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if they have seed enough to sow, as was the case here. See chap. xli. Nay, if the famine continued from year to year, as it did in this instance, we must necessarily suppose, that the people growing more and more distressed, and more and inore impatient, would be the more ardent and eager, to make
their attempts by ploughing and sowing. How then was it, I that there was not to be a seed time any more than a harvest,
since there might be, and one would think naturally would "be, the forıner, though not the latter? Shall we say, that the book of Genesis being written after the fact, the author has expressed himself according to the fact'; or rather, that not confining himself to the strictness of the letter, he has inade use of a common phrase, as intending thereby to denote the interiseness of the famine? . These reasons may satisfy some, but my conception of the matter is this: We are to consider the nature of the country, of which Joseph here more particularly speaks, the land of Egypt which depended altogether upon its fertility for the inundation of its river, the river Nile, that if the Nile did not rise to a certain degree, or did exceed in its rising another certain degree, it was to no purpose for the people to plough and sow, for their labour would not succeed. These degrees of overflowing were investigated by experience, and the Nilometer, now called the Mikyas, of which, as I remember, you have a very exact description in Dr. Pocock's travels, was invented for the purpose of shewing the degree of the inundation, to wit, whether, on the one hand, there was either a deficiency or an excess, or, on the other, only a necessary and commodious flow. There now was an event that af-, fected the ploughing and sowing, as well as the harvest, the former as well as the latter; and if the necessary degrees of overflowing were known at this time, as I suppose they were, (this ara being long enough after the first peopling of the country, for the purpose of making the proper observations) one needs only suppose that Joseph, by the excellent spirit that was in him foresaw that for five years then to come, the irregularities of the river would be such, one way or the other, as to prevent all tillage, (without which we are certain there could be no' harvest) and then he could just as easily pronounce concerning the tillage, as he could upon the harvest. It is very clear from the context, that this famine was pretty general, in particular from chap. xl. y. 56. And the famine was over all the face of the earth, from whence it should seem the distemper was seated in the atmosphere, which of course would affect the periodical swelling of the Nile,
The cause probably was a great drought uncommonly prolongei, and it is well known that Egypt very often suffers from this cause.
I am yours, &c.
&' 1755, May, June.
XX. Biblical Difficulty obviated.
Mr. URBAN, THE annotation of Genesis xlv. in your Magazine of June last, has led me to take notice of another passage of scripture, which depends upon the same event, to wit, the inundation of the Nile, and may seem to want a word of explanation. The sacred historian, a writer cotemporary with the fact, and actually residing in the country at the time, after speaking of the plague of hail, and the terrible devastation committed by it, Exodus ix, observes at verse 31, 32, “ And the flax and the barley were smitten; for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was bolled. But the wheat and the rye were not smitten; for they were not grown up." That the barley should be forwarder than the wheat and contrary to the ideas we now have of agriculture, especially in this country, where we yearly see the reverse, that this test is a great block in the way of the honest husbandman, and, I presume, of many others. But let it be considered, that our hard corn, as it is called, is. sown here before Christmas ; this necessarily gives it the start of our common barley, which is seldom thrown into the ground till April or May. But the case in Egypt, of which the author is here speaking, was very different; for there the grain of wheat and barley and rye were all sown at one time, to wit, as soon as the lands were ready after the retreat of the river. Barley then being a corn of a much quicker growth than either wheat or rye, it would of course be forwarder than them, and might be in the ear before they were grown up; or as it is in the Hebrew, (see the margin of our translation ; whilst they were hidden; by which we are not to understand hidden in the ground, but within the stem or stalk, and consequently were near upon shooting, but not shot. See Bi. shop Patrick upon the place.
That the barley harrest was the first in other warm climates, as well as Egypt, appears from 2 Samuel, xxi. 9.
where it is said, “ And they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley darvest,” which at verse 10. is expressed more generally, the beginning of harvest.
Yours, &c. 1755, July.
XXI. Ancient and Fabulous History not always allegorical.
MR. URBAN, THE mythologists in explaining the fabulous histories of the ancient Greeks and Romans are very apt to run into physicalities and moralities. This is the case of Natalis Comes, the French authors, and indeed of most others, except Jac. Tollius, who chose to resolve them into the art of chemistry. I cannot but say, it is natural enough to fall into this way of interpretation, for besides the labours of Porphyry in this kind, and that the Roman poet points it out to us so very plainly, where speaking of Orpheus, he says,
Silvestres homines sacer interpresque deorum
Hor. A. P. 391, seq.
