Sidor som bilder

even the lower estimate is probably too high, and will by degrees, in all likelihood, be much reduced. The form most probably intended by the Hebrew eshel, is thought, as said in the title, to be the Tamarix orientalis, a plant common not only in Palestine, but in Arabia and Persia, and extending to the East Indies. Mignon, in bis Travels in Koordistan, says that in the valley of the Euphrates, and near Bagdad, ii rivals the palm-trees in its altitude. Probably it is the same which in English gardens is occasionally met with under the name of Tamarix Indica. A plant of the latter appellation growing at Sawbridgeworth, Surrey, is now (1874) fourteen feet high, and has a clear stem two and a half feet round at two feet from the ground. A fine example of the Tamaris Jordani is figured in the Gardeners' Chronicle of 7th Feb. 1874, p. 189.

The association of the tamarisk with the concluding events in the life of Saul owes peculiar interest to the fact of the defeat at Esdraelon being the most memorable which the Israelites sustained. It occurred upon nearly the same ground as their most memorable military success,—the victory of Gideon over the Arab invaders, “ the Midianites, the Amalekites, and the children of the east” (Judges vi. 3), only that while Gideon's victory was won upon the plains, the overthrow of Saul by the Philistines appears to have been accomplished, or principally so, upon the heights, for it was upon “Mount Gilboa” that the bodies were discovered the next morning, and David seems to intimate as much in his Lament, “The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places” (xxix. 2).

Over some portion of these identical hills, and close to the camp of the enemy, whose host had pitched their tents there, it was that Saul, “sore afraid," made his journey by night to the witch of Endor. Probably he went round by their right flank, crossing the shoulder of the hill, and so to Endor, which lay about two hours' travel away, and on the other side of Hermon. Of this journey it has been well said that it furnishes one of the most dreary spectacles of human misery that is afforded by the history of any age or country. “We see the tall form, bent like a pine before the blast, yet still every inch a king, enter the cave in darkness. How touching his desire to meet, in his loneliness, any one, living or dead, who had known him in his better days! And then what a wail from the broken heart,—“I am sore distressed, for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams; ... and he fell straightway all along upon the earth.”

The only parallel to it is in the agony of Richard III. the night before the fatal battle of Bosworth.

“ I shall despair ; there is no creature loves me;
And if I die, no soul will pity me.
Nay, wherefore should they? since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself.
Methought the souls of all that I had murdered
Came to my tent, and every one did threat
To-morrow's vengeance on the head of Richard."

With Saul the defeat was not the end. The victorious Philistines did their best to dishonour his remains. They cut off his head, and sent it for exhibition in one of the temples of their deity, Dagon ; the armour was placed in the temple of Ashtaroth, in Bethshan; and the corpses were exposed, ignominiously, on the city walls. Hither it was that, mindful of an old friend, the valiant men of Jabesh-Gilead, crossing the Jordan, came during the darkness in order to rescue what they might. They remembered how, thirty years before, Saul had delivered them from the hand of the Amorites, and now they testified to it by securing the corpses of the once illustrious monarch and his offspring, and eventually burying the bones beneath an “eshel."? Sometime afterwards they were removed by David to the family vault, the cave at Zelah.3 In the repetition of the narrative in the Book of Chronicles (1 Chron. x. 12), it is stated that the interment was effected beneath an elah, or terebinth; but, as pointed out before, the earlier record is no doubt the true and authentic one.

The tamarisk, in primæval Egypt, was one of the sacred trees, and was chosen to overshadow the sepulchre of Osiris. It is represented among the frescoes in the sacred chamber of Osiris at Philæ, and also in a small sepulchre at How. In the former, two priests are depicted in the act of giving water to the roots, while over all is a canopy ;-in the latter, a bird is seated among the branches. By the Greeks it was called uupikn, though, like many other names, the appellation seems to have covered various shrubs of similar feature. The pupíkn of Dioscorides would seem to have been our own quasi-indigenous Tamariz Gallica, which is common both in Greece and Italy. Pliny, who mentions it under the name of myrica, says that some persons call it also tamarix, and others, erica.5 Under the former name it is mentioned by Homer, who says that it was in the branches of a tamarisk i 1 Sam. xi. 3, 4.

1 Sam. xxxi. 13.

8 2 Sam, xxi. 14. • Vide Wilkinson, vol. v. pp. 262, 263.

5 xiii. 37.

that the horses of Adrastus had become entangled when he fell. Mingled with other shrubs, it grew upon the banks of the Xanthus, and had “long twigs,” a happily expressed feature taken up in the familiar “ tenuesque myricæ."i Allusions to this beautiful plant are frequent also in Theocritus, and, as would be expected, in his imitator, Virgil.

34. THE OIL-TREE (Balanites Ægyptiaca. Nat. Ord. Simarubacec2). The allusions, in the Authorized Version, to the “oil-tree,” are generally supposed to have reference to the olive, the latter being the source of the oil so constantly spoken of in every part of Scripture. This understanding is erroneous, since the name of the olive-tree is in Hebrew zait, and no other term is ever employed for it; whereas when we read, in the Authorized Version, of the “oil-tree," as in Isaiah xli. 19, the Hebrew is etz-shemen. Besides, in Nehemiah viii., in the account of the Feast of Tabernacles, the etz-shemen and the zait are mentioned as two distinct things. The Authorized Version, unfortunately, here again induces confusion, by translating etz-shemen “pine-branches ;” and complicates the matter still further by rendering etz-shemen, in 1 Kings vi., as "olive-tree."

