« PreviousContinue »
An arrow's flight they wanted to the top,
OVID. Metam. 1 VIII. v. 626-697.
24. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
"The country about the Lacus Asphaltites being of an igneous character, and exhaling bad odours, renders the inhabitants sickly and short-lived."
DIOD. SIC. 1. XIX. c. 98.
"Near Moasada (a place near the lake Asphaltites, called Masada by Josephus) are to be seen rugged rocks, bearing the marks of fire; fissures in many places; a soil like ashes; pitch falling in drops from the rocks; rivers boiling up, and emitting a fetid odour to a great distance; dwellings in every direction overthrown; whence we are inclined to believe the common tradition of the natives that thirteen cities once existed there, the capital of which was Sodom, but that a circuit of about sixty stadia around it escaped uninjured; shocks of earthquake, however, eruptions of flames, and hot springs containing asphaltus and sulphur, caused the lake to burst its bounds, and the rocks took fire; some of the cities were swallowed up, others were abandoned by such of the inhabitants as were able to make their escape."-STRAB. 1. XVI. c. 2.
"Not far from the Dead Sea lie the desert plains, such as they report to have been of old a fruitful and flourishing country, full of populous cities, which were consumed by lightnings and thunderbolts; they add that the traces and monuments of such desolation still exist, and that the soil itself looks scorched, and has ever since lost its fertility . . . To speak my own sentiments, I would allow that cities, once very great and important, were burnt here by fire from heaven, and that the soil is infected by exhalations from the lake."-TAC. Hist. 1. v. c. 7.
"The lake Asphaltites produces nothing whatever except bitumen, to which it owes its name."-PLIN. Hist. nat. 1. v. c. 16. IBID. 1. xxxv. c. 15.
The story of Phaeton may, perhaps, have originated in some tradition of this great burning by the fire sent down from heaven.
"The fire prevail'd, when the sun's furious horse,
"The highlands smoke, cleft by the piercing rays,
The running conflagration spreads below.
But these are trivial ills: whole cities burn,
And peopled kingdoms into ashes turn.”—Óv. Metam. 1. II. v. 210.
26. But his wife looked back from behind him and she became a pillar of
Medea charges Jason, that after performing mystical rites to Hecate,
"This ended, home return with backward pace,
APOL. RHOD. Arg. 1. III. v. 1037.
Orpheus recovers Eurydice from Tartarus on the condition that—
"If, before he reach the realms of air,
He backward cast his eyes to view the fair,
"His longing eyes impatient, backward cast
Ov. Metam. 1. x. v. 50.
Niobe was turned to stone while grieving over the death of her children.
"Thee too I reverence as a goddess, thee,
Unhappy Niobe! for still thou weep'st,
And from the marble, tears eternal flow."-SOPH. Electra, v. 150.
"Widow'd and childless, lamentable state!
Ov. Metam. 1. vI. v. 301.
3. And God came to Abimelech in a dream.
"The gods know all things and fore-shew them to whom they please by auguries, by omens, and in dreams."-XEN. Hipparch. c. 9.
For further notices of dreams see Job XXXIII. 15.
3. Thou art but a dead man.
"He that deserves to die is dead already, though he may still sup on a hundred Gaurian oysters, and plunge in a whole bath of the perfumes of Cosmus."
Juv. Sat. VIII. v. 85.
11. And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.
"Into what land am I come? Are these people wild, cruel, without law, doing all things by violence? or are they given to hospitality; having the fear of God in their minds."-HOM. Odyss. 1. VI. v. 119.
12. And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
The Athenians were permitted by the law of Solon to marry their sisters by the father's side; but not their uterine sisters. "The son of thy mother" is mentioned, Deut. XIII. 6, as of nearer affinity than others.
"A brother, O averter of ill! debauched his sister, the child of his own mother!" ARISTOPH. Nub. v. 1372. "Cimon married his half-sister Elpinice in accordance with the custom of his country. For an Athenian is allowed to marry the daughter of his own father." CORN. NEP. Cimon, c. 1.
16. And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other; thus she was reproved.
"Charillus being asked why, at Sparta, virgins were suffered to appear in public unveiled, but wives only with veils, replied: That maidens may find husbands, and that wives may keep those they have found."-PLUT. Apoth, Lacon. Charyl.
20. Ishmael dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
The Ituræans, who were descended from Jetur, a son of Ishmael, were famous for their use of the bow; as were, also, the men of Keder. Is. xxi. 17.
"The Ituræan yew
Receives the bending figure of a bow.."-VIRG. Georg. 1. II. v. 488. "Hence Ituræa's sons their arrows shot."-LUCAN. 1. VII. v. 230.
33. And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.
Groves and sacred trees are frequently mentioned by the early writers. See 2 Kings XXIII. 7.
