Images de page
PDF
ePub

this day, travellers going from Egypt into Arabia carry butter along with them; although, indeed, it is not very tempting to the appetite, because, in consequence of the heat, it generally melts in the jars by the way. In those parts of Arabia, likewise, which the Israelites traversed, and in which they might, perhaps, have thought of settling as wandering herdsmen, scarcely any olives were produced. The oil of Palestine, on the other hand, was not only most abundant, but also peculiarly excellent; and Hasselquist prefers it even to that of Provence. By this gift of nature, stony places and mountains, which would otherwise have been barren, became not only useful, but even more productive than the best fields could be made. The only part of Palestine which Strabo, that much misquoted author, describes as unfruitful, is that about Jerusalem; and it really is so, in regard to the production of grain; but still the Jews say, that an acre about Jerusalem was formerly of much more value than in any other part of Palestine. This I should not believe on their word, if any degree of improbability attached to it; for Jewish accounts from hearsay and oral tradition have little weight with me. But as long as Palestine was properly cultivated, an acre near Jerusalem, from its produce in wine and oil, must naturally have been more profitable, than as a corn-field. We need only call to mind the Mount of Olives, which lay to the east of the city. An acre planted with olives or vines, however rocky and arid the soil may be, will very easily be made worth ten times as much as an acre of the richest corn-land. The account given by Abulfeda, in his description of Syria, confirms this statement; for he says that the country about Jerusalem is one of the most fertile in Palestine. Let us now represent to ourselves the effects of a law which enjoined that the pastry of offerings should be baked with oil, and therefore not with butter, and that to every meal-offering so much oil should be added. The priests, who, among the Hebrews, were persons of distinction by birth, were accustomed to oil-pastry; and as their entertainments were generally offering feasts, the people thus became acquainted with it. Now what people have once tasted as a luxury at a feast, and found savoury, or heard of as eaten by the great, they begin first to imitate sparingly, and then, if they can, more and more frequently in their daily meals. This was an infallible means to accustom the Israelites to oil-pastry, with which, whoever is once acquainted, will always prefer it to that made with butter. For if the oil is fresh and good it tastes much better; to which add, that as butter is very liable to spoil, it then communicates to pastry a disagreeable taste. The worst faults in cookery arise from bad butter. This is a general maxim with our German housewives, particularly in Southern Germany. The natural consequences, then, of the use of oil-pastry, as now mentioned, were, in the first place, that the olive-tree, which formed so principal a source of the riches of the new country of the Israelites, came to be more carefully cultivated, and thus its natural treasures properly improved; and in the next place, that the people at length lost their desire of returning back to Egypt. That in the time of Moses they often thought of Egypt with regret, and were even inclined to return to their ancient bondage, we know from his own accounts. Indeed, their penchant for this their ancient country was so strong and permanent, that he found it necessary to introduce into the fundamental and unalterable laws of the government as affecting the king, an express ordinance against all return to Egypt. (Deut. 17. 16.) No sooner, however, would the Israelite become rightly acquainted with the chief of nature's gifts to his new country, and accustomed to the use of wine and oil, than his longing after a country which

[ocr errors]

produced neither, would totally cease. In fact, the object which the statutes now considered most probably had in view, was so completely attained that butter was entirely disused among the Israelites. In the whole Hebrew Bible, which contains so many other household terms, we do not once find the word for butter; for the term 8 hhamah, which in Deuteronomy 32. 14; Judges 5. 25; Job 20. 17; 29. 6; Isaiah 7. 15, is commonly so translated, does not mean butter, but thick milk. It would therefore appear, that butter had been as rarely to be seen in Palestine as it now is in Spain; and that the people had made use of nothing but oil in their cookery, as being more delicious. The reason why the Septuagint has improperly rendered it butter, was this, that their Greek version was made by Egyptian Jews, who, from the want of oil in their new country, were accustomed to the use of butter only."

The first fruits of the oil were offered at the Feast of the Ingathering, or of Tabernacles, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. (Exod. 23. 16; Numb. 18. 12.) Large quantities of oil were used by the Israelites. It entered largely into their diet, vegetable oils, and especially olive oil, being preferred by them for many of the purposes in cooking to which we apply animal fats, gravies, and butter. They likewise employed it liberally in anointing their persons, for which purpose it was often perfumed; their kings, prophets, and high priests were also anointed with oil of peculiar richness and sacredness. See ANOINT; ANOINTING OIL.

