Imatges de pàgina

dismay (Ibid. 6.), and vainly attempted to prevent them from settling on their grounds by making loud shouts (Jer. li. 14.), as the Persian husbandmen," the inhabitants of Egypt,” and the Nogai Tartars” do to this day. . What aggravates this tremendous calamity is, that when one host is departed, it is succeeded by a second, and sometimes even by a § or a fourth, by which every thing that has escaped the ravages of the preceding, is inevitably consumed by the last company. As Arabia is generally considered as the native country of these depredators, they were carried thence into Egypt by an east wind (Exod. x. 13.), and were removed by a westerly wind (19.) which blew from the Mediterranean Sea ''. lay to the northwest of that country), and wasted them into the Red Sea, where they perished. On their departure from a country, they leave their fetid excrements behind them, which pollute the air, and myriads of their eggs deposited in the ground, whence issues in the following year a new and more numerous army. They are generally carried off by the wind into the sea, where they perish; and their dead bodies, putrefying on the shore, emit a most offensive, and (it is said) sometimes even fatal smell. The plague of locusts, predicted by Joel, entered Palestine from Hamath, one of the northern boundaries, whence they are called the northern army, and were carried away by the wind, some into the dreary plain on the coast of the East (or Dead) Sea, and others into the utmost (or Mediterranean) Sea. (Joel ii. 20.) These predatory locusts are larger than those which sometimes visit the southern parts of Europe, being five or six inches long, and as thick as a man's finger. From their heads being shaped like that of a horse, the prophet Joel says, that they have the appearance of horses; and on account of their celerity they are compared to horsemen on full gallop . 4.), and also to horses prepared for battle. (Rev. ix. o The locust has a large open mouth; and in its two jaws it has four incisive teeth, which traverse each other like scissors, and from their mechanism are calculated to grasp and cut every thing of which they lay hold. These teeth are so sharp and strong, that the prophet, by a bold figure, terms them the teeth of a great lion. (Joel i. 6.) In order to mark the certainty, variety, and extent of the depredations of the locusts, not fewer than eight or nine different appellations, expressive of their nature, are given to them in the sacred writings. Such are the Scripture accounts of this tremendous scourge, which are corroborated by every traveller who has visited the East. The Fog of these insects (to whose devastations Syria, Egypt, and ersia, together with the whole middle part of Asia, are subject) is incredible to any person who has not himself witnessed their astonishing numbers. Their numerous swarms, like a succession of clouds, sometimes extend a mile in length, and half as much in breadth, darken the horizon, and intercept the light of the sun. Should the wind blow briskly, so that the swarms are succeeded by others, they afford a lively idea of that similitude of the Psalmist (ciz. 23.) of being tossed up and down as the locusts. Wherever they alight, the land is covered with them for the space of several leagues, and sometimes they form a bed six or seven inches thick. The noise which they make in browsing on the trees and herbage, may be heard at a great distance, and resembles that of an army foraging in secret, or the rattling of hail-stones. The Tartars themselves are a less destructive enemy than these little animals; one would imagine that fire had followed their progress. Fire itself, indeed, consumes not so rapidly. Wherever their myriads spread, the verdure of the country disappears as if a covering had been removed; trees and plants, stripped of their leaves and reduced to their naked boughs and stems, cause the dreary image of winter to succeed, in an instant, to the rich scenery of the spring. When these clouds of locusts take their flight, to surmount any obstacle, or to traverse more rapidly a desert soil, the heavens may literally be said to be obscured by them. Should the inhabitants dig pits and trenches, and fill them with water, or kindle fires of stubble therein, to destroy them, rank presses on rank, fills up the trenches, and extinguishes the fires. Where these swarms are extremely numerous, they climb over every thing in their way, entering the inmost recesses of the houses, adhering to the very clothes of the inhabitants, and infesting their food." £. relates that, in some parts of Ethiopia, the inhabitants lived upon nothing but locusts salted, and dried in the smoke; and that the Parthians also accounted them a pleasant article of food.” The modern Arabs catch great quantities of locuts, of which they prepare a dish by boiling them with salt, and mixing a little oil, [... or fat; sometimes they toast them before a fire, or soak them in warm water, and without any other culinary process, devour almost every part except the wings. They are also said to be sometimes pickled in vinegar. The locusts which formed part of John the Baptist's food (Mark i. 6.), were these insects, and not the fruit of the locust-tree.* 5. The devastations caused by the locusts, together with the absence of the former and latter rains, were generally followed by a scarcity of provisions, and not unfrequently by absolute Famine, which also often prevailed in besieged cities to such a degree, that

