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ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE.

CHAP. I.

ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE FROM THE PASTORAL LIFE OF

THE ORIENTALS.

The first man was no sooner expelled from the garden of Eden for his breach of covenant, and doomed to earn his bread with the sweat of his brow, than he attempted to reduce the more useful animals under his yoke; and with so much success, that the sacred historian marks it as the proper employment of Abel, his younger son, that he “ was a keeper of sheep.” But it is in Jabal, a son of Cain, that we find the first example of an oriental shepherd: “ he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle *." No further notice is taken of antediluvian shepherds, in the rapid narrative of Moses; but it is reasonable to suppose, that the descendants of Jabal continued, according to the manners of the east, to follow the employment of their father, till the deluge swept them

Noah, it is probable, was devoted to husbandry from his earliest years; for Moses observes, that immediately after the deluge, he“ began to be an husbandmant;" he resumed his labours in the field, which had been interrupted by that dreadful catastrophe. But the cares of the shepherd devolved upon his eldest son Shem, the great progenitor of God's ancient people -a man, it would seem, imbued with a religious spirit, and de. Gen. iy. 20.

+ Chap. ix. 20.

all away

voted to a contemplative life, to which that employment is peculiarly favourable. By him it was transmitted to his renowned descendant Abraham, with whom he lived more than a hundred years. While it appears from the history of Laban, that the other branches of his family continued, after his example, to tend their flocks and their herds on the banks of the Euphrates and its tributary streams; the posterity of Abraham followed the same employment in the fertile pastures of Canaan, for several succeeding ages. This is the account which Joseph gave to Pharaoh, when his family came down into Egypt: “ The men are shepherds ; for their trade has been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have*.” And he directed them to say, when they should be admitted to an audience of the king: “Thy servants' trade has been about cattle, from our youth even until now, both we and also our fathers.”

The patriarchal shepherds, rich in flocks and herds, in silver and gold, and attended by a numerous train of servants purchased with their money, or hired from the neighbouring towns and villages, acknowledged no civil superior; they held the rank, and exercised the rights of sovereign princes; they concluded alliances with the kings in whose territories they tended their flocks; they made peace or war with the surrounding states; and in fine, they wanted nothing of sovereign authority but the name. Unfettered by the cumbrous ceremonies of regal power, they led a plain and laborious life, in perfect freedom and overflowing abundance. Refusing to confine themselves to any particular spot, they lived in tents, and removed from one place to another in search of pasture for their cattle. Strangers in the countries where they sojourned, they refused to mingle with the permanent settlers, to occupy their towns, and to form with them one people. They were conscious of their strength, and jealous of their independence; and although patient and forbearing, their conduct proved, on several occa

* Gen. xlvi. 32.

tance.

sions, that they wanted neither skill nor courage to vindicate their rights and avenge their wrongs. In the wealth, the power, and the splendor of patriarchal shepherds, we discover the rudiments of regal grandeur and authority; and in their numerous and hardy retainers, the germ of potent empires. Hence the custom so prevalent among the ancients, of distinguishing the office and duties of their kings and princes, by terms borrowed from the pastoral life:-Αγαμεμνονα ποιμενα λαών, is a phrase to be met with every where in the strains of Homer, The sacred writers very often speak of kings under the name of shepherds, and compare the royal sceptre to the shepherd's crook : “He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds ; from following the ewes great with young, he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheri

So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands *.” And Jehovah said to David himself: “ Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel +."

The royal Psalmist, on the other hand, celebrates under the same allusions, the special care and goodness of God towards himself, and also towards his ancient people. “ The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” “Give ear, O shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubim, shine forth 1.” But to multiply quotations is useless; in an hundred places of Scripture, the church is compared to a sheepfold, the saints to sheep, and the ministers of religion to shepherds, who must render at last an account of their administration to the Shepherd and Overseer to whom they owe their authority,

The patriarchs did not commit their flocks and herds solely to the care of menial servants and strangers ; they tended them in person, or placed them under the superintendance of their sons and their daughters, who were bred to the same laborious employment, and taught to perform, without reluc

Psa. lxxviii, 70. + 2 Sam. v. 2. * Psa, xxiii. 1. and lxxx. 1.

tance, the meanest services. Rebecca, the only daughter of a shepherd prince, went to a considerable distance to draw water; and it is evident from the readiness with which she let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and gave drink to the servant of Abraham, and afterwards drew for all his camels, that she had been long accustomed to that humble employment. From the same authority we know, that Rachel, the daughter of Laban, kept her father's flocks, and submitted to the various privations and hardships of the pastoral life, in the deserts of Syria. The patriarch Jacob, though he was the son of a shepherd prince, kept the flocks of Laban his maternal uncle; and his own sons followed the same business, both in Mesopotamia, and after his return to the land of Canaan. This primeval simplicity was long retained among the Greeks. Homer often sends the daughters of princes and nobles, to tend the flocks, to wash the clothes of the family at the fountain, or in the flowing stream, and to perform many other menial services *. Adonis, the son of Cinyras, a king of Cyprus, fed his flocks by the streaming rivers : “Et formosus oves ad flumina pavit Adonis." Vir. Ecl. 10. The flocks and herds of these shepherds were immensely nu

So great was the stock of Abraham and Lot, that they were obliged to separate, because “ the land was not able to bear them.” From the present which Jacob made to his brother Esau, consisting of five hundred and eighty head of different sorts, we may

form some idea of the countless numbers of great and small cattle, which he had acquired in the service of Laban. In modern times, the numbers of cattle in the Turcoman flocks, which feed on the fertile plains of Syria, are almost incredible. They sometimes occupy three or four days in passing from one part of the country to another. Chardin had an opportunity of seeing a clan of Turcoman shepherds on their march, about two days distance from Aleppo. The whole country was covered with them. Many of their principal pea

* Iliad b. 6. 1, 59, 78.

merous.

ple with whom he conversed on the road, assured him, that there were four hundred thousand beasts of carriage, camels, horses, oxen, cows, and asses, and three millions of sheep and goats. This astonishing account of Chardin, is confirmed by Dr Shaw, who states, that several Arabian tribes, who can bring no more than three or four hundred horses into the field, are possessed of more than so many thousand camels, and triple the number of sheep and black cattle. Russel, in his history of Aleppo, speaks of vast flocks which pass that city every year, of which many sheep are sold to supply the inhabitants. The flocks and herds which belonged to the Jewish patriarchs, were not more numerous.

The care of such overgrown flocks, required the attention of many shepherds. These were of different kinds; the master of the family and his children, with a number of herdsmen who were hired to assist them, and felt but little interest in the preservation and increase of their charge. In Hebrew, these persons, so different in station and feeling, were not distinguished by appropriate names; the master, the slave, and the hired servant, were all known by the common appellation of shepherds. The distinction, not sufficiently important to require the invention of a particular term, is expressed among every people by a periphrasis. The only instance in the Old Testament, in which the hired servant is distinguished from the master, or one of his family, occurs in the history of David, where he is said to have left the sheep (1995v) in the hand of a keeper, while he went down to visit his brethren, and the armies who were fighting against the Philistines under the banners of Saul *. This word exactly corresponds with the Latin term custos, a keeper, which Virgil uses to denote a hireling shepherd, in his tenth Eclogue.

“ Atque utinam ex vobis unus, vestrique fuissem

Aut custos gregis, aut maturæ vinitor uvæ." In such extensive pastoral concerns, the vigilance and activity

. 1 Sam, xvii. 20.

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