« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand,” Dan. xii. 10. “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels," Rev. iii. 4, 5. I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest And he said to me. These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb," ch. vi. 14.
Winds, a destroying power, or wars : " Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another,” Dan. vii. 2, 3. And upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them toward all those winds; and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come. For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life : and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the Lord ; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them," Jer. xlix. 36, 37. “ Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind,” ch. li. 1.
Wine-press (treading it), conquest, slaughter: “I have trodden the wine-press alone; and of the
people there was none with me: for I will tread them in my anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment,” Isai. lxiii. 3. “ The Lord hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men : the Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, as in a wine-press,” Lam. i. 15. “ And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations : and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; and he treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God," Rev. xix. 15.
Wings, protection : “ The Lord recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the Lord
God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust,” Ruth ii. 12. Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me under the shadow of thy wings,” Ps. xvii. 8. “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall," Mal. iv. 2.
Woman, a, is frequently the symbol of a city, or body politic—of a nation or kingdom : “ And the
woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth," Rev. xvii. 18.
2. This symbol is frequently employed for the Jewish nation, particularly, Ezek. xvi., &c. See
Adultery. 3. In the book of Revelation a roinan is employed to represent the Romish church : “ And
there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent," Rev. xii. 1, 6, 14.
“ And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness : and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus ; and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration, Rev. xvii. 1-6. See Moon.
1. IN common with every other species of literary composition, the Holy Scriptures present difficulties to the mind of the reader; some of these defy all attempts at solution, while others, comprehending by far the greater number, may be satisfactorily removed by a competent knowledge of ancient history, and an acquaintance with general literature and science. Nor will the existence of these difficulties excite any surprise in the minds of those who have attended to the statements made in the previous pages. Nevertheless, it is desirable, both for the honour of revelation and for the satisfaction of the inquiring mind, that even unimportant difficulties should be removed ; that apparent contradictions should be reconciled; that seeming discrepancies should be adjusted; that mistranslations should be corrected; that references to obsolete customs and ceremonies should be explained : in a word, that our Scriptures should be raised, in the utmost degree of which they are capable, to the character they originally sustained.
2. In order to form a just estimate of the character of scripture difficulties, it is necessary to advert to the principal sources from which they derive their origin. Let the following suggestions, then, be attended to. The Scriptures contain the revelation of God to man; and they may be expected therefore to include many things beyond man's understanding, and to discourse of many subjects both novel and mysterious. The greater part of these writings was composed to serve an immediate purpose; and, unless we enter into that purpose, and are prepared to follow the argument, we must of course fail to comprehend the writer or writers. As the biblical books are of extreme antiquity, they of course refer to customs, facts, persons, places, prejudices, and opinions of antiquity, which must be recalled to mind, or the reference will be unintelligible. The books do not come to us as they were written. The original languages are not generally understood, and we read them in all the disadvantages of a translation. This translation may be imperfect, or its expressions may have become obsolete ; and, in some cases, the learned authors may have mistaken the sense of their originals. To one or other of these sources may most of our difficulties be referred.
3. Ernesti is upon this, as upon most other topics, judicious and satisfactory. He says, The harmonizing of apparent doctrinal discrepancies may be regulated by the following maxims :
(1) An obscure passage—that is, one in which is something ambiguous or unusual—should be explained in accordance with what is plain, and without any ambiguity. So we explain all anthropopathic expressions in regard to God, by the plain truth that his nature is spiritual. Again, a passage in which a doctrine is merely touched on, or adverted to, is to be explained by other passages
which present plain and direct exhibitions of it. Thus, the subject of justification in Rom. iii., is designedly treated at large ; of the resurrection, in 1 Cor. xv. Such passages are called classic, and by them other expressions, which occur incidentally, are to be explained.
(2) It is important to remember that many things of a doctrinal nature are simply and absolutely declared, agreeably to common usages in all languages, which still have only a relative sense. This may be accounted for from the fact, that there are parts of religion which are commonly known and understood ; therefore such parts do not need accurate limitation. Thus, that we are saved by faith, is one of the elementary principles of the Christian religion. The sacred writers, therefore, do not on every mention of any duty remind us of this principle, as they expect us to keep it in memory. When they say, then, that almsgiving is acceptable to God, they expect to be understood as meaning if it be accompanied by faith. In this way apparent discrepancies may be reconciled; and the reconciliation becomes the more probable, as the reason for it can be given.
(3) Another important thing (indeed, this lies at the bottom of all interpretation) is, to find the true meaning of each writer. In order to this, every thing must be taken into view which the principles of interpreting language require; the subject, scope, context, design, age, habits, style, object, &c., of the author; and when the meaning is found of each writer, the passages may be brought together, without fear of any real discrepancy.
In apparent historical discrepancies, we must see to it that we have not confounded things which really differ, merely because they have some similitude. This, it is believed, has not unfrequently happened ; and it requires great skill and caution, on the one hand, to guard against this, and on the other, against rashly multiplying facts, because there are some slight discrepancies in the narration. It
be necessary to remark, that it is not every slight discrepancy that will create a real difficulty in an historical document. The notion of verbal inspiration, in such cases, does certainly render reconciliation impossible ; but this is now generally exploded. There are few will now except to the propriety of Jerome's remarks, that the Scripture consists in the SENSE of a passage, and not in the WORDS only, which are the mere costume of the sense ; and if so, there are but few apparent contradictions among the sacred writers themselves, that may not be easily removed.*
4. Having premised so much, we proceed to furnish such aid as we may, towards elucidating the obscurities, and solving the difficulties, which present themselves in the sacred writings
THE BOOK OF GENESIS,
1. “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light." — Ver. 3.
