in its relation to 
God s covenant people. Friendship with God must be the 
purpose of their election, but a self-denying, self-sacrificing 
friendship. The virtue, to which Abraham was educated, 
was a retiring, unpublished, and silent virtue, but on that 
account the more noble and beautiful. It is trust in God 
even in the greatest difficulties, and in regard to the ultimate 
future, i. e. faith. A hero in faith, that is, in simple unaf- 


fected greatness of soul, in an intimate communion of the 
heart with the most pure and holy Being this was Abraham. 
Such must his people he and a hero of this sort is a higher 
development of the human spirit, than a hero with his fist, 
or the weapons of war, or even with political craft and in 

A. So the poetry of this people, then, should be called 
the poetry of the covenant. 

E. You have the right name, only wo n.tist not interpret 
it in a theosophick and mystical sense. It should be under 
stood of a poetry expressive of friendship between man and 
his Maker; the child-like poetry, in which feeble men express 
their conceptions, and feelings in regard to that Supreme Be 
ing, who holds to them the relation of a father ; which re 
minds them of his covenant, directs them to his given word, 
and strengthens their hearts by recounting the doings of the 
Most High. Hence the influence of this poetry upon all 
simple and child-like hearts, upon all pure heroick souls, 
especially in times of distress, and in prayer, under sickness 
and suffering. It forms a bond of connexion between men 
and (not idols, not Genii, not departed heroes, hut) God, the 
father of men, and the controller of their destiny. How de 
lightful, in this view of it, is the simple story of the patriarchs! 
Their outward condition and worldly fortunes were not splen 
did. Fcv: and evil, says the last of them, have the years of 
my life been. They arc on a pilgrimage, without rest or an 
abiding place, and misfortunes are not wanting to their fami 
lies. But God is always near them ; hi.s angels accompany 
them, the Klohim are roundabout them, and the land is made 
sacred, as it were, by their footsteps. And in their dwellings 
were preserved the purity of ancient manners, faith in God, 
child-like simplicity and devotion, as a sacred treasure trans 
mitted from the primeval world. In this respect, too, they 
were for the poetry of later times the ground of niiuh beau 
tiful and eloquent imagery. 

Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness,* 
,Ye that continue faithful to Jehovah. 
Look unto the rock, whence ye ore hewn.t 
Look to the pit, whence ye are digged. 
Look unto Abraham, your father, 
An<l unto Sarah, that bare you. 
For I called him the one alone.t 
And blessed him, and increased him. 
So now will Jehovah comfort Zion, 
Will comfort \11 her waste places, 
Will make her wilderness like Eden, 
Her desert like the garden of Jehovah. 
Joy and gladness shall dwell in them, 
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody. 

Observe here the title of honour given to Abraham the one 

* Is. li. 13. 

t Without doubt, reference is had to this passage in Matt. iii. 9. 
The Israelites trusted in tlie circumstance of their being children of 
Abraham ; and the prophet of the wilderness says, God can from these 
atones hew out children to Abraham. At least the figure was known 
from the expression of Isaiah. 

{ From this may be explained the obscure passage, Malachiii. 14. 15. 
which condemns and opposes the practice of putting away one s wife. 

The Lord is witness between thee 

And the wife of thy youth, 

Whom thou despiscst, and rcjcctest ; 

And yet she is thy companion, 

Anil the wife of thy covenant. 

So did not the alone one. 

Though he longed for children. 

What then did the one ? 

lie hoped for them from God. 

A peculiar emphasis is given here to the expression, one alone, which 
was already understood from Isaiah, ns a name of distinction for Abra 
ham. He was the alone one, from whom the race could and must be 
derived. Ho was old, Sarah was advanced in years, and yet he did not 
repudiate her, nor indulge in nnger ngainst her. 

So watch ye also over your eager desires, 

And do not injustice to the wives of your youth. 


alone ! a rock, which gives itself up to God, and out of which 
God hews his chosen people what various applications may 
be made of it for the confirmation of his people s faith. 

Look down from heaven, thy holy habitation, 
Look from the seat of thy glory and majesty. 
Where is thy zeal ? where is thy strength ? 
Thy moving, thy compassionate heart 
la now hardened against us ! , 

And yet thou art our futher, 
Though Abraham be ignorant of us, 
And Israel acknowledge us not ; 
Thou Lord art our father, our redeemer, 
That is thy name from everlasting. 

And wherefore hast thou suffered us 
To wander so far from thy ways ? 
Why huth our heart hardened itself, 
Oh Jehovah ! from thy fear ? 
! turn thee again to thy servants; 
We are thine inheritance forever. 

Thus God has taken upon himself the paternal rights of 
Abraham, who has transferred his children to his care, in 
the interchange of friendly and heartfelt confidence. 

A. All very fair and good ; but what say you, my friend, 
to the faults of the patriarchs ? 

E. They are human failings, and the very fact, that they 
are recounted, that in their history nothing is kept back and 
concealed, makes their shepherd tale, considered as a pasto 
ral narrative merely, invaluable. The timid Isaac, the crafty 
Jacob, stand fortli in their doings ; but you will not deny, that 
the craftiness of the latter was always recompensed with evil ; 
and in his old age, like Ulysses, he exhibited among these 
patriarchal herdsmen a character well tried and approved. 
His history is an instructive mirror of the human heart,* and 
God himself wiped away from Jacob, arrived at mature age, 

Steme has an instructive, though too witty sermon on the fortunes 
of Jacob, which exhibits his experience of the law of retribution. 


those stains, which in his youth were associated with his 
name. " Thou shall no more be called Jacob, (a supplanter), 
but Israel, a hero of God, shall thy name be ;" a title of dis 
tinction which the poetry of this people also may deservedly 
bear. Not physical strength is celebrated in it, but divine 
heroism, prayer, and faith. 

A. It lias not acquired this title however, as Jacob did 
his, by a conflict in a dream. 

E. In a dream ? I perceive you use an expression, not 
new indeed, but one which often as it is repeated contra 
dicts the narrative when taken in its connexion. Jacob had 
divided the encampment and the tents, from fear of a noctur 
nal assault from his brother. He then placed himself at a 
distance from the tents, not indeed that he might sleep, but 
expressly not to sleep. 

A. And what did he then ? 

K. What preceded we may very easily infer from the 
circumstances.* He prayed, he wrestled with God in prayer ; 
and there must be some visible symbol, that his heroick faith 
prevailed with God. Elohim appeared, riot Jehovah ; and 
you know that in the history of Jacob, as well as in the ear 
lier traditions, the word is used distinctively. The host of 
God revealed themselves to Jacob, as two wings of an army 
encamped, and conceptions of angels occupied also his 
thoughts. And lo ! there appeared to him a hero, the divine 
form of a heavenly warrior, and wrestled with Jacob. It 
appeared and vanished with the obscure shadows of the dawn ; 
in short, read the beautiful night vision itself, which, even in 
the tone and colouring of the narrative, seems floating amid 

the dreamy and troubled shadows of the night. t 


And Jacob stayed alone by night, 

Then wrestled one with him, till break of day, 

And yet prevailed not over him. 

* Gen. xxxii. 1012. t Gen. xxxii. 24. 



And when he saw that he prevailed not, 

He touched his hip upon the joint. 

The joint of Jacob s hip was wrenched, 

While thus he wrestled with him. 

The man said, " now let me go, 

For morning breaketh." 

He saia, " I will not let thee go, until thou bless me." 

Then said the man, " what is thy name ?" 

He answered him, "my name is Jacob." 

He said, " thou shalt no more bo called Jacob, 

Hero of God shall be thy name. 

With Gods and men hast thou conflicted bravely, 

And hast prevailed." 

And Jacob asked, and said, 

" Tell me also thy name." 

Ho suid, " why dost thou ask my name ?" 

And then he blessed him there. 

And Jacob called the place Peniel : for, he said, 

" I saw here face to face the Elohim 

And yet my life is saved." 

Then rose the sun, as he went forth from Peniel, 

And Jacob halted on his hip. 

E. Is there a word here about a dream ? Is it not all as 
plain historical narrative, as the mode of Jacob s dividing the 
sheep ? Nay, consider what honour could have been attached 
to the name, which was given to the patriarch and to the 
whole race. The dreamer had wrenched his hip in his sleep, 
and therefore he was called Israel, a godlike hero, his whole 
race inherited the name for the same reason, and Jehovah 
himself came down once and again in order to fasten upon 
him the really ironical and reproachful title of a hero in his 
dreams. All this too is recounted in a family tradition. Do 
you not feel the absurdity of this representation in every 
particular ? 

A. It is so, 1 confess. And the name, Elohim, as you 
have explained it in a former conversation, frees me from all 
doubt. A conflict with Cods, with spirits, with heroick 
forms, was nothing strange or unheard of in ancient times ; 


nay, according to the representations of the poets, it was 
commonly considered as the highest proof of heroick power 
in man. In Homer, gods and men are in continual conflict ; 
and Ossian s Fingal also on one occasion by night contended 
with a giant spirit. In the East conceptions of the kind must 
have been common. 

E. According to the representations both of their poetry 
and history, their most ancient heroes must often have con 
flicted in this manner with spiritual beings and giants. But 
let us not confound this artless narrative with such fables 
and monstrous exaggerations, as belong to the later traditions. 
How tranquil and how correspondent to the shepherd s char 
acter is every thing in this narrative ! The being, with whom 
Jacob wrestled, is not named, does not name himself, and 
leaves it to be inferred, who he was, from the name alone 
which he gave to Jacob. Jacob expresses no triumph, re 
lates the story to no one, and wonders like a simple herds 
man, how he could have contended face to face with the 
Elohim, and have^escapod with his life. But the finest part 
of the whole is its inward sense, by which the patriarch was 
taught how needless it was for him to stand in fear of 
Esau, when he had prevailed with Jehovah in prayer, and 
with the Elohim by the power of his arm. So the prophet* 
explains it, and the figurative sense is plain from the place, 
the time, and the connexion of the narrative. 

A. And thus the vision in this case expressed to the man 
in his alarm, what, on a former occasion, tlie vision of a ladder 
reaching to heaven expressed to the timid youth. 

E. The same thing ; only in a manner adapted to the 
character of a man. He must not dream, but earn for him 
self the name of a hero. The parallel, which you have ad 
duced, is however, a very significant one. The vision shows 
the child-like conceptions, which the shepherd youth enter 
tained of God and the angels, and we may regard the dream 

* Hoa. xii. 4. 5. 


as a true pastoral representation. Will you read it ? The 
evening is gradually approaching, and the sun is going down 
in tranquillity and beauty. 

He reached a place and spent the night, 
For the sun was now already set. 
Then he took a stone from off the place, 
And laid it for his pillow, 
And laid him down to sleep. 
And there he dreamed, and lo ! a ladder stood 
Extended high above the earth, 

Whose top reached up to heaven, 
And messengers of God went up and down upon it. 
And lo ! Jehovah stood above and said, 
I am Jehovah the God of thy fathers." 

And Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 

Surely, Jehovah is in this place, 

And yet I knew it not !" And he was sore afraid, and said, 
" How dreadful is this place, 
Tliis is none other but the house of God! 
Here is the gate of heaven." 

And Jacob took the stone, at break of day, 
And set it for a monument, 

And poured upon it oil, and called the place Bethel. 
And Jacob vowed a vow, and said, 
" If God henceforth be with me, 
And guard me in the way I go, 
And yive me food and raiment, 
That I return and see my father s house in peace ; 
Then shall Jehovah be my God, 
And this, which I huve placed a monument, 
Shall be the house of God !" 

E. You see here the artless conceptions of the youthful 
herdsman. He knew not, that his father s God would be 
found except in his father s house. He was terrified, that he 
had slept without knowing it, upon holy ground, as it were, in 
the outer court of God s own dwelling place. He had seen 


in his dream its doors open, and by a vow proffered to the 
place a house of God, because God in so peculiar a manner 
inhabited it. If angels here ascended and descended upon a 
ladder, which reached to heaven, it would be easy to suppose, 
that one of them, like the Elohira in strength and dignity, 
might wrestle with Jacob. Have you any thing further to 
object to these pastoral narratives ? 

A. The gross partiality of the patriarchs in blessing their 
sons, since, according to the belief of the race, the whole 
fortune of their posterity depended on this last prophetick 

E. How say you ? Did this depend on the will of the fa 
ther ? Was not Isaac in fact partial to Esau ? and would 
not Abraham have contented himself with Jshmael ? How 
much pain did it cost Jacob, that he must pass by his three 
oldest sons ! and indeed was one of those whom we have 
named omitted, so far as regarded temporal blessings? Esau 
went to meet Jacob ;is a prince ; -while Jacob was and con 
tinued to be a stranger and dweller in tents. Ishrnael dwelt 
in his deserts like the wild animal, with which he is compared, 
free and joyous. 1 1 is posterity boast of their country, as one 
given them by the special favour of God, in which they follow 
their vocation, and wish for nothing better. The prophecy, 

He shall be a fugitive* from man, 

Ills hand shall be opposed to all, 

And all men s hands opposed to him. 

He dwells before the face of all his brethren, 

is fulfilled in the Ishrnaelites, and in its strict and proper sense. 
Let us read the touching and truly interesting story of the 
exiled Hagar, wandering in the desert. You will perceive in 
this, that the tone and style of the narrative in these traditions 
has nothing of misanthropy or of hard-hearted insensibility. 

* A wild ass. Gen. xvi. 12. 


The water in the bottle was exhausted, 
And Hagar cast the child beneath a tree, 
And went away and sat with look* averted, 
The distance of a bow. shot off. 
For Hagar said, " I may not see 
The child while dying." Thus she sat, 
And lifted up her voice and wept. 
Then God the crying child regarded, 

And from the heavens his angel called, 
What atleth thee, Hagar, fear not, 

F or God hath heard the voice of the child, 

Where he is lying. 

Arise, and lift him up, 

And hold him with thine hand, 

For I will make him, yet a mighty nation." 

Then God the eyes of Hagar opened, 

And she beheld a well of water, 

And went and filled her bottle with it, 

And gave the child to drink. 

