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transaction. (Gen. xxi. 22-32.) It was moreover customary to cut the victim (which was to be offered as a sacrifice upon the occasion) into two parts, and so by placing each half upon two different altars, to cause those who contracted the covenant to pass between both. (Gen. xv. 9, 10. 17. Jer. xxxiv. 18.) This rite was practised both by believers and heathens at their solemn leagues; at first doubtless with a view to the great sacrifice, who was to purge our sins in his own blood: and the offering of these sacrifices, and passing between the parts of the divided victim, was symbolically staking their hopes of purification and salvation on their performance of the conditions on which it was offered.

This remarkable practice may be clearly traced in the Greek and Latin writers. Homer has the following expression:

Iliad, lib. ii. ver. 124.

Ορκια πιστα ταμοντες.
Having cut faithful oaths.

Eustathius explains the passage by saying, they were oaths relating to important matters, and were made by the division of the victim. See also Virgil, Æn. viii. ver. 640.

The editor of the fragments supplementary to Calmet1 is of opinion that what is yet practised of this ceremony may elucidate that passage in Isa. xxviii. 15. We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us, for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves. As if it had been said:-We have cut off a covenant sacrifice, a purification offering with death, and with the grave we have settled, so that the Scourge shall not injure us. May not such a custom have been the origin of the following superstition related by Pitts? "If they (the Algerine corsairs) at any time happen to be in a very great strait or distress, as being chased, or in a storm, they will gather money, light up candles in remembrance of some dead marrabot (saint) or other, calling upon him with heavy sighs and groans. If they find no succour from their before-mentioned rites and superstitions, but that the danger rather increases, then they go to sacrificing a sheep (or two or three upon occasion, as they think needful), which is done after this manner having cut off the head with a knife, they immediately take out the entrails, and throw them and the head overboard; and then, with all the speed they can (without skinning) they cut the body into two parts by the middle, and throw one part over the right side of the ship, and the other over the left, into the sea, as a kind of propitiation. Thus those blind infidels apply themselves to imaginary intercessors, instead of the living and the true God." In the case here referred to, the ship passes between the parts thus thrown on each side of it. This behaviour of the Algerines may be taken as a pretty accurate counterpart to that of making a covenant with death and with imminent danger of destruction, by appeasing the angry gods.


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Festivities always accompanied the ceremonies attending oaths. Isaac and Abimelech feasted at making their covenant (Gen. xxvi. 30.), and he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. (Gen. xxxi. 54.) Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread. This practice was also usual amongst the heathen nations.1

Afterwards, when the Mosaic law was established, and the people were settled in the land of Canaan, the people feasted, in their peace offerings, on a part of the sacrifice, in token of their reconciliation with God (Deut. xii. 6, 7.): and thus, in the sacrament of the Lord's supper, we renew our covenant with God, and (in the beautifnl language of the communion office of the Anglican church) "we offer and present ourselves, our souls, and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice" unto Him, being at His table feasted with the bread and wine, the representation of the sacrifice of Christ's body and blood; who by himself once offered upon the cross has made a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and atonement for the sin of the whole world.

Sometimes the parties to the covenant were sprinkled with the blood of the victim. Thus Moses, after sprinkling part of the blood on the altar, to show that Jehovah was a party to the covenant, sprinkled part of it on the Israelites, and said unto them, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you. (Exod. xxiv. 6. 8.) To this transaction Saint Paul alludes in his Epistle to the Hebrews (ix. 20.), and explains its evangelical meaning.

The Scythians are said to have first poured wine into an earthen vessel, and then the contracting parties, cutting their arms with a knife, let some of the blood run into the wine, with which they stained their armour. After which they themselves, together with the other persons present, drank of the mixture, uttering the direst maledictions on the party who should violate the treaty.2

Another mode of ratifying covenants was by the superior contracting party presenting to the other some articles of his own dress or arms. Thus Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to the sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. (1 Sam. xviii. 4.) The highest honour, which a king of Persia can bestow upon a subject, is to cause himself to be disapparelled, and to give his robe to the favoured individual.3

In Numb. xviii. 19. mention is made of a covenant of salt. The expression appears to be borrowed from the practice of ratifying their federal engagements by salt; which, as it not only imparted a relish to different kinds of viands, but also preserved them from

1 Burder's Oriental Customs, vol. ii. p. 84.-Fifth edition. See examples of the antient mode of ratifying covenants, in Homer. Il. lib. iii. verses 103-107. 245. et seq. Virgil, En. lib. viii. 641. xii. 169. et seq. Dionysius Halicarnassensis, lib. v. c. 1. Hooke's Roman History, vol. i. p. 67.

2 Herodotus, lib. iv. c. 70. vol. i. p. 273. Oxon. 1809. Doughtæi Analecta, 1.

p. 69.

