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And assures us, that he sometimes carries off the largest and fattest ox in the herd, and breaks his neck, having first seized him with his strong teeth :
“Ως δ' οτι τις τε λεων ορεσιτροφος αλκι πεποιθως
Boorousins aysans Bouv åpraon, ntis aporn. Il. lib. xvii, 1. 61, 62. Mr. Forbes had the singular felicity, when in the East Indies, to see the lion rush furiously on a goat which had been tied to a tree by way of lure, and seizing it by the neck, with one shake break the bone, and instantly deprive the animal of life. According to some natural historians, the strength of the lion is so prodigious, that a single stroke of his paw is sufficient to break the back of a horse, and one sweep with his tail will throw a strong man to the ground. It is, therefore, with great force and propriety the royal Psalmist, in his pathetic lamentation for Saul and Jonathan, says, “ They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.” h
The courage of the lion is equal to his prodigious strength. Conscious that no beast of the forest dares to disturb his repose, he sleeps in the open air. According to Homer, a lion reared in the mountains, that has been long without food, is impelled by his fearless intrepidity, to attack the crowded fold; and although he find it guarded by dogs and armed men, he does not abandon his enterprize, but boldly leaps into the midst of the flock and seizes his prey, or is himself wounded by a dart thrown from a skilful hand. In another passage, Menelaus yields to Hector, like a full grown lion, which dogs and
e See also lib. v, l. 160.
* Oriental Memoirs, vol. iii, p. 92. & Aristotel. Hist. lib. i, cap. 1. Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. xii, cap. 39. h 2 Sam. i, 23.
i Iliad, lib. xii, 1. 299 ; lib. xviii, l. 461; and lib. xvii, 1. 109-112. Aristot. Hist, lib. ix, cap. 44.
men have driven with spears and much clamour from the sheep cote; his resolute heart is deeply affected with grief, and he reluctantly leaves the fold. This beautiful and striking figure, Virgil has imitated in these words:
po ceu sævum turba leonem
Æn. lib. ix, 1. 791. “ As with annoying darts, a troop of hunters persecute a fierce lion; while the appalled savage, surly, louring stern, flinches back, nor rage, nor courage, suffer him to fly; nor can he, for darts and men (though fain indeed he would), make head against them.”j
Still more sublime and beautiful are the figures of the sacred writers; while their striking similarity proves that they drew them from the same scource, they copied from the same works: “ For thus hath the Lord spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase him, self for the noise of them: so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof."" The fearless courage of this destroyer was never described with greater energy and elegance, than by the prophet Nahum : “ Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding place of the young lions, where the lion, even the old lion walked, and the lions' whelp, and none made him afraid? The lion did tear in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangled for his lionesses, and filled his holes with prey, and his dens with ravin."} i Davidson. k Isa. xxxi, 4.
Nah. ii, 11, 12
This noble animal has been considered as the most perfect model of boldness and courage in every age, and among every people acquainted with his history; and to say that a man is bold as a lion, is to reward his intrepidity with the highest degree of praise : “ He that is valiant,” said Hushai to Absalom, “ whose heart is as the heart of a lion, shall utterly melt." He never flies from the hunters, nor is frightened by their onset. But if their number forces him to yield, he retires slowly, step by step, frequently turning upon his pursuers. Such is the fearless intrepidity which the unequivocal tokens of divine favour, and the approbation of a good conscience, impart to the mind of a righteous person : “ The wicked flee when no man pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” The Greek and Roman authors abound in the same figures ; Homer says that Hercules had the heart of a lion, (Juponsorta), and he distinguishes Achilles by the same epithet.
The courage of the lion prompts him to go in quest of his prey, and to meet it in the open field; he has been known to attack a whole caravan, and when obliged to retire, he always retires fighting, and with his face to his enemy.”p To this trait in his character, Job seems to allude in his complaint to God: “ Thou huntest me as a fierce lion.” There are times, however, when he does not disdain to lie in wait for his prey, and spring suddenly upon it from his lurking place. To this less honourable habit, the Psalmist alludes in his description of a wicked man: “ He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den; he lieth in wait to catch the poor." m 2 Sam. xvii, 10. n Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. ix, c. 44. •Prov. xxviii, 1. P Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. iv, cap. 34.
9 Ps. x, 9.
When stung with hunger, his fierceness and rage are terrible; at such a time, no precaution which the traveller or the shepherd can use, and no exertion which either the one or the other can make, are sufficient to divert or repel his attack. For want of other food, this devourer, as he is emphatically called in Scripture, will often tear to pieces the hapless passenger, or the tenant of the unguarded hamlet. Fire is what he is most afraid of; yet, notwithstanding the frequent fires with which the Arabian shepherds encircle their flocks; notwithstanding the barking of their dogs, and their own repeated cries and exclamations during the whole night, when he is suspected to be upon the prey,-it frequently happens that the ravenous animal, outbraving all these terrors, will leap into the midst of the fold where the cattle are enclosed, and drag from thence a sheep or a goat." He commonly deprives the victim of life by a stroke of his paw, accom. panying the fatal blow with a tremendous roar; he then tears it in pieces, breaks all its bones, and devours it with the utmost greediness. To these circumstances, the sacred writers frequently allude. In the blessing of Gad, we find Moses expressing himself thus: “ He dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head;" and the royal Psalmist, in still more striking terms : “ Save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me ; lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces when there is none to deliver." Hezekiah, in his sickness, complained, “ I reckoned till morning that as a lion, so will he break all my bones;”t and said the prophet in the name of the Lord, “I will be unto Ephraim as a
* Shaw's Trav. vol. i, p. 314. Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. xii, cap. 7, and lib. vii, cap. 6. Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. v, p. 82. s Psa. vii, 2.
+ Isa. xxxviii, 4.
Jion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah ; I, even I, will tear and go away, I will take away, and none shall rescue him.”
The voracious greediness of this terrible animal, is re. marked by every natural historian; and it has not been overlooked by the sacred writers. The Psalmist compares the wicked “ to a lion that is greedy of his prey, and to a young lion that lurketh in secret places;” the murderous enemies of our Redeemer “ gaped upon him with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.” Samson characterizes the lion in his riddle, “ the eater,” or, as it may be rendered, the devourer; and the prophet Jeremiah employs a term of similar import: “ Your own sword hath devoured your prophets like a destroying lion.” In one of the most awful threatenings ever uttered by Jehovah, we find the following allusion; 6 There will I devour them like a lion; the wild beast shall tear them.”w
No creature, when provoked, is so tremendously furious as the lion. He beats his sides and the ground with his tail, agitates his shaggy mane, moves the skin of his face, and knits his large eye-brows; shews his dreadful tusks, and thrusts out his tongue, which is armed with prickles, so hard, that it alone is sufficient to tear the skin and the flesh, without the assistance of either teeth or claws. This description will enable the reader to form an adequate idea of the warlike appearance of certain Gadites, in the train of David, “ whose faces,” says the inspired writer, “ were like the faces of lions."
The movements of a lion, except when he rushes on the
u Hos. v, 14.
Jer. ii, 30.
* Hos. xiii, 8. * Ælian de Nat. Animal. lib. iv, cap. 34. Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. viii, cap. 19. Buffon's Nat. Hist. vol. v, p. 71, 84. Oppian. de Venatione, lib. iii, l. 8. His face and his neck are terrible. s 1 Chron. xii, 8.