Imágenes de página
PDF

the children of Israel before his death." This should be read in connexion with the blessing of Jacob, which it very much resembles. What it says of Joseph is full of sweetness, and its closing verses are a sublime strain of religious and patriotic ferv our, worthy indeed to be recorded as the last words of the man of God, who had led his chosen people, till they could view afar off the promised land, who was himself to “see it with his eyes,” from the suinmit of Pisgah, and then to be gathered to the dead in silence, and solitude, and awful secresy, by the hand of the Almighty.

These are all the poetry in the historical books of Moses; the next poetical piece in order is the sublime song of Deborah contained in the fifth chapter of Judges. Next is the prayer, (as it is called in the translation) of Hannah, I Sam. ii. 1-10, which may be compared with the song of Mary, Luke i. 46-55. Then we find the pathetic lamentation of David over Saul and Jonathan; JI. Sam. i. 19-27. Then David's song of gratitude to God, “ for deliverance from the hand of all his enemies and of Saul," II Sam. xxii. This contains what is perhaps the sublimest description in all Hebrew poetry, not excepting even the compositions of Isaiah. It also exhibits in a very beautiful manner the placid spirit of David, and the confidence of his trust in God his deliverer. This song forms with some sliyht alterations, the 18th Psalın, and should be examined along with it. In the next chapter, (xxiii.) verses 2–7, we have “the last words of David,the son of Jesse, the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel;"-a beautiful morsel, full of his own sweet, rural, confiding manner. In I Chron. xvi. 8-36, we find a sublime song of thanksgiving, composed by David on occasion of bringing up the ark from the house of Obed-edom to the city of Jerusalem, part of which constitutes the 96th Psalm, which will be found translated on page 461. .

These we believe, are all the poetical remains contained in the historical portions of the Hebrew Scriptures. They are full of beauty, and the study of them, standing as they do, in the midst of plain prose, will give the pupil a more forcible idea of the nature and peculiarities of Hebrew poetry, even than the perusal of the exclusively poetical books. Having brought the enumeration down to the last production of David, we shall close with the following fine extract from Campbell, on the influence and character of his genius.

“The gifted influence of David evidently created a new era in the productions of the Hebrew muse. It is impossible to conceive his example and genius as a poet, combined with the splendid circumstances of his reign, having failed to communicate an enthusiastic impulse to the imaginations of his people. He extended their empire, he subdued their enemies, and founded their capital, Jerusalem, in Zion, which he had won from the Jebusites; and having brought the ark of the cove

nant to the consecrated city, he invested the national worship with a pomp of attendance, and a plenitude of vocal and instrumental music, calculated to give an inspiring effect to its solemnities. He himself relieved the cares attending a diadem, with the harp, which had been the solace of his adversities and the companion of his shepherd days; and leading his people in devotion as he had led them in battle, he employed his genius in the composition of beautiful strains for the accompaniment of their sacred riteg. He must have thus diffused a taste for music and poetry, much beyond what the nation had hitherto possessed.

His traits of inspiration are lovely and touching, rather than daring and astonishing. His voice, as a worshipper, has a penetrating accent of human sensibility, varying from plaintive melancholy to luxuriant gladness, and even rising to ecstatic rapture. In grief, “his heart is melted like war; and deep answers to deep, whilst the waters of affliction pass over him.” Or his soul is led to the green pastures by the quiet waters. Or his religious confidence pours forth the metaphors of a warrior in rich and exulting succession. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer-my God, any strength, in whom I will trust-my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” Some of the sacred writers may excite the imagination more powerfully than David, but none of them appeal more interestingly to the heart. Nor is it in tragic so much as in joyous expression that I conceive the power of his genius to consisi. Its most inspired aspect appears to present itself, when he looks abroad on the universe with the eye of a poet, and with the breast of a glad and grateful worshipper. When he looks up to the starry firmament, his soul assimilates to the splendour and serenity which he contemplates. This lofty but bland spirit of devotion peculiarly reigns in the 8th and in the 19th Psalms. But above all, it expands itself in the 104th into a minute and richly diversified picture of the creation. Verse after verse in that Psalm, leads on the mind through the various objects of nature as through a mighty landscape, and the atmosphere of the scene is coloured, not with a dim or mystic, but with a clear and warm light of religious feeling. He spreads his sympathies over the face of the world, and rejoices in the power and goodness of its protecting Deity. The impression of that exquisite ode dilates the heart with a pleasure too instinctive and simple to be described.”

PART OF THE PROPHECY OF BALAAM.

NUMBERS, xxiii, xxiv.
FROM Aram I am brought by Balak,--
By the king of Moab from the mountains of the east :
Come, curse, me Jacob;
And come execrate Israel :

How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed?
And how shall I execrate whom God hath not execrated ?
For, from the top of the rocks I see him,
And from the hills I behold him:
Lo! the people who shall dwell alone,
Nor shall number themselves among the nations!
Who shall count the dust of Jacob?
Or the number of the fourth of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous,
And let my last end be like his !

