« PreviousContinue »
For JANUARY, 1783.
ART. I. Poetical Parts of the Old Teftament, newly tranflated from the Hebrew. With Notes Critical and Explanatory. By William Green, M. A. Rector of Hardingham in Norfolk, and formerly. Fellow of Clare-Hall in Cambridge. 4to. 6s, fewed. Dodsley. 1781.
HE learned and ingenious Author purfues the track of Dr. Hare with refpect to the metre of the original Hebrew; and is fo firmly perfuaded of the truth of the Bishop's hypothefis, that he doubts not but that the Hebrew text, if we had it as perfect as when it came out of the hands of the compofers, would as readily fall into that metre, as the Æneid of Virgil, printed as profe, would fall into hexameters. We think, however, that this affertion is too unqualified and we confider the bypothefis on which it is founded too dangerous to be admitted; because in all places where the metre according to the fuppofed ftructure of it in Dr. Hare's fcheme of Hebrew poetry is imperfect, it is left to mere arbitrary conjecture to fupply the deficiency. -Mr. Green, however, confiders this matter in an oppofite point of view; and argues its utility from what we look on as its uncertainty and danger. In fome inftances, fays he, the metre points out the corruption of the text, and at the fame time the way to reftore it.' Our Author's opinion of the collection of Hebrew MSS. will appear from the following declarations: In the few places I have confulted them, I must own they have not afforded me the fatisfaction I expected from them. They have, however, done one thing most effectually, which is worth all the thousands they have coft the Public in collating them; that is, they have delivered us from the fhackles of the Hebrew verity. And though they may not answer the VOL. LXVIII. B
high expectations we may have formed of them, yet we may hope fome genius may arife, who will ftrike out fuch elucidations of Scripture from them, as are in vain to be expected from the present text.' A large field, however, is, in our Author's opinion, ftill left for conjectural criticism; for, as to the omiffion of claufes or. periods, or the tranfpofition of them, this is not, he imagines, to be expected from the MSS.' His meaning is, that defects of this fort cannot be rectified by collation; they must be. fupplied by conjecture. As a specimen of our Author's talent in this line, we will present our Readers with the following remarks on a text in Ifaiah, where an omiffion is fuppofed, and which he ventures to fupply by this mode of criticism:.
• In fatah i. 21. the text ftands thus:
How is the faithful city become a harlot ?
. It was full of judgment, righteoufnefs lodged in it;
In my judgment two words have been dropped here by the tranfcriber. Thefe, which I take to have been Maleah Damim, filled with bloodshed, I fupply from the context, ver. 15. If these be admitted, the tranflation will run thus:
How is the faithful city become a harlot ?
How is fhe, that was full of judgment, filled with bloodshed?
If the two words have been omitted, the parallelifm of the two first
The subjects difcuffed in this volume are curious and interefting in a very high degree, as will appear from the following enumeration of their contents:
The fpeech of Lamech to his two wives.-The last prophetic words of Noah to his three fons.-The laft prophetic words of Ifaac to his two fons.-The laft prophetic words of Jacob to his twelve fons.-The Song of Mofes upon the deftruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea.-A Song of the Ifraelites upon Jehovah's giving them water in the Wilderness (Numb. xxi. 17, 18.)—The Song of the Amorite Bard upon the conqueft of Hefhbon (fame chapter).-The prophetic Parables of Balaam.-The Admonitory Song of Mofes to the Ifraelites (Deut. xxxii.)—The laft prophetic words of Mofes to the Twelve Tribes (chap. xxxiii.)-The Song of Deborah.-The Thanksgiving of Hannah on the birth of Samuel.-The Lamentations of David over Saul and Jonathan.-The Lamentation of David over Abner.-The laft prophetic words of David.' -The Song of Solomon.-The Admonitory Song of Isaiah to the Ifraelites (Ifa. v.)—A Thanksgiving (Ísa. xiii. 1—6.)—A Parable, or Triumphant Song, of the Jews, on the fall of the King of Babylon their oppreffor (Ifa. xiv. 3—20.)— A Song of Praife
Praife (Ifa. xxv. 1—6.)—A Thanksgiving to be fung by the Jews on their return from captivity (Ifa. xxvi. 1-20.)-A Parable representing Ifrael under the image of a vineyard (Ifa. xxvii. 2—6.)—Hezekiah's Song.-The Lamentations of Jeremiah.—The Thanksgiving of Jonah (ch. ii.)—A Parable to be pronounced against the King of Babylon by the nation which he had pillaged and enflaved (Hab. ii. 5. to the end.)—The Prayer of Habakkuk (chap. iii.)
