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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 










(S*icttor to Chaunrey Uovdrith.) 

H 4-5 




Entered according to Act of Congreee in the jear 133. bf 

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


In entering upon this second portion of the work, I 
would repeat the wishes which I expressed in the 
preface to the former, and shall only add here such 
remarks as apply peculiarly to the present volume. 

The form of dialogue employed in the introduction 
is dropped here, hecause, in treating matters of the 
kind here presented, it would only have hcen burthen- 
some, and have weakened the impression intended to 
be produced. The reader is supposed rather to be 
seated in familar discussion with the author or with 
himself, and in adopting this supposition he will find 
the progress and development of the ideas the more 
natural and agreeable. Where the divisions prove too 
long, he will find convenient resting places at shorter 
intervals, in which he may stop and reflect upon what 
he has already passed over. 

I cannot, from the nature of the case, anticipate a 
universal agreement in opinion upon all the matters 
here treated of, and the results of some of the enqui 
ries instituted, are perhaps too strange and foreign 
from received opinions, to gain the assent of the pub- 
lick at once. .But what is not done to-day may be 
done to-morrow, and those, who do not here find satis 
faction on topics treated of in this part of the work, I 
beg will withhold their conclusions, and wait for the 
third and last parts of it. 

In pursuing the discussions I have not, knowingly, 
wounded the feelings of any one, nor even by a word 
passed judgment against any. Others, I trust, will 
award to me the same equitable treatment, and not 
hastily, in judging, give sentence against me. I leave 
to every one the reward of his labour, aiming myself 
only to gather fruits that may be useful, and now and 
then a flower fqr enjoyment. What pleasure would it 
give me to have made more accessible, more natural, 
and more delightful the view of the Sacred Scriptures, 
which they exhibit from the side from which I have 
laboured to present them. The influence of the im- 
pressicTn thus produced would be of wide extent, much 
wider than I can explain by a few brief remarks. 

The observations, which, to many readers might 
appear too learned, I could wish to have passed over 
by all such. They aro inserted for the sake of others, 
to whom the reasons of my translation must be given. 
No word is employed without necessity, or for a dis 
play of learning ; for my vocation is, not to be a verbal 
critick of the Hebrew language, but to make the 
Hebrew books intelligible by placing them in their 
proper light, and to show their proper application and 

Weimar, April 24, 1783. HERDER. 


Hebrew Poetry had its origin in 

1. The union of outward form with inward feeling. How far therefore 
it is Divine, and how far human. First essays in poetry among the 
Hebrews. The most ancient tablet of images. Language and poetry, 
an imitation of that creative agency, which determines the intelligi 
ble essence and outward form of its creations. Whether the poetical 
images and feelings of one nation, especially an ancient one, are to 
be judged by those of other nations. Character of the most ancient 
poet.y. Whether individual images can be taken out of their connex. 
ions and compared to any purpose with each other. Example in Job s 
description of the horse. 

2. Personification, Origin of this in the human mind. Its effects on 
morals and poetry. Examples of it from nature, history, and the idei 
of the Divinity. 

3. Fuble. Origin of this, and its use in the earliest development of 
reason, the formation of manners, and maxims of prudence. Respect 
in which it was held in the East, and its influence on poetry. 

4. Tradition. Difference between this and history. Essays in poetical 
family traditions. 

5. Poetical invention. Its design. Examples of it in the Cherub and 
other inventions, in the kingdom of the dead, &.c. Collection of those 
species under the general conception of the b^D in its different 

Second species of poetry, the Song. Distinguished from mere figura 
tive discourse. It is expressive of higher emotion, brings movement 
and purpose into the whole of a production, aims at the expression of 
harmony, and in the most ancient times was adapted to a chorus. 

Combination of figurative discourse and the song. Genius of Hebrew 
poetry, as learned from its origin. 

Appendix. Some of the grounds of the subjective origin of Hebrew 


Hitherto, in contemplating the most ancient and sublime 
phenomena exhibited by the poetry of the Hebrews, we have 
only stood at the foot of the mountain, and observed objects 
as they were presented to our view. We will now sit down, 
and arrange in order the results of .our observation. The 
best conception of a thing is obtained from a knowledge of its 
origin. We proceed now, therefore, to treat of the origin of 
Hebrew poetry. 

1. This, as 1 showed in treating of the radical words of 
the language and the fullness of their meaning, is form and* 
feeling. From without, the forms of sense flow into the soul, 
which puts upon them the impress of its own feeling, and 
seeks to express them outwardly by gestures, tones, and other 
significant indications. The whole universe with its move 
ments and forms is for the outward intuition of man, a vast 
tablet, on whirl) are pictured all forms of living beings. He 
stands in a sea of living billows, and the fountain of life, 
which is within his own being, flows forth and re-acts against 
them. Thus, what flows in upon him from without, accord 
ing as he feels it aiid impresses his own feeling upon it, forms 
the genius of his poetry in its original elements. 

It may therefore be denominated alike human and Divine, 
for it is in fact both. It was God, who created the fountain 
of feeling in man, who placed the universe with all its num 
berless currents setting in upon him, and mingled them with 
the feelings of his own breast. He gave him also language 
and the powers of poetical invention, and thus far is the ori 
gin of poetry Divine. It is human in respect to the measure 
and peculiarity of this feeling, and of the expression, which 
is given to it ; for only human organs feel and utter the 
emotions and conceptions of the poet. Poetry is a Divine 
language, yet not in the sense that we understand by it what 
the Divine Being in himself feels and utters ; whatever was 
given to the most godlike men, even through a higher influ 
ence, to feel and experience in themselves, was still human. 

If we knew more of the psychological and historical circum 
stances, connected with these higher influences, and with the 
intercourse of the Elohim with the first children of creation, 
we might perhaps give also a more definite conclusion re 
specting the origin of their language and mode of representa 
tion. But, since the most ancient history of the human mind 
has denied us this, wo must argue from the effect to the 
cause, from the outward working to the inward form of feel 
ing, and thus we treat of the origin of poetry only as human. 
The spirit of poetry, therefore, was first exhibited in a dic 
tionary of significant names, and expres.-ions full of imagery 
and of fueling, arid I know of no poetry in the world, in 
which this origin is exhibited in greater purity than in this. 
The first specimen, which presents itself in it,* is a series of 
pictures exhibiting a. view of the universe, and arranged in 
accordance with the dictates of human feeling. Light is the 
first uttered word of the creator, and the instrument of Divine 
efficiency in the sensitive human soul. By means of this the 
creation is unfolded and expanded. The heavens and the 
earth, night and day, the diurnal and nocturnal luminaries, 
creatures in the sea and on the land, are measured and esti- r 
mated with reference to the human eye, to the wants, and 
the powers of feeling and of arrangement peculiar to man. 
The wheel of creation revolves with a circumference em 
bracing all that his eye can reach, and stands still in himself aa 
the centre of the circle, the visible God of this lower world. 
In giving names to all and ordering all from the impulse of 
his own inward feeling, and with reference to himself, he be 
comes an imitator of the Divinity, a second Crertor, a true 
Tioiiyrr/f , a creative poet. Following this origin of the poetick 
art, instead of placing its essence in an imitation of nature, as 
has generally been done, we might still more boldly place it in 
an imitation of that Divine agency, which creates, and give 

* Gen, 1 

form and determinateness to the objects of its creation. Only 
the creative thoughts of God, however, are truly objective 
have actuality in their outward expression, and stand forth 
existent and living in the products of creative power. Man 
can only give names to these creations, arrange and link them 
together; beyond this, his thoughts remain hut lifeless forms, 
his words and the impulses of his feelings are not in them 
selves living products. Yet, the clearer the intuition, with 
which we contemplate and systematize the objects of creation, 
the more unsophisticated and full the impulse of feeling, 
which impels us to impress every thing with the purest char 
acter and fullest measure of humanity that which maiks the 
analogy of our being to that of God the more beautiful, the 
more perfect, and, let us not doubt, the more powerful will 
be our poetick art. In this feeling of natural beauty and 
sublimity the child often has the advantage of the man of 
gray hairs, and nations of the greatest simplicity have in their 
natural imagery and expressions of natural feeling, the most 
elevated and touching poetry. I doubt whether this origin 
of poetry can be better and more beautifully expressed than 
it is by the Hebrew *> (U D The word means to imprint to 
impress, to impress a form, a likeness ; and so to speak in 
proverbs, as the 0^2170 f l ie Hebrew poetry are pro 
verbs, wise sentences of the highest import ; and again to 
decide, to put in order, to speak as a king or judge, filially, 
to reign, to hare dominion, to be powerful by the word of one?* 
mouth. Here we have the history <^ the origin of poetry 
and of the part of it, which is most powerful in its influence. 
It would scarcely have been deserving of remark, were it 
not necessary to prevent frequent misconception and abuse, 
that the poetical images and feelings of one people, and of 
one age can never be judged, censured, and rejected accord 
ing to the standard of another people, and another age. Had 
the Creator so ordered it, that we had all been born upon 
the same spot of earth, at the same time, with the same feel- 


ings and organs, and under the same outward circumstances, 
there would have been nothing to object against the uniform 
standard of taste, of which so much has been said. But 
since nothing is more susceptible and multifarious than the 
human heart, since nothing is more subtle and evanescent, 
than the connecting ties, on which its feelings and passions 
depend, since it even belongs to the perfection of human na 
ture, that it organize and form itself anew under every cli- 
mate, in every age, and every peculiar mode of existence, 
since finally that modicum of articulated air, which we call 
language, and which yet bears upon its light and butterfly 
whins all the treasures of poetical imagery and sentiment 
since this breath of the mouth, in its manifold variations ex 
hibiting the diversities of every people and every age, is a 
real Proteus, it seems to indicate either a stupid or a proud 
presumption to require, that every nation, even of the most 
ancient times, should think, discourse, feel, and fashion its 
poetical conceptions in a manner to suit our habits and 
wants. It has been long remarked, that the human race in 
its successive ages and revolutions seems to follow the vicisi- 
tudes of our individual human life, (at least men imagine it 
to be so), and as the child does not feel, speak, and contem 
plate the world around him in the same manner as a man of 
mature age, who would require of nations in the infancy of 
the world, the facility and rapidity in poetical representation, 
which with us is the result of experience, the squeamishness 
and over refinement of our exhausted and worn out hearts. 
We must learn to dwelt^ong upon plain and simple imagery, 
to revolve them over in our contemplations, to excite the 
sense of wonder, and picture them in gigantick forms. Such 
are the views, the language, and the feelings of children. 
They look with child-like wonder and astonishment, before 
they learn to perceive with discrimination. Every thing ap 
pears to them in the dazzling splendour of novelty. Objects 
that are unknown, or of larger magnitude, produce an effect 


upon their unpractised and yet sensitive organs. They know 
not as yet how to compare, and by comparison to belittle the 
objects of their admiration. The tongue strives to cxprcsa 
itserf, and falls upon strong expressions, because its language 
is not become weak and facile from a multiplicity of empty 
sounds and stale metaphorical expressions. They often speak 
too, as the Orientals, and as uncultivated savages speak, till 
at length with the progress of nature and art they learn to 
express themselves like polished or like fashionable men. 
Let them enjoy their years of childhood, and let those Orien 
tals also in the infancy of the world form tlicii poetical con 
ceptions, speak, and rejoice with a child-like spirit. 

Still more incongruous would it be to take a single image 
or representation out of the connexion, in which it belongs, 
and compare its style and colouring with th >sc of another, 
taken from a poet of a different age, of a different nation and 
language, and of diverse poetical powers. No two things 
in the world arc wholly alike. No one thing is made for 
the purpose of being compared with another, and the mqst 
fresh and delicate growth, when torn from its place, is the 
first to wither. A poetical imaire exisJs only in its con 
nexion with the emotion that prompted it. In losing that it loses 
every thing, and is only a senseless medley of colours, which 
only a child values according to the brightness of their tints. 
Perhaps too no poets lose so much by a comparison of extract 
ed passages and imaL cs as the poets of the [Cast. For they aro 
the farthest removed from us, they sung in another world, in 
part three, four thousand years, before we discoursed about 
them. Should one compare for example, the picture of a horse 
in Job with Virgil s desciip .ion of it, and neglect to icmark, 
who it is that speiks in Job, and for what end,, what was the 
character and estimation of the horse in Virgil s time at Rome, 
tnd in the days of Job in Jdumo?a, and for wlnf purpose it was 
introduced in these different authors, (to HIV nothing of lan 
guage, metre, the genius of the people, and the form of their po 


etry) would he form a good comparative estimate of them ! 
would they be fairly balanced and compared?* But we proceed. 

. The form or image of sense accompanied with emotion 
readily buctxnas in the view of the mind excited by its influ 
ence a thinj- of lift 1 , and thus personification is the second 
higher step in the origin of the poetick art. 

It is the naluro of the hum in s-jiil to refer every thing to 
itself, to think it like itself, and thus to find itself reflected io 
every tiling. That which is agreeable to us we regard as 
loving us ; what is adverse to us, bates us, as we hate it ; that, 
with which we would delight to hold converse, speaks to us 
also, and its slightest sound, its most trifling utterance, is 
converted by the power of the imagination into language and 
intelligent expression. In this respect all ancient nations arc 
alike. Their dictionaries could be formed and collected, and 
their grammatical forms established only on the principle, 
that mines should be constructed with distinction of gender, 
and events which took place regarded as workings and agen 
cies of living beings, according to the analogies of our human 
being. The Hebrew language is full of personifications, and 

* Aikin, in his Essay on the application of natural history to poetry, 
hus instituted such a comparison, and has passed judgment somewhat 
strangely respecting Job s belie :.oth and leviathan. No poet will or 
hhould, by his descriptions, furnish details for a work on Zoology, since 
poetry aims not to give particular traits with distinctiveness, but to give 
power and effect to the combined whole. This must be looked for as 
the aim of the writer in Job, as in the same passages, the gigantick, the 
mysterious, and the marvellous, in these pictures, belong to the general 
purpose of the composition. The distance of Idurnaja from Egypt, and 
the fact that in the former the horse was yet probably a foreign and rare 
animal, and an object of wonder, rendered this description of it suitable 
to the aim of the book, and indeed made it necessary. But so soon ai 
we suj^% the author to have been an Egyptian, all these relations 
fail, ami-Hire out of place, because in that country every one must have 
been familiar with the horse, the crocodile, the ostrich, and the hippo 


it is undeniable, that this sympathy, this transfer of one s self 
into the objects around us, ond ascription, as it were, of our 
own feelings to those objects with whk h we hold converse, 
has formed not only the inspiring principle of language, of 
speech, but to a certain extent also the first development 
and existence of moral principle. Relations of feeling and 
moral duties cease, where I conceive nothing in a living being 
analogous to my own being. The more deeply rnd inwardly 
I feel this resemblance, and implicitly believe in it, so much 
the more delightful will be my sympathy, and the exorcise of 
it, in accordance with my own sensibilities. The most an 
cient poetry, which exerted such a forming influence upon 
men in their savage state, made use of this fountain of over 
flowing sensibility to form and cherish in them the feelings 
of compassion and brnevolcnce. In the blood of Abel his 
soul cries from the ground. So to Adam, surrounded by the 
brute creation, all seemed to be animated by his own feelings, 
and he sought among them all for a help-meat ond compan 
ion. The sun and moon were kings of heaven, servants of 
God, rulers of the world. The waving atmosphere was a 
brooding dove, and God himself, the creator of all, a work- 
master, after the manner of men, who looked upon his work, 
rejoiced in arid blessed it. Nay, what is still more bold than 
this, he was the father of man, and man was appointed to be 
his vicar and substitute on earth. Extravagant as this rep 
resentation may seern to a heartless deist, it was yet natural 
and necessary for the unbiassed feelings of the human heart. 
Without God the creation is for us a chaos, and without a 
God, whose being is analogous to that of man, who thinks 
and feels as we do, no friendship or filial affection towards 
him is possible, nor can we feel a child-like t confuiQnce in 
communing with a being, so beyond our knowlcdgc^nd yet 
ao intimately near to us. The infinite God, therefore, vouch- 
lafed to render the primary ideas of himself as accessible, 
to man, as was possible, and as well in the first pictures of 


creation, as in the history of the patriarchs ; this friendly 
confidence and trust is the ground of all the relations of man 
to God, and of God to man. In the shepheid s tent God also 
is a shepherd, in the family circle he is the father of all. He 
visits them as a friend, and permits himself to be invited to 
the domestick festival. He was more pleased with his son 
Abel, than with Cain, and in vouchsafing his presence to 
Noah after the flood he smelled a sweet savour from the re 
newed eartlu On the contrary, he was angry with tyrannical 
oppressors, and took the field, as it were, against Nimrod, the 
oppressor of the earth, as if he were also about to scale the 
heavens. Of Abraham, as if jealous of his paternal love, he 
required that he should oiler up to him his son, the dearest 
object of his heart, and wrestled with Jacob to secure for 
him the name of a hero. 

In the book of Job we have unfolded and explained some 
personifications, on which depends the power of the most 
affecting discourses, and so it is with the excitement of sym 
pathy in all kinds of emotion. If the poetry of the most 
ancient times has produced any effect upon the human heart, 
(and it has undoubtedly produced much), it has the power 
of doing so by this means alone. Hence, where this flexibility 
of the heart is wanting, even in our o\vn times, and the man 
contemplates such personifications and measures them by 
pure reason, and according to geometrical rules, he will find 
in the Hebrew and Greek poets only irrational extravagances. 
In Hebrew the whole language is formed upon the principle 
of personification ; nouns, verbs, and even connecting words 
are constructed and arranged under its influence. Every 
thing with them has voice, mouth, hand, countenance, and 
those relations, which render their representation as son and 
daughter, one, become necessary for them as for other Orien 
tals a significant and beautiful idiom,* An idiom, however, 

* Examples are found in Jones commentar, poes. Asiatics in suffi. 


which for the most part has given occasion to the worst mis 
apprehensions, for we may almost affirm it as a general rule 
the bolder and more original a poetical conception and 
figure is, the more it is misunderstood and abused. " 

3. A personified object, so soon as it is represented in 
action, in away that gives to a general sentiment a sensuous 
representation becomes a fable. The transition from the 
one to the other is by a single step, and the East abounds 
not more in personifications, than in fables. 

When God brought the various brutes to Adam to see 
what he would call them, lie placed man in a school of fable. 
In order to be able to designate an animal by a name he 
must know its character and instinct?, and both were to bo 
learned from the animal s actions and mode of life. The 
least reflection applied to these, since the man thereby brought 
them into connexion, and referred them to his own being, 
led to the perception of a general character in the conduct 
of the animal, and so, even when unexpressed a fable was 
already constructed in the mind of the observer. The first 
dialogue with the serpent, and the circumstance mentioned, 
that Adam found none like himself among all the objects 
of creation, pre-suppose this tendency of his mind. It is the 
punctum saliens of fable. It might be. said, indeed, that 
from it proceeded for the yet infant race of man, the first 
principles of morals and of prudence, and that the poetical 
conception, that brutes act from similar feelings with men, 
has had a forming influence in the cultivation of his reason. 
It is not only that in older to attain it, man must observe the 
animate creation in its various characters, he was necessita 
ted also to notice the relations to himself of the actions and 
characters of the brutes, and what was deserving of imitation 
or otherwise. What we denominate the history of the fall 

cient numbers. For the Hebrew of the words man, ton, daughter, 
countenance, $c. the lexicons may be referred to. 


was the first aberration of his reasoning faculty, the imitation 
according to an erroneous conception, of a brute, which the 
teaching of his paternal creator afterwards showed him in its 
true form, and thereby corrected his false conclusions. As 
we are now rendered skillful by experience, so then the un 
derstanding of man in his state of nature formed and guided 
itself by observing the contrivances of brutes. Their adap 
tive powers and propensities are fully developed, their char 
acter clearly determined, forcibly and distinctively expressed, 
and definitely fixed. Here then, man was placed in a school 
rich in instruction, and as tradition says that he learned most 
of the arts from the brutes, so it is certain also, that his first 
observations respecting differences of sense and understand 
ing, and different modes of action, were taken from the brutes. 
The earliest names, by which distinctive characters among 
men were designated, are all derived from animals, as the 
first general maxims relating to manners and prudence for 
the most part show their origin in fable. This last remark 
we shall pursue more at large. 

A general maxim or sentiment is an abstraction from par 
ticular occurrences, and many of these among the Orientals 
still include the particular case in the general expression, and 
with the sensuous image and compressed allegory form as it 
were, an abbreviated fable. So it is with many of the pro 
verbs of Solomon, as in the lesson, which the ant gives to 
the sluggard, &c. and indeed with all the finest proverbs of 
ancient nations. The fable was constructed in view of an 
actual occurrence ; the moral lesson was deduced from it, 
and to aid the recollection of it, and give point to the senti 
ment, was compressed into a metaphor, a proverb, or even an 
enigma. All these modes of representation are essentially 
one, and are all natives of the East, where they are peculiar 
favourites. There the fable was invented, and there proverbs, 
maxims, enigmas, even the radical forms of language are full 
of fable. The whole art of poetry has there a sententious 


character, and a dress of fable, which separates it widely 
from our methodical style in prolonged and rounded periods. 
There too, those kinds of poetry, which are characterized by 
allegory and fable, are the most abundant and the most beau 
tiful. In modern languages, on the other hand, for one 
simple Oriental fable drawn from the kingdom of beasts and 
of trees, we may furnish ten artificial narrations, which often 
contain neither fable nor history, and usually fall short of the 
former in richness of poetical invention. The strings of 
pearl, as the Orientals cull certain collections of choice and 
well arranged sentences, are well known, and the beautiful 
tapestry of their instructive and more elevated poetry, which 
expands its richly ornamented flowers with so much mag 
nificence, appears to them noble and godlike. But of these 
forms of poetry we shall speak more at large in their proper 
place ; at present we proceed to remark, 

4. That even history in the East, especially when it relates 
to the ancient patriarchal traditions, readily assumes the 
dress of fable, and becomes as it were, a poetical and tradi 
tionary representation of family history. Whoever reads tho 
historical writings of the Old Testament, from tho most an 
cient period, will scarcely deny this, and one, that is acquaint 
ed with the historical style of the Orientals, in other histories, 
will be still less disposed to do so. It is not merely, that 
here and there, in the simplest narrative, poetical forms of 
expression are inserted, because the voice of tradition perhaps 
transferred them from existing songs, or gave them for the 
sake of adding force to the expression ; not merely, that the 
narrative itself affects the entire simplicity of tho poetical 
style, in regard to the use of connectives and the repetitions 
of words ; but for the most part also the form and outline of 
the whole narrative is poetical. Nor is this at all prejudicial] 
to truth, but rather contributes to its clearness and force, by;? 
retaining and exhibiting in the tone and outward form of the 
narrative, as it were, the original impression:) and images of 


sense from which it was taken ; only the interpreter must 
find and retain this point of view, or he will misapprehend 
the tone of the sentiment, the aim and general scope of the 
narrative. The history of Paradise, of our first parents, and 
of the subsequent patriarchs, of the flood, of the tower of 
Babel, &c. appear obviously in the character of family and 
national traditions, and so it continues downward to the history 
of the Jewish patriarchs. Tradition has formed into a 
sacred narrative, a sort of fabula morata, where in every line 
the favour of Jehovah to their fathers beams forth as the ori 
gin, from which they derive the glory of their race, their 
right to Canaan, and the prerogative which they claim before 
the nations, which inhabited it. What among other races 
bears the marvellous character of hcroick and extravagant 
traditions, is here of divine and patriarchal authority, con 
firmed by genealogical registers and monuments, and exhibit 
ing such simplicity of ornament, that the artificial forms of 
poetry arc unsuitable to it. Among all nations history has 
grown out of tradition, and among the Hebrews it has remain 
ed even down to the period of the kings, in regard to the style, 
almost always traditionary in its character. To this the lan 
guage, the modes of thought, which distinguished the people 
and the sacred writers, but especially the high antiquity of 
the age, has contributed. 

5. I come now tojictlon, or poetical invention properly so 
called, which consists in combining known, distinctly marked 
images, to form a new creation before unknown, and having its 
own distinctive character. Of this poetical creation the Cheruty 
may serve as an example. The lion, the ox, the man, and tho 
eagle are beings well known ; the combination of them into a 
creature of symbolical import was the work of poetical in 
vention. It will be observe;!, that I use poetry and poetical 
invention, not in the sense of groundless fiction or falsehood ; 
for in the sphere of the understanding, the import of a sym 
bol poetically constructed is truth. The parts themselves of 


the composition are taken from nature, and I know no fiction, 
which has not received its elements from that source. Hence, 
the invention of fictions entirely new is so difficult, that the 
greatest poets copy each other, and nations farthest removed 
from each other coincide in the essential characters, and 
leading forms of those beings, with which they have peopled 
the world of their imaginations. One of these leading forms, 
the features of which are recognized among all nations, which 
have poetry, is the Cherub, perhaps the oldest of all poetical 
creations. It stands on the ruins of Persepolis, which, in 
the form of their inscriptions, and the style of their architect 
ure, go back beyond the periods of recorded history, and, in 
the form of the Sphinx, lies before the ruins of numerous 
Egyptian temples. It is referred to in the marvellous talcs 
of India, of Thibet, of China, of Persia and of Arabia, and 
occurs in the ancient traditions of the Greeks, as well as in 
the Northern Sagas, though in every nation under its own 
peculiar modifications of form. Even the poetry of the Mid 
dle Age has made use of it, and scarcely any poetry is un 
furnished with winged beings of the same general character. 
The Hebrews, in my apprehension, have the oldest and purest 
traditions respecting it, and retain the natural and probable 
account of the origin of a composition in itself so strange 
and marvellous. According to their account it was a guar 
dian of Paradise, and thus by consequence a symbol of things 
secret and mysterious, that is, of places sacred and unap 
proachable. From this, by an easy transition, it become 
itself, in its component parts, a mystery, a synthesis of the 
most noble and exalted of living creatures. It came to be 
attached to the ark of the covenant, as a guardian of the 
mysteries of the law, and thereby a sustainer of the Majesty 
of Jehovah, who watched over them. It was transferred also 
to the clouds, and became first a* poetical, then a prophetical 
vision. These last applications of it, however, belong to 
the poetry of the Hebrews alone. The Cherub, in the char- 



actor which it bore before the time of Moses, the creature of 
marvel, that guarded the secrets or treasures of the primeval 
world, was universally known ; in the character given it among 
the Hebrews after the age of Moses, as the sustainer of the 
glory of God, it was known only in Judaea, and passed into 
it by the transitions, which I have explained.* 

From this Cherub, thus placed in their way, the fancy of 
the Orientals with its boundless stores of imagery took oc 
casion to produce other like inventions, and upon its wings 
soared into the regions of wild and extravagant fiction. In 
relation to this subject the reader should peruse in Bochart s 
Ilierozocion, the sixth book relating to fabulous animals, and 
call to mind the numerous fabled creations in the Oriental 
tales. The ground of every fiction is for the most part a truth 
in natural history, so that we have not so properly pure fic 
tion, as truth under the garb of fiction, and the unusual, the 
singular, and the strange, elevated to the inconceivable and 
the extravagant. An example of this is found in the history 
of the tree of life, and the tree of knowledge, in Paradise. 
This simple, and as given by Moses, intelligible and natural 
tradition, was gradually, in its subsequent transmission, sha 
ped into a strange and wonderful mystery. Now the tree of 
life was represented as a peculiarly healthful tree, that stood 
near to that which bore the forbidden and deadly fruit ; then 
it become a growth productive of physical immortality ; arid 
the tree, by which God proved the obedience of man, was, 
even in the representation given of the serpent as the tempter, 
already become a tree of super-human knowledge. The same 
process of the fancy will be found in regard to other inven 
tions of Oriental fable. Job s behemoth and leviathan, which 
were real animals, because they were of foreign growth, 
large in size, and objects of fear and wonder, were pictured 
in characters, which with small addition and exaggeration 

* See Vol 1. Dialogue VI. 


would have transformed them entirely into creatures of fable- 
and mere objects of wonder. 

In the prophets certain fictitious animals occur, the exist 
ence of which was at that time credited in the popular 
traditions. But aside from these, the Hebrew poetry has 
kept itself pure from whatever is monstrous and inconceivable 
in the creations of imagination. As it fills every thing with 
Jehovah, so its boldest combinations of imagery proceed 
from this source. The thunder was the voice of God, a 
voice which the sacred poets understood ; light was his 
garment which he cast about him as a mantle, and in the 
morning dawn outspread upon the darkness of the night. 
The heavens were his tent, his palace, his temple. Univer 
sal nature composed a host of living creatures, which he 
employed as his ministering servants. The universe was 
filled with his angels, employed as his messengers, but in a 
form at once beautiful and worthy of the divine being ; for 
the living powers and objects of nature were themselves the 
messengers intended, and the angel of his countenance, the 
often personified Word of God, was the forth-going utterance 
of his will, the outward expression of the mind of God. If, 
in the earlier books,* the gods of the heathen appear as 
demons, this was in accordance with the delusion of the 
nations who worshipped them, for most of the Gentiles be 
lieved the image, to which they prayed, to be animated by a 
spirit. The prophets of Israel seized upon this faith, and de 
graded these demons, as vile, imbecile, and impure beings, 
subordinate to the true God, till the great Isaiah rejected 
this also, and exhibited the vanity and nothingness of an idol 
as it was. Satan himself in earlier times was only an angel 
of God, whom God sent as his messenger. Opposed to him 
on the side of Job stood another angel, t who was an advo- . 
cate in the presence of God for the innocent object of his 

Deut, xixii, 16. 17. t Job, aaxiii, 33. 


complaint. Thus the- picture presented in this book is whol 
ly of a poetical character, and under the form of a judicial 

The kingdom of the dead resulted from a combination of 
conceptions so natural in itself, that I do not wonder at its 
occurrence among the Hebrews, as among many other na 
tions. No metaphorical separation of the body and the soul 
was yet known, and the dead with their visibly prostrated 
powers, were conceived as still living in the grave, but in a 
shadowy, obscure, and powerless condition. The voice of 
the murdered victim cried out in his blood, and the feeble, 
stifled voice of the dead was still represented to the imagina 
tion beneath the earth, which covered them. The whispering 
voices of those, who dwell in the tombs, is a general article 
of popular faith with the Hebrews, the Arabians,* and 
other ancient nations. Now as the tombs of the East were 
spacious caves, in which multitudes were deposited side by 
side in their last sleep, the conception of a subterraneous 
kingdom ainon<r the nether shades, was obvious and easily 
formed. Thither whole families descended to join the ghosts of 
their fathers. Heroes, kingdoms, and all the trappings of vic 
tory, with which they were buried, went clown there together. 
The heroes, who were already there received them ; and as 
powerless shades they pursued the same unsubstantial phan 
tom of glory, which they had pursued in life. To all these 
hosts of the dead, too, was given a king, with his royal tower 
or strong hold, whose bars and gates no one could break 
through ; for no power can restore the dead to light and life. 
There murmured the dark rivers of the dead, because in the 
deep caverns of the earth we so often meet with streams of 
water, and hear their obscure, subterraneous, and melan 
choly sounds. The dying man hears these streams, because 
according to oft recorded experience, the senses of thosa 

* See Schulten i Notes on the Hamasa, p. 558. 


sinking through weakness, as they gradually fail, hare a con 
sciousness of sounds as of distant waves. In the same fig 
urative representations, death, who is always lying in wait 
for his prey, became a hunter with nets and cords, while at 
the same time, because the body is fearfully wasted and con 
sumed in the earth, he is described as a monster, who feeds 
upon and devours the dead. So neutral were all their transi 
tions of thought, which, with the usual modifications, occa 
sioned by varying circumstances of country and climate, are 
common to almost all nations. 

But enough of examples. We have now treated in regu 
lar gradation the several successive kinds of poetical repre 
sentation, which all proceed from the same source, the utter 
ance of the soul in the language of imagery and emotion. 
For j every one will see, that poetical personifications, the 
representations of fable, enigmas, sententious proverbs, and 
finally, the proper creations of poetry, not only themselves 
belong to the mashal, but can derive their distinctive charac 
ters, only from the modifications of this same inspiring prin 
ciple of poetry in the soul. In the most ancient times the 
language of sentiment was concise, lofty, and full of energy, 
as we perceive from the blessings pronounced by the patri 
archs, the discourses of Job, and the oracles of Balaam. 
From these the sayings and poetical expressions of the 
prophets differ strictly speaking, as to their general charactei 
and style, only as the weaker from the stronger, the later 
and often imitative from the ancient and original power. For 
even among the prophets, and in the same prophet, there are 
very different degrees of energy and conciseness in their 
figurative language. The language in their time had already 
become more practised, images and sentiments had becomo 
more common-place, the spirit of poetry did not reach nor re 
tain the vigour and originality of the primitive ages. If 
these views be correct, there is no sufficient reason for con 
sidering the writings of the prophets as constituting a 


liar species of poetry. Their atyle was often, indeed, that 
of poetical prose, which still retained the air and movement 
of the earlier parabalick poetry. When the style is aphoristick, 
and marked by the mere orderly arrangement of sentences 
without logical connexion, it necessarily gains in conciseness 
and dignity, and we have a collection of such sentences in 
the Proverbs of Solomon. As nearly related to these, we had 
also enigmas, like that which we have respecting Sampson, 
in which the tone and parallelism of the perfect mashal is 
observable. All this, therefore, belongs to one and the same 
class, and the Hebrew n~I*n an intricate and dark dis 
course, includes more than the mere riddle. Every pithy and 
sententious expression, that is, at the same time difficult of 
apprehension, belongs to it, and a greater portion of the 
Oriental figurative style of discourse aims at this as its princi 
pal beauty. 

To what subject matter this is applied, and whether this 
sublime or enigmatical style of figurative discourse be ex 
pressive of praise or blame, of love or hatred, of joy or 
sorrow, whether in prolonged or brief effusions, are not 
considerations of a nature to constitute co-ordinate kinds of 
poetry. They are all varieties of the same kind, imaginative 
metaphorical discourse with the uniform and lofty parallelism. 

But we here enter upon a second species of the poetick art, 
I mean the song. So soon as musick was invented, poetry 
acquired a new power, a more graceful movement, and great 
er harmony of sound. The simple utterance of motion in 
images of sense had only the most natural and simple form 
and dimension, the systole and diastole of the heart and 
breath the parallelism. With the accession of musick it 
acquired a higher tone, a more measured cadence, and even 


rhyme, as we see in the song of Lamech. What was before 
a simple play of the breath, became now a measured sound, 
a dance, a choral song, a musical utterance of emotion. 
When musick was invented, lyrick poetry also, and the dance 
in measured movements without doubt were brought into 
use. Let us see then what the art of poetry gained or lost 
by the change. 

1. All musical poetry requires a more elevated emotion. 
If it utters its musical tones in figurative expressions, these 
must be animated by excited feeling, imparting continuity and 
unity of character to the lofty movement of the imagery, and 
giving it a form of more exalted harmony. Whatever may 
be the character of the emotion, which prevails in a lyrical 
effusion, its movement and harmony will be regulated accord 
ingly. A hymn of adoartion, a fiery ode, a tranquil song of 
joy, and an elegy expressive of grief and aflliction, are not 
modulated in the same tone and manner. There are, there 
fore subdivisions of the song, but the general conception is 
the same in all. The elegy nj> P> the song of joy or love 
*!>#, the song of praise n^HHt a d the different 
modifications of the mode of singing arising from the difier- 
ence of instruments, all conic under the common name, song 
*I^D1O which derives its distinctive import from the 
cadences and cacsural pauses, which the musick has intro 
duced. To divide lyrical clfusions from a regard to outward 
circumstances, and to call, for example, a particular species 
the idyll, is adverse to the spirit of Hebrew poetry, and in 
deed unpoetical. Among the Greeks every idyll and all its 
parts were not necessarily song, and on the other hand in the 
beautiful song of songs all does not partake of the char 
acter of the idyll, although the whole corresponds to 
the general conception of the tranquil song. Even the 
more general form of figurative utterance, and in its 
most artificial kind, the dark and involved enigma, is not 
absolutely opposed to the song, as we perceive in many 


of the Psalm8,*~and in short, the contents, the subject matter 
do not determine the kind, but the mode of treatment, and 
the form in which it is expressed. 

2. From this view it appears, that the application of musick, 
of singing, brings with it a sort of melody, and therefore con 
tinuity, plan, purpose, into the whole and all the parts of a ly 
rical production, such as were not found in the simply figura 
tive style, except so far as it derived them from the subject. 
Not that I would take from Horace or Pindar a metrical ar 
rangement, by which the Psalms of David should be measu 
red. Every emotion contains its own law, consequently, also, 
its charactcristick aim in itself, and hence those Psalms, which 
are properly expressive of emotion, cannot \>e without these. 
The didactick pieces, though accompanied with musick, have 
less of these, and so arrange their aphoristick sentences often 
by tin; letters of the alphabet. Yet oven this shows that the 
lyrick poem as such must have a sort of measure, and a deter 
minate extent, though it should be taken from the alphabet 

IJ. Mustek requires harmony of sound, and since Hebrew 
musick was probably free from the restraints of artificial rules, 
it could on that account approximate more nearly to the move 
ments of the heart. Nothing is more difficult to translate, 
than a Hebrew Psalm, especially one adapted to the dance 
and the choral song of earlier times. Its evanescent tones are 
breathed in a rhythmical movement of tho most free and un 
restrained character, while the difficult measures of our lan 
guage, its protracted and harsh syllables, drag themselves 
tediously along. In the Hebrew a single word, easily uttered 
find agreeable in sound, expresses the whole sentiment. In 
ours ten are often necessary ; and though they express it with 
more logical distinctness, it is with less ease and eloquence. 

4. Most of the poetry, that was accompanied with instru- 

* PB. xlix. 78., &c. 


menta among the Orientals, was composed of the choral songs, 
often sung by several choruses, and sometimes accompanied 
with the dance. What inspiring fulness of effect this must 
have given to song in those early times, in which the emotions 
of the heart, were as yet little controled, when in praise of 
God or in commemoration of some national blessing it was 
sung by an assembled people, in the fulness of national pride 
and of popular exultation, I leave every one to judge accord 
ing to his own feelings. In our own times, when nations arc 
mingled in confusion, so that we scarcely have the same God, 
but few interests in common, and no common country, we 
sec nothing of the kind. With them, inusick and language 
hud nothing artificial, but were the native, the inspired and 
inspiring utterance of the heart. No cold and formal statcli- 
ness, no chills of a. Northern sky, oppressed the soul, and re 
strained its emotions. Tin* song of Moses and Miriam, the 
voice of a host of many myriads singing in chorus the song of 
their deliverance, with sounding instruments of inusick, be 
neath an Arabian sky, and celebrating the glory of Jehovah 
their deliverer where is there a SOIIJT so exciting and .so ele- 
> itiiiir as this. ? And this, too, was the pattern of the songs of 
Israel in better times. 

Figurative discourse then, the language of metaphor, and 
allegorv, and song, are the two leading forms, under which 
the spirit of poetry among the Hebrews manifested itself; and 
should or could there be more ? -They are poetry for the eye 
and the ear, through both which they soften and agitate the 
heart. In the figurative style of discourse an individual 
speaks, lie instructs, reproves, consoles, directs, commends, 
contemplates the past, and discloses the future. The song 
is sung either by one or many ; they sing from the heart and 
melt the heart, or they infuse instruction in sweet and liquid 
tones. Both these kinds of poetry were held sacred among 
the Hebrews. The most eloquent writers in the first kind 
were the Prophets, and the most sublime lyrical effusions were 


the songs of the temple. Whether these two kinds were ex 
panded into ampler forms, as the drama and heroick poetry, 
will be shown hereafter. 

In conclusion, I observe once more, that the same lofty, 
sententious style, the language of metaphor and allegory, some 
times leads to a hidden and mystical sense. Neither is this 
peculiar to the Hebrews. It belongs also to the Arabians and 
the Persians, and the most favourite ode of Hafiz, as a com 
mon chance, gives a very subtle and mystical sense, in which 
he that will look for it may find all the treasures of knowledge. 
The ground of this lies in the genius, the origin, and the ra 
dical principles of Oriental Poetry. A sublime but obscure 
image, a comparison followed out with acuteness, a divine 
aphorism, which an enigmatical parallelism utters as it were 
only from a distance, these forms of expression require to be 
illustrated and explained. And when a man divinely inspired 
speaks, when in the name of God he discourses of the desti 
nies of the future, who would not readily anticipate more than 
perhaps he means to utter. And who would not, moreover, 
gladly find it afterwards in his divine oracles, even if he be 
not an Oriental, prone to admiration, and striving after high 
and mysterious meanings. Thus it has, indeed, fared for 
centuries with the poetry of the Hebrews, and, if our age and 
nation deserve any praise, it is for their cool and persevering 
endeavour to approximate at least, the simple, original sense 
of those ancient poets, and to listen to their oracles in the true 
spirit of antiquity, undazxled and unprejudiced by glosses and 
the notion of a mysterious meaning.* 

* I have ventured to omit here a short extract from Opitz, a German 
writer of the seventeenth century, and a poetical effusion of the author 
on the origin and office of poetry. They seem intended merely for gar 
nishing, and are not necessary to the connexion of the author s views. 


Some of the subjective grounds of the origin of Hebrew poetry. 

The foregoing remarks treat of the origin and essential 
characters of Hebrew poetry objectively ; they were designed 
to exhibit the twigs and brandies of the tree, as they spring 
from the trunk and root. But some, perhaps, may wish to see 
the ground and soil, by which the tree was sustained ; in oth 
er words to find some of the circumstances designated, in 
which the language became adapted to such images and emo 
tions, and could extend its powers of expression by personifi 
cations, fictions, songs and proverbs. Here too, as in the pre 
ceding observations, I shall rather exhibit facts than specula 

1. Such images and ideas, as even the first chapters of Gen 
esis have preserved to us, are impossible for a savage and un 
cultivated people. So long as man remained a mere clod, inca- 
pable of thought, and urged to action only by the most pressing 
physical necessities, lie could not attain to such abstractions 
and applications of names, as the first picture of the creation 
has given in an order and symmetry suited to the understand 
ing of a people still under the dominion of the senses. Who 
ever may have been the author of this fragment, it gives proof, 
in its images, and the scope of its representations, of being the 
work of a skilful master. No Orpheus here tames the tiger, 
and the lion ; no Silenus sings in grandiloquent jxjetry a cos 
mogony wrapped in fable. All this was the birth, or al>ortion, 
of a later artificial mode of thought, and of a mystifying style 
of representation. Here all is simple and divine, as if one of 
the Elohim had himself instructed the genius of humanity. 
The most slight and facile determinations and classifications 
of objects are connected together, and poetically expressed to 
the understanding of man, and he is elevated by an imitation 
of the invisible Father and Creator, in the alternation of tran- 
quility and active toil, to be the visible lord of creation. 


2. But again, these refined ideas, even in the relation, in 
which they are here placed, are found already fixed in the ra 
dical terms of the language, as if they had been planted in, 
and grown up with it. This language, therefore, however nu 
merous may be the traces, which it bears, in its ideas and the 
simplicity of its constructions, of the infancy of the race, had 
already become formed throughout when this first fragment 
was, I will not say composed, but even conceived. No Ca 
ribbean savage speaks in such language, either as to the sound 
or the formation of the words. Here are no prolonged sounds 
to signify the most trifling things, no wild wilderness of names 
clustered together, but all hangs rather on a single thread, 
and so the whole language branches regularly from the sim 
plest root*. In regard to its etymology and grammar, (I do 
not say its syntax and Ftvle of composition) the ancient He 
brew language is a masterpiece of conciseness and orderly 
arrangement, corresponding to the impressions of sense. One 
might well suppose a Divine Being had devised it for the in 
fancy of the human race, in order to communicate, as it were, 
in short, the earliest conceptions of logical order. 

3. A language! formed at so early a period was, moreover, 
a real treasure for the rice, which possessed it. They had in 
it numerous images and emotions already embodied, which 
became their inheritance, and which they had only to apply. 
We know nothing of the magnificence and the wisdom, which 
were embodied in the ancient language of Egypt, but we 
know thus much, that a Phoenician brought the alphabet to 
Greece, that the Pelasrjians and lonians were originally Asi- 
atick tribes, having probably an affinity with those, to whom 
this language belonged. According to the Mosaick records it 
was transmitted from upper Asia to the banks of the Euphrates, 
and its whole character gives proof, that the climate of Asia 
was its birth place. Its ideas are full of striking contrasts, of 
light and shade, of rest and activity. This is the character 
of the Oriental heavens, and of the genius of Oriental nations, 


In Greenland it would not so early hare unfolded itself. 
Where nature is rude and barren, and man labours under the 
heavy burthens, which it imposes, he becomes skilled perhaps 
in the laborious arts, in the severe and dexterous applications 
both of mind and body, but is not fitted for the development 
of liberal ideas, of enlarged views, and comprehensive and sus 
ceptible emotions. 

4. This language, ancient as it was, and formed under a 
mild and o|>cn sky, was transmitted to a race of herdsmen. 
Men devoted to such a mode of life were well adapted to pre 
serve and more fully to carry out the primitive ideas and his 
torical traditions which it contained. The occupation of 
herdsmen was one of the earliest in the history of human im 
provement. Still it presupj>oses an incipient cultivation, and 
cannot subsist without divers arts and regulations. These, how 
ever, are all of the simplest and most innocent kind. It served 
to unfold the domestick relations, and to establish paternal and 
patriarchal authority. It domesticated animals for the use of 
man, and called forth feelings of gentleness towards the brutes 
in general. It gave a sense of the freedom of nature, that is 
still inextinguishable in the minds of the Bedouins, since they 
avoid cities as the confinement of a prison. If too, in this 
race of herdsmen ancient impressions of the God of nature, 
of the patriarchs who were the objects of his love, of moral 
rectitude and innocence prevailed, they found in this free and 
roving mode of lite a favourable soil, in which to take deeper 
root, and .secure a permanent growth. Hence, the traditions, 
which we have received of Paradise, of the patriarchs, and of 
the most ancient fortunes of our race, come in the form of the 
simple tales of herdsmen. They retained that, which a 
herdsman might naturally apprehend and preserve in his 
sphere of life and his associations, as much as was adapted to 
his forms of thought and mode of living. This same peculiar 
mode of life gave scope also to those gentler affections, by 
which we find these traditions so characterized, and to this 


we are to ascribe the pictures of friendship with God, and the 
intimacy of angels with the patriarchal heroes. Let the offer 
ing up of Isaac be converted into an allegory representing his 
mortal sickness and recovery, (not that it was so, but to bring 
the matter nearer to our modes of conceptions), what admira 
ble firmness in the uncomplaining hero, whose son for three 
days was in his conceptions already lost to him, and who gave 
him lip without a murmuring word. Let us represent the 
tower of Babel, as the allegorical description of a conquering 
and oppressive empire, that ruled despotically upon the earth, 
and aspired even to the dominion of God in the heavens, and 
how striking does the fable become ! So too, the story of Ja 
cob, who, during his first nightly repose out of his father s 
house, contemplated the opening heavens, and when beset 
with dangers wrestled with his protecting angel and prevail 
ed how beautiful, considered even as fictions, are these tra 
ditionary tales of a race of herdsmen ! To the successive 
generations, bv whom they are rehearsed, these traditions 
bring God apparently near, and with him bring trust in his 
goodness, innocence and the cultivation of human affections 
in all the relations of domestick life. No warrior of the Iro- 
quois, or hunter of the Huron race, could have invented fic 
tions such as these. 

5. But again the mode of life had a still more decided in 
fluence upon a race secluded from others, and that accounted 
itself too privileged to admit the intercourse of strangers. 
And what gave it its peculiar distinction ? The same, of which 
we have already treated, its language, and its original descent, 
its traditions, and its ancient privileges, the oracles and pro- 
phetick blessings of its patriarchs. Why did the Shemites des 
pise Ham and Canaan? Because their ancestor degraded 
them, and the shame of a deed of villany was fixed upon their 
family. Why was it, that Ammon and Moab were placed so 
low by Moses, although at the same time, on account of their 
affinity to the Israelites, he forbid their being injured ! It was 


because they were dwellers in caves, and the offspring of an in 
cestuous intercourse, the reproach of which, according to their 
prevailing notions could never be removed from the family. 
How came it, that Israel in Egypt remains a distinct people, 
than an Egyptian ruler, Joseph, with all his pre-eminence of 
rank among that people, numbered his sons, horn of* an Egyp 
tian woman of high rank, with these poor herdsmen, and not 
witli the Egyptians? If here be not pride of birth distinctly 
marked, it can be found nowhere. These poor herdsman had 
fathers, to whom they gave the highest honour, genealogical 
records extruding even to Adam, which even under the se 
verest oppression, they never failed to have their (scribes) 
to preserve and transmit. Why did Moses choose rather 
to sutler affliction and shame with his own people, than to 
enjoy honour in the land of Egypt, when he had respect to 
the origin from which lie sprung f He saw the ancient pre 
rogatives and claims of his nice, and preferred to be its deli 
verer, though with the greatest hazard, than, iu the enjoyment 
of quiet and di<juity, to become their oppressor. These gen 
ealogies also, this ancestral pride, of an unmixed race of 
herdsmen, has, together with their primitive language , pre 
served to us, free from foreign mythologies, which they regard 
ed as idolatry and superstition, free from the mixtures of 
learned lore, which they despised, the ancient traditions of the 
race, and impressed upon their poetry the tendencies, which 
originally proceeded from the formal and oracular benedictions 
of their prophetick fathers. In the jumble of nations, which 
existed in Europe, no such ancient monuments and* pure an 
cestral poetry was jxjssible. In Idumea, where patriarchal prin 
ces reigned, and where they followed a severe and lalx>rious mode 
of life, poetry, also, as the book of Job shows, maintained, in 
a language originally the same, a severer and more sustained 

(i. In order to preserve and continue genealogical records, 
writing was obviously necessary, and I have found propable ev- 


idences, that alphabetical writing was invented in connexion 
with this and for this purpose, at a very early period. It waa 
necessary to designate names, on which the whole was built, 
and, since the sensuous image of the most remarkable cir 
cumstances in a man s life was not sufficient for this purpose, 
there was an effort to combine such an image and a sound to 
gether. Thus originated the characters of the most ancient 
alphabets, and at the same time the names of those charac 
ters. Both, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, means 
a house. In form-it waa made to resemble a house, and at 
the same time, by chance perhaps, the opening of the mouth 
in articulating it, and so of other letteis. The alphabet must 
be very ancient, for it seems to have been formed at tlie same 
time with the language itself. In these remarks I do not 
mean to give the Hebrew praise which is not due to it. It is 
undoubtedly a. sort of infantile language, that has not received 
a progressive development like the Greek and Latin, but its 
plan was la me, well defined, and wisely arranged. Its let 
ters, though imperfect marks, fitted rather to recal the known, 
than to teach the unknown, were sufficient to determine the 
radical forms of the language, their inflections, and relations, 
and, since all ancient nations uttered their words with strong 
accents, the completion of the most ancient prosody was ef 
fected by placing, where it was necessary, a few marks to de 
signate these over the letters. It is sufficiently proved, indeed, 
that the accents of the most ancient languages were not like 
our accents, but distinctions of sound of a higher order and re 
sembling musical notes; yet by means of these, within the brief 
space of the parallelism, the simplest kind of artificial rhythm 
was produced. 

7. All these peculiarities and early advantages induce the 
belief, that the commencement of human cultivation arose, 
not from chance, or the mere throw of contingencies among a 
brute herd, but from paternal care and a Divine Providence. 
And as little as I am able or would venture to designate the 


mode, in which this Divine aid was vouchsafed, still less 
wouJd I venture to doubt or deny its reality. If we had more 
numerous written monuments of ancient nations, or if we 
found them among uncultivated tribes of the present day, this 
origin would undoubtedly be confirmed by greater variety of ev 
idence. As here narratives are given in simple childlike tones, 
so it would be found among other nations modified by their pe 
culiar modes of thought. Thus hero every thing proceeds from 
the; first original impulse, and the Hebrew race claim no merit, 
but for transmitting, by their language, climate, and mode of 
life, these original impressions unmixed and unsophisticated to 
later times. These appear to me the subjective grounds, 
which have produced and moulded the original memorials of 
this people, and the eye of providence cannot here be mista 
ken or denied. 



Of the calling of Moses. 

1. THE appearance of God to men. Fire was the constant symbol of 
the manifestation of the Divine presence. What was meant by the an 
gel of God, the angel of his presence. Of God s appearing to Moses, to 
the Elders of Israel, to Elijah, to Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Com 
parison of these with his appearing in the most ancient times. Grada 
tions of poetry in the development of images. What influence was ex- 
erted on Hebrew poetry by the circumstance that it was permitted to 
exhibit nopicturnble form of the Divine Being. 

2. The word of God to Moses ; to the later Prophets. Words and deeds 
according to the circumstances of the times, included in the duties of 
the Prophet?. Power of the prophetick word. Whether the Prophets 
spoke from the impulse of their own arbitrary will. Form given to 
the Hebrew poetry by this earnest and determinative influence of in- 
spiration. Diversity of form at different periods, 

3. Sitm and wonders exhibited by Moses. For what purpose, and 
with what eflect. Those exhibited by later Prophets, in things exter 
nal, and in themselves. Examples from Isaiah. 

What the name Prophet originally signified. How transferred to ora 
cular language expressed in poetry and musick. Whether the Pro 
phets in uttering their prophecies were in the exercise of reason. 
Passages from Isaiah. 

Appendix. Why Prophets were peculiar to the Hebrews. 

Most of the Hebrew poets were sacred personages, wise men 
of the nation, Prophets. Let us point out and unfold some of 
the peculiarities of this vocation and character. As Moses 
in his banishment was feeding his herds in the deserts of Ar 
abia, he came to Iloreb, the mount of God.* And the an 
gel of the Lord appeared to him in a fiery flame from out of a 

Ex. T. 


bush. And God called him from out the flame and revealed 
himself to him, as the God of his fathers. He gave him words 
of commission for the deliverance of his people, and when 
Moses suggested doubts he gave him signs. Thus visiont 
words and sign*, as with the first and greatest of the Prophets ; 
o afterwards, either separately or together, were the creden 
tials of his followers, and consequently also the soul of their 
poetry. It is important therefore to speak of these more at 

1. The appearance, which drew the attention of Moses, was 
a flame of fire in a bush. Let the import of this symbol in 
the nearer consideration of it be what it might, it was here a 
symbol of the present manifestation of the Divinity, which, 
under the circumstances of time and place, couM not be man 
ifested in a more simple form. What prominent and visible 
object was there in the Arabian desert, but here and there 
perhaps a tree, a dry and arid shrub ? Moreover, from the most 
ancient times, fire was in the Kast, and among almost all na 
tions, a symbol of the Divinity, QH from its brightness and other 
properties, it is well fitted to be. It was, also, generally in the 
poetry and the institutions of Moses, though without image 
worship and idolatry, a standing symbol of Jehovah. Thus God 
is often called by him a consuming fire, whose wrath burns 
even to the lowest deep. Under the same form, also, he appear 
ed on Mount Sinai ; he went before the host of Israel in a 
cloud of fire, sacred fire fell from heaven and consumed the 
offering, and a cloud like fire rested over the sanctuary. In 
the Prophets and Psalms, these images also are customary. 

The God, who here reveals himself, assumes the name 
Jehovah, and is also called the angel of Jehovah.* Thus 
Jehovah moved in the cloud before the camp of Israel, and 
yet it was also the angel of God, who went before Israel, and 
in other passages, the presence of God himself. Only an 

* Ex. iii. 2. 4. 6. xiv. 19. 24. xxxiii. 34. 


ignorance of the spirit of Moses in these peculiarities of 
language, could have created a doubt here, or have formed 
different kinds of " angels of his presence." The Jehovah 
of Moses cannot himself be seen, when he appears in the 
Kymbol of any natural object ; and this is, therefore, his angel, 
that is, his visible messenger, or according to the beautiful 
expression of Moses, the name of God is in it. As in the 
books of Moses it is so often and expressly said, that no man 
can see or represent to himself the face of God : so on the other 
hand, the names of God are carefully distinguished from this. 
Then, too, even in the natural import of the term, the face of 
God signifies " the special providence and oversight," which 
accompanied Israel, and so far as an outward sign of this 
presence was apparent, this sign was denominated the mes 
senger, the angel of his presence. 

To Moses, therefore, this divine manifestation was only a 
5yml>ol. From his later history, we know how God refused 
to admit him to a vision of himself, though he spake with him 
as frit-lid with friend, lie only passed before him, probably 
in the violence of a tempest, and flashes of lightning, and 
called forth a voice of praise* in view of his deeds, and the 
Divine attributes of his spiritual being. Among all the con 
ceptions of human genius, there are, I suspect, few situation* 
so sublime, as that so simply exhibited in this Divine narrative. 

When Moses cunie within the sacred tent, 

The lofty cloud descended low, 

.And stood before the door and spake with him. 

And all the people saw the cloudy column 

Stand before the door, and all rose up, 

And bowed themselves each one before his tent. 

Jehovah spake with Moses mouth to mouth, 

As one holds converse with his friend. 

And Moses said to Uod, "behold, thou tM lst to me, 

Lead forth this people," but hast not showed me 

Ex. xxxiii. 923. xxxiv.l 8. 


Whom thou wouldst lend to be my present help, 
Thou saidst to me " I know thee by thy name, 
And thou hast found favour in my sight," 

Jehovah said, " my presence shall go with thee, 
And I myself will give thee rest." 

He said, " if they presence go not with us, 
Then lead us up no further hence, 
For whereby now shall it be known 
That I, and this thy people are received by thee ? 
li not by this, that thou dost go with us, 
And I and this thy people ure distinguished 
From all the nations of the earth ?" 

Jehovah answered, "even this I do for thee, 
For thou hast found acceptance in my sight, 
And by thy nnnie I know thee." 

"Then" I beseech thee "show me thy glory." 

My goodness will I make to pass before thee, 
And will proclaim Jehovah s majesty. 
For 1 am rich in grace, where I give grace. 
And filled wi h love towards those I love. 
Hut yet thou canst not see my face, 
For none can si e my face and live. 

He said again, here is a place by me, 
Whore thou shall stand upon a rock. 
There shall my glory pnss before thee, 
And thou shall stand within the rlelt, 
My hand enclosing thee as I pass by. . 
Then I will take away my hand, 
And my back parts shnlt thou behold, 
IJut my face shall not bo seen. 

And Moses rose up early in the morning, 
And went to Sinai as the Lord commanded him, 
And took the two stone tables in his hand. 

Then came down Jehovah in the clouds, 
And stood before him there, 
And proclaimed Jehovah s name. 
He passed by, Jehovah passed before him, 
And proclaimed The Lord, the Lord God, 
Merciful and gracious, long suffering, 
Abundant in goodness and in truth, 
That keepeth mercy for thousands, 


Forgiveth iniquity, transgression, and sin. 
But in whose sight the purest are unclean. 
He visiteth the wickedness of the fathers 
Upon their children, and their children s children, 
Unto the third and fourth generation." 
And Moses hastened, and bowed himself, 
And fell upon his face, and worshipped. 

In like m:inner he manifested himself to the elders of Israel 
under outward forms, while in his essential being he could not 
In- the object of sight, 

They saw the God of Israel, 

At his fuet it was like glowing sapphire, 

To look upon like pure transparent sky. 

Although, however, nn appearance of the invisible God hud 
no place in the primitive Jewish theology, and, when he ap 
peared under a symbolical form, that which was so manifested 
is called the anirel of Jehovah, yet the Divine Being farther 
adapted himself to the apprehension of the later Prophets. 
They saw and described the manifestation which God gave 
of himself. But in this, too, we discover traits derived from 
Moses, who still remained the basis of the whole economy, va- 
ried only in accordance with the times, and the apprehensions 
of the different Prophets. In the beautiful manifestation made 
to Elijah, the second Moses, upon the same Iloreb, the mount 
>f God, perhaps even in the same cleft of the rock, we cannot 
1 ail to recognize a resemblance to the description just now 
ifiven. Forty days and nights he travelled to Iloreb the mount 
of God, and came to a cave and lodged there. And behold 
the word of the Lord came to him, and said, "What doest 
thou here Elijah ?" And when he had answered, the voice 
said, " Go forth and place thyself upon the mountain before 
the face of Jehovah."* 

And lo ! Jehovah passed before him ! 
A great and violent tempest, 

* 1 Kings xix. 813. 


That rent the mountains, and brake the rocks, 

Went forth before Jehovah, 

But Jehovah was not in the tempest. 

And after the tempest came an earthquake. 
But Jehovah was not in the earthquake. 

And after the earthquake a fire. 
BufJehovah was not in the fire. 

And after the fire came a still, small voice, 
And when Elijah heard the voice, 
He wrapped his face in his mantle K 
And went and stood in the door of the cave. 
And lo ! there came a voice unto him, 
And said, " What doesl thou here Elijah ?" 

The vision would seem designed to teach the Prophet, 
who, in his fiery zeal for reformation, would change every 
thing by stormy violence, the gentle movements of God s provi 
dence, and to exhibit the mildness and longsuffering, of which, 
in the passage above given, the voice spoke to Moses. Hence 
the beautiful change in the phenomena of the vision. To the 
distinguished Prophet Isaiah, God appeared as a king enthron 
ed and in his kingly temple : the prime ministers of his court 
Mand around : the Cherubim, over which, according to the 
ancient simple representation, he was wont to dwell, are con 
verted into Seraphim, which derive their characteristicks part 
ly from the servants of the throne and partly from the priests 
of the temple. The whole picture exhibits the regal magnifi 
cence and dignitv, which mark the style of Isaiah.* 

The year in which the king U/zinh died. 
I au w Jehovah sitting on a high uplifted throne. 
Ilia train of glory filled the temple, 
And round the throne his servants stood, 
Six wings had each of these, t 

Isa. vi. 11. 

t The wings of the Seraphim are derived from the Cherubim, and only 
their number increased, though the form of the animal, as well as the 
name, is otherwise changed. Seraphim, according to the import of the 


With twain they covered their face, 

With twain they covered their feet, 

With twain did they fly. 

\nd one cried to another and said, 

"Holy, holy, holy, 

Jehovah, God of hosts, 

The earth is full of thy majesty." 

The foundations of the pillars moved 

At the voice of him that cried, 

And the temple was filled with smoke. 

The smoke here mentioned was the smoke of the burnt of 
fering to which arc related also the glowing coals, and the 
foregoing ascription, for the magnificence of the king and of 
the temple are here associated together. To Ezechiel God 
appeared upon a moving throne in the clouds. The sapphire 
basement under his feet is taken from the vision of the elders 
as described by Moses ; the fiery form in which he manifested 
himself is also" from Mo:*-*; except that this ancient seer did 
not behold God in humnm form. The still later Daniel i 
the first of the Prophets, who ventured to represent God fully 
in the form of man. But c-v:i wilh him the appearance is in 
a night vision, and not a distinct beholding. It is a figurative 
representation among other symbolical visions.* 

This I saw, until the thrones were raised, 
And the ancient of cluys enthroned, 
Mis garment was white as snow, 
The hair of his head like pure wool, 
Hie throne wiu ike the fiery flame, 

Arabick term, means lofty forms, nobles, princes, and they exhibit 
onlv t!i* human form veiled with winga in token of reverence for their 
king Four of their wings are thus employed, while the remaining two 
for flight designate their office as swift messengers. The composition 
f the picture is in accordance with the spirit of Isaiah, the elementi 
all from Moees nnd the Psalms. 

Dan. vii. 9. 10, 


It* wheels like burning fire. 

