Imatges de pÓgina

Josephus, in recording this transaction, puts a formal speech in the mouth of Moses to his terrified and dis contented people, and a prayer to God before he strikes the sea with his rod: yet he tells us that all this he has related as he found it in the sacred books. But he seems not sure, whether to consider it as a miracle or a natural effect. 'Let no one,' says he, 'wonder at this account of a way of safety being opened to those oldworld innocent folks, even through the sea, whether by the will of God or naturally; since, of latter days, the Pamphylian-sea opened a way for Alexander's army, when God through him had decreed to overturn the Persian empire. For this he appeals to all Alexander's historians and, indeed, both Arrian and Appian, who relate the event, seem to have considered it as a sort of divine interposition: but honest Strabo tells us that Alexander only took the advantage of low-water; and, trusting to his good fortune, passed through the streight with his army: but not on dry land; for the water came up to the navel. The same was the case with Scipio's soldiers, who surprised New Carthage by taking the advantage of an ebb; although they waded sometimes up to the knee, at other times up to the navel, in water. Here the same two natural causes, the tide and a strong wind, concurred to make a passage through the water, as concurred at the passage of the Red Sea; and in both cases they were converted into a miracle.

appearance of Admiral Ruyter with the Dutch fleet obliged the English to abandon their enterprise: and thus Holland was saved from impending ruin. And this, says Burnet, was considered as a miracle.

I cannot better conclude than with the modest reference of Josephus: 'Of such things, let every one think as he pleases.'

Verse 28. For the waters returning oovered both chariots and horsemen, &c. This may be easily conceived by those who have passed the Washes between Norfolk and Lincolnshire, or the Milnthorp and Cartmel sands, in the great estuary between Lancaster and Hookborough; where if there were not a guide, with a salary from government, to direct and escort the passengers, they would often be swallowed up by the returning tide, and both the horse and his rider be cast into the sea. 'I am sure,' says a friend of mine, from whom I had an accurate account of those sands, 'that Pharaoh and his host would have perished in many such tides as I have seen on Lancaster Sands, and the Bristol Channel; on both which I have seen tides come in a breast of water two feet perpendicular, and roll rather faster than a horse could trot. A few such successive tides, or billows, would soon overthrow an army, if they had no means to escape; as was the case with the Egyptians, on a shoal between two masses of water, a deep stagnation on the left hand, and the sea on the right, both agitated with a vehement wind, which blew almost directly in their face. Then, if thunder and lightning attended the tempest, it would be terrible indeed; and they might naturally enough exclaim, 'Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord fighteth for them against us:' although how the Hebrew writer came to know that they so ex

pressed themselves it is hard to say, as none of them escaped to tell the dismal tale. But the Hebrew historian was a poet, if not a prophet; and often gives us what might have been for what really was. For the rest, extraordinary tides of the sea have in all ages been attended with danger and death. When the emperor Valens was at Marcinopolis, in his way to Syria, such a tempest happened, and such agitation of the sea, that in some places small ships were driven over the walls of houses, and in others the largest vessels were left dry on the sand. The inhabitants of the city, going out to plunder, were overtaken by the returning tide and buried in the waves. Those great commotions were not unfrequently accompanied by earthquakes. In the year 1034, there happened a dreadful one in Egypt and Palestine, which obliged the inhabitants to live in the open air during eight days. The sea on this occasion receded three parasangs,* and on its return destroyed the people who had gone out to pick up fishes and shells. In the very next year there were uncommon exundations of the sea and of the rivers, by which many persons lost their lives. But the most singular phenomenon of this kind is said to have recently happened in South America. The waters of the river Plata were, in the month of April, 1793, forced by a most impetuous storm of wind to the distance of ten leagues; so that the neighboring plains were entirely inundated, and the

*The length of a parasang is not sufficiently ascertained; but the shortest estimation is thirty furlongs.

bed of the river left dry. Ships sunk for more than thirty years were uncovered, and among others an English vessel cast away in 1762. Several persons walked in the bed of the river without wetting their feet, and returned with silver and other riches long buried under the water. This continued three days, at the end of which the waters returned with great violence to their natural bed."*

Jonah in the fish's belly.

It is commonly supposed that the "great fish" which is represented to have swallowed Jonah, was a whale.† But it is not so stated in the Bible;-and besides, the supposition is unreasonable.

Upon this subject, Rev. Hosea Ballou, senior, has offered the following very candid remarks: "The learned have differed very much in opinion as to what kind of fish this must have been. That it could not have been the common whale is evident, as the gullet of the largest of that species does not exceed four inches; yea, it is stated in the Encyclopedia, that 'their throat is so narrow, that an animal larger than a herring could not enter.' This and other considerations which might be mentioned, have led some to doubt whether it could have been any live animal; but suppose that the same Hebrew word, Dag might have also been applied to something else. 'Dagh, in Persia, signifies a mountain,' or

*Geddes' "Critical Remarks upon the Hebrew Scriptures," London Quarto ed. vol. i. pp. 225-227, 230, 231.

† Jonah, i. 17.

rock. (Pinkerton, part xxix. p. 493.) Some have thought that the word might have been applied to the hull or wreck of some vessel, which might have been provi dentially there to receive Jonah, and on which he might have been driven to the shore. Others have supposed (and what perhaps is equally probable) that Jonah might have been cast upon a floating mass of sea-weed, to which the Hebrew word, without much difficulty, would apply, and which are often very large and extensive. 'Seaplants, finding in the water a sufficient quantity of saline particles, oils, and all such spirits as are requsite for their vegetation, stand in no need of roots in the earth to feed them with proper juices.' (Nat. Delin. vol. iii. p. 168. See 'Facts authentic in Science and Religion,' p. 497.)

The Hebrew word Dag, when used as a verb, signifies To multiply or increase exceedingly. Hence, as a noun, it is the general name for Fish, from their great increase. As a noun, dagen (which comes from the same root) signifies, 'Corn of all sorts, so named from its great increase, Gen. xxvii. 28.' (See Parkhurt's Heb. Lex. under the word Dag.) It would not have been, therefore, a very far-fetched figure, to call one of those floating beds of sea-weed, which are driven together by the wind, a great fish! The text itself seems rather to justify such an idea. See Jonah, ii. 5: "The weeds were wrapped above my head.' This idea will undoubtedly appear very novel to many, and we do not feel disposed to give any decided opinion on the subject; we only

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