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24. “ The God that answereth by fire, let him be God.”—The idea of a trial of power between the gods different and adverse, was not unknown to the ancient heathen, which probably accounts for the acquiescence of the priests of Baal in this proposal. It will be interesting and instructive to compare the magnificent and convincing evidence of the Lord's
power with which this transaction concludes, with the paltry trickery which the contrivances of the heathen priests in the behalf of their respective gods exhibited on such occasions. We take the story related by Rufinus, on account of some analogy which it offers, as to the agency employed. As this author does not state his authority, the account may seem doubtful; but even so, it remains illustrative of ancient ideas and practices in general, whatever be the accuracy of its details. The anecdote is to the effect—that the Chaldeans, who adored fire, carried their god into several countries, to try his power over the gods of other nations. He baffled the images of brass, gold, silver, wood, or of whatever other material they were formed, testifying his power by reducing them to dust; and thus his worship was almost everywhere established. But when he was brought to Egypt, the priest of Canopus thought of a stratagem, which succeeded in evincing the superiority of the god whom he served. The jars in which the Egyptians were wont to purify the water of the Nile, having been perforated on all sides with small imperceptible holes, he took one of them, stopped the holes with wax, and fitted to the jar's mouth the head of an idol. When the Chaldean priests applied their fire to this strange idol, the heat of course melted the wax, and the water flowing out extinguished the fire, giving Canopus the victory over the god of the Chaldeang.--The least probable part of the story seems to be the mission which the Chaldean priests undertook. Jars such as the account mentions are still used for purifying and cooling the Nile water; and even Canopic jars—or jars with an idol's head-continue to be found among the ruins of ancient Egypt, and specimens of them are preserved in the British Museum and other collections of Egyptian antiquities.
26. “ They leaped upon the altar.” — Rather, “about the altar," doubtless in their sacred dances. Such dances accom panied the sacrifices and other acts of worship rendered to many of the ancient idols. The Jews themselves had also some semi-religious dances, but not directly connected with acts of worship or sacrifice. See the two concluding notes to Judges.
27. “ Either he is talking, or he is pursuing," &c.—These taunts of the prophet bear a peculiar force when viewed with a reference to the ideas concerning their gods entertained by the Pagans of ancient and modern times. Elijah recommends them to call upon their god more loudly, to attract towards themselves that attention which might be otherwise engaged :—“Cry still louder: though he is a god, yet he may be musing ; or he may be employed; or on a journey; or, perhaps, he is asleep and must be awakened” (Boothroyd). This was a taunt, but not a satire. It represents the false gods such as their worshippers believed them to be ; and not all that they believed: for they believed them not only human in their amusements and pursuits, but human also, or worse than human, in their moral character and conduct. A large proportion of the imaginary gods of paganism would, if human, have been hanged by the law of England, and many of the goddesses would not have escaped. On this however we need not enlarge ; but confine ourselves to giving a brief illustration of the points which form the bitter taunt of the prophet. “ Talking :" the old Pagan poets, particularly Homer, describe much talking, and sometimes very hot disputes, as going on among the gods; or if musing be understood, the Hindoo mythology affords the case of Śiva, who fell into a fit of musing which lasted for ages, during which all things went to confusion, and the frame of universal nature was about to dissolve for want of his attention. Pursuing,” or, as Boothroyd, “employed,” or as others, “ hunting," or otherwise, “diverting himself.” All these senses are good, and certainly applicable. Some of the Pagan deities were "mighty hunters," as Apollo and Diana ; and all of them were at times employed in some absorbing pursuit, not always of a very creditable nature. “ On a journey."-It is almost laughable to hear the possibility that the god was not at home, suggested as a reason for his inattention. But Elijah knew not less the folly than the sin of the ancient idolatry. Take as an instance, under this head, that which occurs in the Iliad, where Achilles entreats his goddess-mother to hasten to Olympus, and plead his cause before great Jove. This she promises to do; but assigns as a reason for present delay
“ For to the banks of the Oceanus,
Where Æthiopia holds a feast to Jove,
Of my endeavour, or my pray’r shall speed.”—Iliad, i. 423. CowPBR. “Sleepeth, and must be awaked.” Such of the expectant multitude who knew that their own true Lord was characterised as one "who neither slumbereth nor sleepeth,” must have been struck by this part of Elijah's taunting address to the priests. Homer, at the conclusion of the book we have just quoted, describes the gods as drinking and enjoying themselves together. Vulcan served as cupbearer, and
“ Heav'n rang with laughter not to be suppressid ”
“But when the sun's bright orb had now declined,
With his imperial consort at his side.” As it was now noon, we venture to suppose that Elijah intended in the present clause to suggest that the god had retired to take his siesta, or afternoon nap, according to the usual custom of the East.
28. “Cut themselves.”—This has been, and is, no uncommon act in the East, under the excitement of grief, love, or devotion. As an act of mourning, we shall notice it hereafter. The general idea of the act is, that, as a testimony of properly excited feeling, it is an act acceptable to gods and men; and therefore, although in different countries we read of the self-inflicted tortures which deliberate devotees rejoice to undergo, we never read of cutting after this fashion but as an act of excitement. The priests of Baal had been previously excited by their dances, and by the force of the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed. There are many notices of this custom in ancient writings. Herodotus mentions it (l. vii. c. 191) as a custom of the Persian magi, relating that when the Persian fleet was near ruin by a storm on the coast of Magnesia, the magi, by making inaisions in their fesh, and by performing incantations to the wind, assuaged the storm: “Or it may be,” adds the sensible old historian, “ that the storm subsided of its own accord.” The priests of the Syrian goddess also (who was nearly related to Melkart), when they carried her about in procession, were wont to cut and gash their persons with knives till the blood gushed out. We are told by Plutarch, also that the priests of Bellona, in their sacrifices to that blood-thirsty goddess, were accustomed to mingle their own blood with that of their sacrifices. What a relief it is, to turn from these things to the calmly reverent ceremonies, which the law of Moses enjoins for the priests and worshippers of Jehovah !
“ Knives and lancets.”—The observations as to the materials of swords, in the note to Num, xxxi. 8, will equally apply to knives and other cutting instruments. They were successively, and afterwards simultaneously, of fint, bone, copper, iron, and steel. (See the note to Exod. iv. 25.) Probably at first a single knife or dagger worn in the girdle, was made to serve all general purposes. Indeed, at present in the East. almost every one wears a dagger in his girdle, from the noble to the shopkeeper and husbandman ; and although ostensibly a military ornament, it is rarely drawn for any more formidable duty than that which usually devolves upon a knife-from the slaughter of a sheep to the cutting of a string or the scraping of a shoe. Homer's heroes kill their sacrifices with knives or poniards, which they wear by the side of their swords (Iliad, iii. 271; xix. 25:). In process of time, however, knives became scarcely less diversified in form and adaptation to particular uses than those which the shop of an English cutler exhibits. In sacrifices alone, three or four different knives were usedone for killing the victim, shaped like a poniard ; another sharp, but rounded at the top to the fourth of a circle, for faying; and a third, stronger than these, and of a cleavershape, for dissecting the carcase. There were also pruningkaives
, carving-knives, and hunting-knives. Some had the hafts worked out of the same piece as the blade, and others had handles of hom, bone, or wood. Our wood-cut represents an assortment of cutting and stabbing instruments, selected from various ancient Egyptian sculptures, and such as were probably known and used by the Jews ; particularly as in such articles there is, in however different times and countries, much analogy in general appearance. The “knives and lancets” used by the priests of Baal were doubtless such as they employed in their sacrifices, and to which we have particularly adverted. Their forms may be discovered in the wood-cut. "It will be observed, that the different offices con- (Knives and Lancets of Egypt. Collected from various Sculptures.) Deeted with sacrifices were performed by different persons. One gave the victim the fatal blow, others flayed ít, and ot} ers cut it tip. The several operators wore their respective izstruments in their girdles; and this accounts for the diff sence in the instruments— kuives and lancets,” with which the priests of Baal inflicted their wounds.
VICTORIOUS ROMAN CHARIOTEER.-- From an ANTIQUE VASE. 46. “ He garded up his loins.”—This is always done in the East by persons who prepare for any extraordinary exertion a ruauing, particularly by those who, as described in the note to 1 Sam. viii. 11, run before the horse or chariot of the
king, as Elijah in this instance did. These runners are sometimes girded up in such a manner that they cannot stoop without perilling their lives. Near Ispahan, in Persia, there is a pillar said to commemorate the death of one of these men, occasioned by the sacrifice of his life to his duty, which required him to stoop and pick up a ring which the king had let fall to ensure his destruction. Our cut, representing an ancient Roman chariot-racer, will convey some idea of the manner in which persons girded themselves for acts of extraordinary exertion of this description.
6 And he looked, and, behold, there was 1 Elijah, threatened by Jezebel, fleeth to Beer-sheba. a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of
4 In the wilderness, being weary of his life, he is water at his head. And he did eat and comforted by an angel. 9 At Horeb God appear drink, and laid him down again. eth unto him, sending him to anoint Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha. 19 Elisha, taking leave of his friends,
7 And the angel of the LORD came again followeth Elijah.
the second time, and touched him, and said, And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had
Arise and eat; because the journey is too done, and withal how he had slain all the great for thee. prophets with the sword.
8 And he arose, and did eat and drink, 2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto
and went in the strength of that meat forty Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount more also, if I make not thy life as the life of God. of one of them by to morrow about this time.
9 9 And he came thither unto a cave, and 3 And when he saw that, he arose, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba, LORD came to him, and he said unto him,
What doest thou here, Elijah ? which belongeth to Judah, and left his ser
10 And he said, I have been very jealous vant there. 4 q But he himself went a day's journey of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown
for the Lord God of hosts : for the children into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested 'for down thine altars, and slain thy prophets himself that he might die; and said, It is
with the sword; and 'I, even I only, am left; enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; and they seek my life, to take it away. for I am not better than my fathers.
11 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind : and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.
And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah ?
14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts : because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I
only, am left; and they seek my life, to take (JUNIPER TREE.)
15 And the LORD said unto him, Go, re. 5 And as he lay and slept under a juniper turn on thy way to the wilderness of Datree, behold, then an angel touched him, and mascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hasaid unto him, Arise and eat.
zael to be king over Syria : i Heb. for his life.
2 Heb. Lolster.
8 Rom. 11.3.
16 And “Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt | with twelve yoke of oren before him, and he thou anoint to be king over Israel: and with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, 'Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meho- and cast his mantle upon
him. lah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy 20 And he left the oxen, and ran after
Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss 17 And it shall come to pass, that him my father and my mother, and then I will that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall follow thee. And he said unto him, "Go Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the back again: for what have I done to sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
thee? 18 'Yet I have left me seven thousand 21 And he returned back from him, and in Israel, all the knees which have not took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which boiled their flesh with the instruments of hath not kissed him.
the oxen, and gave unto the people, and 19 So he departed thence, and found they did eat. Then he arose, and went Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
* 2 Kings 9. 1,3. Ecclus. 48. 8.
5 Luke 4. 27, called Eliseus.
& Rom. 11. 4.
7 Or, I will leuve.
8 Heb. Go return.
Verse 4. “ Juniper tree." -As the Arabic term, which is indeed the same as the Hebrew, denotes a species of Genista or Spanish-broom, we are led to suppose that the tree in the text was an individual of this genus. The Genisia, of which there are numerous species, is distinguished by its butterfly-shaped blossoms, and the many slender branches which form the shrub. The shelter afforded by any species of Genisia must have been very small, and might serve much by its scantiness to heighten the grief of the fugitive prophet, and provoke in him those desponding words which he is recorded to have uttered on this trying occasion. There is a species of this shrub found near the river Kur in Georgia, and called patula, from the spreading mode of its growth: this may possibly have been the one in question.
18. “ Kissed him."-See the note on chap. xvi. 31 ; and also on Job, xxxi. 27.
19. “Cast his mantle upon him.”—And this mantle was also left to Elisha, when his great master was taken from the world. The idea of delegation by investiture with the robe of the delegator is so frequently stated in Scripture in connection with civil affairs, that it seems strange that it should ever have been otherwise understood in the history of Elijah. Yet a very current interpretation is, that Elijah by this act, significantly declared Elisha his servant, by giving him his cloak to carry. Others, however, have perceived that it was an act of investiture. It was indeed not only an act by which Elisha became invested with the prophetic office, but by which Elijah declared him, conformably to his instructions, to be his own successor—a prophet in his room (chap. xix. 16). The practice and the idea involved are strikingly illustrated by the existing usage among the Sooffees of Persia. The mantle of the saints and principal teachers of this remarkable sect is considered the symbol of the spiritual power with which they are invested. Therefore, when one of them is about to die, he bequeaths this sacred mantle to him of his disciples whom he considers the most worthy ; and from the moment the latter throws it over his shoulders he becomes vested with all the power of his predecessor. Although this mantle is only in general thus transferred to the beloved pupil at the death of his master, yet some eminent saints are deemed to have the power, even in their lifetime, to invest others with this sacred and mysterious garment. The more patched and old the mantle is, the more honourable it is considered, as denoting a long connection with the distinguished persons by whom it has been worn. It is perhaps the only kind of robe, the value of which increases with the length of years; and certain it is that the most gorgeous robes of emperors and kings are not so much admired and respected as an old robe of this kind, which, for its intrinsic value, the most miserable beggar would refuse to receive.
*pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put it in
their hand, and take it away. 1 Ben-hadad, not content with Ahab's homage, besiegeth Samaria. 13 By the direction of a pro
7 Then the king of Israel called all the phet, the Syrians are slain. 22 As the prophet elders of the land, and said, Mark, I pray forewarned Ahab, the Syrians, trusting in the you,
and see how this man seeketh mischief: valleys, come against him in Aphek. 28 By the for he sent unto me for my wives, and for word of the prophet, and God's judgment, the Syrians are smitten again. 31 The Syrians sub
my children, and for my silver, and for my mitting themselves, Ahab sendeth Ben-hadad away gold; and 'I denied him not. with a covenant. 35 The prophet, under the pa- 8 And all the elders and all the
people rable of a prisoner, making Ahab to judge him- said unto him, Hearken not unto him, nor self, denounceth God's judgment against him.
consent. And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered 9 Wherefore he said unto the messengers all his host together : and there were thirty of Ben-hadad, Tell my lord the king, All and two kings with him, and horses, and that thou didst send for to thy servant at chariots: and he went up and besieged Sa- the first I will do: but this thing I may not maria, and warred against it.
do. And the messengers departed and 2 And he sent messengers to Ahab king brought him word again. of Israel into the city, and said unto him, 10 And Ben-hadad sent unto him, and Thus saith Ben-hadad,
said, The gods do so unto me, and more 3 Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for wives also and thy children, even the good handfuls for all the people that follow me. liest, are mine.
11 And the king of Israel answered and 4 And the king of Israel answered and said, Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on said, My lord, O king, according to thy say, his harness boast himself as he that putteth ing, I am thine, and all that I have.
it off. 5 And the messengers came again, and 12 And it came to pass, when Ben-haaad said, Thus speaketh Ben-hadad, saying, heard this message, as he was drinking, he Although I have sent unto thee, saying, and the kings in the 'pavilions, that he said Thou shalt deliver me thy silver, and thy unto his servants, "Set yourselves in array gold, and thy wives, and thy children; And they set themselves in array against the
6 Yet I will send my servants unto thee city. to morrow about this time, and they shall 13 | And, behold, there 'came a prophet search thine house, and the houses of thy unto Ahab king of Israel, saying, Thus saith servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever the LORD, Hast thou seen all this great mul
? Heb. I kept not back from him. * Heb, are at my feet.
. Or, Place the engines; And they placed engines. 7 Heb. approached.
1 Heb, desirable.
4 Heb. word.
$ Or, tents.