A fiery stream issued forth, 

And went before his face, 

A thousand thousand ministered to him. 

Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. 

The judgment was set. 

And the Books were opened. 

This picture, too, derives its several features from mount Si 
nai, as they were exhibited in the benedictions of Moses, in 
numerous Psalms, and even in the vision of Isaiah, and in 
regard to the human form, as they were hazarded though in 
distinctly by Ezechiel in the form of the enthroned Jehovah. 
Thus the appearance of the Divine Being was, with the pro 
gress of time more and more developed in sensuous images, 
of which the earliest periods of antiquity exhibit no traces. 
In Job, God is the high, the incomprehensible and inconceiv 
able being; who speaks in the tempest and walks upon the 
revolving circle of the heavens. In the books of Moses he 
can be looked upon only in his back p irts, or in the out 
ward manifestations of his being, lie shows himself in his 
attributes alone, and in striking symbols. In the time of the 
patriarchs he was conceived by them as a herdsman ; to the 
sleeping Jacob he appcard as the father of the family, while 
the heavens, in which he dwelt, were the chambers of his 
house, from which Ins servants descended upon a ladder, as 
seen in the vision of the patriarch. To Abraham he was a 
friend, making a visit of friendship, but denominated an angel, 
when he appeared in a visible form. The farther we trace 
the subject the more do symbols disappear, and as it seemea 
to me, the silent reverence of the infinite and ineffable ONE 
increase. Even among the Prophets the appearance of God 
in vision was no necessary part of their calling to the pro 
phetic office. Sr.muel, next in order to Moses, God call 
ed oidy by a voice from his seat above the Cherubim, \vhcrc 
no form appeared, and most of the others received the word 


of God unaccompanied by a visible manifestation. What this 
gave to the poetry of the Hebrews to distinguish it from the 
art among all mythological nations, is obvious of itself. It 
was the poetry of sages, hot of mythological ghostseers and 
visionary idolaters. Hyms and epick poems, filled with vision 
ary forms of Gods engaged in conflict, were not their work. 
The odes and songs of praise, which sing of God, praise him 
in his deeds, in the perfections of his works ; with symbolical 
forms of manifestation they were very sparingly adorned, and 
traces of those become more abundant in proportion as the prim 
itive sublimity of poetry diminished. 

2. But still more important, than the appearance, was the 
word of ( i of I to Moses, the revelation of his name, and the 
commission given for the deliverance of his people. Of the 
name of Jehovah we shall speak in connexion with the giving of 
the law. That of which we now .speak, the word of God, was 
the soul, as it were, both of the oflico and of the productions of 
the sacred poet. As given to Moses it was an obvious com 
mission, and we find it the same also with the earlier Prophets. 
A command was given them containing not general precepts 
merely, but requiring immediate action. So spake Samuel ; 
so also the Seers of the time of D;:vid ; so Elijah and Eli- 
sha. They required the fulfilment of a definite command, and 
hence I might call them Prophets of action, of deeds, to dis 
tinguish them from the later Prophets, whose prophecies con 
sisted more of general instruction and consolation, of reproof 
and encouragement. This difference too was founded in the 
difference of the times. The most a icient and most eminent 
Prophet, Moses, could speak and do. His whole life was the 
living word of God, was action. Of Samuel, as the Judge of 
the nation, the same may be said. In later times the power 
was in the hands of the kings, and to the Prophets nothing was 
left but the word ; a word however, which they represent as ef 
ficient deed, as a most living and energising rgency. Hence 
we find so many images to represent the power of the prophet- 


ick word, which by a distant analogy also were applied to the 
spiritual efficacy of the word of God in general. It is called a 
fire, a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces and again a 
quickening and refreshing dew and rain, as in the delightful 
image of Isaiah.* 

My thoughts arc not as your thought?, 

Xor my ways as your ways. 

As heaven is high above the earth. 

My ways arc higher than your ways, 

And my thoughts than your thoughts. . . 

Fur us the rain and snow come down from heaven, 

And return not thither, hut watrr t i<> earth, 

And make- it bring forth leaf and herb, 

That it may give seed and bread to the sower, 

So is my word, that goeth out of my mouth. 

It shall not return to me void. 

Hut shall accomplish that which I plense, 

And prosper iu that whereto I sent it. 

So shall ye also go out from me with joy. 

The term " word of God," itself often means among the He 
brews, guidance, instruction, counsel, and action. 

As to Moses ;it tins early period, unhappily a twofold word 
was given, to deliver his own people, and previously by nu 
merous plagues to humble the proud and hard-hearted Egyp 
tian, so it was also with tiie oracles of the Prophets. The im- 
|>ort of them is twofold, made up of affliction and consolation, 
and of deliverance from evil and of punishment, and in l>oth 
the acts of Moses often literally lie at the foundation. They 
indict upon the rebellious and hostile nations all the plagues 
of Egypt, while they deliver, comfort, and avenge their own 
people with all the pictures of Divine guidance in the wilder 
ness, of a delightful Canaan, and of a golden age. This I 
am aware has with many given to the poets of Israel the names 
of misanthropes, imprecating curses upon the world, nor will 

Isa. lv. 812, 


I deny, that from the national pride of the Hebrews, the harsh 
expressions of many of their Prophets are liable to be misun 
derstood and abused. It is not, however, true, that every Pro 
phet and poet, according to his peculiar feeling and tempera 
ment, from motives of private revenge and malicious humour, 
could scatter his blessings and curses. As Moses undertook 
his office unwillingly, so the same was true of most of the 
later sages, who must be almost constrained by necessity to 
the discharge of their duty, as Jeremiah, Ezechitl and others. 
As no one is willingly a herald of sorrow, where he would 
choose to communicate joy, so we see that the message, which 
most of tho* Prophets have to utter, which they treat as already 
in its accomplishment, as matter of fact, gives to themselves 
the greatest pain. No one in this respect is more an object 
of sympathy and compassion than Jeremiah. A soul of the 
tenderest sensibilities was destined to live in the worst of times, 
and to anticipate for his people still greater sorrows.* 

My bowels, my bowels ! I m filled with pain, 

My very heart is full of anguish, 

And yet 1 cannot hold my peace. 

My soul huth heard the sound of trumpets, 

The t-hout and alarm of war. 

Destruction, desolation, is cried, 

For all the land is desolate, 

My tents are suddenly spoiled. 

How long shall I yet see the standard, 
And hear the sound of trumpets ? 
, My foolish nation understand me not, 

Unwise children nnd void of sense, 
Wise to do evil, but never tq do good. 

I look abroad upon the earth, 
And lo ! it is desolate and waste, 
Upon the heavens, and they have no light* 
I see the mountains, and they tremble, 
And all the lulls are in commotion. * 

Jer, iv. 1927. 


I behold and lo ! there is no man, 
And all the birds of heaven are fled. 
I look and lo ! Carmel is a desert, 
And all its cities are laid wasto 
Before the presence of Jehovah, 
Before the blast of his fierce anger. 

A Prophet, who prefaces his sorrowful message with such an 
introduction, certainly does not herald it with a malicious joy, 
and of such cordial and sympathetick feelings all the Prophets 
are full. Their souls expand again with the freshness of tin- 
rose, when the storm has passed, and their agonized sensibili 
ty, relieved from a weight of oppression, exhibits then a seven 
fold kindness and benevolence. 

That this " energizing word," this outspeaking of God by 
the mouth of a Prophet, gave to the poetry of the Hebrews a 
peculiar form, is manifest of itself. To them their oracles had 
the utmost certainty, and the most vivid impress of truth. 
They saw the tilings, which they proclaimed, already unfold 
ing, and thus, they were regarded as seers, nay, even crea 
tors of good and evil. They smote the land with the rod of 
their mouth, and their powerful word again gave it deliver 
ance. God placed his message upon their lips, and breathed 
on them with the fire of Divine inspiration. Inwardly prompt 
ed by an irresistible impulse, they spoke? also often against 
their natural inclinations, and with consequences painful to 
themselves, overmastered and urged forward by a higher pow 
er. Oracles of this kind have little or nothing to correspond 
to them in the poetry of other nations. Here nothing was in 
vented for pastime. The j>oet did not picture forth the destruc 
tion of Jerusalem, or of Babylon, as a tragick representation. 
Had the poetical productions of the early sages and poets of 
Greece been preserved in greater purity, had we more unques 
tioned remains of their ancient theologians and Prophets, we 
might find traces of that resemblance, which still undeniably 
remains in the language of Calchas, Cassandra in /Kschylus, 


and of those, who prophesied either in visions or at the moment 
of death. The later Prophets, who received their oracles only 
in figurative images, in enigmatical representations, and these 
usually in dreams, speak on that account with less power. 
God himself distinguishes the clear and unambiguous voice, 
with which he spake to Moses, from the revelations by vi 
sions, figurative descriptions, enigmatical images, and dreams, 
and the distinction is sufiicieutly established and clear in the 
series of Prophets which are still extant. Whnt the oracles of 
the Hebrew poets moreover, as compared with the poetry of 
oilier tuitions, lose in variety, in outward form and colouring, 
and in tlio play of fancy, they gain in the inward conscious 
ness of truth, in godlike dignity, in sacred earnestness, and in 
these respects will always remain the admiration of the world. 
ij. To the hesitating and fearful Moses were given si gnu, or 
miraculous manifestations, which were adapted to the super 
stitious and conceited Egyptians, and designed to put to shame 
their wonder-working magicians. These wonders had no 
more determinate aim than this, and do not belong insepara 
bly to the prophetick office. The greatest of such miracle- 
workers were subject, to be tried by the law of Moses, and 
v-ould be condemned to death, if they taught any thing con 
trary to Jehovah. The earlier successors of Moses, Klijah 
and ICli>ha, performed miracles in the period of Israel s weak 
ness and idolatry, and these powers of the ancient world seem 
ed to furnish clear proof, as it were, of the victory and triumph 
of God over the worshippers of Ilaal, as in the time of Moses 
over the wise men of I\gypt. Among the later Prophets, and 
those more properly poetical in their character, the sign? 
which they gave were of another kind. Instead of miracles, 
which supersede the laws of nature, the Prophet often employ? 
singular and remarkable events to serve as suitable signs, that 
is, testimonies, accompanying his word, with which he com 
mands attention or gives assurance of the truth of his declara 
tions. Of this sort, is the birth of a child, of which Isaiah 


speaks as a pledge of the deliverance of the kingdom of Judah, 
which is determined with reference to the age of the child. 
Here it was only the connexion between the two events that 
was remarkable, because it was beyond the powers of merely 
human foresight. Whatever may be understood by the shad 
ow on the sundial of Ahaz, its regress in the language of the 
Prophet, was a present sign of returning years in the life of 
Ilezekiah, and therefore in that connexion a pledge of a fu 
ture event, " a sign." This word has no higher sense and no 
other dignity among Hebrew writers. Portents and omens 
were ascribed to foreign idolaters and false prophets, and a 
resort to thorn was forbidden. God reserved to himself his 
signs as pledges and assurances, or as means of rousing atten 
tion to the word of Jehovah, and this only on account of un 

In many cases the Prophet himself was the sign, either by 
means of tilings, which he was required to set forth as symbols, 
or by fortunes which he experienced. Of the first, examples 
occur in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Hosea; of the second, R/ochiel, 
who lost his wile, the delight of his eyes, and especially Isaiah 
are witnesses. As in the latter, through the last half of his 
book, the Israelitish nation is personified, as the servant and 
child of God iu joy and in sorrow ; so the Prophet himself as a 
servant of God, as a symbolical person chosen lor this purpose, 
seems to sutler the whole burden and destiny of his people. 
In him, as an individual representation, God shows what in 
the whole nation, by all the evils which they were doomed to 
suffer in the captivity, he exhibited to all other nations. A? 
the Prophet often feels himself in this to be placed as "a sign," 
we have hence occasions for those developments of the future, 
which are so affecting and so nearly connected with his per 
sonal feelings, and which have led me to consider these chap 
ters of Isaiah, as the evangelical part of the Old Testament. 
The connexion between some of them, has indeed, been found 
o difficult to discover, that in some cases it is hardly known 


of whom the Apostle is speaking. - By the aid of the connect- 
ing link, which has now been given, the personification of 
Israel in the person of the sympathizing Prophet, we shall find 
when treating of Isaiah a beautiful connexion in the train of 
thought, and a clear insight into the future. In short, vision, 
immediate inspiration, and symbolical action, characterize 
these sacred poets, and will carry us hereafter to a better con 
ception of the spirit of their poetry. 

But what is the import of the word Prophet ? Is it equivalent 
to vates, poet ? or was the Prophet in his original character, a 
bard, a wandering improvistore ? or finally, were the Prophets 
men out of their wits, naked dervishes? Let us inquire into 
the conception attached to the word not by tracing etymolo 
gies, which are always unsafe guides, but by observingthe 
obvious use of the term at different periods of time. 

The word Prophet, first occurs in the passage* where God 
said to Abimelcch, " restore the man his wife, for he is a Pro 
phet." The word thus appears to have been known to Abim- 
elech, and since the people over whom he ruled, were of Ufifyp* 
tiiin origin, the ground of doubt is removed. Among the 
Egyptians the term was applied to. the superior priests ; those 
who held intercourse with the Divinity, and were admitted to 
a knowledge of Divine mysteries, the interpreters of nature, in 
a word, those who were the mouth of the Gods. This is plain 
ly the sense, in which the word Prophet occurs in the most 
ancient writings of the Hebrews. Abraham was represented 
to the king as a wise and holy man, entrusted with the coun 
sels of the Deity ; and who must be preserved harmless, even 
in a strange laud. Again, God says to Moses,t " thou shalt 
be a God, and Aaron shall be thy Prophet ;" showing indU- 

Gen. zz. 7. t Compare Ez. vii. 1. with iii. 16, 




putably, that a Prophet imports the mouth of God, the speaker 
of his word, the revealer of his mysteries. In this, its primi 
tive and most proper sense, it often occurs in Moses and the 
Prophets, and indeed the whole prophetick character and 
claim, as exemplified in Moses, was founded on this*. " A 
Prophet shall God raise up like Moses, who shall speak to you 
in the name of God. Surely, the Lord will do nothing, but 
he revealeth his secret unto his servants the Prophets."! 

The conception now given, obviously did not include that 
of a musician and poet. Neither Abraham nor Aaron were 
poets. Samuel, Gad, Nathan, Ahijah, Elijah and Elisha had 
nothing to do with poetry, though some of them were very 
distinguished Prophets. The oracles, which they gave, were 
in very plain and intelligible prose. On the other hand, Da 
vid and Solomon were poets, but not Prophets. The example 
of one, J who called for a minstrel, in order as it is said, to 
awaken in himself the gift of prophecy, lias been greatly mis 
applied, lie called him in order to calm and subdue his auger, 
under the influence of which he was not master of the dictates 
of reason, much less capable of uttering a Divine Oracle. Hy 
ti i term seers, also, applied to the Prophets in the times of 
S *uuel and D:ivid, they were clearly distinguished from inin- 
f.rols. They saw hidden things, looked into the future, and 
were what we call wise men, " sages." 

But, secondly, because these wise men, whether they spake 
of the past, the present, or the future, were the mouth of the 
Divinity ; ihey spoke also the language of the Divine tteiug, 
that is, divinely oracular language, in a lofty figurative style, 
and so that came to be in name prophetick language, which 
was the most elevated poetry. Who, in speaking iu the name 
of God, would speak in a manner unworthy of his majesty and 
dignity ? Who ih:it is inspired speaks coldly and without ele- 

* Num. xii. 6. Dcut. xviii. 15 20. xxxiv. 10. 
t Amos iii. 7. 1 Kings xxii. 22. 23. Jer. v. 13. I 2 Kings iii. 15. 


vation ? Did not the Pythia think it necessary to utter her 
oracles in verse, though it were of the worst style of verse ? 
The origin of this notion shows itself from what was said above, 
but only as an incidental and derivative sense. In all lan 
guages poets are called vates ; but only because they were ori 
ginally considered as divinely inspired seers, and revealers of 
the future, and because some noble and good men among them, 
wore in reality, the instruments of Divine providence. 

Nothing, therefore, is more natural, than that the uttering 
of Divine Oracles should, in process of time, be denominated 
prophesying, as \ve now daily use the word " preaching," 
when we speak of u discourse uttered with the preacher s tone 
and manner. The evil spirit came upon Saul, and he pro 
phesied, that is, he uttered, amidst his mad ravings, lofty in 
deed, but irrational expressions. We know from various evi 
dences of it, that poetry and musick hud great power over him, 
and this power manifested itself, in his present weakness. 
Tin* schools of the prophets, those ancients of Israel, also par 
took of the inspiration, and prophesied, i. e. spoke; in lofty 
style, us Prophets wen- accustomed to speak, Miriam, Debo 
rah, ami others were Prophetesses, because they had a poetic 
al inspiration, and inspired, especially sacred poetry, was al 
ways deemed of supernatural and Divine origin. 

And because, in the third place, at that period of the world 
musick and poetry were associated, and even the poet and musi 
cian often united in the same person, it was quite natural also, 
that the notion of oracular discourse should be extended even 
to this art. Asaph and lleman prophesied upon stringed in 
struments, that is, they uttered in their songs sacred and lofty 
Fentiments, they resolved, as they themselves say, the dark pro 
blems of wisdom by the sound of the harp. Poetry never 
produces so powerful an effect, as when it is supported by mu 
sick, and the sacred feeling, which is diffused by both arts 
combined, is enthusiasm. But it does not follow, therefore, 
that every Prophet had his instrument by his side, or that his 


name and office distinguished him as a minstrel. The pro 
phet Balaam, with his sublime and oracular declarations, spoke 
without an instrument, and the far feebler language of many of 
the later Prophets, which almost sinks to the level of prose, 
wa scarcely fitted for musick. They carefully distinguished 
lyrick song from their prophetick style. 

Finally the Prophet, and the man of disordered intellect are 
not th" same. We must greatly mistake the lofty and {>olitical 
ch. iracter and sentiments of Isaiah, if we consider him abandon 
ed by reason. That many of their symbolical acts must appear 
very strange, they themselves confess, and this was the very aim 
of their actions. Under the guise of folly was concealed a deep 
ami iiii)M>rtaiit meaning, and if the expression, insanire cum 
sapientia, could ever be applied with propriety, it was bore. 
They were, at all events, often the object of sarcasm to the 
vulgar, and of supercilious contempt to godless kings. While 
Jehovah was an object of reproach, oracles uttered in bis name 
and containing severe admonitions woilld be counted folly and 
madness. But alas! the event gave sufficient evidence of 
their truth. 

Jehovnh gave to mo the tongue of the learned,* 

That I might know to speak in season 

A word to them that are weary. 

He waked me morning by morning, 

He made mine ear to hearken, 

As scholars heurken to the wise. 

Jehovah spake to me in mine ear, 
And I rebelled not, neither resisted him. 
I gave my back to thote that smote me, 
And my cheeks to them that insulted me, 
Nor hid my face from shame and spitting. 
My God Jehovah stood by me, 
And therefore was I not confounded, 
But hardened my face like Hint, 
And knew I should not be ashamed. 

* laa. 1. 3, 


Since he it near that justifieth me, 

Who is he that will coutend with me ? 

Let us stand together in judgment ! 

Let him, who is against me, come near ! 

Behold, Jehovah is my helper, 

Who is he that condemneth me ? 

They all shall wax old as a garment, 

The moth shall consume them ! 

Who is among you, that feareth Jehorah, 

And obeyeth the voice of his servant, 

But walketh in thick darkness, 

And seeth no light ? 

Let him trust in Jehovah, 

And cast himself upon his God. 

Behold all ye that kindle a fire, 

That compass yourselves with sparks, 

Go walk in the light of your fire, 

And by the sparks which yo have kindled. 

Quo movement of my hand upon you* 

And yo shall lie down in sorrow. 

How simple und unambitious, yet how sublime an expression ! The 
Prophet but lifts his hand and their lights are quenched. They lie down 
sadly dejected upon the earth and in darkness. 


My inmost soul your sainted spirits greets ; 
Ye true and faithful messengers of God ! 
Take now, amidst your palmy groves, that rest. 
Which Horeb, Zion, Carmel never gave. 

How manifold the gifts ye gave of old 
To your primeval ages ! Laws and rites 
Divine, and faith, and solemn services 
Your mouths imparted free as living streams. 

To etutes prosperity and steadfast rule, 
And customs wise and good by you were giTen. 
For great in soul, exalted far above 
The present times, and freed from vulgar fears, 

Ye stood superior to the idle cares, 
And senseless turmoil of the busy throng, 
And backward far and forward cast your view, 
And saw the heavenly light of ages shine. 

The light of ages, streaming through all time. 
Enkindled in your souls a heavenly fire. 
That, glowing long obscure, sent forth at length 
A glorious light for nations yet unborn. 

For ye applied, within your holy caves, 
Your ear confidingly to catch the sound 
Of that small voice, to which at dead of night 
And early dawn, your wakeful hearts were tuned. 

Like gentle showers from heaven, thus gently cam* 
Those tones, which yet with all the tempest s force, 
Awoke the slumbering world, as if the past 
And future times had scut their murmurs there. 


Again I greet you, with exulting voice, 
Ye guileless souls, that in the hands of God 
Like harps responded, and expressed his will, 
Revealed the future and his laws enforced. 

Oh thou, who on the holy mount thyself 
Didst lift above thy people and thine age, 
And see, amid the thickest smoke, that light, 
That wisdom now and glory gives to all. 

And thou, whose kindling spirit summoned fires 
From heaven, and from the dead the widow s son.t 
Thou too, who didst behold Jehovah clothed 
With heavenly brightness and with glory crowned ;t 

Ye mourners, who with deepest sadest tones 
And tears of anguish uttered forth your griefs; 
And yo, who at the Prophets setting sun 
In shadowy twilight saw the promised times ; 

Ye Prophets all, who now in purer light, 
Escaped from inward and from outward thrall, 
Breathe tranquilly in palmy groves that peace, 
Which Horcb, Zion, Carmel never gave ; 

What now do I behold ? In friendly guise 
Commingled with you are the wise and good 
Of other nations, friends of God on earth, 
The Druids, Orpheus and Pythagoras, 

And Plato, and whoe er by wholesome law 
Has proved his people s father and their guide, 
Has listened to tbc voice of God in truth, 
And yeildcd up to God a guileless heart. t Elijah, t laaiah. BJercmgih and others. Daniel and 
others. The evening or setting sun of the Prophets means the doting 
period of the Prophets. 


Reasons why Prophets were peculiar to the Israelites. 

The existence of Prophets among the Hebrews, as their 
peculiar privilege, it has seemed to me, may also be shown to 
be connected with the peculiarities of their history. As it was 
a matter of ancestral pride, that they had their Origines, which, 
distinguished with marks of peculiar favour by the creator, 
went back even to the beginning of the world, so this sacred 
treasure of the family, by which they were so distinctly char 
acterised, was manifest in the mode of thinking and the histo 
ry of their most honoured patriarchs. Seth, Noah, Sliem may 
be referred to as examples, and Abraham was remarkably dis 
tinguished by this charactcristick. He left his country in or 
der to serve the God of their fathers in a region where a Mel- 
chisedeck yet lived. 

But to be more particular, the following circumstances 
should be noticed as connected with the history of this subject. 
I. The huidof the family, was, in the early periods of Hebrew 
history, the _/>// *( of his household, and at the same time the guar 
dian of the religious ceremonies and sanctuary of the family. 
In relation too to such men as Abraham, the denomination o* 
a Prophtt, that is, of OIK; entrusted with the Divine counsels, 
and, what is of still higher import even that of a friend of 
God, was by no m-.-ans hyperbolical. Even in the book of 
Job a Prophet occurs, and throughout that work a religious 
tone prevails, which was the sacred impress of the primeval 
world. All wisdom in the East proceeded from God, all piety 
and devotion turned tl.c mind to him. 

2. Israel went down to Egypt, and here we know all re 
ligion had become already a matter of political management 
arid state-craft. TliL ir Prophets were an organised society of 
priests. As Moses was instructed in the wisdom, which they 
taught, and now 1-jariied, that the true sources of that, which led 


to communion with God, were to be found among his own an 
cestors, so when God appeared to himself, and employed him 
as his instrument, no better word was in use, by which to de 
signate his office than the word Prophet.. Prediction, or the 
foretelling of future events, was as little thought of with him 
as with Abraham. The word signified a man, through whom 
God spake, and by whose instrumentality he accomplished 
his purposes. Could the worthiest object be designated by a 
more appropriate name? Has the Divine Being a nobler 
work among men than their cultivation? And was not he 
who undertook to advance this in those early times, amid ob 
stacles apparently boundless, and with no human support, 
whether he did it as a teacher, or as an actor on the stage of 
lile, was he not truly a man of God, a genius of humanity ? 
Let one but look at those nations, which have remained be 
hind or sunk into a savage state ; observe to what a condition 
of horrible depravity human nature sinks, when it is not forced 
upward by a living power and aroused from its gloomy lethar 
gy, and he will then be able to appreciate the services of those 
early guardians of our race, who diffused the enlightening in 
fluence 6f their spirits over succeeding ages, embraced nations 
within the compass of their affections, and, even against their 
will, raised them from degradation with a giant power. Such men 
the Divine Being has scattered sparingly in the world. They 
form not mere human and worldly institutions, but they sup 
ply what the necessities of our being require, and heaven 
permits them, like the stars of night, to shine in a sphere far 
exalted above their fellow men. They offer up their lives in 
order to carry into effect, to execute that word and deed, 
with which as a divine commission they have been intrusted 
aniiiiu; magiiic prodigi. That Moses represented in this 
0ense the genius of humanity there can be no doubt. 

3. They also, who were his helpers for the accomplishment 
of his work were, filled with a portion of that spirit, which 
rested on him. "God took of the spirit of Moses and laid it 


on them" according to the simple expression of the original. 
Nor was this great man envious of the favours imparted to 
them, but wished rather, that all the people were partakers of 
the same spirit. Thus were those men of prudence and un 
derstanding, who were to judge Israel, filled with the Spirit of 
God. So also the work-masters of the tabernacle, because 
by their art they contributed to the completion of his work. 
He expressed moreover the hope, that since the purpose of 
his law continued unaccomplished, a Prophet would be raised 
up like unto himself, who should carry his work forward to its 
ultimate perfection. All that contributed to the well being, 
to the illumination, the freedom and security of the people of 
Jehovah, was excited and organized for its end by the Spirit of 
Jehovah, as the examples of the Judges clearly prove. This 
may be regarded as a beautiful and striking peculiarity of the 

4. But as the noblest and best things of this world are lia 
ble to abuse, so also was the name of Prophet. Oratores le- 
gis, advocati patriot it was their duty to be, and they became 
in process of time priests of Baal, false Prophets, so that Mi- 
cali and Elijah found themselves in their times alone as wit 
nesses of the Gad of truth, and Amos desires not to be denom 
inated a Prophet. It was with his office, as it is with all offi 
ces so soon as they become a mere mechanical employment. 

.>. Again let no one create difficulties for himself neither in 
regard to prophetick visions, nor with respect to wonders and 
signs, as connected with prophetick history. Both were inciden 
tal and not indispensably necessary to the calling of a Pro 
phet. The foregoing treatise has shown, that the Divine Be 
ing is represented with more and more traces of outward and 
sensuous magnificence the more debased the times became, 
and the more the human spirit needed the exciting influence 
of striking representations. As the word of God became less 
effectual by the simplicity of its inherent power and energy, 
it drew to itself more of the incidental and the external. And 

finally we must interpret prophetick signs and wonders accord 
ing to the usus loquendi of the East. Whatever is extraordi 
nary and strikingly significant is denominated a sign, even a 
book, a writing, a poem, an artificial expression, how much 
more a remarkable event or exciting phenomenon of the 
times. To such the attention of these sages was directed, and 
when they addressed the people they placed them in the most 
striking light. They were the mouth of Providence, and saw 
und interpreted that which Providence exhibited to their view, 
(i. It is, moreover, a vain attempt to aim at penetrating and 
working ourselves into the subjective condition of the Prophets, 
when the spirit of the times has been so entirely changed. 
Among the Prophets themselves, the modes of inspiration were 
diverse, according to the particular age, in which they lived, 
and the peculiarities of the individual mind. How then shall 
we, or how can we, by all our distinctions, determine how the 
soul of Moses, of Klijah, of Isaiah was affected and condi 
tioned by the prophetick spirit, which was imparted to it ? 
Wo, who know indeed, scarcely more how it was with the 
subjective being of Pythagoras, of Calchas, or of Homer. If 
we knew this, why mi<;ht xve not form our own souls after the 
same model, and produce works, which, so far as their rela 
tion to the Divinity is concerned, might shame a Homer, an 
/Kschylus, or a Pindar. What reverence for the Gods do 
we find in them, and here and there what sublimity and dig 
nity, approaching almost to that of the Prophets ! It not only 
explains nothing to refer this to superstition, and that to a 
heated fancy, &LC., but it prevents our contemplating and 
using their works in the right spirit ; for in all that is referred 
to the HO called power of imagination in them, there is much 
of wisdom. Let us leave to each Prophet and sage, the free 
enjoyment of his own individual style of representation, and of 
writing, as we must leave to him his age and its characteris- 
tick aims, while we employ the fruits of his spirit only, for the 
benefit of our own times. 



The History of Moses considered as a subject for epick poetry. Its influ 
ence on the poetry of the Hebrews. Idomatick representations of de 
liverance out of great waters, of blooming deserts, and of the Shechi- 
nah. The 114th Psalm. Moses triumphal song at the Red Sea. Ap 
pearance of God on Mount Sinai. Personification of the flames of 
fire upon the mountain, as a retinue of angels, as a warlike host, and an 
chariots of war. God of Sabnoth. Origin of this name. Its signifi 
cation as extended in later times. The triumplnl march of (lod as in 
the 68th Psalm. What we aro to understand by the pillar of fire and 
tho pillar of cloud, and by the smoke and fiery splendours of Sinai. 
Whether the passage of the Israelites through the sea is a mythical 
representation. How it was applied by the Hebrews. Habakkuk s 
*ong of lamentation, accompanied with remarks. 

It has been matter of wonder to me, that among so many 
heroick poems in our language on subjects of Hebrew histo 
ry, we have yet none in which Moses is the hero. The de 
liverance of his people from bondage, and the forming of them 
to the purest system of religious worship, and the freest po 
litical organization of those early times, would be, as it seems 
to me, a nobler theme than the horrors and extravagances of 
war and knight errantry. The most ancient lawgiver, of 
which we have any knowledge, combined, in the organization 
of his work, ideas, which even at the present day, are in many 
respects still uncomprehended, and above our reach. The 
history of his life is full of the most remarkable vicissitudes. 
Born and brought up in Egypt, he went into voluntary exile 
from patriotick motives. His calling in the wilderness, the con 
troversy of the God of his fathers with Pharaoh and the wise 
men of Egypt, the Exodus of the people, and their passage 


through the sea, the pillars of fire and of a cloud, the giving 
of the law, the wonders wrought in Arabia, together with the 
distant view of the promised land; all this would furnish a sub 
ject, which, by the richness and variety of its materials derived 
from nature, art, religion, customs, and nations, and an accom 
paniment of the marvellous, that is at the same time full of 
nature, would almost of itself, assume the form of an epic, that 
is, of an ancient moral and heroic narrative. Yet, I would 
wish, by this brief exposition to excite to such an undertaking, 
not a German, but a German Hebrew. To him the subject 
is a national one. His more unbiassed and more early ac 
quaintance with the poets of his nation, must give to the work 
more simplicity in his mind, than could be expected of a Ger 
man scholar. We have the books of Moses, and if we leave 
out the genealogical registers and the incidental matters, and 
arrange in proper order those which are most original, in a 
style of poetical freedom, and simplicity, we need nothing far 
ther to make a heroic poem of the deeds and laws of Moses, 
of the most ancient and authentic form. 

Since we have already spoken of the calling of Moses, we 
will now proceed to treat briefly of bis doings, of his conduct 
ing his people out of Egypt, his passage through the sea, and 
his journey through the Arabian desert. Obviously, this is 
the heroic age of Hebrew poetry. When the Psalms cele 
brate in formal order the whole series of the works of God, 
they commence, after the general work of creation, with vhe 
national benefits bestowed upon Israel, among which the de 
liverance out of Egypt, the journey through Arabia, and the 
conquest of Canaan bold the most distinguished place. The 
I04tli 107th Psalms are all one, and upon this subject. 
Their division into distinct Psalms is only for the convenience 
of shorter divisions, and on account of the musick. In the 
135th and 130th, which I consider more ancient than those 
before mentioned, this preference for the history of Moses is 
still more noticeable. They are undoubtedly, of the age of 


Asaph and David, as is shown by the C8th and 78th, which 
very nearly resemble them. In the Prophets, the most favour 
ite and almost all the figurative language throughout, is drawn 
from the times of this strange and remarkable history. 

When Israel was a child,* 

Then I loved him and called him, 

As my son out of Egypt. 

Ephruim also I taught to go, 

And took them by their arms, 

In leading strings conducting them, 

And led them as a child with cure, 

And took the yoke of bondage off. 

I was thy God from Egypt forth, 

Thou knewestno other God, 

And no deliver but me. 

In the wilderness I fed thee, 

There in their pastures were they full. 

They were full, their heart was proud, 

And they forgot their God. 

The images here are all from the song of Moses, as also the 
affectionate designation of first born son is derived from his 
history. That Israel is the child of God, and chosen of him 
among all nations, is the favourite designation employed by 
Isaiah, from the 4 2d chapter to the end of the l>ook. The 
highest interest of these passages escapes, when we neglect to 
bear in mind that primeval and wonderful history of the na 
tion. I have often wondered why it was, that in the Psalms 
and Prophets we meet with so many images of the depths of 
the sea, from which God wrought deliverance, of streams, 
through which he is said to wade, while Canaan had so little 
immediate connexion with the sea. It is obvious, that these 
images are all derived from the Red Sea and the river Jordan, 
through which God in a miraculous manner conducted his 
people ; and hence, the general image conveyed by this histor- 

* llosca, xi. 


ical fact became a customary and idiomatical expression. 
" He delivered me, he brought me up out of great waters," is 
in the writings of David the symbol used in relation to all 
dangers. Thus, among those, to which he applies it, he pic 
tures the tempest and the helping hand of God, extended from 
the clouds. Commentators seem to me injudicious, when 
they seek always to refer these images to particular events in 
the history of his life. It was a received national symbol of 
deliverance, referred to, and deriving its import from the his 
tory of their marvellous triumphs. To the same origin are 
to be referred all those forms of expression, in which God is 
said to give this and that people for Israel, and to offer up na 
tions for their sake. When the Prophet explains himself, it 
is always Egypt, that is given up for Israel, and the sacrifice 
of tills he applies with effect to other cases. Similar remarks 
may be made in regard to the deserts, which God makes plains 
and fruitful fields ; images in which were clothed even the re 
turn from captivity, and the delights of a coining golden age. 
I must go through a great, though perhaps, the most delight 
ful part of Isaiah, and of other Prophets, if I would furnish all 
the rich examples that occur, to illustrate these views. We 
find extended, indeed, even to the future world the images de 
rived from the deliverance out of Egypt, the passage through 
the Red Sea, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Sechinah, which 
dwelt above them, and Canaan the object of their hopes, and 
in the Revelation of John, an exquisite abridgment of all the 
Prophets, they are exalted to the highest point of dignity. To 
a young man, who would understand the Psalms and Prophets 
in their true spirit, I might give it, inded, as a general rule, 
superseding all others ; " read Moses ! read the Mosaic histo 
ry !" A single word occuring in this poetry, often gives oc 
casion for the finest poetical development through entire 
chapters. What Homer is to the Greeks, that Moses is in his 
relation to the Hebrews. 

Of the plagues of Egypt we shall speak hereafter. At pre- 


sent we shall only notice some of the triumphal songs, design 
ed to celebrate the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, and 
the wonders connected with it. 



THE 114th PSALM. 

When Israel went from Egypt forth. 
The house of Jacob from a strange people, 
Then Juduh was his sanctuary, 
And Israel his dominion. 
The sea beheld and fled, 
Jordan was driven back, 
The mountains leaped like rams, 
The hills, they skipped like lambs. 
What ailed thee, O sea, that thou fleddest, 
Thou Jordan that thou drewest back, 
Yo mountains, that ye leaped like rams, 
Ye hills, that ye skipped like lambs ? 
Before the I^ord the earth did quake, 
Before the presence of the God of Jacob, 
Who turned the rock to living water, 
The flinty stone to a flowing fountain. 

This psalm is one of the finest odes in any language. The 
abrupt brevity, with which each particular is expressed, the 
astonished admiration ascribed to the sea, to Jordan, to the 
mountains, and hills, and repeated in the interrogatory form, 
the sublime explanation, that it all proceeded from a single 
glance of Jehovah, who looked upon them from the clouds, a 
look, which converted rocks and stones to streams and living 
fountains, all these give us, in the compass of this little ouX 
the substance of a long description.. 


The passage of the Red Sea produced the most ancient and 
sonorous song of triumph, which we have in this language. 
It is a choral ode, one voice describing perhaps the acts 
themselves, those of the chorus striking in and as it were re 
echoing the sentiment. Its structure is simple, full of allitera 
tion and rhyme, which I could not give in our language without 
doing violence to it, for the Hebrew, from the simplicity of its 
forms, is full of such harmonious correspondencies of sound. 
Flowing and prolonged words but few in number float upon 
the air, and terminate for the most part in an obscure mono 
syllabic sound, that formed perhaps the burden of the chorus. 
Here is a feeble imitation of the untranslatable but most an* 
cient triumphal ode in any language. 


Then sang Moses and the children of Israel 

Thia song unto the Lord, . 

And they spake saying, 

I will sing unto the Lord, 

For he hath triumphed gloriously, 

The horse and his rider hath he thrown 

Into the depths of the sea. 

The Lord is my strength and my song, 

He is become my salvation. 

He is rny Uod and I will praise him, 

My father s CJod, and I will exalt him. 

Jehovah is a man of war, 

Jehovah is his name. 

Pharaoh s chariots and his host 

Hath he cast into the sea, 

The choicest of his captains 

Are sunk into the reedy sea. 

The floods have covered them, 
They sank into the depths, 
Like a stone. 

Thy right hand, O Jehovah, 

Hath shown itself glorious in majesty* 
Thy right hand, O Jehovah, 


Hath dashed in pieces the enemy. 

By thine exalted power 

Thou daehest those that rise against thee. 

Thou sentost forth thy wrath, 

It consumed them like stubble. 

At the blast of thy nostrils, 
The waters were gathered together. 
The swelling flood stood up like heaps, 
The waves were congealed 
In the depths of the sea. 

The enemy said I will pursue, 
Will seize,~will divide the spoil; 
My soul shall glut itself with them, 
My sword will I draw out, 
And utterly destroy them. 

Then breathed thy wind, 
The sea covered them, 
They sank as lead 
In the mighty waters. 

Who is like to thce O Lord ! 
Who, among the Gods ? 
Who is like ihee glorious in holiness, 
Fearful in praises, doing wonders. 

Thou frtretchedst out thy hand, 
The earth swallowed them up. * 
With gertle hand thou leddest forth 
The peo/le which thou hadst redeemed. 
Thou gu-.dest them with strength 
Unto thy holy habitation. 

The nations hear thereof and tremble, 
Grief seizes on the dwellers in Philistia, 
The princes of Edom are amazed, 
The heroes of Moab are seized with dread, 
The dwellers in Canaan are melting away. 

Let fear and dread fall upon them, 
The terrors of death from thy mighty arm. 
Let them be motionless as a stone, 
Till thy people, O Lord, pass over, 
Till thy people pass, whom thou hast redeemed. 

Bring them in O Lord, 
Plant thy people 


Upon the mount of thine inheritance, 
The place of thy habitation, 
Which thou hast made ready for thyself, 
The sanctuary, which thy hands have made. 
Jehovah reigns forever and ever. 

The song perhaps terminated here, and the following was 
only a brief recapitulation of the contents. 

Forth marched the horse of Pharaoh and his chariots, 
He went with his horsemen down into the sea. 
Then brought Jehovah upon them 
The returning waves of the sea. 
The tribes of Israel passed dry 
Through the midst of the sea. 

So that these lines were a sort of brief memorial, such a? 
every one might retain in memory concerning the whole 
event. If passages occur in this song such as we should 
suppose could not yet have been sung there, let it be borne in 
mind, that the temple, the sanctuary, and the land, to which 
they were journeying, were in the mind of God and of Moses 
already present, and that Moses by these anticipated as it 
were in triumph the institutions and regulations, which were 
to be formed. 

This song, of which I have given but a feeble echo, gave 
their tone to the triumphal songs of the Hebrews, as the song 
of Deborah and the o Stli Psalm evince. The rythmical move 
ment is animated by the same caesuras and cadences and by 
the s.ame lively correspondencies of sound. The frequent 
exclamations, the oft recurring 

Praise to Jehovah ! 
Sing praises to Jehovah ! 

the excitations addressed to the hearers, or the singers them 
selves, which at intervals interrupt, or rather animate the cur* 
rent of thoughts anew, form as it were the stave, on which 

the historical song is arranged. In the Psalms the hallelujah 
grew out of this, as an animating and joyous shout of the 
chorus, known to many nations in nearly the same form, and 
by the Hebrews consecrated to their Jah or Jehovah. 

The appearance of God upon Sinai is in the simple descrip 
tion of Moses itself fearfully sublime,* and it was therefore 
very naturally, that it became the subject of the most mag 
nificent poetry. Moses had it distinctly in his thoughts, when 
he wrote his benedict ion s,t and here too he speaks ;is one 
holding close communion with God, who derived pleasure and 
instruction from things the most fearful. The most High in 
his majesty, and his hand armed with lightnings is in his con 
ceptions a father, and the teacher of his assembled children. 
The sequel will develope this more fully. At present we re 
mark only, that the appearance of God upon Mount Sinai 
gave occasion for personifications, which adorn the whole 
body of Hebrew poetry. The splendour and the burning ra 
diance, in which God was manifested, became, in the lan 
guage of poetry, angels, orders and retinues, in the midst of 
which the Law was given. Even DavidJ formed thorn into u 
warlike encampment, and Daniel^ then made these ten thousan 
thousand around the most High servants obedient to bis com 
mand. A series of Rabinicul subtilties, representing the Law 
as given and uttered forth by angels, is founded upon the same. 
As Jehovah moved from Sinai in the character of a God of 
war, to fight for Israel, it was in accordance with it, that this 
host accompanied him. Tims, he appears in the song of Deb 
orah, where the stars in battle array fought for Israel,^ and 1 
doubt not that hence tho exalted name of God, Jehovah S;ba- 
otb, bacame u distinct and peculiar designation with the Ile^ 

Ex. xix. 20. t Dout. xxxiii. 2. t Ps. xlvii 18. 
HDan.vii. 10. $ Jml. v. 4. 90. 

brews. David used it first against the Philistines,* and ex 
plained it as the name of the God of the armies of Israel, that 
is, of one who fought for Israel. It must then be from the 
ancient history of the nation, and from its songs of victory, and 
here Moses, Deborah, and numerous Psalms give the full ex 
planation. It is, in fact, the name of Israel s God, as the God 
of war, only from the circumstance, that at that ancient peri 
od it proceeded from the glorious manifestations opon Mount 
Sinai ; from the lightnings and thundering*, and from the 
starry hosts mingling in the conflict, and thus suggesting its 
primitive import, Jehovah of hosts. From this, its moaning 
became greatly extended, until at length, like all such poetic 
al designations of the divinity when much used, it expressed 
all the amplitude of the Divine magnificence and excellency. 
In the later writings of the Prophets, therefore, it can no long 
er be translated with propriety, the God of war ; though this 
was its primitive import. It is in their use a conception of uni 
versal elevation and dignity of character ; and to the God of 
Saiiaotli, tht 1 Loi-u of hosts, a!i in heaven and earth pay hom 
age. This is the proper and domestick origin of the name, and 
with the gods of the Sahucans it had nothing to do. When, 
moreover, the Prophets describe the stars as the host of God, 
they do so because the universe is full of his majesty. Moses, 
Deborah, David, and the Psalms, are the successive steps, by 
which they were elevated to their sublime conception. As an 
example and proof of this, let us observe how David applies 
God s leading of the Israelites in the wilderness to an object, 
in which one would not expect to find it ; the bringing of the 
ark to Mount Zion. lie goes through the whole progress of 
God from mountain to mountain, from victory to victory, and 
the triumphal song of Deborah was plainly his model. The 
Psalm might be denominated the march of Jehovah, an ex* 
pression used by Habakkuk, and derived from this Psalm, 

* I Sam. xvii. 45, 

THE 68rn PSALM. 

Our God exalts himself, 

And his enemies are scattered, 

They that hate him flee before him. 

[The triumphal language of Moses, with which he addressee! 
the cloudy pillar, when the march of the people f proceeded.] 

As smoke disperses, so they disperse, 

As wax is melted before the fire, 

So shall the wicked perish at the presence of God. 

[Smoke and fire were the symbols of the Divine presence du 
ring the march of the Israelites.] 

Hut the righteous are glad, 
They rejoice before God, 
They exult with joy. 

[Because lie accompanies them in their march. Here the in 
troduction of the ode terminates, and a second chorus perhaps 

Sing praise to God ! extol his name ! 
Prepare his way, who marcheth in the desert, 
Extol him by his name JAM, 
And exult before him. 
The orphan s father, the widow s judge. 
Is God exalted in holiness. 
Our God ! to the desolate 
He gave a habitation, 

He brought to happiness those who were bound, 
And the rebellious dwelt in a dry land. 


[We may suppose the rebellious here to be Amalekitesor Egyp 
tians, who opposed themselves to the march of God. The 
desolate and those who were bound are the Israelites, whom 
he is leading out of bondage, and for whom he designs the 
rich land of Canaan. The other chorus now begins, and the 
march itself is described wholly in the language of Deborah.] 

O God, when thou didst go forth, 
And wentest before thy people, 
When thou didst tread the desert, 

Then the earth did quake ; 
The heavens distilled in drops, 
When God looked forth upon them, 
This Sinai there before the face of God, 
The God of Israel. 

Thou, O God, didst send a gentle rain, 
Thou didst revive thy parched inheritance, 
Thy congregation can inhabit there. 
For thou by thy goodness, O God ! 
Hast provided for the poor. 

[To the last trait in tho picture, the poet comes also through 
the description of Del>orah. She painted the heavens as drop 
ping, Sinai melting, in order to make a transition to the drop 
ping of the clouds, which swelled the river Kishon and the 
Kadumim, and contributed to the victory. The gentle herds 
man has here applied the heroic figure to a peaceful object, 
t o make the wilderness a garden for the delightful habitation 
of the tribes of Israel. These, too, inarch onward, and war 
:and victory follow.] 

The Lord gave the signal for war, 
A host were messengers* of victory. 

" The Kings of the hosts flee, they flee, 
She that tarried at home divideth the epoiL 

Why wait ye there among the water pota T 
The wings of the dove are covered with silter, 

The noun in the original here it feminin*. 


Her feathers sparkle with yellow gold. 
As the Almighty scattered the kings, 
The snow descended upon Salmon.** 

These words were, perhaps, taken from an ancient triumph 
al song, which as usual, was also satirical. It related, obvi 
ously, to the victory of Deborah. In the Northern and woo dy 
part of Judaea their freedom was at that time recovered by Is 
rael,* the rainy season contributed to the victory, and mention 
was made also of the snow.t The news of the victory was 
intrusted to female messengers, because Deborah and Jael 
decided the battle, and it was not to be suffered, that the race 
in aftertimes should lose the memorial of Deborah, their hero- 
ick mother. The raillery respecting those who remained be 
hind is plainly from her triumphal soii, only here introduced 
with a little subtilty and refinement. She upbraided the cow 
ardly tribes with prcfcring to hear the bleating of their flocks, 
rather than the cry of battle; here it is imputed to them, that 

* Isa. ix. 1 3. is perhaps a play upon this passage. 

t The words "snow full on Salmon," pertain to the taunting expression 
of the triumphal song, and need no critical alteration. The tribcs,which re- 
raained inactive, were afraid of the severe winter weather, which Deborah 
found so conducive to her success. When even the less elevated Mount 
Salmon, lying in the Southern part of Jadxn, wits covered with snow, 
how much more must it have been the case with the higher mountains 
of the North, whither the warlike expedition led them. This conclu 
sion was sagaciously made by the Southern tribes, and they remained 
quietly with their doves. The spirit of the passage may be expressed as 
follows : 

O ye who rest amid your folds, 

What stays you loitering there, 
To gaze upon your glossy doves 

And mark their golden wings, 
When (.iod the. Lord the nations smote ? 

And Canaan s heroes slew, 
Then truly was a wintry day, 

And snow on Salmon fell. 


from timidity and an effeminate horror of war, they chose rath 
er, in those raw and wintry days, to gaze with wonder upon 
the silvery wings and golden feathers of their doves, gleaming 
as they rise in flight, while Deborah, a woman, a dweller in 
the house, (a bee as the name signifies) is dividing the spoil. 
" The Lord gave the word," means he gave command for the 
war, he roused up heroos and so the messengers of victory. 

Next follows the inarch of Jehovah upon the mountains. 
He descended upon the diminutive Zion, and how many more 
beautiful and more fruitful mountains were there, that were de 
sirous of this honour. The fertile Bashan he had passed by, 
and hero that mountain, which was one of the greatest in the 
land of Israel, draws the attention of the poet, and becomes 
the object of his song. 

Thou mount of God, mount Bashan, 

The mountain range, mount Bashan, 
"Why look with priile,* ye pinnacled heights, 

On these, which God hath chosen to dwell in? 
Jehovah shall inhabit them 

Forever and ever. 

[The account is equally balanced with praise and sarcasm. 
Bashan is named, because it was situated beyond Jordan, and 
God could not dwell there, because it was without the limits 
of the promised land. Zion was recently gained by conquest, 
and the remnant of the Jebusites was perhaps still in Jerusa 
lem. Then too God dwelt in the vicinity of his conquered 
foes a circumstance, which gave occasion to the sublime pic 
ture of his victorious progress, after he moved forward from 

* More correctly " with envy." The Hebrew, term, that occurs in the 
same form only in this passage, means to regard with envy. Lu tin* 
sense the passage may be translated thus: 

Why look so enviously down ye mountain ranges, 
Upon this mount, which God has chose to dwell in, 
This expresses the fQt^eie of Aquila and Theodotian. J. 


The chariota of God, a thousand thousand, 
And ten times ten thousand more. 
The Lord comes forth in their midst, 
From the glory crowned summit of Sinai. 

Thou didst raise the chariots aloft, 
Thou leddest forth thy captives with thee, 
Thou gavest men for thy triumphal gifts, 
And madest rebels now to dwell with thee. 
Jehovah, God. 

Let God be praised, from day to night be praised, 
He layeth on our burdens, and giveth us help, 
He is our God, the God of our salvation, 
Jehovah the Lord hath the issues to death. 

Surely God will wound the head of his enemies, 
The hairy scalp of him, who is against him. 
I will bring him, eaith the Lord, from Bashan, 
I will bring him from the depths of the sea. 
Thy foot shall yet wade in their blood, 
Thy dogs lick the blood of thine enemies! 

But I have already given more perhaps, than was necessa 
ry for our present purpose. We see clearly what this difficult 
Psalm, abounding in proud and warlike sentiment, means by 
the triumphal gifts of God among men, and what the national 
God of the Israelites will do farther on the mountains, which 
he lias newly conquered, that he will free them from th<*e en- 
emies, who now remain only as a kind of sinoffering. But 
we return to our subject and ask, 

What meant that smoking Sinai ? 

What were those pillars of cloud and fire ? 

which gave occasion to such splendid imagery. 

Respecting the fiery and cloudy pillars we need not be greatly 
at a loss. It was the sacred fire, which, as was customary in 
similar cases in those regions, was carried before the host, and 
served both as a signal for breaking up the encampments and 
renewing the march, and as a guide in their journeying. 
When the Israelites went out of Egypt it followed and stood 


between them and the Egyptians. I remember to have read 
even in some Pagan writer, what originated probably in a mis 
conception of this circumstance, that the flying people placed 
between them and their pursuers objects of religious veneration, 
I think sacred animals, which the Egyptians dared not ap 
proach. It is in the Exodous of the children of Israel, that 
those cloudy and fiery pillars first occur, and they are at once 
accompanied with miraculous effects, which still followed 
them throughout the journey.* When the host were encamp 
ed, it stood before the door of the sanctuary, before the tent 
of the leader, and responses were given by it. When the 
host moved their camp, it went before as their guide. They 
continue to appear, so long as the Israelites were in the des 
ert, but when they arrived in Canaan the Ark of the Cove 
nant preceded, and showed the way, and these pillars are no 
longer mentioned. In short the phenomenon was a symbol of 
the Divinity, though with the Israelites riot a mere symbol, but 
a presence, which produced marvellous and sometimes fear 
ful effects. The two phenomena admit of being so naturally 
identified, that I see not why they should be considered as 
different. In the one symbol God would accompany Israel, 
and be their guide. This was the angel of his presence that is 
the herald and index of his peculiar presence andsupcrintend- 
ance, and all this was included under the pillar of fire. By 
day it appeared as smoke, in the night as flame. Before it 
was the. most revered seat of judgment, the highest tribunal. 
If Moses and Aaron were safe no where else, they were yet 
safe here, and the fire of God avenged them in a way that 
was manifest to the sense. When the journey was ended, 
the memorial of it was perhaps placed in the holy of holies, 
and for some time preserved; and hence the Jewish fable re 
specting the perpetual cloud of smoke between the cherubim. 
Nothing is more natural and accordant with history, than this 

*Ex. xiv. 19.20. xxxiii. 9 11. Num. ix. IS 23. 


explanation. It denies no miracle and only shows the medi 
um, by which God wrought miracles, since this must be the 
angel of his presence, or, as Habakkuk calls it, the veil of 
his presence. 

The splendid appearances on mount Sinai had very possibly 
similar natural causes, pertaining to the time and place, in 
which they were exhibited, for God works no miracles except 
through the instrumentality of natural powers. The extraor 
dinary splendour, in which the sandy deserts of Arabia some 
times appear, the smoke, in which the mountains are veiled, the 
thunders, which are multiplied and fearfully reverberated 
among their towering cliffs, those and perhaps other terrific 
and magnificant phenomena of nature God on this occasion 
combined together, as the symbols and manifestations of his 
presence. Whoever would deny the miraculous character of 
the phenomena, must make the description of Moses a fable. 
Nor are they less so from the fact, that this region of fearful 
desolation is always fruitful in strange and startling phenom 

Finally the passage through the Red Sea with the circum- 

J I 

stances described as attending it was certainly a marvellous 
but not an impossible rescue. Probably Moses, when he re- 
received his commission, intended to direct his course over the 
isthmus. The Israelites could not moreover have been much 
below it, and they probably passed by Sue/ fcomewhat farther 
South, than the route which the caravans now take. Now 
though the gulf then extended according to remaining traces 
of it higher up than now, yet it was so wide as readily to ac 
count for the result. Losing the route in the darkness of the 
night, confounded by a tempest of rain and a storm of wind, 
and panick struck, the whole host of Egyptians might well 
fall into disorder, and lose themselves beyond the possibility of 
escape, whether falling into the deeper bays of the sea, or 
from the higher incursion of the driving and overwhelming 
flood. Nor is the passage here so broad, that it would be iin 


possible for the Israelites to accomplish it in a single night. 
All the doubts, which have recently been accumulated re 
specting the matter, are overstrained. The ancient monu 
ments of the Israelites, the feast which was established as a 
memorial of this passage over the sea, the triumphal song of 
Moses, and the numerous exhortations, which he enforced up 
on the assembled Israelites by a reference to it, show clearly 
enough, that their deliverance was at all events attended with 
very remarkable and terrifick circumstances, which Moses has 
described too in a manner perfectly natural, and accordant 
with the local character and relations of the place. 

Would that our devotional songs, in which reference is 
made to this cvqnt had more resemblance to the Hebrew! 
These do not repeat it, though it was to them a national bless 
ing, and the very ground of their national existence, in endless 
litanies, as we often do, but adapt the ancient event to new 
occurrences, combine it intimately with their subject, and 
sing it, if I may be allowed the expression, in a business like 
manner. Thus Deborah, and thus also several fine Psalms 
and passages in the Prophets. Let us now read for an exam 
ple one of the most touching poems of the Hebrews, in which 
the boldest triumphal picture of the old world terminates in 
the most affecting eleuv. 


O Jehovah, I have heard the rumour of thee ; 

And tremble with ft;ar ;* 

* The rumour, which the Prophet heard, was the tradition c-f the mar- 
yelloiiB events of ancient times, and the predictions of what was then to 
take place. Once God strove for his people, now he would forsake them, 
and give them over to their enemies. Both of these are enlarged upon 
in the piece, and the Prophet longs to see the purpose of God in this sad 
catastrophe. This is what is expressed in the petition, " show thy work, 
make known with the progress of years what thou hast purposed, and in 
thy present severe counsels call to ruind thine ancient miracles of good- 
ness to this people. 


With coming year*, Jehovah, show thy work,* 
An years revolve make known, 
In wrath remember merry. 

When God came on from Teman, 
The high and holy one from Mount Paran, 
His glory covered the heavens, 
The earth was full of his praise. 

His brightness was like the sun, 
Out from his hand the rays shot forth, 
And this was but the veil of his might. 

Before him went the pestilence, 
Birds of prey flew forth at his feet. 
He stood, the earth was moved, t 
He looked; and nations were scattered abroad. 
The everlasting mountains were trod to dut, 
The perpetual hills did bow themselves, 
When he marched forth of old. t 

The huts of Cushan I saw in affliction, |} 
The tents of Midiun vanished away. 

Was Jehovah angry with the rivers? 
Was the blast of thy breath at the waves I 

The parallelism seems to require, this of the common reading, 
" revive thy work." Perhaps the poet had in his thoughts, Ps. xc. 13 
17. and then the haste, and the calling for his work to be manifested ! 
not unsuited to the context. The poet was desirous of seeing the ap 
proaching development*, and was admonished, chapter ii. 3. 4. to wait 
with patience. Here, then, he prays, as Moses did, that God would re- 
vivo and carry forward his work. 


t Several translations give this sense, and the parallelism obviously re. 
quires it. The nations flee away at the violent shaking of the earth. 

tThe " goings forth of old are" from the 68th Psalm, which gives to 
this often misapprehended expression the most intelligible sense. It 
i the march of God in ancient times, ins stepping mountain to moun. 
tain, (Sinai, Seir, Paran, Bashan) which so many ancient triumphal songs, 
and this elegy also describe. 

II They labour as it were under affliction. They strip off the cover. 
in?s of their tents, so that a whole encampment of Nomades disappear* 
it a few moments. 


Was thy wrath against the sea ?* 
For thou didst mount upon thy war-chariot, 
And ride with horses, thou God of salvation, 
Thou drewest forth thy bow, 
Multiplying sevenfold thine arrows.t 
And the streams cleft asunder the land. 
The mountains saw thee and trembled, 

* The peculiar turn of this question shows the alarm of the speaker. 
and gives a sublime movement to the ode. Several Psalms interrupt the 
narrative by such unexpected questions, as Ps. cxiv. 5. 6. and others, a 
striking peculiarity in the style of Oriental poetry. 

t This line, which is a crux criticorum, only becomes intelligible in the 
sense, which I have given. But if we adopt this, what is the meaning of 
" word"? If we translate the passage 

Thou drewest forth thy bow, 

The arrows of the commander were satiate with blood, 

still to every reader of nice discernment, the connexion will appear harsh. 
The fact here assumed, that God is so suddenly called the " word," while 
through the whole ode he does not speak as an inactive commander, but 
is himself active as a warrior, that his arrows are already satiate with 
blood, while in the progress of the description this is first mentioned af 
terwards in verse 13th, all ,this renders this construction unnatural. I 
have, therefore, by a very simple construction rend this word as a parti, 
ciple. That it often means "to make manifold" is well known, and 
thus, this difficult passage, seems tome, to be explained in the simplest 
way, and very finely in accordance with the scope of the imagery. The 
multiplying of the lightnings as glittering arrows is an image sufficiently- 
known from the 18th Psalm, and this is followed by the Prophet in this 

But how comes it, that now, when God draws out his arrows with his 
bow, the rivers also rush through the land ? If the reader proceeds far- 
theron, he will see that! a universal shuddering and alarm of nature is 
described, such as we remark before a tempest. It is as if all things felt 
the presence and immediate vicinity of the Creator. The river rolls on 
more rapidly, and as here the floods sound louder, the heights lift up their 
hands in expectation. There is no doubt, that all these figures refer to 
the Red Sea, to Jordan, to Sinai, and to the times of Joshua and Debo* 


The overflowing waters fled away, 
The deep uttered its voice. 
The heights lift up their hands. 

The sun and moon stood still in their coorte,* 
At the dazzling light of thine arrows flying, 
At the lightning glance of thy spear. 

Thou marchedst on in anger through the land,* 
And trampledst upon the nations in thy wrath. 

nth, when the rivers either shrunk back or overflowed ; but all are com 
bined into one picture, and hence, to follow out chronologically and his. 
torically, every minute feature is incorrect. It is plainly a continuous 
representation of a coming warrior, and of his deeds in battle. The im 
age of the alarmed and troubled waters, which are sensible of the near, 
ness of God, is derived from the majcstick 77th Psalm v. 17 21. whose 
images has in several passages adopted and enlarged. 

The image of the sun and moon are taken from both the history of 
Joshua and the song of Deborah combined together. In the former they 
stand still with astonishment, whilo God is engaged in battle ; in the latter 
courses are ascribed to them. Should not the same Hebrew word, 
which Deborah uses, have stuoil here also, putting it in the singular on 
ly as the common reading is? The Scptuagint seems to have read thus; 
since it translates tv itj ru e* av*rif$ just as in Judges v. 20. and 
the picture thereby becomes beautiful, complete, and full of action. 
They stand still with astonishment in the midst of their course, and up 
on the smooth path, which they ure ever travelling* They see the 
glance of his lightnings, and ure, us it u ere, ashamed, and thrown in the 

t The picture is progressive. G6d does not here first go forth upon the 
land. The first step of his progress was already described in the Cih 
verse. Here he is proceeding onward and trampling upon nations ut ev 
ery step. The poet advances also with the progress of the national his. 
tory, and comes down to the kings, especially the age of David, as the 
13th verse clearly shows. Hence, too, the images in the succeeding 
verses are from the triumphal songs of David. The 13th and Mth are 
obviously from Ps. Ixviii. 22. and Ps. ex. 0. and other passages, since 
David often uses the peculiar expression, "to wound or divide asunder- 
the head." 

81 . 

For thou wentest forth to aid thy people, 
To bring salvation to thine anointed. 