1 Morier's Second Journey, p. 98. * Light's Travels, p. 56. Belzoni's Narrative, p. 197. * Baron De Tott's Memoirs, extracted in Harmer's Observations, vol. iii. p.319. 1 Volney's Travels in Egypt and Syria, vol. i. p. 286. Harmer's Observations, vol. iii. p. 319. Shaw's Travels, vol. i. pp. 340–343. Morier's Second Journey, p. 100. Sir Wm. Ouseley's Travels in Persia from 1810 to 1812, vol. i. pp. 195— 200. (4to. London, 1819.) Mr. Dodwell has given an interesting account of the ravages of the locusts in Greece; where, however, they are smaller than those of the Levant... See his Classical and Topographical Tour, vol. i. pp. 214, 215.

* Pliny. Hist. Nat. lib, vi. c. 30. and lib. x. c. 28.

*Sir Wm. Quseley's Travels, vol. i. p. 197. Dodwell's Tour, vol. i. p. 215. Dr. Della Cella's Travels from Barbary to the Western Frontier of Egypt, p. 78.

the starving inhabitants not only devoured unclean animals, but also human flesh. Compare Deut. xxviii.22—42. 56, 57. 2 Sam. xxi. 1. 2 Kings vi. 25–28. xxv. 3. Jer. xiv. 15. xix. 9. xlii. 17. Lam. ii. 20. iv. 10. Ezek. v. 10–12. 16. vi. 12. vii. 15. 6. Wolcanoes, though not generally apprehended to have existed in Palestine, unquestionably added their horrors to the other calamities with which Divine Providence chastised its inhabitants for their sins. Among the numerous interesting phenomena of nature described in the sacred volume, we not only meet with notices of lava, but also (Dr. Henderson conceives) of volcanic mountains, similar to those which abound in Iceland. The prophets appear to have derived some of their sublimest imagery from the tremendous phenomena of a volcanic eruption. Thus Nahum, describing the majesty of God, says, that the mountains quake at him, and the hills MELT, and the earth is BURNED at his presence. His fury is PourED out LIKE FIRE, and the rocks are thrown down by him. (Nah. i. 5, 6.) Behold, says Micah, the Lord cometh forth out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth., Vlnd the MoUNTAINS SHALL BE MoLTEN under him, and the vallies shall be cleFT As wax BEFoRE THE FIRE, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place. (Mic. i. 3, 4.) O that thou wouldest rend the heavens, says Isaiah, that thou wouldest come down, that the MoUNTAINs Might Flow Down at thy presence. .sls when the MELTING FIRE BURNETH, THE FIRE CAUSETH THE waters to BoIL, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence. When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, THE MoUNTAINs Flowed Down at thy presence. (Isa. lxiv. 1–3.) And Jeremiah, evidently alluding to a volcano, says—Behold, I am against thee, O DESTRoying MoUNTAIN, saith the Lord, which Destroyest all the earth, and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a BURNt mountain. And they shall not take o thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever. (Jer. li. 25, 26.) But the passage which, in Dr. Henderson's opinion, contains the most unequivocal reference to an eruption of lava, is that, in which Eliphaz insidiously reminds Job of the catastrophe which unexpectedly seized the abandoned inhabitants of the cities of the plain: “Hast thou observed the antient tract,

That was trodden by wicked mortals

Who were arrested of a sudden,

Whose foundation is a molten flood.

Who said to God: Depart from us.
What can Shaddai do to us?”

* Travels in Iceland, vol. i. p. 150. Edinburgh, 1818, 8vo. In pp. 154–157. this intelligent traveller has offered several ingenious conjectures, (which do not admit of afridgment) respecting the origin of the appellation— Valley of Siddim— iven to the tract of country on which the devoted cities stood, and also to show t, it is probable that there antiently were in the Holy Land, Hot Springs, similar to those which at this day exist in Iceland.

“Though he had filled their houses with wealth.
Far from me be the counsel of the wicked')
he righteous beheld and rejoiced,
The innocent laughed them to scorn;
Surely their substance was carried away,
And their riches devoured by fire.”
Job xxii. 15–20.

It is, indeed, commonly believed, that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was effected by a shower of fire (or lightning) and brimstone miraculously produced in the region of the air, and Gen. xix. 24. has been adduced in support of the opinion. But the words, The Lord rained brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, are susceptible of a very different interpretation: for, though lightning may be, (as it is in Scripture) with evident propriety, called fire from heaven, yet lightning can hardly be said to be rained. It is well known that in Scripture, every operation of nature is directly ascribed to God. All her diversified instruments are his servants, and what is performed by them is said to be done by himself.

