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on the success of their enterprise. Thus, when Darius invaded Attica, Callimachus made a vow to Minerva, that, if she would grant the victory to the Athenians, he would sacrifice upon her altars as many he-goats as should equal the number of the slain among their enemies." Nor was this custom peculiar to Greece, but frequently practised in most other countries, of which the histories of Rome, Persia, and other nations, furnish many examples. It seems to have been of immemorial antiquity, for when Jephthah accepted the command of his nation against the Amorites, he solemnly vowed to offer in sacrifice to God whatever should come forth from the doors of his house to meet him, when he returned after a successful termination of the war.t
After the troops were assembled, a public sacrifice was offered upon the national altar, which was succeeded by a martial feast prepared for the whole army; and to confirm their purpose and inflame their courage, a hymn to Jehovah closed the festival. The hundred forty-ninth psalm, was, in the opinion of Doddridge, composed on such an occasion; it was sung when David's army
marching out to war against the remains of the devoted nations of Canaan, and first went up in solemn procession to the house of God, there, as it were, to consecrate the arms he put into their hands. On that occasion, the devout monarch called on his associates in arms, (ver. 5.) “ to sing aloud
upon their beds," that is, the couches upon which they reclined at the banquet attending their sacrifices, which gives a clear and important sense to a very obscure and difficult passage. To these military sacrifices and banquets, the people were summoned by the sound of two silver trumpets of a cubit long, according to JosePotter's Gr. Antiq. vol. ii, p. 69.
* Judg. xi, 31.
phus, but like ours, wider at bottom. These were blown by two priests, as the law of Moses required ; and they were sounded in a particular manner, that the people might know the meaning of the summons. Then the anointed for the war, going from one battalion to another, exhorted the soldiers in the Hebrew language, no other being allowed on that occasion, to fight valiantly for their country, and for the cities of their God. Officers were appointed to give notice, that those whose business it was, should make sufficient provision for the army, before they marched ; and every tenth man was appointed for that purpose. This arrangement was made by a resolution of the tribes, recorded in the book of Judges: “And we will take ten men of an hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and an hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to fetch victual for the people, that they may do when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel.” Mr. Harmer contends, that “ these men were not intended so much to collect food for the use of their companions in that expedition, as to dress it, to serve it up, and to wait upon them in eating it.” But although the difference is not very material, the supposition that the tenth part of the army was to forage for the rest is more natural, and at the same time, more agreeable to the literal meaning of the text, which signifies to hunt the prey. .. When the answer of the hostile state was unfavourable, and encouragement was given to carry on the war,
the troops were encamped in the open field till the preparations were completed, and they were ready to march. The arrangements of the Hebrew camp were first made, as already remarked, by God himself. Every family and
Judg. xx, 10.
household had their particular ensigns, besides the great banner which they displayed in the midst of the army, under which they encamped or pursued their march. How these banners and ensigns were distinguished from one another, we have no means of ascertaining. The later Jews allege, that Judah carried in his standard the figure of a lion, and Reuben the figure of a man; Ephraim of an ox, and Dan of an eagle; but these are merely the conjectures of a heated imagination, and are entitled to no serious attention. It is more probable, that the name of each tribe was embroidered on the standard under which they marched; or perhaps they were distinguished, as in some other countries, only by their colours. Mr. Harmer is inclined to a different opinion; he thinks, the standards of the tribes were not flags, but little iron machines carried on the top of a pole, in which fires were lighted to direct their march by night, and so contrived, as sufficiently to distinguish them from one another. This is the kind of standard by which the Turkish caravans direct their march through the desert to Mecca, and seems to be very commonly used by travellers in the east. Dr. Pococke tells us, that the caravan with which he visited the river Jordan, set out from thence in the evening soon after it was dark for Jerusalem, being lighted by chips of deal full of turpentine, burning in a round iron frame, fixed to the end of a pole, and arrived at the city a little before day break. But he states also, that a short time before this, the pilgrims were called before the governor of the caravan, by means of a white standard that was displayed on an eminence near the camp, in order to enable him to ascertain his fees.
Harmer's Obs. vol. ii, p. 278, 279, &c. Pococke's Trav. vol. ii, p. 33.
In the Mecca caravans, they use nothing by day, but the same moveable beacons in which they burn those fires, which distinguish the different tribes in the night. From these circumstances, Harmer concludes, that, “ since travelling in the night must in general be most desirable to a great multitude in that desert, and since we may believe that a compassionate God for the most part directed Israel to move in the night, the standards of the twelve tribes were moveable beacons, like those of the Mecca pilgrims, rather than flags or any thing of that kind.” On this reasoning, the following remarks are offered : 1. The people of Israel and the Mecca pilgrims, were in very different circumstances; the former did not need such fire beacons, because they enjoyed the light and direction of a pillar of fire, which, for any thing we know to the contrary, was quite sufficient to enlighten and guide the step of every one in the camp. 2. Flags were actually carried in the caravan -to Mecca, beside the fire beacons; for a white standard was raised on an eminence, to summon the pilgrims into the governor's presence. We may therefore suppose, that the many thousands of Israel might have their flags in the desert, to guide the motions of the tribes; and this conjecture receives some countenance from the fact, that such ensigns have been used in the east from the remotest ages. 3. The chosen people were not under the same necessity of travelling in the night, because they were defended from the intense heat of the sun by the pillar of cloud, which was expanded like an immense curtain over their hosts all the day.
In our translation, the church represents her Saviour as the standard-bearer in the armies of the living God. “ My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten
thousand ;” or, according to the margin, a standard-bearer among ten thousand." These phrases are made synonimous, on the groundless supposition that a standard-bearer is the chief of the
the modern orientals, a standard-bearer is not the chief, more than among the nations of Europe. He is, on the contrary, the lowest commissioned officer in the corps who bears the colours. This, however, seems to be merely a mistake of our translators, in rendering the phrase Dagul meribabah. If we understand by the word Dagul, such a flag as is carried at the head of our troops, then, as the Hebrew participle is the pahul, which has a passive, and not an active sense, it must signify one before whom a standard is borne; not the person who lifts up and displays it, but him in whose honour the standard is displayed. It was not a mark of superior dignity in the east to display the standard, but it was a mark of dignity and honour to have the standard carried before one; and the same idea seems to be entertained in other parts of the world. The passage then is rightly translated thus; My beloved is white and ruddy, and honourable, as one before whom, or around whom, ten thousand standards are borne.
The compliment is returned by her Lord in these words; 66 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners ;” and again, “Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, terrible as an army with banners ?” Mr. Harmer imagines that these texts refer to a marriage procession, surrounded with flambeaux. But what is terrible in a company of women, even although “ dressed in rich attire, surrounded with nuptial flamSong v, 10.
Song vi, 4, 10.