I shall see him, but not now:
I shall behold him, but not nigh:
There shall come a star out of Jacob,
And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel,
And shall smite the corners of Moab,
And destroy all the children of Sheth.
And Edom shall be a possession,
Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies:
And Israel shall do valiantly.
Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion,
And shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.

FROM THE SONG OF MOSES TO THE CONGREGATION OF

ISRAEL
DEUTERONOMY xxxii.
VE ear, O ye heavens and I will speak :
And hear, o earth, the words of my mouth.
My doctrine shall drop as the rain,
My speech shall distil as the dew;
As the small rain upon the tender herb,
And as the showers upon the grass,
Because I will publish the name of Jehovah.
Ascribe ye majesty unto our God.
The Rock, his work is perfect;
For all his ways are righteousness :
A God of truth, and without iniquity,
Just and right is he.

The portion of Jehovah is his people;
Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
He found him in a desert land,
And in the waste howling wilderness :
He led him about, he instructed him;
He kept him as the apple of his eye.
As an eagle stirreth up her nest,
Fluttereth over her young,

Spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them,
Beareth them on her wings ;-
So Jehovah alone did lead him,
And no strange God was with him.

CLOSE OF THE BLESSING PRONOUNCED BY MOSES ON THE

CHILDREN OF ISRAEL.

DEUTERONOMY xxxiii.
There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun.
He rideth upon the heavens for thy help;
In his majesty upon the sky.
The eternal God spreadeth out before thee
And beneath thee the everlasting arms:
He did thrust out the enemy from before thee,
And he said, Perish.

Therefore shall Israel dwell securely ;
The fountain of Jacob in quiet (shall flow,]
Upon a land of corn and wine :
Also his heaven shall drop down dew.

Happy art thou, O Israel!
Who is like unto thee, O people redeemed,
By Jehovah, the shield of thy help,
And the sword of thy majesty!
Thine enemies shall submit themselves unto thee,
And thou shalt tread upon their high places.

DAVID's LAMENTATION FOR SAUL AND JONATHAN.*

II. SAMUEL. i. 19-29.
The glory of Israel is slain upon thy high places:
How are the mighty fallen!
Tell it not in Gath :
Publish it not in the streets of Askelon:
Lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,
Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.

Oh mountains of Gilboa ! let there be no dew,
Nor rain upon you, nor fields of first fruits :

* All those extracts from the Sacred Poets, to which the name of the translator is not prefixed, are translated by the Editor. The English translators of the Bible performed their task with beautiful simplicity, and much faithfulness ;-and though the critical translator requires the most unwearied patience in long, minute, and repeated investigation, yet, with the Editor of the present volume, whose object is simply to present an unstudied picture of the beauty of the original, it is often times. sufficient for the accomplishment of his purpose, to divide the common version (almost unaltered except in the correction of evident mistakes) into the parallelistic lines of the Hebrew.

For there the shield of the mighty was thrown away;
The shield of Saul,-weapons anointed with oil.

From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty,
The bow of Jonathan turned not back,
The sword of Saul returned not empty.

Saul and Jonathan !
Beautiful and pleasant in their lives,
In their death they were not divided.
They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

o daughters of Israel! weep over Saul !
He clothed you with scarlet, in loveliness :
He added ornaments of gold to your apparel.

How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!

Jonathan, slain in thine high places !
Sorrow is upon me, for thee, my brother Jonathan :
Thou wast pleasant unto me, exceedingly :
Wonderful was thy love to me, passing the love of women.

How' are the mighty fallen!
And the weapons of war perished !

THE TRIUMPHAL SONG OF MOSES AFTER THE PASSAGE OF

THE RED SEA.

EXODUS xv.
I will sing unto Jehovah, for he is gloriously exalted;
The horse and his rider hath he whelmed in the sea.
My praise and iny song is Jehovah,
And he is become my salvation :
He is my God, and I will praise him;
My father's God, and I will exalt him.

Jehovah is a man of war: Jehovah is his name.
The chariots of Pharaoh and his host hath he thrown in the

sea; And his choicest leaders are thrown in the Red Sea. The floods have covered them: they went down; Into the abyss (they went down] as a stone. Thy right hand, o Jehovah, hath made itself glorious in

power: Thy right hand, O Jehovah, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the strength of thy majesty thou hast destroyed thine

adversaries. Thou didst let loose thy wrath: it consumed them like

stubble. With the blast of thy nostrils the waters were heaped together : The rowing waters * stood upright as an heap: The floods were congealed in the heart of the sea.

* In the original,—“The flowing stood upright" &c. the participle of the verb to flow being the poetical form for waters.

« AnteriorContinuar »