“The winds are his messengers;
His servants, flames of fire.”

Earthquakes, storms, inundations, drought, famine, pestilence, and war, are uniformly represented as coming from the ruler of the universe. When, therefore, the combustible matter in question is declared to proceed from Jehovah, we are in like manner to understand the historian as referring the awful catastrophe immediately to God, as the avenger of iniquity; though, in bringing it about, he might, as in other instances, have availed himself of natural causes. From the geological notices contained in the Bible, relative to the neighbourhood of the devoted cities, it would appear that it abounded with inflammable substances: and the observations of a late intelligent traveller, corroborate the Scripture narrative in a most striking manner. M. Badhia (better known by his assumed name of Ali Bey,) in his way to Damascus, thus describes a volcanic desert traversed by him, which lies between the river Jordan and that city –“The Phlegean fields, and all that can present an idea of volcanic destruction, form but a feeble image of the frightful country through which I passed. From the bridge of Jacob' to Sassa, the whole ground is composed of nothing but lava, basaltes, and other volcanic productions: all is black, porous, or carious; it was like travelling in the infernal regions. Besides these productions, which cover the country, either in detached masses or in large strata, the surface of the ground is entirely covered with loose volcanic stones, from three to four inches in circumference to a foot in diameter, all equally black, porous, or carious; as if they had just come out of the crater. But it is particularly at the approaches to Sassa, that the traveller meets with groups of crevices, and volcanic mounds, of so frightful a size that he is seized with horror, which is increased if he allows his imagination to wander to the period when these masses were hurled forth with violence from the bowels of the earth. There are evident signs that all this country was formerly filled with volcanoes, for we beheld several small craters in traversing the plain.” From these facts, and from the geological notices occurring in the Scriptures respecting the devoted cities, it is highly probable that the plain in which they stood was at some earlier period subjected to volcanic revolutions. Nothing farther then was necessary, than to set on fire the bitumen, sulphur, &c. that was in the bowels of the earth, which ravaging with violent fury, an earthquake ensued, and vent being given to the subterraneous elements, a torrent of melted matter was poured forth, that, descending into the plain, carried destruction to its inhabitants, cities, villages, fields, and whatever came in its way. The quantities of sulphur, pumice, and ashes, poured by the volcano to an immense height in the air, and falling from that elevation, might, with strict propriety, be said to have been rained from heaven. In allusion to this catastrophe, God is said to rain on the wicked, hot ashes, fire, and brimstone. (Psal. xi. 6.") That an inundation of lava overtook those cities, besides the fiery sulphureous shower described by Moses, is stated in the most express terms, in the passage quoted from Job. Their inhabitants were arrested by its torrents. It surrounded their habitations, and cut off all way of escape, carried before it their substance, devoured their riches with its raging flames, and so completely laid waste the spot where they dwelt, that nothing now remained but a stream of melted matter. The same fact is obviously implied in the description of the circumstances connected with Lot's escape. Why was he prohibited from lingering in any part of the low land, if not because he would there be exposed to the pestilential volcanic effluvia and to the lava o And what reason can be assigned for his obtaining leave to stop in Zoar; but its lying at some distance from the spot where the lava began to act, as likewise on an elevation whence he could survey the #. ruin, and retire before the stream reached that place? e accordingly find, that however desirous he was to stay there at

1 The bridge alluded to is known by the name of Cantara Wacoub, or Jacob's Bridge: it is of considerable antiquity, and consists of three pointed arches. The river is in this place about 64 feet wide; and does not appear to be very deep; its Surrent is rapid and boisterous, and the water good, but warm. Travels of Ali Bey, vol. ii. pp.261,262.


1 Travels of Ali Bey, vol. ii. p.263.

* Mr. Holm, in an account of the eruption of the Skapta volcano in Iceland, quoted by Dr. Henderson, says, “The whole atmosphere was filled with sand, dust, and brimstone, so thick as to occasion a continual darkness. The pumice which fell on the villages being red hot, did considerable damage. Along with the pumice stones, there fell a great quantity of a dirty substance like pitch, rolled up sometimes in the form of small balls, and sometimes like rings or garlands. #. falling of these hot substances was attended with great mischief, as they totally destroyed all manner of vegetation that they came near." Henderson's Iceland, vol. i. p. 152.

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