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ancient and still subsisting custom of hiring professed mourners to lament over the dead. The Jewish doctors acknow ledge the custom, and inform us that it was so common, that the poorest man in Israel, when his wife died, never had less than two pipes and one mourning woman. The root of this rather singular though very prevalent custom seems to be, that the eastern nations require manifestations of strong feeling to be marked, palpable, and exaggerated. Hence their emotions, particularly those of grief, have a most violent and loud expression; and still unsatisfied, and apprehensive that their own spontaneous manifestations of sorrow, when a death occurred, were inadequate to the occasion, and rendered insufficient honour to the dead, they thought of employing practised women to add their effective and manifest tributes of apparent grief. Thus mourning became an art, which devolved on women of shrill voices, copious of tears, and skilful in lamenting and praising the dead in mournful songs and eulogies. When a person in a family died, it was customary for the female relatives to seat themselves upon the ground in a separate apartment, in a circle, in the centre of which sat the wife, daughter, or other nearest relative, and thus, assisted by the mourning women, conducted their loud and piercing lamentations. At intervals, the mourning women took the leading part, on a signal from the chief mourner; and then the real mourners remained comparatively silent, but attested their grief by sobs, by beating their faces, tearing their hair, and sometimes wounding their persons with their nails, joining also aloud in the lamenting chorus of the hired mourners. Mr. Lane's account of the existing practice in Egypt is very illustrative. "The family of the deceased generally send for two or more neddábehs (or public wailing women); but some persons disapprove of this custom; and many, to avoid unnecessary expense, do not conform with it. Each neddábeh brings with her a tár (or tambourine), which is without the tinkling plates of metal that are attached to the hoops of the common tár. The neddábehs, beating their társ, exclaim several times, Alas for him!' and praise his turban. his handsome person, &c.; and the female relations, domestics, and friends of the deceased (with their tresses dishevelled, and sometimes with rent clothes), beating their own faces, cry in like manner. Alas for him!' This wailing is generally continued at least an hour." It is of course resumed at intervals. The details vary in different parts of the East, and in some places the musicians form a separate body, as they did among the Hebrews.
The custom of employing hired mourners was also in use among the Greeks and Romans, who probably borrowed it from the East. Some of the Roman usages may contribute to illustrate those of Scripture. When a person expired whom his relatives or friends wished to honour by every external testimony of grief, some mourners were called, who were stationed at the door, and who, being instructed in the leading circumstances of the life of the deceased, composed and chanted eulogies having some reference to these circumstances, but in which flattery was by no means spared. Then, when the time arrived for the body to be carried to the funeral pile, a choir of hired mourners attended, who by their bare breasts, which they often smote, their dishevelled hair, and their mournful chants, and profuse tears, moved, or sought to move, the minds of the spectators in favour of the deceased. and to compassion for his bereaved friends, whose respect for his memory their own presence indeed indicated. These women were under the direction of one who bore the title of prafica, who regulated the time and tone of their lamentations. They were attired in the black robe of mourning and affliction, called by the Romans pulla. It will be observed that, as intimated by the prophet in the next verse, a principal object of the displays of the hired mourners was to rouse the sorrow of the bereaved relatives, maintaining the excitement of affliction by enumerating the virtues and qualities of the deceased, as well as, by the same means, to excite the sympathising lamentations of those not immediately interested in the event. It needs actual observation of the gaiety or indifference which these hired mourners resume, when their service has ended, to be convinced that there was nothing sincere in the real tears which they shed, and in the “lamentation, mourning, and woe" which they pour forth in the chamber of grief, or when following the dead one to the grave.
6 Forasmuch as there is none 'like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might.
7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for 'to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.
8 But they are 'altogether 'brutish and foolish: the stock is a doctrine of vanities.
9 Silver spread into plates is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the workman, and of the hands of the founder: blue and purple is their clothing: they are all the work of cunning men.
10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an "everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
5 Psal. 86. 8, 10.
6 Rev. 15. 4.
10 Heb. God of truth. 11 Heb. king of eternity.
8 Isa. 46. 1, 7. 4 Isa. 41. 23. Hab. 2. 18. Zech. 10. 2.
12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
13 When he uttereth his voice, there is a 13multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings "with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.
14 Every man is "brutish in his knowledge every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.
15 They are vanity, and the work of errors in the time of their visitation they shall perish.
16 The portion of Jacob is not like them for he is the former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inheritance: The LORD of hosts is his name.