And God was with him, and he grew, 

And was a dweller in the desert, 

And he became an archer. 

In the same affecting manner is related the history of the 
orrowful Ksau, when lie failed of obtaining the blessing, 
which had fallen to Jacob. Let us compare the terms of 
the blessings bestowed upon both, in order to observe the 


In the fatness of the earth shall be thy dwelling, 

And enriched with the dews of heaven above. 

By thy sword shall thy life be sustained, 

And thy brother shah thou serve. 

Yet the time shall arrive for thee to rule, 

And his yoke shah thou break from off thy neck. 


" Come near now, and kiss me my son." 

And Jacob came near, and kissed him. 


Then smelled he the smell of his raiment, 

And blessed him, and said, 

41 Behold I smell my son, as the smell of a field, 

A field, which God hath blessed. 

God give thee, therefore, of the dew of heaven, 

The fatness of earth, and plenty of corn and wine. 

Let the people serve thee, 

And the nations bow down to thee, 

Be thou ruler over thy brethren, 

And let thy mother s sons be subject to thee. 

Cursed be every one that curseth thee, 

And blessed be he, that blesseth thee." 

Do you not perceive in both the voice of destiny uttered 
even against the will of the father? Under the form of 
Esau the other is fated to receive the blessing, and the fa 
ther to utter for him what he intended to utter against him. 
All your doubts and objections against these exclusive dec 
larations fall to the ground, when you consider, that they 
were not temporal blessings, to which the chosen son was 
destined. His posterity were to guard the name and wor 
ship of Jehovah, and, from the time of Moses onward, to 
bear the yoke of the law a blessing, from which most na 
tions would gladly have been relieved. 

A. There was, however, it seems, some special regard to 
Canaan ! 

E. And what was there so important in this small coun 
try ? The race must have a habitation in aome part of the 
world. Their poetry has indeed greatly extolled this little 
corner of the earth, and almost every mountain, brook, and 
valley, is celebrated by its praises ; but observe it is always 
praised, as the land favoured of God, as the land of promise, 
and in no other way. Its distinctive name and character 
were derived from the promises concerning it, for it was 
called the promised land, and you will find, that the poetry 
connected with Canaan treats every thing in this point of 
view its relation to God and the patriarchs. Zion, Lebanon, 


Carmel, are mountains of God ; the streams, by which me 
morable deeds were performed, are the rivers of God ; the 
land is the holy land, marked by the footsteps of God and 
the fathers, and the pledge of their being the chosen people. 
In the history of other nations there are indications, that they 
designated here and there a small piece of their soil, as 
made sacred by the presence of their God ; but I know no 
people whose poetry like theirs has made the poverty of their 
country exhibit the fulness of God, and consecrated its nar 
row limits as a theatre for displaying the Majesty of Jehovah. 
Even now the great mass of this dispersed race delude them 
selves with hopes drawn from this source, because the tradi 
tions of the race, its laws, its poetry, every thing has relation 
to the promised land, and, as it were, without a country to 
rest upon, the tree of their hopes still flourishes and waves 
in the air above. 

A. Uninteresting enough, too, for us, since we are not of 
that country, and cannot read the denunciations of their 
prophets against other countries with the enthusiasm, with 
which tney listened to them. All their golden dreams of the 
glory of this narrow region, under a king so long waited for 
and still to be waited for, seem to us mere dreams of folly ; 
and a greater part of their poetry is to us equally empty and 

E. We shall speak of that in treating of the prophets. 
Surgamus, solent esse graves sedentibus umbrae. It would 
give me great pleasure, if I had removed some of your doubts 
in regard to the early history of this people, and from these 
traditions of the race placed in a clearer light the charac- 
teristick traits of its poetry. It is in a word the poetry of 
herdsmen ; a poetry breathing the spirit of their covenant re 
lation, that is, of the family bond, by which they were united, 
and the relation of friendship, in which the patriarch of the 
race stood to God ; in a word it is the poetry of Canaan as 
the land of promise. Read it in this spirit, and it will no 


longer be unmeaning. But if you would see another ideal of 
an Oriental hero, distinguished for wisdom, happiness, and 
quiet but superior virtue, let it be Job. I will point out to 
you the passages, which place hia character in the fairest light. 
Would that all Christian emirs thought, believed, and lived, 
as well as he did. 



Oh thut I were as in the ancient times, 
The days when God preserved me ! 
His light shone clear upon my head.t 
And by his light I walked through darkness. 

As once I was in the days of my youth, 
When God took counsel with me, in my tent, 
When the Almighty yet was with me, 
And round about me stood my slaves. 

And where I went, a stream of milk flowed on, 
The rock poured out for me rivers of oil. 
\Vhcn from my house I went to the assembly 
And spread my carpet in the place of meeting, 
The young men saw me and concealed themselves, 
The aged rose up, and continued standing. 
Princes refrained from talking, 
And laid their hands upon their mouths; 
The voice of counsellors was silent ; 
He whose ear heard me, counted me blessed, 
And he whose eye saw me, bore witness to me, 
Because I delivered the poor that cried, 
The fatherless that had none to help him. 
He that was ready to perish blessed me, 
And I caused the widow s heart to sing for joy, 

* Job. xxix. 

t A lamp was hung in the tent of an Oriental. The glory of his pro- 
tecting God is here represented as taking its place. God gave him light 
in darkness ; sat in council with him in his tent, and whatever he un 
dertook prospered. 


I put on righteousness and it clothed ma, 

My judgment was as a robe and a diadem. 

I was eyes to the blind, 

And feet was I to the lame, 

I was a father to the poor, 

And searched out the cause of strangers. 

I brake the jaws of the wicked, 

And plucked the spoil from his teeth. 

Then I said, I shall perish with my nest,* 
I shall multiply my days as the phoenix. 
My root shall be nourished by the waters, 
The dew lay all night upon my branches. 
My strength in me shall be refreshed, 
My bow renewed in my hand. 

Men gave ear to me and waited, 
They kept silence at my counsel. 
After my words they spako not again, 
For rny speech dropped upon them as the dew. 

They waited for my words as for the rain, 
And opened their mouths as for the latter rain. 
If I laughed at them they were not offended, 
And no one saddened the joy of my countenance. 

I chose for them and sat as chief ; 
I dwelt as a king in the midst of my army, 
As a comforter among the mourners. 


[After all the messages communicating his misfortunes, his 
losses of property and children, were brought to Job in ra 
pid succession, the book proceeds with a calm tone, as 

Then Job stood up, 
And rent his mantle, 
And shaved his heaJ.t 

* The Phoenix is obviously intended here ; only through a double 
enseof the word, the figure of the bird is immediately changed for that 
of the palm-tree, an evidence, that an analogy between the two was no. 
ticed and pointed out in the East. 

t Not a token of impatience in the East, but of grief. 


And cast himself upon the earth, 

And worshipped, and mid, 

" Naked came I from my mothers womb, 

And naked shall I return thither.* 

Jehovah hath given, 

Jehovah hath taken away, . 

Blessed be the Majesty of Jehovah." 

[When his friends pressed him with severity, and threaten- 
ed him with yet severer judgments from God on account of 
secret crimes, when the members of his household and his re 
latives deserted, disowned, and contemned him, he uttered his 
feelings in the affecting language, which follows.] 

All my inward friends abhorred me ; 
They whom I loved are turned against me ; 
My bone cleavethto my skin and my flesh, 
And scarcely the skin in my teeth, 
Have I brought away as a spoil.! 
Have pity, have pity upon me, my friends, 
For the hand of God is heavy upon me. 
Why do ye persecute me, as God hath done T 
And are not satisfied with my flesh. 
Oh that my words were now written, 
That they were printed in a book ! 
That they were written in iron and lead, 
And graven in the rock forever ! 
" I know that my avenger liveth.H 

The womb of the mother and of the earth are often connected in 
this way in the East. 

t Job. xix. 19. 

! The figure is taken from the prey, which wild beasts carry away in 
their teeth ; his skin is his poor and wretched body, which alone he had 
escaped with, (not the skin upon his teeth). His fviends are represent- 
ed as carnivorous animals, which gnaw upon his skin, upon the poor 
remnant of his life. 

|| These words in their connexion are so clear, that it is surprising 
th. y should have been so often mistaken. His friends had forsaken him, 
he had yet one friend, one relative, who would be his avenger, (this was 
the duty of the best friend anil nearest relative) and this friend, as the 
sequel shows, is God. He shall stand upon the arena, and draw the 
sword in his behalf, the eword of the avenger and the judge. He shall 


At last ahall he step forth upon the scene. 
Though they tear and devour this my akin, 
Yet in my living body shall I see God. 
I shall see him, as my deliverer, 
Mine eye shall behold him, as mine, 
For whom so long my heart fainted." 

There shall ye then say, 
Wherefore did we persecute him? 
Then shall the root of my cause 
Be nt length discovered. 
Be afraid for his glittering sword, 
It is a sword of wrath, that revengeth injustice, 
That will show you, there is a judgment. 


I have made a covenant with my eyes, 
Why then should I look upon a maiden? 
What portion should I then have in God ? 
What inheritance witli God from on high? 

Doth not destruction follow the wicked? 
And open shame the workers of iniquity? 
Therefore I thought, lie seeth my way, 
He counteth over all my steps* 

Did I ever tread in the path of the hypocrite? 
Or my foot hasten after deception ? 
(Let me be weighed in an even balance, 
And Goil will then see my integrity,) 
Did my steps ever turn from the way ? 
Or my heart steal after ruy eyes ? 
Or any blot cleave to my hand ? 
Then may I sow and another eat, 
And what I have planted another root up. 

be for him, and not for his friends. Job s heart recognises him as his, 
(his friend, his kinsman) since on earth all had forsaken him. Then 
will the root of his cause, his rectitude, be found out. I know nothing 
surpassing this firm and noble confidence, which moreover, though not 
entirely in Job s sense, was fully justified. I could wish, that men would 
agree in this interpretation, and deal no more in nubilities in regard to 

this passage. 

* Job. xxxi. 


If ever my heart went after a woman, 
And I laid wait at the door of my friend, 
Then let my wife be the slave of a stranger, 
Let her be dishonoured of others. 
For that would b e a crime even in human courts, 
A fire that consumeth even to destruction, 
And would burn out my prosperity to the roots. 

Did I ever refuse his right to my servant, 
And my maid, in a just cause with me ? 
What then should I do, if God stood up ? 
If he enquired of it what should I answer? 
Did not he, that made me, make him also ? 
Were we not formed alike in the womb? 

Have I withheld from the needy his desire, 
And suffered the widow s eye to fail for food 7 
Have I eaten my morsel myself alone ? 
Nor let the fatherless partake thereof? 
Who had grown up with me from a child, 
That I should be to him as a father, 
Whom I had guided from the womb, 

Have I seen the wretched without clothing, 
And the miserable go without a covering ? 
That his limbs have not blessed me, 
And he been warmed with the fleece of my sheep. 

Have I raised my hand against the orphan, 
Because I saw partiality in the judgment seat T 
Then let my shoulder fall from the joint, 
Let the bone of my arm be broken. 
I must now have trembled at God s justice, 
And against his highness I could not endure. 

If I have made riches my trust, 
And said to gold, thou art my confidence, 
And rejoiced in the greatness of my wealth. 
Because my hand had gained so much. 

If I beheld the sun when it shine J, 
Or the moon going forth in brightness, 
And my heart was secretly enticed, 
That my mouth hath kissed my hand for Uwn, 
That too were a crime for the judges, 
For I should have abjured the God of heavsn. 

Have I rejoiced at the fall of my enemj, 


And exulted when evil came upon him ? 

No ! my tongne uttered no evil word, 

Nor any imprecation agamal him, 

When the men of my tent said, 

Oh that we had his flesh, it should satisfy us."* 

No stranger need lodge in the street, 
I opened my doors to the wanderer. 

Did I hide my faults like a mean man, 
And cover up my crime in a corner? 
Because I was afraid of the multitude, 
And the contempt of families terrified me, 
And keep silence and go not in publick? 

Oh that I had a judge, who would hear me ! 
See my defence ; answer me, O ! my God ! 
Oh that one would write my cause in a book ! 
As a mantle would I lay it on my shoulders, 
As a diadem would I bind it to my turban, 
I would tell all my steps before him, 
As a prince would I draw near unto him. 

If my land cry out against me, 
And the furrows thereof complain, 
Because I enjoy the fruit without money, 
And oppress the soul of the owner, 
Let thistles grow instead of wheat, 
And useless weeds instead of fruit. 

That is, though he were the bitterest enemy of my house and all 

was ia a state of open violence. 


Whether the language of the Hebrews was originally that of the Ca- 
naanitcs, and learned from them by the, Hebrews. Improbability of 
this opinion, and facts at variance with it in the history and languages 
of the kindred descendants of Shem. That the Phenicinns also were 
foreign settlers in Canaan. On what the right of the Shemites to this 
land, and to Asia generally, was grounded. How far religion wai 
concerned in it. Difference between the Humites and Shemites in 
their mode of life, religion, customs, and language. In what way 
these traditions among the Shemites were preserved. The history of 
Joseph and of the patriarchs hack to Abraham. What we have before 
Abraham back to the flood. Relation of the members of this genea. 
logical register. Whether Moses found it already existing. How it 
was formed into a genealogical chart. Whether we have in it a com. 
pletc chart of the wanderings of the several races. View of what it 
must have been originally. Whether the account of the flood were 
handed down from the ark. Whether the deluge was universal. 
That the history of event." before the deluge is connected with, and de. 
pends upon a few significant names. Examples of this. Whence 
these significant names were derived. Whether from prophecy, from 
translation, or a change of name. That the use of written characters 
perhaps originated in these significant names. How it arose. How 
the earliest traditions were probably preserved. Who was the dis. 
covcrer of alphabetifk writing. That only one alphabet exists, and 
that is the Shcmiiish. Whether the picture of creation was taken 
from Egyptian hieroglyphics. That the oldest traditions respecting 
Paradise came down from upper Asia. What in these traditions is 
fictitious. Whether the tower of Babel, the pillar of salt, Jacob i 
wrestling with (Jod, are so. The song of Lantech, the meaning and 
the form of it. Ol ihe style in oilier narratives. Difference of the 
traditions in regard to the use of the words Elohim and Jehovah. 
Appendix. The voice of antiquity. 

