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“. And from the midst of the myriads
came forth the Holy One*,
On his right hand streams of fire.' Seir and Paran were places in the Wilderness where the Divine glory had been sensibly displayed. The myriads from which the Holy One is described as coming forth, were the myriads of attendant angels whose descent perhaps was visible before the blaze of light burst forth which was the well-known signal of the personal presence of the Holy One, that High and Holy One whose transcendent perfections and original existence separate him by an infinite interval even from the highest orders of the angelic nature. The streams of fire on his right, are the incessant flashes of lightning which struck the whole assembly with dismay.
The description being brought to this point, the thing next in order to be mentioned should be the utterance of the Decalogue; but here the prophet interrupts his narrative, to commemorate God's parental care of all mankind, in these pathetic ejaculations :
*“ The Holy One." The same word is used for God, in the parallel text of Habakkuk. – EDITOR. .
“ O loving Father of the peoples !" 66 Of the peoples," that is, of all the different nations of the world; for that is the force of “ peoples,” in the plural.
“ O loving Father of the peoples !
They are seated at thy feet, “ And have received of thy doctrine." “ All the saints — good men of all families and of all countries are under thy protection.” In our English Bibles we read “ all his saints.” It is upon the authority of the Seventy that I throw away the pronoun, which not being expressed in their translation had probably no place in their copies of the original ; and indeed its whole effect is but to destroy the generality of the expression, on which the spirit of the sentiment entirely depends.
66 All the saints are seated at thy feet, and have partaken of thy doctrine.” In these words, you will observe, the great Being who was styled the loving Father of the peoples is addressed in the specific character of a teacher; for the expression of sitting at his feet describes the attitude of scholars listening to the lessons of a master. 66 And they have received of thy doctrine, or of thy instruction.” They
have received, -" In the public translation, the expression is in future time, They shall receive;" and, thus rendered, the passage stands as a promise of the instruction of mankind by future revelations. But we have the authority of the Seventy to understand the original expression of time past. The promise of future instruction comes in another place: The allusion here is to past mercies, as an evidence of the universality of God's parental care of all mankind, in which the prophet professes his belief; and of this the past instances of general mercy, manifested in the revelations which had been granted to good men in the patriarchial ages, , long before the institution of the Mosaic covenant, furnished a more pregnant proof than distant promises. After these ejaculations, the prophet resumes his narrative, and proceeds to mention the promulgation of the law : which, prefaced as it is with these allusions to the world's old experience of its Maker's comprehensive love, seems rather alleged as a recent instance of the general providence, than as an argumeut of any arbitrary partial fondness for that particular race in which the theocracy was erected.
“ To us he prescribed a law."
“ He,” the Holy One who came forth from the midst of the myriads ; for the intervening ejaculations stand in parenthesis, and this line is to be taken in connexion with the two last of the initial stanza.
“ To us he prescribed a law.
gather themselves together " In union with the tribes of Israel." " Jacob is the inheritance of the Preacher.” This sentence renders the reason of the institution of the law,--that the family of Jacob, for the general good of mankind, was chosen to be the inheritance or peculiar portion of the Preacher. They were appointed to be for many ages the immediate objects of Divine instruction, and the depositaries of the sacred oracles. In this sense Jacob was the inheritance of “ the Preacher,”
who hath been in all ages, though in different ways at different seasons, the dispenser of the light of revelation. Of this Preacher Jacob is here called the inheritance, in the same sense in which the Jewish nation is called 6 his own” in the first chapter of St. John's Gospel. The word which I have rendered by “ the
of that person
Preacher” hath been generally taken in this place in the sense of “ congregation;" which gives the whole passage a very different meaning : But the sense in which I take it, of " the Preacher,” is the usual signification of the word. The use of it in the sense of “ congregation” is unexampled in the sacred writings, unless perhaps in this passage, in another in the book of Genesis, and a third in the book of Nehemiah. The
The passage of the book of Genesis will be particularly considered in the prosecution of our subject. The signification of the word in question is not less ambiguous in that place than it is here, and the sense of the Preacher" will
; equally suit the context. 'In Nehemiah, the sense is somewhat doubtful; and, were it certain, the style of Nehemiah is not the best standard for the interpretation of Moses. The interval between the two writers was long ; and the changes and corruptions, which the Hebrew language underwent in the captivity of the Jewish nation, were great and various. The book of Ecclesiastes was of an earlier and a purer age ; and throughout that book, the word, by the consent of all interpreters, signifies “the Preacher.” But the particular advantage of taking the word here in its