What the Hebrews intended by etz-shemen cannot be stated positively, there being no conclusive evidence, but the probabilities seeni to converge towards the Balanites Ægyptiaca. The name would lead one to suppose it a tree particularly or exclusively Egyptian. The Balanites, however, is by no means confined to the ancient country of the Pharaohs, extending westwards to Senegambia, and eastwards to the banks of the Ganges. In the plains near the foot of the Jordan it is plentiful. Though never of great dimensions, and sometimes a mere shrub, the Balanites is often large enough to furnish timber for such purposes as those referred to in the account of the building of the Temple; and to this day we find the wood employed in Africa for various household work. It is yellow, hard, and durable. Growing almost always in dry and barren places, the l'alanites, like the acacia, is apt to become thorny, and in appearance somewhat pinched. The leaves are alternate and binate, the two leaflets oval or oblong, stalked, leathery, dotless, and while young, somewhat downy; the flowers, disposed in short axillary racemes, are small, greenish-white, downy, and fragrant; the fruits are oval or globose, greyish-green, about an inch and a half in length, and when ripe, eatable, though somewhat bitter. They have gained for this plant the name of the “Jericho plum-tree.” The seeds, upon pressure, yield an oil, by the Arabs called zackum, and which, in oriental countries, is highly valued for its medicinal properties; also for healing wounds and contusions. Of itself, this useful oil would suffice to develop pleasing associations. Ideas as it were of benevolence seem to attach to the tree producing it, and hence it would appear to have received the place so remarkable in Isaiah, “I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the etz-shemen.” For a similar reason we must suppose it to have been prescribed as one of the trees which were to be resorted to for branches on the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles.

1 Ovid, Met. x. 97.

? Hooker and Bentham, Genera Plantorum. The genus is a very curious one, and in some respects has affinities with the Zygophyllaceae.

The references in the history of the Temple represent the wood of the etz-shemen as employed for the magnificent cherubim, overlaid with gold, with which Solomon adorned the interior; also for the doors of the Oracle, and for the posts of the door of the main building. “Within the Oracle he made two cherubims of etz-shemen, each ten cubits high ; . . . and for the entering of the Oracle he made doors of etz-shemen ; . . . also made he for the door of the Temple posts of etz-shemen” (1 Kings vi. 23, 31, 33). Why this particular wood was so employed is not known A considerable quantity of it must have been required, judging from the measurements of the cherubim; and unquestionably there was a reason for selecting it in preference to any other. The “ patterns” were shown to Bezaleel in the mount; and the materials were not left to human choice. Beyond this, however, we are devoid of information. Pending the solution of the problem, which a thorough understanding of the antetypical character of the Temple as a whole can alone supply, we may be thankful that here, as in a hundred other places, it has pleased Providence that the less important things of Scripture shall be the hidden ones, and that over the essential and momentous ones there never rests a doubt. In regard to the Authorized Version translation it still remains matter of regret that so many inconsistencies should perplex our search after knowledge. The same Hebrew word, etz-shemen for instance, is translated by two different English ones,—“ pine-branches " and "olive," both of which are wrong; and contrariwise, it often happens that a single English term is made to serve for three or four different Hebrew words.

Possibly the aromatic balsamic substance called by the HeIrews tzeri or tauri, a word also spelt zeri and zori, mention of

which is often made in the Old Testament, and in the Authorized Version, under the name of “balm,” may have been the oil of the Balanites. Nothing is recorded as to the source of the tzeri; nor is there any evidence that the Hebrews employed the zackum-oil. But they could hardly have been ignorant of it, and it certainly well suits the sense of some of the various passages wherein it is mentioned, those, for instance, in Jeremiah:-“Is there no tzeri in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of My people recovered ?” “Go up into Gilead, and take tzeri, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt; in vain shalt thou use many medicines, for thou shalt not be cured.” “Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed. Howl for her ; take tzeri for her pain, if so she may be healed” (viii. 22 ; xlvi. 11; li. 8). There seems to be a difficulty, on the other hand, in regard to the allusions to tzeri in Genesis xxxvii. 25; and xliii. 11, the substance which the name intends, whatever it may be, being here associated with products which it was worth the while of merchants to carry into Egypt, and this, one would think, could hardly be the case with zackum-oil, seeing that Egypt itself was one of the native countries of the Balanites. “They lifted up their eyes and looked, and behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead, with their camels, bearing spicery and tzeri and inyrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.” ... “And their father Israel said unto them. . . . Carry down the man a present; a little tzeri, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds.” Could tzeri be positively connected with the Balanites, it would go far towards explaining why the etz-shemen holds a place so honourable among Scripture trees, and why this tree, the etz-shemen, is promised as an associate of the myrtle when the desert grows beautiful with verdure.

(To be continued.)


“The scientifics of the church mean all the knowledges of truth and good, before they are conjoined with the interior man, or by the interior man with heaven, and thus by heaven with the Lord. The doctrinals of the church and its rituals, and also the knowledges what and in what manner these represent spiritual things, and the like, are mere scientifics, until the mun sees from the Word whether they are

« FöregåendeFortsätt »