ALCIPHRON. We are at length come to the most impor 
tant and general questions, which are connected with this 
subject, and perhaps have given ourselves very useless trouble, 
in our previous conversations, in deducing the poetry of the 
Hebrews from their patriarchal traditions. For may not 


these patriarchal traditions themselves have been oflater ori 
gin ? Did not the Hebrews first learn the language, in which 
they are written, from their hereditary enemies the Canaan- 
ites ? If so, they must of course have been put together 
at a later period, or Moses himself devised them. 

EUTHYPHRON. Before the Hebrews came to Canaan then 
were they dumb, and had the^y no language ? 

A. Not so neither. Who knows what jargon they made 
use of? But the language in which these traditions are com 
posed, is undeniably the language of Canaan, the Phenician 

E. And from whom could the Phenicians have received 
it ? Do you know of no dialects having a kindred relation 
to it ? and were not these spoken by those, who were obvi 
ously Shemites ? Syrian, Arabian, Chaldean, all were pure 
Shemitish races, having a kindred relation to Abraham and 
his fathers. The languages of their descendants, therefore, 
must also of necessity hold a corresponding relation. It is 
one of the fables of our own age, the meaning of which I 
could never yet comprehend, that the Hebrew language 
should be considered as originally and exclusively the lan 
guage of the Canaanites. Even according to piofarie history, 
the Phenicians, after first dwelling upon the Red Sea, moved 
by degrees higher up, and planted themselves upon the coasl 
of the Mediterranean. Now I will not undertake to decide, 
whether previously, before they pushed themselves among the 
pure Shemitish races, they did not speak a different language, 
just as the hypothesis is yet unproved, which has been hazard 
ed in modern times, that the most ancient Egyptian language 
was kindred with the Hebrew. This last* hypothesis seems 
to me to have little indeed to support it. The races of Ham 
and those descended from Shorn seem entirely diverse from 
each other, as in manners, religion, modes of thinking, and 
political organization, so also in language. But let this be 
as it may, all the kindred races, as put down upon the genea- 


logical table of Abraham, spoke dialects kindred to the He- 
brow, and so his own race must have spoken a similar, and 
why not the proper Hebrew language, as it came downward 
from his ancestor Ileber. All these traditions, and all the 
religious ideas in them, from the most ancient times, must 
have been originally conceived and expressed in a language 
having a kindred relation to the Arabick, Chaldee, and Sy- 
riack. This is proved by the book of Job, which so nearly 
resembles them. It is proved, too, by the radical forms ol all 
the languages named. It is as strange and absurd to say, 
that the chapter giving an account of the creation is conceiv 
ed after the style and manner of the Egyptians, as to say, 
that it was originally composed in the Mexican style. It is 
the same with the subsequent traditions. It was the Shem- 
ites, vvho brought down the name of Jehovah from the pri 
meval world, and gave it a fixed place in their language, not 
the descc iidants of Ham and Mizrairn. The alphabet, too, of 
the Phcnicians was not invented by this people, for its names 
are Chaldee, not African. The Hebrew therefore is the 
original und proper language of the race of Eber, not a lan 
guage begged, or borrowed of others ; the Phenicians usurped 
it, as they did their country, and both probably for the sake 
of trade. 

A. \Vhy should they usurp their country ? Was not the 
world open before them, and did the Shemites, this race of 
herdsmen, ever engage in the business of navigation ? The 
coasts belonged to those who knew how to use them. 

E. From the coasts, too, no one was disposed to drive 
them. In the mean time, from the manner in which the 
tribes were distinguished and divided off, it is plain, that they 
took certain directions in their wanderings, and in whatever 
direction it was, believed that certain regions and tracts of 
country were given them there. The tribes of Japheth went 
Northwards beyond the mountains, and roved at large with 
their tents, as the name itself implies. No descendants of 


Shem followed them. Ham went towards the torrid countries 
of the South, and so to Africa, as partly the genealogical 
chart of Moses, and partly the name, indicates. If any tribeg 
descended from him remained, as was the fact, here and there 
in Asia, or at a later date forced their way among the Shem- 
ites, they did so at the hazard of being expelled. The most 
ancient principle of national rights, which rests on such tra 
ditions of the origin and original prerogatives of tribes, could 
admit no other result. You see, then, why the Israelites be 
lieved themselves to have a well grounded lijht to the land of 
Canaan.; for that they firmly believed. This is phi in from the 
writings of Moses. Their lawgiver held his opinions on this 
point with a zeal and decision which left no possibility of 
doubt, because not only all the traditions and the whole histo 
ry of the origin of his race proceeded from and was built 
upon this, but the thought could never for a moment be ad 
mitted, that both races could inhabit and possess the land in 
common. The Shemitcs looked upon the posterity of Ham 
as a race of servants, with which even the unassuming and 
complaisant Abraham admitted throughout of no intimate 
connexion. Eliezer must go to Aram, (Mesopotamia) Jacob, 
too, must go to the distant Aram to secure a progeny for the 
race ; and a marriage with a woman of Canaan would have 
been regarJe:! as derogatory to the honour of tl.e .r r ire: in 
short, as these races were diverse in religion, so also in the 
countries pertaining to them, in customs, and modes of 
thought ; and a brotherly intimacy between them was not to 
be thought of. 

A. I am sorry for that, especially, that at so early a pe 
riod religion should have been the cause of it. Quantum 
religio says Lucretius rightly. 

E. This too was the fault of the Hamites. From what 
ever cause it happened, we see the fact clearly, that from 
earliest times, among the tribes descended from ITam, the 
most gloomy superstition and the darkest idolatry have pre* 


vailed. Tradition ascribes the origin of it to Ham himself. 
Whether this were BO or not, among his posterity the obscure 
tendency to a dark or indeed horrible religion is undeniable. 
Think of the Egyptians, Phenicians, Carthaginians, the most 
cultivated nations belonging to this race ; how gloomy, and 
horrid were their religious rites ! and among other African 
tribes, the most miserable feiisch worship has come from the 
eamc source. Glance now for a moment at the language 
and religion of the Shernites (for, as to the ground forms, all 
these tribes from the Euphrates to the lied Sea have but one 
language), how pure and simple is their religion ! how en 
tirely abstracted, and purified from all scnsuousness, is their 
name of God ! how characteristick of humanity their notions 
of man and of his duties ! It is as if one had passed from 
the hut of the slave into the open and free tent of the children 
and the friends of God. For consider, it is these same tribes 
of Shed), the Arabians included, to whom the world is in 
debted for the doctrine of the unity of God, and the purest 
ideas of religion, and of creation, and who have maintained 
and diil uscd these with a zeal, which they have considered 
the highest honour of the race. The Ilamites on the other 
hand went before them in that, which we now call culture ; 
they founded kingdoms, and systems of policy, prosecuted 
trade, and built cities. Most of the Shemites for a long pe 
riod remained herdsmen, or if they entered into other modes 
of life, continued in a state of great simplicity ; and you see 
how favourable this circumstance was for the language and 
traditions of the primeval world, which they transmitted. 
They were not rendered artificially complex, nor over-borne 
and corrupted ; but in their simplicity and separation, like 
the tent, they remained in the tent a sacred legacy of pa 
triarchal origin. 

A. There you come again upon a new difficulty. How 
is it possible, that such ancient traditions and narratives, 
among a people so little cultivated, and with their roving 


manner of life, could be so long preserved, and transmitted" 
even for thousands of years, in a manner to deserve the least 
credence ? My doubts on that point, I confess, are not easi 
ly satisfied. 

E. We will begin to unravel the knot at the end, viz. 
with the history of Joseph. This must of course, it seems to 
me, be preserved by the race, because it was founded upon, 
and icrved to explain, an important fact, the transplanting of 
the whole nation to Egypt. So long as an Israelite lived in 
Egypt, Joseph could not be forgotten, if not from thankful 
ness and love, yet from the trouble and oppression, which 
they suffered there. Thus this history might and must come 
down to Moses, even supposing that it was not previously 
written. Then too, it has such an air of authenticity, and is 
so full of Egypt ! 

A. That is true. It gives us authentick accounts of 
Egypt to a certain extent from a very ancient period, al 
though it is conceived in a style very characteristick of the 

E. Because it was conceived and related by Israelites, 
and not by Egyptians, a sufficient pledge that such would be 
the case. With this, too, is inseparably connected the history 
of Jacob; and this, united with the history of Joseph, forms the 
most full and extended of all the traditions,* partly, because 
the events related in it were moie recent and nearer to the 
compiler, and partly, because through the medium of twelve 
sons and their posterity many particulars of it would naturally 
be preserved. There are distinct traditions in it undeniably, 
but not a two-fold tradition of the same event, as in more 
ancient traditions. Every thing, as far as the nature of the 
case would permit, is proved by circumstances of name, place, 
monuments, genealogical registers, and since those of neigh 
bouring tribes are industriously and at large inserted among 

Gen. xxvii. 50. 


the registers of this,* they serve to authenticate its history. 
These registers are the historical archives of the Orientals, 
and the historical traditions are the commentary. In the 
history of Jacob, too, the account of his wanderings, of his 
children, and his wives, is so in accordance with the life of a 
herdsmen, with the relations of a household, and the charac 
ter of woman. 

A. But beyond this, the antecedent traditions ? 

E. Are more barren and scanty, as they must be. In the 
account of Abraham s sojourn in Egypt we recognize a two 
fold tradition!. But here, too, every thing remains so true to 
the matter, so suited to time and place, that each tradition 
may generally be distinguished. Observe for example the 
reflection of the Arabian desert in the story of IshmaelJ. We 
see, too, from what has been remarked, why the accounts 
given of the blessings pronounced, a IK! of the marriages, are 
so minute and fall, since from these proceeds, as it were, the 
genealogical tree, on which afterwards every thing else is 

A. But the reference to Canaan is every where observable. 

E. It must be so, because Canaan was the end of all 
Abraham s sojournings, the sum of all the promises, and the 
theatre of all the events of the history. Places and families 
were the witnesses of particular events, and the long life of 
the patriarchs furnished a security for the preservation of 
the whole histoiy. The race was shut up by itself, enjoyed 
a quiet mode of life, and the patriarchal traditions, together 
with the blessings pronounced, and the promises, formed as 
it were the soul, and the intellectual nourishment of it. A 
war-like people have their war-songs, a race of herdsmen 
their pastoral traditions. 

A. And farther back, beyond the age of Abraham ? 

E. The history vanishes even back to the deluge. A 

* Gon. xxxvi. t Gen. xii. 20. 16. 21. I Gen. rvi. 21. 


naked genealogical table is all that we have*. And observe 
even the poverty of the accounts for this period are a pledge 
of their truth. At this time the various races were making 
their migrations, and moving hither and thither. They must 
acquire consistence, and become established, before we 
could hear any thing more from them. Thus from Abra 
ham to Noah, we have only a catalogue of names for the 
whole interval ; yet important names, because they are the 
genealogy of these Eastern nations. 

A. If they were only authenticated, us we could wish! 

E. You must authenticate them for yourself, and the re 
lations of the parts and members, of the different races, and 
of th regions of country to which they belonged, furnish 
the means of doing so very satisfactorily. Of the progeny of 
Japheth the number given is small ; two generations only.t 
And the race is left there as a terra incognita, beyond the 
mountains. The posterity of Ham recorded are more nu 
merous^ but the notices of them, which are definite, extend 
only to the region of country, which lay in the sphere of these 
traditions, between the Euphrates and Egypt ; the other 
names are attached to tin M: only as a terra incognita. In 
regard to these, too, the more full and distinct notices are 
always connected with some definite occasion and saying, 
from which they proceed, as for example, the account of i\im- 
rod and of the The register of the children of 
Shern shows this still more clearly, lleber s line is traced 
downward in both Peleg and Joktan, and their children, while 
of Aram only one generation is given, ^1 and the other brothers 
are passed by and forgotten, because they were too far re 
moved, and no notices were found ot them, as of those more 
nearly related. The relation then of the members in this 
genealogical register furnishes evidence of its truth. 

* Gen. x. xi. t Gen. x. 2. 4. t Gen. x. 614. 

I On. *. 9-a2. 1419. $ Gen. x. 2429. xi. 1029. If Gen. x, 23. 


A. Do you not believe, then, that Moses drew thia chart ? 

E. How could he ? It ia in fact, properly speaking, no 
chart ; but, as it was before called, a register. If he had 
contrived it, it would have had no authority, and from the 
relation of the parts it is moreover plain, from what age and 
what region it was transmitted. 

A. From what one then ? I am anxious to know. 

E. From about the time of Peleg, and the region, which 
he inhabited. In his time the tribes made their migrations ; 
and as these migrations would be the subject of discourse, or 
it would be inquired, in how many distinct branches an origin 
al race had gone forth, this seems to have been the origin of 
these genealogical charts. Hence so little is said of the 
oldest sons of Japheth and Shern ; and hence the traditions 
are chiefly confined to a small region between the Nile and 
the Euphrates or the Tigris. There were the enterprises of 
Nimrod, there wandered the generation of Pclcg and Joktan, 
there Aram established himself, thence the Canaanitea went 
forth, and this, too, gives its limits to this genealogical record. 

A. And had Moses then nothing to do in the construction 
of it? 

E. He made the genealogical record, which he found 
existing, as far as he could perhaps, into a geographical chart, 
i. c. he added to it an account of the place and direction, to 
which these ancient t amily divisions of the successive genera 
tions of the world had directed their course according to an 
cient tradition. OfJaphcthhe knew nothing more definite, 
and placed his descendants (v. 5.) by a very general designa 
tion in the obscure regions of the unexplored North. In re 
gard to Nimrod, Ashur, and the Canaanites, (v. 8 12. 18. 
19.) he added the geographical accounts, which ho had re 
ceived ; but most respecting the Canaanites, because they 
were the nearest. Yet particular geographical notices occur 
of both earlier and later origin apparently, than the time of 


Moses. Of the children of Joktan he gave but a brief notice,* 
because, not to mention other descendants of Shein, these 
were unknown to him. The very poverty you perceive of 
this chart, and of these notices, is their security from being 
lost or interpolated. 

