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When stung with hunger, his fierceness and rage are terrible; at such a time, no precaution which the traveller or the shepherd can use, and no exertion which either the one or the other can make, are sufficient to divert or repel his attack. For want of other food, this devourer, as he is emphatically called in Scripture, will often tear to pieces the hapless passenger, or the tenant of the unguarded hamlet. Fire is what he is most afraid of; yet, notwithstanding the frequent fires with which the Arabian shepherds encircle their flocks; notwithstanding the barking of their dogs, and their own repeated cries and exclamations during the whole night, when he is suspected to be upon the prey,—it frequently happens that the ravenous animal, outbraving all these terrors, will leap into the midst of the fold where the cattle are enclosed, and drag from thence a sheep or a goat." He commonly deprives the victim of life by a stroke of his paw, accompanying the fatal blow with a tremendous roar; he then tears it in pieces, breaks all its bones, and devours it with the utmost greediness. To these circumstances, the sacred writers frequently allude. In the blessing of Gad, we find Moses expressing himself thus: “ He dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head;" and the royal Psalmist, in still more striking terms : “ Save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me ;
lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces when there is none to deliver." Hezekiah, in his sickness, complained, “I reckoned till morning that as a lion, so will he break all my bones ;”t and said the prophet in the name of the Lord, “I will be unto Ephraim as a
* Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 314.
Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. xii, cap. 7, and lib. vii, cap. 6. Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. v, p. 82. s Psa. vii, 2.
+ Isa. xxxviii, 4.
Jion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah ; I, even I, will tear and go away, I will take
and none shall rescue him.”
The voracious greediness of this terrible animal, is remarked by every natural historian; and it has not been overlooked by the sacred writers. The Psalmist compares the wicked “to a lion that is greedy of his prey, and to a young lion that lurketh in secret places ;" the murderous enemies of our Redeemer “ gaped upon him with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.” Samson charac, terizes the lion in his riddle, “the eater," or, as it may be rendered, the devourer; and the prophet Jeremiah employs a term of similar import: “ Your own sword hath devoured your prophets like a destroying lion.” In one of the most awful threatenings ever uttered by Jehovah, we find the following allusion ; “ There will I devour them like a lion ; the wild beast shall tear them.'
No creature, when provoked, is so tremendously furious as the lion. He beats his sides and the ground with his tail, agitates his shaggy mane, moves the skin of his face, and knits his large eye-brows; shews his dreadful tusks, and thrusts out his tongue, which is armed with prickles, so hard, that it alone is sufficient to tear the skin and the flesh, without the assistance of either teeth or claws. This description will enable the reader to form an adequate idea of the warlike appearance of certain Gadites, in the train of David, “whose faces," says the inspired writer, “ were like the faces of lions.”y
The movements of a lion, except when he rushes on the
u Hos. v, 14.
Jer. ii, 30.
Hos. xiii, 8. * Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. iv, cap. 34. Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. viii, cap. 19. Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. v, p. 71, 84. Oppian. de Venatione, lib. iii, l. 8. His face and his neck are terrible.
1 Chron. xii, 8.
prey, are slow, firm, and majestic. Among the Arabian writers, the man who moves with a proud and solemn step is said to walk as a lion. The wise man, who was deeply skilled in natural history, makes an observation of the same kind : “ There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going. A lion, which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away from any; a grey-hound; an he-goat also ; and a king, against whom there is no rising up."
The roaring of a lion in quest of his prey, resembles the sound of distant thunder ; and being re-echoed by the rocks and mountains, appals the whole race of animals, and puts them instantly to flight; but he frequently varies his voice into a hideous scream or yell.b “ When the lion roars," says Sparman, “ the beasts of the forest can do nothing but quake; they are afraid to lie still in their dens, lest he spring upon them, and equally afraid to run, lest, in attempting to escape, they should take the direction in which he is prowling, and throw themselves into the jaws of their adversary."e No book is more accurate than the Scriptures, even on subjects of natural history, so far as their sublime design admits. The universal terror which the roaring of a lion produces, is noticed by the prophet Amos: “ The lion has roared, who will not fear ? the Lord God has spoken, who will not prophesy ?” Hence the terror which the thunder of his voice inspires, is not confined to a few of the weaker animals; the fellest savage that ranges the forest, according to the prophet, is as unable
2 Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. v, p. 84. Bochart. Hieroz. vol. ii, lib. ii, cap. 2, p. 728.
a Prov. xxx, 29, 30. b Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. v, p. 83. Bochart. Hieroz. lib. ii, c. 2, p. 729.
Voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, vol. ii, chap. 11, p. 39.
is also re
to resist its influence, as the seer is, the voice of Jehovah. Even the variation of his appalling voice into the hideous scream or yell, is recorded by Jeremiah : “ The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste.”
The lion, it is said, never roars but when he is in sight of his prey, or in the act of striking it down with his paw. His voice is, therefore, the signal of attack, and commonly of inevitable destruction; a circumstance which must greatly increase the general terror and dismay. “ Will a lion roar in the forest,” said Amos, “ when he hath no prey ? Will a young lion cry out of his den if he have taken nothing ?” The invariable connection between the roaring of the lion and the seizing of his prey, ferred to by the holy Psalmist : “ The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God;"& and by the prophet, “ For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, Like as the lion, and the young lion roaring on his prey ---so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.oh 6 The
lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste.” i There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey: they have devoured souls."j The same allusion occurs in Ezekiel's parable of the lion's whelps : “He became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, and devoured men. And he knew their desolate palaces, and laid waste their cities; and the land was desolate, and the fulness thereof, by the noise of his roaring.” In this passage the antecedent is put for the
a Jer. ii, 15. f Amos iii, 4. i Jer. ii, 15.
Bochart. Hieroz. lib. ii, cap. 2, p. 729. ☆ Psa. civ, 21.
n Isa. xxxi, 4. j Ezek. xxii, 25.
k Ezek. xix, 6, 7.
consequent; for, the lion, strictly speaking, does not waste a country by his roaring, but by what invariably follows, the miserable destruction of men, and flocks, and herds.
The deep and terrific intonations of the lion's voice furnish the sacred writers with many beautiful and striking figures, with which they have adorned their magnificent descriptions. So great are the terror and dismay which his roaring produces, that many animals, that by their swiftness might escape from his fury, astonished and petrified by the sound of his voice, are rendered incapable of exertion. This allusion is involved in these words of Elihu to Job : “ After it a voice roareth : he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard.” A very fearful denunciation of divine wrath, is ushered in by the prophet in these words: “ The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.”n
The prophet Joel uses the same figure, with a slight variation: “ The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake.” The tumultuous noise of conflicting warriors, is, with great beauty and effect, compared by the Psalmist to the roaring of a lion: “ Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations, they set up their ensign for signs.'
"p The strong cries of the Saviour, in the hour of his most poignant sufferings for the sins of his people, are represented under the same figure: “Why art thou so far from the words of my roaring ?” And the sorrows of David Bochart. Hieroz. lib. ii, cap. 2, p. 729.
m Job xxxvii, 4. n Jer. xxv, 30.
• Joel iii, 16. p Ps. lxxiv, 4.