Sidor som bilder

ning, and rent, for a considerable extent, downward from its summit: the fissure and ruin still remain. This remark is made in corroboration of the belief, that lightning, in all probability was, in the hands of the Supreme Being, the instrument employed for the destruction of this sublime and magnificent ruin. There is quite sufficient proof, in the molten masses of ruin scattered_on the plains, of furnaces having been used, similar to that described in Daniel, as a "burning fiery furnace,” into which the three Hebrew youths were cast by the savage orders of Nebuchadnezzar, when it was heated " seven times more than it was wont to be heated." Sir Robert Ker Porter found, in the vicinity of the Birs, lumps of black vitrified matter; and concludes that these may have belonged to furnaces. He also instances a tradition among the natives respecting the great triangular mound to the east of the Birs; namely, that, by order of Nimrod, Abraham was here cast into a furnace. "The furnaces used," says Sir R. K. Porter, "for the making fire-burnt brick, might have been very opportune to execute the mad judgments of Nimrod or Nebuchadnezzar. "* We cannot, therefore, taking all the evidence with which ancient and modern travellers have supplied us, form any other opinion than that expressed by Mr. Rich, that the Birs Nimroud was, in all probability, the "Tower" which the descendants of Noah erected on the plains of Shinar. "Let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach to heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth❞—a structure that might "lift its top to the skies"-an elevated monument of the pride and prowess of man-the wonder of ages. Mr. Rich thinks that an extraordinary interference by miraculous agency might make them persist in adhering to this spot for the erection of a monument to their leader Belus; nor is it unnatural to suppose, when their consternation had ceased, that this might have been the case.

* Travels in Georgia, Persia, &c. 2 vols. 4to. London, 1822, vol. II. p. 329.




ABRAHAM, a native of the city of Ur, in Chaldea, now called Orfah, was selected, by the ALMIGHTY, from an idolatrous nation, to preserve on the earth the knowledge, and perpetuate the worship of the true God.— For this purpose it was, that the father of the faithful was summoned forth from among the ignicolists of Ur, that this heavenly spark might be kept alive, and that he might offer a purer sacrifice to the GOD of Truth, whom those around him knew not, and of whom the flame that ascended from the altar of these fire worshippers was but a faint symbol. It is delightful to trace this new star, in the patriarchal hemisphere, through its luminous track, and the bright promises of which it was the harbinger. Illuminating the darkness of that idolatry through which it moved, it at length set, rejoicing in the heavenly vision of a MESSIAH to come. Mahomedans hold the name of Abraham in reverence and respect; and the Emperor Severus was anxious to enshrine him among his gods. Among the legends which respect Abraham, the following, whether true or fictitious, is as interesting as it is beautiful: "As Abraham was walking by night from the grotto, where he was born, to the city of Babylon, he gazed on the stars of heaven, and among them on the beautiful planet Venus. Behold,' said he within himself, the God of the universe!' but the star set and disappeared, and Abraham felt the


Lord of the universe could not thus be liable to change. Shortly after, he beheld the moon at the full: 'Lo!' he cried, 'the Divine Creator! the manifest Deity!' but the moon sank below the horizon, and Abraham made the same reflection as at the setting of the evening star. All the rest of the night he passed in profound rumination; at sunrise he stood before the gates of Babylon, and saw the whole people prostrate in adoration. Wondrous orb,' he exclaimed, thou surely art the Creator and Ruler of all nature! but thou, too, hastest like the rest to thy setting! neither then art thou my Creator, my Lord, or my God!'"