A. It seems to me, too, that much useless trouble has 
been taken from considering this chapter, even in respect to 
names, a proper and complete chart of the emigrations, of 
ancient tribes, and seeking to trace out every name as a coun 
try or city. 

E. So it appears to me, though labour bestowed in this 
way is praise-worthy, if it is not wholly in a wrong direction. 
But who can assure us, that some of these several races, that 
then went forth separately from each other, were not soon 
lost and absorbed or united with others, and who can tell 
whether all the names of families must be found in the coun 
tries which they inhabited ? Even Moses, or perhaps an ear 
lier patriarch, knew of the dwellings of Japheth, nay, of Shem 
and Joktan themselves, only the little, which occurs here, (v. 5, 
22. 30.) and must we know more than they ? Other divisions 
and cities again are described, with a particularity common 
in ancient descriptions of countries, as if a small tract were 
the whole world, (v. 10. 11. 19. 2629.) How do we 
learn now, that accounts were preserved of the towns and 
cities of all these, that, for example, all the sons of Joktan, 
(v. 26 29) built for themselves cities in the region named, 
(v. 30.) The ground of all these errours is, that the chapter 
is taken as a proper map or chart, and as one made, by Mo 
ses ; while it was originally a mere register of the different 
branches of families in their first separation from each other, 
and of their earliest offspring. The later glosses upon this 
too, which for us however are very ancient, only designate, 
somewhat vaguely for the most part, their possessions and 

Gin. z. 30. 


dwelling-places, and without affirming whether every name 
remained, and continued in the successive generations. In 
the mean time it is enough for our purpose, that the register 
proceeds, with chronological notices and ages of individuals, 
in a way distinct from the accounts of any other people, even 
back to the deluge. 

A. And so you consider the journal of what took place 
in the ark as true and authentick ? 

E. I know not otherwise how it attained its present form, 
and gave the measurement of the water in the daily increase 
and decrease of its height above (he mountains. Every thing is 
noticed as in the actual and near view of the thing itself. Its 
tone, too, and the fragmentary character of these notices, be 
fore, during, and after the ilood, are proof of its high anti 

A. And was the deluge as universal, as the author of this 
supposed ? 

E. In relation to our purpose it would make no diference 
if we admit that it was not universal. It is sufficient, that 
this author held it to be so, and knew no country, that had 
escaped its overwhelming waters. Suppose that in the far 
thest East, high mountains and behind them whole kingdoms 
were saved from the flood ; he knew it not, and was not 
bound to know it. The giants, his persecutors, and with 
them all that lived in South Eastern Asia must peri.-h, while 
he took with him his household and a stock of animals to a 
more Western region, from which through him the earth 
would now begin again to be peopled. If there were a peo 
ple in the extreme East saved from the deluge we shall in 
due time find it out. 

A. But how ? and by what means ? 

E. By a comparison of their languages, their institutions, 
and most ancient traditions, with that which has spread abroad 
from mount Ararat. It is generally thought so long a period 


can admit only of conjectures, but I hope they will not always 
continue so. 

A. And the history before the deluge ? 

E. Passes obviously into a mere record of significant 
names, genealogical records, and family traditions mingled 
together ; and here, too, its poverty is a pledge of its truth. 
The voice of tradition would tell only what was known, and 
restrained itself to this scanty memorial ; a barren pedigree ; 
and the significant names in it are the sole bridge of com 
munication between that ancient world and our own. 

A. You speak of significant names. 

E. Every name includes in it the whole history ol a patri 
arch. Look at this a moment, and begin with Adam, lie is 
called a man of earth, and that is his history. He was form 
ed from the earth, appointed for the cultivation of the earth, 
and was returned to earth ; and we know of him nothing fur 
ther. Abel, a man of sorrow, or who was the occasion of 
sorrow, gives the history of another. Cain, the first posses 
sion ; and the name of his son Enoch also is equally signifi 
cant. Noah, under whom, or in whose time, the earth was to 
find rest from the oppression of tyrants ; and so of others. 

A. Hut these could not have been the names, which the 
persons bore in their life time, for all who gave names to 
their children were not prophets in regard to their future his 
tory. Did Eve know the future fate of Abel, when she gave 
him his name ? 

E. That I do not suppose ; in some cases however the 
name would afterwards be interpreted in a sense diilerent 
from that in which it was given. Thus in the example of 
Cain and Noah. Others suilered perhaps, when the traditions 
were formed respecting them ; a modification of form, as we 
find customary in later traditions. Recollect the case of 
Abram and Abraham, of Sarai and Sarah, of Esau and Edom, 
Jacob and Israel, &,c. The man either assumed from later 
events in his life a new name, or slightly modified his former 


one so as to make it characteristick of his life. In some 
names this would seem to me to have been very easy, as the 
kindred forma which proceed from the original root, like 
branches frojn the trunk, would sufficiently show, Enoch, 
the son of Cain, bore his name, indicating initiation, in a dif 
ferent sense from the initiated son of Seth. Cain, Methuse 
lah, and others may be interpreted in different ways ; but for 
our purpose it is of no consequence. Whether all parents, 
who gave names to their children before the flood, were pro 
phets or not, the names of their children are significant names. 
With many of them, as also after the flood with the names 
of Shetn, Japheth, and Ham, was associated the history of 
their lives, and even of the race, of which they were the ori 
gin. From these proper names, therefore, the earliest history 
proceeded ; on names was it dependent, and by these it was 
preserved. The general customs of the Orientals, together 
with their genealogical records, prove this beyond a question. 

A; Hut where the history of the life was not conveyed 
by the name ? 

E. There it was attached to it by a song, a tradition. 
You .see an example of this in the sword of Lainech, and the 
translation of Enoch. Of the children of Cain no names 
were preserved, but the race of the inventor and artificer, and 
so tliis single well-connected family line leads back to the 
highest antiquity. 

A. We ought then to have these names still in the ori 
ginal language. 

E. That seems to me of little importance. Were it an 
other language, and the names translated, as for example the 
name of Moses, so much the better, since thus the names would 
become truly significant, and their meaning 1 be explained. 

A. But in this you at least carry back the invention of the 
alphabet to a very high antiquity. For otherwise, the preser 
vation of such names in pedigrees would be scarcely possible. 

E. At first, perhaps, only the numbers which exhibit the 


ages of the successive generations, were given with some mark 
to designate the meaning of the name in each, and with this 
mark would be retained the significant name, and conse 
quently the history of the man. So do all sensuous tribes 
even now ; and, without a designation of things, mere names 
in connexion with the Ynips and numbers could scarcely be 
written or preserved at all. With the name of Abel was con 
nected perhaps some representation of a man slain, with that 
of Enoch the picture of a city, &c. This must be the meth 
od of proceeding, where there was no alphabet ; but my own 
belief is, that the alphabet existed at a very early date ; and 
by this very mode of recording names and registers it would 
necessarily be soon invented. 

A. Soon . do you say. It is generally considered the la 
test and most difficult invention. 

E. It would be as difficult after three thousand years, as 
in the first thousand, indeed more difficult. If picture and 
hieroglyphick writing has once become established, and so 
far in use, as to serve the most necessary purposes, no alpha- 
bctick writing, pretty surely, is ever likely to be thought of, as 
the example of the Egyptians and Chinese shows. Pictures 
might become hieroglyphicks, but these would never become 
letters, if they were modified, for ten thousand years in suc 
cession. From the matter which the painter seeks to repre 
sent by a picture we could never come at the articulation of 
a sound, but rather, the more our attention is fixed upon that, 
the farther we are from this ; and the probability is, that al- 
phabetick writing must have been invented very early, or it 
never would have existed. 

A. The common opinion is quite the contrary of that. 

E. The common opinion, as it seems to me, has not been 
formed on sufficiently clear views in regard to this point. If 
alphabetick writing was ever to be invented, it must be 
brought about by reason of something simple, something very 
definite, and very indispensable, which could not be expressed 


by images. Now proper names exhibit these very conditions ; 
and it is a fact, that names and genealogical registers consti 
tute the earliest traditions of the primeval world. In the 
second place, it must be found out in refefence to objects, 
which were generally known, where a single word, or at all 
events, a mark attached to it, should bring the whole matter 
to mind, and such were significant names, where a word 
brought to mind the whole life of the individual named. Con 
nected with it, in the third place, were circumstances favoura 
ble to invention and memory, such as the long lives of the 
patriarchs, their simplicity, their avoidance of images and 
symbols of the divinity, the reverence with which they were 
regarded by the long line of their posterity, the sublimity of 
the idea, under which, by means of these simple but myste 
rious characters, they brought the origin of the human race, 
and the whole original revelation of Cod, down to the gene 
rations, \\hich had sprung from them. The purest, the ear 
liest, and the most urgent necessity gave rise to the invention 
or it would never have taken place ; is not such your own 
view of it ? 

A. Very nearly. Who then was the inventor of the al 
phabet ? 

E. That I know not ; who does know ? The traditions 
of several different nations call him Seth, Thet, Theut, Thoit, 
all one and the same name. Perhaps it was he, who, ac 
cording to the import of his own significant name, set up a 
monument, for alphabetick writing was in truth an everlast 
ing monument. Nor was the invention so difficult, when a 
man had once fallen upon the track. He analyzed, we may 
suppose, the sound of the voice in uttering some of the names, 
which were to be placed upon the genealogical table, and 
which could not be represented there by significant images, 
and, this done, the invention was accomplished. Children 
and grand-children were assembled to learn these monuments, 
especially on religious festivals, for these memorials of their 


fathers were connected with their religious notions and feel 
ings. They learned the names of their fathers combined 
with these characters, which represented sounds, and so the 
invention would be rendered fixed, and permanent, as far as 
any thing could be so. Thus the fifth chapter of Genesis 
may have been, with its names and numbers, the first tablet 
of thought in articulate sounds, arid transmitted perhaps 
through Noah, to Shem, as the meaning of the latter name 
might denote. 

A. And the earlier traditions ? 

K. They were transmitted probably in pictured images, 
or by mere oral tradition, until alphabetic!; writing was more 
fully established in use. The history of the creation is en 
tirely a sensuous representation arranged by days works and 
numbers ; in seven pictures of the separate portions of the 
created universe ; and, placed with reference to their parallel 
or corresponding relations, they could be preserved and ac 
knowledged, because the institution of the sabbath renewed 
ami retained them in the recollection. But by this the way 
was only prepared for hieroglyphick writing. The case was 
similar with the history of Paradise. When the tree, the 
woman, and the serpent were painted, there were marks 
enough to aid and direct the memory, iu regard to the cause 
and manner of what had taken place, arid the matter itself ; 
the removal from Ederi, the altered mode of life, was retained 
alas ! not by the memory merely, but, in deed, and in the 
reality itself. Do you see in this narrative itself of the pri 
ineval world no traces of this mode of preserving the record 
of events ? 

A. I would be very glad if I could, for without that the 
whole is merely speculative opinion. 

I 1 ]. In the time of Enos, men began to call on the name 
of Jehovah ; and this, under whatever form of words it may 
be expressed, presupposes some kind of confession and wor 
ship at a publick religious monument. For that reference is 


bad here to the sons of God, who went in to the daughters of 
men, is an explanation, that cannot be sustained. Those 
are called sons of the Elohim, occur in a fragment of a hero- 
ick tradition, and are obviously designated heroes, mighty 
men, as they were clearly shown to be. Here men called 
themselves by the name of Jehovah, i. e. professed themselves 
his worshippers ; and we might naturally conjecture this to be 
the time, when Seth set up such a memorial, as was before 
spoken of, of the name and word of God, and that the an 
cient fables of the pillars of Seth were perhaps derived from 
this. Yet the whole is, and must continue, mere conjecture ; 
and if we suppose the invention of writing to have been of 
later date, it is sutlicient, that it was made in the family of 
Seth or of Shem. All tlie Eastern nations, which have 
monosyllabick languages, know only hieroglyphicks. A sin 
gle alphabet alone exists in the world, and the names of the 
letters in this, even as the Greeks afterwards obtained them 
through the IMienicians, are obviously Chaldifan, i. e. in the 
Shemitish language. The Phenicians had not invented it, 
for as was remarked, they had probably received their lan 
guage itself from the Shcmitcs, as they lived in the midst of 
them, and the rest of the descendants of Ham had no alpha- 
betick characters. Even the Egyptians had only hieroglyph 
icks ; when they received an alphabet, it had what according 
to common prejudice were the Phenician characters. 

A. You do not then, I suppose, consider the story of the 
tree of knowledge, and the picture of creation, to be of 
Egyptian origin, formed in some way from hieroglyphick 
representations, arid discovered by Moses ? 