Thou didst smite the top from the house of the wicked* 
And lay bare the foundation even to the rork, 
Thou piercedst the head of the leader of their ranks,! 
They were rushing as a storm to disperse me, 
Exulting us if to devour the oppressed, 
Like the wild beast in his covert. 
Thou did thine horses tread upon the sea, 
They came upon the swelling floods. t 

* The figure is taken from a house or temple, whose summit being 
dashed in pieces, it will be made bare and fall to ruins even to the foun. 
dation stone, which is laid upon a rock. That the word " head" is often 
thus used, especially in the Psalms, I need not show. The dilapidation 
of the house means, according to Oriental custom, the ruin of the whol* 
family. It need not bo asked to what enemies of David the poet ha> 
reference in this passage. The ima<:os are here introduced into the pit* 
ture in their general application. The particular circumstances of tho 
more ancient times, did not belong to the purpose of the writer. 

t Various conjectures have been made respecting the original word 
here. Its first meaning, as it seems to me, is ranks, families, or mem. 
bers of families divided off, as its radical form signifies. In the song 
of Deborah (Jud. v. 7.), it is either villages, or assemblages from villa, 
ges out of their districts, in short, orders. Here there were regular ranks 
of enemies, who according to the following verse, came on like a tempest, 
to scatter a defenceless people and divide the spoil. The Greek transla 
tion gives the collective form, leaders of such ranks or divisions (xf <r<x- 
).u$ dvvaannv), as names of dignity are used in all languages. I have 
used some circumlocution in translating the word, because by this means, 
the succeeding image becomes more clear, and when compared with 
chap. i. 9. will need, I think, no father elucidation. 

tTo bring them aid, that is, as the 8th and 12th verses show. The 
picture ends as itbagan, which is a striking beauty, since it gives unity 
to the whole view. As well in this part as in the whole economy of the 
ode, this poem is beautifully filled up. 

When I heard this my heart trembled, 
My lips quivered at the voice. 
A shuddering ran through my bones, 
And my feet were tottering. 
Yet must I rest until the day of calamity,* 
When the destroying nation cometh upon us. 
Then shall the fig-tree not bloom, 
And the vines shall give no fruit. 
The hope of the olive tree shall fail, 
The fields shall yield no bread, 
The flock shull be cut oft from the fold, 
And no herd .-hull be in the stall. i 

Yet will I be confident in Jehovah,? 

* Now another division of the ode commences, which again refers back 
to the beginning, verse 1st. The poet has heard from the ancient time* 
all the wonders, which God wrought for Israel, and now sees other 
times no less fearful approaching. This makes the plan of the ode ap 
parently incomprehensible and contradictory, as well as the feelings ex. 
pressed in it. The preceding chapters are the best commentary upon it, 
especially chap. i. 1.2. 1214. chap. ii. 1 i. 

tThe leading word here is explained by the history of the Prophet.chap. 
ii. 1 I. He was directed by God to remain tranquil ; he niual wait for 
the time. This he now calls " resting and waiting for the day of calam. 
ity," when the nation invaded them, which he described in chap. 1st. f.fe 
doea not here speak of a going up to Chaldira, but of a corning of the 
Chaldeans; as the following verse clearly shows. .,- The following lines 
Describe the entire desolation of the country, by the Chaldees. 

I Here the ode draws to a conclusion. Dark and discouraging as it is 
aruund him, the Prophet yet remains true to the word of his God, (Chap. 
ii. 1 4.) he gives himself up to him, and leaps with joy in the name of 
bis whole nation. It must, and will have a good result for them, though 
the Prophet does not yet see, and though he so strongly desires to pee it, 
as the leading subject of his prophecy. (See Chap. i.2. 3. 12 17. Chap, 
ii. 1 4. Chap. iii. 2.), The plan of the whole book is no less a beautiful 
whole, than this ode by itself, which I might justly call the crown of the 
Hebrew lyrick Poetry. That in the last verse there is a reference to Ps. 
xviii. 34. and Deut. xxxiii. 29. I need not show David applied the last 
mentioned passage to himself, and the Prophet refers it to the whole na 
tion. It will yet, once more ascend upon its ancient heights, the scenes 


And exult in the God of my salvation, 
Jehovah God is my strength, 
He will make me to leap as the hart, 
And to tread again upon my high places. 


Of the miracles in the Journeying of the Israelites, and the giving of the 
Mosaick law. 

" Must not the whole description of this march through the 
Arabian deserts be a sort of epick poem of later date, and pro 
duced at a period, when the truth of history was already cloth 
ed in the marvels of fiction ?" So far as my purpose is con 
cerned it would make no difference though it were even so : 
for still this history remains the basis of Hebrew legislation 
and poetry. But what ground we to believe this? Let 
one read the description impartially, and observe its entire 
simplicity, its local references, its precise correspondence and 
propriety in the circumstances of time and place. Every new 
book of travels has confirmed or illustrated its local truth, and 
even to the present day the traditions of the neighbouring na 
tions and races are full of this ancient history. I arn aware, 
that the Mohammedan religion has in a peculiar manner re 
vived these traditions ; it however, only revived and built upon 
them, for they were before already there. The lonely desert 

of victory nnd Imp upon them like a hart. Judaea was a mountainous 
country, and hence, of the Chuld&ans also,(ver. 1C.) the word hi^ h places, 
is used. The conclusion of the ode ispatriotick, beautiful, and dignified. 
All the feelines and fortunes of his people, prosperity and adversity, tha 
poet experiences in k his own breast. 

This short treatise and a metrical paraphrase of the prayer of Habak. 
kuk, are found among Herder s manuscripts, and were inserted here by 
the first editor, J . G. Mueller. J. 


teems Co be designed for the purpose, that in it this history 
might survive, as well in the memorials of nature, as in the 
traditions of the people. 

If a poetical aim were discoverable in the narrative of Mo 
ses as in that of Homer, and if we saw in it events combined 
and adorned for the accomplishment of this aim, while at the 
same time, it was incompatible with the truth of nature ; then 
it might be seen distinctly in the Arabian desert, as well as 
on the plains of Troy, where fiction begins and history ends. 
The fiction would show itself by a reference to the purpose, to 
which it was directed. 

Now, iii Moses, nothing of this sort is perceivable. The 
description of the passage of the Red Sea, does not grow out 
of the ode, that was sung lor its celebration, but obviously pre 
cedes it, as a perfectly artless geographical description. The 
giving of the law on Mount Sinai is told in a style of simple 
narrative. Whatever is sublime and terrifick in it belongs to 
the subject, not to the language. So it is with the most fear 
ful as well as the agreeable incidents of the journey. They 
fall as artlessly into the general train of events, and the course 
of the narrative, as docs the long description of the arrange 
ments of the tnhernacle, of the laws, the sacred rites and vest 
ments, all of which are certainly historical monuments of that 

Why then should we give credence to the one and not to 
the other ? Why must we insist that all things shall proceed 
in every ajjo, as thev do in our own ? There a system of doc 
trine and legislation was to be established, which has extended 
its power over nations and centuries. Could Moses, unaided 
with all his Egyptian wisdom, or even with the added wisdom 
of his Levites, accomplish this ? Could he do it against the 
opposition of some hundred thousand stiff-necked and rebell^ 
ious men ? And how could he sustain them so long in the de. 
fert ? Let him who has any doubts here give a plan to show 
how it might be done ; but let the whole be placed between 


Sinai and Paran, and suited to that age and to the same people. 
Yet nobody requires us on the authority of Moses : 1. to 
believe fables, of which the history knows nothing, and which 
the later Rabbins have invented, respecting the manna, the 
cloudy pillars, the angels by whose ministration the law was 
given, &c. either from childish interpretations or for moral 
purposes. Rather, 

2. Since there is one God, the Lord of nature, and of these 
miraculous phenomena, all these must have taken place and 
are to be explained through the instrumentality of natural 
causes. Theophrastus, Pliny and others have also spoken of 
the manna, as this far more ancient description docs, and thi 
account is perfectly in accordance with the knowledge and 
views of nature, which pertained to that age. The atmospher- 
ick phenomena of the country among the mountains of Ara 
bia are alike known. Of the stifling wind Simoom, the aveng 
ing messenger of the Lord, the phenomena of the East wind 
in which all objects appear magnified, and the sandy desert 
looks like a sea of fire, the same may be said. It is a fearful 
solitude of nature, formed as it were, for producing the sub- 
liiac impressions of fear and implicit obedience. 

3. I5ut so far as discoveries have yet been made, and have 
come within my own knowledge, no miracle of Israelitish his 
tory can be fully explained on these principles. There are no 
oak forests in those regions, from the inaiuia of which so great 
a multitude could have subsisted in its wanderings, and the 
Israelites had as much sense as we have to consider, that they 
bad not known in Egypt what was a natural thunder storm. 

4. Finally, it is remarkable that the place of all these mi 
raculous events layout of the limits of Canaan; and had, 
therefore, no influence on the observance of the law. Sinai 
was not in Canaan, and in danger from some supposed sacred- 
ness of the place of being reverenced, as the dwelling place of 
(iod. They saw the tempests sweep over, and on them the 
Lord of the tempest ; but in Canaan he rested in his career 


upon no mountain summit. The history remained what it 
was, ancient history, and if an Elijah sometimes fled thither 
to console and strengthen himself by the fortunes of Moses, 
yet the place, as an object of popular superstition, was not laid 
down in the map of Moses. It was never sent to for the pur 
pose of obtaining oracular responses, and on the same ground 
the places consecrated in the history of the Patriarchs, Mainre, 
Luz, Bethel, could never become places of idolatrous worship. 
When Bethel from political causes was becoming such, the 
Prophet changed its name Bethel, (house of God) into Beth- 
aven (house of idolatry). It must, however, be admitted in re 
gard to the marvellous and supernatural in the Hebrew legis-* 
lation, that it was perverted to superstitious uses, which for 
centuries held the minds of the people in ft- 1 tors, though it did 
not differ in this respect from other religions. 

NOTE. I have ventured to omit here the metrical paraplmiM; of the 
Prayer of Habakkuk mentioned in u previous note. TK. 



Of the name Jehovah ; what it involved ; and how far its import was un 
folded. The 90th and 102d Psalms. Pure and uncorrupted ideas of 
God, of moral truths, and of practical wisdom in the poetry of the He. 
brews. Legislation of Moses. 

1. The national freedom and equality established by it. National as 
semblies at their festivals. Songs which they sung with national 
pride and exultation. 

2. Jehovah was enthroned upon the laws alone. National songs respect, 
ing this with an application even to oppressors and unjust judges. 
The laws were compared with the ordinances of God in nature. An 
ode to this effect. 

3. Office and dignity of the tribes set apart to his service. Of the light 
and law of rectitude upon the breast of the high priest. Images 
drawn from the attire of the priests in Hebrew poetry. They are 
symbols of a flourishing state. Application of them to kings and to 
heavenly minister*. 

4. Origin and purpose of sacrifices. Moral use of them in poetry. 
Examples in several Psalms. 

General remarks on the language derived from the laws of Moses re. 
specting diseases and vices, and on particular parts of the religious 
service and symbolical observances. The institution of the sabbath 
has preserved for us all that remains of their ancient history and poet 
ry. Images drawn from it of a perpetual sabbath and the year of 
jubilee. The Tabernacle of Moses a symbolical representation. 

Jehovah was the name which Moses impressed upon his 
people as the name of the God of their fathers. It expressed 
a pure and sublime conception,* which imported the immove- 
ableness and truth of God, his eternity, his unchangeableness 
and his eternal worth and glory. This fundamental concep- 

It confessedly involved the three relations of time, "I was, I am, I 
hall be," or as God himself says, "I am in that I am," 


tion in the law of Moses is denominated the holiness of the 
Lord,* an expression, for which I know no synonym in the 
German language. Not only were all images and representa 
tions of God drawn from the works of creation prohibited, but 
this sacred name was the occasion for unfolding the highest 
attributes and perfections of the Godhead, which were to serve 
as an eternal and immutable basis for the reason and religion 
of man. It is not intended by this to say, that Moses himself 
unfolded all these perfections. To him, the lawgiver of the 
Israelites, God must appear and be represented more especial 
ly as the guardian God of Israel, and on this conception are 
grounded many forcible and striking passages of his admoni 
tions and of his songs. But what he as a lawgiver could not 
do, was done afterwards by the wise men and poets of Israel. 
Was Jehovah the one only God, the creator of the world, so 
was he also the God of all nations, and of all generations of 
men, and for the unfolding of this rich and fruitful gem these 
needed but time, unbiassed thought, and the culm Spirit of 
God. It is not here the question, whether other nations have 
also unfolded the same ideas. For why need we be envious, 
and refuse to give the Persians, Hindoos, Celts or whomsoever 
it may be, credit each in their proper measure for the degree, 
in which they have preserved and advanced the most ancient 
religion of the earth. It is enough, that in that age, and in 
that part of the world, among Egyptians, Canaanites, and the 
uncultivated tribes of Arabia, Moses was alone in his advance 
ment, lie sought out the religion of the Patriarchs, the an 
cestors of his race, and what he derived from Egypt in the 
outward form and costume of his institutions and laws was 
not permitted to obscure the pure light of that revelation, 
which was given him in the burning bush of the Arabian des 
ert. Thus with the progress of time were formed those sub 
lime ideas, which we find in the Psalms and Prophets. 

The holiness of the Lord is his highest peculiarity, in which he hap 
rone like him. 


To illustrate this we may begin with the ode, which is as 
cribed to Moses himself as its author. It unfolds the name 
Jehovah, that is, the immutable truth, the eternal and absolute 
immobility and constancy of the creator of the world. 


THE 90th PSALM. 

O Lord ! Thou alone art our steadfastness 
From generation to generation !* 
Before the mountains were generated, 
Or the earth and the world upheaved them, 
From eternity to eternity thou art God. t 

Thou lettest nmn return to the dust, 
And sayest, return, ye generations of men. 
For a thousand years are in thy sight 
But as yesterday when it is past, 
As a watch of the night. 

Thou lettest them pass away. 
There are they in a dead sleep, 
In the morning they were as the green grass, 
In the morning it was green and flourishing, 
In the evening it was parched and dried up. 

So thou didst consume us by thy breath, 
The blast of thine anger drives us away. 
Thou placedst our iniqui:5es before thee, 
Our secret sins came to light 
Before thy view. 

Therefore have our days passed away, 
By thy sentence upon us; t 
We waste our years away, 
Like an idle tale. 

The days of our life are seventy years, 
And if in its strength they be four score years, 

How sublime an idea ! We are but in appearance, mere fleeting 
shadows upon the earth. Only in God is our steadfastness. He i 
our true being, whom Moses i-o often calls a rock. 

tin all past ages, Thou, Lord, has; been. 

t Gen. vi. 5 or the decree of God, that all the Israelites should ptrish 
in the desert. 



Yet its whole extent is toil and pain, 
It if quickly past, and we are gone. 

If the name Jehovah had occasioned the productions onty 
of the sublime exposition in Isaiah from the 40th chapter on 
ward, we should have abundant cause to bless the memory 
and the religion of Moses. 

There is no attribute, no perfection of God, which did not 
find its most simple and powerful expression in the Psalms and 
Prophets, and for the most part these sublime developments of 
thought are drawn from the name Jehovah, which is in fact 
the ground of all natural theology. Never can I read with 
out emotion the Psalm* of that suppliant, who on occount of 
his great age, could not hope to witness the fulfilment of 
his wishes respecting Jerusalem and his people. He fails and 
sinks in the midst of his way, with his eye directed to the prom 
ise, but God the promiser fails not, and another generation will 
live to witness its accomplishment, for God is Jehovah. 

My days decline as a shadow, 

And I am withered like grass, 

But thou, O Jehovah, reignest forever, 

Thy name endureth from ago to age. 

Therefore for generations to come it is written, 

A nation yet unborn shall praise the Lord. 

lie will look dwn from his holy heights, 

From heaven will Jehovah look upon the earth, 

And hear the groaning of tho prisoners, 

And deliver those that are condemned to death. 

Then shall they praise in 7, ion the might of Jehovah* 

Then shall his praise be sounded in Jerusalem ; 

When the people shall be gathered together, 

And kingdoms for the service of Jehovah. 

My strength indeed fails, ere I attain it, 

And my days are shortend. 

I said also ; my God, take me not away 

In the midst of my life. 

Pa. 102. 


Vet thy yeare go on from age to age, 

Thou it is, who of old hast founded the world. 

The heavens also are the work of thy hands. 

They too perish, but thouabidest, 

They become old like a garment. 

As a garment thou layest th.m aside, 

And new heavens are brought forth. 

But thou art the same, 

And thy years have no end. 

The children of thy servants also shall continue, 

And their generations shall flourish before thee. 

Thus arc always tho most sublime attributes of God intK 
mately associated with tho most tender sensibilities of human 
nature, The omniscience, the omnipresence, the infinite wis* 
dom, the particular care and providence of God are represent 
ed in the Psalms and Prophets with such a sense of reality and 
inwardness, that one cannot escape the consciousness of being 
under the immediate eye of God. If the doctrines of the pur 
est Theism were to be expressed in the strongest terms, the 
language should be taken from the Old Testament. 

Ho that hath made the eye, shall he not see ? 
He that hath planted the ear, shall ho not hear ? 
Consider yet, ye brutish among the people, 
Ye senseless fools, when will ye be wise ? 

Can any tiling moro to the purpose, even in our own day, 
be said against that class of philosophers, who deny the evi 
dences of design in nature? All, which they ascribe to an ab 
stract and lifeless nature, the heathen idolaters referred to 
their false Gods, and what the Prophets urge against the one 
holds equally against the other. The purer philosophy and 
theology any poetry contains, the more nearly, not oidy in its 
general sentiments, but even in its expressions, will it approach 
to the poetry of the Old Testament. 

Nearly the same thing is true also in regard the doctrines of 
morality, only we must not treat of these in the sense, in 


which they were practised py the people, but as they ought to 
be practised. Neither must we look for these in the passages, 
in which they are limited by the particular aims of the politi 
cal lawgiver, or the teacher of worldly prudence, but where 
they are uttered by the sage and the poet. In his j>ositive insti 
tutions Moses could only speak in terms suited to his age, to his 
people, and to their apprehension, and it would be folly to de 
mand of him more than this. Yet the law, which he gave 
thorn, was too spiritual and too good for the Israelites, sinco 
they had neither power nor inclination to observe it. But 
where Moses speaks as a monitor and teacher of the people, 
especially in his last appeal to them, what sublime senti 
ments does he introduce! 

Understand, O Israel, 

Jehovah, thy God, is one Jehovah, 

And thou shah love Jehovah thy God 

With all thy heart, 

With all thy soul, 

And with all thy strength! 

The word, that I command thee this day, 

la not a dark saying, and far from thce, 

It is not in heaven, that thou shouldst say, 

Who shall ascend and bring it down for us; 

Nor beyond the sea, that thou shouldst say-, 

Who shall go over the sea for us, 

And bring it to us, and cause us to hear. 

That we may understand and do it. 

For t le word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and heart, 

That thou niaycst do it 1* 

David in his personal conduct may be as he will ; he may 
even in many of his Psalms appear selfish and ambitious of 
fame, cruel and misanthropick, yet in the presence of Jehovah 
he dares not boast himself of any other than praiseworthy qual 
ities, of strict integrity, and openness of heart. All those 

* Deut. vi. 4. MX. IK 


Psalms of his, which contain general instruction, and still 
nore those of Asaph and of an anonymous author are full of 
he purest doctrines of morality. The Proverbs of Solomon 
xmtain much of the court-morality of the Orientals, for they 
each strictly speaking the maxims of prudence rather than 
he abstract principles of morality. Yet, even in them, there 
s much of pure gold, and they lay the foundation of all the 
naxims of life in the fear of Jehovah. The Prophets in the 
illness and clearness of their teachings go far before most of 
he Gnomick poets of the Greeks, and the book of Sirach is a 
dooming garden, full of instruction and precept, of imagery 
ilso and of parables and descriptive representations. In short, 
t may be said, of the law of Moses, in the language of this 
>ook, " Wisdom has flown from it as Pishon, as Tigris, as the 
Euphrates and the Nile, when it overflows and waters the 

The Legislation of Moses had for its purpose the formation 
of a free people, subject to none but the law ; and that no one 
might deprive them of their liberty God was himself the giver 
of the law, its guardian, and the king of his people. He dwelt 
in the midst of them and the much abused word, " temple," 
properly designated a house for the book of the law, over 
which God was himself the guardian. The whole people con 
stituted a priestly kingdom ; and every one was a servant of 
he same king and of his law. " Thou shalt be to me a priest- 
y kingdom," was the first principle, in which Moses compre- 
lendcd the character of his legislation. If we would not call 
his a theocracy, we may denominate it a nomocracy. But in 
reference to the poetry, that grew out of it, and in accordance 
with the truth of those ancient times and their history, the 
term theocracy, is far more expressive and beautiful. All po 
etry, which related to the political organization, and the ser 
vice of God, was theocratic. Let us consider what constU 
tutcd its specific character, 


First ; The honours of the tribes, equality of national 
rights, and liberty. No provision was made for a king in the 
legislation of Moses ; God and his law were alone king. All 
the tribes were one people, descendants of the patriarchs, from 
whom they had received as an inheritance their knowledge of 
God, and with it the rights of fraternal relationship and even 
of the priesthood, which, according to Egyptian notions, were 
the highest in rank. To this purpose was introduced the rite 
of circumcision, a distinction, which in Egypt was confined to 
the priesthood, and was here (though through the Romans 
and Gentile nations it has become a reproach) to bo a nation 
al honour. All the tribes were ranged under their princes, 
and every family under its head, so that all the fraternal 
members were connected together, subject to the tribunal, 
which exercised jurisdiction over all. Three times in the 
year, at the great national festivals, there was a general assem 
bling of the people. They came together not to hear sermons 
or mass for seven days, but to rejoice together in their com 
munity of privileges, and to feel that, as the people of God, 
they were one people All their three great festivals were na 
tional, and associated with liberty. The passover was a me 
morial of the day which made them a free people; the feast of 
pentfjcostofthe law, by which that freedom was confirmed ; and 
the feast of tabernacles, of its enjoyment in their first simple 
dwellings and unrestrained family intercourse. All the festi 
vals abounded in sacrificial leasts, in musick, songs and dan 
ces. The people of God in the presence of their invisible 
Lord, and before the tabernacle, in which his law was deposit 
ed, could not but be a rejoicing people. By these assembla 
ges their national pride, that is, their delight in Jehovah, the 
fraternal relationship of the several tribes, who all had but one 
Jehovah, one invisible king, one law, one temple, were awa 
kened and cherished, and by their social participation of the 
feast and song, the origin of the nation, the history and me 
morials of their patriarchs, were preserved, and remained a|> 


ways fresh in their minds. When we use the words, sacred 
feast, temple, festivals, Psalms, we either form no clear con 
ception, or at least, a cold, cheerless and lifeless one, because 
we have ourselves no national festivals, and songs of puhlick 
rejoicing, no temple associated with the glory of our fathers, 
no law for the universal security of our national freedom, 
Hence, the Psalms, which are filled with this spirit, are so of 
ten contemplated by us without emotion or sympathy. No 
people can have a national poetry, that has not objects of gen- 
oral pride and gratulation, in which all have a community of 
interest ; much less, when nourished up in opposing senti 
ments and ideas, they combine contradictory conceptions with 
tho words pertaining to Divine worship and things sacred, can 
they be expected to sympathize with the national feelings of 
others in a remote age ? Hence the sad and mystical tone 
of commentators on the Psalms, a tone, which, if we forget 
the word Psalms and substitute national songs in its stead, is 
at once changed. If we consider the spirit of social union and 
friendship, that animates the national poetry and songs, when 
all ranks of free people come together mutually to excite and 
congratulate each other, in prosperity, in joy and in success 
ful well-doing, or to condole with each other respecting na 
tional misfortunes, we shall find in most of the Psalms more 
beauty and interest. 

Some, for example, are obviously songs of gratulation and 
joy, that they could now go up to Jerusalem to rejoice as a 

O come, let us sing unto Jehovah,* 
Make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, 
And make a joyful noise with Psalms. 

For great is Jehovah our God, 
A great king above all gods. 
la his hand are the deep places of the earth, 



The height* of the mountains are his also. 
His is the sea, which he created, 
The firm land his hands hare formed. 

Come let us worship and bow down, 
Let us kneel before Jehovah our maker, 
For he is our God, and we the people of his land, 
The flock, which he feedeth like a shepherd. 
To-day, if ye will hear his (the shepherd s) voice, 
Harden not your hearts, as at Meribah, 
At Massa in the desert. 

The application of an historical fact in the last lines, as 
well as t\\p expression * to-day," which is often sadly misinter 
preted and misapplied, derive their animation from the living 
voice, by which a nation is summoned together, and the festi 
val proclaimed, from which none had a right to be absent. 
Considered in reference to this, every word is full of opposite 
meaning. The same, also, may be said of the 100th and oth 
er Psalms. In others we find expressed the joy of those, who 
at such national assemblies went up in procession to the tem 
ple, and here and there a reference to their journey thither.* 

How beautiful are thy tents, Jehovah Sabaoth, 

My soul longeth and fuintt-th for the courts of Jehovah. 

My heart und my llesh cry out for the living (iod. 

As the bird, that hath found her house, 

The swallow her nest, where she left her young, 

So look I upon thy altar, Jehovah Sabaoth, 

My king and my God. 

Blessed are they, that abide in thy house, 
They sing continually thy praise, 
Blessed is he that O.utli his heart upon thee, 
And goeth joyfully i thee in thy ways.t v 
They go through the thirsty valley of Baca. 

* Ps. Ixxxiv. 

t Obviously the public!; roads to Jerusalem, which at that time woulil 
be full of travellers. "The trodden ways are in their hearts, meanst 
according to a well known idiom, they delight in them, go in them gladly. 


And find it abounding in water.* 

Blessed also is he, that guideth them.t 
They go with ever increasing strength,? 
Till they behold in Zion the God of Gods. 

Jehovah, God of Sabaoth! 
Hear my prayer ! 
Give ear, OGod of Jacob ! 
Behold, O God our shield, 
And look upou the face of thine anointed. 

A d> y in thy courts 
Is better than a thousand. 

I would Battier stand at the threshold of my God, 
Than dwe II in the tents of the prodigal. || 

Fur Jtho;ah God is our sun and shield, 
Jeh ivali assures to us grace and glory, 
No good will IP; witr.hold from the upright. 
Blevscd, O Jehovah Sabaoth I 
Is the man, (hat trusteth in thee. 

The first sadly misinterpreted part of this Psalm cannot be 
better illustrated (absit invidia dicto !) than by the example of 
those, who nrike pilgrimages to Mecca. As with them the 
inward emotion and interest increase, the nearer, in passing 
through the desert, they approach to the sacred spot, as they 
fall into an ecst icy, when they behold the glittering towers of 

* I adopt the reading, here which means to drink, and thus from the 
antithesis between this and Bacu the sense becomes more beautiful 
and natural. They forget their thirst, and are animated by their approach 
to Jerusalem, for they see the sanctuary, the end of their journey. That 
they are mill journeying, appears from the 8ih verse which follows. 

tThis is plainly the C.iruvanbaschi orGhaHr, as the Pilgrims to Mec. 
a denominate him. 

t Though \ve iry and fainting in the dry valleys about Jerusalem. 

I) The word here has an extensive sense including that of enemy 
villain, oppressor, robber, and prodigal. 

t) That is, who is faithful and true, as our law books say. This word 
embraces in the Psalms the duties of a subject towards God, as the pr. 
vious verses celebrate the benefits conferred by God an a protector. 


the Caaba, so here the march] to Jerusalem thfough tha 
parched valleys is pursued with longing desire, and still in 
creasing vigour and delight. These hurning vales become to 
them, as it were, living fountains of water, for in Baca they 
already see the countenance of Jehovah. The second part of 
the Psalm, also, is word for word, from the actual circumstan 
ces of the national worship at Jerusalem. There are here no 
far-fetched and mystical images. As here, in the time of Da 
vid, prayer is offered for the kinif, so in other Psalms prosperi 
ty for the whole land is intreatcd, especially in the language 
adapted to the national assemblies. 

I am . r lail, when they say to me,* 
Let us go into the house of Jehovah. 
My feet st;md within thy gates, 

Jerusalem ! 

Jerusalem ia built a compact city, 
Honse joins to house within it.t 

Thither the tribes go up, the tribes of Jehovah, 
To the memorial feast for Israel, 
To praise the majesty oi Jehovah. 

There stand ihc thrones of judgment, 
The thrones, which the king hath established. 
Pray lor tl.e peace of Jerusalem, 
They sh ill prosper that love thec. 
Peace he within thy Wiills, 
And tranquilly within thy piilaces. 
For my brethren arid companions sukes 
J will say, peace be within thee, 
HecauHC of t!ie temple of our Clod, 

1 will !*eek thy good. 

The young inhabitant of the country, who had once wen 
Jerusalem and would gladly see it again, could not speak of 

Ps. cxxii. 

f At a countryman in going to the city among us would say, 
Urbem, quam dicurit Romam, Meliboe*, putavi 
Stuhus ego huic noslree similem, dtc. 


it with more simplicity of feeling, than this song exhibits. Oth 
er Psalms express the wish for prosperity in general, others 
celebrate the intercourse of families and tribes, and still others 
praise the dignity of the priests, and the pomp of the reli 
gious ceremoniel. In calamitous times their song!* have n 
tone of mourning and lamentation, in prosperous times of 
joyousness ; and these national festivals in a word hove pro 
duced a portion of the Psalms, in which a true pnhlick spirit 
proTuils. All which commence with " the Ixml is kin^r," are 
of this kind ; most, also, of the thanksgiving and halt lujah 
Psalms, some of the family of Korah, some of As.-iph, and the 
most touching Psalm of David, "As the hart panteth !" ex 
presses a longing after the temple of God, and w-is obviously 
adapted for such a national festival. Jt is the main j>oint of 
the Psulin, that he cannot even now participate 

In the voice of song and gratulation, 

In the crowd of those, who dance at the temple of God. 

Moses organized these national assemblies, and is therefore, 
also, the father of these lyrick effusions. 

Second. The God of Israel was without a sensuous repre 
sentation. In the most sacred place of his tabernacle was 
laid the book of the law, in an ark, nnd the Cherubim, as the 
syml>ols of the marvellous and the sacred, stood upon it. The 
Apace between them was regarded as the dwelling place of Je- 
hovah, arid thus he is often culled, " Jehovah who dwelleth 
between the Cherubim." God, moreover, had no throne in 
the temple. The book of the law was his throne. lie was 
its guardian and executor, and shielded it with the force of 
his authority. The purpose aimed at, was of the noblest kind, 
and was nothing less, than to make the national system of 
worship one with the political constitution, and consecrate the 
law itself, as a league, a compact, a treaty of God with the na 
tion. According to the spirit of the system, again, idolatrous 
jujages and sensuous representations of God could no more ex- 


int among the creations of their poets, than they could be suf 
fered in the temple and sanctioned by the law. But poetry 
was on this account the more free to celebrate the praises of 
God, as the God of the nation ; and the giver of its laws ; and 
this it has in fact done. Miny of the national songs cele- 
brate the king, who dwcllcth in darkness (so it was in the most 
holy place) but who hath established his throne in righteous 
ness and judgment. They exhort all the magistrates ofth 
land to administer justice in the name of God ; for only through 
the medium of his laws is God present, and efficiently work 
ing among his people.* 

Jehovah reigns! the nations tremble before him ! 
He is throned upon the Cherubim, the world is movud ! 
The great Jehovah is in Zion, 
The lofty one above all the nations. 

The king hath strength, who loveth judgment, 
Thou hast established ordinances, 
And maintained law and equity in Jacob. 
Exalt Jehovah -JUT God, 
And bow down at his footstool, 
Hi- fort 1 his sanctuary. 

.Must s and Aaron among his priests. 
And Sainuc! amoiii, tlit tn, that invoke hienanje.t 
They called upon Jehovah, 
And he answered them ; 
He spake to them from the clouds, 
And they observed his words, 
The laws and ordinances, which he gave.t 
Jehovah our God, thou heardest them, 

Pa. xcix. 

* Who was not a priest. The distinction is here made, obviously, a* 
it was presented to ihe senses in the service of the temple {priests and 
laymen, servants and worshippers. 

t This language relates to the pure national laws, and the instutiona of 
the land ; to utter fcel ngs of triumph respecting these i* the spirit anxj 
cope of the ode, 


Thou didst favour them, and vindicate their work.* 

Exalt ye Jehovah, our God, 
Cast yourselves down before the holy mount, 
Where our God, the lofty one, is enthroned. 

How spiritless is all this, when severed from its original con 
nexions and relations ! But how apposite, when these praises 
are considered as the jubilant expressions of a free people, to 
be ruled only by the fixed and determinate laws of God, 

God stands in the congregation of his people.t 

He judgeth among the gods of the earth. 

How long will ye judge unjustly ? 

And respect the person of the oppressor ? 

Do justice to the poor and the orphan, 

Give their right to the oppressed and needy, 

Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked . 

They know not, neither do they understand, 
They go on in their blindness. 
Therefore the foundations of our land tremble, 

I have said, ye are Gods, 
All of you sonsoftlu highest, 
But like feeble men must ye die, 
And together as one go down to the ground. t 
Lift up thyself, O God, an J judge the land, 
For all tho tribes are thine inheritance. 

Thus did poetry with patriotic spirit dare to reprove tyrants, 

Thou didst stand by them, guard their institutions, aid them against 
their enemies, <fcc. 

t P*. Ixx.xii. God sat in judgment in the middle of the land, in the mos t 
holy place, where in doubtful cases the highest judge consulted him. He 
at also in all tho tribunals of the country, which were held only in his 
name. God alone w;is king ami judge; and, even when there were kings 
in Israel, they could and must bo regarded only as vicegerents of God, 
subject to the constitution of the country as their law. 

t The 7th verse if placed in antithesis with the 6th in both its tnem- 
kers. If they are so placed in contrast, Gods and men, all and one, th 
bscurity disappears, 


and present in the midst of them that king, in whose name 
alone they were the judges and princes of his people. The 
poet had only to recal to their minds the positive constitution 
of their country, and the 94th Psalm exhibits the same subject 
with still greater ardour. All those pieces, which celebrate 
(jod as king, (political songs celebrating the fundamental prin 
ciples of the government), are so confident in regard to this, 
that they call on sea and land, nations and people, to confess, 
that the God of whom they sing, is alone an upright and just 
king ; that Judah alone has a form of government eternal like 
God, strong and impregnable like nature, for both are the work 
of one and the same God. It is the method of many Psalms 
lo place side by side, the wonders of God in nature, and his 
ordinances among them, which they regard as alike marvel 
lous. Very probably, the choirs alternated with each other in 
these enumerations, arid, by combining together as one, the 
great and the small, they give to the movement of the whold 
dignity and stateliness. 

1.2. Praise ye Jehovah, 

1. For it is jiood to sing praises to our God, 

2. For pleasant und comely is the song of praiM. 

1. Jehovah builticih up Jerusalem, t 
And nssemblcth the outcasts of Israel. 
fie lieuleth the broken in heart, 

And bindeth up their wounds. 

2. He reckoned) the number of the Slurs, 
And cullt-th them by their names. 
Great is our Lord, and of great power, 
His understanding is infinite. 

1. Jehovah raise h up the oppressed, 

2. And boxveth t ie oppressor to the duet. 
1. Sing to Jehovah in alternate choirs, 

*Ps. cxlvii. 

1 1 do not mean to decide by the division of this psalm, that the two 
numbers of the parallelism were sung by two different choirs. By th* 
numbers I have only indicated the general economy of the piece. 


9. Play to him upon the harp. 

1. He covereth the heaven with clouds, 
He prepareth rain for the earth, 

He maketh grass to grow upon the mountain*, 
He giveth to the beasts their food, 
To the young ravens, when they cry. 

2. His delight is not in the strength of the hor, 
Nor his glory in him that runneth swiftly. 
Jehovah lovcth them that fear him* 

And thnt trust in his goodness. 
1.2. Vruise Juhovuh, O Jerusalem ! 
Praise thy God, O Zion ! 
For he utrengtheneth the bars of thy gates, 
He blesseth thy children within thee. 
lie giveih thee peace in thy borders, 
And filleth thee with the finest of the wheat. 

1. He giveih his commandment to the earth, 
His word runneth very swiftly. 

He giveth snow like wool, 
He scattereth hoar-frost like ashes, 
He cufteth down ice in masses, 
Who can stand before his cold ? 

2. Ho uttereth his word, and they are melted, 

He causeth the wind to blow, and the water* flow. 
1.2. He showcth his word unto Jacob, 

His statutes and judgments unto Israel. 
Ho hath done so to no other nation, 
And they know not his ordinances. 
Praise ye Jehovah. 

Far as lam from introducing the artifices of dramatic repre 
sentation into the psalms, it yet appears tome, that the alterna 
tion of parts is here pretty evident, though they may be other 
wise divided. The bold combination of the wonders of na 
ture with those of the state institutions is the soul of the whole. 

Third. Jehovah, who reigned only by means of laws, had 
servants, who in every good regulation were to be the soul of 
his kingdom; interpreters and guardians of the constitution, 
and even its supreme executive ; for they were the highest tri- 


bunal in the land. They were moreover the regulators of th* 
calendar, had charge of weights and measures in trade, were 
Judges respecting contagious diseases, and physicians. They 
executed contracts of property, arranged the festivals, accord- 
ing to which every thing else was regulated, summoned the 
people to the national assemblies, and marched with the 
sanctuary of the nation in war, to inspire the army with cour 
age by their songs, trumpets and the presence of their God. 
The first servant of God, the high priest, was the first servant 
of righteousness. 

His breast plate was called the breast plate of judgment, 
as among the Egyptians the presiding priest and judge carried 
before him the symbol of justice. The high priest however 
bore no symbol ; but the names of the twelve tribes of his 
brethren, engraven upon precious stones, must rest upon his 
heart, and with them light and right,* that is, the most perfect 

That Urim and Thummim signifies the fullest, truest light, docs not 
admit of a doubt, and as little can it be doubted, that the expression 
"Thou shall make (set, give) the breastplate of judgment for u Urim 
and Thummiw" moans in the Hebrew, "Thou shall make it the mark 
and insignia of the highest and truest judicial decision, in which no eva 
sion, no doubt, can any longer avail." 1 do not attempt to decide how 
Ihe oracle of God in the sanctuary answered the high priest, whether 
as it did Moses, by an audible voice, or by an inward guiding of his 
thoughts, such that when ho entered with his question into this sacred 
place, he felt himself seized by a Divine influence, and inspired with Di- 
rine truth. It is enough that the high priest answered in the name of 
God; and to enquire of God by Urim and Thummim, means simply to 
enquire of the person, who bore the Urim and Thummim, and who, 
as the bearer of this, was qualified to answer, that is, legitimo modo, 
through the presiding judge. See Num. xxvii. 21. Ilia answer too 
was confided in as an oracular decision, and we find at a later period the 
xpression, even respecting human counsels, "when one enquired of him, 
it was as if he enquired of God." In short the Urim and Thummim was 
wisdom and truth, as of a Divine oracle, the clearest and most infallible 
decision. This Moses was to make the breast plate of judgment, that 
is, ordain this splendid attire, consecrate it, and adapt its form to tint 
purpose. The case was the same with thia, as with the attire of tha 


light, and the most unreserved expression of it, abide in hii 

In the poetry of the Hebrews, the figurative images used to 
express the highest dignity were drawn from the attire of the 
priest, and especially of the high priest, because he was the 
first of the nation in rank, and of princely dignity by his con 
secration to God. Hence the costly magnificence of the age 
and country stood connected witli him. The priests were 
clothed with righteousness and salvation,* that is, as they 
were judges ami sacred persons, guardians and administrators 
of the institutions of the country, on which the happiness of 
the nation depended, so their official attire was a symbol of 
both justice, the general order of society, and of the well be 
ing of the nation and Jehovah s delight in it. From this idea 
originated the figurative expressions in Moses, the Prophets, 
and Psalms, which to us appear so strange, and to scoffert 
were ridiculous, because we neither possess nor feel any sym 
pathy with such sacred symbols, as were then* an object of the 
highest reverence to a whole people. Our priests are clothed 
rather with contempt, and tlu ir attire is the sackcloth of j*ov- 
erty. The term " established religion" is in muny countries 
so much a term of reproach and contempt, that when, in con- 
head of the high priest, and the inscription upon his fern-head "holmes* 
10 the Lord." Thii indicated his regal dignity, as stumling in the pluc 
of God, that his oilice and duty, as the presiding ju .L e, to bear th 
whole peoplo upon his heurt, to bring them in re mcm trnncc hefore God, 
And to be, as it wore, a mediator between God and his people This h 
was by virtue of his oilice, by enquiring of God in doubtful cases, and by 
deciding according to the voice of God in his name. So long as Most-* 
lived, he enquired of Jehovah. When lie WHS no more, who should enquir* 
uf him but the highest judge. lie did so by right of office, and there, 
foro dared never appear hefore Jehovah without his breast plate of judg. 
uient. Mure than this the Urim and Thummim certainly was not ; nor 
could it be two dice, since answers were given more difficult and cir. 
lumsuntiul, than it was possible for dice to give. 

Pa. cjcxxii. 9. 1C. 


exion with entirely different establishments and time?, w 
read the word "priests," even the noblest imagery becomei 
debased and belittled. There the ruin of the country could 
not be more affcctingly and vividly represented to the people, 
than by saying, "The sanctuary is profaned, the crown of 
the Divine majesty is fallen from the head of the high priest, 
the priests go in sackcloth and mourn." Their defilement 
was the defilement of the nation ; their adorning the emblem 
of general order and happiness. 

I exceedingly rejoice in Jehovah, 

My heart is joyful in my God, 

He clothes me in garments of salvation, 

He covereth me with a princely robe. 

As u bridegroom I stand in priestly attire, 

As a bride in her bridal adorning; 

Kor as the earth bringet i forth her bud, 

And as tho garden causoth its seed to grow, 

So Jehovuh causcih righteousness to spring up. 

And glory before all the nations.* 

Such among this people were the images of the sanctuary. 
Unity among brethren and in families could not be more beau 
tifully set forth, than by the odour of the precious ointment, 
that was poured upon the head of the high priest. t As the 
modt precious odour offered to Jehovah diffused around an 

Simon, the son of Onias, the high priest, 
How was he honoured before the whole people J 
When he came forth out of the Sanctuary, 
As the Morning star coming out of a cloud, 
As the full moon, as the clear sun 
fcihineih upon t ie temple of the Most High. 
As the rainbow painted the bright cloud, 
As the rose in the spring of the year, 
As lilies by the rivers of water. 
/ th whole passage Ecclesiasticus. cbap, 50, 
tPi. cxxxiii. 

agreeable sensation, which nothing else gave, so unity among 
brethren spread a delight and flagrancy, in the highest sens* 
pleasing both to God and man. Princes and priests were 
from the earliest times associated under the conceptions that 
both stood in the place of God, and in this language, accord 
ing to the origin of the word, they were, as servants who 
might approach the Divinity, synonymous. In the family go 
vernment of the primitive world the father was the prince and 
priest of his family; Melchisedcck, king of righteousrfess, 
and priest of the most high God. The Psalm, which depicts 
the regal dignity in the highest colours, which places the king 
by the side of Jehovah, and enthrones him at his right hand, 
exalts him to this dignity only by associating him with tho 
conception of the priesthood.* 

Jehovah huth sworn nntl will not repcnf, 

Tliuu art a priest forever, 

I make thce in rank a Molchisedock. 

Ill the later periods of Hebrew poetry priests arid angels 
were associated.! Since the priests were messengers of Je 
hovah, that is, administrators of his laws, since they had th 
privilege of approaching to the throne of God, and serving him 
in his temple, as soon as tho heavens came to be represented 
as the tent and temple of God, the representation of priests 
serving him there also was a natural consequence. Kven in 
Isaiah the Seraphim are princes and priest: 1 ., that is servant! 
of a king enthroned in his temple. J In the vision of Eze- 
chiel the angel, who marks the innocent that they may b 
spared, is a priest; || as also the sublime form in Daniel, who 
interprets the vision.$ At this period all the images of puri 
ty, of dignity, and magnificence from those ancient times 
were spiritualized, and referred to these heavenly powers; and 
in this form also appear the angels of the New Testament. 

Ps. ex. t Mai. ii 7. iii. 1, t IBB. vi. 2. || Ezech. ii. 3. $ Dan. a.5. 


In the Revelation of John angels and heavenly priests, ar 
one and the same. In this and in the Epistle to the Hebrews 
Christ, when his highest regal dignity is to be exhibited, is 
represented as a high priest. 

Fourth. Before the princes of the East no one could ven 
ture to appear without presents; this custom Moses availed 
himself of to introduce into his system the use of the ancient 
patriarchal offerings, and to allure the senses and affections of 
the people more entirely from Egyptian customs, and to attain 
also other ends, that will be mentioned hereafter. Among 
the Egyptians living beasts were offered only to the infernal 
God, Typhon, and lor this purpose those were selected, which 
were noxious, hitcful, and of evil omen ; while to the good 
spirits were offered inanimate, and for the most p irt odorifer 
ous gifts. As ,M.)ses, the most zealous enemy of slavery, 
made inalien iblc* freedom the fundamental law of his nation, 
so he consecrated the whole nation, especially the firstborn, 
who had been spared in the last Egyptian plague, as the pro 
perty of Jehovah. Here (iod remitted his right; he gave to 
the father his son, and received instead of him a beast for an 
oflferiuir; but of necessity a clean beast, because nothing un 
clean could approach a holy Cod, much less be presented to 
him as an offering. So also with the fruits of the land, which 
belonged to Cod, and of which he reserved to himself the 
first fruits, as a tltankoffering, and an acknowledgment of the 
tenure, by which the land was held. The first fruits and the 
whole offerings were the first proper sacrifices of duty and of 
righteousness, as expressed in the language of the Psalm. 

Do good according to thy good pleasure unto Zion, 
Builil liiou the walls of Jerusalem. 
Then shall sacrifices of duty plcape thee, 
The oflTortngt, which ^o up with incense, 
The young bullocks upon thine altar. 

The sin and trespass offerings had a purpose equally good ; 


they brought out. secret sins, which the law could not punish, 
and even sins of omission, before Jehovah, that is, before his 
judges, and were thus better than auricular confessions, police 
officers, and cruel secret tribunals. Here they came with 
frankness before God, with the sin offering in their hands, 
took upon themselves the punishment, which fche law pre 
scribed, and dared hot wait for it from the arbitrement of the 
priest. Even the inconvenience of this offering, which could 
be made only before the sanctuary, made some degree of fore 
sight necessary. But the best application, which poetry made 
of these offerings, was of a spiritual kind. 

Have compassion on me according to thy mercy,* 

In thy great mercy blot out my transgressions. 

For lo ! I am u sinful man, 

And sinful the mother, which bore me. 

But thou lovest inward truth alone ;t 

And shewcst me the hidden sense of thy law. 

As u priest must thou cleanse me, t 

And then shall I be clean. 

If thou wash mo, I shall be white like snow. 

Look not upon my misdoings, 

Dlot out all my transgressions, 

Create in me a clean heart, O God, 

Renew a right spirit within me. 

So will I teach transgressors thy way, 

And sinners shall turn unto thee. 

Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God; 

So will I sing aloud of thy righteousness. 

Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it ; 

Thou delightest not in burnt-oflerings. || 

The sacrifices of God are a contrite spirit, 

Ps. li. 

t "The outward offering is not thy aim. It has a spiritual meaning, 
which the people know not, and which thou has taught me." 

! This is the hidden import of sacrifices according to David s under. 
tanding. God must purify men, and the purification of the priest could 
b only an emblem of this. 

fl For murder and adultery no expiatory offering could be made. 


An humble and broken heart, 
Thou dost not despise. 

And in another prayer, where he renders thanks for bene 

Many things, O Jehovah, hast thou done for us,* 
And thy wonderful thoughts are without number. 
Yet will I declare, nnd speak of them", 
Though they cannot be numbered. 

Sacrifice, and offering thou didst not desire, 
Thou saidst to me secretly in mine ear,f 
Burnt-ofieririi, and sin-ottering thou wouldst not. 

Then Said I, lo ! I come freely,t 
Yea it is written for me in the law, 
I delight to do thy will, O my liod ! 
What thou requires! is within my heart. 

1 will proclaim what is thy will, 
Before all the people, 
I will not refrain my lips, 
O Jehoviih, thou knowcst. 

A ptihlick confession, publick songs of contrition nnd thank.v 
giving, David here puts in the place of sacrifices, and main- 
riins, that in so dointr, lie fulfils the inward ami true sense of 
tiivilaw. The I rophets are filled with corresponding expres 
sions. We have no sacrificial sonijs in the Scriptures, such 
as the pagans used : those which treat of sacrifices are all mo 
ral and spiritual. So, also, was it with the most ancient, and 

* Ps. xl. 510. 

t Tho expression, " thou opencat mine ear," means obviously only 
what is clearly expressed afterwards. Thou lettest me silently appre 
hend thy will, thy proper aim, in all sacrifices. Thou sayest in mine ear, 
what the cor imon. people do not know, the sense of thy written law, and 
of the duties there prescribed. 

t That is, " as a servant I am gladly obedient to the secret voice. " If 
thitf be the inward and proper sense of the law, it abides also in my own 
breast. It ia that, which my own heart longs after, and gladly perform* 
ac duty. Compare Deut. xxx. 11. 12. 


most pleasing, unbloody thanko-fferings, and offerings of in- 
cense. We have one song respecting them, of which the mot 
enlightened age need not be ashamed. It is 

The God of Gods, Jehovah, spake, 
And called upon the earth, 
From the rising of the sun to its going down. 

From Zion, the glory of the land, God shone forth* 
Our God cometh, and shall not be silent, 
Devouring tire goeth forth before him, 
And a mighty tempest is round about him. 
lie ralleththe heavens above, and the earth,* 
To give judgment upon his people. 
Gather my saints together unto me, 
Who have covenanted with me by sacrifice." 
And all till , heavens proclaimed him judge, 
Jehovah, iisu righteous judge. 

Hear, Omy people, and I will speak, 
I will testify against thee, even I, thy God. 
I reprove thec not far thy burnt offerings,! 
For the incense, that ever ascends to me. 
I desire no bullocks from thy house, 
Nor he goats out of thy folds, 
For every boast of the forest is mine, 
The beasts upon a thousand hills. 
I know all the fowls of the mountains, 
And the wild beast of the field is mine. 
If I were hungry, I need not tell thee, 
For mine is the world and its fulness. 

As always from mountains ; now however, no longer from Sinai and 
Seir, but from /ion, the glorious crown, the chief ornament of the whole 
land, because God dwelt upon it. 

t Before heaven and earth Israel had bound themselves to his covenant, 
Deut ixxi. 23. and these must now, therefore, be witnesses, how Israel 
had understood and kept it. The Allwise, however, v. 7. speaks in their 
name, and the judge becomes himself the witness. 

tThat is, I do not put you upon trial with ix-ard to external offerings . 
of these you bring me enough, 


Thinkeat thou I eat the fleih of bullocks T 
Or drink the blood of goati? 
Offer unto God thanksgiving, 
Pay thy TOWS to the Most High, 
Call upon me in the dny of trouble, 
And when I deliver thec, honour thou me. 

Whoso oHereih praise glorifieth me, 
And to him, that tuketh heed to his way, 
Will I show the salvation of God. 

It would carry me too far, to go through more particulars 
of the Mosaick code, and show, how, even in regard to indi 
vidual expressions, they have modified the language of poetry 
in the Prophets and Psalms. Let it suffice, to gather, yet, a 
few of the choicest specimens, since there is not room for a 
harvest of particular remarks. 

!. In the political organization of Israel, every tiling was 
originally connected with the sanctuary, and even bodily dis 
eases, like moral del inquences, were regarded as rendering the 

subject of them impure. Hence, not only those were very 
naturally used as emblems of these, but also, the Prophet* and 
poets spake of tin-in in the language of the Sanctuary, that is, 
freely, openly, and without circumlocution. They regulated 
themselves, in this particular, not according to the laws of 
good society among us, of which they knew nothing. They 
apuke as the law of Moses spake, as the father of his people 
thought. To the physician, expressions are allowed, which 
the refined villain, from no regard to morality, avoids ; and a 
physician, who passes judgment as a priest, must not direct 
himself by the modes of a later and different age. It is mere 
folly, also, to judge of this whole class of words and images 
among the Hebrews by the caprices of our customs, and to af 
fect to shudder at a Psalm, which paints base crimes in the 
form of loathsome eruptions, or at a chapter of the Prophets, 


which describes with truth and energy, the corrupt manners 
of the age. In this, too, however, poetry is modified in accord 
ance with the particular age and character of the poet. At 
the court of Solomon was not heard the language, which Eze- 
chiel, the son of a priest, who had earnestly devoted himself 
to study the law of Moses, the temple, and the ancient customs, 
ventured to employ in his minute expositions. Such things 
were called by their true names in the East, too, for the very 
purpose of awakening detestation and loathing, by the shame 
of the exposure ; for it is known, that those nations, in all these 
points, feel disgust more readily than we. By the Jewish law 
impurities were severely prohibited, which, among us are free 
from restraint, and an Arab would often blush at the questions 
of a European. 

2. In the Sanctuary every small vessel, and every distinct 
part of the wall or tent had its name, and since all these things, 
as a Divine plan devised on Mount Sinai, and minutely de 
scribed in the law, came down to a later age, it was a matter 
of, that they should become the subjects of reflection, 
and poetical embellishment. Yet, it i not the less true, that 
the best periods of Hebrew poetry knew nothing of the fables, 
which were invented by the allegorizing spirit of a later age. 
What David sings of the bidden import of the law, is all of it 
really contained in Moses, and the developments of the Pro 
phets, remain always true to the general character and frame 
of the institution. After the captivity, when the second tem 
ple was to be built, hidden meanings began to be devised, yet 
with some degree of wisdom, as is seen in llaggai and Zech- The spirit of mystical interpretation first spread itself 
from Egypt, at a still later period. 

I do not mean by this to say, that the tabernacle of Moses, 
and his form of Divine worship, were not significant, even in 
their minute particulars. They were so, but only in regard to 
the general spirit of his law, and in the relation of individual 
parts to tho whole, Moses was from Egypt and we know the 


Egyptians were fond of hieroglyphics in their religious service, 
and even in their sacred edifices. Of some, he himself ex 
plains the import,* and thereby puts us upon the track ; in fol 
lowing which, however, we must keep to the age of Moses, 
and the point of view, in which he stood ; otherwise, we are 
in danger of seeing every thing in a wrong and inverted posi 
tion. The Prophets will furnish occasions for saying some 
thing on this point, and something will be indicated in the 
following ]K>ctic;il sketch, but this is not the place to go into 
the general character of the whole. 

3. The peculiar purpose of Moses, in giving the law, was 
not sacrifices, nor the forgivness of sins, but the prosperity of 
the State, the poJitical welfare of the people of Jehovah. The 
most enlightened of the Prophets, especially Samuel and Isaiah, 
proceeded on tlie same plan, and there is no one of them, who 
did not make this a leading object in his discourses and plans. 
If, therefore, in far later times, particular sayings and customs 
were separated from their true relations, ;uid more importance 
attached to them, than Moses and his followers gave them, 
in the relations which they held with others, if in regard to 
the so called penitential Psalms, and tho </<>:it, that was sent 
into the wilderness, systems were invented, of which David 
and Moses never thought, this is yet but the common and ne 
cessary result, to which the revolutions of time subject them. 
It is to be considered, that those later ages had a number of 
different books, whose different sentiments they confounded 
together, and whose language, moreover, they employed for 
clothing their own thoughts. Here, too, it was a matter of 
importance what kind of men made use of them, what ideas 
they had in their own minds, and what would particularly find 
favour with them; finally, in what regard they were themselves, 

Thus Mosea speaks of the circumcision of the heart, that (lie priest, 
when he goes into the sanctuary, bears the siiiB of the people, &c. Tho 
latter gave occasion, perhaps, to the beautiful 53d chapter of Isaiah, us 
the llth verse shows. 


held by the succeeding age, and what kind of style its taste 
approved. This was sometimes the poetical, then the philo 
sophical ; and the best course, therefore, is to leave every thing 
to its own age, and its own author, and go to the original form 
of Moses, the ancient Israelitish Egyptian. 

4. If any one institution has more especially tended to pre 
serve the poetry and the laws of Moses, it is the Sabbath. To 
this are we indebted for the preservation, in the freshness of 
living beauty, of all these treasures of the poetic art. Not on 
ly was it owing to this, that the remembrance of the Creator 
of the world, (itself an idea in the highest degree productive 
to the human race), retained and associated with their nation 
al blessings, was celebrated in prayers and son us, not only that 
in somewhat more enlightened and quiet times, passages of 
the law, with or without reflection, were read and expounded ; 
chronology, reading, writing, history, political order, ancient 
ideas, and new hopes, in short, the intelligence and cultivation 
of the people, were held at least, in reserve by this simple in 
stitution, and by means of it were, after they had fallen into 
neglect, revived in better times. With the sabbaths and 
festivals were associated the order of the state, and the regula 
tion of the calender, and with these their freedom, and the 
year of jubilee. Can we, then, find fault with the Prophets, 
that they clothe in images derived from these so many golden 
dreams of future happiness, and express, in joyful songs, ideas 
of endless freedom and perpetual jubilee, with obvious reference 
to sabbatical institutions and forms ? What man becomes thus 
animated without hope, and is it not the greatest, the noblest, 
and the most steadfast soul, that amidst the corruptions of the 
times, and from the ruins of former prosperity, foresees and 
celebrates in song the greater prosperity and happiness, that 
is still to be attained. 



1. Of the mode, in which Moses preserved and honoured the paternal 
authority. Effects of it observed in idiomatical expression*, in the 
tone of history, in the maxims of morality, und the moral poetry of 
the Hebrews. 

2. Relation of the wife to her husband und to the family. Proofs of it 
in passages of poetry, and of tho Mosait laws. Figurative represen 
tations respecting family discipline, marriage, fruitfulness, love, and 
wisdom. Moral precepts of the mother of Lemuel to her son. 
Praise of u country housewife among the Hebrews. 

3. Union of families in n tribe. Independent freedom of the individual 
tribes. Whether Moses took into view the existence of distinctions of 
rank in the capital city, tho luxury und warlike glory of his nation. 
Form of Hebrew poetry, as derived from tho rural simplicity of the 

4. Why the Prophets were *u xvnlous against luxury and oppression. 
The purpose, which they aimed to attain, marked out in the Mosaic 
economy, their right and authority. 

5. Connexion of nil the tribes through their relation to tho promised land 
and to the Patriarchs. Confinement of the people and of the law of 
Moses to the local boundaries of tho country. Local character ot all 
the Hebrew writings, hopes and poetic inventions. Of the peculiar 
providence of God over Cana :n. Origin of this kind of representa 
tion. Usr of it in Moses and in the poets. 

6. Second bond of connexion among the tribes fnm the Theocracy. 
General principle of the government. Dignity nnd beauty of it for 
rational beings. Proofs from the tribunals, punishment?, taxes, revo. 
nues, &.c. Most of the Hebrew poetry of a political character. 

7. Objection against tho tribe of Levi as being the chief support of the 
Theocracy, Why this tribe was placed in that condition. First plnn 
of Moses, The manner, in which the lawgiver limited this tribe, the 
duties imposed upon it, and how far it was injurious to the general or 

8. Of the Prophets, on whom the hopes of Moses wore placed. Sad 


fate of Moses, that he could not himself establish hit laws in Canaan. 
Causes and consequences of this, and his own regret on account of 
it. End of the 90th Psalm. Hope of Moses. 

9. Of the reference to God in the laws of Moses. Necessity and use 
of this. Whether ii was merely pretented. Whether we can or ought 
to decide on this point. The law of God and Moses, a Jewish fable. 

It will be necessary to say yet a few worda respecting the 
customs of the nation, of whose poetry we are treating, res 
pecting the cultivation, which they received through the laws 
of Moses, and generally respecting the political design of these 
laws. For we can attain a distinct knowledge of the fruit 
only through a knovvldedge of the tree, on which it grew. 

1. 7Vi rchttiona of father anfl child, constituted the primitive 
forms of government among men, and with a race of herds 
men, such as the Hebrews were, these remained fora long pe 
riod the firmest bonds of union. As the Israelites hud before 
them as examples, in the patriarchs of thoir tribes, no other 
than a paternal government, so were these inherent rights of 
humanity held sacred by the law of Moses. It prescribed to 
children the reverence of their parents, as the condition, on 
which they were to enjoy the land of promise, and the same 
lesson is enforced by the moral poetry of the nation. Thoir 
language h;is no more favourite expression, by which to de 
signate even a king, a priest, a Prophet, the director or inven 
tor of a thing, than the word fatlur. Their history had an 
expression of childlike simplicity in its style, because its ear 
liest productions were from the times, when they were still a 
race of herdsmen, and these served as a model for those 
which followed. So too are their proverbs and preceptive in 
structions peculiarly marked by a tone of paternal kindness 
and unaffected sincerity, of which scarcely any other people 
can furnish an example, because the poetry of no other people 
goes back to so early a period of the human race. The first 
chapters of the Proverbs of Solomon, which serve as an intro 
duction to the book, arc written with a style of engaging earn* 


, and from the lips of the teacher, alluring his son to th 
paths of wisdom and virtue, flows as it were milk and honey. 
Even the rigorous and precise laws of Moses do not abandon 
this tone, wherever they enforce human obligations, and tho 
book of Deuteronomy has the dignity and imprcssiveness of a 
sage imparting the lessons of wisdom to his children. Let one 
collect what is said, of the relation of children to their parent* 
of and domestic happiness, in the Proverbs, Psalms, and Pro 
phets, and he will have a summary of the earliest and most de 
lightful moral sentiments. The ethical poetry of the Persians 
is refined, that of the Arabians subtle and discriminating, that 
of the Hebrews simple and childlike; the delicate nourish 
ment of the primitive age of humanity. 

2. The wife according to Oriental notions was subjected to 
the husband. They had no thought of a sovereign and re 
posing elevation of this sex, and celebrated in it only chastity, 
industry, modest, domestic, and matronly virtues. Customs, 
fuch as the luxurious poetry of later times ascribes to them, 
would in that age of the world have been folly or shame. It 
is therefore absurd to look lor the gallant poetrv of fushioria- 
ahle conversation among a people, when the. female sex, shut 
up in retirement, either bloomed as a flower in the garden, or 
bore fruit like the vine. 

Blessed is he that fcarcth Jehovah,* 

And wulkcth in his ways, 

Thou shalt eat the labour of thy hands, 

Happiness and prosperity uro with thee. 

Thy wife is like the fruitful vine, 

That spreads on the sides of thy house ; 

Thy children around thy table 

Like plantations of young: olives. 

Thou shu l ce thy children s children, 

And peace upon Israel. 

*P. cxxvjii. 


That was the happiness of a rural simplicity, which poetry 
celebrated. The peaceful times of the future could not, it 
seems, be more vividly pictured to a distracted kingdom, than 
by the expression,! 

A new thing will Jehovah create in the land, 
A woman shall compass a man. 

(that is there shall be so much security round about, that even 
the wifo can give him protection, and, according to the con 
dition of the ancient world, in the sphere of domestick happi 
ness encompass him as a crown.) The laws of Moses place 
a high estimate upon tins family enjoyment. The human 
lawgiver excused even from warlike service every man, who 
had built an house, and had not yet inhabited it, who had 
planted :i vineyard, and had not yet enjoyed its fruits, who had 
betrothed a wife, and had not yet brought her to his home. 
Let him go," says the s:ge with a noble sentiment, "and 
remain at home, lest he die in the war, and another dedicate 
his house, another enjoy his vineyard, and another take homo 
his betrothed wife."* Happy the lawgiver who was capable 
of such sentiments! 

