Imágenes de páginas


from the account of the battle that there was a hail-storm during the heat of the engagement; or the rays of the sun, while that luminary was setting, or after it had fairly set, may have been refracted through the hail; or, perhaps, there was a halo, proceeding in some manner from the sun after his disappearance below the horizon, and continuing for an unusnal length of time. Either of these suppositions, however, which certainly evince some ingenuity, would give to the whole account a miraculous coloring, which I do not believe its original author intended it should wear. Besides, it is not very complimentary to the intelligence of Joshua and his associates, to suppose that they mistook either lightning, or a luminous appearance resembling the Aurora Borealis, for the radiance of the full-orbed king of day.

That such a phenomenon could not have been produced without the direct intervention of some influence equivalent to a supernatural agency, seems irresistible, from the fact that no laws of Natural Philosophy have yet been discovered, which could legitimately effect any such exhibition.

The only explanation of this matter, which appears to my mind to be reasonable and consistent, is the one which regards it all as a mere poetic embellishment, instead of a literal historic narrative—a few lines introduced by way of ornament to the plain account, and quoted from some very ancient poem, in which the bravery and wonderful exploits of Joshua were sung in

strains of high panegyric. This conclusion was adopted by the learned Jewish philosopher MAIMONIDES, who lived in the twelfth century. The passage was also regarded in the same light by VATABLUS, a professor at Paris, in the time of the Reformation, who paraphrased the address of Joshua, changing it from the form of a command to that of an invocation, causing it to read thus: “Lord, let not the light of the sun and moon fail us, until we shall have fully overcome our enemies." An article, enumerating the several different methods of explaining the subject which various writers have from time to time invented or sanctioned, and stating with approval the view I have last presented, appeared originally in a periodical published in Germany, its authorship being ascribed to Prof. HENGSTENBERG, of Berlin, the editor of the work. It was translated into our language, and published, nearly thirteen years ago, in the “Biblical Repository,” a quarterly publication, and the principal Orthodox Review in this country.* And I wonder exceedingly that a knowledge of it has not been more widely diffused among Protestant sects generally; for the rational exposition therein given would have imparted satisfaction to hundreds and thousands, who are both moral and religious in character, who honestly desire to know the truth, but whose minds oscillate between what is fashionably called skepticism, and a wholesale reception of absurdity.

* Biblical Repository for October, 1833. Art. v. The article was epitomized, in the Universalist Expositor for November, 1839, by the editor, Rev. H. Ballou, 2d.

But setting aside the opinions of commentators and expounders, the poetic nature of the narrative is selfevident. And I am surprised to think that its allegorical features have not been discerned before. The account itself seems to me to carry upon its own face the proof of its being simply a high-wrought figurative description, never intended to be understood in a literal sense. The style of the passage is materially different from the other parts of the chapter wherein it is found, as any one may sce by an examination-carefully comparing it with the verses which precede and those which follow it. Here let me introduce a somewhat extended extract from the chapter, including both the plain, unembellished narrative, and the poetic adornment–beginning with the first verse and ending with the fifteenth. Although the passage may seem long, I ask the closest attention while reading it, that you may observe how, at the twelfth verse, the account suddenly rises into a strain of sublimity, showing that from thence to the conclusion of the extract I shall here give, the language is a quotation from some ballad or epic poem,-introduced in the same manner in which brief extracts of poetry are frequently quoted by modern writers, and woven in with the thread of their remarks, without stating who the author of the citation is, but placing before it two inverted commas and after it two apostrophies, to signify that it is a quotation. We find nothing of this kind in the instance before

us, for the reason that there were no stops of any kind in writings so ancient; and the whole art of


tuation was brought into use at a date comparatively modern. But we are furnished, in the present case, with something more directly to our purpose than even quotation-marks. We have an express intimation that the reference to the heavenly orbs is an extract from the book of Jasher, one of the lost writings noticed in a former part of this lecture. Of this you will please take note, as the passage is being read. I will now introduce it without interruption, suspending further remark upon it till the rehearsal is concluded :

“Now it came to pass, when Adoni-zedeck king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them; that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty. Wherefore Adoni-zedeck king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it. And the men of Gibeon

sent unto Joshua to the camp of Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us : for all of the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thy hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. And it came to pass as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amor. ites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher ? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it; that

« AnteriorContinuar »