.E. What is there in these, my friend, that is Egyptian ? 
or that even resembles the Egyptian hieroglyphicks ? Every 
thing, which aimed to set forth this history in monuments of 
art, was ridiculous, and has been ridiculed with good reason 
as more recent and spurious. And on what is the opinion, 
,to which you refer grounded ? Where are those hieroglyph- 

260 found, from which Moses formed his account? 
Where is there any thing like this history in Egyptian my. 
thology and language ? That certain conceptions of night, 
of spirits, of light and tether, with certain Egyptian gods, are 
met with is nothing to the purpose, for Mizraim too had his 
conceptions of the primeval world, as handed down from the 
patriarchs, and from Noah. But how darkly, and gloomily, 
are they Egyptianized in this mythology. I would be glad 
to find the E/.ra, who from the mud of the Egyptian Nile 
could draw out and kindle in its purity the holy fire of the 
first ideas of creation ; and the Jeremiah, who could curry it 
thither and conceal it in that dark and obscure mass. In the 
languages of the posterity of Shern, which we commonly call 
Oriental, every thing is clear and strikes the eye at once. 
The radical principles, the fundamental conceptions, the par 
allelism of the heavens, and the earth, of (lod and man, of 
the inanimate and animate creation, are placed and arranged 
in accordance with the forms of these languages. Can there 
be a more decisive proof than this ? the formation of a whole 
class of languages in respect to the sensuous images expressed 
in the radical forms, and in a style so peculiar. Recollect 
moreover from what regions these traditions are obviously 
derived. Paradise, the tree of life, the Cherubim, the deluge- 
whither does the collector of them himself refer these ? Ob 
serve the constant progress of culture from East to West, 
from the Ganges to Ararat, the migration of tribes from the 
mountain elevations of Asia into the low countries, and final 
ly, at a late period, into Egypt, growing in part out of the 
mud of the Nile ; how natural is this course, and how cor 
respondent is every thing to the history of the earth, and of 
the human race ! Eastwards, in the vicinity of the most 
elevated regions of Asia, are still found probably the most 
ancient mythologies, languages, and social organizations of 
society. There we find still a large class of entirely mona- 
syllabick languages, (for all children speak at first in mona- 


syllables) and, what is remarkable, these nations still depend 
on hieroglyphicks, know no alphabet, and have still their 
ancient political organization, which arose obviously out of 
the absolute despotism of paternal authority, preserved through 
thousands of years, as if for a perpetual memorial of the in 
fancy of the world. If we shall ever learn more thoroughly 
the mythologies and languages of these countries, we shall 
see in a clearer light many things pertaining to the original 
history of our race, and the derivation of the earliest ideas. 
So much, however, we see with the greatest clearness, that 
Egypt could by no possibility be the source of these traditions. 
They came down from the high regions of Asia, and were 
spread abroad with the diffusion of the Sliemitish race. At 
length Canaan bacame the spot for their preservation, and all 
the circumstances of the nation were so ordered, that they 
could be preserved in their purity. 

A. You do not, then, hold the Hebrew language to be the 
most ancient that has existed, the language of Paradise, the 
mother of all the languages of the earth. 

K. How could it be, at least in its present state? Its 
radicals are all regular, and of two syllables, and, in its es 
sential features, it is a highly cultivated language. Men 
who lived a thousand years, must have had a different organi 
zation, different organs, consequently also a different language. 
Lower Asia, where these nations dwelt, (not Cash mi re and 
the upper Ganges,) is obviously the climate for this language. 
Yet, 1 hold it to be a daughter of the primeval language, and 
indeed one of the oldest. The regularity of its radical forms 
even is no valid objection to this opinion. This fact, indeed, 
arose from the early use of alphabetick writing ; for it is 
proved from the history of all languages and nations, that 
" alphabetick characters and writing have universally given 
regularity to languages, but where hieroglyphicks are used 
they remain in perpetual infancy and unintelligible barbarism." 

A. You give me a clearer general view of this matter, 


than I have ever before had. The more one seeks to find all 
things in each, the less does he find any thing satisfactorily. 
I will accustom myself to refer back this echo of the prime 
val times to the simplicity of its origin, and to expect, and 
hear no more from it, than from the nature of the case, 
it can say. But must not much, that is given here, be the 
mere poetical fiction of late times, the tower of Babel, for 
example, the history of the desolation of Sodom, Jacob s 
wrestling with the angel, &c. ? In regard to the first, you 
have shown me, that it is a satirical ellusion respecting the 
absurd enterpri/.es of the first ambitious tyrant. Probably 
many things occurred during the building, that produced dis 
sensions, and they therefore abandoned the work, and sepa 
rated from each oilier. As soon as some of them went away, 
others followed, as in the melting of snow, the current formed 
by one mass carries oil another. It happened here, as in 
the migrations near the commencement of the Christian era, 
and this was only the first general migration of the sort. It 
came too, from the very same region, from which all great 
migrations have since come, from Tartary, in every age, the 
fruitful mother of nations. The history of the destruction of 
Sodom is probably a later poetical dress, with which some 
Hebrew has clothed facts of history, as the pillar of salt, 
probably a more recent memorial, may show. And finally 
the wrestling of Jacob with the angel, even as you explain it, 
is perhaps nothing more than a poetical description of his 
earnest wrestling in prayer, with tiod, that he would protect 
him from the assault of Esau. We find this prayer related 
before, and the nocturnal struggle was peihaps the mere fic 
tion of another tradition, which had the name of Klohim, 
and related every thing in a poetical dress. The Hebrew 
prophet, who has introduced it, has indeed so understood it. 
" He strove with the angel and prevailed, for he wept and 
entreated him." Bodily conflict is nrit very successfully con 
ducted by weeping and entreaty. Many other poetical em- 


bellishments might be named, which we, in the simplicity c 
our hearts, receive as true history. 

E. It would amount to nothing, if the whole were so un 
derstood. But your interpretation does not satisfy me. The 
diversky of languages in the world is a problem, that cannot be 
explained from the quiet migrations of the various tribes, 
even when we add to this, climate, face of the country, mode 
of life, and customs of different races, as productive causes 
of it. Nations often dwell in close contact, of the same race, 
i. e. of the same organick formation, but with languages the 
most diverse. An island, a small continent, embraces often 
within a narrow space, many such ; and the smallest and 
most savage tribes abound most in the diversities of language. 
If we shall ever have a list of all nations, so as to compare 
them together in respect to the three leading titles, which be 
long here, their formation, languages, and the mythological 
stores of the different races, we shall be able to judge of these 
things more conclusively. So far as I now know, we cannot 
explain every thing by our conceptions of the migratory move 
ments of the race. That which needs explanation here is 
not diversities, i. e. dialectical variations of one language, 
from different degrees of copiousness, and causes of gradual 
change, but total diversity, confusion, Babel. Something 
positive must have preceded, which placed men s heads so 
at variance with each other. Philosophical explanations 
arc not enough, and give no satisfaction. I assume a mi 
raculous event to explain what is related in this tradition, 
because I can give no natural explanation of it. So it is also 
with the destruction of Sodom. You have here rather stronor 


features of poetical embellishment, as for example, 

The sun was risen upon the earth, 

When Lot was come to Zonr. 

Then rained Jehovah, upon Sodom and Gomorrah, 

Tlrimstone and fire from Jehovah, out of heaven. 

He overthresv the cities there, 


And all the plain was desolate, 
And all that dwelt in them, and all that grew. 
And when Lot s wife looked back behind her, 
She became a monument of salt : 

that is, she was consumed, and became, even in her form, a 
monument of destruction, of which in the East, salt was al 
ways a standing monument. It may be, that afterwards, upon 
the place where she died, a monument of bituminous frag 
ments was thrown together, as is customary in the East, and 
that the expression, pillar of salt, came to be applied to it. 
Thus this expression, like the repetition of the name Jehovah, 
who caused it to rain, and again, from whom it rained, ap 
pears as a very natural emphasis in the mode of speaking, as 
every tradition adheres closely and with emphasis to its sub 
ject. The perplexing riddles, that have been made out of 
both these, are unnecessary, or rise from the love of the mar 
vellous. Finally the story of Jacob s wrestling with the angel 
is related entirely in the tone of historical narrative. It is 
something in addition to the prayer, and coming after it, not 
as a paraphrase merely, but I believe we have said enough of 

A. You find, therefore, nothing that is properly poetry in 
these traditions ? 

E. As you understand the word poetry, there is but a sin 
gle poem here, Lamech s on the invention of the sword, 
(for this, according to the context, and sound interpretation, 
is til ; import of it, not an unfeeling expression of joy at the 
minder of Cain.) It has a metrical relation of members, and 
evon correspondencies of sound. The parallelism occurs in 
it, and you thus perceive how ancient this is. Lyrick poetry 
and musick are invented in the same age, and in one and the 
same family. The former was the daughter of the latter, and 
they have always been united. In short, here is this brief 
triumphal song ; Lut I can only give it without corresponden 
cies of sound, without rhyme, 


Ye wives of Lantech, hear my voice, 

And hearken to my speech. 

I slew a man, who wounded me, 

A youth, who smote me with a blow. 

If Cain shall be seven times avenged, \ 

Then Laniech, seventy times seven. 

He felt thus forcibly the superior efficacy of iron and of the 
sword, against the onset of other deadly weapons. Other songs, 
and properly poetical cfl usions, are not found in these tra 
ditions ; but much of the spirit of poetry in the narrative, in re 
spect to every thing, especially in concise thoughts and moral 
sentiments. In regard to the concise, measured, and majestick 
form of its contents, the picture of the creation is sublime 
poetry, though not fitted for musick, or in the form of verse. 
The blessings pronounced by the patriarchs are all a lofty 
mashul, in concise expressions full of parallelism, though 
again not designed for musick. The whole narrative de 
scription is now pastoral, and now heroick in its own way, 
but every where characterized by simplicity of expression. 
The matter of it, and the tone and spirit of the whole, became 
the basis of the subsequent poetry arid history of the race, as 
the traditions of their fathers do among all nations. In short, 
my friend, we are now through the entrance way, and shall 
hereafter survey the building itself. 

A. You must allow me yet one question. Have you ar 
rived to any certain conclusion in regard to those hypotheses, 
which explain the diversity of these traditions in the use of 
the words Jehovah and Klohim ? 

E. The diversity, especially in the most ancient pieces, 
is obvious to the eye, and has been traced out by a recent 
author* with an accuracy, which leaves little to be added ; 
unless indeed an aim at too great precision is injurious to the 
hypothesis itself. Passages are separated by it throughout, 
which obviously belong together, and are probably from the 

* Eichhorns Einleitung ins A. T. Th. 2. S. 301383. 


same age, perhaps even from tho same hand. Regard waa 
probably had to the question, where Elohim, and where Je 
hovah were placed. The most ancient fragments had Elo 
him, and also those, in which the most ancient fragments 
were followed as the guide, or something was related, that 
was not properly suited to the dignity of Jehovah. Other 
fragments, taken perhaps from the mouth of tradition at a la 
ter period, have Jehovah throughout ; yet in those too, this 
name was probably often inserted by the compiler. In mat 
ters of this kind, we can never arrive at the highest certainty, 
and in regard to all the traditions, with this or with that name, 
their origin from one source, the traditions of the family of 
Shem, cannot fail to be recognized. 


Whence nrt thou, hallowed voice of ancient ages? 

And whither bound ? 
And how, amid the storm of times and nature s changes, 

Hath breathed thy gentle breath ? 

Com st thou from life s fair tree and holy fountain, 

In Eden s groves ? 
That of creation, and the deep prophetick feeling, 

Of man s pure primeval love. 

Of that forbidden tree, the cares and sorrows, 

Of man deceived, 
Of floods, and giants, impious men, that braved the heavens, 

Thou speak st in artless tones? 

Say, how didst thou avoid the sweeping billows, 

That drown d the world? 
And gentle as thou art, escape the wild dispersion 

Of nations o er the earth ? , 

Did, then, thy father hide thee from the tempest 

In Paradise ? 
And send thee, with the dove, and leaf of peaceful olive, 

To his new chosen son ? 


Yes, daughter of the voice divine and human, 

Thou wcnt st with him, 
(His pledge, his legacy, received from holy lathers,) 

Within his floating ark. 

And thou didst cleave through every generation, 

To worthiest names, 
Descending safe, by God s own holy name protected, 

Till we are blessed by thee. 

Ye broken echoes, and memorial fragments, 

Of earliest times, 
To me how dear ! for letters, and a pure religion, 

The world received from thee. 


Our distance from each other, my friend, shall not prevent 
, us from considering the character of that great man, who 
not only founded the political, the religious, and social insti 
tutions of the Hebrews, but more fully confirmed the use, and 
animated the genius, of their poetry. We have now passed 
through the entrance court of the temple, and, in the funda 
mental conceptions of their poetry and religion, as well as in 
the cosmology and most ancient historical notices of this peo 
ple, have collected, out of the patriarchal traditions, materi 
als, to which we shall hereafter have frequent occasion to 
refer. Now, the whole scene will be changed ; and we shall 
no longer find ourselves concerned with a shepherd race, and 
with pastoral conceptions of God, and of the sphere of hu 
man life, A man born and educated in .Kgypt, but who 
made Arabia his adopted country, the theatre of his plans, of 
his deeds, his wanderings, and his miracle;!, is now before us. 
From him, too, and the events of his history, even the poetry 
of his people derives its spirit, its form, and its development. 

Let me approach thee nearer, tliou serious, sacred shade ! 
In thee do 1 contemplate one among the greatest, and most 
ancient of those mighty men, who were the law-givers and 
benefactors of the human race ! Let not the brightness of 
thy countenance shine upon me, as once it shone, but so that 
I may know the features thereof, and show them to my friend, 
witli that pure light and truth, which thou didst place, as a 
sacred symbol, upon the breast of the high priest of thy peo 

The early events in the life of Moses were of that remarka 
ble kind, which in later periods of antiquity we find, either 
as history, or fable, in the early lives of many law-givers and 
distinguished men. A Cyrus, a Romulus, and others, were 
delivered as he was, and his narno reminded him, that the 


Divine Being had not without design delivered him from ft 
watery grave, by means of the daughter of the king of that 
people, which was oppressing his own. In this, as in other 
instances, it might seem, as though Providence delighted in 
bringing forth from nothingness the most important products 
of wisdom and power, by a thread the most slender, and the 
most complicated in its windings, and even to employ the 
hand of those, who are hostile to its design, for the accom 
plishment of its deep and mysterious counsels. 

Moses was brought up at the court of Pharaoh. Learned 
in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, he was also acquainted 
with the secret knowledge of the priests, and the political or 
ganization of that country, which became the cradle of the 
political institutions of various other nations. Tradition rep 
resents him also as a military leader and hero, but on this 
point the history of his own nation is silent. 

It is no valid objection to the wisdom of Providence, that 
it carries forward its work by instruments, and attains its di 
vine purposes by human means. The purpose here to be 
accomplished was to reform ; and, as far as it could be done 
consistently with other purposes, to bring back to the customs, 
and to the God of their fathers, a people who had lost these 
customs in Egypt, and to whom, from their near connexion 
with the idolatrous worship and priestly domination of the 
Egyptians, the (iod of their fathers was no longer familiar. 
To do this, and restore them from the undisciplined and wan 
dering state, into which their minds had fallen, an Egyptian 
guide and teacher was necessary ; who might employ those 
very institutions, to which they had become accustomed in 
Egypt, in order to restore to them the religion of their fathers, 
in the form best fitted to their present capacity for under 
standing and receiving it. Here again, the skill and qualifi 
cations of such a leader were necessary, in order to make a 
lasting impression, and employ even their senses and existing 
habits for the attainment of the end ; in short, to construct 


for them, as Moses did, out of the costume and external ac 
companiments of idolatry, among a superstitious people, a 
form of religious worship, and organize a ritual, which, in 
pite of all that was sensuous and typical in it, was the first 
political sanctuary of true knowledge on earth. It is idle to 
pretend to deny, that Moses, in the organization of the priest 
hood, and the arrangements of the temple and the ritual, had 
no reference to those Egyptian institutions, in which he was 
himself educated, and from which he aimed forever to re 
form arid separate his people ; the traces of resemblance are 
too obvious to be mistaken. That such was the case is suf 
ficiently shown, by the fact, that he built every thing upon 
the priesthood, and chose and set apart a particular tribe 
for this office, by the offerings, the purifications, the dress, 
and the breast-plate of the high-priest, and by many individu 
al rites, which, however, it would be too tedious to enumer 
ate here and compare with those of Egypt. Yet, the spirit 
of his religion was as obviously not Egyptian. The God, 
which he taught his people to worship, was Jehovah, the 
God of his fathers ; and even in forming his ceremonial out 
of the elements of the Egyptian he employed those only as 
the creative spirit employs the gross matter, to which it im 
parts a new organization and life. Wherever any thing bore 
the impress of superstition, and had only a distant tendency 
to idolatry, his course was directly opposed to the dark spirit 
of the slavish and enslaved Egypt. His people were taught 
to abhor all idolatrous images. The golden calf copied from 
models of Egyptian art and wisdom, he burned with fire, and 
in his indignation and zeal, gave it in the ashes, for drink, to 
the guilty apostates. His temple neither contained nor wouli 
admit any outward figure, or representation of God. The 
Cherubim even he adopted not as Egyptian Sphinxes, but as 
the marvellous beings, full of meaning and of terror, which 
were referred to in the traditions of his fathers. His high- 
priest bore upon his forehead, and his breast, neither hiero- 


glyphicks nor idolatrous images, but letters and a sacred in* 
scription. Through light and righteousness, i. e. the illu 
mination of truth, he consecrated him and the twelve tribes 
of his people to God. The sanctuary, which he gave them, 
was a temple mysteriously veiled, and adorned with Oriental 
magnificence, as the palace of the invisible King, of whom 
no representation dare be formed, whose servants were the 
priests, and the host of Israel his moving but chosen resi 
dence. In regard to offerings and purifications he avoided 
entirely the superstitions of the Egyptians, and in the choice 
of food, placed the customs of his people in opposition to 
those of Egypt, which abounded in amphibious animals, and 
others of such kinds as were forbidden by Moses to the Is 
raelites. His system of laws is the most ancient model, 
which we have, at least in a written form, where health, 
morals, political organization, and the service of God, are all 
combined in one work and one system. 

It is not, however, to be denied, that this whole system was 
a temporary Egyptian yoke, indispensable indeed to the Is 
raelites of that day, and generally, as being in itself a great 
and necessary step, in the progress of political development; 
but unhappy in the extreme, if, like the Egyptian and Chinese, 
this must have been in its purpose and result a perpetual 
yoke, and an unceasing restraint upon the advancement of 
mankind. This, plainly, was not the purposo of Moses, nor 
was this his moaning, though he so often called it a perpetual 
covenant, and must thus impress it upon his barbarous and 
stifl -necked people, as Lycurgus did his laws. For he prom 
ised his people, in his last discourses to them, prophets sent 
from God, wise and enlightened men. as he was ; he himself 
improved his own laws, and modified them according to cir 
cumstances ; and declared finally the great principle, that not 
the slavish fear and servile worship practised by the Egyptians, 
but to love God with all the heart, is the word which abides 
in the heart, and is the greatest of all the commandments. 


Hia severe punishments were all of them only such as result 
ed from (he sad necessity of the times and of the people. In 
hia last heartfelt discourse, and always indeed, he reminded 
them of the fatherly kindness and beneficence of God, and 
placed the curse and the blessing, the harsh servitude of the 
alave, and the voluntary and affectionate obedience of the 
child in contrast with each other. His God is long-suffering 
and abundant in goodness. It is only after long endurance 
in sparing the offender, and then but for a short space, that 
he becomes a jealous and avenging God, till, his hand is 
again free to do good and bestow his blessings. What, then, 
would have been the conduct of that god-like man, had he 
appeared in those times, when his commands were made a 
snare to catcli the souls of men, and hold them in a state of 
perpetual child-hood ? in times, when his system of laAvs, 
once living in all its members, had become a lifeless mass, 
when the least of his precepts had been converted into a golden 
calf, round which men danced and revelled in the extrava 
gance of a hypocritical idolatry ? With thousand-fold rea 
sons might he have ground it to powder, and given it, as a 
cup of abomination, to his sacrilegious and idolatrous people. 
But I return to the history of his life. A deed of youthful 
heroism drove the future deliverer of his people out of Egypt, 
for Egypt was no longer necessary to him, and the time for 
deliverance was not yet come. The deserts of Arabia must 
become the quiet residence of his riper manhood, and tribes 
which were kindred to the Israelites in language and origin, 
were now his neighbours for forty years. Fabulous accounts 
have represented the Arabian Emir or Sheik, Jethro, as the 
instigator of Moses, and the author of his political plans ; 
but, if the history has any truth, nothing could be more di 
rectly contradictory to the view which it gives. Jethro was 
indeed a man of prudence and skill, but not of such a spirit, 
as that, which impelled Moses to undertake a task so diffi 
cult, and to human eyes so incomprehensible in its results ; 


for that he was urgently impelled to undertake it, we see in 
the fact, that hia mission was to him unexpected, was unpre 
meditated, and in hid view, incapable of being accomplished. 
What a self-commending and heroick picture is this simple 
tranquil history of the mission of Moses, of his deeds in Egypt, 
of his leading out the Israelites, of his miracles, and wander 
ings. With no pretence, and no demands upon our admira 
tion, in his faults and weaknesses even, it places before us 
a man, who never speaks of himself, is never praised, and 
lives only in Jiis work, in his plans, in his laborious cares, 
and heroick deeds. 

The appearing of God in a (laming bush is entirely Arabian 
in its character, as the signs and wonders, which he wrought 
by his hand, are wholly Egyptian. That desert, which is 
wholly fire, and rock, as it were, exhibits the scenery and the 
objects, by means of which the presence of the Eternal drew 
his attention, and was made manifest to him. The miracles, 
which hid hand was empowered to work, were the weapons with 
which he contended against the magicians and wonder-work 
ers of Egypt. They are of a kind, too, appropriate to Egypt, 
as are all the plagues, by which he delivers his people from 
bondage. Serpents, insects, the Nile, filthy and noxious am 
phibious reptiles, darkness, the destroying angel, here, as it 
were, represent Egypt, in regard both to its productions and 
its geographical character. 

God led his people out of Egypt with a high hand, and an 
outstretched arm. He bought his servant for himself out 
of slavery, and baptized him, as it were, in the waves of the 
Red Sea, that he might be for him a purchased and a bond 
servant. The first-born is his also, for he was once delivered, 
spared, and a perpetual festival of the passover, with the 
blood of a slaughtered lamb upoti the door, must indicate this 
claim of God, on every house and every generation. On the 
farther shore of the Red Sea, in sight of the perished hosts 
of their enemies, was sung in two-fold chorus the triumph- 


1 Bong of Mosea and Miriam, which afterwards was the pat* 
tern of so many psalrns and songs of deliverance among this 

As on eagle s wings God bore onward his redeemed people. 
A barren desert must become the house for their education 
and discipline, where he himself supplies them with food and 
drink, as his first-born, and the special object of his care. 
These proofs of his goodness were, in subsequent periods, the 
perpetual theme of their national songs and festival celebra 
tions. How much happier would have been the events of 
their history, had they also conformed themselves entirely to 
the purpose, for which their heavenly father separated them 
from all other nations in a desert, where they subsisted by 
the supplies which his indulgent hand provided, and fully 
imbibed the spirit of those laws and customs, by which he 
was to form them to a people for himself. 

In the midst of a wilderness fearfully desolate the law was 
given with circumstances of fearful magnificence. With awe 
struck fear and shuddering was established that covenant, 
which was to be enforced so often by fearful punishment, by 
fiery serpents, and the opening of the earth to swallow up the 
disobedient. Where now was the mild and friendly aspect 
of the God of Abraham, and of his shepherd sons ? Where 
now was the form, under which he spake with the father of 
this people, as friend with friend, wrestled with Israel, and 
blessed him as a youth in his dreaming tent ? Where now 
were those days of innocence and blessedness, when ihe tent 
of the patiiarchs gave entertainment to angels, and two ar 
mies of God encamped around a caravan of simple herdsmen ? 
Now at the presence of the angels of God the mountain is in 
a flame ; now the earth trembles and quakes before his hosts 
as they go forth to war! No one can fail to perceive the 
altered language, which now prevails in the description of 
this journey of the Israelites, when compared with the former 
patriarchal history. Its terrifick tones resound through the 


desert of Arabia; God is a rock; a burning and devouring fire. 
Before him go destructive swarms of hornets, which he sends 
upon the people of Canaan. He whets his glittering sword ; he 
sends out his arrows, which are thirsty for blood. His mes 
sengers of vengeance are Seraphim, fiery serpents, which he 
himself sends upon his people, and ever and anon he lifts his 
hand to heaven and swears, I am Jehovah ! there is none be 
side ! thy God, apostate Israel, and I live forever. The most 
sublime poetical effusions and images in the Psalms and Pro 
phets are taken from this journey of Moses through the 
desert, from his miraculous deeds, his discourses, and es 
pecially his last poetical effusion. For this production is 
obviously, as it were, the original prophecy, the type and pat 
tern of all the prophets. As this is divided into cursing and 
blessing, paternal exhortation and warning, so are all the 
prophets. In the tone and movement of the poetry, also, we 
see a striking similarity. As this begins with an apostrophe 
to the heavens and the earth, so does Isaiah begin, and many 
other prophecies and songs, and probably the fust chapter of 
Isaiah was placed first, and made the introduction to all the 
prophets, on account of its relation to the commencement of 
Moses. The prophets weie directed by the law of Moses, 
and must form themselves after his example. 

In a three-fold manner, therefore, Moses exerted an influ 
ence on the poetry of his whole nation, and embraced this, 
as he did every thing else, in the organization of the state. 
First, by his deeds ; the going forth out of Egypt, the jour 
ney through the desert, the conquest of the country, in which 
God went before him and fought for Israel, were the perpetu 
al subject of songs and poetical description?, of which I now 
name the lamentation of Ilabukkuk and the C8th Psalm, as 
perhaps the two most remarkable. This conducting of the 
Israelites through the desert, was referred to in after times, 
as the type of all God s dealings with this people, and in it 
they sought the images and examples to represent their wars 


and victories, the blessings and punishments, which they re 
ceived. The regulation of the service of the sanctuary and 
of the priesthood also, I reckon among those acts of Moses, 
by which he influenced continuously the poetry of his people. 
/By means of this it became the pdetry of the temple, excluded 
| entirely ail idols, and hymns addressed to creatures or fabulous 
1 beings, brought the name of Jehovah into connexion with the 
minutest duties of the citizen, as well as the family relations ; 
. in short made the poetry of the Hebrews in all respects sa 
cred. As Moses and Miriam had sung their song on the 
shores of the Red Sen, in the same spirit was every thing in 
after times celebrated as the work of God. As the whole 
political organization was of a priestly character, as every 
thing was founded on the offerings and the sanctuary, so po 
etry clothed itself in all the ornaments of the priesthood, of 
the temple, and of the ceremonial service ; particularly when 
David, the reviver of Jewish poetry, adhered much to the 
magnificence of the sanctuary, and in his songs employed it 
even in the descriptions of Cod. Later prophets first ven 
tured to return to the simple covenant of Cod with Abraham, 
and, because they saw before them the abuse of oflbrings, the 
apostacy of the priests, the idolatry of the temple service, 
with all its pernicious consequences, to look back beyond it 
all, and recall to mind the father of the faithful. Especially 
was this done by the great Isaiah, the eagle with fiery eye, 
and etherial sunward motion, among the Hebrew prophets. 
In this also the plan of Moses had the fate of all systems and 
plans ; they are first elevated and expanded, then in the end 
contracted and narrowed down. The poetry of the Hebrews 
enjoyed an undeniable advantage over all other systems of 
national poetry, that of being a divine, a pure temple poetry. 
As such, however, it was abused ; the tree remained stationa 
ry and ceased to grow, for it was confined by the roof of the 
temple. The most subli;ne tones of ancient times became a 
meagre echo in the ears of the drowsy and idolatrous agesi, 
that succeeded. 


