« AnteriorContinuar »
and exhausted with the increasing heats of the rising year, long for the tranquil pleasures of the garden, or the fruitful field, the reviving coolness of the shade, and the murmur of the streamingrill,--the heaven-born soul desires to leave for a while, the cares and hurry of this world, to enjoy, in secret retirement or with fellow believers, the presence and smiles of his Lord; to mark the growth of divine grace in his heart; and whether the fruits of righteousness are advancing to maturity ; whether new dispositions of holiness are beginning to appear, and new resolutions to expand, which require the skill and care of the Great Husbandman, to defend and cherish. And while he requests the presence of his Redeemer, in the ordinances of his grace, he promises him the best affections of his heart; the renewed professions of his love; the ardent breathings of holy desire, kindled and sustained by the smiles of his favour; he engages to entertain him with a display of all the fruits of the Spirit, which are valuable and lovely as the mandrake, and numerous as the products of the varied year, devoted to his service, reserved for his honour, and exhibited for his glory
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE, FROM THE HOUSES, CITIES,
WALLS, AND TOWERS OF THE EAST.
The aboriginal inabitants of those regions, appear to have taken up their abode in caves, in dens, and in holes of the rocks, the excavations of nature or art, of which many remain to the present times, and afford occasional shelter to the wandering shepherd and his flock, and in times of danger, to the trembling fugitive and his family. But as their flocks and herds multipled, the Syrian shepherds were compelled to go in quest of distant pastures, from which they found it impossible to re
turn at night to their immoveable retreats. Necessity, the mother of the arts, taught them to construct the tent, which they might carry along with them in their wanderings, and set up and take down at their pleasure. But as the number of the people daily increased, and the necessity of applying themselves to the cultivation of the soil became obvious, they found the tent an incommodious habitation, and their fields often lay at a considerable distance from the cavern; while the division of property, which was introduecd at a very early period, and the natural desire in every family to live by themselves, sug, gested the idea of houses, constructed of more durable materials than the tent, which admitted of being placed sufficiently near for mutual assistance, and at the same time furnished the comfort which they so much desired, of living by themselves, and securing their own interests,
In the opinion of Pliny, the oriental barbarian took the hint of building a house for himself and his family, from the swallow; and in imitation of his feathered instructor, made his first essay in mud. The Kabyles, on the coast of Barbary, raise their dwellings with hurdles, daubed over with mud, with square cakes of clay baked in the sun, or stones from some adjacent ruin. The roofs are covered with straw or turf, supported by reeds or branches of trees. The largest of them has rarely more than one chamber, which serves for a kitchen, diningroom, and bed-chamber; besides one corner of it, which is reserved for their foals, calves, and kids. As these hovels are always fixed and immoveable, they are undoubtedly what the ancients called magalia; and therefore, Carthage itself, before the time of Dido, was nothing more than a cluster of mud-built hovels * “ Miratur molem Æneas, magalia quondam.” Æn, b. 1. 1. 425. The houses of the lower orders in Egypt are in like manner constructed of unburnt bricks, or square pieces of clay, baked in the sun, and only one story high; but those of the higher
The Dr Shaw's Trav. vol. 1. p. 400.
classes, of stone, and generally two, and sometimes three stories bigh. These facts are at once a short and lively comment on the words of the prophet: “All the people shall know, even Ephraim, and the inhabitants of Samaria, that say, in the pride and stoutness of heart, The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stone; the sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars *.” Bricks dried in the sun, are poor materials for building, compared with hewn stone, which in Egypt, is almost equal to marble ; and forms a strong contrast between the splendid palace, and mud-walled cabin. "And if, as is probable, the houses of the higher orders in Israel were built with the same species of costly and beautiful stone, the contrast stated by the prophet, places the vaunting of his wealthier countrymen in a very strong light. The boastful extravagance of that people, is still further displayed by the next figure : “The sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars;" the forests of sycamore, the wood of which we have been accustomed to employ in building, are cut down by the enemy, but instead of them we will import cedars, of whose fragrant and beautiful wood we will construct and adorn our habitations. The sycamore grew in abundance, in the low country of Judea, and was not much esteemed; but the cedar was highly valued; it was brought at a great expense, and with much labour, from the distant and rugged summits of Lebanon, to beautify the dwellings of the great, the palaces of kings, and the temple of Jehovah. It was therefore, an extravagant boast, which betrayed the pride and vanity of their depraved hearts, that all the warnings, threatenings, and judgments of the living God, were insufficient to subdue or restrain.
In Judea, and some of the neighbouring countries, where rain often falls in winter in very copious and violent showers, instead of earth and straw, they make use of wood in constructing the walls of their dwellings. In this manner was the wall originally built, which enclosed the court of the temple
Isa. ix. 9, 10.
at Jerusalem ; and it was re-constructed of the same materials, wood and stone, when the Jews returned from their long and painful captivity, by the direction of the Persian monarch. It is evident that the walls of their fortified cities were partly constructed of combustible materials ; for the prophet, denouncing the judgments of God upon Syria and other countries, declares; “I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof *.” The walls of Tyre and Rabbah seem to have been of the same perishable materials; for the prophet adds: “I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof;" and again; “I will kindle a fire in the walls of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof with shouting in the day of battle t." The more durable materials of wood and stone, were preferred by the inhabitants of Canaan from the earliest times; for Moses, in the law concerning the leprous house, proceeds on the supposition that their houses were built of these: “ Then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which the plague is f." The greater durableness and beauty of such edifices have not, however, prevailed on the lower orders in the east to abandon their mud-walled habitations, even in those places where stone may be procured in abundance. At Damascus, for example, they continue to build with mud and slime, though they have plenty of stones near the city §. In the time of Job, and probably for a long succession of ages, the houses of all ranks in the land of Uz were built of mud; for he charges the adulterer with digging through the walls of his neighbour's house, with the view of gratifying his vile propensities : “In the dark,” said the sorrowful and indignant patriarch, “ they dig through houses which they had marked for themselves in the day time: they know not the light ||." These walls of dried clay, when moistened with copious showers, must have been liable to accidents of this kind; and as the walls of eas
Lev, xiv. 40.
. Amos i. 7.
4 Verses 10, 14.
|| Job. xxiv, 16.
tern houses are made very thick, in order to shelter the inhabitants more effectually from the oppressive heats, the term digging, as applied to them, is peculiarly expressive.
The short duration of mud-walled buildings is not the only objection to the use of unburnt brick; for in windy weather, the streets are incommoded with dust, and with mire in time of rain. At Damascus, when a violent rain happens to fall, the whole city, by the washing of the houses, becomes as it were a quagmire. So great is the quantity of dust and mire which sometimes accumulates in the streets of an eastern city, that the prophet Zechariah borrows a figure from it, of great force and significancy in the ear of an oriental, to denote the immense riches of Tyre: “ Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets *." The beauty of the figure is lost, if we attempt to judge of it by the state of an occidental city in modern times; but it will not be easy to conceive one more strikingly appropriate, if the streets of an eastern city, choaked with mire, or suffocated with dust, are considered. Dr Shaw directs the attention of his readers to the same circumstance, the dissolution of oriental buildings upon a shower, and supposes
illustrate what Ezekiel observes respecting untempered mortart: When that traveller was at Tozer, in the month of December, they had a small drizzling shower, which continued for the space of two hours ; and so little provision was made against accidents of this kind, that several of the houses, which, as usual, were built only with palm branches, mud and tiles baked in the sun, fell down by imbibing the moisture of the shower. Nay, provided the drops had been either larger, or the shower of a longer continuance, he was persuaded the whole city would have dissolved and dropt to pieces. In his opinion, the phrase
untempered mortar” refers to the square pieces of clay of which the wall is constructed; but on looking at the text, it is evident that it refers to the plaster which is used in the east • Zech, ix. 3.
+ Ezek, xiii. 11.