No fact recorded in the sacred writings, perhaps, has yielded a more fruitful subject for cavil than the account of the creation, as given in the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis. It has been said that the accounts which the Holy Scriptures furnish of the phenomena of the heavenly bodies are altogether discordant with the discoveries of science, and that, therefore, the testimony of the writers is, in other respects; unworthy of credit. We hope to show that there is no such cause for complaint. With reference to the passage under consideration, it is asked, “How could God create light before the sun, as is represented in ver. 3, compared with ver. 16? In reply to this, it has been observed that the original word 9 aur signifies not only light but fire (see Isai. xxxi. 7; Ezek. v. 2. It is used for the sun, Job xxxi. 26, and for the electric fluid, or lightning, chap. xxxvi. 3; and it is worthy of remark, that it is used, in Isai. xliv. 16, for the heat derived from the fire); and it has therefore been concluded, that as God has diffused the matter of caloric or latent han through every part of nature, without which there could be neither animal nor vegetable life, that it is caloric or latent heat which is principally intended by the original word. Before the formation of the solar orb, this universal agent was agitated, so as to produce light, and was supported in action by some means, as seemed good to the Creator. No fair exception can be taken to this reasoning; but we are of opinion that a more satisfactory answer may be given to the objection, by considering the import of the words used in the original text. It has been for want of a due examination of these, with a mind completely divested of all preconceived notions, that the narrative of Moses has been thought to be less philosophical and sublime. To enter upon a full investigation of the subject, however, would carry us into too extensive and profound a disquisition ; we can only open the argument, leaving it to our intelligent and learned readers to prosecute the inquiry. It is impossible to read the first chapter of Genesis, in the original text, without perceiving that the sacred writer uses the same terms in a somewhat different sense, in the former and in the latter parts of his narrative ; that is, that he first uses a word in a general, and then in a particular or restricted sense. Thus, in the first verse, the term yox earth is used to denote the entire substance, which was afterwards separated into waters and dry land (ver. 9, 10); and then, in the tenth verse, the word is restrictively applied to one part of this substance, namely, the dry land, of which it becomes the proper appellation. So, also, the word o"v heavens, in the first verse, is used with greater latitude than in the eighth verse, where it is adopted as the proper name of the firmament, which was not brought into existence till the second day. In like manner are the words or day
Stuart's Elements of Interpretation.
and obes night applied. In the fifth verse they are used to denote those substances or properties, whatever they may be, which are just before called 77x light, and fun darkness,—“ And God called the light (728) day (ar), and the darkness (ywn) he called night (7505);"—but in the subsequent part of the narrative they are properly given to those astronomical periods of time which have ever since been so designated. Hence it will appear that the word light, in the verse under consideration, is used with reference to that substance or fluid which, when operated upon in a certain manner, produces the phenomenon called light, quite irrespective of any such operation, or of the state in rehich it then existed.
2. “And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.”_ Ver. 7.
By following the Vulgate, which has firmamentum, a translation of the regewua of the LXX., our translators have deprived this passage of all sense and meaning, and afforded an opportunity of cavilling to those men who peruse the Scriptures for the purpose of discovering difficulties. “How could a firmament be created (says the “Doubts of the Infidels ") since there is no firmament; and the false notion of its existence is no more than an imagination of the ancient Grecians ?" The difficulty, however, vanishes on a reference to the original, and the infidels are deprived of their vaunted triumph. The Hebrew word rp rekia, from a root which signifies to spread out, espand, enlarge, &c., simply signifies an expanse or space, and consequently that circumambient space or expansion well known by the name of the atmosphere. But of what is this an expansion? Doubtless of the celestial fluid of which we have before spoken, consisting of light air, ether, or of whatever philosophers may please to term it. In Scripture, it is styled the heavens, “Who stretcheth out the heavens like a curtain," Ps. civ. 2; Isai. xl. 22.
3. “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.”—Ver. 16.
We have already intimated that this verse has been thought contradictory to the 4th verse; but the contradiction originates in the imperfection of our translation. In the original, the word here translated lights is different from that rendered light in the fourth verse— the former being 71x aur, and the latter nix maureth. This word properly denotes kindlers ; and the word with which it is associated, rendered to rule, is literally to have dominion or porcer : this view of the passage will remove every difficulty, and exhibit the philosophical precision with which the writer expresses himself. Thus we see that the kindlers are to have power or influence over the day (a name originally given in an enlarged sense to the aur, or light, ver. 3), and over the night (a name originally given to chashech, or darkness, ver. 3), and the stars also.* The Septuagint and Vulgate have understood the passage in a similar manner; the former having pwoteges, and the latter luminaria, luminaries, or light-bearers ; though this is not so fully expressive of the original as the translation we have proposed.
CHAPTER II. “And there was not a man to till the ground.”—Ver. 5. This verse has been thought contradictory to chap. i. 27, where the creation of Adam had been already affirmed. The difficulty, however, results only from inattention to the scope of the two passages. The inspired historian first gives a general account of the whole creation in six days ; and then, carrying on his history, describes particularly the formation of Adam and Eve. In the third verse of this chapter it is said, that God rested from all his work which he had created and made; that is, he ceased to make any more creatures; therefore Adam was not made after this.
5. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."-Ver. 17.
The difficulty which presents itself here, is between the denunciation and the fact. Notwithstanding that Adam transgressed the divine command, and therefore incurred the penalty, he lived for a period of 800 years afterwards. The Hebrew nuan nia muth tomuth, is literally a death thou
* See above