17 Gather up thy wares out of the land, O 18inhabitant of the fortress.
19¶ Woe is me for my hurt! my wound is grievous: but I said, Truly this is a grief, and I must bear it.
18 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them, that they may find it so.
20 My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains.
21 For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the LORD: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered.
22 Behold, the noise of the bruit is come, and a great commotion out of the "north country, to make the cities of Judah desolate, and a "den of dragons.
23 O LORD, I know that the "way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
24 O LORD, "correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.
25 "Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him, and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate.
12 Gen. 1. 1, 6. Chap. 51. 15. 13 Or, noise. 14 Or, for rain. 15 Or, is more brutish than to know. 16 Chap. 51. 17, 18.
Verse 2. "Be not dismayed at the signs of heaven."-This is generally applied to astrology; but we should rather think it to refer to those unusual natural phenomena, such as eclipses, which in the ancient superstitions certainly did "dismay the heathen," being regarded by them as the harbingers and tokens of great public calamities. Many instances of the dismay which eclipses inspired might be cited. We may quote two of them. Nicias, the Athenian general, had determined to quit Sicily with his army; but an eclipse of the moon happening at that juncture, filled him with such alarm that he lost the favourable moment. This was the occasion of his own death and the ruin of his army; and this was so unhappy a loss to the Athenians, that the decline of their state may perhaps be dated from that event. Even the army of Alexander, before the battle of Arbela, was so frightened at an eclipse of the moon, that the soldiers, deeming it a sign that the gods were displeased at the enterprise of their leader, refused to proceed on their march from the Tigris till assured by the Egyptian soothsayers that an eclipse of the moon was an omen of peculiar evil to their enemies the Persians. R. Jarchi expressly refers the present text to the terror which eclipses occasioned.
9. "Uphaz.”—This is probably the same as Ophir.
"Blue and purple is their clothing."-This of course alludes to the idol-statues, and to the custom of clothing them with real dresses of rich stuffs. This was a very ancient and general practice, which still subsists in Pagan Asia, where may be seen pagodas full of coloured images, clothed in costly manufactured stuffs and ornaments. This praetice arose in the early state of the imitative art, or rather it exemplifies imitation without art; and scarcely perhaps even imitation-being rather the repetition of a reality. Although this practice was peculiarly in Asiatic taste, and was in its origin a substitute for skilful imitation by art, we have ample evidence of its existence in Europe; and, as consecrated by antiquity and appropriated to particular idols, of its being retained and extensively displayed in Greece and Rome, even when the art of sculpture had attained its most perfect condition. Pausanias mentions numerous statues thus attired in the various cities of Greece which he visited; and there is much other testimony to the same effect. Tertullian says, that the gods and goddesses, like opulent females, had ministers particularly entrusted with the duty of arraying their images. The practice was far more general than is commonly supposed; for not only were imperfect statues, made to be dressed, thus attired, but perfect and highly-finished ones of bronze and marble. Vopiscus has an anecdote, which furnishes a very striking illustration of the present text. Sextus Julius Saturninus, a general under Probus, having been saluted as Augustus at Alexandria, and wishing to avoid this dangerous honour, retired into Palestine. But he was there also assailed by the soldiers, who extorted from him a reluctant acquiescence; when, in their haste to invest him with the ensigns of his imperial rank, they divested a statue of Venus of its purple robe, and covered with it the new emperor.
However strange this practice of clothing statues with real draperies may appear to us; there can be no doubt that it told effectively upon the minds of the undiscerning multitude, to whom the less there was of art, the more perfect was the illusion. Images so arrayed were thus adapted to impress upon their credulous minds the sense of a material existence, effective and local, in the god which was thus placed before them in a palpable form, invested with the attributes of reality and life. Thus the superstitious spirit of all idolatry concurred with the attachment
to ancient customs to keep up this usage. And a still more operative reason was found in the interest of the priests, who derived no small profits from the robes and ornaments which were lavishly offered by the devotees, and which, when they had been a little worn by the idols, became their due. It seems that, at least in some instances, the illusion was carried on so far, that the dresses of the idols were changed according to the season. Thus Pausanias mentions a brazen statue of Neptune at Elis, which was about the size of a large man, and was clad sometimes in woollen raiment, and at others in linen and byssus. There is much information in this and other matters concerning the ancient idols in the sixth chapter of the Apocryphal book of Baruch. Of the Babylonian idols it is said, "Whose gold, and silver, and garments wherewith they are clothed, they that are strong do take, neither are they able to help themselves."..."The priests also take off their garments to clothe their wives and children."..." And ye shall know them to be no gods by the bright purple that rotteth upon them" (verses 32, 58, 72). See 'Le Jupiter Ólympien,' par M. Quatrèmere de Quincy, par. 2; where this subject is fully and very ably investigated.
of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.
