Imágenes de páginas

I beheld until the thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days seated. His raiment was like white snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was flames of fire, his wheels burning fire ; a stream of fire flowed and went forth from before him.

Here thrones may be, in the usual manner, i. q. throne ; and the “stream of fire ” may be equivalent to the “firmament” of Ezekiel. We may suppose the vehicle to be standing on the earth. It was perhaps deemed needless to mention the Cherubim.

And they saw the God of Israel, and beneath his feet was as a work of clear sapphire and as the heaven itself for brightness.-Ex. xxiv. 10. This also appears to be Ezekiel's firmament.

Behold a throne was set in heaven, and one seated on the throne, and he that was seated was like to a jasper and a sardine stone, and a rainbow was round the throne, like the appearance of an emerald. And round about the throne were four-and-twenty thrones, and upon the thrones were seated four-and-twenty elders ; . . . and from the throne proceed lightnings and sounds and thunder ; and before the throne as a sea of glass, like unto crystal ; and opposite (év uéo~)* and around the throne, four living beings full of eyes before and behind. And the first was like a lion, and the second like an ox, and the third had the face of a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. And the four living beings having each of them six wings, are full within and without of eyes, and they cease not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come-Rev. iv. 3.

On comparing this passage with those of Ezekiel and Daniel it will be apparent that the imagery is the same, the sea of glass, for example, being the firmament. As is usual with prophetic imagery, it varies. The Living-beings, i.e. the Cherubim, appear to have each only one face, and like the Seraphim of Isaiah they have each six wings and they speak with a human voice. The scene here is as it were in the temple in heaven, for the altar is in front of the throne (viii. 3).

We will finally consider the vision of Isaiah :

I beheld the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and elevated, and his skirts filled the temple ; Seraphim were standing by him ; each had six wings; with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he few. And one cried to the other, saying, Holy, holy, holy Jehovah of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory. And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of the crier, and the house was filled with smoke. Here again we think we discern the same imagery, the scene being the temple on earth. The Seraphim, as is evident from the Apocalypse, are only the Cherubim under another name. As Ezekiel calls them the Living beings, so Isaiah terms them the Burning- or Bright-beings—for that is the meaning of their name (aoo). Both here and in the Apocalypse the Cherubim are represented as bearers, who stand about the vehicle which they have laid down, ready to take it up when required.

* See Excursus II.

We thus see how erroneous is the theory which Milton adopted of the Cherubim and Seraphim being angels. The Cherub (177) was, of course, a being of imagination; what the original conception of its form was it is difficult to conjecture, most probably that so fully given by Ezekiel. The etymology of the word is uncertain ;* some compare the Cherubim with the Sphinxes of Egypt, or with the Griffons, the guardians of treasure in the East, as they were set to keep the garden of Eden, and there is a resemblance in the names; or with Garuda, the bird that is bearer of Víshnú in the mythology of India. But all is dubious.

* The proper pronunciation of the word is Kerûb. But the LXX. used the Greek letter x in general to express the Hebrew 2, and our translators therefore employed ch.


Milton thus describes the Tempter's approach to Eve :

So spake the enemy of mankind, enclosed
In serpent, innate bad, and toward Eve
Addressed his way, not with indented wave,
Prone on the ground, as since, but on his rear,
Circular base of rising folds, that towered
Fold above fold a surging maze ; his head
Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes,
With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass

Floated redundant.-ix. 494. These beautiful lines certainly present distinct images to the mind, but they involve a physical impossibility; for no animal formed as the serpent is could ever advance in the manner here described, and it is remarkable that the poet says of him immediately after (v. 631), in apparent contradiction to what he had asserted above,

He leading swiftly rolled
In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,

To mischief swift.
And he had before said :

Close the serpent sly
Insinuating wove with Gordian twine

His braided train.-iv. 347. We may perceive then that Milton held the prevalent opinion -prevalent even at the present day—that “upon thy belly thou shalt go” was a part of the serpent's doom; he may however have only meant that he was to lose the power of going in any other way. Now we think that the Scriptural narrative may be relieved of a great difficulty by showing that it is not at all necessary to understand it in this manner. The

scope of the narrative seems to be, that to each of the offending parties there was made an addition of suffering and hardship to their previous condition. Thus the man, who had been placed in the Garden of Eden“ to dress it and to keep it,” was now “in the sweat of his brow” to derive his sustenance from a less genial soil; the woman, who, from the whole tenour of the narrative, was to bear children, was now to bring them forth “in sorrow," and was to be ruled over by her husband. All analogy then leads us to conceive that the serpent always went on his belly, and that the punishment was that, instead of fruits we may suppose, he was to “eat dust,” and there was to be enmity between him and the seed of the woman. The passage, then, according to all the principles of the Hebrew language, may be rendered—“Going upon thy belly thou shalt eat dust,” etc.; and there is no necessity of supposing, with Dr. Adam Clarke, that the serpent was an ape, or of adopting any of the other unnatural solutions of the difficulty that have been offered.



We know nothing in the whole circle of truth or fiction more calculated to make a profound impression on a susceptible imagination than the dream of Jacob “in the field of Luz.” It appears to us however that the full force of the impression has been weakened by the circumstance of all the versions—including that of the LXX.-agreeing to represent Jehovah as standing above the ladder, and thence addressing the slumbering patriarch. No doubt the words of the original will bear this sense ; but if we can show that they will also allow us to suppose the ladder rising up indefinitely toward heaven, while Jehovah stands at the head of the slumberer, we think we shall have added strength to the image.

The Hebrew phrase rendered “stood above(nissáb 'á lâu, 137, 3) occurs again (in the plural) in Gen. xviii. 2, where it is rightly rendered “stood by him ;” and in vv. 3 and 8 of the same chapter we find the preposition ('al, Sy) rendered in a similar manner. Surely then we need not hesitate to understand the phrase in the same sense in Jacob's dream. We have only to suppose that Jehovah was conceived to have descended before the angels. In a similar manner in the Ilias (ii. 20), otñ 8 åp ÚTTèp kepalñs is used of the dream sent to Agamemnon, which we must suppose, as it took the form of Nestor, to have stood at the head of the prince, instead of hovering over him in the air. *

We would make this further observation. In conformity with the designs of Providence, the religious ideas of the people of Israel were of a sensuous and material character, of which we have had an instance in their giving an aerial vehicle to Jehovah himself. The celestial ladder or stairs may then have formed a portion of the religious imagery of Israel, of the real existence of which there may have been no doubt, though only this once, and that in a dream, was it permitted to mortal eye to gaze on it: it may remind one of the Arabian tradition of the Garden of Irem. We should remember that the angels of the Old

* As Agamemnon was lying, and the Dream standing, the prep. over is properly employed: it is the same in Jacob's dream. In Gen. xviii. 2 Abraham is sitting and the wayfarers are standing; 0.3 he is bowed down before them; in v. 8 they are sitting and he is standing; and therefore in all these places the prep. over is used : see also Job i. 6; Is. vi. 2. So with the Latin sub : it must sometimes be rendered in, as in "Grato Pyrrha sub antro;" but the sense of under is always present.

« AnteriorContinuar »