« PreviousContinue »
out derogation. Cræsus king of Lydia, is represented by Herodotus ", as giving the title deonoins, which is of the same import, to Cyrus king of Persia ; but it was after his kingdom was conquered by Cyrus, and when he himself was his captive, and consequently, according to the usages of those times, his slave. Before that event he would have disdained to salute any man with this compellation. Ahab king of Israel, styled Benhadad king of Syria, my lord; but it was when, through fear, he consented to surrender himself and all that he had, into his hands 14.
I am not, however, certain that the politeness of the Orientals, which, in the judgment of the Greeks, savoured of servility, did not sometimes carry them thus far : for, though no such title is found in the conversation between Solomon and the queen of Sheba'', or between Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and Ahab king of Israel 16, as related either in the First Book of Kings, or in the Second Book of Chronicles; or in the correspondence between Hiram king of Tyre and Solomon, as related in the First Book of Kings "?; yet, in the account we have of this correspondence in the Second Book of Chronicles ', which is of much later date, Hiram is represented as giving this title to both David and Solomon. Whether this ought to be considered, as merely a strain of eastern complaisance, or as an ac
13 Lib. 1. 14 i Kings, xx. 4.
15 i Kings, X. 16 1 Kings, xxii. 2 Chron. xviii. 17 1 Kings, ix. 10, &e.
18 2 Chron. ii. 14, 15.
knowledgment of subordination, a state to which many of the neighbouring princes had been reduced by those monarchs, I will not take upon me to say. But it may hold as a general truth, that when this title is found given to a man in any ancient author, particularly in Scripture, before we can judge from it of the quality of the person accosted, we must know something of the quality of the person that
It is not so with us, or in any Christian European country at present. When we find one addressed with the title of highness, or grace, or lordship, we discover his rank, without needing to know any thing of the addresser, save only, that he is not ignorant of the current forms of civility.
When we find that Mary Magdalene addresses, with the title of lord (xvple is her word "), one whom she took to be no higher than a gardener, we are apt to accuse her, in our hearts, either of flattery or of gross ignorance, to accost a man in so low a station with so high a title. But the ignorance is entirely our own, when we would vainly make our ideas, modes, and usages, a standard for other ages and nations. Mary and a gardener might, in the world's account, have been on a level in point of rank. If so, as he was a stranger to her, modesty and the laws of courtesy led her to yield to him the superiority, by giving him this respectful title. Abraham's servant was addressed in the same
1.19 John, xx. 15.
way by Rebekah, before she knew him 20. Paul and Silas, who cannot be supposed superior in figure and appearance to ordinary mechanics, were, after having been publicly stripped, beaten, imprisoned, and put in the stocks, accosted with the title xupiou lords 2, though the common translation has it sirs. But it was given by a jailor, and, it may be added, after a miraculous interposition of heaven in their favour. To satisfy us, however, that this last cir. cumstance was not necessary to entitle mean people to be addressed in this manner by those, whose condition was equally mean or meaner; we may observe that the same title xvpiɛ is given to Philip”, one of the Apostles from Bethsaida of Galilee, who was probably not above the rank of a fisherman. The
gave it were Greeks, doubtless of the lowest sort, who had come to Jerusalem to wor. ship. With us the title lord, given to one who by law or custom has no right to it, is a sort of injury to the whole order to whom the constitution of their country has given an exclusive privilege to be so denominated. With them it could effect no third person whatever, as it implied merely that the person spoken to was, by the speaker, acknowledged his superior.
It may appear to some an objection against this account of the relative import of the words adon and kyrios, that in the English Bible, we find the title lord, in one place of the sacred history, used as we
20 Gen. xxiv. 18.
21 Acts, xvi. 30.
John, xij, 21.
should use the word nobleman or grandee, for denoting a person of a certain determinate rank. Thus we are informed of a lord, on whose hand king Jehoram leaned, who is mentioned thrice under this description in the same chapter 23
. I acknowledge that, if the Hebrew word there were adon, and the Greek kyrios, it would suffice to overturn what has been here advanced in regard to the difference between the ancient use of such titles and the modern. But it is not adon and kyrios. In neither language is it a title of honour, but a mere name of office. In Hebrew it is verbong shalish, in Greek tpigatns tristatees, a word which occurs often in other places, and is never translated lord, but always captain, as it ought to have been rendered here. The Vulgate interprets it, not dominus quidam, but very properly unus de ducibus. Again, in the common version, we find mention of the king and his lords 24, precisely in the manner wherein an English historian would speak of his sovereign and the peers of the realm. But neither here is the Hebrew word adon, nor the Greek kyrios. It is 990 sharaio, in the former, and ó apXOVTES AUT8 in the latter. In the Vulgate it is rendered principes ejus, and ought to have been in English his chief men, or his principal officers. Whereas 1978 adonaio in Hebrew, ôi xuplo, auts in Greek, and domini ejus in Latin, would have meant his masters, or those whom he served, a sense quite foreign from the purpose. But though our
23 2 Kings, vii, 2. 17. 19.
24 Ezra, viii. 25,
word lords, used as in the above quotations, is not unsuitable to the English style ; it would have been better, in such instances, to conform to the Hebrew idiom, for a reason which will appear from the next paragraph. Herod is said, by our translators, to have made a supper to his lords 25. The word is ueyu5AOLV grandees.' I shall only add, that the term lords is also used in the English translation, where the corresponding words, both in Hebrew and in Greek, are names of offices equivalent to rulers, magistrates, governors of provinces. And therefore nothing can be concluded from the application of this title in the version.
$ 8. Now, with the aid of the above observations on the relative value of honorary titles among the ancients, we may discover the full force of our Saviour's argument, in regard to the dignity of the Messiah. The modern use in this particular, is so different from the ancient, that, without knowing this circumstance, and reflecting upon it, a proper apprehension of the reasoning is unattainable. I shall give the whole passage as rendered in this version . While so many Pharisees were present, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of the Messiah? Whose son should he be? They answered, David's. He replied, How then doth David, speaking by inspiration, call him his Lord? The Lord, saith he, said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make thy foes
25 Mark, vi. 21.
26 Matth. xxii. 41, &c.