"The trees formed the first temples of the gods, and even at the present day the country people, preserving in all their simplicity their ancient rites, consecrate the finest among their trees to some divinity; indeed, we feel ourselves inspired to adoration, not less by the sacred groves and their very stillness, than by the statues of the gods, resplendent as they are with gold and ivory. Each kind of tree remains immutably consecrated to its own peculiar divinity-the beech to Jupiter, the laurel to Apollo, the olive to Minerva, the myrtle to Venus; besides which, it is our belief that the sylvans, the fauns, and various kinds of goddess nymphs have the tutelage of the woods, and we look upon those deities as especially appointed to preside over them by the will of heaven."-PLIN. Hist. Nat. 1. XII. c. 2.
"Meantime the guardian of the Trojan state,
"Where the great oak, sacred to Jove, stretches its vast branches, or where the dark grove of Ilex trees bestows its sacred shade."-VIRG. Georg. 1. III. v. 333.
7. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8. And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering so they went both of them together.
Although the story of the sacrifice of Iphigenia is founded most probably upon that of Jephtha's daughter (Judges XI. 39,) the following passages from EURIPIDES bear so strong a resemblance to some parts of the history of Abraham's offering upon Mount Moriah, as to demand insertion here.
"AGAMEMNON. It behoves me to offer a certain sacrifice here.
"IPHIGENIA. But it is with the priests that thou shouldest consider sacred matters.
9. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
Isaac, like the divine Saviour whom he foreshadowed, was a willing victim; nevertheless, he was bound as was Jesus, this being the custom at sacrifices.
"IPHIGENIA. Thou hast nurtured me for a glory to Greece, and I will not refuse." IBID. V. 1502.
"The salted cakes were prepared and the sacred fillet was around my brow. I broke my bonds, and saved myself from death.”—VIRG. An. 1. II. v. 134.
"Orestes and Pylades are led to the pitiless altar, their hands bound behind their backs."-Ov. de Pont. 1. III. Eleg. 2.
10. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his
11. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham; and he said, Here am I.
12. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
13. And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
"MESSENGER. The priest, taking the knife, prayed, and viewed her neck, that he might find a place to strike: and no little pity entered my mind, and I stood with eyes cast down; but suddenly there was a marvel to behold. For every one could clearly perceive the sound of the blow; but beheld not the virgin, where on earth she had vanished. But a stag lay panting on the ground, of mighty size and beautiful in appearance, with whose blood the altar of the goddess was abundantly wetted; and upon this Calchas thus spake :-0 leaders of this common host of the Greeks, behold this victim which the goddess hath brought to her altar, a mountain-roaming stag.. This she prefers greatly to the virgin, lest her altars should be defiled with generous blood."
EURIP. Iph. in Aul. v. 1578.
"On the occasion of a plague at Falerii an oracle required that a virgin should be sacrificed to Juno. When Valeria Luperca had been chosen by lot for the sacrifice, and the sword was already drawn to slay her, an eagle came down from heaven and carried it away and laid it upon the head of a young heifer which was feeding near the temple, and which was then sacrificed in her stead."-PLUT. Parall. c. 35.
17. That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the the sea shore.
"If thou would'st all his generous deeds explore,
As soon the sandy grains thy tongue shall number o'er."
"Many as grains of Libyan sand
PIND. Olymp. II. v. 179.
From prescient Ammon's sultry dome
Many as stars that silent ken
At night, the stolen loves of men," &c.-CATUL. Carm. 7.
"I have suffered woes countless as the stars in heaven, or as the dry grains of dust."-Ov. Trist. 1. 1. Eleg. 4.
And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth saying,
I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.
And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, 6. Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
The ancients attached great importance to the burial of their dead.-See Notes on Jer. VIII. 2., and xxII. 18.
Cheops intended the Pyramids as a place of burial for himself. They were in an island which he formed by introducing the waters of the Nile."-HDT. 1. II. c. 124.
"In this reign, when commerce was checked and injured from the extreme want of money, an ordinance passed that any one might borrow money, giving the body of his father as a pledge. By this law the sepulchre of the debtor became in the power of the creditor, for if the debt was not discharged, he could neither be buried with his family nor in any other vault; nor was he suffered to enter into one belonging to his descendants."
IBID. c. 136.
"An Egyptian, when he lacks money to supply his wants, not unfrequently relieves his necessity by pawning the dead body of his brother or his father."-LUCIAN. de luctu, c. 21. 16. Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver.
"The Lydians are the first people on record who coined gold and silver into money, and traded in retail."-HDT. 1. I. c. 94.
See Gen. XLVII. 17.
8. And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath only bring not my son thither again.
Pylades, being bound by oath to deliver a certain letter, stipulates for a similar exemption :
"Grant me this one exception; if the vessel suffer any harm, and the letter be lost in a storm, together with the goods, and I can save my person only, that this mine oath be no longer valid."-EURIP. Iph. in Taur. v. 755.
15. And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.
"When near the fam'd Phæacian walls he (Ulysses) drew,
The beauteous city opening to his view,
His step a virgin met and stood before;
A polish'd urn the seeming virgin bore."-Hoм. Odyss. 1. VII. v. 18.