The second means, by which Moses acted unceasingly upon 
the poetry of the nation, was by the description of his own 
deeds ; by his own poetry and songs. His last poetical effu 
sion, as before remarked, was the pattern of the prophets. 
The Israelites were required to learn it, and make it familiar 
to their minds ; and severe as it was upon them, they held it in 
high esteem. His song at the Red Sea was the model of 
their Psalms of praise, of triumph, and of deliverance, as the 
lofty Psalm ascribed to him, which is the 90th in the collec 
tion, was the beautiful model of didactick poems. In gener 
al, the poetry of Moses, like his life and character, is full of 
meaning, but severe, earnest, and breathing an air of solitude. 
It glows with brightness, as his countenance did, but a veil 
is spread over it. The spirit that breathes in his institutions 
and writings, is widely diverse from the spirit of Job, of Da 
vid, and of Solomon. His own description of his institutions 
and journeyings belongs also to the instrumentality, of which 
I am speaking. That he recorded his laws, and the journey 
through the desert, and made the former a canon for the 
priests, the latter, especially the last repetition of the law, a 
lesson for the instruction of the people ; that he chose a par 
ticular tribe of men, who, relieved from other employments, 
must devote themselves to reading, copying, and carrying into 
eil cct his laws and regulations ; thai he excluded all symbols, 
figures, and hieroglyphics, and employed writing, alphabet- 
ick writing, as well for the ornament of the high priest, aa 
for the occupation of the priests, and thereby secured the ad 
vantage of it, for his people ; that he probably collected the 
ancient histories and traditions of his race, and prefixed them 
to his history, as sacred relicks of antiquity, even as tho basis 
of his law, of his doctrines, and of the claim of Israel to the 
land of Canaan ; is proof, that he devised his plans, or intend 
ed to do so, for making a barbarian people, at least in part, 
and in the fundamental laws of their organization, into a lit 
erary people. The ark of his tabernacle in its alphabetick 


inscriptions preserved a treasure of antiquity, and the most 
powerful instrument of national cultivation, down to the latest 
times. Were its rude tables of the law still extant, could we 
still find the stones, on which before his death he placed 
alphabetick inscriptions, we should truly possess in it the 
most valuable monument of the primeval world. 

The third means, by which Moses even provided for the 
revival of sacred poetry in times of declension, was the privi 
lege which he gave and secured to the prophets. The far- 
sighted man anticipated even, by this privilege, the times of 
the kings, as the times for its exercise, when his prescrip 
tions should be neglected and violated. To their open 
abominations he opposed a voice, which should call back the 
people and even the kings to their proper place and dijty, arid 
guard itself from danger by the reverence yielded to Moses 
as the founder of the nation. Such was the voice of the 
watchmen, the wise men of the nation, who roused their at 
tention, when all was sunk in sleep, who, when the priests 
were silent and the great tyrannical, spake in the name of 
Jehovah, advising, comforting, arid warning. This privilege 
conferred by Moses has given us an Elijah and Elisha, an 
Isaiah and IJabakkuk ; it has renewed his form and voice, at 
least in shadow, and in echo. The prophets are not read 
understanding!} , when they are regarded merely as prophets, 
as dreamers, and criers in the place of assembly. They were, 
indeed, successors of Moses, applying and reviving his law in 
times of declension, and some of them men of great worldly 
wisdom, distinguished orators, and instructive poets. In Isa 
iah we have more, perhaps, than a rcpublick of Plato. Fi 
nally, I do not consider Moses as the author of the sayings 
and prophecies of Balaam. In them breathes another, I ven 
ture even to say, a more poetical spirit, than in the poetry of 
Moses. Great as he was in hi poetical character, Moses 
was rather a law-giver than a poet, and his last benedictions 
especially show, at least, when compared with the blessing of 


Jacob, the effect of old age, and a soul tending to the grave. 

He died, says the beautiful tradition of his people, at the 
mouth of God, and God himself buried him. He died upon 
a mountain summit, overlooking a land, fof which he had 
done and suffered all that human powers could do and suffer. 
His eyes might behold it, but his foot not tread upon it. 
Even him, though firm as a rock in patience, in doing, and 
in suffering, had unbelief and impatience caused to waver, 
and therefore he came not to his place of rest, and survived 
not the attainment of the end, for which lie journeyed. Wise 
and happy provision for him, that he did not survive it ! 
Thus were preserved, unstained with the blood of the Ca- 
naanites, those hands which stretched the rod over the Red 
Sea, which received the law in the clouds, which built the 
sanctuary of God. Even in the battle with the Amalekites 
they were raised only in prayer. 

How great is the difference, if we compare them together, 
between the two brothers, Moses and Aaron. The latter is 
the body, the former the soul. " He shall be thy mouth, and 
thou sluilt be to him in the place of God !" So it remained 
always in the relations between priests and prophets. How 
few priests, even among a people, where they were teachers, 
judges, preservers of the laws of the nation, and in a sense 
the regal class, ever opposed themselves to the progress of 
corruption ? Under the judges and kings did not corruption 
indeed always begin with them ? As Aaron made the golden 
calf, while his brother wns holding converse with God, and 
meditating his laws, upon Mount Sinai, so were a hundred 
priests the well-fed servants of Baal, while Elijah, the suc 
cessor of Moses, was mourning upon Mount Iloreb or Car- 
mel. Among all the prophets, only two were priests, and 
those neither the boldest nor the most distinguished. 

1 have yet to place before you the soul of Moses, severe, 
full of zeal, and borne down with anxiety, even to death, in 
his last glowing and poetical effusion.., What his deeds, his 

v 280 

institutions, his descriptions, and his other poems have pro 
duced for the voice of poetry, we shall enquire in the sequel ; 
but in this poem the images that surround you, are the flam 
ing mountain, the fiery and cloudy pillars, which went before 
Israel, and in them the angel of the countenance of Jehovah. 


Give ear, O ye heavens, to my speech, 
Hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.* 
My doctrine shall drop as the rain, 
My words shall distil as the dew, 
As rain upon the tender herb, 
And as the showers upon the grass ; 
For I will publish the name of Jehovah 
Ascribe ye greatness to Jehovah our God. 

He is a rock.t his work is perfect,^ 
And all his dealings are right ; 
A God of truth, without iniquity, 
Sincere and righteous is he. 
They only are no longer his children, || 

* Moses calls heaven and earth to bear witness in the previous chap, 
ter, (Deut. xxxi. 2b.) as the prophets often did in later times. The 
whole of this mild introduction to a didactick poem, that closes in a 
style so ardent, in after times was frequently imitated in the introduction 
to similar works. 

t The image of a rock, so frequent in this piece as almost to lose its 
figurative character, (v. 15. 30. 31. 37.) was undoubtedly taken from 
Sinai and the rocks of Arabia, among which Israel had so long wander- 
ed. On Mount Sinai the covenant was made, and on the part of God it 
was enduring as the everlasting rocks. 

t The Israelites often complained of the way, in which God led them 
in the desert. Moses vindicates the cause of the Most Hieh, and shows 
that of the promises, which he had made to them from the time of Abra- 
him), not one word had yet fallen to the ground. 

|| This somewhat harsh arrangement of words, is undoubtedly genu- 
ine, because a similar one occurs repeatedly, (v. 17. 21.) and it is, as it 
were, the soul of the piece. God remains their father, with unchanging 
faithfulness, but they only have forsaken him, and become first through 
unlikeness, and then of necessity, no longer his children. They havo 
first become ignorant of him, and he has then rejected them. 



Their iniquity hath turned them from him, 
A faithless and perverse generation. 

Is this your requital to Jehovah, < \\\ 
O foolish people and unwise ? 
Is he not thy father, he that hath bought thee ?* 
That hath made thee, and established thee ? 
Call to remembrance the ancient days, 
The years from generation to generation, 
Ask thy father, and he will shew thee, Y 

The aged men, and they will tell it thee.t > 1 1 
When the Almighf.y gave the nations their lands, 
When he separated the children of men, 
He limited the bounds of the nations, 
That the numbers of Israel might have room ;t 1 
For the portion of God is his people, 
Jacob, the lot of his inheritance. 

lie found him in a desert lurid, || 

* Moses at this early period, has here the expression, whic h the pro- 
phets often use that God received Israel in Abraham as a child, pro- 
pared him as a people for himself, and gave him being as a father. 
Under Moses he bought him to himself out of Egypt as a bond servant; 
and has therefore the claims both of a master, and of a father, as Mosei 
here distinctly expresses it. How truly also is the distinction found in 
the epirit and the events of the different periods. 

t In the sequel is introduced that which it is said the fathers shall 
relate. Moses goes back to the separation of tribes, and the division of 
countries among them, when the Almighty, in assigning their dwel 
lings to all nations, drew their limits, as it were, narrower, that the line 
of his inheritance, Canaan, might be left for the twelve tribes. This 
land becomes hereby, as it were, the meditullium, the central point of 
the earth, as every nation of antiquity held their sanctuary to be, of 
which we shall speak on another occasion. 

t That is, the numerous Israel ; and in proportion to his numbers will 
be the space required for the twelve tribes. The words have given 
occasion to too many fables, and yet are very plain. 

11 The march of the Israelites through the wilderness. God found 
them on the shores of the Red Sea, and led them to the hills of Bashan, 
the fruits and excellencies of which are deccribed. The words, there 
was no strange God with them, express the fact, that Israel was led out 
of Egypt, redeemed, and carried ouward, under no other guardian God 


In a waste and bowling wilderness ; 
He took him in bia arms and taught him ; 
He guarded him a* the apple of hi> eye. 
As the eagle covers her nest around, 
And hovers over her young, 
Spreads her wings, takes them thereon. 
And bears them aloft upon her wings ; 
So did Jehovah lead him, himself alone, 
There was no strange God with him. 
He bore him to the mountain heights, 
And fed him with the fruits of the earth ; 
He made him to suck honey from the rock, 
And oil out of the flinty rock, 
Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, 
The fal of lambs, and of the rams of Bashan, 
The fat kidneys of goats, and bread of wheat,* 
And thou didst drink the blood of the grape. 
Then Jeshurunt waxed stout, and rebelled, 
Thou wast too fat, too satiate, too full, 
Thou didst forsake the God, that made thee, 
And lightly esteem the rock of thy salvation.t 
They moved his jealousy with strange gods,|| 

than Jehovah. Their idolatry and abominations with Baal-Peor took 
place only when they had reached the borders of Canaan. 

* I have departed here from the interpunction of the Hebrews, be- 
cause the phrase, fat of the kidneys of wheat, seems to have no good 
sense, and the more natural sense is obvious. The detail of these fruits 
and eatables is proof, like everything else in it, of the unborrowed truth 
of this poem. After the people had been so long in the desert, these 
hills must Beem an Elysium, and their fruits the food of Paradise. 

t This word is a title of fondness given to Israel, in the character of 
a child, a personification, which runs through most of this piece. The 
name occurs also in the blessings pronounced by Moses and in Isaiuh. 

t The distinction again between the choice of Israel as a son in Abra 
ham, and his purchased deliverance as a servant under Moses. 

|| Here we see the precise, and true conceptions of Moses respecting 
idolatry, which were the ground of his legislation. Idols were a mere 
nothing, they were an abomination, they were foreign to Israel. The 
first reason was philosophical, the second moral, the third national. 
Their Jehovah was for them the alone true, the holy, the good, the an 
cient God of their fathers, and the guardian God, to whom at Sinai they 
had placed themselves under new obligations. 


They provoked hit anger with abomination*, 

They sacrificed to demons, not to God, 

To idols, of whom they had no knowledge, 

To new gods, that were newly invented,* 

Before whom your fathers trembled not ;t 

Of Him that begat thee, the Rock thou wast forgetful, 

And didst forget the God that formed thee. 

This Jehovah saw, and cast away in anger, 
Those who were his sons and daughters. 
He said, " I will turn my face from them, 
I will see to what end they will come. 
For they are a perverse generation, 
Children of a base and faithless sort. 

They moved me to jealousy with their no-god, 
They provoked me to anger with their idols ; 
1 also will move their jealousy with a no-people, 
With a foolish nation I will provoke their anger.t 

For the fire of my wrath is kindled, 
And shall burn even to the deep abyss, 
It shall consume the earth and her fruits, i 

And fire the foundations of the mountains. 

I will heap up afflictions upon them, 
And my arrows will I send upon them, 
Consumed with hunger, and burned with heat, 
Devoured with bitter destruction, 
I will send upon them the teeth of wild beasts, 
With the poison of serpents from the dust. 

* We see how Moses thinks of the God of his people, and of the pa 
triarchs, as an ancient God. Their notices of him, and of the patriarchs, 
must therefore bu ancient also, and anterior to the time of Moses. He 
did not invent then the religion of the patriarchs, but rather altered it 
and made the child into a servant. 

t The expression is used, not because their fathers trembled with hor 
ror before the true God, but because they themselves did before their 
imaginary gods and demons. 

, The idiomatick form of expression, children, no-children, God, no. 
god, nation, no-nutiou or not-nation, runs through the whole piece, and 
is entirely in the spirit of the law.giver. The organization, which he 
formed, was for him the only one j all other nations were to him no na- 
lions, not organized states, but uncivilized hordes. 


The sword shall be without, and terror within,* 

And shall destroy both the young man and virgin, 

The suckling, and the man of gray hair*. 

I had almost said, I will destroy them.t 

And blot out their name among men ; 

Had I not feared the pride of the enemy, 

That their oppressors would mistake it, 

And say, " our own high hand, 

And not Jehovah hath done this." 

For they are a nation void of counsel, 

There is no understanding in them. 

O ! that they were wise, to understand this. 
That they would consider their latter end. 

How is it, that one can chuse a thousand.t 
And two of them put ten thousand to flight 7 
Is it not, that their rock hath forsaken them, 
That Jehovah hath given them for a prey ? 
Else their rock were not like our rock, 
Our enemies themselves being judges. 

Their vine is from the vine of Sodom, 
Their grapes from the fields of Gomorrah, 
Crapes of gall, their clusters are bitter, 
Their juice is the poison of dragons, 
The deadly venom of serpents. 

Have I not already my secret counsel, 
Sealed and laid up in my treasures ? 
" Vengeance is mine and the duy of recompense, 
Their foot is even now ready to slide, 
The day of iheir calamity is at hand, 
Their destiny is soon corning upon them." 

Jehovah is now the judge of his people,!) 

* Without and within the cities and houses. 

I It is plain, that (iod is here introduced with human feelings of jeal. 
ousy, speaking against other national gods. 

t At once the poet places himself in view of the melancholy end of 
this people, and how exactly, as well as fearfully, was the prophecy 
fulfilled! And the legislator of the nation must himself utter it, must 
close his life, already melancholy, with such prophetick anticipations ! 
a fete, which only a rock like Moses could have sustained. 

H Those translations, which take these lines IH a favourable sense, 
hare the context plainly against them. The curse proceeds and contin- 


It repents him, that they are his children, 
He sceth, that their power is departed, 
That nothing is left to them more. 
He asks them, where are now their gods, 
The guardian God, in whom they trusted? 
Which did eat the lat of their sacrifices, 
And drank the wine of their drink-offerings ? 
Let them now rise up and help you, 
Let them now be your protection. 