The use of oil in the anointing of a person, signifies in the Scriptures the designation or inauguration of that person to some high office or dignity. This consecration with oil not only served as a form of admission to important functions, but was considered as adding a sacredness to their persons, and sometimes served as a guard against violence, in consequence of the respect attached to it. "God forbid," says David, "that I should stretch forth my hand against Saul, since he is the anointed of Jehovah." (1Sam. 24. 6.) Sometimes mere designation without unction is implied in it, as in the case of Cyrus, (Isai. 45. 1,) who was selected by God to restore Judah, and for the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem. Sometimes it is used of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as in Psalm 105. 15, “Touch not mine anointed ones," for the word is in the plural number; not as literally anointed, but as specially favoured of God, and set apart to be the heads or progenitors of a great nation. It is more eminently used as applicable to the Mediator of the New Covenant, by David, (Psalm 2. 2,) who represents Him as king of Zion; by Isaiah (61. 1,) as the proclaimer of good tidings; by Daniel (9. 25,) as making expiation for the sins of the people. And this was the substance of the Apostolic preaching, "This Jesus whom I preach unto you is Christ," or the anointed one. (Acts 17. 3.) Paul "testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ," or the anointed, (Acts 18. 5,) ..."Showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ," or the anointed. (Acts 18. 28.)

The "oil of gladness," (Psalm 45. 7,) denotes the unction of the Holy Spirit anciently typified by oil, by which unction Jesus was appointed to the offices of prophet, priest, and king. In Zechariah 4. 14, Joshua, the high-priest, and Zerubbabel, are styled the "two anointed ones," as being anointed with the Holy Spirit, and made his instruments in re-establishing the church and state of the Jews; comp. verses 6 and 12. Oil is likewise the symbol of abundance, fertility, joy, &c. (Psalm 23.5; 92. 10; 141. 5; Cantic. 1. 3; Isai. 61. 3.)

The Psalmist says, (141. 5,) “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me;

it

[blocks in formation]

shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head; for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities." In illustration of this passage, Roberts observes, "Certain oils are are said to have a most salutary effect on the head; hence in fevers, or any other complaints which affect the head, the medical men always recommend oil. I have known people who were deranged cured in a very short time by nothing more than the application of a peculiar kind of oil to the head. There are, however, other kinds, which are believed (when thus applied) to produce delirium. Thus, the reproofs of the righteous were compared to excellent oil, which produced a most salutary effect on the head. So common is this practice of anointing the head, that all who can afford it, do it every week. But strange as it may appear, the crown of the head is the place selected for chastisement. Thus owners of slaves, or husbands, or schoolmasters, beat the heads of the offenders with their knuckles. Should an urchin come late to school, or forget his lesson, the pedagogue says to some of the other boys, 'Go, beat his head. Begone, fellow! or I will beat thy head.' Should a man be thus chastised by an inferior, he quotes the old proverb, 'If my head is to be beaten, let it be done with the fingers that have rings on;' meaning a man of rank. 'Yes, yes; let a holy man smite my head; and what of that? it is an excellent oil.' 'My master has been beating my head, but it has been good oil for me.""

The Apostle James says, (5. 14,) "Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord."

Niebuhr states, that "In Yemen, the anointing of the body is believed to strengthen and protect it from the heat of the sun, by which the inhabitants of this province, as they wear so little clothing, are very liable to suffer. Oil, by closing up the pores of the skin, is supposed to prevent that too copious transpiration which enfeebles the frame; perhaps, too, these Arabians think a glistening skin a beauty. When the intense heat comes in they always anoint their bodies with oil. At Suna, all the Jews, and many of the Mohammedans, have their bodies anointed whenever they find themselves indisposed." Burder here remarks, "This in some degree explains the direction of the Apostle James, the meaning of which will be, to do that solemnly for the purpose of healing, which was often done medicinally; and, accordingly, we find Solomon, in many places in his Proverbs, speaking of administering ointment which rejoices the heart."

