« AnteriorContinuar »
CORINTH, "THE CITY OF THE TWO SEAS."
UCH was the designation given, in the time of the apostle Paul, to Corinth, the capital of the Roman province of Achaia, whose position
on an isthmus between the Egean and Ionian Seas secured for it not only the merchandise of Asia and intercourse with Italy and Sicily, but also commanded the land traffic in Greece from north to south. It was thus a central point for trade and commerce; and became the common resort and universal market of the Greeks. "Her population and wealth were further augmented by the manufactures in metallurgy, dyeing, and porcelain, which grew up in connection with the import and export of goods." The Isthmian games-probably alluded to in 1 Cor. ix. 24-27 -were celebrated in the immediate vicinity of the city, and contributed not a little to its opulence.
The stadium, where men strove for the prize of the foot race, the " corruptible crown of pine leaves, was probably in the apostle's mind when he wrote, "Know ye not that they which run in a stadium run all, but one obtaineth the prize?"
Corinth was moreover distinguished for its sumptuous public VOL. V., SECOND SERIES.
THE CITY OF THE TWO SEAS.
edifices, its cultivation of the arts and sciences, and its schools of philosophy and rhetoric.
The city, however, was as remarkable for the profligacy and prodigality of its inhabitants as for its wealth and luxury, and it eventually became the most corrupt and effeminate of the cities of Greece. But Corinth passed through many and sore trials, and at length shared the fate of other Greek towns by the devastations of Alaric the Goth. It is now a mass of ruins and a most complete picture of desolation. Time, tempest, war, have laid their ruthless hands upon it. Soldiers have played at draughts upon its choicest paintings, and its works of art have been scattered as dust before the wind.
Cenchrea, the eastern port, has fallen with the city. It was eight miles distant from Corinth. "Its position is still pointed out by the modern Kitries, where some remains of the ancient town are visible. The road is described by Pausanias as leading from Corinth through an avenue of pine trees, and past many tombs, among which two of the most conspicuous were those of the cynic Diogenes and the profligate Thais." * At one time Cenchrea was alive with commerce, but is now as little frequented as the Piræus. Except in name and memory Cenchrea presents little worthy of notice. It was once the seat of a Christian church (Rom. xvi. 1); and is incidentally noticed in Acts xviii. 18.
The first entrance of the gospel into this stronghold of vice is related in Acts xviii. Paul met with many discouragements at first, but he was assured that God meant to have a church there (1 Cor. ii. 3; Acts xviii. 9, 10), and he continued his labours for a year and a half, and was succeeded in his great work by Apollos (Acts xviii. 27, 28). "Thus a flourishing church was formed; teachers were set over them; and the ordinances of Christ were regularly observed. It appears, however, that ere long their peace was disturbed by certain individuals who sought to engraft on the doctrines of Christ the refinements of human philosophy. The factious teachers attempted to depreciate the apostle, representing him as deficient in the graces of style and the arts of oratory, and even calling in question his apostolic authority: they also pleaded for a licentious manner of life, under pretence of Christian liberty. Hence arose divisions and irregularities; and the church was fast declining from its criginal faith, purity, and love." †
*See Conybeare and Howson.
Angus's Bible Handbook."
The epistles of Paul to the Corinthians were just adapted to the characteristics of the people, and there is more diversity in them than in any other of his writings. "More than any other they shed light on the state of the early church, and the evil tendencies against which the gospel had to struggle, even among good men." H. H.
THE BONDAGE OF THE ISRAELITES.
HEN we examine the numerous facts and incidents pictorially registered in the monuments of Egypt, and understand that some of them can be traced up to the time of Moses, the question naturally arises, whether we may not hope to find among them some
record of the events, so important in Egyptian history, connected with the residence of the Israelites in the land
of Egypt, and their departure from it. As the principal
and most ancient monuments of this kind are in Upper Egypt, we should not look for any memorials of that portion of public history with which the name of Joseph is connected in our minds, because that history belongs to Lower Egypt, which was not then, as we apprehend, under the same crown as the upper country. Neither should we expect to find any record of the remarkable circumstances connected with the plagues of Egypt and the exode of the Israelites; for although the upper and lower countries were then under one crown, and although such events as the death of the firstborn and the overthrow in the Red Sea were of sufficient national importance for such commemoration, we do not find that nations, and certainly not the Egyptians, manifest any readiness to perpetuate their own dishonour. But if there be any circumstance in the history of Israel's sojourn in the country, which tends to exalt the power and glory of Egypt, of that we might not unreasonably expect to find some trace on the monu
Accordingly, the only representation which has been supposed by the students of Egyptian antiquity to bear any reference to the Israelites exhibits them in the state of oppression and humiliation, when it became the policy of the new dynasty from Upper Egypt, "which knew not Joseph " and his services, to depress
the Hebrew population, and reduce them to a servile condition, by making "their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field."
THE BONDAGE OF THE ISRAELITES.
By permission of Messrs. Oliphant and Co.
This representation, which has been regarded with great interest by scholars and travellers, is found painted on the walls of a tomb at Thebes. A copy and explanation of it were first fur
nished by the distinguished Italian professor, Rosellini, in his great work on the monuments of Egypt. His account of it is headed, "Explanation of a picture representing the Hebrews as they were engaged in making brick." In this picture some of the labourers are employed in transporting the clay in vessels, some in working it up with the straw; others are taking the bricks out of the moulds and setting them in rows to dry; while others, by means of a yoke upon their shoulders, from which ropes are suspended at each end, are seen carrying away the bricks already dried. Among the supposed Hebrews, four Egyptians, very distinguishable by their figure and colour, are noticed. Two of them, one sitting and the other standing, carry a stick in their hand, superintending the labourers, and seemingly ready to fall upon two other Egyptians, who are represented as sharing the labours of the supposed Hebrews.
This scene does certainly illustrate in all points the labours of the Israelites, for we are told, not only that they wrought in the making of bricks, which was a Government work in Egypt-and bricks bearing the royal stamp have been found,—but that the king "set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens; and that "all the service wherein they made them serve was with rigour." We also know that the bricks made by the Hebrews were compacted like these with straw; for at a later period we are told that the Crown would not allow them the straw with which to compact their bricks, but left them to provide it for themselves, without the tale of bricks previously exacted being at all diminished,-" And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works-your daily tasks-as when there was straw." The straw was used to compact the mass of clay, and not, as some have supposed, to burn the bricks. These being only dried in the sun, which suffices in a dry climate, the straw, which would be destroyed were the bricks burned, remains perfect and undiscoloured in bricks nearly four thousand years old. That the sticks of the taskmasters were no idle insignia of authority is shown by the complaint of the Israelites, "There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick; and, behold, thy servants are beaten." See the whole passage, Exod .v. 7-16.
Upon the whole, therefore, although it is not alleged that anything like positive certainty can be attained, there is nothing to render improbable the conclusion to which the complexion and peculiar physiognomy of the workmen, and the age of the monument, would lead, that these brickmakers were Israelites, and that they are represented in the act of executing the very labours which the Scripture commemorates. The complexion is such as