Page images
PDF
EPUB

was perfectly known, would have been absurd indeed,
not to say ridiculous. What man in his senses could
have said, “Ye can no more comprehend the Deity,
* than ye can discover the height of the firmament,
or measure the depth of a grave.'
A
passage very similar we have in the Psalms 57

, where heaven and adns are in the same way contrasted. If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hel, εαν καταβω εις τον άδην, behold thou art there. The only other place I shall mention is in the Prophet Amos 58, where God is represented as saying, Though they dig into hell, ELS ádov, thence shall my hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down; and though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence ; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command a serpent, and he shall bite them. Here for illustration we have a double contrast. To the top of Carmel, a very high moun. tain, the bottom of the sea is very properly contrasted ; but to heaven, which is incomparably higher than the highest mountain, no suitable contrast is found, except sheol or hades, which was evidently conceived to be the lowest thing in the world. The ETTIYELOL were supposed to possess the middle parts, the επουρανιοι and καταχθονιoι occupied the extremes, the former in height, the latter in depth. A late writer, of profound erudition, of whose senti

1

57 Psal. cxxxix. 8.

58 Amos, ix, 2, 3.

ments, on this subject, I shall have occasion soon to take notice, has quoted the above passage of Amos, to prove that into sheol men penetrate by digging : he might, with equal reason, have quoted it to prove that into heaven men penetrate by climbing, or that men, in order to hide themselves, have recourse to the bottom of the sea.

§ 8. AGAIN, let it be observed, that keber, the Hebrew word for grave or sepulchre, is never rendered in the ancient translation άδης, but ταφος, uvnua, or some equivalent term. Sheol, on the contrary, is never rendered tapos or uvnua, but always

ádns; nor is it ever construed with Santa, or any verb which signifies to bury, a thing almost inevitable, in words so frequently occurring, if it had ever properly signified a grave. This itself might suffice to show that the ideas which the Jews had of these were never confounded. I observe further, that adns, as well as the corresponding Hebrew word, is always singular in meaning, as well as in form. The word for grave is often plural. The former never admits the possessive pronouns, being the receptacle of all the dead, and therefore incapable of an appropriation to individuals, the latter often. Where the disposal of the body or corpse is spoken of, tapos, or some equivalent term, is the name of its repository. When mention is made of the spirit after death, its abode is ådns. When notice is taken of one's making or visiting the grave

of any person, touching it, mourning at it, or erecting a pillar or

monument upon it, and the like, it is always keber that is employed. Add to all this that, in hades, all the dead are represented as present, without exception. The case is quite different with the graves or sepulchres. Thus, Isaiah represents, very beautifully and poetically, a great and sudden desolation that would be brought upon the earth, say. ing ", Hades, which is in the common version Hell, hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure. Hades alone is conceived to contain them all, though the graves in which their bodies were deposited, might be innumerable. Again, in the song of triumph on the fall of the king of Babylon", Hell (the original word is the same as in the preceding passage) from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming : it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth: it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. Thus, in hades, all the monarchs and nobles, not of one family or race, but of the whole earth, are assembled. Yet their sepulchres are as distant from one another as the nations they governed. Those mighty dead are raised, not from their couches, which would have been the natural expression, had the Prophet's idea been a sepulchral vault, how magnificent soever, but from their thrones, as suited the notion of all antiquity, concerning not the bodies, but the shades or ghosts of the departed, to which was always assigned something similar in rank and

59 Isa, v. 14,

60 xiv, 9.

VOL. I.

44

occupation to what they had possessed upon the earth. Nay, as is well observed by Castalio, those are represented as in hades, whose carcases were denied the honours of sepulture. In this parti. cular, the opinions of the Hebrews did not coincide with those of the Greeks and Romans.

Ø 9. To the preceding examples, I shall add but one other from the Old Testament. It is taken from that beautiful passage in Job, wherein God himself is the speaker, and whereof the great purpose is, to expose human ignorance, and check human presumption. Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? For this last designation the term is in Hebrew tsalmoth, and in the translation of the Seventy, adns: for, as was hinted before, tsalmoth, in its ordinary acceptation, is synonymous with sheol, though sometimes used metaphorically, for a very dark place, or a state of great ignorance. It is almost too obvious to need being remarked, that this challenge to Job could have no relation to a sepulchre, the door, or entry to which, is always known to the living. The case was very different with regard to the habitation of departed spirits. At the same time, I entirely agree with the learned and ingenious bishop Lowth, that the custom of depositing under

61 Defensio adv. Bezam. Adversarii Errores.
62 Job, xxxviii. 17.
63 De sacra Poesi Hebræorum, Præl. vii.

ground the bodies of the deceased, and the form of their sepulchres, have, probably, first suggested some gloomy notions on this subject. But popular opinions have a growth and progress, and come of. ten, especially in questions at once so interesting and so inscrutable, to differ widely from what they were originally. May we not then, upon the whole, fairly conclude, that we have all the evidence which the nature of the thing will admit, and more than, in most philological inquiries, is thought sufficient, that the word grave or sepulchre never conveys the full import of the Hebrew sheol, or the Greek hades, though, in some instances, it may have all the precision necessary for giving the import of the sentiment ?

$ 10. Even in some instances, where the language is so figurative, as to allow great latitude to a translator, the original term is but weakly rendered grave. Thus it is said “, Love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave.

The
grave,

when personified, or used metaphorically, is more commonly, if I mistake not, exhibited as a gentle power, which brings relief from cruelty, oppression, and trouble of every kind ; whereas hades, which regards more the state of departed souls, than the mansions of their bodies, exhibits, when personified, a severe and inflexible jailor, who is not to be gained by the most pathetic entreaties, or by any arts merely human. The clause would be apposite

64 Cant. viii. 6.

« PreviousContinue »