Imágenes de páginas

adopt, and others ridicule, of the Hebrew being an • ideal' language, and retaining more or less the primary sense of every root through all its deflexions, this word teshuqt, desire, in its application here, presents to the mind sundry ideas, which, when carried up to spiritual signification, would afford the highest relish of comfort and gratification to the pious soul, and give a zest to one of the most exquisite desires' that the animal frame is capable of. I am my Beloved's, and his desire is 10wards me. From this verse, to the conclusion of the poem, is a mixed, and what might be called a familiar conversation between the fair one and her Beloved, in terms indeed of apparently secular occupation, but such as, upon minute enquiry, will be found to contain a great store of spiritual meaning under them.

Ver. 11.-Come, my Beloved, let us go forth into the

field, let us lodge in the villages.

The church in bold, but well warranted language of intimate union, as just before expressed, by her warmly soliciting her Beloved to some particular act of watchful care and beneficence, and to allow her some humble share in it, now breaks out into this invitation, Let us go into the field, 7707,


it, chap. ii. 4. • his banner over me,' oli, and to the same sense with Isaiah's application of it, chap. lxii. 5. 6. As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.'

hashadeh, in agrum. It frequently occurs, and is generally used to denote, “ ground under cul. tivation,' ” a cultivated field,' in opposition to W, jor, wood or forest, with which it is once joined in mystical description', " the fields of • the wood.'. In this sense the reference is obvious, as pointing to the happy spot'under spiritual cultivation, but still needing the cultivator's eye for its further improvement; and stated here as in distinction from the other branch of the call, Let us lodge in the villages, Disnya, bekephrim. The root is kephr, a word of much use, and of vast importance, as already explained'. Upon what grounds, or by what authority, translators have rendered it villages, in the sense we put upon that word, does not appear. Calasio's concordance produces only four other places where it is thus rendered. The first is in Joshua 3, which we read in one word, Chephar-haamonai, one of the twelve cities that had oiin, hazruth, villages, so not likely to be a village itself, as Marius translates it. We meet with it next in the singular number“, 99867 75, kephr heprzi, which we readó country villages;' as if kephr stod for 'coun

try,' for the other word, perzi, is by itself twice used for villagess. The other two places where


i Psalm cxxxii. 6.

2 Chap. i. 14. 3 Chap. xviii. 24.

4 1 Sam. vi. 18. *

5 Judges v. 7. 11. { * As the quotation from 1 Sam. vi, 18. in course of my subject, has brought into view the history of the Philistines sending home the ark of

- God,

our word kephrim is found for • villages,' are in VOL. II.

2 s


God, let me be indulged in another digression, to hint something which I would humbly offer as, at least, a possible solution of perhaps the most plausible objection that infidelity has to throw out against our sacred books. We read, that at this time the Lord was angry with the people of Bethshemesh for looking into the ark;' and smote of them fifty 'thousand, and threescore and ten men. Now, says the infidel, besides the cruelty of such a prodigious slaughter, so unlike a merciful and benevolent Being, it is not probable that there could be so many men in Bethshemesh, which is nowhere mentioned to be a place of much note, or that such a vast multitude either could or would have looked into the ark at one time. The consequence is plain ; but the whole of this formidable objection is drawn from the translations, as indeed most, if not all, of the cavils of the infidels are ; for they do not, perhaps dare not, meddle with the original. The Hebrew order of enumeration, which the LXX. and Jerom have retained, but our translators have reversed, will, with only changing the position of one single letter, give a better and more natural account. It is well known, that for a long time the Hebrew text was neither broken into chapters and verses, nor into such marked distinctions of sentences, and even words, as our present copies bear. This numeration in Heb. is, w'x 738 D'wnnt vix Dyw, in our letters, sboim aish hmshim alp aish, literally as thus distinguished, • Seventy persons, fifty thousand persons or men :' All I propose there. fore is, to take the m from the word bmsbim (which, with it, is ' fifty,' and without it,' five'), and prefix it to the next word alp, thus, hmshi malp aish, which will make the whole numeration to be,' Septuaginta “viros, quinque ex mille viris-seventy men, five out of a thousand men;" stating this last number as explanatory of the first ; and thereby giving the whole number of the inhabitants of Bethshemesh to be fourteen thousand, which is both more probable, and more consonant to the history, as it may be thought these seventy, the fives of every thousand, who were thus smitten, had been the principal men of the place, so might think themselves privileged to look into the ark, as Uzzah afterwards thought he was to touch it, (2 Sam. vi. 7.), and was in like manner punished for his forwardness. I am warranted in this use of the preposition r, by other texts where we meet with it in the same sense, as Numb, xxxi. 5. ? Out of the thousands of Israel ;' Job ix. 3. and


the first Chronicles' and Nehemiahi , but without any absolute necessity for that sense from the context. However, as retaining the grand idea of . atonement' to keplır, in this place, may be objected to, ás either too refined or too obscuře'; and, if we must take it in its rare signification of villages,' ás distinct from the field,' even this will admit a. more congruous interpretation on the spiritual plan, tħan it can do on the natural. If the field, shadah, stand as I have said it does, for the cultivated part, which had been long under the great husbandman's care 3, the villages, which the fair one wishes her Beloved to bless with his presence and attention, may mean those hitherto neglected parts, not as yét within that happy palé, realized in the Acts of the Apostles ^, when they said s, 'Lo, we turn • to the Gentiles.' Or, still in closer apposition to the literal sense of villages, villae, pagi, when we look back to the early state of christianity, which began at first in great cities, Jerusalem, Antioch, Romé; &c. where in a short time there were vast numbers of converts and settled officers appointed,


xxxiii. 23. 'One of, among, a thousand ;' Eccles. vii. 28. One man • among a thousand. What I thus offer, is not altering or correcting the text, which I shall never attempt ; it is only correcting, if even that, rabbins and translators, which, in such an easy way, and with such a laudable view, will I hope be thought, if not altogether admissible, at least in a great measure excusable. i Chap. xxvii. 25.

2 Chap: vi. 2. 3 St John xv. 1.

4 Chap. x 45. 5 Chap. xiii. 46. '

while the pagani, the inhabitants of the pagi, the country villages, either remained in their heathen, pagan, darkness, or were only visited with the gospel light now and then, and, as it were, in transitu ; till in process of time, as believers increased in them, they too by degrees came to have the face of a regular church among them, with bishops in some, and presbyters in all of them : And then, according to the fair one's solicitation before us, it may be said, that her Beloved and she lodged, commorabantur, took up their residence in the villages, he primarily bestowing, and she subordinately dispensing, as the appointed steward of his mysteries, the blessings of his love, and thereby extending his salvation to the ends of the earth'.

VER. 12. Let us get up early to the vineyards, let

see if the vine flourish, if the tender grape appear, and the pomegranate bud forth; there will I give thee my loves.

The spiritual sense of this verse is elegant, and discovers itself under those beautiful figures, the meaning of which has been already shewn. I have only to observe here that happy strain of uniformity, which is so visible in the sacred language. Let us get up early, opus, neshkimeh, the very word which the prophet Jeremiah repeatedly puts into the Beloved's own mouth_ rising up early and 2 s 2


s Isaiah xlix. 6. Acts xiii. 47.

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