The laws of Moses interest themselves, therefore, very 
carefully for the instruction, and the chaste conduct, of the 
daughters of Israel, the degrees of kindred, which might b* 
united, and the publick purity of morals in the relations of the 
two sexes. No unchaste woman was tolerated in Israel. The 
lawgiver aimed to obviate whatever has a tendency to debase 
human nature, to render the familiar intercourse of near rela 
tives dangerous, or to degrade the wife in the eyes of her hus 
band. On all these points the laws of .Moses are the most 
moral, and the most prudently devised, whi?-h were ever fra 
med under such a climate. Let any oue collect together the 
moral precepts of Solomon, and the son of Sirach, which 

Jer. xxxi. 22. *Deut. xx. 5 7. 


treat of the virtues and attractions of women, and he will find 
there all that is ornamental in innocence, in gracefulness, in a 
quiet and sociable temper, and in industry, interwoven as in a 
garland of flowers. The happiness of a well, and the misery 
of an ill advised marriage, are painted in appropriate colours. 
It is not without occasion, that the bridegroom is anointed with 
the oil of gladness, crowned with a festal garland, and praised 
in songs of gratulation. The fruitfuluess of the marriage 
relation was valued above all earthly blessings, and the nu 
merous expressions in the Psalms* respecting an unexpected 
good fortune under the figure, "that God makes the barren 
woman to be the mother of children," had iu the sense of that 
nation the strongest emphasis. So it is with the song of the 
mother of Samuel,! who ascends by a climax of triumphal ex 
pression, from her own domestic happiness to the happiness of 
her country, and of the world. So also with the frequent 
promises, that God shall distinguish the upright more especral- 
ly with this blessing. 

Lo children are an heritage from Jehovah, 

A flourishing offcpring are his rcwurd. 

As arrows in the hand of the hero, 

So are sons in the pride of youth. 

Happy the man, whose quiver 

Is stored with arrows like these. 

They shall not be asharued, 

When they speak with foes before the judge. 

The Platouism of love, as well as a monastic sanctity per 
taining to the marriage relation, are foreign to the poetry of 
this people; but how delicate and refined sentiments, notwith 
standing, pervade all the scenes in the garden of love in Sol 
omons songs. The sweetest attractions bloom there like gar 
den flowers, the mo>t delicate fruils are tested with the inno 
cence of a brothers and sisters love. In the Proverbs of 

*Ps. cxiii. fl. &c. H Sam. ii. 1. 


Solomon wisdom and folly are both females. The latter could 
he represented under no image with more forcible admonition, 
than as the personification of a seducing adulteress, the for 
mer, that wisdom which instructs and enlivens, becomes to 
the young man a bride, a mother, the object of his love, vea, 
tins daughter of God, beloved from eternity. The passage of 
perhaps the most striking force in the Proverbs of Solomon \* 
a lesson, which a mother teaches her son. It confirms by an 
example what I have been saying, and it will furnish, I trust, 
an agreeable interruption to my course of remark, if I insert 
it here, together with the eulogy of women, which immediate 
ly follows it.* 

The words of King Lemuel, 
The oracle, which his mother taught him. 
All my son ! thou son of my heart ! 
Thou sou of all my vows, 
Give not thy strengh to women, 
Confide not thy \va}s 
To the destroyers of kings. 

Neither i& it for kings, O Lemuel ! 
Neither is it for kings to drink wine, 
Nor strong drink for those; in power. 
They drink and forget the laws, 
And wrest the cause of all the poor. 
Give strong drink to him, that ishopeleas, 
And wine to the bitter in soul; 
Let him drink and forget his sorrow, 
And think of his misery no more. 

Open thy mouth for the dumb, 
And undertake the cause of the orphans. 
Open thy mouth and judge righteously, 
And do justice to the suffering poor. 

A virtuous woman, who shall search out T 
Her preciousness is far above rubies. 
The heart of her husband can trust in her, 
So that he hath abundance of ap-iil. 

*Prov. xxxi. 

Lore and kindness will she show him, 
And do him no evil all her days. 

She diligently seeketh cotton and wool, 
And worketh cheerfully with her hands. 
Shu is like the merchant s ships, 
She bringeth her food from a far. 

She riseth up while it is yet night 
Giveth meet to her household, and work to her mmd 
She considered! a Held, mid buyeth it, 
From the fruit of her hands she plunteth a vineyard. 

She girdeth herself with new strength, 
Still braccth her arms for renewed toil ; 
For she tusteth the fruit of her diligence. 
And even by night her lamp goi th not out. 

She reacheth her hand to the dialaff, 
Her hund holdcth the spindle. 
Sheopcnoth her hand to the poor, 
She renchcih forth her hand to the needy. 

She feureth not for her household, 
In the snows of tin- winter season, 
For ull her household are doubly clothed. 
She worketh fine clothing for herself, 
Her festal garment is byssus and purple; 
For her husband is already known in public. 
And sitteth with the ciders in council. 
She weavcth veils and sulleth them, 
And furoishcih girdles to the merchant. 
Worth and honour ure her apparel, 
She hails with gladness every opening day. 

She openeih her mouth with wisdom. 
In her tongue is only the law of kindness. 
She looketh well to the ways of hor household, 
And idleness catcth not her bread. 

Her sons go forth and cull her blessed. 
Her husband also, and pruiseth her. 
"Many daughters of the land do virtuously, 
But thou excellest them all. 
Charms are deceitful, and beauty vain, 
But a woman, that fearelh God, deserveth pri. 
Give her the reward of her diligence, 
Let her works be praised before all. 


was the praise of an industrious country woman i 
the country of the Hebrews, for the whole economy of it WM 

3. Moses connected throughout particular families eaefe 
with its own tribe, and to this he gave its own independent 
domain, the right of establishing its own regulations, and tri 
bunals, and even the liberty to carry on war upon its own ac 
count. No contest need come before the supreme tribunal, 
that \ras not brought there from choice. The father was at 
the- head of his own family, the most aged men ruled over the 
families of their descendants, uml from these each tribe had 
its princes or chief rulers. The several generations were as 
sociated together by natural bonds, by the laws oT property, 
by reverence lor age and experience, and by the ties of blood. 
The judije could always know fully his own land, and tht 
business pertaining to it. In the earlier life of industry it 
mi^ht iii" anticipated as a reward to become aged in the midst 
of the family, lor gray hairs were the ornament of the aged, 
and the crowning glory of the tribe. I will not institute a 
comparison of this with what may be the fate of the aged in 
tates managed by a system of police, but only remark, that, 
even in the poetry of this people, we every where discover th 
respect paid to the aged, to the patriarch of the family and of th 
tribe. Moses had not made the honour of families and dis. 
tinctions of birth dependent upon a gilded despotism, and the 
servile dignities of a royal city; much less had he founded th 
glory of his whole people uj>on luxurious pomp or martial re 
nown. Gainful employment and industry were to be the - 
ws of the state; traiujuility, and the honour of the family con 
nexion, the delightful reward of industry an dof wisdom. In 
this light the Psalms and Prophets picture the happiness of 
the people, " that every one should enjoy the fruits of his labour, 
and dwell securely under his own olive and iigtree." The first 
precepts of wisdom among the Hebrews, therefore, are lessons 
from the mouth of experienced old men, the counsels of kind and 


nged parents. Even their most refined philosophical re 
marks assume thin shape, as we see in Ecclesiastes, and sornn 
later didactic poems of the Hebrews. It is for this very rea- 
*on, that tlie Scriptures are so interesting to children, and to 
artless, labouring and unsophisticated people. They find in it 
the language of their hearts, the lessons or collected experi 
ence of their lives; every thing is connected with the prac 
tical business of their lives both in the oiigin and the appli 
cation. In Tyre, Sidou, or Carthage, in a warlike state of 
Cyclops and cannibal)*, such poems were never sung, such 
simply sublime and divine thoughts never produced, as in this 
country of agriculturists and herdsmen, amidst mountains, 
which toil "and industry alone could render productive. The 
poetess Deborah w is a dweller in tents, beneath the palm 
trees, the Psalmist David was a shepherd, Amos was thesime, 
and in all the Prophets the simplicity of rural nature in their 
language and imagery is too obvious to be mistaken. Who 
ever will then, may choose the poetry of refinement and lux 
urious pride, but that which human nature finds adapted to its 
most indispensable wants, which it requires for support in its 
greatest trials, and for its earliest development, cordial sym 
pathy, simplicity, and dignity are found in their fullest abun 
dance in the ancient, mature thoughts of patriarchal instruc 

I. From this we may j ld^e, why not only Samuel proceed 
ed so unwillingly to the choice of a king, but the Prophets, also, 
showed so warm a zeal against the luxury of the country, es 
pecially the capital city. Luxurious pride, as well as a king, 
were foreign to the legislation of Moses. The country of the 
Hebrews had the most eligible situation, either for enjoying or 
selling the fruits of their industry ; but Israel could never, con 
sistently with its leading and essential character, become a 
mercantile nation, carrying on trade with distant parts, or a 
monarchical power engaging in foreign conquests. On both 
points tl]e views of the lawgiver were too humane and enlighU 


ened. He preferred health to superfluity, and the happiness, 
which attends on industry and temperance, to worldly renown 
with enervation and tyranny. Those, therefore, who are 
fond only of these variegated and bloody pictures in the poetry 
of a nation, must look for them among other nations. Jeshu- 
run was to he an industrious and upright people of a mountain 
ous country, who after their first conquest should live at peace. 
And although they in fact seldom enjoyed this, hecause the 
conquest of the country was not completed from the beginning, 
and for the most part was governed in a manner very much 
at variance with the law of Moses ; yet, the fundamental prin 
ciples of his economy, were so apparent, that every patriot 
could refer to thorn, as to the law of the land. How excellent 
was the course adopted by Moses in permitting every Prophet 
to do this by virtue of his Prophetic character, and to appeal 
to tho law of the land! Whether the king or the elders fol 
lowed depended on themselves, the Prophet notwithstanding, 
fpake in tho name of Jehovah, that is, by the authority of the 
national God, and the original constitution of the country, 
This high vocation and name admonished him without parti 
ality and favouritism to become the genius of the nation, the 
upraised voice of publick freedom and virtue, a curb for the 
restraint of tyranny and corruption. In all tho Prophets, 
whose works we have, it is distinctly to be shown, that even 
on political occasions the law of Moses was always the ground 
of decision, to which they appealed, that in their counsels 
they remained true to the principles of their national constitu 
tion, and therefore spake, not as fanatics, but as Israelites, as 
citizens appointed and authorized so to do. Respecting ma 
ny of their so called prophecies, this principle will give us new 
light, and whoever finds himself perplexed on account of the 
misinterpreted term " spirit of Jehovah," may, perhaps, get 
a clearer view of the matter by substituting a term much used 
at present, " publick spirit." 
5. But as they were to be, notwithstanding, but one people^ 



how did Moses bind together, so as to effect this, twelve free 
and independent republics ? In the first place, by means of 
their country, and in the next by the gentlest bond, that can 
bind together free and rational beings, the law of a Divine 
government. I could wish, that every one, who has any ob 
jection yet unremoved, against this term, which has been so 
much complained of, would lay them aside, till he shall have 
read a fe\v pages farther. 

Moses united the tribes together by means of their country. 
It was the land of Jehovah, the country of their common an 
cestors, which had been given exclusively to them from time 
immemorial. The right of property pertained to Jehovah, 
and only the usufruct was theirs. To the land strictly apper 
tained also the law, and to the law the land of Jehovah. They 
could not be separated, and God would expel the nation from 
the country, so soon as they forsook the law, as he had driven 
out the Cannanites before them ; and since the law, which 
constituted them the people of the God of their fathers, could 
not be observed out of the limits of Jtidoja, they would cease 
with their expulsion from it to be the people of God. By 
these menus Moses bound the hearts of his people to th esoil ; he 
made their country indispensable to them, because out of it 
they, Israel, was Israel no longer. With united force they were 
to take possession of it, with fraternal feeling divide it among 
them, and thus quietly inhabit it as one united people. Above 
it was protected by Mount Libanus, on the right by the river 
Jordan, (the tribes beyond did not properly pertain to the 
country), South by the desert, and West by the sea. We 
shall see also, that, according to the plan of Jacob, the tribes 
were to be so placed, that they might forever .have protected 
themselves from external force. Now, though this object was 
not attained, nor the will of the Patriarch followed, yet Moses 
did not fail of his purpose to render the country and people 
inseparable from each other. Henco, the confined, local spir 
it, which appears in all the Prophets, Hence, in the Psalms, 


and in all the works pertaining to the captivity, the sighing 
after their own land. Even now, after two thousand years 
full of vain and delusive hopes, the Jews still indulge the same 
longing after the land of their fathers, for there only can God 
reign, there only his law be observed, and there only shall 
those, who sleep beneath the earth, awake again to life. What 
all ancient lawgivers sought to accomplish, to bind their peo 
ple by strong feeling to the land of their fathers, Moses has 
attained in the most effectual manner, by giving locality to his 
law, and by the national God of his fathers. He planted a 
wild vine on the mountains of Jehovah, and encompassed his 
people with the arms of the most special antUot al Providence. 

Since so much is said in the way of objection against this 
last phrase, ami all those Psalms, which are formed upon the 
same conception, are the object of such peculiar criticism, 
I may be permitted to say a word moie particularly respect 
ing it. 

The first sensuous impression, which Moses gave his people 
respecting the providence of God over their country, was ob 
viously such as this.* 

It is n land unlike to Egypt, 
Whose waters flow from rivers: 
A land of hills and valleys, 
That drinketh rain from heaven. 
Thy God doth visit it continually, 
Jehovah s eyes behold it 
From the beginning of the year, 
Until the end thereof. 

And whoever is acquainted with the make and condition of 
Judaja, as compared with Egypt, may see the exact truth of 
this description. The fertility of the soil depended on the 
favourableness of the weather, and was therefore immediately, 
us it were, under the careful eye of the God of heaven, and 

* Deut. xi. 10. 12. 


indebted to a constant Providence. The early and the latter 
rains, he wind from this or that quarter of the heavens de 
termined the success or failure of every thing, and so it was 
very natural, that Moses should take, as he did, heaven and 
earth to be witnesses of their covenant, and call upon them to 
avenge its every violation. The heaven was to become iron 
and the earth brass, the early and latter rains to f.iil, and the 
East wind to sweep them away, &c. if they did iiot obey the 
law of God, who looked down uj>ori them from the.-.e, heavens, 
and who gave them this land for a possession. Every one 
perceives how impressive, how adapted to time and place, 
were these voices from Gcri/im and Ebal. They embrace 
the whole character and mode of thinking of the nation thus 
delivered, and transplanted hither, and all the peculiar quali 
ties of the countrv. Every thing must remind tln-m of their 
law, every season of the year, every fertile spot a;il watered 
glen, but still more their religious worship, with its festivals 
and ceremonies. And on this circumstance was formed the 
genuine national spii it of the Psalms and Prophets. Yet it 
was no we ik superstition or fanatical faith, which he required 
of them, hut a faith in the special care and providence of God, 
Biich as we ought all to cherish, only with a local application 
to the law and land of their fathers. 

(5. But the theocracy, which has been so oftc ii scoffed at? 
So far from deeming it to be in need of an apology, I could 
rather wish, that, in a form adapted to our degnv of cultiva 
tion, we might all enjoy the same thing, for it is precisely that, 
which all men wish tor, and for which all *wise u.en have la 
boured, but which Moses alone and at so early a period had a 
heart to carry into cfl cct, namely: that the law should govern 
and nut a luwgiar, that a free people shind I whpt it of their 
own free, will, and voluntarily observe it, that an invisible t ra 
tional, beneficent power should control MS, and not fitters and 
chains. Such was the idea of Moses, and 1 know of none 
more pure and sublime. But alas ! for that and all the instU 


tutions founded on it, he came three or four thousand years 
too early, and perhaps, at the end of six thousand, another 
Moses would find, that the time had not yet come. 

All government is matter, not of choice, but of necessity, 
that, which is too corporeal and visible, becomes a yoke of 
oppression, nay, often a disgrace to hur-ian nature. The light 
er and more invisible are the bonds, which unite a community 
together, the more the governing principle must work np:>n 
their minds, and that in secret arid without witnesses, as a mo 
tive of inward, actions can work upon them, finally, the more 
all arbitrary power, caprice, and the exclusive domination of 
one or a few men, which always is felt as severe, is excluded, 
and all power is vested in a national law, above the roach of 
arbitrary will, and as it were, established upon an invisible 
throne ; by so much is a constitution of government the more 
noble, and worthy of man, as a free and rational being. And 
what is tbo principle, and the form of government, thus de- 
Hcribed, but the theocracy of Moses. Tho law reigned, in 
wardly indued with the authority of the Divine word, and out 
wardly authorized by the united voice of the people. It wa5 
enthroned in the [rational temple. Tliis was a tabernacle or 
tent of the God of the country, which belonged to all the 
twelve tribes, and was to unite them together, fts one family 
and worshippers of one Cio<l. Hence, the gol.len c-ilves at 
Dan and Bethel, which severed the national bond of union, 
were objects of peculiar hatred to the Prophet. Thus it was to 
Jehovah, and not to a man of arbitrary dominion, that they were 
bound by obligations of duty and good fiith. Before him they 
stood, with their thoughts and deeds exposed to his view, yet, 
not as slaves, but as children, as a chosen inheritance; and 
the blessings, which he bestowed upon the people, were ever 
recalled to their remembrance, as rational men, and rehearsed 
anew in songs and the lessons of the Prophets. What more 
refined method is there to combat the wants of the country, 
than to commit them to the sanctuary of the nation, instead o4 


the courtly sensualities of a throne, to place men with their 
delinquencies before Jehovah, instead of a man, perhaps, no 
less criminal than they. Who has not felt how much oppres 
sion is involved in giving to men power over the life of men? 
ui committing tin; right of condemnation and of p-irdon to the 
caprice of an individual? in having courts of justice composed 
and held, not in the presence of God and the nation, not by 
judges chosen of the people, but by the hired servants, of prin 
ces, in fortified places, in a hibyrinth of judicial hills, technic 
al formularies, &c. M >ses had higher and purer conceptions 
of the matter. His tribunals of ju.stice were held in publick. 
The l:nv of the national God dictated the punishment, and no 
judge could give a dispensation. The bench of justice was 
God s, and belonged not to a created man. His laws, and 
the admonitions of the Prophets respecting them, snind like 
the uttered voice of Divine justice, and the very spirit of rec 
titude. Joy, pride, und glory in the name of Jehovah, were 
to be the impelling principles of all publick action. This joy 
and this glory were called religion, and the economy, which 
laid the foundation for it, which rendered the law of Jehovah 
a perpetual invisible code, we denominate a theocracy. With 
the enthusiasm, which animated it, the songs and Prophetic 
oracles of the Hebrews, are tilled. The greater part of their 
poetry, which is so generally held to be spiritual, is political. 

7. " All this might perhaps be so," it will be said, " wer 
it not, that Levi, as we find, was to be the guardian of the 
law, consequently the protector of the publick liberty. The 
uperstitious, lazy domination of priests, who had the prece 
dence of the other tribes, consumed their choicest revenues, 
and yet in times of distress could not help them, has confound 
ed all these tine ideas." 

There is, it must be admitted, some truth in this objection, 
and truth, wbich no one has seen more clearly, than Moses 
himself did. J [is first plan was, that the Jirst-born of tvery 


family and tribe should be holy to iJtt Lord ;* consequently, 
also, serve at the altar of the national God ; and what a crown 
of honour to the nation, and how honourable to families would 
such an arrangement have been, in which all the heads of 
their several families should be judges, princes of the people, 
and servants in the palace of Jehovah. By this method the 
tribes would have been most intimately united and no jealousy 
could have separated them from each other. 

But when the Israelites danced round a golden calf, when 
Moses saw, that he must not commit himself to the people at 
large, in their rude state, that they were fur from being sufii- 
cientlv advanced to be prepared by him single handed, for the 
prosecution and attainment of national ends in the name of 
Jehovah, what remained for the lawgiver, but to select a sin 
gle tribe, and through that accomplish his purjx)ses with the 
rest ? This idea approached more nearly to the Egyptian 
economy, and was at least easier of execution, but it necessar 
rily threw the apple of discord and jealousy among the tribes, 
oil of whom would consider themselves as placed in rank be 
low the chosen tribe. In the choice of this tribe, Moses nat 
urally selected the onc,t which was most nearly allied and 
most faithful to him, which on the occasion of the golden calf, 
that is, of the rebellion against Jehovah, had proved true, ami 
which, moreover, had Aaron at its head. The brother of 
Moses, second in honour only to Moses in the deliverance of 
Israel, was also a prince of the Most High, the decorated im 
age, though only an image, of a king and Supreme Judge. 
Moses saved the freedom of his nation as he could. The tribe 
of Levi had no inheritance, no executive, still less a legisla 
tive, and least of all, a despotic power. The execution of ev 
ery political cnterprize depended on the ciders of the tribes of 
the whole people. Levi was only the learned, not the ruling 
tribe, and since on it depended the interpretation of the law, 

Ex. xiii. 2. xix. 6. xx. 24. t Ex. xxxii. 29. 


the sanctuary, jurisprudence, medical knowledge, and what 
ever else of science pertained to that age, these things at least 
were not burthensome to the people by any wide distinction, 
which they implied. The priests were in every tiling only 
counsellors, mere servants. Even in the highest consultation 
by Urim and Thumniim, the royal shield of truth, the person 
of the high priest was lost sight of, for God sp:ike, and if the 
priest was a man of any degree of feeling, he could not, under 
the impression of awe, which the most holy place inspired, and 
in the name of eternal truth, speak otherwise than in accord 
ance with truth and rectitude. 

Yet is it undeniable, that the dependence placed upon the 
priesthood in the system of Moses was the first to fail, and 
Moses seems himself, when in his benedictions he comes to 
Levi, to feel this.* Jn iKe conquest and division of the coun 
try we find little employment of the breastplate of the high 
priest. The fulfilment of the law of Moses was not pressed, 
as it should Irive been, and here* was laid the foundation of all 
the evils, which under Kli rose to almost perfect anarchy. 
The people also resolved to have a king, and with the reign 
of the kings the genuine Mosaic economy for the most part 
terminated. The reign of priests after the captivity was any 
thing but the ancient constitution of Moses ; in short, the de 
sign of the lawgiver was scarcely apprehended at all, and still 
less reali/ed such was the constant complaint of the Pro 

8. " Rut Moses placed his reliance upon a Prophet, such as 
he was, to whom Israel should give heed as to him ; why did 
this Prophet never come ? or if he came, destroy, instead of 
completing the work of Moses ?" How has this great man 
been misapprehended, and his noblest principles traduced ! 
The work of Moses remained alas ! incomplete, for the stub 
bornness of his people, and his own sad destiny deprived him 

* Dut. xxxiii. 8. 

of the longed for crown of his labours, the privilege of himself 
putting his laws in operation in the land of Canaan. In a. 
few months after they went out of Egypt, the whole plan of 
his laws was arranged, men were sent to explore the country, 
and he was already upon its borders. But the cowardly peo 
ple were rebellious, and he must return and encamp for thirty 
eight tedious years in the cheerless desert of a peninsula in 
the Red Sea. Of the history, of this period we have nothing 
but an unpretending record of encampments, though it was 
here, that he was able to accomplish so much, and would have 
accomplished every thing for the establishment of his laws. 
Now it was, that he sang the 90th Psalm, in which he con 
templates the generations vanishing away, and his own life 
passing as an idle tale, and directs himself to God as alone 
enduring. We have already listened to one half of this sub 
lime ode, let us now hear the other. 

Who sees that this, O God, is thine nnger, 

That he may fear thee, as thy wrath is fearful ? 

Teach us, O Lord, so to number our days, 

That we may apply our hearts to wisdom. 

Turn, O Jehovah ! how long art thou angry ! 

Comfort us again, we are thy people. 

Let us early rejoice in thy goodness, 

Then will we exult and be joyful, 

All the days of our lives. 

Make our lives, O Lord, joyful again. 

Which thcu BO long hast afflicted, 

Which so many years have seen only Borrow. 

Let thy work, O Lord, appear, 

Which thou hast reserved for thy servants, 

Show them, show their children thy favour. 

Let the smiles of Jehovah our God 

Bo upon us again, establish. O Lord, 

Establish the work of our hands, 

The work of our hands, establish thou it. 

But the supplications of Moses did not avail. He waa not 
destined to survive the establishment of his work in Canaan, 


and since, as an old man of 120, he daw his death near, since 
he knew the character of his people, and no one was perceiv 
ed, who could entirely fill his plan, what remained for him in 
his perplexity ? With what could he sustain himself, but with 
the hope, that God himself would raise up another man like 
him, who should carry forward his designs to their comple 
tion, and to whom Israel would yield obedience. Such a man 
could not and would not destroy the work of Moses, for it was 
the national constitution, in accordance with which even the 
Prophets must speak and act. But alas ! no such man ap 
peared in that first age, on which so much depended. Joshua 
was merely a hero, and Eleazor a priest. The power was di 
vided, and the rude tribes abandoned the fundamental princi 
ples of the Mosaic economy. Whether in later times, and 
after the period of the captivity, there were Prophets like 
Moses, we shall see hereafter; enought, that , whoever has a 
human heart, and feels what pain and \vh;it anxious longings 
the lost labour of a year, to say nothing of a whole life, awa 
kens in the soul will not grudge the dying legislator so patri 
otic a hope, at least for his last soothing consolation. It was 
indeeed the only reward of his lal>orious find painful life. 

9. "But why," it is asked, "did Moses give out his code of 
laws for the work of God, and his tables for the hand-writing 
of Jehovah, and why did be implant in the minds of bis peo 
ple their misanthropy and religious arrogance? 

And supposing as the question implies, that be merely guv* 
tJuin out as such did he not act wisely in doing so ? What 
other means had be of attaining bis end ? Let one read what 
he endured for forty years, what be bore amidst all the mira 
cles, the benefits and judgments, which he performed in tlie 
name of God. How then would be have succeeded had he 
goneforth with the cold dim light of political philosophy to re 
strain and convince his 600,000 rebels. 

Laws must be held sacred, and for a rude people, such a 
the Israelites then were, they could become sacred in their 
eyes only by being regarded as divine. Even now our best 


laws are wanting in Bacredness and impressiveness in their 
relation to the minds of the people. Those, who violate look 
upon them as arbitrary and conventional rules, which they 
may venture to break over, and the lawgiver himself is the 
first to transgress. The economy of Moses was designed not 
to be thus. It was to be regarded, as the ordinances of God 
in nature are regarded, and as such is it celebrated in the Pro 
phets and Psalms. 

Consider it then, at least as a matter of necessity, as pru 
dence and humility in the lawgiver, that the laws of Moses 
appear impressed with the glories of a Divine original. For 
the good of his people he erected an ever enduring monu 
ment, arid yet his own name was not to receive the glory of 
it ; the presiding Genius of the nation was its author. 

Such is the answer, which I would give on the supposition, 
that his laws were not really, but only professedly of Divine 
origin. But why need we make this supposition? What 
greater work has Providence to accomplish among men, than 
to form and promulgate law and order, light and truth, among 
the nations? And was ever so much of these divine blessings 
conferred by one institution, as by the pure, the wise, and mo 
ral code of Moses? 

And according to the conception of all nations is there a 
nobler work of God in the souls of men, than the divine 
thoughts, impulses, aims and energies,* which he sometimes 
imparts to one chosen man for the cultivation of thousands? 
Those ancient lawgivers, the earliest and greatest benefactors 
of the human race, have they not universally been held by 
their cotemporarics, or their posterity for favourites of the 
Deity, and holding secret intercourse with the divine being? 
and which of them lived at so early a period as Moses? 

Who now will determine, when in the soul of such a man, 
learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and excited and 
actuated by the God of his fathers, the human ends, and the 
more than human begins? where, in the handwriting of the 


tables, his finger and the finger of God met together. In the 
grammatical sense, we all know what is meant hy spirit and 
Jingtr of God, but here there is a historical relation of what 
was executed and done. 

Nor must we judge of such matters according to what we 
see in our own times. We live in the midst of scattered ruins, 
amid arts and implements of all kinds. Every thing for us is 
previously devised, has become a familiar tale, and a matter of 
record. Our most familiar and intimate thoughts are devi 
sed, they are not our own. But in the deep stillness, in the 
sacred soliMriness of lonely descent who of us can 
place himself there ? who would venture to judge and decide 
concerning the inward working of God in a soul so pure, so 
full of energy? 

And why need we decide ? Let them, who stood by the 
mountain, and received the law, seek to comprehend the mar 
vellous glory, which adorned the glowing heaven ; why should 
we attempt it? It is enough, that the contents, and the ef 
fects of the law of Moses are Divine, and Divine also the po- 
etry, to which it has given birth. The work and the effect 
bear testimony to the work-master. 


67ievufiFVOf itlfaai -toviwv tie 
uOuvuruv IE Oeutv, 
ijit exuijiu 



Satan, the enemy of all good, learned that God had given to 
the earth a law, in which all the wisdom of heaven lay hidden, 
and which should put an end to the worship of Satan upon 
earth. He hastened therefore, to the earth, saying to it, 


" Earth where hast thou the law, which God hath given thee T" 
And the Earth said, " The Lord knoweth the ways of his 
wisdom, I understand them not." He went to the sea, and to 
the deep abyss. The sea and the abyss said, " It is not in 
me." Pie went to the realms of death, and the dead said, 
" We have heard the fame thereof from afar." 

After he had traversed the world, and wandered through 
all the nations, that served him, he came into the Arabian de 
sert, and saw a man with a shining countenance ; it was Mo 
ses. He approached him in the garb of hypocrisy, being 
clothed as an angel of light, and with flattering address offer 
ed himself as his scholar. " Man of God," said he, " who 
possessest the wisdom of Jehovah, and hast hidden all the 
understanding of the Elohim, and all the mysteries of creation 
in thy law." 

" Silence," said Moses interrupting him with a look, that 
at the same time changed him again into his Satanic form, 
" silence ! the law is Jehovah s, not mine. With him is wis 
dom and understanding, counsel and strength; for man the fear 
of the Lord is wisdom, and to avoid evil is understanding for 

Satan abashed shrunk back, arid the angels of God ap 
proached to attend upon a man thus humble in his exaltation. 
They taught him, and he gave instruction to them. The 
prince of the law was his guardian spirit, and God himself 
answered from the cloud. " Keep the law of Motes my ser 
vant ; because he was humble and gave me the glory, I have 
it him for his own possession. 



Whether Jacob anticipated that his posterity would be under the neces 
sity of conquering Canaan by force of arms. Why BO painful a neces 
sity existed in the -time of Moses. What was meant by a war of 
Jehovah. Whether the claims of the Jewish nation to Canaan could 
or need be sustained according to our systems of international law. 
Poetical title of gilt, as evidence of right to the country, Jacob s bles 
sings upon his eons. What ho probably effected by them, and how 
far his views were adopted and followed. Explanation of the passage 
" he was fleeting as water" in the prophecy upon Reuben. Explana 
tion of the blessing ofJudah. A short history of what it imported. 
Designation of Issuchar s place of residence. Where probably it was 
designed, that Dan should dvvoll. Illustration of the blessing of Jo- 
seph from local circumstances. General conception of Jacob s loata. 

Blessing uttered by Moses. Difference between these and those of Ja 
cob. Particular illustrations. Striking position of the land of Judrca. 
Its poetical renown. 

Appendix. Tabor the mountain of the sanctuary, a wise conception of 

W r hen Jacob predicted their destiny to his sons, he scarcely 
conceived, that they must conquer with the edge of the sword 
the land, which he promised them. lie had quietly traversed 
it, and looked upon it as his father-land, where even in death 
his bones longed to find rest. This he divided to his sons 
according to the traits of their several characters, as a land 
for herdsmen. Of a bloody conquest no trace of a conception 
is found iu his benediction. lie looked with horror upon the 
deed of Simeon and Lev! in destroying a Canaanitish town 
and family, who yet had insulted his race. He probably sup- 


poaod, that his sons would soon range over the country again, 
and establish themselves here and there, as he had pointed 
out to them. But it was destined to be otherwise. Four 
hundred years the nation lingered in Egypt, and had no na 
tional leader. It sunk under oppression, till finally, awakened 
by distress, it received a deliverer, whom yet it followed with 
difficulty. What hindrances did he find in his way? In 
Canaan itself every thing was changed. Immediately on his 
going out from Egypt the hordes of Amalek went forth to 
meet and oppose him, no people would willingly yield him a 
passage, and with arms in his hands he must open a way for 
his host. That Moses did this unwillingly we see from the 
whole account of his inarch. He chose not the shortest and 
most direct routes to Canaan, because he. must have forced 
his passage through a nation of Egyptian origin, and he was 
chiefly careful for the safe return of his unwarlike host. 
Through some kuulred nation as the Edomites he supposed 
that he might pass, and gave assurances against the slightest 
injury. All was to no purpose, and so his people must first 
range for thirty years in the desert, the aged die, and the 
young be formed into a warlike race in the best manner, that 
circumstances permitted. For oue thing was certain, that 
among the inhabitants of Canaan the Israelites could not live 
in conformity with the laws of Moses. These nations were 
warlike hordes, and Israel was to be a peaceful, agricultural 
people. A part of the inhabitants of the country were trog 
lodytes, dwellers in caves, and we know how debased and 
hateful these were in the eyes of Nomade tribes. 

The sons of base men, nameless children, 
Who should be driven from the land ; 

says Job,* and Moses.t They must be expelled from the 
country on account of their savage mode of life, the promise 

Job. xxx. 18. t Lev. xviii 2430. Num. xviii. 23. 29, 31, 
Dout. ii. 1012. ix. 2. Wisdom of Sol. xii. 3 G, 


cuous intercourse of the sexes, and other vices among them. 
The Hamitish superstition however was the blackest of all, 
for human sacrifices existed among them, and how could this 
consist with the Mosaic economy and political constitution? 
Only one means too remained of attaining the end, the sad 
but common right of war, as it existed in those times. They 
must leave the country or be destroyed ! That Moses felt the 
severity of this measure, as deeply as we feel it, we see from 
the mild laws of war, which he prescribed to the Israelites for 
after times.* He commanded even to spare the trees in a 
country made the seat of war. This too was now a war of 
sad necessity, or as it was called a war of Jehovah t that is, an 
expedition, to which they were constrained by a regard to the 
land of their fathers, their religion, the graves and primeval 
claims of their ancestors. What holy war of modern times 
would bear a comparison with it? And yet how fearfully has 
this expedition in the name of Jehovah, i. e. for ancient pos 
sessions and ancestral rights been abused ! Israel fought pro 
aris et focis patrum, for from this country they carne, and 
there lay the bones of their fathers. There was many a grove, 
ajid altar, sacred to the God of their fathers; every thing, 
which among ancient nations was denominated the family 
sanctuary, was to be sought there. The nation moreover 
could not remain in the desert. In the short space of 40 
years 600,000 had died, and they were not formed to live like 
the predatory hordes of the Ishmaelites. A race of shepherds 
must have a place of rest, and where should they go, if not to 
their own fatherland. This is the hereditary right of all 
dwellers in tents among the Orientals. They feed their flocks, 
where their fathers fed them, and their flocks themselves know 
the way to their places of resort. It is strange, that we should 
seek to justify a people so ancient and diverse from us in their 
notions of life, and of the rights and relations of their tribes, 

Dcut, XX. 


by oar notions of property , or to judge therh by our most mo 
dern international laws, of both which they were wholly igno 
rant. The testaments and transmitted rights of their ancestors 
were not recorded in written formularies, but preserved in 
traditions, in songs, in benedictions, and for these they con 
tended as for their most sacred possessions, as Tor the honour 
of God and of their race. Instead of juridical formularies 
let us now examine a poetical title of gift and inheritance, 
which we have reserved for this connexion. It is the blc.s- 
ing of Jacob, who had, as it were, a map of Canaan before 
him, and distributed the country to his children as his proper 
ty. We shall notice how he places the tribes, and represents 
their entering upon their inheritance, and afterwards by way 
of contrast treat of the blessing of Moses; as aside from that 
consideration this would be the place for doing so. So far as 
the benediction unfolds personal traits of the sons of Jacob, 
I have elsewhere illustrated it;* here it is before us only as a 
national document, as the most ancient map of Canaan, in 
which we shall at the same time see, what effect the oracle of 
the patriarch produced on the spirit of the nation. 



Gather yourselves together, thut I may declare 
What shall befalyou in later times. 
4issun)ble yourselves and hear, ye sons of Jacob, 
And hearken unto Israel your father. 

[Jacob does not form a distinct conception of the time, 
when the prophecy will have its accomplishment. lie wished 
perhaps, that it might be soon after the death of Joseph, be 
cause he longed himself to be out of Egypt. But such a wish 
was at variance with the period of 400 years in that dream 
of Abraham, in which servitude and aflliction were exhibited 

*3riefe, dns jtudiutu der Theologie betreffed Th. 1. 


as the destiny of his posterity. The dying swan therefore 
looked forward to far off times, but his last song could not but 
commemorate the land of Canaan, as the land of his heri 
tage, and fix it in the hearts of his children, that thus they 
might always feel themselves strangers in Egypt, and have 
their liveliest hopes fixed upon those distant mountains. With 
out doubt this song, like the older traditions of their fathers, 
contributed much to preserve the spirit of the nation uncon- 
taminated even in Egypt, and to cherish the feeling, that they 
were a race never to be united with the nation, in which for 
the time they were sojourning.] 

Reuben, thou ! my first born son, 

My might, the firstling of my strength I 

Thy precedent dignity and excelling power, 

Pass by thee, HS thu proud wares,* 

Thou hast precedence no more. 

For thou wentest up to thy father s bed, 

Thou hast defiled thy father s" couch. 

[A sad beginning, and painful both for farther and son. Reu 
ben has dishonoured his family, and his birthright, the hon 
ours of the tribe, which pertained to the firstborn are taken 
from him, and given, as we shall see, to two of his brethren. 
Judah obtains the precedence in rank aiid dignity, the scep 
tre of command, and Joseph the two fold inheritance. The 
priesthood, (of which Jacob however knew nothing), after 
wards fell to Levi. Reuben must receive but a common in- 

*l offer it for consideration, whether this slight verbal elucidation of this 
passage does not as clenrly suit the context, as the common construction 
does violence to it? What sense in saying, he passes away with levity 
or with pride as water? and then how forced? Does the dying father deal 
in sarcasm ? and that too respecting the misfortunes of his eon, the reco!. 
lection of which must BO deeply affect him ? Could the last clause of 
the preceding verse moreover stand alone ? Obviously it belongs to the 
following ; and then the otherwise imperfect parallelism IH rendered corn, 


heritance among the tribes, and the command of Jacob in , 
this particular was followed. The patriarch assigned him no 
definite boundaries, and he afterwards received his inheritance 
without the proper limits of the holy land. How sad, and at 
the same time beautiful is the image presented, that the super 
abundant dignity and power which belonged to him, now 
sweeps by him like a proud wave, and his hopes are annihila 
ted by his guilt.] 

Simeon and Levi ! they are brethren. 
Their swords were instruments of murder. 
My soul came not into their bloody counsel, 
My heart was not joined in their company. 
When in anger they slew a hero, 
And in revenge destroyed a noble ox.* 
Cursed be their revengeful anger, 
Cursed be their cruel hatred, 
1 will divide them in Jacob, 
And scatter them in Israel. 

[The command of the patriarch was fulfilled, and the de 
scendants were destined to bear the burthen of the fathers of 
their tribes. Simoon was in little estimation, and Moses omit 
ted him in uttering his benedictions, probably because he 
could find for the tribe according to this ancient oracle no fix 
ed boundaries. It afterwards acquired a few scattered cities in 
Judah, and was compelled to seek places of residence without 
the limits of Judaia. For Levi Moses provided also by giving 
the tribe 48 scattered cities. We have now done with those or 
acles, which are of a melancholy character. With the bless 
ing on the princely Judah we are at the same time conducted 
to the land of promise.] 

*Ox and man are here synonymous. The parallelism shows this, and 
we know, that, even in the poetry of the Greeks, a stately ox was the im 
ago to represent a brave man. [This is not the only ca?e in which it is 
nearly impossible to give the sense as laterally, as I have aimed to do, 
and at the same time preserve any degree of poetical expression, TK.] 


Judah, thou art he, 

Whom thy brethren (a a leader) ahill praise. 
Thy hand shall be upon the neck of thine enemies,. 
Thy father s children shall bow down before thee. 

Judah is a young lion ! 
By spoils, my son, art thou exalted ! 
He lieth down, he croucheth as a lion, 
As a strong lion, who will rouse him up? 

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, 
Nor the commander s at iff from his march,* 
Until he conies to his place of rest, 
And nations arc obedient to him. 
For he bindeth his foul to the vine,t 

I Tenture to retain the Hebrew though some prefer the reading of the 
Samaritan copy. How could th patriarchal shepherd be thinking of mil- 
ilitary standards, while his eons were standing before him as shepherds, 
and when all the other images possess the corresponding simplicity. Ju. 
dah shand is clenched upon the neck of his enemies, he seizes his prey 
like a lion, he marches forth as a conqueror, und complacently and proud, 
ly satiates himself with wine und milk. Such are tiie images, which the 
picture presents, and how came warlike banners among them ? Besides 
the parallelism requires rather the sense, which I have given. Judah 
is always to retain the insignia of office, and since the language here 
relates to a march toward Cnnann or Shiloh, the place of rest, the sense 
becomes clear. "Judah in his march, und his pursuit of his enemies 
is never to lay down the stutf of a commander, till pence is secured, and 
the nations brought in Mjbjeetiou." That the original word here means 
not only a commander, but the commander s Btaffof office, is plain from 
Num. xxi. 18. as well a<* from the parallelism. The word corresponds 
with "sceptre" us "bis march" must also with " Judah." This again 
according to what follows can only mean he going, the f*y>s, tho march 
of Judah. That the original admits of this sense, and that indeed the 
name of the foot in Hebrew was derived from its motion, its step, needs 
no proof. 

tThough afterwards used in a wider sense, these images originally 
expressed only the exultation of the hero in his new and fertile country. 
In this feeling he dismounts, and binds his ass by the rich clusters, wash, 
es his garment in wine, cleanses his mouth with milk &c. Of a moral 
sense it is not probable the patriarch thought. He aimed rather to ex. 
cite Judah to take the lead in returning to Canaan by exhibiting them a 
picture of secure and triumphant peace. 


His ass s colt to the choice vine** 
In wine he washes his garment, 
His mantel in the blood of the grape* 
His eyes are sparkling with wine, 
His teeth are white with milk. 

[Every one feels here, that the whole picture represents only 
a march, or progress of a Nomacle horde. Judah is preferred 
to the dignity and power of the firstborn, that he may march 
in advance of all, that his hand may he first in the neck of 
his enemies, that he may be a bold lion, and lay himself down 
in Canaan in confidence and tramjuility. The course is to 
wards Shiloh, and Jacob perhaps named that place, because 
it was in his own peculiar region of country, between Sichem 
and Bethel, and thereby he at the same time instructed Judah 
not to lay down the badge of a leader, till he reached the in 
heritance of his father. The parallelism in the mean time 
shows, that the patriarchal Prophet had more in view here, 
than the name merely, and that the term signified also a place 
of rest, a city of peace. For the conquerer does notjbind his 
ass to the vine, and wash his mantle in the blood of the grape, 
until the nations quietly obey him. Judah in a measure, 
though not fully, performed the duties thus imposed. lie did 
not impel his brethren to leave Egypt, but suffered himself to 
be oppressed, like the others, until a levite came and effected 
their deliverance. In the desert Judah (probably with the . 
banner of a lion, in accordance with the language of Jacob 
here,) proceeded in advance of his brethren ; but, so soon as 
they arrived at Shiloh, (supported also perhaps by the author 
ity of this benediction) he secured to himself the first portion 
of the conquered country, though the nations inhabiting the 
land were not, as the same authority required, all of them yet 
brought in subjection. lie, indeed, was now supplied with a 
land rich in vineyards and pasturage, but a large part of his 
brethren were destitute, and when afterwards it was enquired 
of the sacred oracle, " who shall conduct the war ?" no other 


answer could be expected, (according to this same blessing of 
Jacob,) than " Judah shall be the leader." For this was a 
duty pertaining to his rank, by right of which, also, he had at 
once appropriated the half of the land of Canaan. After Da 
vid the most renowned of their kings arose out of Judah, the 
images, which. occur in this ancient benediction, could not 
fail to be applied more especially to him, and thus the lion of 
the tribe of Judah reposed himself in a still higher sense. Jeru 
salem is denominated, by a Prophet, Ariel, the lion of God, and 
now the conqueror dips his mantle in the blood of his enemies, 
as the Patriarch of old had dipped it in the limitless blood of 
the grape. In process of time these figurative expressions 
were transferred even to the lineage of David, and filially, they 
were all appropriated in one of the latest Prophets, to the fu 
ture king of peace and blessedness, including even the ass 
and the ass s colt. The whole plainly sprang from this an 
cient prophecy, as the original source. The tribe of Judah 
always maintained itself the first in rank and dignity. Even 
in the captivity, the leader of the people was a prince of Judah, 
;;nd Zerubabel of that tribe wis their guide in the return* from 
captivity. Thus one thing is connected with another by the 
relations of time, and with the progress of events the sense of 
the prophecy was more ami more amplified, as \\e shall soon 
see more at large.*] 

Zebulon shall dwell by the sea, 

At the haven for ships shall he dwell, 

And his boundary shall reach to Sidon. 

I merely remark in addition, that in this wuy the literal sense of the 
blessing took continually a wider compass. The word "forever" which 
probably belonged to the second clause, was referred to the first. For. 
ever shall the sceptre not depart from Judah," and thus the second clause 
acquired an entirely new sense. A long critical history might be writ 
ten on this passage. The original sense, and the natural progress of 
the conceptions connected with it, will be pretty clear from what I have 


[It was propably Jacob s intention, that when Judah had ta 
ken the lead as far as Shiloh, the heritage of his father, Zebu- 
Ion should fall to the West, and seek his dwelling place by 
the sea; and though they came to Shiloh, and divided the land 
under other circumstances, than were contemplated, the com 
mand was too distinct not to direct Zebulon for his residence 
to the bay of Acco, which nature herself has marked with 
convenient harbours along its coast. He did not, however, 
extend his limits to Sidon, because the conquest of the upper 
part was not completed, though this district is mentioned in 
Josh. xiii. (>. as the heritage of Israel.] 

Issachur is a strong beast of burden, 
That lieth down between two hills. 
He seeth that repose is pleasant, 
The land around is benutiful, 
He stoopeth his shoulder to bear, 
And serveth the vessels of water.* 

[He was to choose for himself, that is, the delightful valley 
between Tabor and Hermon, and there dwell in tranquility 
There he \Could find a beautiful country, and fine views, 
suited to his peaceful character. There among the rivers and 
fountains he could distribute the water, and in his patient and 
industrious manner become useful toother pastoral tribes, and 
gain profit to himself. This is plainly the primary and simple 

The language here by no means relates to tribute, for how would 
that be consistent with the image of a beast of burden, the comparison, 
with which is yet obviously continued in the representation of bearing up. 
on the shoulder. The word in the original meant, undoubtedly, a bottle 
or leather bag, and the notion of tribute came to be denoted from their 
bringing tribute in bags or sacks. Issachar came to dwell by the Kadu. 
mim, small streams and torrents, which were swollen in time of rain, and 
htire according to his patient nature he was to divide the water to his 
brethren, the roving herdsmen, and obtain from it his own advantage. 
That in this region there were assemblages of herdsmen for the dis. 
tribution of water, we see from the song of Deborah. Jud v. 11. 


aense of the passage, and we shall see, in the benedictions of 
Moses, how he wished to apply and use the labour of this tribe 
for the place of his sanctuary. His word was not accomplish 
ed ; but the passage in the blessing of Jacob was too plain, for 
Issachar to fail of obtaining his portion between Tabor and 
Hermon, where every thing, which Jacob said of the beauty 
of the country, was found true. It abounds in delightful views, 
and fertile pastures, and the character of Issachar proved to 
accord with the language of the Patriarch. The tribe pro 
duced few heroes, though its long and beautiful valley was 
often the theatre of war. But this tribe was strong in the 
number of its population, and even in Egypt had increased to 
a great extent.*] 

Dan also shall be th-3 leader of his tribe, 

As one of the tribes of Israel, 

A srpeiu shall Den be in the way, 

A horned serpent in the path, 

That biteth the heel of the horse, 

So that his rider fulleth backward. 

[By the first words here Jacob admits Dan, who was the first 
among the sons of his concubines, among his other sons to 
receive an inheritance with thorn. This, therefore, could not 
be altered, when they took possession of that country, but 
since he was the seventh in order, he was set far back and 
received his portion among the last and least regarded. Ac 
cording to the intention of Jacob he was to have his inherit 
ance in a region, where from narrow mountain passes he might 
fall upon the rear of an enemies cavalry in their incursions, 
and make their riders fall backwards. A small part of the 
tribe of Dan accordingly sought the Northern section of the 
country, probably as the heritage assigned it by the language 

There may perhaps, be a play upon worda intended in the original, 
OB the;term used means both a heap and an uss, The former notion may 
have led to the latter, 


. / 

of Jacob. All incursions into Judaea came from Syria through 
the valleys of Libanus. That was the way of the nations, and 
thither very appropriately, if we judge it by the character of 
its hero Sampson, the tribe resorted. To the Philistines he 
was truly a serpent in the way, a bold cerastes, which threw 
itself from behind upon the horses heels. By craft and a 
skilful choice of positions he defended himself against multi 
tudes, and greatly injured, when he could not conquer them. 
On the side of the Philistines, also, Dan had a country full of 
caverns and narrow passes, where the tribe, especially in the 
deeds of Sampson, rendered itself distinguished by the artifi 
ces of war.] 

I hope in thy salvation, O Jehovah. 


[These words, which have been thought so obscure, and been 
so /ariously interpreted, seem to me to derive a pretty clear 
explanation from the connexion, in which they stand. On 
the; North the hind of Judnca was exposed to the most power 
ful and dangerous attacks, as has been shown by the history" 
of the various conquests and desolating incursions, which it 
has exi>erienced. And there must Dan have his dwelling 
place ! There must Jehovah bring deliverance to the nation 
or they must perish. In such deliverance the patriarchal 
Prophet confided, and by this expression showed how deeply 
he looked into the condition and wants of the country, which 
his sons were to inhabit.*] 

Gad ! (a troop) troops oppress him, 
But ho (shall press upon their rear. 

* The original jisinifies help, assistance, deliverance. This in all his 
difficulties Jacob had hoped for and received from God. He hoped for 
it also for the safety of his sons, when he was obliged to speak of dan- 
gerous assaults. This seems to me the easiest and most natural ex 
planation, which the context admits. Every other is far-fetched and 
unsupported by the context. 



[In the original a fourfold play on words. We know not by 
what crowd of nations Gad was to dwell, for Jacob could hard 
ly have referred to the country beyond Jordan, out of the pro 
per limits of Canaan, where Gad actually inhabited. Yet 
here in a country of Nomades, on the mountains of Bashan, 
Gad had occasion to show the import of his name. It was a 
bold tribe, and Moses saw with sorrow, that it demanded its 
inheritance beyond Jordan.] 

Out of Aaher cometh bread, that is rich, 
He it is, that yieldeth dainties for kings. 

[This passage was too intelligible not to be obeyed, especially 
when Moses had given the interpretation.* Asher obtained 
a region rich in oil and fruits, between the mountains, and 
near the sea coast.] 

Naphtali is a spreading terebinth, 
He sends up beautiful branches. 

[This tribe received a mountainous tract, covered with forests, 
on the Northern border of Canaan, where it flourished like a 
terebinth with its luxuriant top. Atid now Jacob turned to 
Joseph the benefactor of his family, who stood there as a 
prince crowned in the midst of his brethren. He did in fact, 
crown him among them by giving him in his two sons the se 
cond prerogative, which he had taken from Reuben, the two 
fold inheritance ; and more than this, because he had been 
his benefactor, he gave him his more special paternal blessing, 
the guardian providence of his youth.] 

The son of a fruitful mother is Joseph, 
The branch of a fruitful tree by the well, 
AVhose branches shoot over the wall. 
. They were embittered and shot at him, 
And hated him, who are skilful with arrows, 
Yet his bow ubode in its strength, 

* Deut. xxxiii. 24. 25. 


His arms and hands moved quickly. 

From th hands of the mighty God of JacoN 
From his name, who guarded me upon my rock,* v 

From thy father s God he stood by thee, 
From the Almighty he,will still bless thee, 
The blessings of heaven above, 
Blessings of the sea that is beneath, 
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 

The blessings of thy father prevail 
Above the blessings of my mountains, 
To the glory of the everlasting hills.t 
They shall come on the head of Joseph, 
Of him that was crowned among his brethren. 

[So far as this blessing contains allusions to Rachel and the 
early history of Joseph, I will not repeat the illustrations of it, 
which I have given elsewhere.}: Here it will simply serve us 
as a map of the region, which Joseph was to possess in Canaan 
for the two tribes of his posterity. The Patriarch describes it 

This passage, also, Moses explains, (Deut. xxxiii. 16.) who instead 
of a watchman over the stone of Israel places the God, who appeared to 
him in the bush, the guardian God of his life in his first manifestation, 
as Jacob here names the guardian of his youth, in his earliest appearing. 
The construction has nothing harsh, if wo regard it as the usual abbre 
viated name of God, as connected with the incident referred to, of the 
same kind with other local names of God, as Gen. xxii. 14. &c. the God 
of Bethel. Let one read Gen. xxviii. 15.20.21. where the phrase is 
explained, and say whether an expression more fitting the incident could 
have been put in the mouth of a shepherd. 

t Moses, the most ancient and authentick interpreter of this passage, 
has understood by the term here used mountains, (Deut. xxxiii. 15.) and 
the parallelism also requires it. The reference is to the smaller moun. 
tains of Canaan, which Jacob looks upon as his own land, nnd above 
which, Libanus rises as one of the elevations of the primitive world. 
The spices and balsamic odours for crowning the head of Joseph are, in 
the language of poetry, the blessings of the mountains, their costly glory, 
an Moses describes them elsewhere, Deut. xxxiii. 15. 

t Briefe das Studium der Theologie betreflend, Th. 1. 


in a picture of the life of Joseph. His branches spring up 
luxuriantly over a fountain where the boughs reach over the 
wall. He is an invincible archer, whose arms and hands are 
only rendered the more active by the assault of the bravest 
enemies. He is crowned with the peculiar blessing of high 
mountains, where the heavens are expanded above, and the 
sea spreads beneath, in which image the wish of the father 
aspires even to the heights of the primitive world. What then 
were these ancient mountain heights? Moses explains the 
matter in his benedictions. He shall trample the, nations even 
to the c fin mitt/ of the land. Ephraim, therefore, the mighty 
unicorn, with his fraternal tribe, was to dwell, probably on the 
highest Northern elevations of the country, on the skirts of 
Mount Lebanon. Here was Phiala, the fountain of the river 
Jordan, by which the fair fruit tree was to be nourished, and 
here it might shoot its branches upon the wall, and beyond the 
wall or boundry of the land, and exhibit the active and untir 
ing boldness, for Which the father of the tribe was renowned. 
Here they had the heavens above, and the sea stretching be 
neath; here the blessings of the everlasting hills, the moun 
tains of the primeval world, from which were to be brought 
spices and precious things, as a diadem and an unction for the 
head of him, that was crowned among his brethren. In this 
way every particular in this pregnant benediction becomes 
not only consistent but picturesque and local. As Lebanon, 
like a mountain of the primeval world, overlooks the land of 
Canaan, crowned with white, and lifts itself to the clouds ; as 
the everlasting cedars, the trees which the Lord hath planted, 
stand upon it, and its deep vallies beneath are filled with vine 
yards around the numerous fountains, which flow from them ; 
so shall this tribe flourish, fresh and lively as the vine upon 
Lebanon,* as a fruit tree by the fountains of water. The 
mountain alxiunds in trees, which yield odorous gums, (from 
which the Greek name was taken,) spices for the head of Jo- 

* IIos. xiv. 8. 


seph, balsams for the head of him, that was crowned. The 
smell of Lebanon occurs in the song of Solomon and the Pro 
phets,* as a poetical expression for precious odours and spices. 
The pass of Hamath, in which Joseph is here placed, as the 
strongest and most expert archer is the most important for the 
safety of the whole country, and, according to the figure em 
ployed by Moses, Ephraim and Manasseh were to guard it 
with the strength and vigiour of a wild bullock. And who can 
deny the wisdom exhibited in these conceptions of the Pa 
triarch ? The children of his Egyptian son he removed to the 
greatest distance from Egypt. Those, who held this most 
difficult pass, he furnished with all the blessings pertaining to 
royal-dignity, bestowed upon them all the honours of heroism,, 
and the invocation of all good from the great and mighty 
God, the guardian of Israel upon his rocky pillow. There, 
indeed, he placed the chief reliance for the defence of the 
country. Below, in the South, a lion, the heroic Judah, was 
to be the watchman, on the Northern frontier the wild bullock 
was to stand in the passes of the mountains. And Benjamirv 
also, a tribe most nearly related by blood, was to be at the side 
of Joseph.] 

Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf, 

In the morning he shall tear the prey, 

In the evening divide the spoil, 

because contending parties in the East go out for plunder, 
morning and evening. lie also was to dwell in these moun 
tainous regions. 

This arrangement, too, we know was riot adhered to. When 
Judah had taken his portion, Ephraim the tribe second in 
power sought to do the same, and took what was neither des 
tined for him, nor satisfied him, when obtained. Benjamin 

* Hos. xiv. 7. Song of S. iv. 11. The flowers, the ^pastures, the fbun. 
tains, the scenery of Lebanon, are in like manner praised in Nahum fc u 4., 
Jsa. *1, 16, JSong of S. iv. 15. <fep, 


remained by his side. The praise of the Patriarch given to 
his benefactor was therefore the cause, that the sons of Joseph 
did not prove deserving of the praise bestowed. In the mean 
time, it appears that a remembrance of the original appoint 
ment still remained in Israel. The Prophet, who most espe 
cially prophecied to Ephraim, Hosea, employs the finest images 
of Leban6n. His roots shall branch out, his boughs shall 
spread and diffuse a fragrance like Lebanon. lie shall flour 
ish like the vineyards, his remembrance be vivifying like the 
wines of Lebanon. The mountains of Ephraim also are united 
with the Northern region of Dan, which lay at the foot of 
Lebanon, (Jer. iv. 15. 10.), and thus Joseph becomes pecu 
liarly the crown of the land. 

Thus did the ancient Patriarchal shepherd picture to him 
self the settlement of his tribes, and the country would have 
been invincible, if Lebanon, Jordan, the sea, and the desert, 
well guarded, had encompassed it, Jlis benediction rises like 
a palm tree, whose branches spread wider and wider, till it 
becomes at length as a cedar of God upon the mountains. 
Had Israel gone thither earlier, and extended themselves by 
degrees, or when they came at length with united and perse 
vering force, then would there have come to be a resident 
force, formed with the invincible banners; which guided them 
in the desert, and which later tradition combined into images 
of the cloudy chariots of God ; a perpetual phalanx, and in the 
midst of it the tabernacle of Jehovah. 

We come now to the sad contrast of the blessing of Mosea 
with that of Jacob. Here the speaker was no longer a father, 
who could look over the land with a peaceful and tranquil eye, 
and divide it as his own among his shepherd sons. It was the 
wearied lawgiver, who saw his grave opening before him, and 
had spent his life among an undeserving people. Two tribes 


and a half had already violated the plan of Jacob, and of the 
rest he could expect but little good. He clothed his last wish 
es, therefore, in the form of a prayer, and his admonitory and 
encouraging proposals in the form of a benediction, which 
however, should be considered no less an earnest injunction, 
than the last will of Jacob. The piece is composed of definite 
and well considered expressions, the political testament of a 
departing sage. 



lie said, 

Jehovah came from Sinai, 
Went forth to them from Seir, 
Shone forth from Mount Puran. 
lie came from mountains of Kudesh, 
And round him was radiant fire.* 

How greatly doth he love the tribes, 
All the pomp of his glory is around him, 
And every one at thy feett 

* That the common construction of the term here ns n fiery law IB 
harsh, every one is sensible and here too it does not suit the context. 
God comes v. 2. 3. as a teacher of the people, while the tribes sit at his 
feet to learn of him. Moses becomes their teacher, and his law is the 
utterance of the mouth of the Most High, a far more dignified image, 
than when God is represented as bringing it in his hand. I prefer rather 
to consider the radiant glory of the right hand in the 3d verse, as placd 
in contrast with the expression described in the second, and pomp and 
majesty distinguished from grace. Habakkuk explains the image, and 
interprets it by radiant fire, shooting rays. In later times these images 
were converted into the diurutyai aj ^f icuv, the ranks and orders of an- 
gels, and this illustrates their meaning. 

t How fine a contrast have we here of fearful majesty and condescend, 
ing grace. Only Moses could thus have spoken of the giving of the law. 
The word used in the 3d verse means plainly, not angels, but the assem- 
bled tribes which had been already named, and are again referred to 
v. 5. They sit at the feet of their father, who teaches and admonishes 
them as children. The notion of angels teaching is a later rabbinical in- 


Received thy commandment. 

Moses enjoined on us the law, 
A heritage of the congregation of Jacob, 
For he was king of Israel. 
All the heads of the people assembled, 
And the tribes of Israel. 

[Thus was Israel to learn respect and reverence for the law as 
a Divine economy, freely adopted as the instructive lore of 
Divine wisdom and truth. Moses was their king but only 
among the assembled chiefs of the nation, and therefore, in a 
free state. In this character, also, he uttered his last words, 
and at the same time connected with them the reverence, 
which he gave to the Divine Being, the dignity and love.] 

Let Reuben live, and not die, 
His people shall be multiplied. 

[A small blessing is this, which is thus bestowed upon the first 
tribe, at all times, but yet a blessing. Simeon is passed by, 
because, in following the benediction of Jacob, Moses had no 
land which he could apportion to that tribe.] 

To Judah he said, 

Hear, O Jehovah, ths voice of Juduh, 
And brin<j him unto his people,* 
His arm will contend bravely, 
And, when his enemies oppress him, 
Thou wilt be his salvation. 

[The blessing conferred upon Judah, also, is small compared 
with that bestowed by Jacob. Yet he is not undistinguished 
here, and is reminded of his duty to be the leader in conflict.] 
To Levi he said, 

The people, to whom Judah is to be conducted, is probably the same, 
of which Jacob had assured him, Gen. xlix. 10. his distinguished and pri 
mary inheritance. Here slept the bones of the Patriarchs. He was to 
give his name to the nation, and this was to adhere to him as its leader. 
Hence the expression. 


Thy light and right thou confidt 

To the true, the devoted man, 

"Vyhom thou didst prove at the place of trial, 

And strive with at the waters of strife. 

He said to his father and his mother, 
" I know you not," 
And remembered not his brethren, 
Nor acknowledged his children** 

So shall they also keep thy word, 
And observe thy covenant, 
Shall teach Jacob thy judgments, 
And Israel thy law. 
They shall burn incense before thee, 
And sacrifices upon thine altar. 

Bless, O Jehovah, their power, 
Accept the work of their hands. 
Strike down him/that riseth against them, 
And him that hateth them, that he rise not again. 