Riddle, in his Manual of Christian Antiquities, says, "The anointing of the sick with oil, mentioned in Mark 6. 13, and in James 5. 14,15, was altogether different in its design from the ceremony of extreme unction, as now used by the Church of Rome, which cannot be traced to an earlier date than the end of the twelfth century; nor is there any reason to suppose that the practice was intended to be continued in the Church after the cessation of those miraculous gifts which it accompanied. When the ceremony of anointing is mentioned by early Fathers or Councils, the reference is, for the most part, to the offices of baptism and confirmation. Allusion is indeed made by Pseudo-Dionysius to a practice of anointing the corpse immediately before it was lowered into the grave; but it is obvious that this does not agree with the ceremony of extreme unction, in the present acceptation of the term. In asserting the antiquity of the modern practice, its advocates have appealed to Jerome (Comment. in Marc 6), Augustine (De Visitat. Infirm. c. 4), and Chrysostom (De Sacerdot.), but it has been proved that the two former of these treatises

957

are spurious, and that the expressions of Chrysostom do not bear the sense ascribed to them. Bellarmin, abandoning that position, refers to the testimony of Innocent I., bishop of Rome, in the beginning of the fifth century; who speaks of an 'unctio infirmorum,' anointing of the sick. The Greek church practises the rite of extreme unction, corresponding in part, but not entirely, with that of Rome; grounding the usage upon the authority of oral tradition. After the twelfth century, the ceremony of extreme unction was universally adopted in the Western church; and was exalted by the scholastic writers to the dignity of a sacrament. Martene enumerates thirty different offices for extreme unction; one of which he supposes to be about nine hundred years old. On the whole, it appears that extreme unction originated in the act of anointing, which in early times was immediately connected with absolution and the Lord's Supper. These rites were often administered to dying persons; and the anointing being regarded, at first partially, but by degrees more commonly, as a separate act, was at last viewed as altogether distinct, and made a separate sacrament. Extreme unction, in the usual acceptation of the term, has therefore no place among Christian antiquities."

OIL-TREE,ry its shemen. (1Kings 6. 23, margin, Isai. 41. 19.) Gesenius says that these words refer to the wild olive-tree; and our translators, though they have "olive-tree" in the text of 1Kings 6. 23, give "trees of oil" in the margin, which may be taken as showing their opinion that it is not the common olive that is intended. See OLIVE.

OINTMENT, prokach. (Exod. 30. 25.) Perfumes are seldom, among us, made up in the form of ointment, but are chiefly in that of essence, while ointments are rather considered as medical preparations. Ointments and oils were used in Eastern countries after bathing; and as oil was the first recipient of fragrance, probably from aromatic herbs, many kinds of unguents not made of oil retained that appellation. See ALABASTER; ANOINTING.

Guests at an entertainment were anciently anointed with precious oil, or ointment. (Psalm 23. 5; 45. 7; Eccles. 9.8; Amos 6.6; Luke 7. 37, 38.) Thus we find Mary Magdalene approaching Our Lord at an entertainment, and as a mark of the highest respect and honour she could confer, breaking an alabaster vase full of the richest perfume, and pouring it on his head. It is worthy of remark, that otto of roses, which is the finest perfume imported from the East at the present day, is contained in pots or vases, with covers so firmly luted to the top, that it requires force and breaking to separate them, before the perfume can be poured out. Our Lord's vindication to Simon of the behaviour of this woman, presents us with a lively idea of the respect in those times ordinarily paid to guests on their arrival, but which marks of friendship had, it seems, been neglected by this Pharisee, at whose house Jesus Christ then was. "He turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, See thou this woman? I entered into thine house, and thou gavest me no water for my feet, but she hath washed my feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss; but this woman, since I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. Mine head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment." To this practice of anointing Solomon also alludes. (Prov. 27. 9.) The priesthood in Egypt, as one of the forms of inauguration

or admission into the sacred office, were anointed with oil, and we find from the monuments, that the oil was not simply rubbed on the head, but that it was poured profusely over the entire person. David thus alludes to this form of consecration: "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard; that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Herand as the dew that descended upon the mountains mon, of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." (Psalm 133.)

Sir John Gardner Wilkinson says, "The ointment of the ancient Egyptians was sweet-scented, and unlike the Lacedæmonians, who banished those who sold perfumed ointments from their country, the Egyptians were particularly partial to this species of luxury. It was contained sometimes in alabaster, (vide Luke 7. 37; Matt. 26. 7,) sometimes in an elegant porcelain vase; and so strong was the odour, and so perfectly were the different component substances amalgamated, that it has been known to retain its scent for several hundred years." In the Egyptian room of the British Museum may be seen numerous specimens of vases. The smaller and more elegant are supposed to have held unguents, perfumes, &c.; the larger and coarser, domestic objects, as wine, eatables, &c. The materials of which they are fabricated are chiefly basalt, serpentine, arragonite, or Oriental alabaster, various kinds of clays baked, a thoroughly vitrefied brilliant porcelain, and glazed terra

cotta.