1 Deut. 27. 26. Gal. 3. 10. 7 Prov. 1. 28. Isa. 1. 15. Chap. 14. 12. 11 Chap. 7. 16, and 14. 11. 18 Heb. evil.
11 ¶ Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and 'though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.
12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.
13 For according to the number of thy 'cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that "shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.
14 Therefore "pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their "trouble.
15 What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? "when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.
16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.
17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.
18 And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewedst me their doings.
19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not
2 Lev. 26. 3, 12. * Deut. 7. 12. 4 Heb. Amen. 5 Or, stubbornness,
Heb. to go forth of.
15 Or, when thy evil is,
that they had devised devices against me,
20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that "triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause. 21 Therefore thus saith the LORD of the
16 Heb. the stalk with his bread. 17 1 Sam. 16. 7. 1 Chron. 23. 9.
1 Jeremiah, complaining of the wicked's prosperity, by faith seeth their ruin. 5 God admonisheth him of his brethren's treachery against him, 7 and lamenteth his heritage. 14 He promiseth to the penitent return from captivity.
Verse 13. According to the number of thy cities were thy gods."-This seems to indicate about the lowest depth of idolatry. This deplorable manifestation of the corruption of the Hebrews was evidently borrowed from their heathen neighbours, among whom there were not only certain great gods worshipped everywhere in common, but others who were honoured as the tutelary divinities of particular towns; and there was scarcely any town without one. of these idols were little known beyond the town or district in which they were specially honoured. The gods particularly selected as tutelary divinities were such as, from some cause or other, were supposed to regard the place with peculiar favour; and many were believed to have been born in the towns they protected. This practice certainly existed among all the nations bordering on Palestine; but it is best known to us as existing among the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. There are instances in Scripture of the disposition of the heathen to regard JEHOVAH as such a god as this, without allowing that the above was entitled to the general and exclusive worship of mankind. See 2 Kings xvii., and the note there.
men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand:
22 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine:
6 For even "thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacher
1 Or, let me reason the case with thee. Job 21.7.
11 Or, yelleth.
16 Levit. 26. 16.
23 And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.
18 Heb visit upon.
Psal. 7. 9. Chap 17. 10, and 20. 12. Rev. 2. 25.
ously with thee; yea, "they have called a multitude after thee: believe them not, though they speak 'fair words unto thee.
7 I have forsaken mine house, I have left mine heritage; I have given the dearly beloved of my soul into the hand of her enemies.
8 Mine heritage is unto me as a lion in the forest; it crieth out against me: therefore have I hated it.
9 Mine heritage is unto me as a "speckled bird, the birds round about are against her; "come ye, assemble all the beasts of the field, come to devour.
10 Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my "pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.
Psal. 37. 1, and 73. 3. Hab. 1. 4. 3 Heb. they go on.
4 Psal. 17.3.
after thee fully. 9 Heb. good things. 10 Heb. the love. 14 Or, cause them to come. 15 Heb. portion of desire. Micah 6. 15. Hag. 1.6.
mine evil neighbours, that touch the inheritance which I have caused my people Israel to inherit; Behold, I will pluck them out of their land, and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.
15 And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land
16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, The LORD liveth; as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built in the midst of my people.
17 But if they will not "obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the LORD.
17 Deut. 30. 3. Chap. 32. 37.
18 Isa. 60. 12.
Verse 5. "Run with the footmen," &c.-There is perhaps an allusion here to the running footmen, concerning whom an explanation has been given under 1 Sam. viii. 11, which we are now enabled to illustrate by a suitable engraving.
9. "A speckled bird."-The words (ha-ait treboa) have occasioned considerable perplexity to the interpreters of Scripture. The Seventy render it hyena" (vain), which is sanctioned by the use of the word tzeboa in the Arabic, and is followed by Bochart, Gesenius, Boothroyd, and many others. In the language of the Talmud it means a she leopard or panther. But then some difficulty arises from the fact that y, usually denotes birds of prey, and the above explanations render it necessary that it should be a beast in the present instance. This consideration operated so strongly with Dr. Blayney, that he translates, "the bird tzeboa," not professing to understand what bird the tzebon was. Jerome supposes it was the peacock, and various doubtful alternatives of speckled or spotted birds, have been suggested by others.