[Here we perceive the feelings of the Levite blessing with 
hearty sincerity his own tribe. He speaks as the brother of 
Aaron, and honours his memory, not only by recollecting, that 
God had bestowed upon him the highest judicial authority, 
but also that he, who first bore the sacred breastplate, was a 
man of great integrity, and unsullied character. Almost he 
murmurs against God, that for a single and trilling fault he 
had contended so severely, with him. He calls it an unhap 
py spot, the guilt of wliich that upright devoted man, was 
doomed to expiate with his life, and at the same time impliedly 
excuses his own conduct. For he, too, was in the same con 
demnation, on account of which, also, he is now called to meet 
his approaching death. (Num. xx. 1 S and Deut. xxxii. 50. 
51.) The transition from the praise of Aaron to the duties of 

The construction, which I have given this verse in the translation, 
imparts to it, as I think, dignity and clearness. The word in the singu 
lar refers to Aaron, the following plural to the Levites, who were bound 
to imitate his noble example of impartiality in giving judgment, and of 
faithful adherence to God their rightful Lord. 


his tribe, is very beautiful. The memorial of him, who first 
bore the sacred breastplate of judgment, was to be their en 
during model. Their duties are expressed as hopes, and God 
is entreated to take part with the tribe, which was so necessa 
ry to maintain the constitution of the country, and had so ma 
ny enemies. This benediction of the lawgiver is beautifully 
conceived, but we have already spoken of it at large.] 

To Benjamin he said, 

The beloved of Jehovah shall dwell safely, 
The Most high hovercth over him daily, 
And giveth him rest between his wings. 

[This blessing is tender in sentiment, and entirely changed 
from the character of Jacob s. The ravening wolf is here 
again the same Benjamin, whom his father restrained from 
the hazards of a journey, and carefully commended to the 
guardianship of his brethren. So Moses commends him to 
the protecting care of Jehovah under the frequent and favour 
ite image of an eagle.* This bird hovers over its yonng, sup 
ports them, when about to fall, and permits them to rest upon 
its back and between its wings. All this the paternal law 
giver applies to Benjamin.!] 

To Joseph he said, ^ 

Blessed of Jehovah is thy land, 
With precious things of the heaven above, 
And the sea from its bosom beneath, 
With precious things produced by the sea, 

Gen. xliii. +Deut. zxxiii. 11. Ex. xix. 4. 

tit is not shown that shoulders (either of God or Benjamin) means 
mountains, and the discourse here is not of the mountains of Benjamin. 
between which God should dwell. Between the mountains Moriah and 
Zion, even had they belonged to Benjamin, Jehovah never dwelt. There 
was a cleft between them, but the temple stood upon the mountain. 
The Hebrew text here must be read as the 70 read it. 


And precious things brought forth by the moon, 
The good, that grows from Eastern mountains, 
The beautiful, that springs from ancient hills. 
All precious things, which the earth produces, 
And the favor of him that appeared in the bush, 
Let them come upon tho head of Joseph, 
Of him who was crowned among his brethren. 

His glory is like that of the firstborn bullock, 
His horns as the horns of a wild ox, 
With them he pusheth the nations, 
Even to the extremity of the land. 
This will the ten thousands of Ephraim do, 
And the thousands of Munasseh. 

[The blessing of Moses upon the tribes is rich and instruc 
tive. He paraphrases the blessing of Jacob, and adapts it to 
his age, and to his own views. The blessings from heaven 
he explains by the dew, and of the sea by the efluxes of the 
nether sea, which in ancient physics was the source of fertil 
ity. In like manner the influences of the sun and of the moon 
are referred to the precious products, which attend upon the 
revolutions of the year and the months. The everlasting 
mountains of Jacob he places in the East, because from that 
direction were brought at that period the costly spices, gold, 
&,c, The corresponding word in the blessing of Jacob he 
took in the sense of a bullock, and invests Ephraim in the he 
roic stateliness of a firstborn of the species. So also by the 
ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manassah he 
has reference to the expression of the Patriarch, who made 
Ephraim the firstborn of the sons of Joseph. Thus the bless 
ing is expressed with instructive reference to this more 
ancient document. It was however hardly fulfilled, since 
Ephraim did not receive the extremities of the land for his 
jK>ssession, and perhaps the very passage, which Moses has 
here devoted to him and Benjamin, contributed to prevent the 
fulfilment of the direction which it contains. Benjamin pla 
ced himself between two strong shoulders the powerful tribes 


of Ephraim and Judah. Ephraim at an early period chose 
his portion in the midlle of the country, which was indeed 
fertile, but did not correspond with the fulness of blessings, 
which were here described.] 

To Zebulon he said, 

Rejoice, Zebulon, in thy commerce, 

And, Issachnr, in thy tents. 
The tribes shall proclaim your mountain, 
Where rightful sacrifices nhall be offered, 
For there can they draw the influx of the Ma, 
And the hidden treasures of the sand. 

[Since I have too much to say on these words tosuit this con- 
iiexion, I shall defer it for an appendix to this chapter, and 
throw the explanation of the next benediction into a note.] 

To Gad he said, 

Blessed be God, who hath enlarged Gad, 

He dwellcth as a lion, the arm and the head are his prey. 

The first spoil of conquest he chose for himself, 

*1 shall here only defend the translation on grammatical grounds. It 
is strictly a literal one. That the word commonly rendered nations 
means the tribes, is shown in the 3d and 21st verses, and that the inoun. 
tains mentioned must be near these tribes, is shown by the local circum 
stances which follow, which refer to the harbour near Acco, as well as 
to the place where glass was first made. Of calling strange nations 
to a mountain in the tribe of Judah, in order to draw there the treasures 
of the sea, the text says nothing. 

tThe blessing bestowed upon Gad contains both praise and censure ; 
praise for heroism, since Gad was the first of the three tribes, which 
joined his troop. Hence he calls him the leader, and says that like a lion 
he has seized for himself a fair inheritance, and there already protected 
he dwells in proud security, while his brethren still wander in tents. 
Yet he gives praise for the promise made still in future to go forward 
with the host, until all the wars (the judgments of God upon Canaan) 
are completed. In the first expedition the tribe of pad did so, and 
went in advance of the host. (Jos. iv f \%. 


Because the portion of hie prince* was then safe. 

Yet will he march onward with the host, 

To finish the wars of Jehovah, 

And to execute the judgments of God 

With Israel 

To Dan he said, 

Dan also is a young lion, 

He leapeth forth upon Bashan, 

[where at that time perhaps the tribe was stationed. The pur 
pose of Moses is therefore to call upon the tribe, and excite 
them to the conquest of the land.] 

To Naphtali he said, 

O Xuphtnli, satisfied with favours, 

And filled with the blessings of Jehovah, 

Possess them the sea and the land of the South, 

[that is on the sea of Gennesareth, at the southern part proba* 
bly, according to the command of Jacob.] 

To Ashcr he said, 

Blessed shall Asher be among the tribes, 

He shall ho acceptable to his brethren, 

And shnll dip his feet in oil. 

Brass and iron shall be thy bolts, 

And us thy days so shall thy strength increase, 

[The more lie uses the products of his country, the more shall 
his wealth and power increase, and thereby also shall he be 
serviceable to his brethren. The blessing of Jacob is again 
altered with reference to political and national considerations. 
Asher was not to serve foreign kings with his iron and fine oil, 
but his brethren. Thus Moses united the tribes together, and 
aimed to animate the whole in their various residences with 
one paternal impulse, with one self-improving spirit of Indus* 
try and national feeling.] 


There is none, O larael, like God, 
Who rideth on the heavens for thy help, 
And in his majesty on thy lofty cloud**, :? 

Thy protector is the eternal God,* *V 
Thou art beneath his everlasting arm, t 
He thrusteth out the enemy 
From before thine eyes, 
And saith "destroy them"! 
Yea Ijracl shall dwell 
Securely and alone. 
The eye of Jacob looketh upon a land, 
That is full of corn and wine, 
On which the heaven droppeth dew. 
Happy art thou O Israel. 
Where is a people like thee, 
Whom Jehovah protccteth? 
He is the shield of thy help, 
And the sword of thine excellency. 
Lot thy foes seek thee with guile, 
Yet shalt thou in triumph 
Tread upon their high places. 

With such words of golden richness does Moses take leave 
of his people. He builds their hopes on God, represents 
their land as the object of his love, that land, from which they 
looked down from the heights of Bashan and Gilead. Here 
shut out from the nations, secure and alone, should Israel 
dwell, nourished, not as Egypt by the river, but immediately 
by the dew of heaven, and the hand of Jehovah. A bold 
mountain race should Jeshurun become, and though the 
crafty wiles of their enemies were unceasing, should proceed, 
till they trod as conquerors on all their high places. Would 
that the will of Moses had been accomplished! The coun 
try lies apart, surrounded and limited by mountains, seas, riv- 

*That this IB the most emphatic word used by Moses to express the 
eternity aud inviolable truth of God we know from Ps. xc. 1. By the 
words here used and the triumphal inarch of God in the clouds ho re- 
minds us of hia ancient wonders. 



ern and deserts ; a email, but divinely chosen spot, which, 
cultivated with diligence and guarded by the united force of 
the tribes, might have flourished. It lies as it were between 
the three divisions of the Eastern continent, in the boundless 
Asia, at the foot of these rich mountains of the primitive 
world, and is their outlet and haven. Above and below Ju- 
dica were the routes of the trade of the ancient world. So 
far as its situation is concerned, it might have been the hap 
piest people in the world, had they used their advantages, and 
remained true to the spirit of their ancient law. Poor, and 
now barren, and naked land ! in which partly through sacred 
poetry and song, but yet more through the consequences of 
, misfortune and folly, we know almost every glen and hill, eve 
ry valley and village, which ages ago in the history of man 
kind wast famed for superstition, blood and war, wilt thouever 
enjoy a better renown? or are the mountains, on which thy 
Prophets trod, once so fruitiful, doomed henceforth to perpet 
ual desolation? 



To Zebulon he said, 

Rejoice, Zebulon, in thy commerce, 

And, Isaachar, in thy tents. 

The tribes shall proclaim your mountain, 

Where rightful sacrifices shall be offered, 

For there can they draw the influx of the sea, 

And the hidden treasures of the sand. 

Wherefore does Moses unite two tribes together here, and 
those too so opposite to each other ? He himself explains, 
that he does it on account of a mountain, which the tribes 
would proclaim for the place of the sanctuary, and of the reg 
ular sacrifices ; for here, he proceeds, will they be able to en 
joy the influx of the sea, and to behold, to acquire, and use, 


rare and beautiful productions, the secret treasures of the sand, 
the glass made in that vicinity. He allures them, therefore, 
to the place of their national assemblies by the influence of 
profit and curiosity. 

What mountain then was it, which he did not, indeed, en 
join, but proposed to them as a free people ? It could be no 
other than Tabor. 

Tabor lies between Zebulon and Issachar, and forms the 
mutual boundary of the tribes. It lies directly against the bay 
of Acco, the most natural harbour on the whole coast. The 
lake Cendevia, where glass was most anciently produced, is 
not far from it, and the river Belus, so well known on account 
of this production, derives a part of its waters from Tabor. 
The reasons assigned, also, suit no other mountain than this, 
and the very words clearly and literally point it out. The 
thing spoken of is not the calling of foreign nations to a moun 
tain, (in the desert somewhere and at a distance from these 
tribes,) but the tribes are to proclaim a mountain for the place 
of their Sanctuary, where they could have the advantages and 
gratifications.pointed out, and such was Tabor. 

How judicious, and, on whatever side we consider it, how 
wise was this idea of Moses! This was in name the umbili 
cus, or middle point of the country, and in destination was to 
have been, like the Delphic Oracle in Greece, the central 
place of assemblage for the tribes. In choosing Zion for the 
place of meeting in the lower section of the land they subject 
ed the upper tribes to the necessity of a long and dispropor 
tionate journey, The consequence was, that they visited it 
but seldom, and with groat difficulty, and on the first favoura 
ble occasion the ten tribes fell oil" from this sanctuary, and 
chose for themselves more convenient places at .Dan and 
Bethel. Had the conquest of the land been prosecuted ac 
cording to the intention of Jacob and Moses, and extended as 
far as Mount Lebanon, there would have been no place sa 
central mid convenient as Mount Tabor, 


This mountain, too, by its nature and position, was marked 
out a a place for a national assemblage. It rises in the midst 
of a very fertile plain, and all travellers agree in their account 
of its remarkably beautiful appearance. Apart from* all other 
mountains, it stands alone upon its delightful plain, perfectly 
round, as if shaped by the hand of art. It is difficult of as 
cent, and therefore a natural strong hold, and occupied for 
that purpose against the Romans at the time of their conquest. 
In the lower part it is rocky, but above covered even to the 
summit with thick shrubbery, vines, olives and other fruit 
trees, as if encircled with a verdant crown, while the branch 
es are everywhere vocal with the song of birds. It affords a 
wide and beautiful prospect, and Jeremiah says of a hero he 
shall move with dignity, like Tabor among the mountains. 
Its summit is an elliptical plain, a stadium in breadth, and 
two in length. In every respect, then, how beautifully was it 
fitted for the sacred tabernacle of a people inhabiting the 
mountains ! and how much more beautiful the scenes, which 
would here have been celebrated by the sacred poets, than 
those around the small and barren Mount Zion : scenes, in 
whiclfthe fertility of the country, the view of tribes happi 
ly united and leagued in harmony, of the sea, the lake, and 
the river Jordan, would have mingled in their descriptions. 
ThcKishon and the Kadumim, which flow from this mountain, 
would have resounded in these sacred songs, instead of that 
small brook, which is now celebrated in the Psalms. 

Such was this mountain, as to its natural form and position, 
nor was it less eligible from its relation to the political divi 
sions of the country. It was situated between two tribes, 
which were not the most ambitious, but the most industrious 
and most profitably employed, and belonged exclusively to 
neither. These were more than any others able to furnish 
provision and entertainment for the national assemblies. From 
its fruitful plains the tribe of Issachar could provide sacrifices, 
thereby derive a revenue from the products of its soil. 


Zebulon lay upon the sea, and could enjoy a profitable trade 
with the neighbouring commercial cities, as the lawgiver dis 
tinctly intimates. Here no rivalship between the tribes was 
to be feared, for both were sons of the same virtuous mother, 
and second to none in dignity and worth, while at the same 
time they contended with none for precedence in rank. They 
enjoyed their advantageous situation with quiet industry, and 
on this Moses himself had reckoned. This is plain, if we 
compare his benediction with that of Jacob. The Patriarch 
had compared Issachar with a patient beast of burden, and on 
that account placed him in this fertile region to distribute wa 
ter to neighbouring herds. Moses, therefore, who neither 
could nor would look to Canaanitish slaves and Gibeonites to 
bring wood and water to the Sanctuary, placed this in a re 
gion, which had the patient beast of burden of the Patriarch 
on the one side, and the dealer in foreign merchandize on the 
other, on both sides means for accommodation and interesting 
excitement. Where were these to be found in the deserts of 
the tribe of Judali ? and yet we know the national festivals 
were designed for national amusement and for trade. Its vi 
cinity to one of the finest harbours on the coast would have 
brought to Mount Tabor, besides the people of the country, 
strangers from thence at the time of the national festivals, 
would have awakened industry and promoted the interchange 
of commodities throughout the land. For on the one hand 
was Acco, on the other Gennesareth, flourishing communities 
on all sides, and Tabor the crown and pride of all at tljc point 
of union in the midst. 

Yet alas! it was not chosen, and the wise conception of the 
legislator was neglected. The rude people idly suffered tire 
ark of the covenant to remain where it first rested, and visited 
it but seldom. Every one was eager to seize upon his own 
possession, and no one concerned himself for the common in 
terests and organization of the combined whole, for Moses 
was dead, Joshua was now old, and EJiezer weak or destitute 

167 < v 

of the necessary influence. Soon the ark fell into the hands 
of the Philistines, and was entertained as a guest here and 
there, until David took possession of it, and fixed it perma 
nently upon his own Zion. 

By thus establishing upon the same mountain, and one too 
but recently gained as a conquest by himself, his own resi 
dence and the tabernacle of God, this monarch, no doubt, 
added both power and glory to his reign. The circumstances 
of his own life, and of the tribe from which he sprung, and in 
which he could most fully confide, made this choice moreover 
necessary for him. Yet it is none the less true, and the result 
clearly proved it, that the more enlarged plan of Moses for 
uniting all the tribes as brethren, by a more free and more 
central place for their national assemblages and festivals, was 
thereby forever defeated, and an apple of discord, by the ar 
rangement which David adopted, was thrown among the tribes 
to their final separation. Ephraim and Judah were rivals for 
precedence in rank, because in the blessing of the Patriarch 
both were invested with a crown. And because under the 
tamily of David the tribe of Judah acquired an undue share of 
power and honour, Ephraim combined with the other tribes, 
and chose along with their own king their separate places, 
also, for their sacred assemblies. Only Judah and Benjamin 
remained united, and they plainly because the temple, which 
was built upon mountains belonging to them in common, held 
them together a proof, that, had this been placed elsewhere, 
it might have exerted the same fine influence upon all, which 
was now felt by these two tribes alone. The nation had lost 
its balance ; the point of union was thrown from the centre in 
to a corner of the country. 

If we look for the cause of this evil, we find it indeed, in a 
source of itself innocent enough, the benedictions of Jacob. 
From gratitude to Joseph and respect for the heroism of Ju 
dah he had given to these two sons, prerogatives, which were 
abused by their weaker posterity. It was the injunction of 


Moses, that the country should not be divided, until the whole 
was in their possession, and should then be apportioned ac 
cording to the population of the several tribes. The command 
was reasonable and necessary, for if the more powerful tribes 
seized upon their portion before this, who was to support the 
weaker and aid them in securing theirs ? And how, too, in 
that case, would an equitable apportionment of the whole be 
possible ? Yet the injunction was not carried into effect. Mo 
ses was already before hid death compelled to give some of the 
tribes their portion beyond the river Jordan. We know that 
he did this unwillingly, and bound them by an oath still to go 
forward and aid their brethren in completing the conquest of 
Canaan. It was, however, never completed. So soon as 
Joshua had made one or two successful expeditious, the two 
most powerful tribes, Judah and Ephraim, seized upon and 
appropriated more than half of the whole country. In the 
mean time the weaker tribes wandered about and made terms 
with the Canaanites as they best could. The division was three 
times repeated before all the tribes were able to find their pos 
sessions. Some of them, indeed, were still inadequately provi 
ded and compelled to seek for new dwellings. Those which 
were treated with neglect by Jacob, obviously suffered by it, 
and it was not without reason, that Moses so often impressed 
it upon the people, " that God visits the sins of the fathers up 
on the children only to the third or fourth, but extends his 
blessings to the thousandth generation." For what fault was 
it of the tribes of Simeon and Levi, that their fathers had 
done a foolish and rash deed ? How was Dan to blame, that 
he was born of a concubine, and almost forgotten iu the distri 
bution of blessings ? In short, the land was divided without 
system or equality, the Northern part not wholly conquered, 
and what was worse the most warlike tribes were settled, 
where there was the least danger of assault, in the middle of 
the country. The parts most exposed to danger, on the con 
trary, were apportioned to the smaller and feebler. From 

Egypt, Canaan had nothing to fear, and every tribe was able 
to defend itself against the Arabian hordes ; but on the North, 
towards Syria, Assyria, and Babylon, it was otherwise, and 
there Jacob and Moses had assigned to Ephraim, Manasseh, 
and Benjamin their several portions, Here the frontier was 
now left unprotected, and hence the hostile assaults, in which, 
first Israel, and finally Judah was destroyed, came in that di 
rection. The nation, indeed, was exposed to ruin even from 
the Canaanites, because they were divided/and did not pros 
ecute the war, till their conquest was completed. There was 
no general supervision, and no wise apportionment of the whole 
was any longer possible. Of the sanctuary, which Moses had 
carefully placed rather to the North than the South, no thought 
was taken, no bond of union was preserved among the tribes, 
and they became one by one the prey of the most despicable 

In the mean time the beautiful Tabor remained what it 
was, and in its native pride and luxuriance, as described in 
one of the Psalms, spoke the praises of its creator. Indeed, 
in its relation to the political interests of the nation it became 
(from its natural advantages of form and situation) the first 
theatre of victory and of national deliverance,* and hence 
will forever flourish, at least as the mount of heroism and lib 
erty, in the song of Deborah. 

Jud. iv. 5. 


History of Balaam, considered with reference to th age, in which he 
lived. Propensity of ancient, uncultivated nations, especially in the 
East, to confide in Prophetic benediction, and the arts of soothsayers. 
Influence ol Moses against this. Design of the song of the well, 
which he introduces. Dreams, trances and visions of the Prophet 
and soothsayer. Vision of Balaam. Its purpose. Probability of it in 
the mind of an Eastern conjurer. The language of benediction and 
triumph uttered by Balaam. Of whom it was spoken. How they 
came into the possession of the Israelites, and in what way probably 
they were preserved. 

Book of the wars of Jehovah. Fragments derived from it. Poetical 
explanation i>f the altar of Moses. Whether Amulek or Moses raised 
his hands towards the throne of God. Song of triumph over the 
Amalekites. Poetical passages in the Books of Joshua and Judges. 
Of the standing still of the sun and moon. Of the sound of the trum 
pets at Jericho. Ago of poetry in the Book of Judges. Difference 
between such an age and one of political order and social happiness 
like ours. Tone of the narrative in these heroic talcs. Animation in 
the description of remarkable events and heroes. Example in the sto 
ry of Sampson. Triumphal song of Deborah, accompanied with re- 
marks and an appendix. 

In the foregoing section I have treated of two blessings pro- 
nounced upon Israel, from different periods in their history, 
and in different styles of expression ; I shall now add to them 
another, more strongly marked, than either, in the boldness 
of its composition, and the crown of the whole. It is the pro 
phecy of Balaam, when lie saw the camp of Israel. But the 
history, which precedes, is the suhject of so many contradic 
tory opinions, that it will be necessary to exhibit it with gome 


care in the light which seems to me most natural with refer 
ence to time and place. 

When Israel went against Moab, and the king of this 
people felt himself too weak to withstand them, he sent* for a 
celebrated soothsayer to affect by imprecations, what he could 
not do by the power of his arms. This circumstance has 
nothing strange in it, if we take into view the notions of an 
cient tribes, or even of rude nations of the present day, as 
we learn them from history and the accounts of travellers. 
They attached much importance to the imprecations and 
blessings of their soothsayers. They believed that misfortune 
awaited them, if they had offended one of these, and even 
ascribed invincible power to the precise words and figures of 
the curse or of the blessing. The history of superstition 
among all nations, not even excepting the better informed and 
ingenious Greeks and Romans, t boars witness to this. That 
such should be the case in the East, therefore, and among the 
rude people of a mountainous district, is nothing peculiar. 
It was one among the imperishable and peculiar merits of 
Moses, that surrounded, as he was, by superstitious tribes, he 
directly opposed in his system of laws superstitious practices, 
and did not tolerate enchantments, magical imprecations, and 
blessings. The song of the well, which belongs to this peri 
od, was introduced perhaps for this very purpose, to guard 
against the superstition of the people. J 

Sprint up, O well, 
Sing ye unto it. 

*Num, xxii. 1. tThe Inttcr it is well known had their incantatores. 

tNum. xxi. 16. The Arabs still believe in the power to charm fish, 
so that they shall conic in heaps if they call to them ml! tal ! (come! 
qorne !) and precisely these ure the first words of the song. (See Nu- 
buhrs Reisen Th. 2.) Among other nations also I have read of similar 
words of enchantment, by which they believed, that water could be 
made to flow up from the earth, 


The princei digged the well, 
The nobles pointed it out, 
With their scepters, 
With their staves. 

Perhaps Moses caused the place to be marked by the staves 
of the leaders, that no enchanter s rod might be permitted to 
approach it. Balaam himself was obliged to confess, " that en- 
chantment had no power against Israel, and that no bene 
diction could prevail against Jacob." Considered in this 
light, therefore, the story is to the honour of Israel ; Moses 
shows, by the example of the most celebrated soothsayer, 
how vain, and how subject to the control of God, was this art, 
which he had forbidden. 

The messengers sent by Balak came with presents, and 
B ilaam had a wish to follow them, when the guardian God of 
the people, whom he was to curse, in a nightly vision forbade 
the journey. Here too I find nothing, that should be thought 
etrange. Were not dreams in these ancient times honoured 
and permitted to have great influence among all nations? 
Was not the mind of a soothsayer, who as he says, 

With open eyes uttered his oracles, 
Who lihtened to the words of God, 
And suw the visions of the Almightyy 
Who fell in a trance but saw clearly, 

wan not the mind of such a man, who believed, that even wa 
king he experienced such trances, be still more likely to see 
visions in the quiet hours of sleep? And why should not God 
employ the way of access to him most accordant with the laws 
of nature, as he gave commands in dreams, or awakened con 
ceptions, in the minds of Abimelcch, of Nebuchadnezzar and 
other pagans. The result was, that Balaam, daunted by the 
guardian God of Israel, refused to accompany the messengers 
of Balak. 

Other messengers were then sent with still greater presents, 


The heart of the diviner was tempted, and God permitted him 
to go. Yet however with the express prohibition to say any 
thing else, than that, which he put in his mouth. Still more 
to alarm the dealer in benedictions, that fearful vision appear 
ed to him in the way, of which so much has been said. The 
viHion, it is to be observed, appeared to him by degrees. The 
ass went out of the way, pressed against the wall, fell upon her 
knees; and now the vision began to appear in the mind of 
the soothsayer. He hears the ass speak, he sees the messen 
ger of Jehovah with a drawn sword, (perhaps a flame of fire 
flushing or blazing up before him) and finally he hears a voice. 
The messenger of Jehovah, who stood before him in the way, 
reproached him, because, with less understanding than his ass, 
ho had not heeded the less marked presentiments of his mind. 
He threatens to shy him and save the brute, and gives him 
finally another strict charge to say nothing but that which God 
should suggest to him. Thus impressed with fear he proceeds 
onward, his mouth restrained as with a bridle. 

In this incident too I see nothing, which would not corres 
pond with the character of a soothsayer. Let one read ac 
counts of travels in all countries, where such still exist, and he 
will see with astonishment of what vehement excitements of 
the imagination they are capable. Their souls wander from 
their bodies, which in the mean time lie apparently lifeless, 
and bring accounts of what they have seen in this and that 
place, to which they have just been. So too of their divina 
tions which are confided in by the people, and at which the 
most intelligent travellers have been confounded. All in fact 
look with wonder upon the feats of these men, and the unnatural 
states, which they assume, and compared with which the vision 
and trance of Balaam are but trifles. Why then should not the 
Divine Being, who would now employ the voice of this crafty 
diviner going not in fact to curse but to bless, proceed in the 
way, which was the most customary and most effectual upon 
the mind of the diviner. A fearful phenomenon was to meet 


him in the way. He actually heard and saw, in a waking 
vision, what is here related, and how trifling for us to enquire, 
whether the ass actually spoke ? and how ? whether and in 
what way God gave her reason and human organs of speech 
&,c. ? To tho diviner the ass spake in a vision, that is, he heard 
a voice and saw an appearance. She could not have spoken 
to us, unless we would also have become diviners. 

From a man of such imagination we should expect effu 
sions of a bold and elevated character, and such they are. 
They possess the highest dignity, brevity, animation and co 
piousness of imagery. There is little in the later Prophets, 
and nothing in the discourses of Moses, that equals them in 
this respect. They stand somewhere in the same rank with 
the Book of Job, and the narrative, by which they are intro 
duced, with all these dreams and visions, with the fearful cli 
max of warnings, the various high places with seven altars up 
on each all this is so simple, told with such emphasis and 
symmetry of parts, that we seem to be brought, by a kind of 
magic ladder, to that for which such preparation is made. 


Balak the king of Moab brought me from Aram, 

Called me from the mountains of the East. 

Come hither, and curse me Jacob, 

Come hither, and denounce Israel, 

How can I ci.rse whom God hath not cursed t 

How can I denounce whom God hath not denounced? 

From the rocky summit 1 behold the nation, 
From the Mountain tops I survey them. 
Behold a people, thatdwelleth alone, 
And joins itself not with the nations. 
Who can count the dust of Jacob ? 
Or number the fourth of Israel? 


Let me but die the death of the righteous,* 
And let my last end be like his. 

The king is alarmed, that Balaam, instead of pronouncing 
a curse, utters a blessing; and as if this was an unlucky spot 
where perhaps no sacrifices would avail, or he received only 
unfavourable visions, he conducts him to another place, from 
which he could have a viewof the whole people to the farther 
most tent, in short to the top of mount Pisgah. Seven altars 
are built, seven offerings brought, and Balak with the prince* 
of Moab remained by the offering. The soothsayer retirei 
again into solitude, that God may meet with him. He return* 
and says. 

Stand up, O Balak, and hear, 

Hearken to me, them son of Zippor, 

God is not a man, that he should lie, 

Nor the son of man, that he should repent. 

Hath he said, and shall he not do it? 

Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good! 

Behold I huvc received a blessing, 

He hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it, 

No evil is to be seen upon Jacob, 
No misfortune impends over Israel, 
Jehovah his God is with him, 
The shout of a king in his midst. 
God hath brought him out of Egypt, 
Like a wild bullock is his strength. 
No enchantment prevails against Jacob, 
Nor any divination against Israel, 
According to the times it shall be told him, 
What God hath resolved to be done.t 
Behold this people, they rise up as a lion, 
And lift themselves up as a young lion. 
v He lieth not down, till he eat the prey, 
And drink the blood of the slain, 

Jeahurun seems to be a term of distinction for Israel, nearly in the 
onae of ayados in the most ancient times, It often occurs as a name 
of Israel, and in the song of Solomon all the lovers of Solomon ire 
xoAo xa* yadoi. 

tA fine distinction between a diviner and a true Prophet. 


Now Balak entreats, that if he will not curse, he shall at least 
not bless Israel ; and conducts him to a third place, to the top 
of Peor, which looks towards the desert. After the altars are 
built, and the sacrifices offered, the diviner goes noVarther to 
seek for auguries. He raises his eyes, and looks upon Israel 
encamped by tribes. He is filled with enthusiasm, takes up 
his parable, and says, 

Thus soith Balaam, the eon of Beor, 
Thus saith the man, whoso eyes arc open, 
He saieh it, who hcaroth the words of God. 
Who seeth the vision of the Almighty, 
Fulleth in a trance, and seeth with open eye. 

How beautiful are thy tents, O Jacob, 
And thy dwelling places, O Israel, 
As rivers spread themselves abroad, 
As gardens by the river s side, 
As aloes, which God hath planted. 
As cedar trees, beside waters. 
Waters run from their fountains, 
And many streams shall be his offspring. 
His king shall be higher than Agag, 
And his kingdom shall be exalted. 
God hath brought him out of Kgypt, 
As of a wild bullock is his race, 
He devoureth the nations his enemies, 
He hreaketh in pieces their bones, 
And pierceth them with his arrows. 
He roucheth and lieth down as a lion, 
As a young lion, who shall rouse him up? 
Blessed is he, that blesseth thee, 
And cursed is he, that curscth thee. 

Balak enraged smites his hands together, and commands him 
to depart to his own place. Balaam in taking leave instructs 
him farther, however, what this nation shall do to his own peo 
ple in later times. Hero the prophecy reaches its highest 
point of sublimity. 

Thus saith Balaam, the son of Beor, 
Thus eaith the man, whose eyes are open. 


He sahh, who heareth the words of God, 
And knowoth the knowledge of the Most High, 
Who saw the vision of the Almighty, . 
Falling down, but with eyes open. 

I see him, but he is not yet, 
I behold him, but he is yet afar off. 
There cometh a star out of Jacob,* 
A sceptre riseth out of Israel, 
Which smiteih the corners of Moab, 
And destroyeth his high fortresses,! 
Edom is his possession, 
The hostile Scir his conquest, 
Israel doth valiant deeds, 
Out of Jacob cometh a conqueror, 
And wustcth the remnant of the habitations. 

He then looked abroad upon Amalek, took up his parable, 
and said, 

Amalek the first among the nations, 
His end shall be to perish forever. 

He looked upon the Kenites, took up his parable, and aid, 


Strong is thy dwelling place, 
Thou puttest thy nest in a rock, 
Yet shall the Kenite be wasted, 
Till Asshur carry tliee away captive. 

Again ho took up his parable, and said, 

Who shall live, when God doeth this? 
Ships from Italia s coasts, 
Bring down the pride of Asshur, 
And humble the pride of Eber, 
He also shall perish forever. 

* David the conqueror of the Moabitea. 

t The " fortresses" are obviously in parallelism with the corner* of 
Moab. H If the one signifies the fortified summits and angles of the moun 
tains, then the other signifies the towers built on these, or the men who 
garrison them. Children of Sethis a term, that could have no meaning 

here, as distinguishing the family descent. 


And Balaam rose up, and departed to go to his own place, and 
Balak also arose up and went his way. 

What a crown of triumph for Israel ! a crown of laurel, that 
becomes continually more precious with age. And was this 
an artifice of the Moabites ? a device for their own injury ? 
and for the glory of Israel ? If it be an artifice, it must be 
one of Moses, or of some later Hebrew poet. And to whom 
then could it be ascribed ? What later poet has figurative 
language so bold as this ? 

" But of what consequence was it whether a foreign sooth 
sayer uttered curses or blessings upon Israel ?" Let us consid 
er, that they were uttered not for effect upon us, but upon Is 
rael and Mo:il>. The Israelites, already disheartened at the 
war, would have been, perhaps, still more discouraged, had a 
soothsayer so famous as Balaam imprecated evil upon them; as 
on the other hand it failed to raise the courage of the Moabites, 
when they heard such destinies announced. Thus Jehovah 
here adapted himself to the weakness of the host of Israel, and 
seized upon the device of the enemy, which was to have ren 
dered them hopeless, and converted it into a means of inspi 
ring them with new courage. 

" But how came it to the knowledge of the Israelites ?" In 
answer to this let us enquire, how Moab and the Israelites 
were situated, and it will be seen, that, as Balaam came from 
the mountains of the East, he must have passed by or through 
the hosts of the Israelites. The history of the blessings were 
probably recorded ia the Book of the wars of Jehovah, from 
which several poeticafextracts and songs are introduced in this 
place.* Thus we can at least conjecture, whence it came, 
and how it was preserved. Let us look at these other songs 

Num. xxi. 1430, 


When Moses, compelled by necessity, smote Amalek, he 
began a book of the wars of Jehovah, that was afterwards con 
tinued. Only a few poetical passages of it, however, remain. 
A passage from the triumph of Moses over Amalek.* 

I will blot out, utterly blot out 

The memory of Amalek from under heaven. 

The altar, which Moses built, and which he called " Jehovah, 
my banner of triumph," has in like manner a poetical explana 

Because my hand was raised to Jehovah s throne, 
Jehovah will have war with Atualck, 
From generation to generation. 

It was not the hand of Amalek, but that of Moses, that was 
raised to Jehovah during the battle, It was supported by a 
stone, and this suggested the idea of an altar, which was call 
ed tho " banner of victory." Asa conqueror Moses had rais 
ed his hand to the throne of Jehovah. 

We find afterwards other poems from this book.t The song 
of the well was before introduced, and a triumphal ode over 
the Amoritcs here follows. ^ 


Come ye into Heshbon, 

Build and strengthen Sihon. 

A fire went out of Heshbon, 

A flame from the city Sihon, 

Which consumed the mountains of Moab, 

The dwellers in the high places of Arnon. 

Woe unto thee, Moab, 
Thou art undone, people of Chemoeh. 
Thy sons must be fugitives, 
Thy daughters become captives 
To Sihon, King of the Araoritei. 

Ex. xvii. 14. t Num. xxi. 14. I Num. i. 27. 


Their yoke ia now broken 
From Heshbon unto Dibon. 
We laid waste unto Nophah, 
We laid them waste unto Medbah. 

The Israelites invite their guests into the conquered Hesh* 
bon, and Sihon. They boast that they have now conquered the 
conquerors of Moab, and celebrate with irony the deeds of 
their conquered enemies. Of such irony there was much in 
the ancient triumphal songs, which can have little interest 
for us. 

In the Book of Joshua we find nothing like the songs above 
introduced. A few bold features in the narrative, seem, how 
ever, to have come from triumphal songs, and in the boldest of 
them, the account of the sun and moon s standing still, refer 
ence is expressly made to the book of ancient heroic songs ;* 
and hence it is strange, that this beautiful passage should 
have been so long misinterpreted. 

Joshua attacks the Amorites early in the morning, and 
continues the battle until into the night, making it, therefore, 
a long day, and the day seemed to be lengthened in order to 
the completion of the victory. The sun and moon, therefore, 
(for he pursued the enemy till into the night,) were witnesses 
of his deeds. They seemed to stand still with astonishment 
in the heavens, till the victory was completed. All nature 
appeared for once, subject to the command of the hero, and 

* The book may have been called Jasher from the kindred word tig. 
nifying *ong t and if it was a book of Hebrew heroic poetry, it probably 
began with the song at the Red Sea, and from tlte first word in that, per. 
haps, acquired its name. Or Jasher was equivalent to the book of he- 
roes, because it was the heroic designation of this people as Jeshurun, 
ayudof, as we have seen above. Both amount to the same thing, if we 
translate Jasher, the book of heroic songa. That it was such it content* 


to obey his commanding voice. Jehovah himself seconded it, 
not only by sending a supernatural, i. e. panic fear upon the 
enemy, but, when they fled also, by pursuing them with a 
storm of hail, as if he were the leagued ally of Joshua. Simi 
lar representations from the history of the times were at the 
foundation of this. The narrative proceeds 

And as they fled before Israel,* 

The way that lendeth to Bethhoron, 

Then cast Jehovah mighty stones 

Upon them out of heaven, 

Along the way unto Azekah, and they fell. 

A greater number fell by th hail, 

Than were slain by the sword of Israel. 

Then Joshua spake unto Jehovah, 

In the day, when Jehovah gave the Amorites, 

To fall before the children of Israel, 

He said before assembled Israel, 

"Stand still, thou sun, upon Gibeon, 
And thou moon in the valley of Ajalon. 
Then the sun stood still, 
And the moon was stayed, 
Until the victory was completed, 
The war of Israel upon their enemies." 
For is it not written in the book of heroes, 
"The sun stood still in the midst of heaven, 
And went not down, although the day was ended. 
And never was a day like that day, 
Neither before it nor after it, 
That Jehovah listened to the voice of a hero, 
For Jehovah himself fought for Israel." 

Who does not see, that here is the costume of poetry, e?e 
if no book of heroes were referred to? To the language of 
Israel such expressions were not foreign, nor was their bold 
ness unusual. How often is it said in the plain style of histo 
ry, " God fought for Israel." In the song of Deborah evei 

Josh. z. 11. 


the stars become combatants. The sun and moon and eleven 
stars are represented in the dream of a youthful shepherd, as 
bowing down before him. The Sun has its place of rest, and 
knows the time of its retiring to repose.* 

So it is with several passages in the Books of Joshua and 
Judges. When the walls of Jericho are described as falling 
down at the sound of the sacred trumpets, let the account be 
read in the spirit of that age, and it will cease to excite a 
smile. With the sound of the trumpets was united the war- 
cry,and the rush of warlike assault, and the one was only the 
signal for the other. For six days the commander had for 
bidden the assault, and on the seventh, when the enemy were 
put off their guard, by the idle loitering of the Israelites, and 
the walls at the early dawn were undefended, he gave the sig 
nal for the war-cry, that is, for storming the place, and thus 
they took possession of the city. 

The whole Book of Judges is animated with the spirit of 
horoic poetry. It breathes the spirit of the age, the youthful 
vigour of a newly settled race of mountaineers, who indeed 
were often subdued and oppressed for want of organization 
and government among themselves, but whose heroism and 
love of liberty now and then kindled up in the hcroick souls 
of individuals, and broke out into a flame. I might denoimn- 

* It may be that Joshua had expressed the wish, that the day tnij-jit be 
prolonged, (for do not Homer s heroes express wishes of the same sort, 
and do they not correspond with the spirit, that prevail? in the heat of 
battle?) and when the event corresponded with his wishes, nnd the light 
cotinucd unusually long, nnd the very heavens seemed to come to his aid 
by a stunn of hail, what was more natural, than that the triumphal sung 
should compose the picture of a day unlike to any other, should represent 
the hero as speaking, employing Jehovah himself as a coadjutor, and 
make the aun and moon participate in the triumph, and wonder at the 
boldness of the heroic leader. 


ate this the poetical age of Israel, and will explain myself on 
the point more at large. 

A period of civil and political order, of peaceful security, 
and established moral customs, is certainly the happiest for a 
nation, but not the most favourable for producing poetry, that 
is filled with life and action. This delights rather in bold and 
striking incidents, in the prevalence of passion, of the mar- 
yellous, and of liberty. " At that period there was no king in 
Israel, and every man did what was right in his own eyes," 
and often, therefore, the most savage and cruel wrong, as we 
see from many traces of their history. He acted according 
to the impulse of ardent and unrestrained desire, and in rela 
tion to all heroic deeds it is said, " the spirit of the Lord, that 
is, the national spirit of the Israelites impelled him, or the 
national God aroused and armed him, the spirit of Jehovah 
began to drive him hero and there," even when the actor was 
by no means a man of moral worth. It is painful to read the 
objections, that are multiplied against this book and its mar 
vellous events without regard to the time and circumstances, 
in which it was written. Every one knows, that all ancient 
nations in their wars permitted themselves the use of artifice 
and deception ; all rude nations do so at the present day, and, 
where in other respects magnanimity exists, prefer craft to 
force. A disorganized and oppressed people, whose national 
power exists only in individual enterprize, have more especial 
need of such weapons. For how can an individual even the 
strongest and bravest, if we mean to speak rationally, main 
tain himself against a multitude, if he does not gain an ad 
vantage by the arts of war ? And what are these arts, but 
skilful artifices ? Or is there a less ingenious artifice, a less 
heroic heroism, than that which breathes from the mouth of 
the cannon ? Let Ehud go, then, excited by Jehovah, and 


with hia dagger pierce the foreign tyrants of his country. It 
was more decicive than a victory with us, which is purchased 
by the blood of thousands. Every thing then depended on in 
dividual heroism and prowess. The rude dweller in tents, 
Jael the wife of Eber, who, uniting with her people, pierced 
through the commander of a foreign foe in her tent, could 
make, indeed, but little claim to rank in our orders of military 
merit, yet deserved, according to the spirit of the age, the 
national praise awarded her in the song of Deborah. We 
must first convert the hordes, which made war upon Israel to 
well ordered nations, and their times into ours, if we would 
apply our principles of right in war to them. 

Quulem ministrum fulminis alitem, 
Cui rex deorum regnum in aves vugus, 
Permisit, expertus fidelcm 
Jupiter in Ganymede flavo, 

Olim juventas et patrius vigor 
Nido luborum propulit inscium; 
Vernique jam nimbis remotia 
Insolitos ducuere nisus 

Venti paventem ; inox in ovilia 
Demisit hosteia vividus impetus 
Nunc in reluctantes draconea 
Egit amor dapis atque pugnac.- 

Thus do I picture to myself the deeds of Deborah, of 
Gideon, of Jophthah, arid of Samson, and I hold no more 
prolonged vindication of particular circumstances on the 
grounds of morals and natural rights to be necessary. The 
whole stands forth, even in respect to the tone of the narra 
tive, in the light and costume of poetry. Some of the narra 
tives, indeed, as the capturing of Samson in the lap of Deli 
lah, are arranged with poetical symmetry. Individual ex 
pressions have a remarkable force, the language of the heroes 
is full of the spirit of Jehovah, i, e, of enthusiasm, resolution 


and boldness. The annunciation of some of them before 
their birth, the appearance of an angel t or a nameless Prophet, 
the singular proofs, whether of the calling or of the courage 
of these men, the riddles, the play upon words, the youthful 
ruslmess for example of all the enterprises of Samson all 
this gives to these narratives more poetry, than many heroic 
poems have been able to exhibit with all the marvels of their 
fabulous machinery. Each of these heroes too is so charac 
teristic, so like himself, in the slightest features of his history, 
that in the brief space of one or two chapters allotted to it he 
stands forth a living hero.* " 

*I will endeavour to show this by a few particulars in the history of 
Samson. Good humour, levily and arrogance pervade his whole life. 
Wine and strong drink are forbidden him, but he yields himself the 
r.-iorc devotedly to love, which more than once led him into a snare, and 
lit length deprived him of his prowess, his liberty, and his eyes. * J 
will seek a wife among my enemies that I may find occasion against 
them" was a foolish thought, and yet how entirely in the spirit of a 
headlong youth, who, conscious of his superior power, knows not how 
to direct it, nnd divides his heart between love and bold adventure. The 
riddle at his marriage feast, and its consequences, show the same char, 
uctcristic. In opposing men he was a man, in opposing women he was 
but a woman, as many similar heroes in history have been. He answers 
with levity those, who through his own means had solved his riddle, 
goes forth and slays thirty Philistines, th;it his thirty marriage guests 
might receive their prize, deserts his wife, and returns with a kid for a 
present, and as if nothing had happened, goes directly to her cham, 
bcr. When he learns, that she lias become the wife of another, he says 
"now at length I shall have just cause against the Philistines, I will do 
them mischief," as if he had been waiting for such an occasion. The 
story of the three hundred foxes with the firebrands between their tails 
is entirely after his manner; and the objections, that have been made to 
it are not worthy of reputation. The foxes or rather jackals of that coun. 
try enter into houses, arc easily taken, and an idle, frolicksome adven. 
ture like this would not fail to engage merry accomplices enough to 
carry it into effect. They had the sport. He looked to the result. So 
nlso with the gate of Gaza, which to the reproach of the Gazites ha 
drew off to the mountain. So with the jaw-bone of the ass, the pun 
upon which was strictly in character for Samson, The place where he 


To this poetical age belongs ai^o the finest heroic song of 
the Hebrews, the song of Deborah. The (J8th Psalm will ap 
proach nearest to it, but is still far behind. In the song of 

made the attack was called Lechi, jawbone, and as clearly appears 
from chap. xv. 13. 14. 19. this was a narrow pass, a sort of hollow shaped 
probably like a jaw.bone. He had made an arrangement with his country, 
men, that when they hod fulfilled the part which their cowardice led them 
tu take, of binding and delivering him to his enemies, they should remain 
quiet, since they could not have been excited to any thing more. And 
when in passing he came into this winding and narrow pass, to Lechi, he 
chose his opportunity, seized upon the jaw.bone of an ass, which lay 
there, and accomplished his work. He then congratulated himself re. 
pecting it in a double play upon words, to which still another is added, 
that God showed to the fainting warrior, who after his bold adventure 
longed for a cool draught of water, a fountain in the same winding rock, 
Lechi, where the battle was fought. The fountain, as the narrator tells 
us, is called to this day the caller s fountain or the fountain of invocation. 
(Here too the fountain could not have flowed from the jaw.bone, which he 
wielded in his hand, but from something that remained to aftertimes, obvi. 
ously the winding rock, Lechi, v. 11) All this is told with an animated 
brevity, which shows the genius of Samson. The same is true of the 
ad history of his reposing in the lap of Delilah. His two great weak 
nesses, love and levity, deprived him of his secret. For he knew noth 
ing more, than that he was dedicated lo Ins national God, whose strength 
would remain so long as he kept his inviolable vow. This he knew 
from his name, his education and mode of life, which migh^ perhaps bo 
sufficiently self-denying. Suddenly he lost his courage, when his vow 
was broken and felt that the assistance of God was withdrawn from him, 
Dut as his Imir grew he found his cheerfulness and courage revive. Ilia 
enemies knew this, and when he was to furnish them with amusement, 
probably in an old, widely extended, and lightly built house of idol wor 
ship, he amused himself by trying his renewed youthful energies upoa 
the pillars o! the house, thus seeking a joyful death. He died as bo 
bad lived, an irreconcilable enemy of the Philistines, and rejoiced in 
uniting their death with his own. I will not ask, whether a narrative BO 
characteristick, and self.consistent, could have been the work of fiction ? 
I only say, that it is strikingly correspondent to the age, and beautifully 
told. Precisely that, which ia most the object of sarcasm, or most ab- 
urdly defended, is the finest, And so generally with the narratives of 
the book of Judges, 


Deborah all is present, living action. In that of David an 
ancient heroic narrative is to become the embellishment of 
n solemn state ceremony which still remains only a ceremonial 
pr ossion. Forgive me, thou heroine, beneath thy native 
pamis, that I mingle in the dance of thy nation s jubilee, and 
in feeble tones re-echo thy triumphal song. 


Then sang Deborah, and Barak, Abinoam s son, 
On the day of their triumph they sang. 

Give ye praise to the Lord, 
That Israel hath taken her revenge, 
Thut the people came freely to battle. 

Here ye kings, give ear ye princes, 
I will sing, I will sing unto Jehovah. 
I will sing unto Jehovah, God of Israel. 

Jehovuh, when thou wentest out from Seir.t 
And marchedst from the hills of Kdom, 
Then the earth quaked, the heavens dropped, 
The clouds poured streams of water, 
The mountains melted before Jehovah, 
Sinni before Jehovuh God of Israel. 

In the days of Shnmgar son of Anath, 
In the days of Joel the highways were empty, 
And travellers sought the winding paths. 
The assemblies of Israel were no more, 
They ceased, until I Deborah arose, 

I have translated this song in den Briefen das Stadium der Theo- 
logie betrefTerd Tli. 1. S. 111. and accompanied it with remarks which 1 
will not now repeat. Later investigations have given me new views on 
some passages, but I must refer to those remarks with reference to th 
connexion of thought in the piece. Whether there was a chorus to it 
will soon appear. 

tThe song begins with the figure, which Moses used, Deut. xxiiii. 5. 
and with which David began the 68th psalm, and Habakkuk, cap. 3. 
It set mi to have been a customary beginning of Hebrew songs of tri. 
Uniph, because they all follow Moses as their Homer. 


Till I arose the mother of Israel. 

They had chosen thorn new Gods,* , 
Then war was raging at the gates. 
And no shield or spear was seenf 
Among the forty thousands of Israel. 
My heart turns to you, ye leaders of Israel,. 
And to you ye volunteers among the people, 
Sing praises with me to Juhovah.t 
Yc that ride on asses richly harnessed,!! 
That sit on costly coverings, 
And who walk on foot in the streets, 
Meditate and utter a song. 

An ode for the iicrdsrncn to sing 
Who water their herds among the wells, 
That there they may praise the goodness of Jehovah, 


The whole Book of Judges proceeds on this idea, and to this cause, 
in strict accordance with the law of Moses, ascribes the ruin of the 
country. The principal incidents of the book arc however equally ori 
ginal with this fcong itself. 

tNot that there was no shield or spear in Israel, but there was no one 
who called them forth, and summoned the forty thousand brave Israel. 
itcs to the war. 

tThose who led, and those who voluntarily followed, are all to unite 
in praise ; they all partnke in the victory, and the song of triumph. 
There is a refinement in the beginning and the transitions of the ode 
hardly to be expected in that age. 

(| Persons of distinction. Those who sit on costly apparol, judges or 
princes, and who walk the streets, common people. All enjoy the 
fruits of victory, public security and freedom. 

$ The interpretation of this difficult verse commend* itself, I think, br 
its facility, and tlie connexion of the whole. The battle occurred among 
the rivers and torrents of Mount Tabor, (compare v. 21. and chap. iv. 6. 
7.) and here, therefore, the victory is forever to be celebrated. The 
battle was fought in the rainy season, when the fountains and rivulets 
were swollen, ond according to v. 21. swept aw-iy the Canaanites. On 
this account Deborah begins with the dropping heaven , introduces the 
constellations, which bring rain as combatants. In like manner are the 
narrow passes of Tabor conceived, in which the people were placed, and 
lUus the scene of battle is accurately defined. 


His goodness to the peopl* of Israel/ 

For there the people of Jehovah were in strait*. 

Arouse thee ! arouse thee, Deborah ! t 

Awake ! awake ! give a song of triumph, 

Arise Barak, bring forth thy captives, 

Thou son of Abinoam. 

Then went a remnant against the strong, 

Jehovah with me against the mighty. 

From Ephraim came the first to Amalek, 

Then earnest thou Benjamin with thy people, 

From Machir came over the leaders, 

From Zebulon those that muster for battle.t 

The princes of Issachar were with Deborah, 

Issachar, in bravery like Barak, || 

Sprang forth into the valley.^ 

By Reuben s brooks was much consulting.* 
Why sittest thou there among the stalls? 
To hear the bleating of the herds ? 

* The heroine, an inhabitant of the country, is particularly concerned, 
that the people of the country should never forget the victory and deliver 
ance of Israel. By this circumstance, perhaps it was preserved. 

f Properly, " rouse up ! rouse up ! excite thyself, that you may leave 
a picture of the whole exhibition, which v. 11 15. proceeds in the order 
of battle. Her admonition to Barak (chap. iv. 6. 14.) is the beginning, 
and then follows the order of march, as the tribes asserhble and follow 
her. She was from the mountains of Ephraim, (iv. 5.) and there also, 
was the primary source of the army, and of the victory. Perhaps the 
mountain, on which she dwelt, was called A.malek, as many mountain! 
still retained their names from more ancient times. 

t Those that bore the rod for mustering, plainly representing, that th 
most noble and ancient of the tribe, who gave command to others, foU 
lowed her in the enterprise. 

flit is a special honour to this tribe to be compared with the leader, as 
qual in bravery. Tabor lay between Zebulon and Issachar. 

$This is explained from chap. iv. 6. 12. 14. 15. They held themselves 
on the broad plain of Tabor. 

1 Here begins the sarcasm upon the tribes, wbich.reraained behind to 
f, 17. 


By Reuben s brooks is great consulting. 
Gilead beyond Jordan stayed unmoved, 

Dan also, or why should he dwell in ships, 

Ashcr was safe by the shore of the sea, 

And lingered by his bays and creeks. 

Only Zebulon jeoparded their lives, 

And Naphtali on the mountain heights.* 

But the kings they came and fought, f 
There fought the kings of Canaan, 
At Tanach by the waters of Mogiddo, 
But money, their desire, they received not. 
From heaven they fought (ttgainst them), 
The stars from their courses fought with Sisert. 
The river Kishon swept them away, 
The winding river, the river Kishon. 
March on my soul in thy might.! 

Then slumped the hoofs of the horses, 
In the fleeing, in the fleeing of heroes. 
Curse Meroz, said the angel of Jehovah, f| 
Utter curses upon the inhabitants thereof, 
They came not to the help of Jehovah, 
To the help of Jehovah in his host of heroes. 

Blessed above women be Jael, 
The wife of Heber the Kenite, 
Blessed above the dwellers in tents. 

* They were the first, whom Deborah committed to Barak, (iv. 6.) and 
in whose heroism she confided, and who are hero also honoured with the 
last and highest praise. They with the Northern tribes of Judaea were 
heroic mountaineers. Zebulon it seems is contrasted with Aaher and 
Dan, because like them it was by the sea, and yet joined the expedition. 

tin every word of this description there is sarcastic raillery. She 
honours them with titles, that she may annul them; and this tone con, 
tinues in what is said of the mother of Sisera and her women, 

I She excites herself to proceed with the same animation through the 
rest of the song. 

fl In the whole book of Judges the voice of God is called the angel of 
Jehovah. (Chap. ii. I A. vi. 1222. xiii. 321.) The denomination 
here is probably from the first of the passages, for the angel of the Lord x 
which appeared there, commanded to conquer the land, The song speaki 
in the name of God, i. e, as the voice of the nation. 


He asked water, she gave him milk,* 
She brought curdled milk in a lordly dish.- 
She seized with her hand upon the nail, 
With her right hand the heavy hammer. 

And with the hammer ahe smote Sisera, 
She smote him through the head, 
She pierced and struck through his temples, 
Under her feet he bowed himself, 
He fell, he lay down, 
At her feet he bowed, he fell. 
Where he bowed, there he fell down dead. 

The mother of Sisera looked from a windovr.f 
She cried through the lattice, 
"Why are his chariots so long incoming? 
Why tarry the wheels ot his chariots ? w 

Her wise ladies answered her, 
Yea, she quickly returned answer to herself. 
" Are they not then to find and divide the spoil, 
To every man a damsel or two, 
And variegated garments for Sisera,t 
A prey of bright embroidered garments,! 
Doubly embroidered, variegated clothing, 
The triumphal procession of the spoil. 

So let all thine enemies perish, O Jehovah, 
But let them, that love thee, be as the sun, 
Whcnhegoeth forth in his glory.H 

This, too, is irony and imitative representation to the last breath of 
the smitten Sisera. The picture is beautifully poetical, and character. 
i*e the age in a lively manner. That it was intoxicating milk, is plain 
from a multitude of Oriental books of travels. He concealed himself in 
the interior gynacseumof the tent, and there in profound sleep found his 

t The contrasts ofjthe picture render the irony perfect. 

1 This wise lady of the harem was not desirous, that Sisera should 
acquire any damsels. She wished only for variegated garments and 
whowy trappings for the triumphal procession of her lord. 

B This short sentence is, as it were, a seal of the whole pong, and 
shows that it is as methodically arranged, as it is consistent with the ago 
and suited to the people and the place. 



Brown, an English writer, has hazarded the hypothesis,* 
that poetry, music, and dancing never have a more powerful 
influence, than when united, that among all nations in a state 
of nature they have been and are still combined together, and 
on this account have such power over them. Had he satisfi 
ed himself with facts, and not extended his theory to times 
and objects, where it does not apply, especially had he left 
lawgivers out of the question, and not sought to explain by it 
erery thing in all species of poetry, I know of no objection to 
his views. The union of these arts among all rude nations is 
pretty clearly proved ; even among the Greeks, the drama 
arose out of the chorus, or a poetical effusion accompanied 
with musick and dancing. That in their earliest forms, and 
within a limited extent of cultivation, they are all three natu 
rally combined together, cannot be denied, for some poetry at 
least is lifeless without tones to accompany it, and the most 
simple and natural musick has no animating effect without 
poetry. Such musick alone gives only a series of obscure, un 
defined emotions, which require to be rendered clear and dis 
tinct by words, or they at length, unless listened to with the 

Brown s Dissertation on the rise, union and power, the progression, 
separation and corruption of poetry and musick. London, 1763. 


car of a mere artist, render the hearer weary, sleepy and sad. 
That both these arts naturally lead to the dance we see by 
their effect on all children. Musick and dancing ; animated 
feelings uttered in words, require gesture to give the expres 
sion its highest effect. Thus there is truth in the language 
of Milton. 

Blest pair of Syrens, pledges of Heaven s joy, 
Sphere-born, harmonious sisters, voice and verse, 
Wed your Divine sounds, and mix d power employ, 
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee. 

In the constitution of nature our several senses are united 
arid act upon one soul, why must they be severed in respect 
to the outward objects of gratification? Why should not the 
inward eye, which contemplates the visions of heaven, be ac 
companied and confirmed by the inward ear, which listens to 
its harmonies ? And why should not both, in order to their 
most animated expression, employ gestures to illustrate the 
imagery, and the dance to measure the musical rhythm ? 
In poetry as well as musick rhythm is but the movement 
of the dance. The images of the former, express the liv 
ing forms and shapes of universal nature by their likenesses 
reflected in the countenance and soul of man. Thus the 
three arts are so interdependent and mutually involved, that 
even a philosophical distinction of the several conceptions is 
not possible, without including each within the spheres of the 

If this, then, cannot be denied, there must be a point of 
union somewhere, which, if skilfully attained, would necessa 
rily give to them their greatest power. It must act, that is, 
at the same time upon all the powers of sense, and either in 
sinuate itself into the soul, or take it by lorce through all its 
organs. It reaches that sensorium commune, in which slum 
ber the images, tones, sensibilities, and emotion of the soul, 
and excites it as with celestial harmonies. 


Thi view of the matter, however, shows of itself, that such 
a point of union is of rare and delicate attainment Not all 
the images of poetry express themselves by gestures, nor do 
all the tones of musick awaken the dance of emotions. If what 
is peculiar to one of the three arts greatly predominates, the 
others in the same degree lose their influence, and the har 
monic proportion, that becomes beautiful only by such an il 
lusive correspondence of all, as to produce a perfect unity of 
effect, may well be considered a prodigy ; and it was perhaps 
best, that each art should follow its own independent course. 
This they, in fact, did at the moment when each became a 
separate and distinct art. What each lost by being severed 
from its companions, it must now make up by embellishments 
of its own, and studied, therefore, its own peculiar character, 
unfolded it to the utmost, and now wrought its effects by rely 
ing upon its own power, while before this it had necessarily 
modified its agency from regard to its union with other agen 
cies not essentially belonging to it. It is, therefore, manifest, 
that each of these arts, as an art, in its objective existence, 
gained by the separation, though it is alike undeniable, that 
subjectively, as an organ of nature in the soul, the power of 
each was diminished. 

It would seem, moreover, that there are only certain peri 
ods, when these arts could be united in their due proportions. 
It could be only when no one of them is yet become a distinct, 
peculiar, and refined art ; when poetry has not yet built its 
airy castles, where neither dance nor song can follow it, nor 
musick become so artificial, that it would require the voice of 
birds to accompany its tones and movements with verbal signs; 
when too, the dance is not so much a labyrinth of art, as a 
natural utterance of the passions and agencies of the souJ 
guided by musick, as the animated expressive language of ges 
ture. But suppose the separation once made, and each art to 
have advanced for centuries upon its own solitary course, 
while the human organs in the mean time have been cultivated 


and refined, and their reunion becomes difficult, or rather at 
once impossible. Place f before our eyes the artificial dance of 
a sensuous people, even the Grecian dithyrambus itself, and 
our ear is unaccustomed to combine what is so manifold into 
one momentary impression. We distinguish and trace each 
several art by itself, and judge it by itself. We fail of that 
united impresssion, of that rapid association of ideas, of sensu 
ous impulses and upspringing emotions, in which alone their 
power of enchantment lies. 

This period, in which such a union may exist, falls, there 
fore, in nations, whose feelings are yet fresh and lively, whose 
life is marked by few but strong impulses of emotion, and who 
from their infancy have been accustomed to enjoy many com 
bined together. Among nations, whose poetry continues U> 
be the expression of truth within the narrow sphere of their 
own experience, of their family, their country, the deeds of 
their ancestors, the wishes and actions of their own exclusive 
mode of life, and who have been accustomed from childhood 
to combine these simple objects with all the truth of expression 
in their natural gestures, with the favourite gratifications of 
the ear, and the movements of their simple melodies; among 
nations, whose inusick was, therefore, at an early period adapt 
ed to the choral song, and ventured but little beyond the 
sphere of this, finally, whose gestures are determined, not by 
the rules of a science, but by a healthful state of the passions, 
and conventional principles of intelligibility, among such na 
tions and such only is found a theatre, in which these magic 
sisters celebrate their choral harmonies. So soon as the na 
tion advances in its cultivation, the beautiful phantom, which 
their enchantment had raised, vanishes of its own accord. 

The Hebrews, like all nations which have a taste for muaick 
and poetry, had such a period in the progress of their cultiva 
tion, but necessarily before it had reached its highest point. 
In the song at the Red Sea there is no determinate number 
#f syllables, but the words are peculiarly sounding, accompa- 


nied with choral song, and here and there with mimic rep* 
reservation. The adufa was the musical instrument of the 
dancing women, and the obscure monosyllabic words employ 
ed as terminations are probably the echo of the men ; for in 
this way we see children betrin the cultivation of a taste for 


song. They fall in wkh the emphatic tone, with the last word 
of the line, even when they are yet too infantile to pronounce 
it. The times of the Judges were, perhaps, the proper peri 
od for the perfect combination of these simple arts, and the 
song of Deborah seems to be the most striking example, which 
their poetry furnishes. Instead of Pindaric strophes, there 
are three leading divisions sufficiently marked in it ; the in 
troduction, probably interrupted by the frequent responsive 
shouts of the people, v. 1 11. the picture of the battle, the 
naming of the tribes with commendation or sarcastic irony, 
here and there accompanied with mimicry in the expression, 
12 27. and finally, the derision cast upon the triumph of 
Sisera, also imitative, until the last verse, probably as a general 
chorus, closes the whole. As all rude nations in their triumph 
al feasts celebrate the principal events in imitative songs, so 
here we find undoubtedly, traces of the same thing. 