Sir John Gardner Wilkinson, in another place, observes, "Many vegetable productions were encouraged in Egypt for the sake of their oil, for making ointments, or for medicinal purposes." Speaking of some ointment preserved in a vase at Alnwick castle, he remarks, “I have lately received some observations upon it by Dr. Ure, who says, 'In consistence, this unguent is intermediate between tallow and hog's lard. It has an orange-yellow colour. Its specific gravity is 0·991; and this density would seem to indicate the presence of rosin. It gives a greasy stain on paper, not removable by heat. It is soluble in hot oil of turpentine, and in hot alcohol, but it precipitates from the latter in the cold. From these results I am of opinion, that it is of the nature of a fixed fat, which may have been flavoured with an essence or volatile oil; but it does not belong to the class of stearopteries, like otto of rose, or the precious Oriental perfumes.'

"Previous to the mummy being lowered into the pit of the tomb, it was anointed, oil or ointment being poured over its head. Sometimes several priests attended. One carried a napkin over his shoulder, to be used after the anointing of the mummy; another brought a papyrus-roll, containing a prayer, or the usual ritual deposited in the tombs with the dead."

Ointments were in great esteem and constant use among the ancients, as the means of cleanliness, and to give a grateful odour these ointments were mixed up with the richest perfumes. At their festivals, especially among the rich, they used them for the refreshment of their guests, and to render the entertainment more acceptable and delightful. In Hindostan, it is said, when a person of rank and opulence receives a guest, whom he wishes to distinguish by particular marks of regard, he pours upon his hands and arms, in the presence of the whole company, a delightful odoriferous perfume. Roberts likewise says, "On all joyful occasions, the people of the East anoint the head with oil. Hence at their marriages, and the festive times, the young and old may be seen with their long black tresses neatly

[ocr errors][merged small]

OLD AGE. This is promised as a blessing by God to those who maintain obedience to his commands. The greatest respect was paid among the ancients generally to old age, as we learn from various allusions in the Book of Job, Proverbs, &c. It was thought a great blessing to " come to the grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season;" (Job 5. 26;) and Roberts says, "Great is the desire of the men of the East to see a good old age. Thus the beggars, when relieved, often bless you and say, 'Ah! my lord, may you live a thousand years.' 'Live, live, till the shakings of age.'

OLD TESTAMENT.

The books which the Jews have long venerated as Divine are usually called "The Old Testament," in order to distinguish them from those sacred books which contain the doctrines, precepts, and promises of the Christian religion, and which are distinguished by the appellation of the "The New Testament.” The appellation of "Testament" is derived from 200rinthians 3. 6,14; in which the words Пaλaia Aiaθηκη, and ἡ Καινη Διαθηκη, are by the old Latin translators rendered Antiquum Testamentum and Novum Testamentum, Old and New Testament, instead of antiquum fœdus and novum fœdus, the old and new covenant; for although the Greek word 4a0nen signifies both Testament and covenant, yet it uniformly corresponds with the Hebrew word berith, which signifies a covenant." The term "old covenant," however, used by St. Paul in 2Corinthians 3. 14, does not denote the entire collection of writings which we term the Bible, but those ancient institutions, promises, threatenings, and, in short, the whole of the Mosaic dispensation, related in the Pentateuch, and in the writings of the Prophets; and which, in process of time, were, by a metonymy, transferred to the books themselves. Thus we find mention made of the book of the covenant, in Exodus 24. 7, and in the apocryphal book of Maccabees, (1Macc. 1. 57;) and after the example of the Apostle, the same mode of designating the sacred writings obtained among the first Christians, from whom it has been transmitted to modern times.

[ocr errors]

13

Some infidel writers, unable to resist the testimony which the books of the Old Testament afford to the truth of Christianity, have resorted to the shallow artifice of denouncing them as forgeries; which gives rise to the inquiry, By whom could they possibly have been forged? That the Christians have not forged them is obvious enough, as there is indisputable evidence that they were in existence long before the Christian æra; and as regards the Jews, the answer is equally satisfactory. Were a person brought before a court of justice on a suspicion of forgery, and yet no presumptive or positive evidence of his guilt could be produced, it would be allowed by all that he ought to be acquitted; and what shadow of evidence has infidel ingenuity ever brought to light on this point? All the probabilities of the case point the other way. If a Jew had forged any book of the Old Testament, he must have been impelled to so bold and dangerous an enterprise by some very powerful motive. It could not be national pride, for there is scarcely one of these books which does not severely censure the national

OLD TESTAMENT

manners; it could not be the love of fame, for that passion would have taught him to flatter and extol the national character; the love of wealth could not produce such a forgery, for no wealth was to be gained by it.

