Page images


to drink of the same cup. These also were sent forth “ sheep in the midst of wolves," and suffered all the injustice and cruelty which the comparison involves. Happy world! when in every land on which the sun shines, the prince shall be a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well; and when the ministers of religion shall be indeed the servants of Christ, spending their days and exhausting their strength, in turning sinners from the error of their way.

The Hyœna.


Modern interpreters have not found this savage beast in the sacred volume. But the celebrated Bochart has fully proved, that the term (1) tseboa is sometimes employed by the sacred writers to denote the hyæna. The passage in first Samuel, rendered in our version "the valley of Zeboim," ancient expositors translate "the valley of Hyænas:" although the Chaldee has "the valley of vipers or basilisks." But our author contends, that in this text it ought to be rendered hyæna; because this name occurs in the Syriac version, and because the Arabians call the hyæna, dsaubuon, which is clearly derived from tseboa, and has been gradually changed into dubbah, the name by which, according to Dr. Shaw, the hyena is still known in Barbary. The Hebrews call him tseboa, from the dark strips or streaks with which his colour is variegated. In the same manner, the Greek interpreters, and after them Bochart, render that passage in the prophet, in our version "Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird," ( ), Mine heritage unto me as a hyæna or striped wild beast. Is there a wild beast all around upon her.' In the chapter from which the quotation is taken, Jehovah sharply expostulates with his people, bed Hieroz. lib. iii, p. 829. e Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 216.

cause they had forgotten the favours they had so often received from him, and manifested towards him those fierce and untractable dispositions, which we justly execrate in beasts of prey. This interpretation is also supposed to be more agreeable to the context. In the preceding verse, the prophet complains in the name of the Lord: “Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest, it crieth out against me, therefore have I hated it ;" and in the close of the ninth verse, we have this invitation: "Come ye, assemble all ye beasts of the field, come to devour." But, contends Bochart, it would certainly be very incongruous to mention a speckled bird among beasts of prey.

This reasoning, however, is unsatisfactory; for by the authority of Bochart himself, a species of serpents is designed by the same name, and that both these animals are so called from the various colours with which their bodies are marked. The use of the name tseboa, therefore, which signifies merely spotted or streaked, determines nothing; it equally applies to beasts, serpents, and birds. To make good his opinion, he is obliged to render y eet a beast, instead of a bird of prey. And why not, says he, since the verb (y or ovr) out or eet, belongs not to birds only, but to any animal that rushes on its prey? But if so, then by his own admission, it may be interpreted as in our version, a speckled bird, or bird of prey; and by consequence neither does the use of this term determine the question. But it remains to be proved, that the words in the Hebrew text belong to any animal that rushes on its prey. This is so far from being the case, that common use, the supreme arbiter in language, has restricted it to birds only; for, it is presumed, no instance can be produced in which the word is used for a beast of prey. "But to shew,"

f Jer. xii, 8, 9.

continues Bochart, "that the name eet (ur) belongs not to birds only, (D) tsippor a bird, is sometimes added to it diacritically, as in this threatening: "I will give thee unto the ravenous birds;" ( vrh) every (by) eet not being a bird, but beasts of the ravenous and carnivorous kind, being included in that name. It has been already shewn, that the Hebrew term (r) eet, never signifies a beast of prey; and Bochart has produced no proof that the word (112) tsippor is used by the prophet to determine the sense. Nor could he use it in this manner, if it is never applied to beasts; he must therefore use it merely in the way of illustration. The only ambiguous term here, is (y) tsebouah, striped or speckled, which may denote a bird adorned with variegated plumes, perhaps of the eagle or falcon kind, some of which are beautifully speckled; as it is "attributed to a species of serpent, as well as to the hyæna, for a similar reason;" and accordingly, the generic name by the bird of prey, seems to be added to it for the sake of discrimination. If these remarks be just, the argument derived by our learned author from the incongruity of mentioning a bird of prey among the beasts of the field, must fall to the ground: we must take the Scriptures as they are, without attempting to bend them to our views of propriety. It is not uncommon with the sacred writers to place the ravenous fowls of heaven and the beasts of the field in the same sentence. Thus the prophet Ezekiel threatens Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: "I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured;"h and the arrangements of Providence correspond with the words of the prophet; for both the

Ezek. xxxix, 4.

h Ezek. xxxix, 4.

birds and the beasts of prey are jointly commissioned by Heaven to execute his vengeance on his guilty creatures. But, what is not a little remarkable, the very arrangement which our author blames, and from which he endeavours to extract an argument in support of his opinion, is adopted by another prophet in a passage which he has overlooked: "They shall be left together unto the fowls of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth; and the fowls shall summer upon them, and all the beasts of the earth shall winter them." upon "" i In the verse under consideration, the word in the second clause, must be admitted to signify birds of prey; and this furnishes a strong presumption, that in the first clause it bears the same sense. This presumption is considerably strengthened by the context. In the preceding verse, Jehovah had complained that his people had acted towards him "as a lion,” a particular species of wild beast; in this he is sup posed to compare their behaviour to that of a bird of prey, equally fierce and rapacious: hence, he calls in return upon other ravenous creatures, birds as well as beasts, to come forward and his cause: avenge 66 Come, ye birds of prey that are round about her, assemble all ye beasts of the field, come to devour."

The Fox.

The fox is not a vagabond like the wolf, and other beasts of prey, wandering in the desert without any certain place of rest; he lives in a settled domestic state, and knows well where to choose the situation of his dwelling, and how to make it safe and commodious. He digs his abode at the entrance of a wood, and if possible, within hearing of the hamlet, where the game is plenty; and at the bottom of

i Isa. xviii, 6.

a rock, or among the roots of trees, where he cannot be uncovered. But he does not always submit to the labour of digging his own habitation; when he lights upon the hole of a badger, in a proper situation, he places himself at the entrance, and keeps out the rightful owner; or if the badger be within, and cannot be dislodged by force, he compels him to retire by the offensive smell of his ordure, with which, in this case, he takes care to pollute the mouth of the den. When the badger is expelled, he takes possession, and fits it up for his own accommodation.j Here he is more comfortably lodged than was the Saviour of sinners, when he dwelt with men: "The foxes,” said the Man of sorrows, "the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." To save his people from their sins, he was not content with submitting to be despised and rejected of men, to make himself of no reputation, and move in the humblest walk of life; so great was his love and condescension, that he denied himself many comforts, which, as the creator and preserver of all things, he bestows on the beasts of the field and the fowls of heaven.

The fox knows how to suit himself to circumstances; when he has no habitation under ground, or cannot find one to his liking, a ruined tower or a deserted house, at a convenient distance from the inhabited country, affords him a shelter. This circumstance is beautifully remarked in the Lamentations of Jeremiah: " For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim, because of the mountain of Zion which is desolate, the foxes walk upon

i Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. iv, p. 215. Bochart. Hieroz. lib. iii, cap. 13, p. 852. k Mat. viii, 20.

Elian de Nat. Animal, lib. xvii, cap. 17.

« PreviousContinue »