On this ground we might account for the influence of po 
etry at this period, without supposing it to include any great 
degree of art. It was a representation in song of living deeds, 
u highly impassioned imitative poetry. It was by means of 
such, that the Prophets wrought upon Saul, and David also 
with his breathing harp. In our o\vu times examples of this 
sort are rare, but not impossible. There is scarcely any man 
of sensibility, on whom some strains of musick, the favourite 
songs of his childhood and youth, do not exert a marvellous 
influence even in old age. In times of sorrow and sickness 
their effect is more vivid, often uncontrolable, How many 
singular phenomena of this sort might be adduced ! When 
skillful musicians study the favourite tones and musical strains 
of individuals, and afterwards apply them to those individuals 


with their highest influence, it is known what striking effects 
they can produce upon them. In nations unsophisticated by 
refinement such tones are given by national songs, which, 
with certain favourite objects of national pride and ancestral 
glory, gain a power over the heart and head of every individ 
ual from childhood, and when afterwards these tones recur in 
connexion with such objects arid on solemn occasions, they 
renew as it were the youth of every one, and reproduce the 
glow of their earliest enthusiasm. Every one knows what a 
magic effect the mere coming together, still more the harmo 
ny of sentiment of a great multitude produces. Not merely 
that community of outward circumstances excites a common 
feeling and hurries the soul, which feels itself but as a drop in 
the current, along with it, the general enthusiasm of kindred 
ideas seizes upon them, and the result is that pleasing deliri 
um, at which the man of the world scoffs, and which the cool 
philosopher equally fails to explain. 

If we look at the incidents of these early periods of He* 
brew history, what themes do most of them furnish for the 
simplest poetical effusions, combined with the most natural 
musick, in short for the pictures of lyric poetry ! Look at the 
daughter of Jcjj/itkah, as she goes to her death with a chorus 
of maidens lamenting around her ! She goes as an offering 
to the altar, as a bride to the shadows of death. She bewails 
her youth, takes a farewell of all that was dear to her in life, 
arid prophesies perhaps upon the altar what a touching 
picture, in its language, tones, and gestures! Again take 
David in the, presence of Saul. More than one poet has avail 
ed himself of the beauty of this situation, but no one to my 
knowledge has yet stolen the harp of David, and produced a 
poem, such even as Dryden s ode in the composition of Han 
del, where Timotheus plays before Alexander. Samson has 
famished the tuneful Milton with a subject for a very music 
al drama, and the Israelites in the desert is known to us all, 
The sword of Ehud might be wrought into a poem, as good at 


least as that, which waa sung at the Panathensa in Greece; 
for the subject is the same. Harmodius and Aristogeiton 
carried their swords covered, when they slew the tyrant Hip- 
parclms and restored Athens to freedom. The song in which 
the deed was celebrated, is yet extant, and their memory lives 
in the accents of fame. It is a matter of regret that we 
Germans in celebrating these wonderful events of antiquity 
have adopted only the form of the epopee, which for most 
subjects becomes a powerless tale. Other nations have raised 
them to the character of lyric expression, where they are 
more brief, more impressive, and more affecting. The opin- 
ions also of the age in question abound in materials for poetry. 
Whoever has read the summoning of the ghost of Darius in 
the Pcrscc of jEschylus, where the deceased king appears in 
the midst of the choral song, that he. may prophecy concern 
ing the destiny of his unhappy kingdom, will have his mind, in 
reading of Saul s questioning the dead at Endor, otherwise oc 
cupied than in speculating about the deception practised by 
the sorceress. The shade of the Prophet ascending from the 
realms of the dead prophesies, as Darius did, respecting the 
fate of the desolated kingdom, and the near approach of the 
death of Saul and his sons. Why should not the numerous 
Patriarchs, who uttered prophecies in thgir dying moments, 
remind us of Hector, of Patroclus, of Cassandra, whom ./Es- 
chylus and Homer have represented as prophecy ing in the 
last moments of life? Finally the friendship of Jonathan, 
the early incidents in the life of David what pictures for the 
susceptible feelings of the poet and musician ! Inshort the 
blooming youth of the Hebrew muse falls within this period of 
the national history. The wonders of the desert were so far 
withdrawn, as no longer to overpower, but Btill to elevate and 
delight the imagination. They had not yet become lifeless 
marvels, as they did in later times. It was the precise period, 
when they were fitted to awaken national inspiration, for eve 
ry hero was seized by the spirit of Jehovah. This name, and 


the ancient miracles, whose fruits they were enjoying, diftV 
sed unity and interest over many deeds not otherwise exciting. 
If all histories could be related to children in the style of the 
books of Judges and Samuel, they would learn them all as the 
animated pictures of poetry. 

Note, t have omitted here a dialogue of four or five pages respect, 
ing the history of Samson, which the editor inserted from the author s 
manuscripts. The views presented in it are with very trifling additions 
the same with those found in the note p. 185. Even the additional illus. 
trations occur again the following section. Tr. 



Jotham s fable. Of the spirit of Oriental fable generally. Samson** 
riddle, with that of Agur. Fondness of children and of nations in an 
early period of cultivation for thia kind of fiction. Samson s play 
upon words. Of verbal conceits among the Hebrews generally. 
Causes of the frequent occurrence of these among this people and in 
their language. Of the purpose and value of such, as a gratification 
to the ear, or an aid to the memory. Fondness of the Hebrews for 
dothing new ideas in old and consecrated terms. Whether the tiros 
of the Judges was a period of happiness. Song of Hannah. Annun 
ciation of a change of times. Merit of Samuel. Schools of tha 
Prophets. What they were. Effect of their singing upon Saul. 
Friendship of David and Jonathan. Lamontation of David over 

To the poetical age of Israel s liberty belongs also the beau 
tiful fable of Jotham. Like the fables of ^Esop and Menen- 
ius Agrippa, it was spoken to the people for their instruction 
respecting an actual event, and such is the truest and best ori 
gin and aim of fabulous compositions. In this fable trees 
speak and act, for Israel then lived beneath the trees the life 
of herdsmen or cultivators of the soil. The youngest son 
of a worthy father, who alone was left after the murder of all 
his brothers, goes upon the top of the mountain, raises his 
voice, and addresses in the following language the people, wlio 
had made the oppressor of his family and the murderer of all 
his brothers their chosen king. 

Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, 
That God may hearken unto you. 

The trees went forth upon a time 
To annoint a king to rule them. 


They said unto the olive tree, 

Be thouthe king over us. * 

But the olive tree said to them, 

Shall I give up my oily sap, 

For which both God and man respect me, 

And go to ware above the trees ? 

Then the tree* said to the fig-tree, 
" Come thou and be our king." 
But the fig-treQ answered them, 
" Shall I give up my sweetness, 
And my rich annual fruits, 
And go to wave above the trees ?" 

Then said the trees unto the vine, 
" Come thou and be our king." 
The vine made answer to them, 
" Shall I forsake my wine, 
Which cheereth God and man, 
And go to wave above the trees ?" 

Then said all the trees unto the bramble, 
"Come thou and be our king.". 
The bramble said unto the trees, 
"If in truth ye annoint me over you, 
Come and put your trust in my shadow. 
But if itke not so, 
Let fire come out of the bramble, 
And devour the cedars of Lebanon ! w 

The fable, as a species of composition, lives wholly in the 
wild period of uncontrolled liberty. In the spirit and feeling 
of such freedom it represents the quiet happiness of the sev 
eral fruitful and luxuriant trees, none of which are desirous of 
the proposed elevation. It clearly exhibits the gifts and 
qualifications, by which the bramble attains the royal dignity, 
and of which on the first proposal it is conscious in itself. It 
shows the inward and essential character of the kingly office, 
as cold and barren, without oil and joyless, to wave above the 
blooming trees, Finally it relates the first gracious acts of 
the bramble, the conditions offered to the cedars of Lebanon, 
either to come and place themselves under the shadow of the 


bramble, or be consumed by it with fire. Beautiful fable ! full 
of sad truth for more than one age ! 

The East is full of such ethico-political fables. What the 
historians of European nations propose in aphorisms, the Ori 
entals clothe in the dress of fiction or fable. The tyrant, 
who took from them their freedom of speech, must at least 
leare them their fables, their proverbs, their wild and romantic 
tales. These not only commended themselves to the minds 
of the common people, but sometimes ventured in humble 
guise to approach the ear of the monarch. Thus Nathan re 
lated to David, the king after God s own heart, a little story of 
the one ewe lamb of the poor man.* Thus too, Isaiaht sung 
to his well beloved, the people, a fabulous song of another be 
loved, the sentiment of which is simply that the former is an 
unfruitful and unprofitable vineyard, which the latter, the 
Lord of the vineyard threatens with immmediate destruction. 
The Prophets paint symbols upon the wall, or themselves bo- 
come symbols, living fables, and when curiosity prompted the 
enquiry, what is this? what does this witless figure mean? 
the Prophet explained its pregnant import. Often, too, this w 
given dressed in verbal conceits. 

What seest thou Jeremiah ? 
"A rod of an almond tree." 
Thou sawcst truly! 
For I will watch over my word 
Till I accomplish it, 

where the words in the original exhibit a paronomasia. 

What play of words, too, in regard to proper names, monu 
ments, and historical events, do we find abounding in the his 
torical and poetical writings of the Hebrews. And as the 
riddles and puns of Samson belong here, it may, perhaps, be 
the most fitting occasion to illustrate more at large both these 
topics, which are so great favourites in Oriental poetry, 

2 Sam, xii, 1, tlsa.v, 1, 


When Samson celebrated his marriage festival, he knew 
of no better way to entertain his guests than by a riddle, 
which he propounded in verse.* 


I will put forth now a riddle to you, 

And ye shall interpret it. 

Put forth thy riddle then, 

That we may hear it. 
Samson. . 

Out of the eater came forth meat, 

Out of the strong came forth sweetness, 

Nothing is sweeter than honey, 

Nothing is stronger than a lion. 

If ye had not ploughed with my heifer, 

Ye had not found out my riddle. 

All these sentences in the original are in parallelism, or in 
a word, rhymes. The question is formally proposed, and for 
mally answered. Seven days were given them for reflection, 
and a liberal reward offered for the solution > clear proofs of 
the value set upon such trials of wit in these times. 

We find this respect and fondness for riddles even in later 
books. The queen of Sheba came to test the wisdom of Solo 
mon by trials of the same kind, and the last chapter but one 
of his proverbs contains little else but riddles,t though, in 
deed, in a different and higher style. 


In lofty phrase the man to Itheil spake, 
To Itheil and Uchal spake he thus. 

More brutish surely am I than a man. 
What men call prudence I have not. 

Jud. xiv. IS 18. t Prof. 


I have not learned their wisdom, 

And should I know the knowledge of the. Holy ? 

Who up to heaven ascended or came down ? 
Who gathered up the wind within his fist ? 
Who bound the waters in a garment ? 
Who gave the earth its several bounds ? 
What is his name ? and what his son s? 
Inform me, if thou knowest? 

I have already ventured, and I fear without success, an ex- 
planation of this enigmatical passage.* It is, perhaps, more 
simple, than one is apt at first to suppose, and the reason we 
fail to discover the meaning, is in fact, that we look too deep 
for it. The sage Agur is to discourse lofty sentiments to his 
pupils, but he begins with modesty, that too exalted wisdom 
may not be expected from him. How shall he, who in un 
derstanding and knowledge is inferior to his race, and con 
fesses, that he is not versed in human wisdom, be supposed to 
possess that knowledge, which belongs to those, who are en 
trusted with the truth of God, to the holy ones. The wisdom 
of men is obviously placed in contrast here with a higher 
science; and the holy, therefore, are such as may boast of a 
higher light, and admission to the Divine counsels, as he him 
self at the same time explains by his questions. The true 
sage must have ascended to heaven and returned thence, he 
must know the depths of creation, and understand the w^iole 
compass of the world, or he deserves not the narne.t "And 
what," asks Agur, " is the name of the man, who can venture 
to say this of himself? Where does he live, and who are the 
disciples whom he hath taught. Tell me his name?" In oth 
er words, none such is found on earth. Obviously this com 
mencement is but an echo of what is said of wisdom in Job, 
where in the same language, and on the same grounds, it is 

Briefe das Studiura der Theologie betreffend. Th. 1. S. 184. 

t That this is the ideal of wisdom among the Orientals, we see from 
Gen. iii. 5. Job. xxviii. Prov. iii. 8. 20. viii. 2231. 


said, that God alone is wise, because he alone knows the 
whole broad creation, hath weighed the winds, and marked 
the boundaries of the earth. To man belongs only a different 
wisdom, and it is precisely that, which Agur gives. He pro 
ceeds on. 

What God enjoins is wisdom pure as gold, 
He is a shield to them, who trust in him. 
Add nothing to the words of God, 
Lest he reprove, and thou be found a liar. 

The same sentiment, which Job also expresses, that " the 
fear of God is for man the only divine wisdom." In the intro 
duction of Agur, therefore, there is nothing enigmatical. Some 
of his other sayings are more nearly so. 


But two things only have I asked of thee, 
Deny me not, so long as I shall live. * 
Put far from me idolatry and lying, 
Allot me neither poverty nor riches, 
But give me food in just allowance, 
Lest I, too full, become a liar, 
And say, who is Jehovah ? 
Or lest, too poor, I steal, 
And take the name of God in vain. 

How beautifully are the two objects here related to each 
other in life ! how true and convincing the mode of present 
ing them ! 


There is a race, who curse their father, 
And bring no blessings on their mother, 
A race, in their own eyes forever pure, 
But yet not washed from their own filth. 
A race, whose eyes are carried loftily, 
And eyelids lifted up with pride. 
A race, whose teeth like daggers, 


And forward teeth, like knives 
Devour the poor from off the land, 
. The needy from among mankind. 

The two last lines contain the solution of the riddle, wheth 
er spoken by the poet, or added by another. 


Two daughters hath the Halukah, 
That cry "bring hither, bring hither.** 
Three things are never satisfied, 
And four say not " it is enough." 
The realm of death, 
The womb, that never bears, 
The^earth, insaturate with water, 
And fire, that never saith, "enough. * 

The Halukah is the Parcae of Oriental fable, probably the 
mother of the realm of death, and the abyss, which accord 
ing to Prov. xxvii. 20. are never satiated.* It is here placed 
as an introduction, and by way of comparison with the four 
things, which like it are never satisfied. In the passage 
above referred to, the eyes of men are also included. 

Hell and the abyss are never full, 
The eyes of men are never satisfied. 


Three things nre too mysterious for me. 
And four I cannot comprehend, 

The way o f an eagle in the clouds, 
The way of a serpent on the rocka, 
The ^ ay of a ship amid the waves, 
The way of a man with a maiden. 

* In several poetical passages they are placed together as personified 
beings, as Prov. xv. 11. Job. xxvi. 6. xxviii. 22. Respecting the Ha. 
lukah the fate of the Orientals. See Bochart. Hierozofcon, T. 2. p. 


The three first are very probably used only to introduce the 
last. It is the manner of the Oriental enigma, thus to prepare 
the way for a sentiment. But since the fourth has an ambi 
guity in the translation, which does not belong to the Hebrew, 
I will add here a kindred passage,* which will remove the 

As thou knowest not the way of the wind, 
Nor how the bones are formed within the womb, 
Even so thou knowest not the works of God, 
Which he performeth. 

The manner, in which man is formed in the womb, was to 
the Orientals the most unsearchable mystery, the most insolva- 
bl<; enigma, and is it not so among natural philosophers to the 
present hour? To this, then, the proposition was directed 
with its far-sought comparisons. It was probably another 
hand, which added to these four unsearchable things still a fifth. 

Such also is the way of an adulteress, 
She eateth, and then wipcth hermouf.h, 
And saith, " I ve done no wrong." 

We see here the humourous conceit of arranging together 
things very different, which yet come under some one general 
conception. The more diverse they are, according to the 
taste of the Orientals, the more acuteness do they show, and 
are, therefore, so much the better. Especially were they fond 
of tracing analogies between the kingdom of nature and hu 
man customs. 


Three things are ever to the earth oppressive, 
And four are found intolerable to it. 

The slave, when he becomes a king, 
The fool, when filled with meat, 
An odious woman, when she s married. 
The maid, who is her mistress s heir. 

Eccles. xi. 5. 


Four things are little on the earth, 
But wiser than the wisest. 

The ant race are a people without strength, 
Yet they prepare their meat in aummer, 
The conies are a feeble race, 
Yet built their houses in the rocks, 
The locusts have no king to rule them, 
Yet all of them go forth by bands, 
The lizard ; one may seize it with his hand, 
And yet it dwells in royal palaces. 

The whole comparison was perhaps nWe on account of 
the last, when an animal of that sort, (which in warm cli 
mates live in the walls, and are very annoying,) made its ap 
pearance ; for the Orientals are fond of such conceits, and 
involved propositions, especially in company ; as they often 
indeed assembled for the purpose of enjoying them. 


Three things are stately in their going, 
Yea, four, move with comeliness. 

A lion, the heroic king of brutes, 
That turns not before his enemy, 
A cock, that proudly treads his dunghill,* 
A ram, that moves before his flock, 
A king, when marching with his people. 

But enough on the subject of these conceits. We see 
what is their aim ; to seize upon the resemblances of things, 
and unite them under a moral or artificial point of view. All 
nations in the early stages of their cultivation are fond of en 
igmatical conceits, as children are also upon the same grounds. 
Their wit and acutcness of discrimination, their powers of ob- 

* The second and third I have supplied from the ancient Tensions, for 
in the Hebrew text the subject of the second and predicate of the third 
Are wanting. 


taxation and invention, are exerted in this way respecting 
particular objects, with the greatest facility, and the praise, 
which the inventor as well as the interpreter of a good riddle 
receives for it in his own circle, is to them as it were the prize 
of battle, the harmless crown of victory. I could wish, that 
wo possessed from the corresponding period, the sensuous age, 
of more nations instead of descriptions of their spirit, the ao 
tual proofs and examples of their childlike wit, of their acute- 
ness exercising itself in proverbs, verbal conceits, and rid 
dles; for with these we should have the peculiar current of 
their minds, the indications of their peculiar spirit. For evi 
ery ancient people, with whoso records I am acquainted, ex 
hibit, in the discovery of such resemblances among their fa 
vourite objects and ideas, their own entirely peculiar method. 
We have such however from but few nations, because these 
are the very things, which belong to the inner sanctuary of 
each language, and are often as difficult to be understood, as 
incapable of being conveyed in another language. 

We come now from riddles to puns. Of these the jovial 
Samson seems to have been peculiarly fond, and makes three 
or more of them on a single occasion,* 

With jaw-bone of an ass a mighty heap,t- 

With jaw-bone of an ass I slew a thousand men, 

How idle and fruitless the task for us to analyze and vindi-. 
cate every jxiiiit of such a punning conceit in the mouth of a 
lighthearted hero intoxicated with victory! The word thou 
sand too involves a double meaning, since the word signifies 
also a troop. Who then would take pains to number the slain, 
and determine, whether the punning hero had not made them 
more than they were ? 

When in his melancholy blindness he was about to die 

Jud. xv. 1G, t Ass and heap are the samp word in the original 


with his enemies, he embraced the pillars of the house and 

Jehovah God, look down yet once upon me. 
I pray thee strengthen me this once again, 
I pray thee, that I yet may bo avenged 
With one revenge for my two eyes. 

The bitterest emotion here gave him, what on other occa 
sions was the offspring of sport and irony, a verbal conceit. 

Since these are alike numerous and diverse in the poetry 
of the Hebrews, and since very different judgments have 
been formed on account of the name, "pun" or verbal con 
ceit ; we shall follow the subject a little farther. Verbal 
conceits pervade all the writings of the Hebrews. Isaiah es 
pecially delighted in them, and the poets, who followed, co 
pied his example in this also. For this very reason many of 
their most powerful and beautiful passages are wholly untrans 

I must request beforehand, however, that the term " pun" 
(wortspiel) may be omitted, and that we substitute the terms, 
verbal conceits, accordances of sound, paranomasia, &,c. By 
the first we understand usually the low art, which the English 
call the ait of punning, and of the levity of which the Hebrews 
knew nothing. Their conceits have regard to names, me 
morials, things, or they lie in the imperfections and structure 
of the language. From all these sources they pass very natu 
rally into the sphere of poetry. 

1. From the earliest times every thing among the Hebrews 
was dependant upon names. These involved their history, 
the memorials of the remembered past, the tradition of the 
patriarchal blessings. If one received his name from the cir 
cumstances of his birth, or the incidents of his life, there fol 
lowed necessarily what may be called, if we choose, a play of 
words, but one of great importance in its relation to history. 

Jud. xvi.28. 


We find examples of this from Adam downward. Ail the Pa 
triarchs, acquired their names in this way. 

2. When these names were changed, or modified from inci 
dents in the life of the individuals, there arose a new play of 
words, as agreeable to the ear, as it was important to the me 
mory. Thus were the names of Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob 
changed,* and perhaps those of Cain, of Noah and many 
others. Reference is often made to this in giving an account 
of their lives. Thus Isaac sported with his wife Rebecca.t 
So Ephraim, by a slight change, signified either a fruitful 
branch, or a savage.\ 

3. Especially were the blessings associated with the names 
of the sons, ou whom they were pronounced. Seth, Shem, 
Japheth, Judah, Gad, Ephraim, Dan,|| &,c. include their bless 
ings in the signification of the words. With the name of a 
Patriarch his posterity associated the blessing bestowed upon 
him. When the race fell away from God, the reproving Pro 
phet changed also by a slight modification their auspicious to 
an ill omened name. All this was not mere play of wit, but a 
means of recollection for those, to whom it applied. 

4. What is true of names holds also of monuments, and of 
cities. Remarkable incidents gave them their names, new 
events changed them, as the case might be. JBcthel,ihe house 
of God, where Jacob slept, became Beth-aven; the great 
stone (1 Sam. vi. 18) a stone of sorrow by a slight inflection of 
the name. So it was with the heap, which was to be a witness, 
(Gen. xxxi. 5:4.) Laban and Jacob gave it different names 
on the same grounds. How variously were the names of 
cities and nations changed and applied by the Prophets, who 
prophecied respecting them. Babel, Edom, Canaanites, Ken- 
itcs, Ekron,Gaza, &,c. 

5. The same was true in regard to occurring events, wheth 
er in derison or commendation. Those, who rode on thirty 

Gen. xvii. 5. 15. xxxii. 28. t Gen. xxvi. 28. I Gen. xli. 52. 
Hoa. xiii. 11. || Gen. iv. 25. ix. 26. 27. xlix. 8. 16. 19. 22. $ Amos v. 5, 


astrt, acquired thirty cities. 9 Nabal wa a fbol> as hia name 
signified. Samuel was a gift of God, by a alight transformation 
of the word, because he had been asked of him in prayer.t To 
all thU the language remarkably contributed, recurring as it 
does to so few radical words, and these so like each other, and 
by the uniform inflections of these effecting so many changes. 
A very elaborate treatise, which I have cited in the notej has 
carefully collected these verbal conceits of the Hebrews, ar 
ranged according to the alphabet, and the principal varia 

6. Brought thus into this method by names and the struc 
ture of the language, and carried forward by the patriarchal 
benedictions, and the honour of the race as associated with 
their ancestral names, what could the j>oets do other and bet 
ter, than to connect their maxims, and proverbs with this 
characteristic in the genius of the people and the language, 
and what they would ay to the understanding say also to the 
memory and the ear. From the earliest periods down we find 
not only benedictions, but also laws and precepts preserved in 
forms of expressions, in which resemblances of sound are 
sought. lie that sheddeth man s blood, by man shall li is blood 
be shed. The Gods of the heathen are no-gods t senseless 
idols, &c. Isaiah is the most happy in impressing such sen 
tences. Leaders are stubborn, refuse to be led, the law is 
light; the confiding are abiding. The mourners have beauty 
for ashes. .Among the people, instead of righteousness, isww- 
righteousness, instead of justice, injustice, &c. plain and stri 
king antitheses, which impress the sentiment of the Prophet 
deeply upon the mind. A part of the Proverbs of Solomon 
have the like correspondencies of sound, which as it were 
give point and completeness to the sense. 

7. Especially in the use of symbols, which the Prophets see 
or show to the people, or of words, which they take as it were 

*Judg. x. 4. 1 1 Sam. i. 27. 28. 

t Christ. Bened. Michxlis diss. de paronomasia sacra. See also Ver- 
achuir de paronomasia in the collection of his dissertations. 


out of their mouths, and point against themselves, we find 
the most artless and apt paranomasia, though for the most part 
incapable of translation. So is it with the language of Jere 
miah, 1L 20 23, and other places. Luther, the great master 
of tiae German Siaugmage, bas sooaeUroes Tery happily imita 
ted expressions of this sort, and it were to be wished, that 
where they effect the sense they might be generally preserved 
in the translation. 

From what has been said it seems to me clear, that the He 
brew puranomasia is not so ridiculous a matter, as we are 
apt to infer from the place and character of such things in 
modern languages. That language was of a wholly different 
construction, and these verbal conceits had an entirely differ 
ent aim. The Hebrews had no rhyme, but were fond of as 
sonances and alliterations, to which the parallelism naturally 
led them. Which then is more intellectual and intelligible, 
the use of rhyme, which is an artifice merely for the ear, or 
the varied resemblance of sound to sense, where the word, as 
Pope expresses it, becomes an echo to the sense. How fine 
is the effect, when even in our rhymes or in Proverbs, anti 
theses, metaphors, images, the resemblances or diversity of 
the thoughts finds itself expressed also in an unsought but 
corresponding word. Even in philosophy happy expressions 
of the sort produce their effect, and carry home to the mind 
with the additional force of the word the observed distinction 
or resemblance in things. In the suggestions of wit and 
acuteness they are still more in place, and so long as a nation 
is still sensuous in the character of its mind, so long as they 
carry their language with them, as belonging to the mouth 
and the ear, and not in written characters for the eye, sounds 
of this kind, as voices speaking to the memory, are no less 
pleasing to them, than indispensable. Hence among all na 
tions, who have no books or but few, the same fondness for 
assonance and verbal conceit. Hence among them especial 
ly that emphatic and legitimate brevity, that rapid and mem- 


orable expressiveness, which the tracer of letters can never 
attain. Foolish and ridiculous, as it would be to imitate the 
taste of the Hebrew language in our own, which is of a dif 
ferent construction, and stands upon a different grade of culti 
vation, it is not less so to judge that people by ourselves, and 
not to make allowance in these respects for the early age, 
in which they lived, the simplicity of their language, and the 
correspondence between their outward sense and the inward 
character of their minds. Children delight in making paro 
nomasia, and, if they have meaning, in hearing them too. 
They show, that he, who makes them, thinks in and by means 
of the language. Poetical nations never think otherwise, so 
that I might here by a paronomasia apply the address of Mo 
ses, (which is itself one also) 

A voice of those that answer do I hear, 
They shout not victory one to another, 
They shout not overthrow one to another, 
The voice of those that sing I hear.* 

Among the Hebrews history and poetry rest in a great mea 
sure on paronomasia, as on the originals of the language, and 
only by a taste for these can our ear come to an intimate ac 
quaintance with the spirit of the language. 

And this acquaintance is the more necessary, since their 
writers delight in copying arid improving upon each other in 
whole phrases, which they unfold and amplify, each in his 
own peculiar style. This, too, if any choose to call it so, is 
a playing upon words, yet such as even the refined Greeks 
did not dislike. It was a favourite practice with them to ex 
press their own thoughts in the words of Homer and other 
distinguished ancient writers ; and who would not be gratified 
by it ? Both the speaker and hearer are gratified, the former 
with the successful exercise of his invention, the latter with 
finding a new friend in an old and favourite costume, a new 

Ex. xxxii. 18. 


thought in a known and approved form of expression. So 
the Prophets employ the figurative language of the Patriarchal 
benedictions and the Psalms. So the modern Hebrews em 
ploy the words of all the more ancient writers in a new sense, 
but in the same beautiful forms of expression. Their poetical 
language, in employing the expression of the Bible, may be 
said, perhaps, in some sense, to be nothing but a play upon 
words ; but how refined ! how interesting for one, who has a 
taste for the simplicity of ancient times, which in this way 
reappear, as it were, dressed in a finer costume. I could wish, 
that more of their poetry were known in our language, than 
has hitherto been, and my opinion concerning it would be sus 
tained. But enough on these topics ; I return to the writings 
of the age of Samson. 

That period, in regard to the condition of the people, was 
any thing but a happy one. Frequent collision with the 
neighbouring nations disquieted the land, and at length an 
atrocious crime led to a civil war and the almost entire extir 
pation of one of the tribes. Famine often bore heavily upon 
the country, and an occasion of this sort has given us the 
beautifully told family history of Ruth. In the time of Eli the 
decline of the nation, which was without any efficient head, 
was at its lowest pitch. The sanctuary itself, the ark of the 
covenant was captured by their enemies, and the family of the 
High Priest came to a miserable end. Even then, however, 
the voice of poetry was not wholly silenced ; but assumed rath 
er a new tone. Heroic songs were no longer heard, but the 
voice of the Prophetic muse] returned. Jehovah fulfilled his 
word, and gave to the oppressed people a[leader with a portion 
at least of the spirit of Moses. The calling of Samuel in the 
temple, as well as his history, is related with a quiet simplicity, 
and his mother s song of thanksgiving, brings before us anoth 
er Deborah, though in a peaceful and domestic character. 


MX Heart rejoiceth in Jehovah, 
Through Jehovah is my horn of joy exalted. 
My mouth is opened wide in songs of triumph, 
For I exult in thy salvation. 

There s none that s holy like Jehovah! 
No God but thee ! no guardian like our God ! 

Why boast ye so of your high places ?* 
Away with arrogance from out your mouths. 
Jehovah knoweth and will weigh your deeds. 

The bows of the mighty are brokcn.t 
And they,, that wavered, are girded with strength, 
Those, that were full, are begging for bread, 
Those, that were hungry, are now at rest, 
She, that was barren, hath sevenfold fruit, 
She, that had many sons, is now bereft of help. 

Jehovah killeth, and he maksth alive, 
He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up 
Jehovah maketh poor and nmketh rich, 
He bringeth low and lifteth up again. 

He raiseth up the lowly from the dust, 
And lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, 
That he may seat them with the princes, 
And make them heirs to princely thrones.t 

For the fountains of the earth are Jehovah s, 
The world hath he established thereon. 
The footsteps of the faithful hath he assured, 
But the wicked are dumb in obscurity, 
For not by strength do heroes triumph. 

Jehovah s advsrsaries shall be dashed in pieces, 
When he from heaven shall thunder on them, 
Jehovah shall judge the whole of his land, 

* They strengthened themselves in these, and became self-confidem. 
Asaph in Ps. Ixxv. 6. has imitated, and beautifully varied this expression, 
as well as the whole song. 

f A new period of tranquillity is beginning, in which eren the feeble 
and the poor shall enjoy happiness. This she illustrates from her own 

t Aa Samuel, when he was judge of the nation. Tho following line* 
ar rery applicable to him, and the family of Eli, though I would not re. 
strict their more general sense. 


Shall give hi* king hroick strength, 
And far exalt the power of his anointed. 

Whether Hannah uttered this song, or is merely represent* 
ed as uttering it, it is enough, that it anticipates and predicts 
different times from what were then experienced. The stormy 
of war were passed away. The insolence of individuals, ex 
alted in power and privilege, was at an end ; and God had 
given to others the song of triumph. Freed at length from 
the shame of barrenness, she sees her son rising from his low 
condition to take his seat with princes, as one of the nobles of 
the land, as a judge of the people. The family of Eli sinks 
into obscurity while he rises to distinction. By him Jehovah 
judges the whole country, even to its borders, and through his 
means, too, anoints over Israel a brave and fortunate king. 
Such is the tone of this song, and it became the model for 
many Psalms, resembling it both in style and matter ; for it 
was a prediction of what was always the favourite topic of the 
nation, a new and happier era. 

This happier era Samuel 1 established at least prospective]/. 
He was the first Prophet after Moses, who exerted an influ 
ence on the political organization of the state. God called 
him not by a vision, but by a distinct voice, in which he sig 
nified to him the downfall of the vicious and indolent family 
of priests, which had hitherto ruled. His answers were al 
ways distinct and determinate, and hence he was denomina 
ted a Seer, instead of a Prophet. The expression continued 
in use for a considerable period, and even David retained his 
Seers, until Prophets again appeared. 

It is undeniable, that Samuel employed the first tranquil 
period in the organization of the state, as far as he was able, 
for commencing also the intellectual cultivation of his people. 
He established the schools of the Prophets;* and though we 

* The word used, 2 Sam. *ii. 8. means a shepherd s cottage or fold, 
but the Prophets we know lived in the most simple manner. 


beed not adopt the extravagant conceptions sometimes formed 
of them, yet their organization by Samuel was marked with 
wisdom. He sought to bring the arts of cultivation, which 
then consisted of musick and poetry, from the exclusive pos 
session of a single tribe into general use. " The hill of God"* 
resounded with the songs of the Prophets, i. e. the pupils of a 
free system of national instruction and wisdom. They dwelt 
in simple cottages, which have been very incorrectly transla 
ted schools, and conveyed the notion of something corres 
ponding to our own schools of learning. They were simply 
assemblages of young men, or those of maturer age, practising 
themselves under the direction of Samuel, who was the judge 
and father of the state, in what then pertained to national cul 
tivation, not therefore, in ravings concerning futurity, nor in 
barren litanies connected with the service of the temple. 
When they met Saul, by the sentiment and lofty style of their 
ongs they inspired him with the first feelings worthy the heart 
of a king,t and these alas ! continued only till his regal power 
was established. In their songs, which probably sung of his 
own regal dignity, the humble herdsman first felt himself in* 
spired with more elevated thoughts, and more daring resolu 
tion ; and even in later times, when in pursuit of David, ho 
forgot even his mortal foe, seated himself among them naked, 
i. e. in the simple dress of a Prophet divested of his regal or 
naments, and touched the strings of his own forgotten harp. 
Would that some specimens, at least, remained to us from 
these hills of God, these airy elevations, vocal with national 
Qngs, and the poetry of nature ! But they are lost in oblivi 
on. The association of foetry with the residence, the court, 

* 1 Sara, x. 5. 

tThe passage has been rendered ridiculous by being misinterpreted. 
It was not by the sound of their instruments, that they gate Saul the 
heart of a king, but by the sentiment of their songs accompanied with 
th sound. 


and the temple of David soon rendered these hills silent and 
desolate, brought every thing within a narrow compass, and 
those ancient songs of war and victory, those fables, and un- 
confined songs of the Prophets of Samuel were lost forever. 
Yet ihe germ, and the earliest flowers of the poetry of David 
belong also to these times. The pastures of his flocks were 
rocal with the songs of his youthful Muse, and by these he 
gained access to the king and to the friendship of Jonathan. 
But this period in the history of David is characterised more 
by the friendship between him and Jonathan, than by all his 
poetical effusions, David appears before Jonathan a youth, 
and after a deed of daring enterprise, which the latter could 
not himself accomplish. Yet, instead of envying, he conceives 
for him a sentiment of affection. " His soul was knit with 
tho soul of David, and he loved him as his own soul."* He 
justified him, also, to his father, (even by representations not 
entirely true, and which might have fallen upon his own head). 
Ho set honour and life at stake ; disregarding the impression 
made, that he gave up the throne from want of enterprise, and 
even the derogatory epithets bestowed upon him by his father j 
for he was indeed a true and genuine hero. I seem even now 
to see them, as before the fuce of heaven, with kisses and 
tears, they confirm by an oath thoir perpetual covenant, t and 
Jonathan, as, after a long absence, he comes to his friend in 
the desert, encourages him, and says,| " fear not David, the 
hand of my father shall not find thee. Thou king 
over Israel and I shall be next unto thee." What heroick 
friendship was this ! He offered up the throne to him, that 
a a friend he might continue nearest (his person. Only an 
age of poetry, and souls like Jonathan s, but rarely found, are 
capable of such a covenant of love and fidelity. When Jona 
than died and left the throne to his friend, what could that 
friend give him for all the kindness, which he had shown him, 

1 Sam. xviii. 1. 1 1 Sam. . 41. II Sam. xxiii. 16, . 


bat an elegy upon his tomb ? an elegy , in which, however, 
beautiful as it is, the memory of Saul and that of Jonathan 
live united, as if both had equal claims ufkm his heart. 1 
know, indeed, it was written for the people,* but for myself 
I could have wished, that it might be written for David and 
for Jonathan alone, not for Saul and the people. And his 
son Mophibosheth what apology can be found for David, 
that he so readily sacrificed this son of the friend of his youth 
to a false accusation, and, when it was proved to be false, in 
stead of restoring him threefold, merely divided what had been 
taken from him between him and his base accuser?! And 
how lamentable, too, that he must give up the sons of Saul, 
who yet were all of them brothers of Jonathan, in compliance 
with the cruel request of a city, to a death so shameful !J 
Here is the beautiful elegy of David on Saul and Jonathan, 
To me the heart of Jonathan remains sacred, and may his 
name forever adorn the altar of friendship. 



Beautiful Roe, thou pride and glory of Israel ! 
Thus then art thou wounded upon thy high places ! 
CIIORUS. Fallen, fallen ore the heroes! 
How are the heroes fallen ? 

Tell ye it not in Guth, 
Publish it not in the streets of Askelon, 
Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, 
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised leap for joy. 

Ye mountains of Gilboa, on you henceforth 
Let no more rain nor dew descend forever. 
No more on you, ye mountains blighted with a curse, 
For there the shield of heroes was struck down, 

2 Sam. i. 17. 18. t 2 Sam. xvi. 4. xu. 29. 

t 2 Sam. xxi. 8 10. where the beautiful account of Rizpah, the moth. 
r of two of the sons of Saul, is related, Every one it reminded by it 
erf the Antigone of Sophocles. 


The shield of Saul, as of one unconsecrnted with oil. 

From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the strong. 
The bow of Jonathan never turned backward, 
The sword of Saul returned not empty. (It reached the blood of 

the slain.) 

Saul and Jonathan, dear to each other in life, 
They went undivided in love to the realm of shades. 
Swifter than eagles, bolder were they than lions. 

Daughters of Israel, weep ye for Saul, 
No more will he clothe you in garments of purple, 
Nor deck your apparel with ornaments of gold. 
CHORUS. Ah . how are the heroes fallsn in the midst of battle, 
Jonathan, thou lovely Roe, slain on thy high place*. 
I am afflicted for thee, my brother Jonathan, 
Lovely wast thou to me, exceeding lovely, 
Yea, my love for thee surpassed the love of women. 
CHORUS. Ah ! how are the heroes fallen. 

And their weapons of war perished. 

NOTE. I have omitted a more literal version of the lamentation of 
David inserted by the German Editor. The sense as given by him, 
where it differs from the above agrees with the version of the English 
Bible. That version, is indeed, very true to the original, and not the lest 
pootical on that account. TR. 



History of David as the author of the Psalms. How this kind of poetry 
came into use by his means. In what relation it stood to the more 
ancient poetry. Perversion of the Psalms in the common use made of 
thorn. The proper and natural view to be taken of them. Rules for 
using them aright. How far the common division of the Psalms into 
higher, midrib, and lower is to be regarded. Division of them accord, 
ing to their lyrical character. Psalms expressive of a single senti. 
ment or picture. Examples. Psalms comprehending several con. 
trusted sentenced and members. Examples. Psulms expressive of 
emotion, and didactick Psalms. Examples. Services of a German 
poet in transferring the poetical tone of the Psulms into our language. 

In the time of David the Lyric poetry of the Hebrews at 
tained its highest splendour. The scattered wild flowers of 
the country were now gathered and planted, as a royal garland, 
upon Mount Zion. From his youth upward the mind of Da 
vid had been attuned to musick and poetry. lie had spent 
the happiest years of youth, as a tender of flocks, and amidst 
their rural haunts. There he had gathered those flowers of 
pastoral poetry, which often adorn, also, his heroick Psalms, 
and even those expressive of sadness and affliction. By mu- 
sick, with which was then combined not only poetry, but 
whatever of cultivation belonged to the age, he had first found 
access to the person of the king. This circumstance, un 
doubtedly, contributed to make him cultivate and strengthen 
still more the powers of his Muse. Soon after, as if the same 
art was to be for him the occasion both of good and evil for 
tune, in consequence of the triumphal song of the women, 
who went out to meet him, lie was regarded as the rival ol 
Saul, and in several instances scarcely escaped, with his harp 


in his hand, the javelin of the king. Hte betook himself to 
flight, and for years either alone or with a few companions, 
wandered about the deserts of Judaea, and was like a bird 
upon the mountains. Here his harp became his comforter 
and friend. To it he uttered the complaints, which he could 
confide to none else. It calmed his fears, made him forget 
his misery, as once it had subdued the evil spirit in Saul, and 
made him forget his envy and vexation. From it he now 
drew forth tones, which were an echo to his feelings in 
sorrow and in joy, and the most tender and impassioned among 
them were prayers ; prayers by which his courage was excited, 
his hope confirmed, until in the providence of God he tri 
umphed over all. Now his harp became in his royal hands 
consecrated as a thankoffering to the publick. Not merely 
that he himself, as he had often promised, made publick the 
prayers relating to his own distress and deliverance ; he or 
ganized and devoted, in a far greater measure than had be 
fore been done, musick and poetry for celebrating the service 
of God, and promoting the magnificence of the temple. Four 
thousand Levites, distinguished by a peculiar dress, were ar 
ranged in classes and choirs under master-singers, of whom 
the three most distinguished, Asaph, Ileman and Jeduthun 
arc known to us by specimens of their art. The children of 
Korah, probably, belonged to the middle class. David em 
ployed himself even as king to increase the treasures of this 
temple musick. Dangers and triumphs, especially the very 
groat danger and affliction experienced from the rebellion of 
Absalom, awakened again the slumbering tones of his youth 
ful harp, to sing of royal cares and troubles. Every impor 
tant measure which he adopted, especially the consecration of 
Mount Zion, was brought into general notice, and placed in 
a clear light by his own poetical effusions, and those of the 
poets employed under his patronage. In his Psalms his whole 
kingdom still lives. These were sung at the publick festivals. 
Dazzled with the magnificence of the king mid the royal city 4 


the people sung them with enthusiasm. They were treasur 
ed up and preserved as royal Psalms ; every thing, which 
could be, was included and arranged as such ; and these were 
imitated as far as possible by other writers. The poets pat 
ronized by David, followed the splendid example of their king, 
not by devoting themselves to song merely, but by doing so in 
the same spirit and style, which he had adopted ; and why 
ehould not the succeeding ages, in which David was become 
a sacred name, the father of the whole race of kings, and as 
sociated with the future hopes of the nation why should 
they not follow so glorious a model 1 Even the Prophets im 
itated him, because David was the favourite name among the 
people, because his Psalms were the song book of the nation, 
wherever it took part in Divine worship, in musick and poet 
ry. In this way was formed the collection, which we have 
under the name of David s Psalms. Not all are his or of his 
age. Only an individual song of Moses, however, is from 
more ancient times, and later writers obviously followed him 
as their model, even when they did not ascribe their songs to 
himself. The superscription ascribing them to David, where 
it stands without farther limitation, seems to be as indefinite 
in its import, as the ascription to Solomon of whatever pro 
verbs and delicious songs belong in any sense to his age, or 
correspond with his character. In short, .this greatest and 
most renowned king of Israel succeeded in uniting the garland 
of lyrick poetry with the triumphal and regal crown, and 
among the Hebrews a beautiful song is synonymous with a 
song of David. 

It is, therefore, undeniable that David greatly refined and 
beautified the lyric poetry of the Hebrews. Instructive ex 
hibitions of the attributes of God, of human nature, of indi 
vidual virtues and vices, of the happiness of the upright, and 
the misery of the wicked, commenced with the Psalms, for in 
the law of Moses and in the wild and uncultivated period of 
the Judges they had scarcely found a place. The warliko 


trumpet wa* softened to a milder tone by the song of the 
shepherd s flute, and the more toucltfng harp of the mourner; 
for harsh as the sentiments are, which still occur in some of 
the warlike Psalms, yet the general tendency is undeniably to 
a style and character of greater gentleness and refinement. 
The pomp of royalty, and the imposing arrangements of a civil 
government, were to be celebrated, and these softened and 
controlled the sacred fury of the ancient Muse. The history 
of other nations also teaches us that, in order to a splendid na 
tional poetry it requires the splendours of a king, whose reign 
at once furnishes by its deeds rich material for song, and se 
cures the order and tranquillity necessary for using the trea 
sures thus provided. The reiu of David formed this period 
of the classick poetry of the Hebrews, which furnished models 
for Solomon and the Prophets. 

In the mean time i: must be acknowledged, that while 
these advantages were gained, the rude strength, the anima 
ted movement, and the lofty sound, of the ancient poetry waa 
in some measure lost. We seek in vain in the Psalms for songs 
like those of Moses and Deborah, figurative language like that 
of Job, Balaam and Jotham. Uniformity obviously prevails in 
them, because everything was made to revolve around Mount 
Zion, and confined to the sphere marked out by the models, 
which David had furnished, and by his style of thought. 
That hill of the Prophets, full of the free-breathing poetry of 
nature, was now silent and desolate. The Seers of David 
were no poets, the regularly commissioned Asaph prophesied 
only upon his harp, and it was not till centuries had passed 
away, that the poetry of the Prophets revived. Thus every 
thing in this world has its course, and every human regulation 
its different sides of good and evil. What poetry gained in 
religious, political, and lyric cultivation, it lost perhaps in 
natural vigour and freshness. 

No book of Scripture, except the Song of Solomon, has 
suffered so many misinterpretations and perversions from its 


original sense, as the book of Psalms. As David in his own 
age gave his own feeling and sentiments general currency, 
and rendered his own style the predominant one in the songs 
of the temple ; so the book was destined to become the book of 
devotional song for every age, for all nations, and all hearts, 
though they had no connexion either with the spirit or the 
deeds of David. What else could result from this, but a 
great extension of the sense of the author, and an application 
of his language to objects and feelings very different from 
those, which it originally designated? Every commentator, 
every versifier found here his own age, the wants of his own 
soul, his own domestic and family relations, and on this 
ground adapted it to the singing and reading of his own 
church. In that all the Psalms of David were sung, as if 
every member of the church had wandered upon the moun 
tains of Judah, and been persecuted by Saul. They sung 
with zeal against Doeg and Ahitophel, imprecated curses upon 
the Edomites and the Moabites, and where they could do no 
more they put the imprecations in the mouth of Him, who 
never returned railing for railing, nor threatening for injustice. 
Let one read the most individualized, the most characteristic 
ally beautiful songs of David, of Asaph and of Korah, in 
many versifications of them, then turn back to the original 
situations and sources of the feelings which they depict, and 
will he find them always retaining even a shadow of their 
ancient form ? 

In order to attain a clear view of the Psalms, as lyric po 
ems of the age of David, the following particulars are indis 

1. That we forget all modern imitations, and commenta 
tors, even though most highly prized, and the best for their 
own times. They read them in accordance with the purposo, 
at which they aimed, each for his own age, and with an ap 
plication to this of the language, the consolations, and in 
structions of the book. Our aim is to see it in its circumstan- 


ccs of times and place, and in these the heart, and under* 
standing of David, and the poets associated with him. 

2. In accordance with this aim the first inquiry should be 
for the objects and situations, in reference to which these 
songs were severally composed. These are given at the head 
of many of the Psalms; in others they are determined by the 
contents, and in others still it must be left undetermined. 
Two things here, however, must be guarded against, in the 
first place, that we do not insist upon finding a Psalm for eve 
ry trifling event in the life of David, nor invent for every figu 
rative, expression in the Psalms a corresponding situation in 
his life. The first has been done in relation to David, just 
as in relation to other lyric poets. A locality is sought for 
eyery thing, and a memorial for every event. In pursuit of 
the second, to find a situation, to which every word refers, 
strange things have been imagined, of which the interpreter 
indeed might know something, but of which the poet certain 
ly knew nothing. 

3. We must study the peculiar language of David and his 
contemporaries, by comparing the different Psalms with each 
other, and with the history of the age. That the royal poet 
had his favourite expressions, needs no proof j and they may 
all be explained from the situations in which he was placed. 
"The Lord is my shield, he is on my right hand, he setteth 
me in a wide place, he leadeth me to high places," &c., are of 
this kind, and a series of others, which in part with some 
modification of sense were for centuries current in the church. 
A collection of poetical idioms for all these songs would be a 
useful book, and indeed we are in need of a similar collec 
tion for all the principal writers of the Old Testament. 

4. We should regard the feelings that prevail in the Psalms 
neither as an enemy, nor yet as blind defenders of them. 
They exhibit the characteristic traits of individual men, and 
as such should be explained, without being dressed up as a 
model of holy feelings for all men. David had his peculiar 


feelings and cares, both as an exiled wanderer, and as a king. 
We are neither of these, and need therefore neither impre 
cate curses upon enemies, whom we have not, nor magnify 
ourselves as their conquerors; but we must learn at the same 
time to understand and appreciate these feelings. The Scrip 
ture itself gives us a rich commentary on the subject, for it 
does not disguise the character of David, even in regard to 
his failings. The man who sinned against Uriah and Bath* 
shcba, may also be too hasty in his language. He was rash, 
oppressed and a warrior. He spake often not in his own 
name, but in the name of his people, as a father of his coun 
try. But always, and in all circumstances, he was a man. 
His songs illustrate his history, and his history aids the inter 
pretation of his songs; but he, that aims to see every where 
in them the superhuman and unearthly, will at last see nothing 

5. Again, in studying these as specimens of art, we must 
take no examples from other nations and languages, as models, 
by which to judge of them ; for the composition of such effu 
sions must be judged with reference to the peculiar nature of 
the feelings, sentiments and language, out of which they have 
grown. To what does it amount, indeed, when we say, that 
this or that Psalm is Pindaric I merely that it contains bold 
transitions, lofty sentiments, and historical allusions ? and 
must not the same necessarily be found in all laudatory odes ? 
Yet, in regard to the art of composition, David has nothing 
more than this in common with Pindar. The language of 
Pindar s lyrick poetry, his periods, and metrical arrangement, 
the mode of treating his subjects, derived from mythology and 
ancient history, ul the nature of his subjects themselves, 
hardly admit of a comparison, and we are sure to draw false 
conclusions, when we suffer ourselves to be blinded by the 
word chorus. A Hebrew is by no means the same thing with 
a Grecian chorus. 
6. Still less should the style of Da?id be judged by the rulet 

229 \ 

of lyrick poetry formed in our own age, and not applicable 
even to all the odes of Horace, though from these they are 
professedly abstracted. The critick, who formed them, had 
for the most part, too narrow views, was not extensively ao 
quainted with the lyrical treasures of different languages, con 
fined himself to a few favourite specimens, and by these framed 
his general rules. How then can they be expected to apply 
to an entirely different age? to situations and languages far 
more simple ? Where the rules are true, they occasion no 
constraint, but flow spontaneously from the nature of the emo 
tions, and the impression upon the heart of the object which 
the poet represents. The characteristic traits of the poet, of 
the situation, and the language, unite their influence in the 
result produced. The rules, therefore, always require actual 
experience of their truth, and yet admit of this test but par 
tially. In short, where they are true, who would not rather, 
in reading a poetical effusion, feel and unfold them himself, 
by his own original experience, than borrow them from foreign 
models and arts of poetry, and thus violate the primitive sim 
plicity of ancient song, by the artificial subtleties of modern 
invention. Whoever is not qualified to feel the beauty of mu 
sical and harmonious poetry, unaided and of himself, will nev 
er learn to feel it by force of artificial rules. 

7. We must unfold and experience in ourselves the original 
nature and beauty of the Hebrew lyrick poetry. The teach 
er should lead the scholar to observe what is its particular 
^objects represented what is the interest attached to it in 
what manner it is presented what feeling prevails in the 
piece what style and movement it holds into what train of 
t sentiment it expands itself how it begins, proceeds and ends. 
The more simply and impressively this is pointed out to the 
youthful reader, without the technicalities of art, and with 
out enthusiastick warmth of commendation, the more will the 
poetry find its way to his heart What is beautiful in it he 
will love without noisy commendation ; original strains of inv 



passioned feeling will of themselves make their impression 
upon him, and, if he has a spark of lyrick feeling in hia^bosom, 
Jehovah will give him inspiration. In Hebrew lyrick poetry, 
simplicity, in this development of it, is especially necessary, 
since of all poetry it was least constructed by rule, and as a 
work of art, and was rather poured forth spontaneously, as 
genuine feeling wells up from a heart filled with lively emotions. 
Would that we had an edition of the Psalms, in which David 
was treated merely as Horace is I in which, without casuistick 
subtleties, the poet should be shown as a poet, his beauty not 
indeed, cried into our ears, but at the same time not defaced 
by the patchwork of languages and versification foreign to its 
nature. In higher criticism upon the poetry of the Hebrews 
we are still but children, We either stifle ourselves with va 
rious readings, or embellish the simplicity of the original with 
the modish attire of modern languages. 

I will now go through the Book of Psalms, in order to mark 
some of the chief varieties of their lyrical style. To do it ful 
ly would not accord with my present plan, and no one will 
expect me in a few brief sketches, to exhaust the variety to be 
found in this collection of one hundred and fifty songs. 

It is customary to divide the Psalms into the elevated, the 
middle, and those of a lower tone, and this is very well, if the 
division taught any thing definite. Any matter of any cou- 
siderable extent can be divided in tkis way ; but the question, 
always remains to be settled, where each particular piece be 
longs. Now, let one arrange them, as he will, with reference 
to this division, and he will be at a loss in many cases, where 
to place them. The nuccessive steps of lyrical elevation are 
so numerous, and the tones so near together, or rather so flow 
into each other, that it would be difficult to apply such a prin 
ciple of arrangement to the whole number of Psalms, and after 


all of what use is the whole system. Let us, then, endeavour 
to attain the -object in a different way. 

1. Some Psalms are short. They unfold only a single im 
age in a simple and uniform tone of feeling, and terminate 
with a beautiful completeness in the expression. I might call, 
them odes, expressive of a single thought, fttiij, if the last word 
did not imply something foreign. Of this sort is the beautiful 
133d Psalm, which breathes a fragrance delicate as a rose. 


Behold, how lovely and how pleasant, 
When brothers dwell in peace together! 
Thus breathed its fragrance round 
The precious ointment on the head, 
That ran adown the beard of Aaron, 
And reached the border of his garment. 
So descends the dew of Hermon, 
Refreshing Zion s mountains,* 
For there Jehovah gave command, 
That blessings dwell forevermore. 

The union of brothers, of tribes, and families is here com 
pared with objects of highest sacredness and beauty, and 
which diffuse an animating fragrance. So the good name of 
families dwelling in unison is diffused, and gives them dignity 
and honour. So the dew of Hermon descends to water the 
parched mountains of Zion, and make them productive of bles 
sings. As a national song for their festivals, it has a perfect 
and beautiful close. From the flowing ointment he comes to the 

* The conception here is not f owing down, which could not be from 
Hermon upon Zion but fulling, as dew or rain. From the woody Liba- 
nus and Hermon, and from the sea, ascended the vapours, which came 
down upon the parched mountains of Judtea. It seems to have been a 
requisite in the songs sung at national festivals, that Jerusalem or Zion 
should be mentioned. Hence tho figure here. There seems to be no 
necessity for altering the text, 

232 , r 

descending dew, and from this to the invocation of blessings 
upon Zion the true compass of an ode. Aaron s name itself 
presents a fine example of a peaceful brother, whom his own 
brother anointed with the blessing of God and the glory of 


THK 230 F9ALM. 

Jehovah is my shepherd, 

I shall not want. , 

He maketh me lie down 

Upon the green pastures, 

He loadeth me 

Beside the still waters, 

Restoring my life. 

He leadeth me in a straight path, 
Still faithful to his name. , 

And though I walk 
Through death s dark valley, 
I fear no evil, 

For thou art with me, 

Thy trusty shepherd s staff 

Is comfort and support. 

Here, spread before my eyes, 

Thou hast prepared my table, 

In presence of my foes, ./ 

My head thou dost anoint, 

My cup is running over. 

Yea, goodness and mercy follow ma 
Through all the days of my life. 
I shall return to the house of God, 

4s long as I live. 

From the close it is plain, that this beautiful Psalm was 
composed in exile. The commencement is a quiet pastoral, 
but his feelings lead him to drop the image of his sheep, and 
a table, a royal feast, is spread before the eyes of his oppres 
sors. This joyful hope rises to a full conviction, that success; 
will attend him, as long as he lives. The sudden transition; 


from one image to another, is in the spirit of the Oriental ode. 
Yet but one feeling pervades the whole. 

Those who would examine more specimens of this sort may 
read the 15th, 20th, 61st, G7th, 87th, 101st, 150th, and o^ier 
Psalms. I could wish that I were able to translate all these, 
so much am I delighted by their simple beauty. 

2. So soon as a lyrical effusion, either from the comprehen 
siveness of its subject, or the fuller expression of emotion, be 
comes extended, it requires variety, contrasts, a manifoldness 
of parts, which in the former kind we perceive only in the 
bud, in a trifling variation of the image. Here, according to 
the Oriental style, a great effect is produced by change of 
person, questions and answers, sudden appeals to inanimate 
or absent objects, and, if in the form thus enlarged a sort of 
lyrical representation and action can be introduced, the ode 
attains its highest perfection. It has, in this way, a begin 
ning, middle and end, the last returning again to the first, and 
the whole forming thus, a lyrical garland. This is what the 
critics call the beautiful irregularity, the ambitus, of the Ode, 
thejlig/tt, in which it strays, but is never lost. The whole 
presents itself before us, a picture full of living action. No 
word can be taken away, no strophe change its place. The 
beginning and the end are necessary to the middle, and the 
middle remains impressed upon the memory. Perfect odes of 
this sort, are few in number in all languages, because there 
are few subjects, that admit of being treated in this way, but 
where they are found they should be kept in perpetual remem 
brance. To the class of songs composed of several members 
I reckon among the Psalms, the 8th, 20th, 21st, 48th, 50th, 
70th, 90th 99th, lllth 113th, 120th 129th. Among the 
perfect specimens, which have not only variety and contrast, 
but a progressive lyrick action, I venture to name the 2d, 
24th, 45th 47th, 80th, 110th, 114th and 127th Psalms. 
Some include here, also, the 29th and GStli, because, in the 
voice of God in the former, and the carrying of the ark in the 

. 234 

latter, they suppose a local progress of the representation ; but 
for this I see no ground. The principle of progression must 
be inward, from the one living fountain of excited emotion, 
and cannot come from outward geographical relations. But 
few of all these can be introduced here, and the choice is dif 



ALL Jehovah s is the earth and its fulness. 

The world and they that dwell therein, 
For he hath founded it upon the seas, 
He hath established it upon the floods. 

1. Who shall ascend the mountain of Jehovah? 
Who dare to stand in hie most holy place ? 

2. He that hath clean hands, and pure heart, 
That hatli not bound his soul with perfidy, 
Nor ever sworn deceitfully. 

He shall receive a blessing from Jehovah, 
The approbation of his guardian God.* 
1. This is the people, that seek after him, 

That aeek thy face, O God of Jacob. 
OHORCS. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, 

And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, ^ 

For the king of glory will come in. 

1. Who is the king of glory ? 
Jehovah strong and mighty, 

2. Jehovah mighty in battle. 

CHORUS. Lift up your heads, O ye pates, 

And be yc lifted up, ye everlasting doors, 
For the king of glory will come in. 
1. Who is the king of glory ? 
CHORUS. Jehovah, God of Gods ! he is the king of glory. 

* Political crimes were very properly named here, since he must b 
free from these, who would approach his national God. The blessing, 
which he was to receive, is in like manner of a civil nature. The word 
means properly justification, i. e. in a civil or political sense, and be. 
cause this involved the keeping of the law of God, and was enjoyed by 
such as had access to him, it became in the Psalms synonymous with 
happiness, grace. 


The change of voices in this Psalm is obvious to every ear, 
and it is equally plain that there is a progressive transition of 
thought, in its economy full of life and action. It commences 
magnificently with the sentiment, " the earth is Jehovah s." 
He is to dwell here upon the hill of Z ion, and the whole 
earth will be spread out before him. The transition from the 
sentiment in the beginning to this little mount.iin is very 
beautiful. It becomes a holy mountain, because Jehovah 
dwells upon it, and that both in a moral and a civil sense; for 
us nothing impure in sacrifices could be brought before God, 
so no impure worshipper could appear before him. It seems 
appropriate too, that only such vices are mentioned here, as 
are injurious to the general welfare ; for Jehovah dwelt here 
as their national God, as the founder and protector of the 
Je\\;i#h State.* The remainder of the Psalm is full of action. 
A multitude presents itself, knocking at the gates, and eager 
to behold the face of the monarch ; and lo ! it is Jehovah 
himself, the ark of the covenant, over which dwelt their an 
cient God, the- leader of their armies. lie, who in ancient 
times had gained so many victories, a glorious king, renowned 
in war, and shown to be mighty in power, was proclaimed by 
the answering chorus, and as such he was to dwell by the resi 
dence of the heroic king, upon mount Zion, his recent con 
quest. The ancient doors of his tabernacle must therefore 
raise their heads, that such a monarch might come in ! How 
picturesque and striking the representation ! God entered in 
to a small tent, and would have no temple built for him by 
David, so that its ancient narrow doors have no magnificence, 
but what is derived from him, who enters within them. In 
order to give roundness and dignity to the piece the particular 
incidents attending the processsion, and historically described 

This portion of the Pdiiilin, as its connexion with the remainder was 
only casual, and they could not always be sung together, became a nation, 
jal song by itself, (Ps, xv.) as it well deserved to be 


in the 68th Psalm, are here passed over. By comparing them 
any one may understand the difference between two songs, 
the one of which is a picture full of living action, and the 
other history lyrically narrated. Let us now take up a Psalm 
of the same sort, but breathing a milder spirit ; the most 
beautiful epithalamium of so early times, 


A BONO OK 1,0V*,* 

My heart ia uttering words of gratulation, 
My work is consecrated to the king. 
My tongue ia like a ready writer s pen. 

Lo, tbou art fairer than the sons of men, 
And grace is poured upon thy lips, 
Therefore, God hutli blessed thee forever. 

Gird on thy sword upon thy thigh, 

Most Mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty, 
And in thy majesty go forth victorious, 
Because of truth and the oppressed a right* 

And fearful deeds shall thy right hand perform, 
The arrows of thy quiver (even now 
I see the nations falling at thy feet) 
They pierce, O king, the hearts of thine enemies. 

Thy throne, Iord, is forever and ever, 
The sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. 
Thou lovest righteousness, and hates iniquity, 
Therefore hath God, thy God, anointed thee 
With oil of joy above thy brethren. 
Thy garments are all fragrant 
With myrrh and aloes, and cassia. 
From Armenia s ivory palaces, 
Kings daughters muke thee joyful 
Jn thy magnificence. 

But at thy side, 

Thy queen is standing, clothed in gold of Ophir, 
Hearken, O daughter, look, incline thine ear, 
Forget thy people, and thy father s house, 



So shall the king desire thy beauty, 
For he is now thy lord, incline to him. 

The daughters, too, of Tyre with presents 
Shall come to thee ; the rich among the people 
Shall seek thy favour. 

The king s bride 

Is beautiful exceedingly and she herself 
More beautiful, than her attire of gold. 