But beside all this, the authors of most of these books and the periods in which they lived are well known, and as regards those which labour under any degree of uncertainty, we have the clearest evidence that not one of them was written later than the fifth century before the Christian æra.

The Old Testament, according to our Bibles, comprises thirty-nine books, namely: the Pentateuch, or Five Books of Moses, the Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, two Books of Samuel, two Books of Kings, two Books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Solomon, the Prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, with his Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. But, among the ancient Jews, they formed only twenty-two books, according to the letters of their alphabet, which were twenty-two in number; reckoning Judges and Ruth, Ezra and Nehemiah, Jeremiah and his Lamentations, and the twelve minor prophets, respectively as one Book. It is unnecessary here to enter upon any inquiry respecting the authors of these books, as that will be found under the several names as they occur in the alphabetical series.

The uniform belief of all Christians, from the commencement of Christianity to the present time, has been that the books above enumerated constituted the whole of the Old Testament; and the catalogues of them, which were formed by the author of the Synopsis attributed to Athanasius, by Epiphanius, and Jerome, (towards the close of the fourth century,) by Origen, (in the middle of the third century,) and Mileto, bishop of Sardis, (towards the close of the second century,) all agree with the above enumeration. To these may be added, the testimonies of the Greek translators of the Old Testament, Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus, who lived towards the close of the second century, and that of the Peschito or old Syriac version, executed very early in the second, if not at the close of the first century of the Christian æra. Here the Jewish testimonies join ours. We need not enter here into any details concerning the several Targums, or Chaldee Paraphrases, on various parts of the Old Testament, which were compiled between the third and ninth centuries of the Christian æra, nor the Jerusalem and Babylonish Talmuds or Commentaries upon the Mishna, as they will be found discussed under the respective names.

Two hundred and eighty-two years before the Christian æra, the Greek version of the Old Testament, usually called the Septuagint was executed at Alexandria, the books of which are the same as in our Bible: whence it is evident that we still have those identical books, which the most ancient Jews attested to be genuine,—a benefit this, which has not happened to any ancient profane books whatever; indeed, as no authentic books of a more ancient date, except those of the Old Testament, are extant, it is impossible to ascend higher in search of testimony. See SEPTUAGINT.

With reference to the genuineness and authenticity of the Old Testament, and the language in which it is written, Bishop Marsh observes, "It is an undeniable fact, that the Hebrew ceased to be the living language of the Jews soon after the Babylonish captivity, and that the Jewish productions after that period were, in general, either Chaldee or Greek. The Jews of Palestine, some ages before the appearance of Our Saviour, were unable

-OLIVE-TREE.

959 to comprehend the Hebrew original without the assistance of a Chaldee paraphrase; and it was necessary to undertake a Greek translation, because that language alone was known to the Jews of Alexandria. It necessarily follows, therefore, that every book which is written in pure Hebrew, was composed either before or about the time of the Babylonish captivity. This being admitted, we may advance a step further, and contend that the period which elapsed between the composition of the most ancient and the most modern book of the Old Testament was very considerable; or, in other words, that the most ancient books of the Old Testament were written a length of ages prior to the Babylonish captivity. No language continues during many centuries in the same state of cultivation, and the Hebrew, like other tongues, passed through the several stages of infancy, youth, manhood, and old age. If therefore, on comparison, the several parts of the Hebrew Bible are found to differ, not only in regard to style, but also in regard to character and cultivation of language; if one discovers the golden, another the silver, a third the brazen, a fourth the iron age, we have strong internal marks of their having been composed at different and distant periods. No classical scholar, independently of the Grecian history, would believe that the poems ascribed to Homer were written in the age of Demosthenes, the orations of Demosthenes in the time of Origen, or the commentaries of Origen in the days of Lascaris and Chrysoloras. For the very same reason it is certain that the five books, which are ascribed to Moses, were not written in the time of David, the Psalms of David in the age of Isaiah, nor the prophecies of Isaiah in the time of Malachi. But it appears from what has been said above, in regard to the extinction of the Hebrew language, that the Book of Malachi could not have been written much later than the Babylonish captivity; before that period, therefore, were written the prophecies of Isaiah, still earlier the Psalms of David, and much earlier than these the books which are ascribed to Moses."

