Page images
PDF
EPUB

grave does not give the meaning of the Hebrew word sheol. This may, at first, appear a paradox, but will not be found so, when examined. Suppose one, in relating the circumstances of a friend's death, should say, “ This unlucky accident brought “ him to his shroud,” another should say, “ It

brought him to his coffin,” a third, “It brought “ him to his grave."

The same sentiment is ex. pressed by them all, and these plain words, “This “ accident proved the cause of his death,” are equivalent to what was said by every one of them. But, can we justly infer thence, that the English words shroud, coffin, grave, and death, are synonymous terms? It will not be pretended by those who know English.

Yet I have not heard any argument stronger than this, for accounting the Hebrew words sheol and keber synonymous. The cases are entirely parallel. Used as tropes they often are so. Who can question that, when there is any thing figurative in the expression, the sense may be conveyed without the figure, or by another figure ? And if so, the figures or tropes, however different, may doubtless, in such application, be called synonymous to one another, and to the proper term ".

50 This is precisely the idea which Cappellus (to whom He. brew criticism owes more perhaps than to any other individual) had of the relation between the words sheol and keber. In answer to Villalpandus, who, in explaining a Hebrew inscription, supposes sh the letter schin, to stand for sheol and mean sepulchre, he expresses himself, thus, “Quis non videt, quam

Now, if this holds of the tropes of the same language, it holds also of those of different languages. You may adopt a trope in translating, which does not literally answer to that of the original, and which, nevertheless, conveys the sense of the origi. nal, more justly than the literal version would have done. But in this case, though the whole sentence, in the version, corresponds to the whole sentence, in the original, there is not the like correspondence in the words taken severally. Sometimes the reverse happens, to wit, that every word of a sentence, in the original, has a word exactly corresponding, in the version; and yet the whole sentence, in the one, does not correspond to the whole sentence, in the other. The different geniuses of different languages, render it impossible to obtain, always, a correspondence, in both respects. When it can be had only in one, the sentiment is always to be preferred to the words. For this reason I do not know how our translators could have rendered sheol in that passage better than they have done. Taken by itself, we have no word in our language that answers to it. The Latin is, in this instance, luckier ; as it supplies a word perfectly equivalent to that of the sacred penman, at the same time that it justly expresses the sense of the whole. Such is the trans

ישאול significet ש Nam ut

“ coacta sit ejusmodi interpretatio, quamque aliena a more, “ ingenio, et phrasi verè ebraicâ.

, “ quis Ebraismi peritus dixerit, cum bune sepulcrum non signi. “ ficet, nisi figuratâ locutione apud prophetas, qui tropicè lo. "

quuntur." Diatriba de literis Ebr.

lation of the verse in the Vulgate, Deducetis canos meos cum dolore ad inferos. Now, though our word the grave, may answer sufficiently in some cases, for expressing, not the import of the Hebrew word sheol, but the purport of the sentence, it gives, in other cases, but a feeble, and sometimes an improper, version of the original. But this will be more evident afterwards.

· 6. FIRST, in regard to the situation of hades, it seems always to have been conceived by both Jews and pagans, as in the lower parts of the earth, near its centre, as we should term it, or its founda. . tion (according to the notions of the Hebrews, who knew nothing of its spherical figure), and answer. ing in depth to the visible heavens in height ; both which are, on this account, oftner than once, contrasted in sacred writ. In general, to express any thing inconceivably deep, this word is adopted, which shows sufficiently that unfathomable depth was al. ways a concomitant of the idea conveyed by sheol. Thus God is represented by Moses as saying ", A fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn to the lowest hell, as it is rendered in the common version. The word is sheol or hades ; and Simon himself admits 5, that it is here an hyperbole, which signifies that the fire should reach the bottom of the earth, and consume the whole earth. I acknowledge that it is, in this passage, used hy.

51 Deut. xxxii. 22.

52 Reponse a la Defense, &c. ch. xvi.

perbolically. But will any person pretend that it could have answered the purpose of giving the most terrible view of divine judgments, if the literal meaning of the word had implied no more than a grave ? This concession of Simon's is, in effect, giving up the cause. According to the explanation I have given of the proper sense of the word, it was perfectly adapted to such an use, and made a very striking hyperbole ; but if his account of the literal and ordinary import of the term be just; the expression, so far from being hyperbolical, would have been the reverse.

In further evidence of this doctrine, the inhabitants of adns are, from their subterranean abode, denominated by the Apostle Paul ", xatandovioi, a word of the same import with the phrase υποκατω της γης, , under the earth, in the Apocalypse ", and which, with the entspaviol and Envyeloi celestial beings, and terrestrial, include the whole rational creation. That they are expressly enumerated as including the whole, will be manifest to every one who attentively peruses the two passages referred to. Of the coincidence of the Hebrew notions, and the pagan, in regard to the situation of the place of departed spirits, if it were necessary to add any thing to what has been observed above, from the import of the names infernus and inferi, those beautiful lines of Virgil might suffice :

1

53 Phil. ii. 10.

56 v, 3.

Non secus, ac si quâ penitus vi terra dehiscens
Infernas reseret sedes, et regna recludat
Pallida, diis invisa, superque immane barathrum
Cerhatur, trepidentque immisso lumine manes 55.

$ 7. SEVERAL proofs might be brought from the Prophets, and even from the Gospels, of the opposition in which heaven for height, and hades for depth, were conceived to stand to each other. I shall produce but a few from the Old Testament, which convey the most precise notion of their sentiments on this subject. The first is from the Book of Job 59, where we have an illustration of the unsearchableness of the divine perfections in these me. morable words, as found in the common version, Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection ? It is as high as heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, βαθυτερα δε των εν αδου, what canst thou know ? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea. Now, of the opinion that the word in the Old Testament always denotes grave or sepulchre, nothing can be a fuller confutation than this passage. Among such immense distances as the height of heaven, the extent of the earth, and the ocean, which were not only in those days unknown to men, but conceived to be unknowable ; to introduce as one of the unmeasurables, a sepulchre whose depth could scarcely exceed ten or twelve cubits, and which, being the work of men,

53 Æn. viii.

56 Job, xi. 7, 8, 9.

« PreviousContinue »