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should smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. This passage, in its literal meaning, intimates, that from Israel should arise a mighty prince, who would entirely conquer Moab and Edom, and was fulfilled in David;* but in its full import, refers to that glorious Person, of whom David was a type Jesus is “the bright and morning star;"+ and to him also belongs “the sceptre” of universal government. I
To this first advent, Balaam looks forward; but this was so distant, that he saw him only in the spirit of prophecy; but it may also refer to his second coming, when Balaam, and every other enemy of Christ, shall behold him, though not nigh; but be banished with everlasting destruction from his pr nce, and from the glory of his power.
And bathe his flesh in running water.
Lev. xv. 13.
The difference between bathing in ordinary and in running water, is here strongly marked by a positive command in favor of the latter. This circumstance was not peculiar to the Jewish ritual; but it is to be met with in the Mahometan law, and in the Indian religion. In the Indies it is a most meritorious act to pray to God in the running stream. Bernier's Travels, Vol. 2.
* See 2 Samuel viii. 2. 14. + Luke i. 78. Revelation xxii. 16.
# 1 Corinthians xv. 25.
And the head of Dagon, and both the palms of his hands, were cut off upon the threshold.
1 Sam. v. 4.
The destruction of Dagon, before the ark of the Lord, clcarly discovered the vanity of idols, and the irresistible power of God. The circumstances attending his demolition are remarkable; and in them, it is possible, may be traced a conformity with the manner in which different nations treated the idol deities of each other. Dagon was not merely thrown down, but was also broken in pieces; and some of these fragments were found on the threshold. There is a circumstance stated in Maurice's Modern History of Hindoostan, vol. i. part 2, page 296, which seems in some points similar to what is recorded of Dagon. Speaking of the destruction of the idol in the temple at Sumnaut, he says, “That fragments of the demolished idol were distributed to the several mosques of Mecca, Medina, and Gazna, to be thrown at the threshold of their gates, and be trampled upon by devout and zealous Mussulmen." In both instances, the situation of the fragments at the threshold seems to intimate the complete triumph of those who had overcome the idols; and might, probably, be a customary expression of indignity and contempt.
They leaped upon the altar which was made.
Baal, whose idolatrous worship is here referred to, was the same as Apollo, or the Sun. Callimachus has given us a remarkable instance of the universal veneration which was paid by the ancient pagans at his altar, in the temple of Delos. Among other ceremonies, in the worship of this idol, it was customary to run round his altar, to strike it with a whip; and, with their hands or arms bound behind them, to bite the olive. For, of Delos, the poet says,
“Thee, ever honor'd isle, what vessel dares
Hymn to Delos, v. 433.
The former part of this ceremony plainly alludes to singing and dancing round the altar;-the latter part seems to accord with what is said of Baal, in 1 Kings xviii. 26-28, where we read of the priests of Baal, who leaped upon the altar they had made:-which the Septuagint renders run round; and they cried aloud, and cut themselves, after their manner, with knives and lances, till the blood gushed out upon them.” This run. ning round the altar, signified, the annual rotation of the earth round the sun-striking with a whip the altar, cutting themselves with knives and lances, and
crying aloud to their Deity, were symbolical actions denoting their desire, that he would shew forth his power upon all nature in general, and that sacrifice, in particular, then before him. Having thus surrounded the altar of Apollo; and, by these actions, declared their belief in his universal power, they used to bend their own arm's VOL. III.
behind thcm, and so take the sacred olive into their mouths; thereby declaring, that not from their own arm or power, which was bound,—but from his, whose altar they surrounded, they expected to obtain that peace, whereof the olive was always a symbol.*
These are some evident allusions to these abominable idolatrous practices in the Old Testament; and the Jews are severely reprimanded by the prophets, for following such absurd and wicked ceremonies. “Thus, saith the Lord, concerning the prophets, that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace.”+ And respecting Ashdod, the prophet says, “I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abomination from between his teeth.”+
The value of Divine revelation may, in some measure, be ascertained, by the discoveries it makes of the perfections of God; and the instructions it affords us, with regard to his worship. How deplorable is the ignorance of man in his natural state! How absolutely necessary is supernatural influence, to guide us into all truth! Let us continually pray for grace, that we “may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear;" and while we pity the blindness which cherishes superstition and idolatry, endeavor, by every means in our power, to disseminate the knowledge of Christ crucified.
Genesis viïi 11.
† Micah iii. 5.
# Zechariah ix. 7.
And when the king came in to see the guests, &c.
Matt. xxii. 11.
The Persians, “in circumstances of grief or joy, visit each other with great attention; which is a tribute of duty always expected from persons of inferior condition, especially if they are dependant. The guests are ushered into a large room, and served with coffee and tobacco. After some time, the master of the house enters; and his visitors, rising to receive him, continue standing till he has passed through the whole company and paid his respects to each: he then takes his seat, and, by signs, permits them to be also seated."* In the parable now referred to, the circumstances of which may be reasonably supposed conformable to existing customs, it is evidently implied, That the guests were collected together previous to the appearance of the king, who came in to see the guests. So also in Luke xiv. 10, in a similar parable, it is said, “When thou art bidden, go
and sit down in the lowest room, that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher.” This unquestionably confirms the application of the Persian ceremony to the parable first cited. It may just be further observed, that in the lastmentioned passage, it seems as if it had been the prevailing practice of the master of the house “to pass through the guests, and pay his respects to each of them,” as was certainly the case in Persia.
* Goldsmith's Geography, p. 216.