I say, besides this, you can hardly relate any fact, in the way of narrative, that is not capable of having some plausible turn, either physical or moral, given to it, and, in some cases, perhaps both. And yet I think it would be wrong to be always harping upon these strings, because, as I apprehend, there is one branch of mythology, to wit, that of the frequent metamorphoses to be met with in Ovid and other writers, which in a great measure took its original from another cause, namely, from the mere wanton and luxuriant genius of the Greeks, without any regard had either to morality or natural causes and effects. This nation, being endowed with a great fertility of invention, being naturally fond of the marvellous; and by no means incommoded by any strictness of attachment unto truth, devised a fable very easily, either for the origin of a flower, or a bird, or, a beast; in the doing of which they seem to have had no other
view, but to please and to amuse the fancy, by imagining a hero or a nymph of the name of those flowers and animals, and then equipping them with some entertaining and well
To this observation, Sir, I was led by reflecting, that the names of these heroes and nymphs are no other than the appellative or common names of those plants and animals, and consequently were assumed, feigned, and invented from them. This, Sir, is the ground of my assertion, which at this time may be made good in many instances, and perhaps at the first might have been proved in all and erery
After the flood, the stones which Deucalion threw over his head became men, and those that Pyrrha cast became women, all because rãs in the Greek signifies a stone, and hads a people, as is observed by Hyginus, whose words are, “ob eam rem laos dictus; las enim Græce lapis dicitur." Hyginus, p. 224. edit. Munkeri, where see the annotation.
Lycaon was turned for his barbarity into a wolf; the word aúxos signifies a wolf, and so did the word lycaon, for though we do not find it in our lexicons now, yet there is reason to think it an ancient Greek word; for Pliny, who wrote chiefly from the Greeks, tells us in his Nat. Hist. lib viii. c. 34. that the Lycaon, or Indian wolf, changed his colours.
Daphne, beloved by Apollo, was changed into a laurel; the case is, sápun'is the Greek word for the laurus; and I do not find that they had any other word for this tree.
The like observation I make as to the Narcissus, into which, according to Ovid, a certain young man, who was a great admirer of himself, was turned. The Greeks had no other name for this flower but Ναρκισσος. .
The same may be said of the Hyacinth.
Philomela was changed into a nightingale; now Philomela, in Greek Oohan, is one of the names of that bird, as is plain from Virgil; Georg. iv. 5, 11, and is clearly an appellative adapted to the known property of the bird; for it signifies a lover of melody. This shews, that the name of the lady was borrowed from the bird, and her story invented for the sake of countenancing the change.
But as strong a case as any is that of the nymph Syrinx'; Pan was the inventor of the Syrinx, an instrument of music consisting of a variety of reeds.
Pan primus calamos cera conjungere plures
He was also very expert in playing on this instrument.
Virg. Ecl. ii. Now how did the Grecian fancy dress up all this? Why, Syrinx, according to them, was a beautiful nymph, Pan becaine enamoured of her, she ran away to avoid so disagreeable a lover, and coming to a river, she prayed the Naiades to change her into a bundle of reeds just as the god was going to lay hold of her, who thereupon caught the reeds in his arms instead of her. These reeds being moved backward and forward by his sighs, afforded a musical though a mournful sound, whereupon Pan cut them down and made them into pipes. A very pretty tale this, all imagined from the name given by the ancients to this instrument, and that it was originally composed of reeds.
MR. URBAN, ANOTHER branch of the ancient mythology, which it would be absurd to decypher, either by a physical or moral interpretation, is the frequent allusions to very remote history; such as the important events which have really happened in the old time to the body or bulk of this terraqueous globe. The name of Phaeton in Greek, Daétwr, which signifies lucilus, is plainly given to the son of Clymene from the event. It is also an epithet of Apollo, considered as the sun. There is no metamorphosis indeed in the case of Phaeton, but his story is reverthelss observable on account of the event it may be supposed to allude to, and which, I think, wants pointing out.
Now it is very certain that Ovid, who had been so conversant with the Greek writers, had either seen the Greek version of the Bible himself, or had made use of authors that had extracted much from it. This last is perhaps the most probable. The account he gives in his first book of the chaos, the formation of man, the golden age, the giants, their attempt against heaven, the wickedness of man, and the deluge consequent upon it, are evidently adumbrated from the Jewish scriptures. Now, the story of Phaeton implies an event as general as that of the food, from whence one would incline to imagine it to have been taken