See now, that I, even I am he, 
And there are no Gods with me. 
I am he, that killeth and maketh alive, 
I am he, that woundeth and healeth, 
And none can deliver out of my hand. 

For I lift up my hand to heaven, 
And say, I arn, the living one 
From eternity to eternity. 
If I whet my glittering sword, 
And my handtuke hold on judgment, 
I will render vengeance to mine enemies, 
And will reward them that hate me.* 
I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, 
My sword shall satiate itself with flesh, 
The blood of the slain, and of the captives, 
With the head of the chief of my enemy. 
Rejoice, ye Gentiles, now his people, 
He will avenge the blood of his servants, 
And render vengeance to his enemies, 
And purify his land and people.t 

ues to the end of the poem. The blessing first begins in the next chap, 
ter. It is indeed a fearful consideration, that God must thus forget the 
father in the judge, and yet feel that they are his children. 

* I can understand these words only as still referring to the Jewish 
nation, once his children, now his open enemies, on whom he avenges 
himself. He rejects them, and takes the Gentiles for his people. 

t The last lino is obscure to my mind, because the connecting particle 
in the Hebrew is wanting before the word people. It would seem as if 
it were wished to read as a blessing, what was meant as a curse, though 
the blessing properly follows in a separate chapter. The Gentiles are 
here summoned, us now the people of God, to witness the judgment of 


God upon Israel. He avenges the blood of his servants upon this people, 
and purifies the land from sin. (I will not decide, whether in relation to 
the last word we should read and or from his people. The blessing 
which follows, as well as that of Jacob, is translated in another work, 
" Letters on the study of Theology," and need not be repeated here.) 
This chapter ends like the last of the prophets. The nation is cast forttt 
and banished from the land. 



I. 1 : p. 55. 58. 

5. 6 : p. 198. 

2: p. 66. 

VIII. p. 200. 

3: p. 61. 

IX. 12 : p. 200. 

4 : p. 67. 

25-27 : p. 221. 

6: p. 69. 

X. 8-10 : p. 203. 

11. 12 : p. 72. 

XI. 19: p. 202. 

14: p. 74. 

XII. 1 : p. 222. 

26 : p. 165. 

11: p. 223. 

II. 7: p. 163. 

XIII. 8 : p. 223. 

8 : p. 123. 

XIV. 22 : p. 223. 

9 : p. 125. 

XV. 1. 5. 6 ; p. 224. 

17: p. 131. 

XVI. 12 : p. 233. 

18-22 : p. 128. 

XVIII. p. 223. 

23. 21 : p. 129. 

XIX. 23-26: p. 263. 

25: p. 130. 

XXI. 15-20 : p. 234, 

III. 1 : p. 55. 132. 

XXII. 1 -p. 223. 

5. 7 : p. 132. . 

XXI 1 1 p 00 

14 : p. 135. 

XXVII. 27-29 : p. 23 L 

15: p. 136. 

XXVIII. 11-12: p. 232. 

16-23 : p. 133. 137. 

XXXII. 24-30 : p. 229. 

24: p. 141. 

XXXVI. 28: p. 103. 

IV. 4 7 : p. 196. 

EXOD. XXV. 17. 18 : p. 142. 

9-12 : p. 193. 

XXXVI. 3.35: p. 142. 

13-16: p. 194. 

DEOT. XXX 11. 143 : p. 280. 285. 

21-24 : p. 265. 

1 SAM. IV. 4 : p. 146. 

25-2G : p. 258. 

2 SAM. VI. 2: p. 146. 

V. 1 : p. 258. 

1 KINGS. VI. 23: p. 142. 

22-24 : p. 177. 

2KLNG8, II. 11. 12: p. 150. 

29 : p. 200. 

JOB, I. 20, 21 : p. 238. 

VI. 2 : p. 199. 

II. 11: p. 103, 

3 : p. 197. 

III. 3-10: p. 64. 

4 : p. 175. 

11-19 1 p. 185. 



IV. 12-17 : p. 67. 

XVI. p. 183. 

V. 8-26 : p. 210. 

XVIII. 5-18 : p. 146. 157. 

VII. p. 162. 

XIX. 57: p. 75. 

VIII. 9, 10 : p. 81. 

XXIX. 1-10: p. 158. 

11-18 : p. 168. 

XLII. 2. 3: p. 70. 

IX. 2-11 : p. 52. 

YT VT n 1 

X. 3.9: p. 161. 

YT TV n 1RO 

20-22 : p. 212. 

LXVIII. 18 : p. 150. 

XI. 79: p. 59. 

XC. 8 : p. 195. 

XIV. p. 171. 

CIV. 13 : p. G7. 69. 

XVI. 16-20: p. 196. 

4 : p. G2. 

XIX. 19-29: p. 238. 

5-18: p. 71. 

XXV. 2 G : p. 81. 

19-35 : p. 78. 

XXVI. 2-1-1 : p. 82. 

pyyvrTT n 11 

XXVIII. p. 211. 

CXXXIX. 1-18: p. 53. 

XXIX. p. 237. 

C\ I VF n 1 1 

VVVT ,, oin 

CXLVII. 15-18: p. 61. 

2G. 28: p. 71. 

ECCLES. IX. 10 : p. 174. 

35-37: p. 113. 

XII. 7: p. 1G4. 

XXXII. 18-20 : p. 31. 

ISA. VI. 1-11: p. 146. 

XXXIII. 3 G: p. 1G4. 

XI. G 9: p. 129. 

XXXVI. 22. 33 : p. 85. 

XIV. 3-23 : p. 2UG. 

XXXVII. 17 : p. 61. 86. 

13. 11 : p. 1 19. 

8-2-1 : p. 88. 

XXXVII. 16: p. 146. 

XXXVIII. 1-11: p. 88. 

LI. 13 : p. 227. 

12-15: p. 89. 

L1V. 7-10: p. 200. 

16-23: p. 89. 

LXIV. 15-17: p. 228. 

21.32: p. 90. 

LAM. IV. 21 : p. 103. 

30-38: p. 91. 

EZEC. I. 4-28 : p. 143. 146. 151 

39-11 : p. 99. 

X. 11: p. 112. 146. 

XXXIX. 15: p. 100. 

XXVIII. 12-19: p. 143. 155. 

6-13 : p. 100- 

XLI. 18: p. 112. 

14-30 : p. 101. 

HAB. III. 8: p. 142. 

XL. 10-19: p. 105. 

X. 11: p. 75. 

PSALM, II. 1.2.4: p. 202. 

MAL. II. 14. 15: p. 227. 

VIM M\r. 



Abel, his death, 193 the voice of his blood .crying in the 
language of Oriental poetry, 191. 

Abraham compared with Enoch, 178 the reason of his wan 
dering, 222 his community of right and possession in 
Canaan, 223 denial of his wife in Egypt, 223 his friend 
ship with God, 223 a symbol of the covenant with his 
people, 225 reverence shown for him in Hebrew history, 

Adonim, 55. 

Alphabetick writing, its probable origin, &c. 255, 261. 

Angels, their relation to the Elohim, 50 in the most ancient 
times, personifications of the word of God, 62. 

Arabick wisdom, 10-1. 

Ass wild, description of, 100. 

Babel, explanation of the account of, 201 tower of, 201. 

Behemoth, the hippopotamus, 106. 

Belial, king of the shades, 175. 

Brutes, poetical description of, 77, 99 give occasion for 
fables, 134 follow the destiny of man, 197. 

Bufialo, description of, 100. 

Canaan, earliest reference to, 221 poetry of, 235 language 
of, 244 right of the Canaanites to the land, 246 regard 
ed by the Shemites as a race of slaves, 246 their religion, 

Chamois, description of, 99. 

Chaos of the Greeks unknown to the Orientals, 66. 

Chart, whether the genealogical register of the sons of Noah 
was also a geographical chart, 251. 

Cherubim, 141151. 


Creation, 59, 62, 88-probable preservation of its history, 258- 
the picture of it not of Egyptian origin, 259. 

Dead, kingdom of the, 170185. 

Deluge, 197, 253. 

Eagle, description of, 102. 

Earth, picture of its creation, 72 personified, 88. 

Edom, 110. 

Egyptian, imagery in Job, 105 of the kingdom of the dead, 
185 facts of its history in the history of Joseph, 248 hie 
roglyphics, 259 Egyptian and anti-Egyptian, in the Mo- 
saick laws, 270. 
Elegy.Sce Lamentation. 

Elihu, character of his poetry, 85. 

Elijah, 150. 

Elohim, probable origin of the conception, 55 in Paradise, 
132 as beings wiser than men, 13G on the mountains of 
the gods, 149 Jacob s wrestling with the Elohim, 230 
diversity between the traditions with Elohim and those 
with Jehovah, 3G5. 

Enoch, 177. 

Esau blessed, 234. 

Fables, arose from observing the characteristics of brutes, 

Fall in Paradise, 130 a narrative of a real event, 137 the 

account of it did not originate in Egyptian hieroglyphics, 

Genealogies are the historical records of the Orientals, 249, 


God, feeling oi his presence in nature, 50 knowledge of 
him not from slavish four, 51 earliest notions of him 
simple, 52 whether polytheistick, 55 unity of God and 
importance of this conception, 57 God of the heavens 
and the earth, 58 his word personified, Gl king of the 
angels, G2 sustainer of creation, G3, 71, 76 description 
of God in Job, 82 judge among the stars, 82 voice of 
Jehovah, 158 his address to Job, 88 his intercourse with 


the patriarchs, 224 effects of faith in him, 223 Moses 1 
conception of God, 270 breath of, 1 63, 165. 

Gods, sons of the gods, 175. 

Grave, origin of the kingdom of the dead, 172 Arabick de 
scription of it, 186. 

Ham, his transgression and punishment, 220. 

Heaven, representation of it among the Orientals, 68-71- 
tliosc of the Northern Edda compared, 73-parallelism with 
the earth, 58. 

Hieroglyphics, their aid in introducing alphabetick writing, 

Horse, description of, 101-those with the chariot of God, 
142-of Klijali, 150. 

Hymns addressed to objects of nature at variance with the 
spirit of Hebrew poetry, 7-1. 

Immortality of the soul, 170-185. 

Ishmacl, prophecy respecting him, 233. 

Israelites, as the people of God, 218. 

Jacob, his character, 228-wrestles with the Elohim, 229- 
prophccy respecting him, 23-1. 

Job, how the book of Job should be read, 81-description of 
God and nature in it, 81-other particulars in relation to it, 
103, 121-description of the realm of shades, 185-view of 
Providence, 208-represeritations of Job, 237-242. 

Joseph, history of, 248. 

Knowledge of good and evil, 132. 

Language, its formation, 259 its diversities, 263. 

Language, poetical, 27 12 Northern and Southern, their 
relation, 33 Oriental, 34. 

Language, Hebrew, common mode of learning it, 26-objec- 
tions to it, 28-its defence, 27-37-paralleHsm, 39-not whol 
ly without vowels,44 grammatical form, 45-right mode of 
learning it, 45-not the same with that of the Canaanites, 
244-not the most ancient language, 261. 

Lamqch, his song on the invention of the sword, 265, 


Lamentation over the king of Tyre, 155-Job a over human 
destiny, 162-that there is no return from the grave, 171- 
Isaiah s over the king of Babylon, 206. 

Light, Oiiental notions of it, G7-its dwelling place, 90. 

Lion, description of it, 99. 

Man, his origin, IGl-his destiny, lG2-his strength, lG3-an 
image of God, 167-should learn to regard every thing in a 
moral view, 197. 

Moon, personification of it, 75. 

Morning dawn, 47-first and natural image of the creation, 
48-pcrsonification of it, G7-of the morning star, G8, 89. 

Moses, neither the author nor translator of Job, 108-his po 
etry, 108-how far concerned in forming the genealogies, 
251-life and character, 268-other particulars, 270. 

Mount of the gods in the North, 145. 

Names, significant of the patriarchs, 254-occasion of alpha- 
betick writing, 256. 

Night, ancient night of the Orientals, G5. 

Nimrod, 203. 

Noah, 199-his cursing of Ham, 220-why he also cursed Ca 
naan, 221 -his drunkenness, 222. 

Orion, 9 1 . 

Ostrich, description of it, 101. 

Paradise, 122-130-preservation of its history, 258-not from 
an Egyptian hieroglyphick, 259. 

Parallelism, 30 12-of the heavens and the earth, GO. 

Patriarchs, how regarded in Hebrew poetry, 227-their faults, 
228-blessings pronounced by them, 233-back to Abraham, 
249-to the flood, 249-before the flood, 254. 

Personification in Hebrew poetiy, 93-of brutes, 99-of the 
realm of shades, 174-of sin, 19G. 

Plants in Hebrew poetry, 73. 

Phoenicians, 244, 

Poetry, should render men refined, not savage, 127-relation 
of it to God, 169. 


Poetry, of nature, among the Orientals, 72-in Job, 83, 93- 
of the Hebrews in relation to the covenant with God, 226- 
of Canaan, 235-what is poetry in Genesis, 264. 

Polytheism of the East, 55- 

Prophets imitate each other, 1 10-rights given them by Mo< 
ses, 278. 

Providence, 191-210. 

Rain, representations of it, 69, 86, 91. 

Rainbow, 200. 

Rhyme preceded the Saracens in Europe, 42, 

Salt pillar, 264. 

Satan, conception of in Job, 111. 

Sea, 89. 

Serpent in paradise, 132, 134. 

Shemites, their language, 244-right to Canaan, 246-religion 
and spirit, 247. 

Sin, personified, 196. 

Snow, 61, 86. . 

Sodom, 307. 

Spirit, GO. 

Stars, personified, 66, 76, 88. 

Sun, not celebrated in hymns by the Hebrews, 74-personified, 

Thunder, 86, 146, 157, 176. 

Tree of knowledge, 128-130-of life, 124. 

Uz, 103. 

Wisdom, Oriental representations of it, 136, 212, 214, 

World, 59, 91. 



JUN 3 1914 


Page 99, 9th line from the bottom, should be arranged with the prose.