And now shall she be brought unto the king, 
Adorned with garments of needle work. 
The virgins, her companions, follow her, 
They shall be brought to thee, 

With joy and jubilee shall they be brought, 
And enter now the palace of the king. 

In thy fathers stead, O queen, shall be thy sons, 
And thou shah make them princes in the land. 

But I will spread thy praise from age to age, 
And thus the nations sing of thee, forever and ever. 

I have not felt at liberty, in translating this, to destroy the 
delightful simplicity of its age by modern embellishment. On 
this simplicity, and its relation to Oriental customs, depends 
the progress and the whole representative action of the ode. 
It begins with an annunciation of the subject, and a sort of 
dedication to the king. It then, first, clothes the bridegroom 
in aJl the ornaments of beauty, grace, heroick and regal cos 
tume, and makes him worthy of reverence and love, before it 
places his bride beside him. The ode is from the age of Sol 
omon. This is shown by the description of the magnificent 
palace, by the daughters of foreign kings, but especially by 
Mie representation of the king himself, on whom are heaped 
all the blessings, which God had promised to the lineage of 
David. As a hero and king he is represented with arms, his 
golden sceptre in his hand, the rich anointing oil upon his 
head, and his garments breathing precious odours. All these 
representations are derived, partly from the history of Solomon, 
who was preferred to the throne before his brothers, and part 
ly from the benediction pronounced upon him, that his king* 


dom should be a peaceful and perpetual feign of righteous 
ness, in which oppression should cease, and the rights of the 
oppressed be vindicated. A transition is then made to the . 

bride. Kings daughters minister to his happiness in his 
palace, but one is the special object of his love and admira 
tion. As bride and consort she stands beside him clothed in 
purest gold. The song, then, with childlike simplicity ad 
dresses itself to the modest and timid bride, admonishing her 
to look from her veil and observe him ; to forget now her own 
country, and devote herself to her king, who would then love 
her in return, and be attracted by her beauty. All this is in 
accordance with Oriental customs, where the bride was little 
more than a child, and the superiour power and influence of 
the husband over her was very great. Soon, however, she 
shall enjoy the prerogatives of her station, the daughters of 
Tyre, the mart of all costly and precious things, shall wait 
upon her with bridal presents, and rich princes shall sue to 
her for her friendship and intercession. In language still 
more personal and flattering it is then added, that she i* beau 
tiful, not only in her outward embellishments, but that her own 
hidden person constitutes her loveliness, and excels in beauty 
all the precious stones of her attire. In like manner she is 
brought richly adorned to the palace ; the procession moves 
with songs and rejoicing out of the view of the poet, and he 

only adds hir wish modestly intimated, that she may enjoy the 
blessings of a happy marriage. The song closes in a lofty 

tone, as it had begun in a style of refinement, and exhibits 
throughout discernment, loftiness of conception, and grace 
fulness of style. 

We proceed now to other Psulms, which have not indeed, 

so wide a compass in the action, which they develope, but yet 

form a beautiful whple ; composed of several distinct members, 





Had not Jehovah been with us, 
(May Israel now say) 
Had not Jehovah been with us, 
When men rose up against us, 
Then had they swallowed us up, 
In their fierce wrath against us. 
Then had the waters overwhelmed UB, 
The waves had gono over our souls, 
The swelling flood passed over our life. 

Blessed be God ! He gave us not 
To become a prey to their teeth. 
Our souls have escaped, 
As a bird from the snare of the fowler, 
The snare is broken and we are escaped. 

Our help is in the name of Jehovah, 
Who created tlio heavens and the earth. 

The 129th Psalm is obviously formed upon the same lyrical 



Often have they oppressed me from my youth, 
(May Israel now say,) 

Often have they oppressed me from my youth, 
Yet have they not prevailed against me. 
The plowers plowed upon my back, 
They made their furrows long. 

The righteous God hath cut the cords of the wicked, 
The foes of Zion shall return confounded. 
As grass upon the housetops must they be, . v 

. That before it is ripened withereth away, 
Wherewith tho mower filleth not his hand, 
Nor the binder of sheaves his arm, 
Where none that pass by say, 
44 Thu blessing of God be on you, 
We bless you in the name of Jehovah." 
* Ps. cxxiv. 


Similar to these is the beautiful song respecting the return 
from captivity, in which the first deliverance by Moses which 
they anticipated, and made use of to enkindle their hopes, and 
strengthen their confidence, is compared with the second. 



When God turned back the captives of Zion,* 

We were like them that dream. 

Then was our mouth filled with laughter, 

Our tongue with songs of joy.f 

Then said they among the nations, 

The Lord hath done great things for them, t 

The Lord hath done great things for us, 

Whereof we are glad ! 

Turn then again our captivity, O Lord 
As thorn turncdst the streams in the South. 
The sower soweth in tears, 
And reapeth with songs of joy, 
He gocth weeping, andbcareth his seed, 
He cometh with singing, and bringeth his sheaves. 

Can a nation be called barbarous, that has even a few such na 
tional songs? and how many of them do we find among the He* 
brews? I cannot deny myself the pleasure of closing this 
class of the Psalms with an elegy, that belongs indeed to a 
l&e age, but is not on that account less beautiful. 

From Egypt. [This reference of it to Egypt is not a very probable 
one, and the deliverance by Moses could scarcely be called with propri 
ety a return to Zion. The Psalm refers properly only to the Babylonish 
exile. The poet means to say, we could scarcely conceive the unex 
pected joy of deliverance from Babylon, we thought it a dream. Arc. 
These remarks apply also to other notes of the author on this psalm. J.] 
t Ex. 15. 

t Ex. xv. 14. Theso words acquire a clear, beautiful import, 
vrhen understood of the first deliverance, and this reference of the ode 
give* its chief beauty as a whole. 

That ia in the Red Sea. Ex. 14. 




By the rivers of Babylon we sat down, 
And wept, when we remembered Zion. 
We hanged Our harps upon their willowt. 

For they, that held us in captivity, 
Required of us a song, 
Our oppressors required of us mirth. 
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion." 
How shall we sing Jehovah s song 
In a foreign land ! 

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem ! 
Let my right hand forget me, 
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. 
If I do not remember thee, 
If I prefer not Jerusalem 
Above my highest joy. 

Remember, O Lord, the children of Edorn* 
In the dny of Jerusalem s affliction, 
"When they cried, * raze it, 
Ua/e it, even to its foundation." 

Daughter of Bubylon, the desolate,* 
Blessed be he, that requiteth thee, 
That requiteth thee, as thou hast done to as. 
Happy shall he be that scizeth thy little ones, 
And castcth them upon the rocks. 

I do not join in the imprecation of the last lines ; but if the 
song was written during, or immediately after, the Babylonish 
captivity, its accents must be felt, as touching and natural 
and his beloved country is in the view of the poet sacred above 
every other object. 

3. Every emotion has, its perfect sphere, in which its action 
may be contemplated as a whole. The sorrow, which exalts 
itself to joy, the anxiety, which exausts itself, and sinks to 
rest, the calm tranquility, which changes into a joyful confi 
dence, the contemplative mood, that at length loses itself i 


an ecstacy, and the rapture, which sinks again into calm con 
templation every effection has its own determinate course, 
and gives consequently, a corresponding ambitus to the lyrick 
expression of it, in which we feel its completeness. I must 
go through nearly all the remaining Psalms, if I would arrange 
them according to these principles, for all are animated with 
feeling. I give here only a few examples. 

Psalms, in which the feelings are elevated from a tone of 
lamentation to hope and confidence. Cth, 22d, GOth, G2d, 
85th, 145th, and many others. 

Psalms, in which an ardent and heroick spirit is raised, till 
it sinks again to repose in the remembrance of God. 7th, 
10th, 13th, 17th, 26th, 35th, 36th, 52d 59th, Gist, 64th, 
69th 71st, 86th, 88th, 94th, 109th, 140th 142d. These, 
too, are very numerous. 

Psalms, in which a tranquil confidence is expressed through 
out. 3d 5th, llth, 17th, 21st, 25th, 27th, 28th, 30th, 37th, 
41st, 44th, 63d, 65th, 131st, 132d, &c. 

Others are triumphal songs merely, and of these, besides the 
sublime odes already introduced, I will name only the 9th, 
18th, 33d, 34th, 66th, 116th 118th, 138th. It would be 
too tedious to go through with specimens of all these several 
kinds. Let the teacher point them out to his hearers, and 
those most uniform in their tone, when psychologically con 
sidered, will be found beautiful. Of these referred to, I can 
give here but a single specimen. 


O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath, 

Nor chasten me in thy fierce anger. 

Be merciful to me, O Jehovah ! for I am weak. 

Heal me, O Jehovah, for my bonea tremble; 

My whole soul is in terrors. 

And thou, Jehovah ? O how long ! 


Return, O Jehov*h, deliver my oul. 
O save me for thy mercies sake. 
For in death there is no remembrance of thee, 
In the grave, who shall give thee thanki? 

I am wearied with my groaning, 
All night my bed is wet with tears. 
With tears 1 make my couch to swim, 
Mine eye is consumed with sorrow, 
It looks but feebly upon all mine enemies. 

Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity ! 
For God hath heard the voice of my weeping, 
Jehovah hath heard my supplication, 
Jehovah hath accepted my prayer. 
Ashamed, confounded, shall be my enemies, 
They shall fall back, and be ashamed suddenly. 

Unsuitable as thii may be for a general prayer of penitence, 
its tone and current of feeling is still strikingly beautiful, con 
sidered in relation to David as an individual. The languish 
ing, and now aged, and feeble king, who feels his misfortunes 
as the chastisement of God, indulges in grief, till he sinks to 
the brink of the grave, but, when the word " enemies" is ut 
tered from his lips, his emotions change, his courage and hope 
return. As most of the Psalms are an artless representation 
of particular situations, much still remains to be learned from 
them of the natural movement of lyrical emotion and expres 

4. In many of the Psalms, which contain moral sentiments, 
a beautiful system of instruction prevails. Of these, the 14th, 
19th, 32d, 39th, 49th, 91st, 103d, 1 15th, 139th, and the didac- 
tick Psalms of-Asaph generally may be named, as particularly 
worthy of attention. In the 9th Psalm, some have attempted 
to point out a twofold subject, but I do not discover it. From 
the great and general household of God in nature, where 
every object praises him and obeys his commands, the poet 
comes to the more intimate relation of God to his people, 
which he represents as more secure and affectionate, in the 


same degree as it is more limited and confiding. The move 
ment of the ode, therefore, is antithetic. The first image 
presented is raised to its greatest dignity, when it is interrupt 
ed, and the tone of the language becomes more and more gen 
tle and confiding, till it expresses the near friendship of God, 
and his communion with the individual, human soul. The 
most secret and hidden faults of his friend are noticed by 
Ood, and he causes the silent suggestions of the heart to be 
received, as the discourse of a friend. Such is the beautiful 
economy of the Psalm,* and the delightful instruction, which 
it contains. In diductick pieces of this sort generally, how 
ever, we are not to expect the same progressive action, as in 
the triumphal anil warlike songs. Instruction loves a smooth 
area, and goes directly to its purpose. Finally, in the alpha 
betical Psalms we must look for no artificial structure in the 
logical connexion. They are a blooming cluster of choico 
sentences, and arranged with a view to the memory, and tho 
facility of learning them. The long 110th Psalm treats for 
the most part, of only one leading sentiment, and is a collec 
tion of moral truths expressed with many variations. I must 
not here give many examples, since some have already been 
introduced, and most of them are familiar to the recollection 
even of children. It is, too, the most beautiful test of the du 
tlactick, that it is instructive to children. 


1. He that dwelleth under the care of the most High, 
And abideth under the shadow of jhe Almighty, 
He saith to Jehovah, " Thou art my refuge," 

My fortresi, and my God, in thee will I trust." 

2. He will deliver tbea from the snares of death, 

A ground of many misinterpretations of the Psalms, is the taking 
law, word, judgment, testimony in the modern, and not in the ancien* 
political sense, which these words [conveyed to the minds of the Jewa. 
To thtfse refer, also, the duties and benefits, which.the Psajrns celebrate. 


He will save the from the deadly pestilence. 
He covereth thee with his feathers, 
And under his wings dost thou trust, 
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 

A thousand shall fall at thy side, 
Ten thousand at thy right hand, 
But it shall not come nigh thee. 
With thine eyes slialt thou behold, 
And see the reward of the wicked.* 

1. " In thee, O Jehovah ! is my refuge.** 

2. So thalt thou dwell securely and on high.* 1 
There shall no evil befal thee, 

Nor any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 

He givcth his servarits charge for thee, 
To keep thee in alt thy ways. 
They shall bear thee on their wings, 
Lest thou dash tliy foot against a stone. 

Thou shall tread upon the lion and adder. 
And trample upon the young lion and the dragon. 
** Hecnuse he trusted in me, I deliver him, 
" I exalt him because he honoureth my name. 

" When he calleth upon me, I will answer, 
" When in trouble, I will be with him, 
" I will deliver him, and honour him, 
4 With long life will I satisfy him, 
"And will show him my salvation.** 

Can the providence of God be taught with a sense of more 
cordial trust, or with more tenderness of feeling? There is 
here no chorus, indeed, but the change of speakers produces 
the finest effect. It makes the whole a fatherly lesson, pro 
gressing and rising higher to the end, where the Supreme 
Father speaks and confirms his truth. 

But enough of examples. In order to feel the beauty even 
of the finest Psalms, we must transport ourselves into the age, 
in which they were written, and return to its simplicity of 
feeling. As most of the Psalms are prayers, so that childlike 
submission of the heart is necessary to the proper use of 
them, which the Orientals require in their religious ceremo- 


nies and prayers, that silent admiration of God and his 
works, which sometimes rises into rapture, and sometimes 
sinks the mind to the deepest abasement. The song hurries 
from thought to thought, as from mountain to mountain. It 
touches the springs of emotion rapidly but deeply, and is fond 
of repeating the impression. It paints its objects only by ra 
pid sketches. All lyric poetry, in which pastoral innocence 
and rural sentiments prevail, requires a calm and quiet mind ; 
its beauties can produce no effect upon a sophisticated and 
scoffing one. As the heaven pictures itself only in the clear 
calm sea, so we see the gentle wave of emotion describe its 
circles only in the tranquil soul. 

Here it would be unjustifiable to withhold in silence the 
name of the man, \vho first made us in Germany familiar 
with the genuine tones of the Hebrew Psalms. The most 
simple of the odes of Klopstock especially in detached parts, 
are tones from the harp of David. Many of his lyric pieces, 
and the most artless songs of his Messiah, have given to our 
language a simplicity and truth of lyric expression, which we 
should seek in vain from the most successful in this depart 
ment of ihe neighbouring nations. 


I. Of the character of David. The delicacy and sensibility of hit 
mind in sorrow and joy. His confidence in God, and whence it origin, 
ated. What class of reader* consequently will be particularly fond 
of his Psalms. The straight forwardness and cordial sincerity, which 
characterise them. David s praise of Abner at his grave. His warm 
foelings excited by tho persecution of his enemies. Passages in 
the Psalms relative to Divine retribution and justice. A peculiarity 
of David in promising eongs to God, as the best offering, which he 
could bring. Of the passages, in which he speaks of the law of God, 
as the political constitution of the country. How we are to apply the 
characterustick sentiment of these Psalms. 

II. Of the character of Asaph. A theodiceo respecting the fortune 
of the wicked. Prize songs on this subject by David and the son* 
of Korah. 

III. Songs of the sons of Korah. Earnest longing after Jerusalem, an 
affecting elegy. 

IV. Songs of anonymous authors. What the ascending songs or song* 
of degrees probably were. Examples and proofs from what is con. 
tained in them. General view of the whole book of Psalms. 

V. Of the rnysick of the Hebrews. Their various instruments of mo, 
sick. Influence of the instrument upon the various songs. What is 
meant by ihe word Selah. 

We have hitherto only surveyed the Psalms as it were ex 
ternally, let us ii DW look more nearly into the character of 
their authors. 


The leading trait of his character is truth. His songs are 
a faithful picture of his life, his feelings, and his age. Hence 
Luther called them, in his preface to the Psalms, a garden, 


where all beautiful flowers and fruits flourish, but where also 
at times the most violent winds sweep over them. If his lan 
guage were not in earnest, but only poetical colouring, we 
should have nothing to do but to praise his colours. Now we 
may derive instructions from his writings, by the picture 
which they present both of good and evil.* 

1. In David is manifested throughout a tender heart, and a 
**ntl full vf sensibility, lie exhausts the emotions and the 
language of joy and sorrow, and there are expressions of this 
sort in his Psalms, for which our language has almost nothing 
corresponding. This may be seen in the 22d, 38th, 39th, and 
many others, lie is afflicted either by God or his enemies; 
(the later misfortunes of his reign he looked upon, as the 
chastisements of Jehovah) and how is his spirit bowed! 
How does his harp complain ! He is dissolved with anguish 
and tears. 

2. These tears are poured out to God, but soon change into 
trust, courage, or childlike submission. God had taken him 
from a keeper of slicep, and anointed him as the shepherd of 
his people, had delivered him from many dangers, and sus 
tained him under many sufferings. All this inspires him with 
an individual, personal confidence in his most faithful and 
best friend, and this confidence is the theme of his songs, 
they utter the feelings of personal confidence and friendship 
in his communion with God,t and hence they have been so 
highly prized by all great and noble minds, who have placed 
a similar confidence in God. For all found in them the pro 
per language of their own hearts, and could find no better 
expression of their feelings, than in the words of this ancient 
hero. Perhaps no one has exemplified this more strikingly 
lhan our own Luther, who found his whole heart in the book 

For Proofs of hia earnestness and sincerity see Pa. 5. 17, 26. 32. 34L 
36. (J3. &c. 

tSee Pa. 11. 18. 21. 27. 31. 40. &c< 


of Psalms, and applied it to his own times, whenever and 
wherever he could do so. It is a great and good character- 
istick in a man to believe in a particular providence. All, 
who have been exposed to severe and numerous trials, and 
been proved upright, have had this faith. They knew God 
not from books, but from the truth of their own hearts, 
the experience of their own lives. No topic in .relation to 
God is unfolded in the Psalms with a scientific or theoretical 
purpose. God is he, who every where looks through the 
soul of the Psalmist, knows the truth and uprightness of his 
heart, as well as his secret griefs and necessities. This occa 
sions him joy and grief, inspires him with confidence and hu 

3. Thus his songs are the expression of the most inward 
and individual language of the heart. What to us seems 
boastful, when we repeat it coldly, and with but vague sym 
pathy, was to him a feeling of reality in the particular circum 
stances, in which he was placed, JJis enemies calumniated 
and persecuted him, he on the contrary washed his hands in 
innocency ; they were stained with no blood of his persecu 
tors. This he represented to God in his songs.* If we 
would deal justly with David, we should find the same 
gentleness and heartfelt sincerity also, as characteristics 
of his reign. His Joab was more harsh and violent than he ; 
for even against his conquered foes he proceeded with all the 
magnanimity, which the times permitted, and against his do 
mestic foes he wished never to be obliged to use severity, 
How was he afflicted at the death of Absalom! and how did 
he spare Shimei ! Even Abner, the leader of the party oppo 
.sed to him, and who had been craftily murdered, be honoured 
after his death with a song of lamentation for a virtuous 

Ps. vii xxvi. <fec. t2 Sam. iii. 33, 


And David laid to Joab, v f, 
And to all the people with him, 
Rend your garment*, 
And gird you with sackcloth, 
And mourn for Abner." 
And the king himself followed the bier, 
And when they burled Abner, 
He lifted up his voice, 
And wept at Abner s grave, 
And all the people with him. 
The king lamented over Abner, 
And said, 

Abner died not as a coward dieth! 
Thy hands were noi bound, 
Nor thy feet put in fetters. 

As one fulleth before wicked men, 

So fellest thou." 

And all the people wept aloud. 

The reign of the peaceful Solomon was in many respects 
far more severe and despotick, than that of the warlike and 
conquering David. 

4, Asa necessary consequence, therefore, since he was 
innocent and human, the persecution of his enemies was the 
more trying ,to his [patience. The feelings, which it awaken 
ed, corroded his heart with anguish, and, find an expression, 
even where it should not be the case, in general Psalms of 
praise or thanksgiving. Every one knows, how early misfor 
tunes give a colouring to the objects, with which the feelings 
of the soul are connected. Early mischances, faithless friends, 
undeserved neglect at length render the heart cheerless, even 
if they do not embitter it. Most of David s Psalms, to which 
these remarks apply were composed in allliction, when his 
heart sought consolation in his harp, and we all know how 
freely the soul expresses itself under the first lively sense of 
unjust suffering. Though, therefore, I could wish for myself, 
and with reference to their present use, that the reference to 
his enemies were removed from some of his Psalms, as tho 


8th, 19th, 23d, 104th, and 139th, yet they belong properly to 
the picture of David s feelings, and mode of thought. He 
must have given an untrue expression of his soul, if he had 
not placed it before God in this, as in its other traits. Yet 
he does not by these expressions lay us under any obligation 
to adopt his imprecations at unfit times or without occasion. 
It must be admitted, that his imprecations upon his enemies, 
are not always in the spirit of the Christian religion. 

These same trying circumstances gave David occasion to 
unfold the characters of the retribution, and righteous judgment 
of God as the feeling of his heart prompted him, and more 
fully than had been done in earlier times. In the conception 
of Moses, God was a national God, who exercised retributive 
justice over the whole nation in their general fortunes. Da 
vid and his cotemporaries unfold still finer traits of the Divine 
government over individual men and over the world. Asaph 
does it as a teacher ; David as an experienced hero ; and ma 
ny of their expressions are now, alter the lapse of three thou 
sand years, the most suitable for giving a moral view of God 
in his relation to the succession of events. In many of the 
Psalms it might appear, as if Job had been their model ; but 
every thing throughout flows from its own proper and natural 

5. It is a remarkable circumstance in regard to David, 
that he so often promises his songs as offerings to God, and 
considers them, instead of sacrifices and burnt offerings, of 
the greatest worth, and as vows of the sanctuary, best pleasing 
to God. These were the " calves of his lips," of which the 
Prophets, also speak, and may be explained from the charac 
ter of David, and the age in which he lived. In our lips the 
words are often misapplied. With David the most appropri 
ate and best offering, which he could make to God was his 
songs of praise. They were the flower of his strength and 
pertained to his highest glory. To offer bullocks from the 
Stall would be far easier for a king, but he disdained to pre 

sent these cheaper offerings, and chose to honour God Wiffi 
the finest effusions of his poetical powers. But to whom among 
us will these passages of the Psalms be appropriated ? Calres, 
bullocks, we should not offer to God, new and original songs 
we cannot offer, as David did J and from whom, moreover, 
does God require such poetical expressions of penitence? 
Thus these words are for us lifeless and unmeaning. 

G. David reigned in a state, where the government was 
properly a theocracy, in which he stood in the place of God, 
and was under the necessity of governing himself in accord 
ance with its ancient economy, the established constitution of 
the country. This gives to his songs throughout a spiritual 
character, even where he speaks of mere secular laws and 
regulations. He sat as a prince or vicegerent of God upon 
Mount Zion : in righteousness and judgment his priest, in vic 
tory his instrument, in the observance of the national laws 
his servant, no less than the lowest of his people. When, 
therefore, all the deeds and triumphs of David are ascribed to 
God, when the king rejoices in his God, boasts of his power, 
and swears new fidelity to his laws, all these expressions per 
tain, in fact, to the peculiar national language and relations. 
When he celebrates the wonders, i. e. the appropriate beauty 
and excellence of the Mosaick laws, and so often binds himself 
to rule in accordance with them, he was in so doing no indo 
lent youth kneeling at his harp, as he is sometimes represent* 
ed. Even in those Psalms, in which he speaks of his love to 
the law of God, he speaks also of his diligence in business, of 
his watchfulness of his own heart, that he might not become 
arbitrary and unbridled, in short, of his reverence for the laws 
and usages of his country. That he was bound to do so he 
felt very distinctly, but most deeply, when he had transgressed, 
and the chastisements of God were upon him. " I have sin* 
ned against Jehovah, my nation s God, but what have these 
sheep done ?" 

These few traits may serve to show, with what a fiee and 


liberal spirit the Psalms of David must be used, if they are to 
be for us what they were for their author. Here, too, the 
rule of Young may be applied, that we often approach most 
nearly to the ancients, when we seem to be farthest removed 
from them. The flowers of general instruction and ornament 
may pass into our mind, and all the delicacies of language 
and style may also, become ours, if our hearts sympathize 
with the emotions, which they express. But all blind imita 
tion is here, too, but a worshipping of Baal, and such expres 
sions as cahes of the lips are but unmeaning words. Only 
then, do individual Psalms become favourites, when we find 
them, in particular situations of life, beautiful, elevated, and 
true, as the proper language of our own hearts, and learn to 
love the ancient harp of David, as anticipating or echoing the 
tones of sentiment in our own souls. 


In didactick Psalms Asaph excels David. His soul was 
less tender, but more calm and free from passion. The best 
of his Psalms are formed on a beautiful plan, and his national 
songs, also, are peculiarly excellent. In short, he merited the 
name of a Prophet, i. e. of one divinely inspired upon the 
harp. A single specimen of his didactick poetry must suffice. 



Yet, surely God is good to the upright,* 
To such as cleave to him with pure heart. 

My feet indeed were almost gone, 
My steps were already slipping, 
For I was envious at the foolish, 
And jealous of the prosperity of the wicked. 

* la many passages the word Israel is taken in a constrnctio pregnaus 
and the notion of uprightness, contained in it is to be interpreted by itself. 


No snare of death it spread for them,* 

But they are strong and firm. 

They know not the troubles of life, 

The scourge of misfortune reacheth them not, 

Like other men. 

Therefore their pride adorneth them with chains, 
Thtir violence decketh them with rich attire,t 
Their eyes look out from amidst fatness, t 
Their devices flow forth from their hearts. 

They scoff, they speak evil of a friend, || 
They speak with arrogance. 
They place their mouth, as Gods in the heavens, 
And their tongue must be obeyed on earth. 

They satisfy their thirst from solid rocks,* 
They press from them abundant water, 
And say, how ? doth God know this ? 
Hath the Most High knowledge of us? 

These are the thoughts of the ungodly, 

* Death is here represented as a hunter, lurking about the paths of 
mortals. The persons spoken of here, have made a covenant with him,, 
and a leage with the grave, so that he spreads no nets for them. 

t It is not said merely they are rich and proud, but oppression has 
given them the wealth ot others. 

I If any choose to read the text here with the LXX. I have DO objec. 
tion, but the other reading, also, gives an opposite image. Their eye 
looks forth proudly, and its visions must be accomplished, so too, the de 
vices of their hearts. 

II See the other Psalms of Asaph. 1. 20. 

$ Heavens and earth are hre contrasted. They raise their heada 
even to the heavens, and their word goes forth over the earth, and is ev 
ry where obeyed. Compare Ps. clxxviii. 15. 

* Every one knows, that the two members of the common translations 
do not correspond. The second is clear, the fault must, therefore, bo in 
the first. I divide the words differently, and there is not only sense and 
parallelism, but we see a paronomasia with the following worda. It i 
an image of the severest oppression, and happily introduces what follow*. 
The Masoretic text, also, indicates a defect here. 


And these arc they, that prosper in the world,* 
And that increase in riches. 

In vain, therefore, have I kept pure my heart, 
And washed my hands in innocence, 
For every day have I been scourged, 
And every morning chastened with affliction.t 

I said, I will declare, how it is with it. 
44 Lot they are the generation of thy children.** 
My word was false ! 
I thought to understand it 
But was in painful doubt, 

Until I went into the councils of God, 
And then I understood their end. 
On slippery places hast thou set them, 
And into deep abysses are they falling* 
How are they desolate in a moment. 
And utterly consumed with terrors !.t 
As a dream when one awaketh, ( 

So, O Lord, hast thon awaked, \\ 
And put to flight their empty image, 

How was my heart distressed, 
My veins pierced through with pain, 
That I, BO foolish, knew it not, 
But was in judgment as a brute before thee. 

Now I cleave continually to thee. 
For thou didst hold me by rny right hand. 
Guide me always, even as thou wilt, 

The persons spoken of are those who live in abundance, the beati, 
fortunate men. 

t Fortune changes every morning, brings every day some new calamity 
tThe words of the original present a very vivid image. 

That the word means in awaking % not in the city appears from the 

$ The sequel shows clearly enough, what is meant her*. He was at first 
in respect to the purpose of God, as a brute, i. e. he understood nothing 
of his purpose, judged irrationally, and was disposed to break away from 
him and violate his faith. (See Ps. xxxii. 8.) Now he judges differ, 
ently of God, and cleaves to him as the following verse represents it with 
4 repetition of the word. 


And then receive me with honour. 

For whom have I in heaven but thee, 
And whom on earth do I desire beside thee ? 
My flesh and heart are wasted away, 
But thou art the strength of my heart, 
Thou art my portion, O God, forever. 

They that are far from thee shall perish. 
Thou destroyest all, that fall away from thee, 
But good for me is drawing near to God. 
In God Jehovah have I put my trust, 
Still will I sing of all thy works. 

How beautiful are the sentiments of this Psalm! It begins 
with a brief moral sentiment,* the result of many reflections, 
with which it also closes. Soon and imperceptibly he comes 
to his situation of trial, t describes how he fell into error, and, 
when he has placed this picture in the clearest light, makes 
another transition. J lie is brought into the counsels of Di 
vine providence, and sees that in his former opinion he was 
brutish. New vows of fidelity to God (having reference to his 
former wavering) are uttered with the greatest fervour,!] till a 
general moral sentiment again closes the Psalm. $ Both in 
its sentiments and its arrangement it is a beautiful didactick 

We must not extend his views beyond their proper bounds. 
Asaph saw the prosperity of the wicked, and saw it vanish 
away, while the happiness of the upright is true and abi 
ding this is the extent of his view. Neither future retribu 
tion of the former, nor an exposition of the eternal blessings 
of the latter, was the purpose of his ode. 

If I mistake not, there is in several Psalms a noble compe 
tition in the treatment of the subject presented in the above. 
We have already contemplated one Psalm containing similar 
views.^[ It treated the subject as a dark enigma, in a lyrick 

V. 1. f V. 2. 3. I V. 12 1C. 

I! V. 2326. $ V. 2728. * Vol. I. p. 180. 


and beautiful style, like all the Psalms of the sons of Korah. 
Here is the rival song of David on the same theme. 


THE 39ru PSALM. 

I said, I will be watchful all my life, 
That I may guard my tongue from sin. 
I will restrain my mouth in silence, 
While wicked men are present with me. 
I kept silence, and ceased also from joy,* 
My sorrow was excited in me, 
My heart was glowing in my bosom, 
While I was musing the fire burned. 
And then I spake with my tongue. 

Jehovah, make me know mine end, 
How short my life is, 
That I may know how frail I am. 
Behold, my life is but a hand-breadth, 
And all my time as nothing before thee 
The life of man is but on empty shadow^ 
That thinks itself enduring.t 

Yea, man goeth forth a shadowy .image* 
Yea, he disquieteh himself in vain, 
He gathereth and knoweth not for whom. 

On what then do I place my hope ? 
In thee, O Lord, is all my hope, 
Deliver me from my transgressions, 
And make me not the sport of fools. 
So will I keep silence, and open not my mouth, 
For thou wilt do all things well.t 

Remove thy stroke away from me, 
I faint from the blow of thine hand. 
For when thou dost rebuke severely 
Even the strong man for his iniquity, 

How refined and yet how true ! We cannot repress and break off 
our anxious thoughts by concealing them. They must find vent j they 
must be freely unfolded, or they corrode the heart still more bitterlj\ 

t The expression in the original is concise and beautiful. 

tThoQ wilt acoo mplish it better than I can prescribe. 


Hit beauty is consumed as by the moth, 
Yea, man ia altogether vanity. 

Hear then my prayer, Jehovah, 
Give ear unto my supplication. 
Be not silent, when I weep before thee. 
I am here a stranger with thee, 
A wanderer, as all rny fathers were. 
O spare me, that I may recover strength, 
Before I go hence, and be no more. 

A song of tenderness, composed perhaps during sickness, and 
wholly in David s style, abounding in fine personal feeling. 
One, who is fond of this, will prefer the song of David, those, 
who seek instruction, the psalm of Asaph, and those, who 
delight in lyrical invention, the ode of the sons of Korah, 
which, in depicting the fate of the wicked, ventures into 
the realms of death, David has another instructive psalm (Ps. 
37.) on the same subject. There are several similar lyrical 
competitions in the psalms, especially in the national songs. 
(Com. Ps. 4G and ?G. 80. 85. 44. 78. &c.) To compare them 
together is a very pleasing task, which illustrates the charac 
ters of the writers, as well as their peculiar styles of compo 


Were these songs written by David ? If so, why was not 
his name attached to them? since to him, as well as to Asaph, 
other songs are ascribed, which probably belong to later 
times. Perhaps they may have been from one of Heman s 
cno ir and their author may not unjustly be esteemed the 
most elevated and truly lyric poet of all in the collection. 
His national songs are brief, full and animated. The 45th 
Psalm is one of the most beautiful bridal songs, the 42d one 
of the finest elegiesThe latter is inserted here as an ex 


THE 42. 43. PSALM. 

As the hart panteth after fountain! of water, 
Sopanteth my soul after thee, O God. 
My soul thirsteth for God, the living God, 
When shall I come, and see the face of God ! 
My tears were long my meat day and night, 
While day by day they suidto me, 
Where now is God, thy helper. 
I thought thereon ; (and poured forth my tears) 
As I went with many to the house of God, 
With joy and praise in a rejocing throng. 

Why art thou cast down, O my foul, 
And why art thou disquieted within me? 
Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise Aim, 
////, my deliverer and my God, 
\ And yet, O God, my soul is grieved. 

Therefore will I remember thee, 
Here amidst mountains and streams, 
By Jordan, and the hills of Libanus. 
As there wave rusheth upon wave, 
They rush upon me like thy billows, 
For all thy waves and rivers 
Have gone over me. 

And yet the goodness of Jehovah 
x Upholdeth me by day, 

And in the night his song is with me, 
Even prayer to my God, the living God, 

I sing to God my rock, , 

Wherefore dost thou forget me, 
Wherefore go I mourning, 
For the oppression of my enemies? 

It pierceth through my bones, 
When my enemies reproach me, 
While day by day they say to me, 
Where now is God, thy helper ?. 

The living God is contrasted with lifeless idols. Here too it ha* a 
beautiful allusion to the living fountains above. 


Wfty art thou catt down O my tout, 
And why art thou ditquieted within me ? 
Hope thou in God, for I ihall yet praife him, 
Him, my deliverer and my God. 

Judge me, O God, maintain my right, 
Deliver me from a merciless nation, 
From a deceitful and wicked man. 

For thou art the God in whom I trust, 
Why dost thou cast me off? 
Wherefore go I mourning 
For the oppression of my enemies ? 

O send out thy light and thy truth,* 
That they may load me and guide me, 
That they may bring me to thy holy hill 
And to thy tubcrnacle. 

Then will I go unto the altar of God, 
To God, who is my joy and rejoicing. 
With the harp will I sing praise to thee 
O God, my God, 

Why art thou cast down O my soul, 
And why art thou disquieted within me ? 
Hope thou in God Jor I thall yet praist Aim, 
Him, my deliverer, and my God, 

I must not analyze this delightful picture, so full of lyric 
pathos. For those, who do not of themselves feel the beauti 
ful transitions, the gentle movement, and dream as it were of 
these self quieting meditations, especially the picture of the 
regions about Libunus and the Jordan, would not be taught 
to feel them by the fullest exposition, As every one, who 
seeks for consolation, seizes upon the first object for aid, so 
the eye of the afllicted mourner here falls upon the rushing 
billows of the rivers, which flow out from the lake Phiala. 
They rush with a mournful sound, and bring before his mind 
an image of the afiliction, which Jehovah had poured upon 

*Thy Urim andThummim. The passage shows, why David referred 
to them. 


his soul ; till he reflects, that his harp still remains faithful, 

and with it he again, full of confident hope, which already 
becomes a present reality to his mind, transports himself to 
the rejoicing choirs at Jerusalem. 


We have a considerable number of Psalms with no name 
attached to them, of which many were probably from later 
times, but which are not therefore the less valuable. In some 
of them we discover more refined doctrines than belonged to 
the age of David, and shall embellish our third part with sev 
eral of the number. At present I can only say a word of the 
so called ascending song* or songs of degrees. 

Some consider the songs of degrees, as marching songs in 
the return from Babylon, because Ezra 7. 9. calls this return 
an ascent. The contents of most of them have little to con 
firm this supposition. Many are at all events from late peri 
ods, and the 137th distinctly sings of the captivity in Babylon 
but very few of them seem to refer directly to the journey 
toward Jerusalem. Does the word ascent mean nothing else 
in Hebrew? Was it not the expression commonly used of 
those who went up to Jerusalem, and especially to the nation 
al festivals? Why may we not suppose then these songs of 
degrees to be only the same sort of travelling festival and na 
tional songs, as many others from David, Asaph, and the sons 
of Korah. Such they plainly are, and with this enlarged 
view of their character they are for the most part intelligible. 

I begin with the l0th Psalm, though unwillingly, as it has 
very little to show the circumstances, in which it was com 
posed, and is perhaps an entirely personal and individual lam 


TlIK 120th PftALM. 

In my distress I cull upon Jehovah, 
I cry unto him, and he hearoth me. 


Deliver me, O Jehovah from slanderous lip* 
And free me from a deceitful tongue. 

What doth it to thee, the deceitful tongue ? 
What doth it to thee ? 

It pierceth as sharp arrows of the warrior; 
It burneth like coals of pointed wood. 
Alas that I dwell in robbers tents,* 
And dwell as with Arabian savages. 
Too long have I dwelt with men, 
Who are enemies of peace. 
I am for peace, but when I speak, 
They are for war. 

The speaker is a sojourner, who complains of the intolerable 
disposition of his companions. He dwells in tents, and com 
pares those around him to Arabian robbers. He wishes the 
time, which he is to spend with them, were at an end, and 
this is all we learn from the text of the Psalm. 

Were these tents moving toward Jerusalem ? Did they en 
camp without the city, as they often must do, during the na 
tional festival. These questions are more easily asked than 

The 121st Psalm explains itself more fully. There is no 
thing in it of Babylon, but it exhibits a march towards Jeru 
salem and the holy mountains. 



I lift my eyes, and look to the hills, 
From which cometh my help. 
My help cometh from Jehovah, 

The word means a skin, a rude tent covering, from which wild 
race, living intents perhaps, had their name. The complainer therefore 
says "it is with him, as if he lived with wild savages* 1 The Israelite* 
were never captives in Meshek and Kedar, and these placet were far 
asunder. They aie used here only figuratively, as the parallelism 


Who made th heavens and the earth. 

He will not suffer thy foot to slide, 
He that keepeth thee will not slumber. 
Behold he, that keepeth Israel, 
Will neither slumber nor sleep, 

Jehovah will be thy keeper, 
Jehovah will be thy shade, 
Who goeth (as a friend) at thy side, 
That the sun smite thee not by day, 
Nor the moon afflict thee by night. 
The Lord preserve thee from evil, 
The Lord preserve thy soul. 
The Lord shall guard thy going out, 
And thy coming in now, and forevermore. 

Let us conceive a young Israelite, who like a new fledged 
bird looks toward the mountains, in which his confidence is 
placed, who eagerly desires to proceed upon the journey, and 
to see Jerusalem, and whose aged father bestows these blessings 
on him as he departs, and so it will be word for word explain 
ed. It is no going up from Babylon, for who there should be 
stow such blessings? It is the voice of a tender farewell, 
which cannot find a last word, arid satisfy itself with the be- 
stowment of blessings. The song might also be sung on the 
way by individuals or in choirs. They congratulated each 
other on their journey. 

That the 122d Psalm expresses the desires of a young 1s- 
fnelite, who has already been once at Jerusalem, and is now 
rejoicing at the annunciation of another journey, has been 
already remarked. The 123d, 125th, 134th plainly show, that 
they belong also to the same class. The 124th, 129th are 
Bongs of thanksgiving for the deliverance of Israel, such as 
were sung at national festivals, and such as we find among 
the songs of Asaph, and the sons of Korah.* The 126th is 
of the same kind, probably composed during the captivity, 
and afterwards retained as a national song, as a memorial of 
confidence and joy. The 133d praises the unity of tribes 


and families, the J28th the happiness of domestic life, the 
127th the blessing of a numerous family, though their educa 
tion requires toil and care all of them the finest subjects for 
an assembled people. Would that we had many such adapt 
ed to our customs and modes of life, as pure, as concise, as 
full of the spirit of song, as these were for the people of Is 
rael. The 130th is a confession of sin, a preparation for re 
ligious sacrifice, when one felt himself oppressed with a sense 
of guilt. The 132d commends to God the family of the king, 
Zion, the priests, and was thus destined for the same occa 
sions. Finally these fifteen beautiful songs were followed by 
songs of praise, which were obviously designed for the temple 
and the publick festivals.* 

If we look over the book of Psalms in this way, we may 
easily arrange it for ourselves, especially if we take the Jew 
ish division into five books to aid UH. The national psalms 
stand, for the most part, between the others, not each by it 
self, but in small collections. Here is a brief view ol the 

Ps. 1. The preface or introduction to the book. 

Ps. 2. A royal Psalm, the crown of the book. 

Ps. 3-40 Mostly Psalms having personal reference to David. 
These include the first book according to the Jewish division. 

Ps. 41 li). Songs of the sons of Korah, composed on a 
variety of subjects. Most qf them are national songs, and 
the 50th, the beautiful didactick psalm of Asaph, closes the 
first collection of Korahite songs. 

Ps. 51 <>4. Songs having personal relation to David. 

Ps. 65 (H National psalms, perhaps also those that fol 
low, till the 72d on the reign of Solomon closes the second 

Ps. 70 83. Songs of the Korahites and other writers, the 

The book of Psalms was probably composed of distinct smaller col. 
lections, and these belonged to one, which had been called the book of 
travelling songs, the songs of ascent. 


greater part of them national. Here closes the third book, 
which was wholly from poets connected with the temple mu 
sick, and probably was at a later period appended to the 
Psalms of David, which closed with the second book. 

Ps. 90. The song of Moses. Ps. 91107 and to the end 
of the book psalms of plain and general import; plainly a 
contribution from the temple, and for the use of the national 
festivals. The fifth book is the latest, and most miscellaneous 

Ps. 108 110 Songs of David, or having reference to him. 
Ps. Ill 118 Psalms for the temple and festivals. The 119 
a collection of moral precepts. Ps. 120 1:34 the songs of 
degrees, which are closed with songs of praise, and Ps. 138 
145 Psalms of David, which are also closed with songs of 
praise. We see how they all fall into groups, and an editor, 
who treated the Psalms merely as songs, could by arranging 
them in this way aid the clearness of our view, and facilitate 
the memory of jhcm. 


Notwithstanding the elaborate treatises we have on this 
subject, we obtain few results from them in regard to the po 
etry and economy of the Psalms. Nothing is so difficult to 
fx> be transmitted from one age, and the customs of one period 
and country to another, as language and musick. They float 
upon the air, and are fleeting as the breeze. The ancient 
and modern musick, the musick of the East and of the West, 
are so different from each other, that, even if we knew more 
of them there would be found but little, which our ears 
would relish. I remark only briefly. 

1. The instruments, which are named in the Psalms, are 
eitker ruling, or only accompanying instruments. The ac 
companying are obviously the common ones, which therefore 
do not occur in any of the inscriptions. They belong to the 


full chorus of joyful exclamation and praise, and to the songs 
of the temple. Since the people remained only in the outer 
court, and the music sounded to them from the temple, or un 
der the open sky, the multitude of singers and plain instruments 
is readily accounted for. To this class belong the castanets, 
the adufa, many kinds of trumpets and flutes. It was a 
kind of military musick, because the God of Zion was a 
Lord of Sabaoth i. e. of warlike hosts, and to this character 
the sentiments of many psalms have an obvious reference. 
When it is said, that Asaph struck the castanets, this is not 
named as his only instrument, but with this he led the choir, 
he beat the time. In some songs also he prophesied, i. e. 
employed his inventive power, as a poet with the accompani 
ment of his musick. 

2. The softer musick, accompanying the language of poet 
ry, was formed by single instruments; hence one song is re 
ferred to the flute, one to the guitar and harp, another to the 
horn, &c. It would seem, that the ancients, with whom po 
etry and musick were intimately associated, attached more 
importance, than the moderns, to giving every instrument its 
peculiar effect, and even designating by it the character of 
the poetry ; for it needs no proof to show, that each instru 
ment with its peculiar tone has also, as it were, a peculiar 
sphere of emotion, in which it is fitted to produce its effect. 
Hence we have striking examples of what effects certain 
tones on this or that instrument, which were the favourite 
airs of an individual hearer, have produced on him. As all 
the power of musick rests upon its simplicity, the artist 
with the simple tones of his instrument has the heart of one, 
with whom it is a favourite, in his power, and plays as it were 
immediately upon it. In the mean time the harmonious up 
roar of all instruments, the artificial swell of sound, that 
reaches the clouds, may indeed enrapture the ear of a con 
noisseur, but becomes a real Babel to the feelings of one, 
who wishes only to have his feelings affected. Should the 


sisters, who have been separated by art, musick and poetry, 
once become again more intimately united, we should again 
hear of" a song for the harp," and " a song for the flute," as in 
the songs of Asaph and David. By the study of a single in 
strument we learn the kind of passion, which it awakens, and 
to distinguish more deeply the tone of feeling, which it excites 
in the heart ; and he, that can happily express this in the lan 
guage of lyric poetry, will accomplish more than can be done 
by all the rules of the critical art. 

3. Since antiquity and the East, even now, have known 
nothing of our artificial harmony, since the poetry of the 
Psalms has only a very free arrangement of metre, and little 
or no regular scansion according to our method, all attempts 
to model our language by that, or that by ours, are in vain. 
Free and indeterminate metrical movements float in the air. 
Melody and the controlling influence of feeling determine 
their rythmical buiance only in a very general manner. 
This is shown in the Psalms by the so frequently occurring 
"Selah." If we compare the most decisive passages, they 
are found to correspond neither with pauses, nor the da capo, 
nor intermezzo, but must mean change of tone, which is ex 
pressed either by increase of force, or by a transition into 
another time and mode.* The subject of the song, or its 
tone of emotion change, and since the melody was not very 
definitely marked for the singer and tho musical composer, a 
nota bene was attached to the most important passages in 
the book of Psalms. Songs, which are impassioned in their 
character, most commonly have it, especially where the sub 
ject, is changed. In uniformly didactick Psalms and those of 
loftier tone, which are still uniform, it does not occur. Where 

* From all books of travels we know, that the Orientals are fond of a 
very uniform, and, as it appears to the Europeans, a very doleful sort of 
muuick, but that in certain places they suddenly change the time, and 
pass imo a different melody. This it probably was, which in the Psalms 
if designated by "Selah," 

it stands at the end, it may show, that they were acccustomed 
to sing another continuously after it, as it is undeniable, that 
they were fond of thus linking together and associating sev 
eral different psalms.* The Greeks translate " Selah by 
iu t which Suidas and others explain by psltodtaf troJU 
concentus mutatio. It shows therefore, that such 
songs were set to musick throughout, only however after the 
very simple method of the Orientals, which varied with the 
change in the song which it accompanied. On the whole we 
find that we have indeed the words of these ancient songs, 
but that especially in our imitations the living spirit, which 
depends upon the recital, is far from being attained. 



THE 92o PSALM, t 

It is good to give thanks to Jehovah, 

To sing praises to thy name, O Most High. 

To show thy loving kindness in the morning, 

Thy faithfulness every night, 

Upon the ten.stringcd harp, and the lute, 

The guitar of the sounding strings, 

Thou, O Jehovah, hast rejoiced me with thy work, 
I will triumph in the work of thy hands, 
How great, O Lord, are thy works ! 
How unfathomable thy counsels! 
The brutish man undcrstandeth it not, 
Neither doth the fool comprehend it. 

When ihe wicked spring up, as the grass, 
And all the workers of iniquity flourish, 

1 Chron. 16 is made up of parts from four different psalms, Ps. xxxii* 
Exxiii. were probably also sung together, and so of others. 

t Probably this Psalm, the author of which is unknown, was designed 
to be sung by the Lovites on the Sabbath, and in the temple. 

They yet shall perish at the last. 
. But thou, O Jehovah, abidest 
The Most High, forevermore. 
Behold, O Jehovah, thine enemies, 
Behold thine enemies shall perish, 
All the evil-doers shall be scattered, 
But my horn shall thou exalt, 
As the horn of a wild bullock, * 
And I shall be anointed with pure oil. 

Mine eye looks with courage on my foea, 
Mine eur receives the tidings of evil, 
To the wicked, that rise up against me. 
The righteous flourish like the palm tree. 
And grow up like the cedar of Lebanon. 
Those that are planted in the house of the Lord, 
Flourish in the courts of our God. 
They still shoot forth in old age, 
They are full of sap, and their leaf green, 
To show that Jehovah is upright, 
And there is no unrighteousness in him. 

That is, thou dost raise my courage, and increase my strength. The 
wild ox is superior to other animals, by the magnitude and elevation of 
his horn. Hence, his horn is often mentioned, as the symbol of strength 
and superiority of power. So Moses speaks of Joseph. Deut. xxxiii. 17. 






The Psalms considered in certain national points of view. Of God as a 
judge and national God in the temple. Intimations and expressions of 
the Psalms on this point. Of songs of triumph over other nations in a 
religious tone. Examples of this. Peaceful and religious scenes in 
Psalms of a warlike character. Examples. O f the king as a reprc- 
sentative of Jehovah in a theocratic government. The second Psalm 
accompanied with remarks. Of the king as covenanted with Jehovah, 
who dwelt near him. The 110th Psalm, with remarks. Of the pro. 
mises respecting the lineage of David. Their influence on the Psalms. 
The last Psalm of David. The times of Solomon, a Psalm. Celebra. 
tion of Mount Zion in the Psalms and Prophets. 

I am very well aware, that I have by no means exhausted 
the internal character of the Psalms. But in order to do so an 
extended investigation of the subject matter, of which they 
treat, would be requisite, and for that, I have no room in the 
present work. The finest sayings respecting God, his attri 
butes and works, his government and retributive justice, the 
protection, which he extends to the good, the worth of prayer, 
and of uprightness in his sight, are so well known to us 
through the Psalms and the applications made of them, that a 
collection of them seems unnecessary, I venture, therefore, 
only to indicate certain leading points of view, which exhibit 
the subject matter of some of the Psalms, in its proper relation 
to the age, in which they were composed. 

1. Elevated and sublime, as are the expressions concerning 
God, which occur in the Psalms, we must yet bear in mind, 


that, especially in those of the age of David, Jehovah is still 
represented peculiarly as a national God, who was worship 
ped as the king and judge of the land in his temple. This 
view of the subject gives as much of force to the songs in 
general, as positive meaning to particular expressions. David 
contemplated God as the private friend of his person, and his 
individual fortunes ; but in the temple he approached with his 
confessions and songs, as into the presence of his judge.. 
Hence we are to explain the account of his sins, as infirmities 
or as transgressions, because both were matters to be spoken 
of in the temple. Hence he ventured to speak with such con 
fidence of his blamelessness in regard to his enemies, because 
he was here standing before his judge. So in many of thr- 

Hear, O Jchovali, the righteous, attend to my cry, 

Hoar my prayer, that goeth from pure lips, 

Before thy presence I seek for my right, 

Thine eyes behold the things, that are equal. 

Thou provost my heart, sturdiest it by night, 

Thou triest me, and fmdest no evil in me. 

For I purposed, that my mouth should not transgre 1 

When I gave sentence in thy stead. 

In nil things I guarded my lips 

From uttering an injurious word.t 

I called upon thec, and thou hearedst me, . 

So now also incline thine ear and hear. 

As for me in my innoeency 
I shall behold the face of my judge. 

* Ps. xvii. 

t This seems to me, the sense of the words, "to the works of of men, 
(my subjects) by the word of thy lips, (the judgments and ordinances, 
which I gave as king in the name of God) I guarded myself from going 
in tho way of violent men, (arbitrary, oppressive tyrants.)" The suppli 
ant expects justice from God, since he has not knowingly said or done 
evil to any< 


My withes will be satisfied, 
When thine image awakes.* 

That is, 80 soon as he shows himself in the character of judge, 
all these expressions and intimations are judicial. In the 
East the judge was approached in plain terms, and with a loud 
cry of complaint, and when he showed .himself, when his 
" likeness" awoke publicly, or he appeared in publick for the 
administration of justice, he was the helper of the oppressed. 
Thus it is said, 

Let thy face shino upon us, 

And we shall be saved. 

Thou saidst, Lord ; ye shall seek my face, 

I seek it Lord, hide it not from me. 

So many other forms of expression in these publick national 
prayers and lamentations before their God. 

2. When, therefore, in triumphal and national songs, also, Je 
hovah is placed in opposition to the gods of other nations, it is 
for the most part in this special, national sense. t 

Not unto us, O Jehovah, not unto us, 

To thy name alone be the glory, 

For thy mercy and thy truths sake. 

Let the nations say, " Where is now your God ? 

Our God is in the heavens, 

And doeth whatsoever he will. 

But their idols, silver and gold, 

Are the work of men s hands. 

They have mouths, and speak not, 

They have eyes, and see not, 

They have ears, and hear not, 

They have noses, and smell not, 

They have hands, and handle not, 

They have feet, and walk not, 

* The context and parallelism require, that the "awaking of the like, 
nest" be preferred to God, and correspond with " face." 
t Ps, cxv, 


Nor do they speak through their throat. 

Like them are they that made them, 
And every one, that trusteth in them. 

O Israel, trust thou in Jehovah, 
He is your help, and your shield, 
O house of Aaron, trust in Jehovah, 
He is your help, and your shield. 
Ye, that fear Jehovah, trust in him, 
He is your help, and your shield. 

If we take from these. Psalms the peculiar national feeling, 
which accompanied them, we deprive them of a great part of 
their force, and of their original import. 

In Judah God is known,* 

His name is great in Israel, 

In Salem is his tabernucle, 

And his dwelling place in Zion. 

There brake ho the arrows of the bow, 

The shield, and sword, and battle. (Change of tone.) 

Glorious art thou, O mountain, 
Mightier than the mountains of prey. 
They stand despoiled of themselves, 
Even the bravo ! they have slept their sleep, 
And none of the men of might find their hands. 
At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, 
The rider and horse are in a dead sleep. 

How terrible urt thou ! 
Who can stand in thy sight, 
Pefore the breath of thy fury ? 
Thou didst thunder judgment from heaven, 
The earth feared, and was silent. 
When thou didst arise to judgment. 
To save the oppressed of the earth. (Change of ton.) 

The wrath of man giveth thee but praise, 
The remainder of it thou girdest to thee, 
As the symbol of thy tuiumph. 
Make thy vows, and bring triumphal gifts 
To Jehovah your God, 

* Ps. Ixxvi, 


All ye border* of the land, 

Bring your triumphal gifts 

To him that is to be feared. 

He bindeth the pride of heroes, 

He is terrible to the kings of the earth. 

We know not what event this triumphal song celebrates ; but 
every trait is as strictly national, as Salem, Zion, and Jeho 
vah were peculiar to the Hebrews. In our warlike and tri 
umphal songs the most apposite expressions of this sort from 
the Psalms are but withered laurels. 

PSALM 108. 

God, my heart is ready, 
I will sing and give praise. 
Awake, my soul, awake, 
Psaltery and harp, 

1 will awoke early, 

I will praise thce, O Lord ; 
I will sing praises to thee 
Before the people and nation. 

For thy goodness is great, 
It reacheth above the heavens.* 
Thy covenanted truth O Lord, 
Reacheth above the clouds. 

Fxalt thyself, O God, above the heavens, 
That thy glory may cover the earth, t 
Deliver thou thy beloved, 
Save with thy right hand, and hear. 

God heard, and spake in hit sanctuary, t 
Therefore will I rejoice. 
For already I divide Shechem as mine, 

In allusion to the mo;ning sky rising and freeing itself from clouds. 

t An allusion to the morning light, 

t A common expression of the favour of Jehovah. (See Ps. Ixxxv. 9.) 
The following words are not spoken by God, but by David. 


And measure out the vale of Sueooth.* 

Gilead is mine, Manasaah is mine, 
Ephraim my helmet, Judah the leader in war. 
Moab is my wash-pot.t 
Upon Edom I cast my shoe, 
And treat the Philistines with scorn. 

Who brought us into the strong city? 
Who guided us into Edom ? 
Was it not ihou, O God, who also didst cast us off, 
And didst not go forth with our armies. 

Help us again in our necessities, 
For vain is the help of man. 

Through God we yet shall do valiantly, 
He treadeth the enemy under our feet. 

I know no people, in whose war-songs were mingled thoughts 
so gentle as we find here. The most feeling prayer and lam* 
entation may be nearly connected with feelings of the great 
est bravery and warlike sternness. It was obviously the re 
fined moral regulations of Moses, which gave even to the 
war-songs of so early an age this milder and gentler tone. The 
severity found in them belongs to the age, the tenderness and 
refinement is the effect of their religion. 

3. Hence, we see, also, that passages of the greatest sensi 
bility, relating to domestick happiness, are mingled with war 
like descriptions, and frequently from the most heroick senti 
ments there is a transition to the tone of elegy. The former 
circumstance happens sometimes from the union of several 
distinct Psalms, as in the 144th. The first eight verses are a 
distinct Psalm, and with the 9th a new one begins, which 

* These are not conquered countries, but the property of David as 
king. He begins with a glad heart to enumerate the blessings of the 
inheritance, which God had given him. He names first, Shechem, and 
the ralley of Succoth, because these were the residence of Jacob, and 
therefore the most ancient inheritance of the Jews, by right of the 

t Here begins the enumeration of his conquests and victories. 


again from speakieg of enemies turns suddenly to the pros- 
perity of Judaea. 

That our sons, like vigorous trees, 

May grow up in the beauty of youth ; 

And our daughters, as beautiful pillar*, 

Polished like statues in the palace ; 

That our garners may be full, 

Yielding all manner of store, 

Our sheep bring forth thousands, 

Yea ten thousands in our valleys; 

Our oxen be strong, and no lamentation, 

No damage, or loss in our fields. 

Happy the nation, that is thus, 

Happy the nation, whose God is Jehovah. 

In the 65th Psalm is a similar transition from war-like to rural 
thoughts. How beautiful is the image, when the shepherd of 
Israel, who is invoked for purposes of war, feeds his people as 
a shepherd. 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, 

TUat leadest Joseph like a flock. 

Thou, that art throned above the cherubim, 

Let the light of thy countenance shine. 

Hefore Ephraim, and Benjamin, and Manassah, 

Awake thy strength, and come and save us. 

Rerice us again O God, 

(jfause thy face to shine, and we shall lit sated, 

Jehovah, God of Sabaoth, 

How long art thou nngry amid the prayers of thy people ! 
Thou fecdcst them with the bread of tears, 
And givest tears for drink in a full cup. 
Thou has made us a reproach to our neighbours, 
A scoffing to our enemies round about. 
Recice us again, O God of Sabaoth, 
Cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved. 

Thou broughtest a vine out of Egypt, 
Thou didst cast out the nations and plant it, 
Give it room and cause it to take root, 


That it filled the land. 

Its shadow covered the hills around, 

And cedars of God were its boughs, 

Thou sentest its branches to the sea, 

Its runners even to the Euphrates. 

Why then dost ihou break down its walls, , 

So that all, who pass by, despoil it ? 

The boar from the wood doth waste it, 

The wild beast doth devour it. 

O God of Sabaoth, return to us again, 

Look down from heaven and behold, 

And visit again thy vine, 

Which thy right hand hath planted 

It is burned with fire, it is cut down, 

It is withered at the breath of thine anger. 

Let thy hand be upon our leader, 

Thy right hand upon him, whom ihou hast made strong; 
So shall we never revolt from thee, 
Revive us, and we will rejoice in thoe. 

Jehovah, God of Salaoth, 

Revive U9 again, 

Cause thy jace to thine, and vie shall be fated. 

This beautiful elegy, with its recurring chorus, is wholly the- 
ocratick. It rests on the history of the nation, and only to 
ward the end (v. 18.) do we discover the continuous allegory 
of the man and hero, who is now to act in the name of Jeho 

4. As -Israel was a theocratic state, and every hero and ru 
ler acted in the place of Jehovah, so the language, when 
these are sjwken of, has a peculiar loftiness and solemn digni 
ty. Even in the historical style it could be said, in the form 
of expression which they admitted, that he was seated on the 
throne of Jehovah* and in poetry, that he was a son of God, 
that is, his representative on earth. Every one knows the va 
rious uses of the word son in the Hebrew language. Th* 

1 Chron. xxix, 23. His kingdom is called the kingdom of Jeho 
vah. 1 Chron. xxviii. 5. 


connexion of simp^ domestic relations with ancient govern 
ment and cultivation rendered it a favourite expression. In 
calling kings the sons of God* it employs a form of express 
ion common to all ancient languages, and other Oriental na 
tions have gone still farther in a thousand titles and names.! 
In such passages as the following therefore the meaning is 

I have found David my Servant, 
I have anointed him with my holy oil. 
With him shall my hand be mighty, 
Him also shall mine arm strengthen, 
That no enemy may terrify him. 

I will beat down his foes before him, 
And will smite those that hute him. 
My truth and mercy shall be with him, 
And in my name shall his horn be exalted, 
That his hand maybe stretched to the sea, 
His right hand to the river Euphrates. 

II r shall nay to me, thou art my fattier, 
My God and the rock of my milratiun. 
I make him also my first born, 
Exalted above ull the kiiiifs of the earth. 

The last lines explain the expression son of Jehovah, Jirtt 
born of Jthuvtth, so clearly, I venture to add here the 2d 
Psalm, as of the same character, and authentically elucidated 
by this song of Heinan. 


What tumult reigns among the nations! 

* The Jioyf * f i of Homer are known to every one, 

t Tlicy cull themselves sons of heaven, of the sun, the moon, 

t Pa. Ixxxix. 20. 


Why do they clamour with empty noise 7* 
The kings of the earth rise up, 
The princes huiltl projects together* 
Against Jehovah and his anointed.! 
" Let us brake their bands asunder, 
* And cast away their fetters from us." 

He, that is throned in heaven, shall laugh, 
Jehovah holdeth (hem in derision. 

He speakcth to them in his wrath, 
And Bcattereth them in his fierce anger. [| 
* I have set my king upon my throne, 
Upon my holy mountain Zion." 

I will also declare the divine decree, 
Jehovuh said unto me, 
"Thou art my son, 
So be it from this day forth."** 
Ask of me, 

And nations shall be thine inheritance, 

I adhere to the simplicity of the ancient versions, which translate 
here " empty, vain," the usual sense of the word. The verb also cor. 
responds well with this, and signifies the empty uproar of a multitude. 
The poet has here in a single word imaged the import of the whole ode, 
which only unfolds this lofty sentiment with which it begins. 

tl have preserved the metaphor of the original, which is here indeed 
only an incidental import of the word, because the idea of the whole 
ode has a resemblance to the history in Gen. xi. 

t Jehovnh and his earthly representative stand side by side, and as 
one person throughout. The latter is here only in the name of the for* 
mer, and has his dignity from him. 

|| He speaks to them in the thunder, and with lightning disperses 
them. The parallelism finely expresses the image, and the words of 
the following verses an? the brief and sublime sentence of Jehovah, uU 
tered in the thunder. 