[ocr errors]

One of the most remarkable circumstances connected with the life of this distinguished character, is the destruction of the "cities of the plain," for their dreadful criminality; and the DEAD SEA wears such palpable evidence of the visitation of heaven, that even the wild Arab avoids the spot as he would the pestilence, and shudders on his approach to its brink. We cannot do better than cite the words of a recent traveller, with whose description, indeed, every one who has visited the scene, entirely concurs: "Whoever has seen the Dead Sea will ever after have its aspect impressed on his memory: it is, in truth, a gloomy and fearful spectacle. The precipices in general descend abruptly into the lake; and, on account of their height, it is seldom agitated by the wind. Its shores are not visited by any footstep, save that of the wild Arab, and he holds it in superstitious dread."- "The precipices around Sinai are

[ocr errors]

savage and shelterless; but not like these, which look as if the finger of an avenging God had passed over their blasted fronts and recesses, and the deep at their feet, and caused them to remain for ever as when they first covered the guilty cities."

Every line in the patriarch's life is a history of interest; but we must leave "the father of the faithful," and now simply glance at two facts connected with Joseph, one of twelve sons- -the lineage of Jacob, surnamed ISRAEL, a prince of GOD. Israel was a stranger in Canaan, the country where he sojourned. Joseph, by

the mysterious providence of heaven, and whose history is detailed with inimitable pathos by the sacred writer, became, at length, governor of Egypt, and rode in Pharaoh's second chariot. Joseph acknowledged to his brethren, that the good hand of his God had been with him, and that all had been overruled for good. "Ye

thought," said Joseph to them, "evil against me; but GOD meant it unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive."-"A famine" is represented as being "sore in the land” of Canaan, and that "the people fainted by reason of the famine." It is also stated, "And the famine was over all the face of the earth." -"And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn, because that the famine was so sore in all lands."* Now, it is of importance to remark that there is a passage in ancient Chinese history which refers to a dreadful famine prevailing in that country; and it is quite evident that this distinctly alludes to the very famine which is represented in Sacred History, as "sore in all lands." As connected with this, and Pharaoh's dream interpreted by Joseph, wherein seven good ears of corn" were representative of "the seven years of great plenty, throughout all the land of Egypt," we give a fac simile of an ancient Egyptian coin, remarkable for the reaper's putting forth his sickle, and the seven ears of corn he is about to reap. Whether this had a re


ference to the event of abundance-when there was "corn in Egypt," though famine in other lands-cannot be determined; it is, however, by no means void of interest, since it appears not improbable that this fact may have been intended to be commemorated by it. It is further worthy of remark, that when Joseph's father and his brethren came into Egypt, and were about to be presented to the king, they were instructed to say, that they were "shepherds;" which secured to them the fertile land of Goshen, where they afterwards "had possessions, and grew and multiplied exceedingly.”

* Gen. xli. 56, &c.

[ocr errors]

The reason assigned for this statement is a remarkable one: every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians." This singular fact seems to have been corroborated by M. Champollion, in his researches into the ancient monuments of Egypt; and he is of opinion that it is not difficult to recognize the hyksos, or 'shepherd kings,' who had made predatory excursions into the territories of the Egyptians, and conquered the land, but from which they were afterwards expelled: they are depicted on these monuments, as prostrate under the footstools of the Pharaohs, as in Joshua, x. 24: “Come near, and put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them." So far was this bitter enmity carried against these hyksos, that the lowest of the people had their figures wrought into the soles of their sandals; that, at least, their effigies might be trampled under foot: this enmity they even carried to the tomb, and they are thus represented on the bandages of mummies. These royal shepherds are represented as possessed of red hair, blue eyes, and covered only with an undressed hide wrapped loosely about them;-in all probability they were of Scythian extraction.

The Book of Exodus receives its name from the exode of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt: there having arisen a king in that country, who, it is stated, "knew not Joseph," nor remembered his services. The Israelites were subjected to the most grievous servitude. They were slaves, painfully oppressed by the task-masters of Egypt; so that, this country was emphatically called "The house of bondage." In the person of Moses, GoD raised up, a valiant champion of their cause; and when his advocacy, before Pharaoh, accompanied by signs and miracles," failed to procure a rescue, he led them, triumphantly, forth from the midst of their enemies. This Moses was a Hebrew. The king


* There is now a mummy at Paris which singularly illustrates this fact: a shepherd, bound with cords, is painted beneath the buskins of the mummy.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »