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and the scales thereof preferment; and that oxen lean and fat naturally denote scarcity or plenty, and the successes of agriculture.
Physiognomists will largely put in from very many passages of Scripture. And when they find in Aristotle, quibus frons quadrangula commensurata, fortes, referuntur ad leones, cannot but take special notice of that expression concerning the Gadites; mighty men of war, fit for battle, whose faces were as the faces of lions.
Geometrical and architectonical artists look narrowly upon the description of the ark, the fabric of the temple, and the holy city in the Apocalypse.
But the botanical artist meets everywhere with vegetables, and from the fig leaf in Genesis to the star wormwood in the Apocalypse, are variously interspersed expressions from plants, elegantly advantaging the significancy of the text: whereof many being delivered in a language proper unto Judæa and neighbour countries, are imperfectly apprehended by the common reader, and now doubtfully made out, even by the Jewish expositor.
And even in those which are confessedly known, the elegancy is often lost in the apprehension of the reader, unacquainted with such vegetables, or but nakedly knowing their natures : whereof holding a pertinent apprehension, you cannot pass over such expressions without some doubt or want of satisfaction in your judgment. Hereof we shall only hint or discourse some few which I could not but take notice of in the reading of holy Scripture.
Many plants are mentioned in Scripture which are not distinctly known in our countries, or under such names in the original, as they are fain to be rendered by analogy, or by the name of vegetables of good affinity unto them, and so maintain the texual sense, though in some variation from identity.
1. That plant which afforded a shade unto Jonah, mentioned by the name of kikaion, and still retained, at least marginally, in some translations, to avoid obscurity Jerome rendered hedera or ivy; which notwithstanding (except in its scandent nature) agreed not fully with the other, that is, to grow up in a night, or be consumed with a worm; ivy being of no swift growth, little subject unto worms, and a scarce plant about Babylon.
2. That hyssop is taken for that plant which cleansed the leper, being a well-scented and very abstersive simple, may well be admitted ; 80 we be not too
1 Jonah iv. 6-a gourd.
confident, that it is strictly the same with our common hyssop : the hyssop of those parts differing from that
as Bellonius hath observed in the hyssop which grows in Judæa, and the hyssop of the wall mentioned in the works of Solomon, no kind of our hyssop; and
may tolerably be taken for some kind of minor capillary, which best makes out the antithesis with the cedar. Nor when we meet with libanotis, is it to be conceived our common rosemary, which is rather the first kind thereof amongst several others, used by the ancients.
3. That it must be taken for hemlock, which is twice so rendered in our translation, will hardly be made out, otherwise than in the intended sense, and implying some plant, wherein bitterness or a poisonous quality is considerable.
4. What Tremellius rendereth spina, and the vulgar translation paliurus, and others make some kind of rhamnus, is allowable in the sense; and we contend not about the species, since they are known thorns in those countries, and in our fields or gardens among us : 5. Whether the bush which burnt and consumed not, were properly a rubus or bramble, was somewhat doubtful from the original and some translations, had not the Evangelist, and St. Paul expressed the same by the Greek word, þáros, which, from the description of Dioscorides, herbalists accept for rubus : although the same word Bátos expresseth not only the rubus or kinds of bramble, but other thorny bushes, and the hip-brier is also named KUVOO Bátos, or the dog-brier or bramble.
common in Judæa, that men conclude the thorny crown of our Saviour was made either of paliurus or rhamnus.
1 Hosea x. 4; Amos vi. 2.)
6. That myrica is rendered heath, sounds instructively enough to our ears, who behold that plant s0 common in barren plains among us : but you cannot but take notice that erica, or our heath, is not the same plant with myrica or tamarice, described by Theophrastus and Dioscorides, and which Bellonius declareth to grow so plentifully in the deserts of Judæa and Arabia.
7. That the Bórpus tñs kúm poll, botrus cypri, or clusters of cypress, should have any reference to the cypress tree, according to the original, copher, or clusters of the noble vine of Cyprus, which might be planted into Judæa, may seem to others allowable in some latitude. But there seeming some noble odour to be
i Cant, i. 14.
implied in this place, you may probably conceive that the expression drives at the kút pos of Dioscorides, some oriental kind of ligustrum or alcharma, which Dioscorides and Pliny mention under the name of kúmpos and cyprus, and to grow about Egypt and Ascalon, producing a sweet and odorate bush of flowers, and out of which was made the famous oleum cyprinum.
. But why it should be rendered camphor your judgment cannot but doubt, who know that our camphor was upknown unto the ancients, and no ingredient into any composition of great antiquity : that learned men long conceived it a bituminous and fossil body, and our latest experience discovereth it to be the resinous substance of a tree, in Borneo and China ; and that the camphor that we use is a neat preparation of the same.
8. When 'tis said in Isaiah xli. " I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree, I will set in the desert, the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree :” though some doubt may be made of the shittah tree, yet all these trees here mentioned being such as are ever green, you will more emphatically apprehend the merciful meaning of God in this mention of no fading, but always verdant trees in dry and desert places.