$1 follow the Hebrew text here in using the first instead of the third 
person, and consider God as the speaker in the two last lines, as the 
whole context and other parallel passages show to have been intended. 

1 Properly the law of the realm, the new constitution of the govern* 
ment. Henceforth God will reign through him, as his representative. 

** These two lines are parallel, the sense of the latter the same as that 
of the former. The same parallelism occurs Is. ix. 6. and in Acts xiii. 
54. the passage is applied to a new king. 


The uttermost part* of the earth thy possession.* 
Thou shah smite them with an iron sceptre, 
And dash them as a potters vessel. 

Be wise now, therefore, Oye kings, 
fie instructed, ye judges of the earth. 
Obey Jehovah with fcar.t 
And^ionour him with trembling. 
Do homage to the son, lest he be angry, 
And bring destruction on you by the way.t 
For soon his wrath will be kindled, 
And happy they, who are faithful to him. (I 

Every one may observe here the beautiful lyrical progress 
of the Psalm. It begins boldly and abruptly with " a quo ? quo 
Hcelesti ruitis?" and sketches in few words the whole picture 
of their tumult, their conspiracy, their vain undertaking. 
A glance from heaven, a smile of scorn from the king of hea 
ven renders all their counsels vain. He speaks to them in 
thunders, and one lightning flash drives them asunder. Tho 
poet hears and interprets the voice. It was brief and majes- 
tick, such as only he might utter, who is throned in heaven. 
The king upon earth distinctly explains his ordinances. He 
gives them counsel and instruction, but little time for deliber 
ation, and closes with a sentiment addressed to the faithful of 
the land. 

* I leave to the Psalm here its loftiness of expression, the kings, the 
boundaries, the judges of the earth, as belonging to the age. The 
Psalmist did not consider geographically the relative magnitude of Ju 
daea. It was to him simply the central point, where God reigned as 

1 1 take the expression literally as meaning circuire. The vassals of 
Oriental kings stood in a circle around the throne, and going round the 
altar was a common act of religious worship. 

J As much as to say, you have no time to deliberate. The image is 
taken from the caravans, which perish by the simoom. 

il Trust, faith, in the Psalms often mean fidelity, as of subjects to 
their sovereign. 


But to whom does it relate ? For whom was a picture so 
animated originally designed ? I know not, if we would judge 
of it, uninfluenced by foreign impressions, for what other per 
son it could have been originally composed, than for David. 
Who dwelt upon Mount Zion at the time of its composition ? 
Whom did God set as his son and representative upon this 
mountain according to other Psalms of plain import? Who 
had as many enemies as he, both in and out of Judcea ? And 
who triumphed so gloriously over all these enemies ? Half 
the Psalms are full of this subject, and yet, in regard to this, 
we proceed as if we had read nothing of it. All the expres* 
sions, which occur here, are elsewhere also applied to David, 
and the whole view presented by the ode is obviously corres 
pondent, both in place and time, to the purpose for which it 
was composed. The nations marshal themselves for war. 
They are terrified, and proclamation made to them, with brief 
space allowed to deliberate who does not see, that the bow 
is drawn for aiming at a present object. Place the object 
aimed at the distance of a thousand years, and the arrow flies 
in vain. The finest lyrical construction of a most impressive 
ode is lost, we deprive it of its local nation and origin, of its 
peculiar purpose and meaning. 

" But the Psalm is introduced in the New Testament." 
Yes! as a Psalm fur the king, and with reference to JIim t 
who sat and was forever to sit upon the throne of David. 
Must we not, therefore, know how David was enthroned there? 
And can we learn this otherwise than from the*circumstances 
of his age, the representations of his own songs ? The appli* 
cation of it in the New Testament so far from excluding, con^ 
firms rather its original meaning as descriptive of David. 

5. As David, therefore, was enthroned upon the same holy 
mountain with God, that is, upon a mount of kingly majesty 
in his place, and on his throne t so expressions came into use, 
which celebrate him, as the covenanted ally and friend of 


God. He had brought Jehovah upon mount Zion, and sworn 
allegiance to the mighty one of Jacob. * 

I will not enter the tabernacle of my house, 

Nor go up upon my bed of rest, 

I will give no sleep to mine eyes, 

Nor slumber to mine eyelids, 

Till I find a resting place for Jehovah, 

A habitation for the mighty one of Jacob. 

Lo we heard of it in Ephrata, 

We found it in the wild fields of Jaar ; ^ 

Let us enter I said into his tabernable, 

Let us worship at his footstool. 

Arise Jehovah, como to thy rest, 

Thou, and the ark of thy heroism. 

Thy priests shall be clothed with judgment. 

Thy saints shall shout for joy. 

David performed this vow, and we know how richly God 
requited him. He gave him rest from his enemies, promised 
him a perpetual lineage, and continued blessings. The king 
places himself with humility btfore the face of God, and 
renders his thanksgivings, while he sits crowned with victory, 
in his house, upon the holy mount. All these expressions 
belong to historical narrative,! and the original local import 
of the following Psalm, therefore, would seem also to be 
placed beyond question. 

THE 110th PSALM. 

Jehovah said to the king, 
Sit thou upon my right hand.t 
Till I make thine enemies thy footstool. 
From Zion now Jehovah reaches forth 

*Ps. cxxxii. 

t2 Sam. vii. 1. 18. 1 Chron. xvii. 16. 

I At the right hand means often at the side of God. (Ps. xci. 7. xvi. 
8. 11. cix. 31. 121. 5. God gives him a place of rest and honour on 
mount Zion, and beside his temple, till be has subdued for him all his 


The iceptre of his power abroad,* 
" Be thou king amidst thine enemiea.t 

Freewill offerings are with thee, 
In the day of thy triumph, 
Upon ivy holy mountain. 
From the bosom of the dawn, as the dew, 
* Have I produced thee for myself.t 

Jehovah has sworn and rep-snteth not.U 
* Thou shall be my priest fowever, 
I ordain thee my Melchisedek.$ 
Jehovah, at thy right hand,* 
Shall crush the kings in the day of his wrath, 

The sceptre of the king. Jehovah now stretches it out in his name 
and as hie ally upon mount Zion. 

t Most of the enemies of David were still unconqured, when he 
weat to Zion, and carried thither the ark of Jehovah. 

I The author has a long note on this passage, which I venture chiefly 
to omit, as 1 believe his conjectures have met with no favour among the 
critics. His rendering is defended mainly by a conjectural alteration of 
the text. TK. 

|i The inviolable covenant, which God made with David, is in 2 Sam. 
vii. where the words forever and ever," ore often repeated. David 
himself regards it as a covenant obligation, 2 (Sam. vii. 19.) and so 
speaks of it in his last words. (2 Sam. xxiii. 5.) 

It is well known, that the word here rendered priest" designates one 
who might approach near loGod, and it would stern, that the nearness of 
David to God led to its use. But the parallelism king of righteoutnett, 
ahows clearly enough its meaning. Such originally the priests were to 
be,and when David brought the ark to Zion he sought to invest them again 
with that character. (See Ps. cxxxix. 9. How far it was carried we 
know not, it is enough, that 2 Sam. viii. 18. the sons of David were 
priests, i.e. judges, and David taerefore the highest priest of righte. 
ousness, here by a fine allusion called Melchisedek. In the very place, 
where David resided, this venerable patriarch had once been a priest 
of righteousness and king of peace. 

But what is the expression " after the order" ? The parallelism 
shows that it is the oath, by which the family of David was raised per. 
petually to the regal and priestly dignity. It is the same with decree 

in the 2d, Pulm. 

IT The expression here does not relate to rank and dignity, but it is 
to be taken as in Ps. xvL 8. 11. Ps xci. 7. and means by the side. 


Shall tit * judge among the nati 

Then shall the land be full of dead bodies, 

And wounded heada lie far around. 

He shall drink of the brook in the way, 
And lift his head again with pride.* 

A beautiful ode ! the plan of which need not bo hidden or 
unintelligible to us. It says to David, in his triumphal entry 
upon mount Zion, that he may now be at rest by the dwelling 
place of Jehovah, and, though encompassed with enemies, 
reign securely ; for God is now at his side, as his covenanted 
ally, who will sit in judgment among the nations. Clothed 
with new dignity, he now dwells near to God, who stretches 
forth for him a sceptre, which all obey. He is now King of 
righteousness, a priest of God in Salem. What the muses 
are to Horace, the same are the holy oracles of God to the 
Hebrew poet. 

Vos Ca-sarem ahum, militia siuml 
Fessa cohortes ubdidit oppidis 
Finire quurcntcm lubores. 

Pierio recreutis antro. 
Vos lene consilium et datis et dato 
Guudetis almic. t 

As introduced in the New Testament, also, this Psalm ex 
presses the sense, that a higher king, after toil and suffering, 
is now to res/ at the right hand of his heavenly father, until 
he shall sit in judgment among the nations, and bring all 
things under his feet. 

6. A promise was given to the offspring of David, that it 
should abide forever, that God should establish it upon the 
throne of David its father, and that its prosperity should be 
still more widdy extended. We find this promise and the 
occasion of it historically related,! and observe at the same 

*The image is from the history of Samson. 

tLib. 3. Ode 4. : 2. Sara. rii. 


time in how eminent a sense David received this promise * 
He looked upon it as a family league, as a compact after the 
manner of men,t rendered thanks to God for it, and in his 
last songj still celebrated it, as a covenant respecting his 
kingdom confirmed by God. This fair and certain prospect, 
is exhibited in the Psalms. God is often reminded of his 
promise, David is congratulated in regard to this perpetual 
covenant, and finally the future reign of his lineage is pic 
tured with all the glowing colours of a golden age. Let us 
look at a proof of this. 

2 SAM. xziii. 1 7. 

So spake David, the son of Jesse, 
The man, whom God exalted, 
The anointed of the God of Jacob, 
And the sweet Psalmist of Israel. 

The Spirit of God speaketh in me, 
His word is on my tongue. 
For thus spake Israel s God, 
Thus said to me tiie Rock of Israel. 
" A ruler of men, a just prince, || 
A king ruling in the fear of God, 
Shall go forth us the morning dawn, 
And as the rising sun. 
It scattereth the clouds away, 
And from the abundant dews 
Green herbage springs from the earth." 

My house stands therefore fast with God. 
He made with me a covenant forever, 
Well ordered in all things and sure, 
For he is all my salvation, and ail my desire. 

But thus shall not the Belials take root, 

*2. Sam. vii. 18. t2 Sam. .vii. 19. t2Sam. xxiii. 1. 

fl See Briefe das Studium der Theologie betrefTend, Th. 1. S. 133. 

The word usually here read as a particle, is a noun or verb; recte 
ergo disposite, facto confirmata stat domus mea. With God is David a 
frequent and favourite expression. 


They Bhal! be as thorn* thrust away, 

That cannot be taken by the hand. 

The man, that will touch them, 

Must arm his hand with sword and spear. ,. 

The fire shall burn them and their dwelling. 

Thus the aged king applied the divine declaration to the 
rebels, and dissatisfied spirits of his kingdom, whom Solomon 
also removed out of the way. But the reign of his offspring 
was not to be wholly in the spirit of revenge. It was rather 
to diffuse new life and warmth, as represented in the 72d 
Psalm, under the same image of the dew and morning sun, 
which occurs in these last words. 


Give to the king thy judgments, O God, 
And thy tribunal to the king s son. 
He will rule thy people righteously, 
And protect the oppressed in judgment. 

The mountains shall speak peace to the people, 
The hills proclaim to them righteousness,! 
That he m.iy aid the oppressed of the people, 
That he may save the sons of the needy, 
And break in pieces the oppressor. 

So long as sun and moon endure, 
Shall they fear thee through all generations.t 

He shall come down, 
As ram upon the mown grass, 
A- showers, that water the earth, 
In his reign shall the righteous flourish, 
And happiness abound while the moon endureth. 

The parallelism shows, that it is intended to congratulate the first, 
the king. 

t Mountains and hills as Ps. ii. ex. The verb is not expressed in the 
second line. 

t This would seem to be another voice speaking. The picture pre. 
sented is a paraphrase of the " forever and ever," that so often occurs in 
2 Sam. vii. 


From the river to the end of the earth* 
The dwellers in the desert bow before him,t 

And his enemies lick the dust. 
The kings of Tarshish and the isles 
Bring presents to him.t 
The kings of Sheba and of Seba, 
Pay their homage with gifts.H 
AH kings fall down before him, 
And oil nations nerve him. 

For he helpeth the poor that crieth, 

And the oppressed, who hath no helper. 

He spareth the weak and the needy, 

He saveth the life of the distressed, 

He delivercth it from deceit and violence, 

For his blood is precious in his sight. 

He shall live, and they shall bring him gold of Sheba, 

They ahull pray for him continually, 

And daily shall they bless him. 

In heaps shall the earth produce its corn, 

Its fruit shall rustle upon the mountains, 

As the rustling trees of Libanus. 

The cities shall flourish with people, 

Like the grass-covered field. 
His name shall endure forever, 

It shall be continued as long as the sun. 
Men shall bless themselves in his name,$ 

All nations shall bless him. 

With this the first Psalms of David close, and they could 
close with none hetter. In it the blessings of Abraham, 
Judah, and David are brought together, and the ideal concep- 

* The parallelism shows, that one sea is the Euphrates, and the other 
the Mediterranean. 

t Arabick and other tribes, whom David had subdued. 
t Trading nations, not only islands, but the coasts of Europe. 

II Probably Arabia and Ethiopia. The history of the queen of Sheba 
is known. 

$ That is, when they would speak of happy times, they should call 
them the reign of Solomon. 


lions of the Propheta respecting a future reign, like that of 
Solomon, proceeded from these as their models. In the 
Psalms, too, when quiet happiness is represented, the name 
of Solomon characterizes it, and that golden epithalamium 
in the 45th sings of a righteous sceptre, a peaceful reign, a 
kindness to the oppressed, in the very style and language of 
this promise. 

Mount Zion also, the seat of the ever flourishing realm of 
David, accompanied it in like manner to later times. Small 
as it was, it was to become the chief of the nations ; dry and 
parched as it was, from it were to flow living streams. From 
Zion was to go forth the law, and the doctrine, which should 
bless all nations. For the king of this mountain was to pre 
serve for the earth tranquility, joy, light, and blessedness. 

Its foundation is in the holy mountains, 
Jehovah loveth the gates of Zion, 
More than all the dwellings of Israel. 

Glorious words are spoken of thee, 

O thou city of God.* (Change of tone,) 

" Egypt and Babylon will be counted 
To the nation, that acknowledged me. 
Philistia, Ethiopia, and Tyre 
Shall be as those born there. 
To Zion it shall be said, 
This and that man were born in her. 

The Highest himself hath founded her, 
Jehovah himself counts to her her people, 
"This and that man was born there." 

The princes as well as the least, 
All rejoice in her.t 

What praise is this, with which in lyric garlands, this city 
of God, the royal city, is adorned! All shall come together 
here, as to its proper home. In it are sacred songs and 
jubilant dances, in which rich and poor form one responsive 

The oracle is here introduced, and hence the change of tone, 
t The reading of the last lines ia doubtful. 

chorus. We may call to mind many other Psalms, in which 
Salem is represented, as the city of God, and of an everlas 
ting kingdom, as the head of the nations of the earth, and 
anticipate the rich development of the Prophets." 

NOTK. The author inserts here a piece of poetry of several pagw, by 
J.H. Schmid, a German, which I venture to omit. TR. 


General view of the period under David and Solomon. What we have 
still extant from the productions of that period. Influence of these on 
the writings of the Prophets. By what causes the spirit of the Pro 
phets was awakened and animated. Proofs in respect to Hosea and 
Isaiah. The new lineage of David and Son of God. Images of roy 
alty. Their origin, and development of their traits from ancient pro. 
phecies and Psalms. How the fortunes of David wore applied by the 
Prophets. How Jerusalem and Zion are employed in their figurative 
language. Specimens. Principle on which they unfolded ancient pro. 
mises and historical incidents. Difference between the higher and low. 
er economy of God. Comparison of Moses with some other distin. 
guished individuals of biblical history. 

Under the reign of David and Solomon Judaea, considered 
as a kingdom, was in the most flourishing condition, which it 
ever attained. It extended from the Mediterranean to the 
Euphrates, and from the desert in the South to Mount JL,iba- 
nus. Its kings were respected, and the country enjoyed the 
advantages of its beautiful situation, even in regard to com 
merce. The natural consequence was, that the names of 
these kings became classical in history and poetry for alJ suc 
ceeding times. Their age was alone renowned, so long a* 
kings continued to reign. For these it was now their highest 
glory, that they eat upon the throne of David, and were priv 
ileged to call themselves his sons and successors. Such they 
were, but not in regard to his prosperity. For, Solomon alone 
excepted, (and even his reign scarcely reached the expecta 
tions, that were indulged, and by no means to the ideal of tho 
72d Psalm) the kingdom of David, as a whole, soon went 
down. It was divided after the death of Solomon, and the 
smaller part only fell to the family of David. Both kingdoms 


were the theatre of commotion and anarchy, and subject to 
the frequent incursions of their neighbours, until all was lost 
in the captivity. The species of poetry, therefore, which is 
the daughter of victory, of tranquility, and prosperity, found 
no longer an age so splendid and favourable for its produc 
tion, as it enjoyed under David and Solomon. 

It is matter of regret, too, that of the productions of that pe 
riod nothing remains to us, but the songs of the temple, and 
Huch as relate personally to the king and to the kingdom. For 
it is plain, that the Psalms, and the writings of Solomon are 
devoted to one or the other of these purposes. The bridal 
song of the 45th Psalm has only been preserved to us, because 
it celebrated the praises of a king, and the hopes of his king 
dom, out 6f divine oracles, and was also valued as of a reli 
gious character. The Song of Solomon and the Proverbs 
would not have been preserved, had they not been adorned 
with the name of Solomon, and had not the later age, when 
tlu^c writings were collected, found in the former already a 
favourite mystical sense, a description of a future pericd like 
the reign of Solomon. As a bridal and love song of any other 
poet, it would .never have been preserved. We have, there 
fore, from the most flourishing period of Hebrew poetry but a 
rtcruity remnant, such as could be saved in the general wreck 
of tho captivity, by reverence for the names of their ancient 
kings, their religion, and the history of the kingdom. The 
voice of the bridegroom and the bride,* those joyous songs of 
the harvest and the vintage,! of which mention is so often 
made, are no longer extant. The voice of the grinder at the 
rnill,f and of other kinds of employment, is silent, and all the 
daughters of musick are sleeping in the dust. As an emerald 
set in gold, so is the melody of musick with festive wine,|| but 
it is heard no more. The joy and mirth of their rural feasts 
are swept away from their fields, and we hear no more the 
* Jer. vii. 34. t Isa. ix. 3. Jer. xxv. 10. 

J Eccl. zii. 4. I) Sirach xxvii, 5, 


kfdad, the jubilant cry of the wine treader in his song.* How 
unfair is it then, to compare the poetry of this people, as a 
whole, with that of other nations, when we have but one or 
two branches of the tree, the poetry connected with religion* 
worship, and that relating to the king, or what was consider 
ed as such. The remainder was not collected, or was lost. 

But as the songs of Moses, so the Psalms, as illustrative of 
these, had a great influence on later times. They were (pro 
bably at first only to the 72d psuhn) the song book of the na 
tion, or at least of the temple and of the Prophets. In look 
ing at the individual characters of the latter, we shall see how 
closely they adhered to the language of the sanctuary, and 
how richly they paraphrased them in their animated appeals. 
It will now be my purpose only to show in general the* influence 
which the so called Messiah or royal psalms have had on the 
voices of the Prophets; and I say in a word, that thtse, to 
gether with the ancient prophecies, have not only awakcnid 
tfc voice of the Prophets, but the rich and expanded views of 
thusc latter are obviously the development of the former. 

1. To the offspring of David were given by divine dcclaro- 
tions great promises respecting an everlasting kingdom, a new 
establishment of it, and a future period of great happiness and 
prosperity. As then the kingdom, through the fault of Sol 
omon, Rehoboam, and other kings, was sunk into a lo\v con 
dition, W IKIU (Grot! :tn liiniihi oMvkft: tiiinv <inr? <i tint- Pronhcta-,, 
what could they say to the people other thari "ye are fallen 
and debased." What else could Hosea say to the kingdom of 
Israel, but "turn again to the righteous Jehovah, for ye havo 
gone astray. Instead of going to the calves, go into the des 
erts of Judah, to the temple of him to whom ye belong, he 
will meet you, and receive you graciously. "t 

I will betroth thee unto me forever.t 
Jr. xlviii. 33. t HOB. ii. 14. xiv. ii. tHo. ii. 19. 

I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, 
In judgdment, in loving kindness, and mercy. 
In faithfulens will I betroth thee, 
And thou shall again acknowledge Jehovah, 

It is the wish of the Prophet, that Israel and Judah should 
again become one kingdom, and he represents the re-union 
under the symbol of a marriage. This sentiment pervades his 
whole Prophecy, and is of political import. lie allures them 
with a voice of friendship back to the wilderness of Judah, 
to the House of God, and the family of David,* that they too 
may enjoy the blessings, which were promised that line of 
kings. For all the more ancient blessings of Abraham, of 
Judah, and Moses, were confirmed by the divine declarations 
and the Psalms to the offspring of David. He foresees, also, 
future times of happiness, in which 

The erring children of Israel return, 
Add seek Jehovah, their God, and David, their king, 
And honour Jehovah, and his fatherly kindness, 
In the latter days. 

So spake a Prophet of Israel, and the sages in the kingdom 
of Judah must still more clearly unfold their views concerning 
these ancient blessings, and ordinances of the realm. When 
Israel was often laid waste, and even now was on the point of 
hini (innnmli :IW.:L\V cuytiv. *-,, GoiL axvoka iiu tim ^irarcLv, mnrtt 
happy Judah the voices of many Prophets at once, which the 
spirit of Isaiah was probably instrumental, if not in originally 
calling forth, at least in animating and encouraging. They 
saw the fate of their sister kingdom, the greatest part of the na 
tion, they felt their own misery, and turned themselves back for 
encouragement to those Prophecies, which God had given con 
cerning the race and lineage of David. The stock of David 

flood contemned, small, and almost dried up ; but with strong 
* Hosea ii. 11. vi. 1. 



faith in the inviolable word of God, and the oath, which he 
had sworn to David, they saw a new shoot arise from its root, 
and to that they applied all the blessings, which God had 
pronounced in ancient times. This is the key to Isaiah s 
first images. 


Behold ! Jehovah, Jehovah Sabaoth, 
Smites off tke branch with f earful crash, 
The lofty trunks are hewn down, 
The proudly exalted are humbled, 
The thick forest is cut down with the axe, 
The groves of Libanus by a mighty arm. 

But a new brunch springs from the stem of Jess*, 
A shoot shnll grow up from his roots, 
And the spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him. 
The spirit of wisdom and of understanding, 
The spirit of prudence and of heroism, 
The spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovuh, 
And cause him to breath in the fear of Jehovah. 

He judgcth not by the sight of the eye, 
Nordecideth by the hearing of the ear. 
He givcth judgment to the poor uprightly, 
Avengeth with equity the oppressed, 
And smiteth the hind with his royal word, 
With the breath of his lips he slayeth the wicked. 
With righteousness he girdeth his loins, 
And faithfulness is the girdle of his reins. 
And then shall the root of Jesse 
Become as the banner of the (ancient) tribe, 
For which the nations shall enquire, 
And count it glorious to enjoy the rest it gives. 

It would be strange, if every one, acquainted with the 
ancient Prophecies respecting Judali and the lineage of David, 
did not recognise in every trait the development of their ex- 

* Isa. x. 33. xi. 110. 


pressions and images. The staff of Judah is known from the 
blessing of Jacob, and grew into the royal sceptre of David. 
Now it is dried up to the root, and the Prophet sees a new 
shoot spring forth, which becomes again a leader, and an 
army banner, as Judah was once destined to be. The nations 
enquire after it, and consider its protection, honor, safety, and 
tranquility ; as formerly the nations were to depend on Judah 
for support. All the attributes of the future monarch are from 
the history of Solomon, and the blessings pronounced upon him. 
He was renowned for his wisdom, and the future Solomon is to 
excel him sevenfold in wisdom and divine gifts. The pic 
tures of the righteousness of his reign are from the Psalms, 
which relate to Solomon, as well as the beautiful picture of a 
golden age under his dominion, which immediately follows 
the above, and which I have not translated. Even the pecul 
iar expression, " to breath or smell in the fear of Jehovah," 
seems to have; been occasioned by thn oracular language in 
the last words of David.* The Prophet unfolded the ancient 
oracles, and combined them into an image, that might awa 
ken and confirm the faith of his people. I add here in like 
manner r.nothcr passage, which has been misinterpreted, or 
thought obscure, only perhaps because its relation to the an 
cient Psalms and historical incidents was not observed.! 

They pass distressed and hungry through the land, 

And in their hunger fret themselves. 

And curse their God and king. 

They look toward heaven, and toward the earth, 

But darkness and distress are over all, 

* According to this a ruler was promised, who should rul in the fear 
of God. Isaiah who is fond of paranomasia has put together several 
like words. 

tlsa. viii. 21ix. 7. 


Thick darkness, and redoubled night.* 

No dimness now, where late thick darkness reigntd, 

Like those old times, when he in Zebulon 

And Naphthali at first threw off the yoke. 

He renders glorious in the latter days 

The country by the sea beyond the Jordan, 

The anarchy of nations, 
i The people that were walking in darkness, 

Behold a great light. 

The dwellers in the land of blackest night, 

On them hath light shone forth. 

The people are increased, and great too is their joy.t 

They joy before thee like the joy of harvest, 

As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. 
For thou didst break their heavy yoke, 

The rod which smote their shoulders, 
, The sceptre of their oppressors, 

As in the time of Midian. 

The Prophet could not have sauj more distinctly, at what he 
aimed in every thing, and from whence his images were 
drawn. These were from the times of Midian, and therefore 
from the victorious times of the Judges. At that period in 
the North part of the country a great deliverance was wrought. J 
Then in the obscure forests of Naphthali and Zebulon the 
light of freedom went forth over all the land. So now also in 
this Northern press of nations ; in the way along the sea of 
Galilee, where now the hostile Syrians are exercising their 
oppressions, the light of freedom is going forth, and there 
shall be joy and jubilee, like that of the song of Deborah. 

* It is the method of Isaiah to contrast the present and melancholy 
with the future and happy condition, and these must be taken together 
here, though in different chapters. 

1 1 take the particle here for the interjection, expressing a wish, and a 
feeling of joy, utinam, O si! as it often occurs. 

t Jud. iv. 5. In Ilaroslieth i. e. the forest of nations, as now in 
Galilee, in the heaped up, confused nations, which pressed upon them 


For all the weapons of tumultoms war. 
And ah the warriors harness, dipped in blood, 
Shall now be burned, as fuel for the flame 
For unto us a king is born, 
And unto us a son is given. 
The staff shall be upon his shoulder, 
His name is called, the wonderful, 
The counsellor, the mighty hero, 
My father to eternity, 
The prince of peace. 

Could the Prophet indicate his purpose in any way more 
distinctly ? He does not surely speak of a Hezekiah, or of 
his son, as if he were writing a birth-day ode, but of a king, 
who should bear all the names and blessings of the offspring 
of David, and bring the promised golden age. He is called 
therefore, .sow, and begotten, i. e. the begotten of God, an ex 
pression already consecrated by the Psalms. The Sceptre, 
which Judali bore before his feet, he lays upon his shoulder 
and thus in him revives Judah, the ancient prince of the 
tribes. His name is called wonderful! and so David often 
called himself, when as the stone, that was rejected, he had 
now become the corner stone.* So the angel called himself, 
who announced the birth of Sampson. t He is called coun 
sellor and mighty hero, for Isaiah usually couples the two to 
gether to intimate, that he is to be prudent in counsel, and 
mighty in deeds, as was remarked in treating of the pre- 
previous prophecy. My father henceforth forever lie calls 
him also, and does not venture even *4o change the grammati 
cal peculiarity of person, which often stands in the Psalms 
and benedictions, " he shall call me, my father! and I will 
establish his kingdom forever.";): Finally prince of peace, as 
the name of Solomon imports, and as the Psalms explain it. 
The Prophet compresses into the names all which he could 

Ps, cxviii, 22, 23, t Jnd. xiii, 18. t Ps. Ixxxix. 27. 2 Sam. ?ii 14. 


bring together concerning the blessings and the glory of the 
offspring of David. 

And great shall his dominion be, 
And endless peace shall reign 
Upon the throne ot David in his kingdom, 
That he may order and establish it, 
With righteousness and judgment 
From henceforth and forevermore. 
The zeal of Jehovah Sabaoth 
Will pciibrm this. 

That is zeal for his own honour, for all these words were 
promises of God respecting the lineage of David, which aro 
here repeated. 

I cannot indulge myself in a description of the golden age, 
which the Prophets connect with the reign of this new king, 
the general amount of the whole is however, thnt he was to be 
i shepherd like David, a peaceful prince like Solomon, a right- 
HOUS judge, a mighty hero, and a restorer of the fear of Jeho 
vah. The presence of Jehovah, his righteousness, goodness 
and saving eflicacy were to be manifested in him, and he was 
to be addressed with the acclamation, Jthovali our righteous* 
Mf.s-.s-, Jr./wrah our helper. In treating of the Prophets we shall 
enquire concerning the origin of these denominations, and it 
will appear, that among them, before and during the captivity, 
the name of a king, of a new David, was used. Afterwards, 
when the government was divided between the prince and the 
high-priest, Zechariah saw the two anointed ones stand before 
the throne of Jehovah.* Now therefore the representation of 
the shoot from the stock of David became also biform, though 
varying according to the circumstances of the time. He was 
to build the temple of the Lord like Solomon, and in the tem 
ple to bear the magnificent apparel of the high priest. He 
was to reign on the throne established by Jehovah, but also to 

* Zech. 4. xiv. 


be a priest upon his throne, and peace was to be between them.* 
Finally Malachi returns to the most ancient economy, and 
brings back Moses and Elias, the ancient messengers of God, 
who has established the covenant in their purifying spirit. 
Thus the prophecy always clothed itself in the costume of the 
age ; while there were kings, it adhered for the most part to 
the promise in relation to a king, which is celebrated in the 
>9tK Psalm. 

I sing the mercies of Jehovah forever, 
I will proclaim with my mouth 
Thy faithfulness from age to age. 

And say, for us shall grace be ever sure, 
Thy words shall be established like the heavens. 
" For I confirmed a covenant with my chosen, 
I swore to David my servant, 
Thy seed will I establish forever, 
And build thy throne form ago to age." 
The heavens bear witness to thy wondrous work, 
The assembly of saints praise thy faithfulness. 

This did the Prophets, they named the future king, the ser 
vant of God, David. 

2. Still farther, they develope in him the fortunes of David 
and of the seed, which was promised him. David himself was 
doomed to suffer much, before he could establish his extensive 
kingdom, and the other was to be chastened with the rod of 
inen.t though the favour of Jehovah his father should not 
wholly depart from him, and both the suffering and triumph 
were applied by the Prophets, amidst all the calamities, which 
they witnessed, to the future king and his kingdom. This is 
the key to the remarkable and apparently contradictory repre 
sentations of the Prophets. The 22d, and all the Psalms of 
David, descriptive of his afflictions, were unfolded, and conso 
lation given to oppressed and suffering Israel by the consider- 

*2 Sam. vii. 14. tZech. vi. 12. 13. 


at ion, that, as it was the fate of their glorious ancestor in this 
way to attain his elevation, so it must be theirs, and that of 
their future king, through oppression and suffering to be exal 
ted to dignity and honour. We accordingly find in the Prophets 
frequent applications of that class of David s Psalms mentioned 

I place here, as an appendix, the leading Psalm of this class 
which the Prophets gradually unfolded more and more, and, 
with which they sought to comfort their depressed people ; 
the Psalrn, with the first expressions of which the most exalted 
sufferer expressed his deep anguish upon the cross. 




My God, my God ! wherefore dosl thou forsake me? 

Why art thou far from helping me, and from my cry? 

My God, hy day I call, but thou hearest not, 

I cry by night, and find no time of rest ! 

And yet art thou the adoruble one, 

Who is enthroned amid the praises of Israel.! 

In thee our fathers trusted, 

They trusted, and thou didst save them, . 

They cried to thee, and were delivered, 

Trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 

But I urn but a worm, and no man, 
Contemned of men, the people s scorn. 
All they, that see me, scoff at me, 

* By the sufferer here dcsciibcd, has been understood, sometime* 
David, then Hezckiuh, the whole Jewish nation, then again, an unknown 
king, or hero, unsuccessfully contending with barbarous foes, and final- 
ly the Jewish Messiah. A minute description even of the last sufferings 
of Christ have been sought for by some in the several traits in this Psalm. 
This is not the place to go into a discussion of these various views. I 
may do it, perhaps, on another occasion. 

t In the sanctuary, where dongs of praise wer^ sung to Jehovah. 


They pout the lips, and shake the head* 
44 He calls upon Jehovah, let him save him, 
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." 

Yet thou didst take me from my mother s womb. 
And wast my hope upon my mother s breasts. 
While laid upon the lap, I hung on thee, 
And from my mother s womb thou wast my God ! 
Be therefore, even now, not far from me, 
For trouble comes, and there is none to help ! 

Many bulls have compassed me about, 
Strong bulls of Bushan have beset me round.* 
They rushed with open mouth upon me, 
Like ravening and roaring lions. 
Like water am I poured out, 
And all my bones are loosed. 
My heart is melted like wax within me,t 
My strength dried up like a potsherd. 
My tongue too cleavethto the roof of my mouth, 
And thou hast laid me in the dust of death 
Dogs have encompassed me aroundj 
And gangs of wicked men enclose me, 
They pierce my hands and feet. 
I might count over all my bones, 
They see it, and with joy they gaze upon me. 
They even now divide my garments, 
And cast lots upon my vesture. || 

But be not thou, Jehovah, far from me, 
My strong deliverer, haste and help me, 

The image of a powerful and enraged enemy. The bullocks of Ba- 
shait were distinguished by their strength and wildness. In the opinion 
of some commentators, there is an allusion here to the region, from 
which the enemy came, who threatened the royal Psalmist. 

t A vivid image of a relaxation and sinking of ail the energies. 

t An image not unusual in the East ot swarming and piratical enemies. 
Dogs running loose without masters are even more bloodthirsty than 

p They are so snre of my death, as already in thought to divide my 


Deliver my life from the aword,* 
My soult from the power of the dog. 
Rescue me from the lion s mouth, 
And save me from the bullock s horn,t 
Among my brethren then will I extol thte, 
And praise thce in the congregation. 

PSALM XXH. 24 32.|| 

Ye, that fear Jehovah, praise him ! 
All ye offspring of Jacob, glorify him, 
And reverence him, ye seed of Israel, 
For he contemneth not nor despiseth 
The mournful cry of the afflicted, 
Nor hath ho hid his face from him, 
But when lie cried to him, ho heard. 

My song shall praise thce in the congregation, 
Before thy servants will I pay my vows. 
Eat, and be satisfied, ye humble sufferers, 
Ye, that seek him, praise Jehovah, 
Your heart shall be revived forever,^ 
And all inhabitants of the earth, 
Remembering shall turn to Jehovah, 
And all the tribes of men worship him. 
For to Jehovah doth the kingdom pertain, 
And he is ruler among the nations. , < 

The sufferer here is anxious to be assured of the interposition of Je 
hovah, and does not yield himself to the death, that is threatened, so wil 
lingly as the dying Saviour. 

t My darling, my dearest part, my life, my soul. 

t Literally the wild ox or buffalo, an imago of powerful and enraged 

(i This second part of the Psalm has a very different tone und charac 
ter from the first, and is neither so powerful in language, nor rich in sen 
timent. In the circumstances of the case we should naturally expect it 
to be otherwise, and many commentators consider this u distinct Psalm, 
designed to accompany the offering of sacrifice. 

$ Rich and poor partook of the sacrificial feasts. 


Let them that eat the fat of the earth, worship him, 

And them, that are humble, bow before him, 

Whose souls are vexed with care !* 

The future generations shall revere him, 

And shall be counted as his people. 

They come to make his kindness known, 

And what he hath performed, to future times ! 

3. Zion and Jerusalem also passed into the Prophets in 
vested with the character, which had been given them in the 
Psalms. The residence of the most renowned of the ancient 
kings was ^o be the yet more magnificent seat of a future king, 
still more glorious than David, who should reign in Zion, as 
the peculiar representative of Jehovah. 

Arise, be light ! for thy light Cometh!* 
Jehovah s glory goeth forth upon thce. 
Lo! darkness covereth the earth, 
And deep obscurity the nations ! 

But upon thee Jehovah goeth forth, 
His glory now is visible upon thee, 
And all the nations come to thy light, 
, And kings to the brightness, that riseth on thee. 

Lift up thine eyes around and see, 
They all assemble themselves, and come to thee. 
Thy sons are come from far, 
From far they bring to thee thy daughters. 

Then shall thousee, and rejoice, 
Thy heart shall leap, and be exalted, 
When the tumultuous sea shall turn to thee, 
, And nations bring to thee their wealth. 

The caravans of camels cover thee, 
The dromedaries of Midian andEphah. 
All they from Sheba come, 
They bring thee gold and incense, 
And praise the glory of Jehovah. 

The flocks of Kedar are assembled unto thee, 
The rams of Nebaioth are made to serve thee, 

* Rich and poor, joyous and sad, i. e. all men should honour Jehovah. 
1 By the side, on the border, or distant, as the parallelism requires. 


They come acceptably upon mine altar, 
And I will glorify the house of my glory. 
Who are these, that fly as clouds, 
And as the dovea, that flock to their houses ? 
For now the isles are waiting my command, 
And ships of Tarshish are made ready, 

To bring thy sons from distant lands. 
Their silver and their gold with them, 
Devoted to the glory of Jehovah, 
The holy God of Israel, who glorifieth thee. 

The sons of strangers build thy walls, 
Their kings shall minister unto thec, 
For in my wrath I smote thee, 
Rut in rny favour have I mercy on thee. 

Thy gates shall be continually open, 
Nor day nor night shall they be closed, 
To bring to thee the riches of the nations, 
And that their kings too may be brought. 

Let one read the 22<1, ?2d, 87th, 102d and other Psalms, 
and compare them \vitb this passage, and he will at once per 
ceive, that expressions in them respecting the coming of for 
eigners to Jerusalem, worshipping there, and being accounted 
as natives, are here merely unfolded, though with the greatest 
richness and beauty. The nations and regions named by the 
Prophet are the very same, too, which occur in the Psulrn 
concerning Solomon.* 

So i is with Zion, the dwelling place of God, and the pe 
culiar crown of the country. What the festival and national 
Psalrns sung of present circumstances, the Prophets applied 
to adorn their views of the future period of the reign of Jeho 
vah. There, in that expected day, this little mountain was to 
be exalted, its diminutive brook become a river, and water the 
parched desert. It is absurd to suppose, that the Prophets 
meant all this to be taken in its literal and sensuous import, as 
if Mount Zion was suddenly to swell to a giant range, and all 

* Compare Isa. Ix. 6. 7. 13. with Ps. Uxii, 10. 15. 16, 


the brass and iron of the temple become gold and silver. So 
^oon as we know, whence they -derived these figurative repre 
sentations, that they did not invent them themselves and to 
please their own fancy, but pictured their conceptions, and 
sketched their hopes in the ancient known language of na 
tional songs and national hopes, we shall cease to think of 
such sensuous interpretations, which to a great extent are 
self-contradictory, and at the same time shall be as far removed 
at least from their opposite, the obscure abyss of mysticism. 
We shall see how they, as men of sound understanding, and 
as the divine sages of their nation, did what all true philoso 
phers do with the works of God in nature. 

These observe, and analyze, study the laws, the course, 
and ultimate tendency of the phenomena of nature, and in 
like manner they fixed their attention on the rovrnant of Je 
hovah, their ever true and faithful God, considered his dec 
larations, unfolded the import of his words, studied ancient 
customs and the character of individuals, accommodated the 
incidents of more ancient times to their own age and saw in 
both the germs of the future already beginning to unfold. The 
Spirit of Jehovah was their guide, for] their visions were not 
unmeaning raptures, but calm predictions, determinations and 
prospective views, in accordance with a new series, ordained 
in higher dignity. 

This seems to me, to be the true link of connexion in the 
writings of the Prophets, and the best key to their hidden 
treasures. While we consider, whence they derived these 
images, for what end they used them, to what period, and un 
der what new form, each applied his own, we draw, as it 
were, with them from the same consecrated fountains, and fly 
as they did, like bees in all directions, and extract our sweets 
from every flower of the ancient world. The rich garden of 
ancient divino oracles, in history, in the benedictions and 
Psalms, in our present position lie behind us, the collected 


and elaborated flowers of the Prophetick books before us, a 
beautiful and instructive prospect. 

And when we observe step by step, how always the thoughts 
of God are higher, than the mere human conceptions of even 
the. wisest favourites of heaven ; how all these saw only in 
their own sphere, and, even in the light of Divine inspiration, 
could conceive of the future only according to the measure of 
their own experience, while he, however, went on with his 
own infinite designs, and from their words and views often 
unfolded conceptions, which had probably never entered their 
narrow minds; how clearly do we see the difference between 
t!it higher ecu/win i/ and purposes of God, and that lower econ 
omy, which fulls under our immediate observation ! 

It is undoubtedly true, as expressed in the eulogy upon 
Moses attached to tiie close of his history, that " there arose 
not a Prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord 
knew face to face," for in the whole period, which we have 
passed through we find none, who will bear a comparison with 
him. Samuel had a ray of his light, but not his power; he 
i-ould not raise up the fallen state, much less bring it back to 
the unattained conceptions of Moses. David had sensibility 
and delicacy, uprightness and heroism; but he was a king. 
Instead of the pubiick good, the more limited good of his 
own family occupied his mind. lie encircled the Mosaic 
law with a iyrica] garland, but could not increase its perma 
nent safeguards, and still less establish it upon a deeper found 
ation. The wisdom of Solomon passed into luxurious refine- 
menT, the splendour and pomp of a royal court, while the 
economy of the state was in the mean time broken up. Of 
those, who came at a later period, Elijah had an arm like 
Mose$, but his age was too deeply sunk ; he purified like the 
fire ami the wind, but he could not give stability and life. 
Isaiah and other Prophets could speak like Moses; they were 
animated by his spirit and his clearsightedness, but where is 
the work which they accomplished \ the political edifice, 


which they left behind them? Moses left it in a form dis 
tinctly conceived and carried into effect with an arm that nev 
er tired. His original plan, to build to God an altar of stone, 
and appoint the first born throughout the land to serve him, 
was the most simple and sublime, that has been found in any 
system of national worship; and this the Prophets with more 
spiritual views picture forth only for a future age. When 
Moses was con polled to yield to his sensuous and rebellious 
people, who were throughout inclined to worship the golden 
calf, how pure a conception did he produce in the tabernacle, 
the tent of the divine lawgiver moving with the movements of 
a wandering people! The idea of the most holy place, with 
its unapproachable mystery, containing only the tables of the 
law, which it preserved beneath the wings of the mysterious 
symbol, is so symply sublime, that nothing can be altered or 
acliled without desecrating and debasing it. Its holy place 
had nothing but the shew-bread, the symbol of the most an 
cient family sacrifices, which were merely feasts. Here stood 
the most simple feast before the eyes of Jehovah. In front of 
it burnt the seven lamps, the symbol of his omniscience, and 
before that again the golden altar sent up its clouds of in 
cense, the symbol of prayer from the most ancient times. 
That, which properly constituted the temple, contained no 
thing more. The blood of expiation, and that offered as an 
acknowledgment of tenure and allegiance, flowed only in 
the outer court, and how wisely were all these rights adapted 
to the welfare of the state? How well defined were his laws ! 
and how unweariedly did he labour to improve them ! and 
notwithstanding all the hindrances, which might have dis 
couraged the most resolute, never abandoned the purpose of 
his life. Even at the last he collected the energies of his 
spirit, re-ordained his system, and died as a lawgiver, who 
knew his country, and skilfully adapted his institutions to it. 
How wise and judicious too was the plan of his Exodous from 
Egypt ! Even the sea formed a path lor him, which served at 


the same time for a wall, through which his people could not 
return. Finally what courage, and what a spirit must belong 
to the man, who in a barren desert could control, cultivate, 
and soften a rebellious multitude of 600,000 men ! Truly 
tlicrc arose since no Prophet in Israel like Moses ; the arm of 
the most powerful of them was but the finger cf Moses, and 
the most enlightened of them only reflected the glory of his 

Before theeonly do I bow myself, thou heavenly form, more 
exalted, than Moses, the more beautiful, as thou wast more be- 
nign ; the more powerful, as thou didst more conceal thy 
power. With twelve poor, rude and unlearned disciples thou 
didst accomplish more than Moses with his mighty host, and 
found a kingdom of heaven, the only kingdom, that from its 
nature can endure forever. For tho whole world it was es* 
tablished by thee, but only with the smallest beginning. Tho 
seed was planted in the earth, which still is growing, and 
expanding to diffuse at length that reviving shade, to which 
all the Prophets point their predictions, of the future. En 
dued with heavenly powers, thou didst como down to tire 
earth, and find the predictions of the Prophets meet in thee, 
with courage to fulfil even those of severest import, by pover 
ty, by suffering, and by the most shameful deuth, because in 
this way only could they be fulfilled. Moses and Elias, the di- 
vinest heroes of the ancient world, conversed with thee upon 
the holy mount, with thee the third, the greatest, and most be 
nign of all. Thou hast accomplished thine advent, hast ac 
complished and wilt accomplish all the predictions of tlve 
Prophets in that work, which, though iniisibly, is still and 
ever progressive. It is the sole work of its kind ever accom 
plished in the world, one which n6 sage, n<> mighty hero 
could ever accomplish, and whose consequences reach beyond 
the boundaries of time. Tho beautiful regions of the Pro 
phets will conduct us on our way to that kingdom, which he 
hath establishedj and towards which we ajre now advancing* 



The continuation of this work, greatly as the author de 
lighted in the employment, and often as he anticipated its 
prosecution, unhappily never appeared. He wished for a 
season of leisure to be devoted to it, but it never came. Only 
a few leaves of the commencement of the third part were found 
among his papers, which however I would not willingly suffer 
to be lost, especially as they contain a recapitulation of what 
has been said in the previous parts, and a brief sketch 
of the remainder, which was to be concluded in the third 
part. The following is the fragment referred to. 

We have now so far prepared the ground, that we may con 
template to advantage the growth and expansion of that tree 
of Israelitish hopes and prophetic anticipations, on which the 
poetry of the Prophets put forth its flowers. From their pa 
triarch Abraham downward, the nation indulged the prospect, 
that through their race all the nations of the earth were to 
receive some great and signal blessing. The shepherd race 
went down to Egypt, tho patriarch of the twelve tribes turn 
ed even his dying eyes to the land, where they were destined 
to dwell, and arranged as it were a prophetic chart of their 
dwelling places; but he died, and Joseph, the prince among 
his brethren, also died. The people sunk into a state of bon 
dage, and almost abandoned the hope even of their own de 
liverance, much more of being instrumental in blessing all 
other nations. Moses at length delivered them from bondage, 
improved with great labour the rude character of the nation, 
received an earnest of their future conquest, saw the land of 
promise, and died. His painful labours had been limited 
within a narrow circle. He was obliged to destroy a few in 
considerable states, but tho world at large could not feel his 


beneficial influence. Israel, after his death, but imperfectly 
conquered the promised land, and for a long period was op 
pressed and reduced to a condition of misery, now by this, 
and now by that neigboring people, until a lion of the tribe of 
Judah arose, and being satiated with the spoil of nations re 
posed himself upon mount Zion, one of the fruits of his tri 
umphs. A star went forth from Jacob, a sceptre was raised up 
in Israel, which smote the heads of Moab, made conquest of 
Edom, dispersed and overran the Amalekites, the Kcnites, 
and similar tribes. So long as he lived, no one dared fully 
to arouse the lion, though they ventured in some degree to 
excite him. But he died, and his royal mind in the anticipa 
tion of death was filled with care respecting the future inter 
ests of his kingdom. Hence God gave him the promise, 
not only that his son should sit upon his throne, and reign with 
undisturbed sway but that a successive series of his descend 
ants should bear the sceptre. This declaration of God eleva 
ted his hopes, and animated his heart. li is not only cele 
brated in several Psalms, as a divine oracle respecting the 
future interests of the country and the royal family, but the 
dying king even in his last song encircles his temples with this 
unfading laurel.* 

With hostile feelings he there reflected upon the malcon 
tents of his kingdom, on whom he had tried every kindness in 
vain, and whom he considered unfit and undeserving sub 
jects of farther clemency. But with so much the greater joy 
did he reflect on the covenant in relation to his own family, 
which God had established with him, from which the figura 
tive expressions in this last song are taken, and which is cel 
ebrated also in the 72d, 89th and 122d, Psalms. 

Such were the germs, from which the tree of prophetic po 
etry grew up; the benedictions bestowed upon Abraham, Ju 
dah, and David, and since the two former seemed also coin.* 

* 2 Sam. xnii. 1. See above in the XJ section. 


cident to this most victorious, prosperous, and at the same 
time religious prince, since by his reign, his arrangement of 
divine worship, but especiaily by his Psalms, he formed a 
marked epoch, it was in the nature of things, that his age, 
especially as delineated in his Psalms, should both for the 
Prophets, who formed themselves according to the spirit of 
these songs, and for the people, who sung them, and recalled 
the events of that period with pride, become as it were the 
ideal and model of that, which with more splendour they pic 
tured as still future. The blessing of Abraham was only in ve 
ry general terms ; too comprehensive, and too spiritual to ad 
mit of particular representation. Moses was too far removed 
from them, though they took from him for their use all the 
miracles of the divine interposition, both in Egypt and in the 
desert, together with the Shechinah. David presented to 
them a character more glorious, and better known ; for the 
people were now accustomed to notions of royalty. The mu 
tual jealousies of the tribes had ceased, when most of the 
Prophets wrote, the ten tribes were already in captivity, and a 
small branch of Judah with the royal stock of David was all 
that remained. To this therefore tended the current of pro 
phecy, and here the streams flowed together. The views of 
JLCob and Balaam, the victories, the reign, the piety of David, 
expressed in his Psalms, the promise of an endless period of 
peace and happiness under his posterity, who should succeed 
him upon the r.hrone all these circumstances were connect 
ed with him, and associated him in their minds with their 
glowing conceptions of the future. He is often styled in the 
Psalms the son of Jehovah, the first born of God, and was 
enthroned near the dwelling place of God upon his holy moun 
tain. He brought nations into subjection, had a cultivated 
taste for musick and poetry, and a regard for right, and spake 
of himself in his relation to God with humility and self-abase 
ment. His posterity were to enjoy a peaceful kingdom, and 
his seed to reign so long as sun and moon should endure, 


throughout all generations. Judah, therefore, David, Solo* 
mon, and their perpetual successors, were represented in the 
times of the future anointed. Human imagination and poetry 
can operate in no other way. Even, higher divine intuitions 
can be expressed by them only under known images and 
signs, and thus the poetry of the Jews naturally employed in 
its representations the treasures of imagery, which it had, and 
especially from the most splendid era of the national history. 

Let us look then at the course embraced in the third part, 
on which we are now to enter. After inquiries respecting the 
political productions ascribed to Solomon, comes the true and 
characteristick spirit of Hebrew poetry in the writings of the 
Prophets. We shall contemplate the individual characters of 
the Prophets, their favourite conceptions and views, together 
with the circumstances of the age, which served to product 
them. The various and distinct colourings given to the im 
precations and predictions relating to other nations will l>e 
carefully considered. We shall then examine the change 
produced in their conceptions by the captivity, the altered 
character of ihe imagery and figurative language, which now 
appeared and so down to the apocryphal writings, in so far a:< 
these, as for example the fourth book of Ezra, have the char 
acters of poetry. Finally in the last book of the New Testa 
ment as if by regeneration of all the conceptions and images of 
the ancient Prophets, a new poetical shoot springs up; u.nd at 
once expands into a tree, blooming with fresh and unfading 





is I. p. 7. 

12. EXOD. XXXIV. 7 8 : p. 37. 

II. 19 : p. 14. 

NUM. IX. 15-23 : p. 75. 

III. 1.5. 6: p. 14. 

XII. 6: p. 50. 

24: p. 17. 

XXI. - 16: p. 171. 

IV. 5 : p. 13. 

" 14-30 : p. 179. 

10 : p. 12. 

XXII. 24: p. 171. 

VIII. 21 : p. 13. 

XXVII. 21 : p. 104. 

XX. 7: p. 49. 

DEUT. VI. 4.5: p. 92. 

XXII. 2 : p. 13. 

XI. 12-17: p. 127. 

XLIX. p. 138. 

141. XVIII. 15-20 : p, 50. 132. 

III. 2. 4. 6: p. 3G. 

XX. p. 119.140. 

14: p. 87. 

XXX. 11-14: p. 92. 

VII. 1 : p. 49. 

XXXII. 16.17: p. 20. 

XIII. 2 : p. 130. 

XXXIII. p. 132. 150. 155. 

xrv. p. 75. 

XXXIV. 10 : p. 50. 

" 19.24: p. 36. 

74. JOSH. VI. p. 182. 

XV. 122: p. 26. 

65, X. 11-14 : p. 180. 

XVII. 14 : p. 179. 

XIII. 6: p. 147. 

XIX. 6: p. 93. 

130. JUD. IV. 5: p. 169. 

20 : p. 68. 

V n fifi Ifl i 

XX. 5: p. 168. 

IX. 715 : p. 200. 

XXVIII. 30. 36: p. 101. 

XIII XVI. p. 181.209. 

XXXII. 18 : p. 214. 

XIV. p. 203. 

29 : p. 131. 

XV. p. 209. 

34: p. 36. 

1 SAM. II. 110: p. 120.212. 

XXXIII. 923 : p. 37. 

74. X. 10-13: p. 218. 


314 INDEX. 

1 SAM. XVII. 45 : p. 69. 

Ps. XCIV. 89 : p. 91. 

XIX. 23,24: p. 218. 

XCV. p. 95. 

2 SAM. I. 19-27 : p. 220. 

XCIX. p. 100. 

III. 31-34 : p. 250. 

CII. 12, 13. 1929. p. 90. 

VII. 8 : p. 217. 

CVIII. p. 274. 

XXIII. 13 : p. 285. 

CX. p. 282. 

1 Kmos, XIX. 813: p. 39. 

4 : p. 107. 

XXII. 22,23: p. 50. 

CX1II. 9 : p. 120. 

2 KINGS, III. 15 : p. 50. 

CXIV. p. 64. 

JOB, XXX. 18: p. 139. 

CXV. p. 272. 

XXXIII. 23 : p. 20. 

CXX. p. 261. 

Ps. H. p . 278. 

CXXI. p. 2G2. 

VI. p. 212. 

CXXII. p. 08. 

XVII. p. 271. 

CXXIV. p. 239. 

XIX. p. 243. 

CXXVI, p. 240. 

XXII. 123 : p. 300. 

CXXVII. p. 120. 

" 2432: p. 302 

CXXVII1. p. 118. 

XXIII. p. 232. 

CXXIX. p. 239. 

XXIV. p. 234. 

CXXXII. p. 282. 

XXXIX. p. 257. 

9. 16: p. 105. 

XL. 610: p. 110. 

CXXXIII. p. 231. 

XLII. p. 2.>9. 

CXXXV.CA A A V/: p. 61. 

XLIIi; p. 260. 

CXXXVII. p. 241. 

XLV. p. 23G. 

CXLIV. p. 276. 

, L. p. 111. 

CXLVII. p. 102. 

LI. P . 109. 

PROV. XXX. p. 203. 206. 

LXVIII. p. 70. 

XXXI. p. l.t: 

18 : p. 08. 

ECCLE. XI. 5 : p. 207. 

LXXII. p. 286. 

IBAIAH, VI. 1 1 : p. 40. 

LXXIII. p. 253. 

VIII. 21,22: p. 295. 

LXXVI. p. 273. 

IX. 17 : p. 296. 

LXXX. p. 276. 

X. 33, 34 : p. 294. 

LXXXII. p. 101. 

XL 110 : p. 294. 

LXXXIV. p. 96. 

XL. 16: p. 153. 

LXXXVII. p. 283. 

L. ,l_H: p . 52. 

LXXXIX. 2 G: p. 299. 

LV. 811 : p. 44. 

XC. 111: p. 89. 

LX. P. 303. 

11-17: p. 133. 

LXL 1011 : p. 106. 

XCI. - D. 244. 

JSREM. /. 11, 12: p. 202. 

XCII. p. 268. 

IV. 1924 : p. 45. 

XCIV. p. 102. 

V. 13: p. 50. 


ECH. IX. 3: p. 107. 

-- % " .ig 

- "- 



Aaron as supreme judge, 131in the blessing of Moses, 157. 

Abraham as a Prophet, 50. 

Agur s riddle, 200. 

Alliteration, 213. 

Alphabetical writings, origin and antiquity of, 33. 

Angels, 20 angel of Jehovah, 30 of his presence, 37 radi 
ance personified, 08 as priests, 107. of God to Moses, 30 to the Elders, 39 to Eli 
jah, 39 to Isaiah, 40 to Ezechiel, 41 to Daniel, 41 
different traits in the mode of Divine manifestation in dif 
ferent ages and tr different persons, 42 on Mount Sinai, 

Asaph, Hemnn and Jeduthun, 223 Asaph as a Psalmist, 253. 

Balaam, history of, 172 blessing upon Israel, 174 prophe 
cies concerning Moah and other nations, 175 178. 

Barak, triumphal song of, 187. 

Behemoth and Leviathan, 19. 

Blessings of Jacob upon the tribes, 141 154 of Moses, 

Book of the wars of Jehovah, 179 181. 

Canaan indispensable to the Hebrews, 120 its influence up 
on poetry, 12* right of the Israelites to it, 140. 

Circumcision as a national distinction, 94. 

Choral songs and dances, 20 their connexion, 192. 

Daniel, vision of, 41 


Inn I NiiliiiM, 224 hi* luw<!nt/ifion OHT Jwifithfui, ifcWI hiu 
hiHtory IIH 11 1 HitliniNt, 222 character an ft 1 nnlmiHl, 247 
promises to his offspring, 203 MB Z>on and Jerusalem an 
an ideal of the future, 288 and 303. 

Deborah, her triumphal eong, 187, 

Elijah, visions of, 39, 

Fable, its origin and import, 14 -17 of Jot ham, 200 spirit 
of Oriental, 202. 

Families united in a tribe, 123. 

Feast of tabernacles, 94. 

God, analogy with man, 12 the symbol of fire, 36 -face and 
various manifestations of, 37 and 42-word of, 43-guidance 
in the desert, GO upon Sinai, 68 Jehovah Sabaoth, 68 
his triumphal progress, 70 in the pillars of fire, 74 pure 
ideas of the divinity, 87 enthroned on the book of the laws 
90 care of Canaan, 127 theocracy, 128 in the law* of 
Moses, 135. 

Gods of the heathen, 272, 

Hnhakkuk s prayer, 77, 

Hannah song of, 216, 

Hebrews as herdsmen, 30 their separation from other nations 
and their national pride, 31. . 

Ileroick age of the book of Judges, 183. 

High Priest, his office and apparel, 104, 131, 

Jacob in Canaan, 138 his benedictions, 141 "his hopes un 
accomplished, 154. 

Jephtha s daughter, 197. 

Jonathan, his friendship with David, 219. 

Jothum s fable, 200. 

Israelites in the desert, 139 -right to Canaan, 140-^sorcerer, 
prohibited among them, 171 under the Judges, 183. 

Korahitcs, 258. 

Language, Hebrew, its early formation, 32 of poetry concern* 


ing the domcstick relations, 117, 118. 
Law, the giving of it by Moses. Miracles attending it, 80 

purpose, 93, 114 offerings, 103. 
Lebanon, 152. 

Levi, ground of the choice of this tribe to the priesthood, 131. 
Moses as a Prophet, 43, 57 his history as a subject for cpick 
poetry, CO his song at the Red Sea, 05 his journeying, 
70, 133 his Psalm, 89, 13:3 founder of the national festi 
vals, 99 his tabernacle, 129 aimed not to form a com 
mercial or warlike people, 123 his expectation of another 
Prophet like himself, 134 why he represented his doings 
as the work of God, 131 necessity of making conquest of 
Canaan, 140 hi.s benedictions, 154 the hopes expressed 
in thorn di. lusivn, J<>2 his plan respecting Mount Tabor, 
103 prohibited sowry, 171 comparison with other men, 

Musick combined with dancing in tho national Kong*, 195 
its effect upon Saul, 197 musick of the Psalms, 205 mu 
sick masters appointed by David, 223. 
National festivals of the Hebrews, 94. 
National God of the Hebrews, 99, 271. 
National pride, 31,91. 

National assemblies established by Moses, 95. 
Offerngs as an acknowledgment of tenure, 108 as expia 
tion for sin, 109. 

Paronomasia in the East, 202 among the Hebrews, 209-215. 
Passage of the lied Sea, 02, 05, 70. 
Pillars of fire and of cloud, 74. 

Poetry of the Hebrews, its origin, its personifications and 
fables, 11, 14 keeps itself free from the. monstrous and ex 
travagant, 20 implies previous culture, 28 influence of 
outward circumstances in forming it, 30 its pure ideas of 
God and morals, 90 its local character, 120. 
Priests, servants of religion and of the state, 103, 130 their 


attire, 104. 

Prophets, 85 word of God to thorn, 43 messengers of conso 
lation and affliction, 44 their signs and symbols, 47 im 
port of the name, 49 seers or wise men, 50 inspired poets, 
50 peculiar to the Hebrews, 50 zealous against luxury, 
1 4 their local spirit, 120 difference between the Prophet 
and soothsayer, 175 influence of the Messiah Psalms on 
the Prophets, 290. 

Psalms, their origin, 222 purpose, 223 of David, 224 di 
vision, 230, 2*J of emotion, 241 didactick, 243 anony 
mous, 201 of degrees, 201 division into five books, 204 
musick of, 205 Itoyal Psalms, 270 their influence on af 
ter times, 292. 

Kiddle* among Orientals und specimens of Hebrew, 202 20*. 

Realm of death as a poetical representation, 21. 

Rights of war, 110. 

Sabbath, its influence on poetry, 115. 

Solomon, condition of Judiua under him, 290-his writings, 291. 

S.imuel, his history, 42 his calling, 215 first Prophet after 
Moses, 217 founder of the schools of the Prophets, 217. 

Satan as conceived in early times, 20. 

Saul under the influence of Musick, 190 interrogates the 
dead, H)H. 

Selah, its import, 207. 

Samson, his character, 185 riddles, 203 paronomasia, 209. 

Sinai, 08, 74 influence OR Hebrew Poetry, 8. 

Son of God, its import, 278. 

Tabernacle, a symbolical representation, 99. 

Tabor, 103105. 

Temple, 113. 

Theocracy, 128132. 

Thunder, the voice of God, 20. 

Tradition, 10. 

Tree of knowledge, 19. 




Triumph*/ nongs, 170 181 of Deborah, 187. 

Urim and Thunimim, 104, 132. 

Wife, )mr relations, 4 IN her virtues, \ 10 Lemuel s praise of 

a virtuouH woman, 121. 
Word ofGodtotho Prophotn, 4tt-influeneeon Hebrew Poetry, 

/ion, |f>7 in