3 Harmer's observations, vol. ii. p. 94. Burder's Or. Cust. vol. i. P. 206.

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putrefaction and decay, became the emblem of incorruptibility and permanence. It is well known, from the concurrent testimony of voyagers and travellers, that the Asiatics deem the eating together as a bond of perpetual friendship: and as salt is now (as it antiently was) a common article in all their repasts, it may be in reference to this circumstance that a perpetual covenant is termed a covenant of salt; because the contracting parties ate together of the sacrifice offered on the occasion, and the whole transaction was considered as a league of endless friendship. In order to assure those persons to whom the divine promises were made, of their certainty and stability, the Almighty not only willed that they should have the force of a covenant; but also vouchsafed to accommodate Himself (if we may be permitted to use such an expression) to the received customs. Thus, he constituted the rainbow a sign of his covenant with mankind, that the earth should be no more destroyed by a deluge (Gen.. ix. 12-17.); and in a vision appeared to Abraham to pass between the divided pieces of the sacrifice, which the patriarch had offered. (Gen. xv. 12-17.) Jehovah further instituted the rite of circumcision, as a token of the covenant between himself and Abraham (Gen. xvii. 9-14.); and sometimes sware by Himself (Gen. xxii. 16. Luke i. 73.), that is, pledged his eternal power and godhead for the fulfilment of his promise, there being no one superior to Himself to whom he could make appeal, or by whom he could be bound. Saint Paul beautifully illustrates this transaction in his Epistle to the Hebrews. (vi. 13-18.) Lastly, the whole of the Mosaic constitution was a mutual covenant between Jehovah and the Israelites; the tables of which being preserved in an ark, the latter was thence termed the ark of the covenant, as (we have just seen) the blood of the victims slain in ratification of that covenant, was termed the blood of the covenant. (Exod. xxiv. 8. Zech. ix. 11.) Referring to this, our Saviour, when instituting the Lord's supper, after giving the cup, said This is (signifies or represents) my blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins. (Matt. xxvi. 28.) By this very remarkable expression, Jesus Christ teaches us, that as his body was to be broken or crucified veg nuwv in our stead, so his blood was to be poured out (exxvvoμevov, a sacrificial term) to make an atonement, as the words remission of sins evidently imply; for without shedding of blood there is no remission (Heb. ix. 22.), nor any remission by shedding of blood but in a sacrificial way. Compare Heb. ix. 20. and xiii. 12.

III. What treaties or covenants were between the high contracting powers who were authorised to conclude them, that contracts of bargain and sale are between private individuals.

Among the Hebrews, and long before them among the Canaanites, the purchase of any thing of consequence was concluded and the price paid, at the gate of the city, as the seat of judgment, before

1 Some pleasing facts from modern history, illustrative of the covenant of salt are collected by the industrious editor of Calmet. Fragments, No. 130.

all who went out and came in. (Gen. xxiii. 16-20. Ruth iv. 1, 2.) As persons of leisure, and those who wanted amusement, were wont to sit in the gates, purchases there made could always be testified by numerous witnesses. From Ruth iv. 7-11. we learn another singular usage on occasions of purchase, cession and exchange, viz. that in earlier times, the transfer of alienable property was confirmed by the proprietor plucking off his shoe at the city gate, in the presence of the elders and other witnesses, and handing it over to the new owner. The origin of this custom it is impossible to trace: but it had evidently become antiquated in the time of David, as the author of the book of Ruth introduces it as an unknown custom of former ages.

In process of time the joining or striking of hands, already mentioned with reference to public treaties, was introduced as a ratification of a bargain and sale. This usage was not unknown in the days of Job (xvii. 3.), and Solomon often alludes to it. (See Prov. vi. 1. xi. 15. xvii. 18. xx. 16. xxii. 26. xxvii. 13.) The earliest vestige of written instruments, sealed and delivered for ratifying the disposal and transfer of property, occurs in Jer. xxxii. 10-12., which the prophet commanded Baruch to bury in an earthen vessel in order to be preserved for production at a future period, as evidence of the purchase. (15, 16.) No mention is expressly made of the manner in which deeds were antiently cancelled. Some expositors have imagined, that in Col. ii. 14. Saint Paul refers to the cancelling of them by blotting or drawing a line across them, or by striking them through with a nail: but we have no information whatever from antiquity to authorise such a conclusion.





I. The earliest wars, predatory excursions.-II. Character of the wars of the Israelites-Their Levies how raised-Cherethites and Pelethites.-Standing armies of the sovereigns of Israel.-III. Divisions, and Officers of the Jewish armies;—which were sometimes conducted by the kings in person.-IV. Encampments.-V. Military Schools and training.-VI. Defensive Arms.-VII, Offensive Arms.-VIII. Fortifications.-IX. Mode of declaring war.X. Order of battle.-Treatment of the slain of captured cities, and of captives.-XI. Triumphant reception of the conquerors.-XII. Distribution of the spoil.-Military honours conferred on eminent


I. THERE were not wanting in the earliest ages of the world, men who, abusing the power and strength which they possessed to the purposes of ambition, usurped upon their weaker neighbours. Such was the origin of the kingdom founded by the plunderer Nimrod (Gen. x. 8-10.), whose name signifies a rebel; and it was most probably given him, from his rejection of the laws both of God and man, and supporting by force a tyranny over others. As mankind continued to increase, quarrels and contests would naturally arise, and, spreading from individuals to families, tribes, and nations, produced wars. Of the military affairs of those times we have very imperfect notices in the Scriptures. These wars, however, appear to have been nothing more than predatory incursions, like those of the modern Wahabees and Bedouin Arabs, so often described by oriental travellers. The patriarch Abraham, on learning that his kinsman Lot had been taken captive by Chedorlaomer and his confederate emirs or petty kings, mustered his tried servants, three hundred and eighteen in number; and coming against the enemy by night, he divided his forces and totally discomfited them. (Gen. xiv. 14-16.) The other patriarchs also armed their servants and dependents, when a conflict was expected. (Gen. xxxii. 7-12. xxxiii. 1.)

II. Although the Jews are now the very reverse of being a military people (in which circumstance we may recognise the accomplishment of prophecy),' yet antiently they were eminently distinguished for their prowess. But the notices concerning their discipline, which are presented to us in the sacred writings, are few and brief.


See Levit. xxvi. 36. Deut. xxviii. 65, 66.


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