We have every possible evidence, says the same learned writer, that "the genuine text of the Pentateuch proceeded from the hands of Moses; and the various charges that have been brought against it amount to nothing more than this, that it has not descended to the present age without some few alterations; a circumstance at which we ought not to be surprised, when we reflect on the many thousands of transcripts that have been made from it in the course of three thousand years." The authority of the Pentateuch being established, that of the other books of the Old Testament follows as a matter of course: so great is their mutual and immediate dependence upon each other. BIBLE; CANON; PENTATEUCH.

See

OLIVE-TREE, zaith, (Judges 9. 9;) eλata. (Matt. 21. 1; Rom. 11. 17,24.) The olive-tree, Olea Europea, a very common tree in the countries around the Mediterranean, rarely attains any great size, but two or three stems frequently rise from the same root, from twenty to thirty feet high, putting out branches almost their whole length covered with a gray bark. Tournefort mentions eighteen kinds of olives; but in the Scripture we only read of the cultivated and wild olive. The cultivated olive is of a moderate height, and thrives best in a sunny and warm soil. Its trunk is knotty, its wood is solid, and yellowish; its leaves are oblong, and almost like those of the willow, of a dark green colour on the upper side, and a whitish below. In the month of June it puts forth white flowers, growing in bunches,

[graphic][merged small]

of the earth was announced to Noah through the same token.

In the Scriptures we read of "olive yards" as very common possessions. (1Sam. 8. 14.) The more extensive plantations seem to have been "in the low plains," (1Chron. 27. 28;) but olives were likewise grown on the hills, as the mere name, the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem, would indicate. They were also grown on Mount Carmel. It was from the trees that grew on Mount Olivet that the Israelites obtained the olive branches, which, with those of other trees, they employed at the Feast of Tabernacles. (Nehem. 8. 15.)

each of one piece, and widening toward the top, and dividing into four parts. To this flower succeeds the fruit, which is oblong and plump. It is first green, then pale, and, when quite ripe, becomes black. Within it is inclosed a hard stone, filled with oblong seeds. This tree grows in all parts of Palestine, on both sides of the Jordan, in Galilee, in Samaria, in Judæa, and all along the coast. The notices of travellers give to the olivetree the same prominence in Palestine which is given to it by the Scriptures. The references to vines, figtrees, mulberries, and oaks, rank next in frequency; the references to none of these are more than half as numerous as those to the olive-tree. Olives and figs are with Professor Robinson, in his Biblical Researches, states great frequency mentioned together. Olive-trees are that on going from Jerusalem to Gaza, not far beyond now, as anciently, abundant and fruitful; and the culture the village of Beit-Hunem, "We came upon the imof them continues to form a particular object of atten- mense olive-groves which stretch far to the north of tion. The expression, "Oil out of the flinty rock," Gaza. At four o'clock we fell into the Yafa road, at (Deut. 32. 13,) plainly denotes that this most valuable the line of hills which bounds the plain on the west tree grew not only in rich land, but that even the tops towards the coast. The road here crosses these hills at of the rocks would afford them sufficient support, from a low spot or gap, and continues along their western which they should extract abundance of oil. Accord-side, on a course south-west, having on the right a tract ingly we are informed that although the immediate of drifts, and hills of white sand, extending to the sea, vicinity of Jerusalem is rugged and unpromising, yet here an hour distant. These sands seem only to need even there the olive and vine might thrive under proper water in order to become fertile; even now they are studded with trees and bushes like hedges, apparently from the effect of the rains alone. For the whole distance from the gap of the hills to Gaza, the road passes through a vast grove of olive-trees, not only very numerous, but also large and productive. Many of them are upon the sands. It is said to be the largest olive-grove in Palestine. We saw but a single one more extensive, and that was near Beirût."

culture.

"The olive-tree," Mr. Robinson observes, "flourishes two hundred years before it begins to decay; and even while it is living young trees spring up around it which occupy its place when dead." After the devastation of a country by hostile invasion, and the consequent neglect of its culture, no plantation requires a longer period to restore its previously flourishing condition than the olive grove; and this tree may, therefore, have been appropriately selected as the representative of peace. There is, however, reason to suppose that its emblematic character did not originate in Greece; but that it dated from a far more remote period, when the habitable state

There appears to have been figures of olive-trees in the Temple, (Zech. 4. 3;) and the door-posts, as well as the images of the cherubim, were made of olivewood. We learn from Romans 11. 17,24, that olivetrees were grafted. Professor Jahn says the oleaster,

« PrécédentContinuer »