In the tranflation of these beautiful parts of facred poetry, and in the notes which are adjoined to the tranflation, to clear up their difficulties or illuftrate their meaning, the Author hath discovered much ingenuity, and no inconfiderable share of fagacity and learning.
Mr. Green hath the following very juft and pertinent remarks on the speech of Lamech to his two wives, Adah and Zillah :
Lamech acknowledges that he had killed a man; but he avers, it was in his own defence; and argues thus upon it—" If Cain's death, who murdered his brother for no offence, fhould, as God affured him (in Genefis iv. 5.), be avenged feven-fold; furely Lamech's death, who flew an aggreffor in felf-defence, fhall be avenged seventy times feven." Lamech's wives, it feems, had the fame apprehenfions for their husband which Cain had for himself, when he had murdered a brother; namely, that every one who met him would kill him; or at leaft, that the relations of the man whom he had flain would avenge his death. Cain had a fign given from heaven, that is, a miracle wrought for him (Gen. iv. 15.) to quiet his fears. To quiet his wives, Lamech was forced to have recourse to an argument, founded on that fact. To quiet their apprehenfions must have been the occas fion of this famous fpeech.'
The following is our Author's translation of the last prophetie words of David, 2 Sam. xxiii. 1-8.
• I. Now these were the last words of David.
David, the fon of Jeffe, faith,
Even the man who was raised on high, faith,
II. The Spirit of Jehovah speaketh by me,
Even to me doth the Rock of Ifrael speak.
IV. As the light of the morning fun fhall rife,
When the tender grafs after rain fpringeth out of the eartha
Yea, he hath made with me an everlasting covenant,
Surely in him is all my falvation and all my delight.
VI. Doubtless the wicked fhall not flourish;
Shall be armed with iron, and the ftaff of a fpear,
We fhall present our Readers with the Author's Critical and Explanatory Notes at large, leaving it to the learned to determine how far they tend to fupport his hypothefis; and how far the Author is qualified to contend with fo profound a scholar in biblical learning as the eminent Prelate whom he hath ventured to attack on a controverted paffage in Ifaiah.
Period 18.] The learned feem now to be agreed, that this illuftrious prophecy, introduced in fo magnificent a manner, is to be understood of Chrift's fpiritual kingdom, and his final triumph over the enemies of it. The beginning of its accomplishment may properly be dated from his entrance upon his mediatorial office; it was yet farther fulfilled upon the establishment of Chriftianity by the civil powers; but when the time fhall be of its perfect completion, is yet a fecret in the hands of God.
The royal Pfalmift, when the fpirit of prophecy was most strongly upon him, probably juft before his death, being favoured by God with a clearer and more distinct revelation of this great and wonderful event, begins firft with expreffing the deep fenfe he had of the Divine goodness, in this gracious and comfortable communication to him, and of the certainty and powerfulness of the infpiration he was under. In per. 1. this peculiar grace and favour is heightened from a confideration-of the perfon infpired; one whom, from obfcure parentage and low condition, God had exalted to be King over his. chofen people, and made him an inflrument of establishing, or at leaft of improving, the most delightful part of his religious worship: and in per. 2.-of the author of the infpiration, the Lord Jehovahthe God and Rock of Ifrael-whofe powerful impulfe is expreffed by a repetition of the words, He faith, he Speaketh, and His word is upon my tongue.
After this magnificent introduction he breaks out into a kind of tranfport of joy and admiration at the prospect before him:
The JUST ONE ruleth over man!
In per. 4. he defcribes the fpiritual and glorious effects of this dominion; at per. 5. his firm affurance of its perpetuity, and of the defignation of it to a perfon of his own houfe and lineage; with a lively declaration of the delight and comfort which this affurance gave him. In per. 6. and 7. he gives a fhort but dreadful reprefentaion of the condition of the wicked, and of the everlasting vengeance which awaits them at that terrible day, when the wheat shall be gathered into his garner, and the chaff thall be burned with fire unquenchable.
Per. 1. Who was raised on bigh] This cannot be better explained than from: Pf. Ixxviii. 70.-The conftruction would be more natural, if, by a change of the vowels, we read hekim yal, instead of bukam, the man whom the Moft High hath raifed up. In this fenfe it is used in Jer. xxx. 9.
Ibid. Sweet Pfalmift] This title feems most eminently to belong to David, not only as he composed most of the Pfalms, but established the mufic fervice of the Temple.
Per. 3. The JUST ONE.] This is the first time that we meet with the Meffiah under this title. The evangelical prophet adopts it, and gives us an infight into his office, as the Juftifier of the ungodly, Ifa. liii. 12.
By the knowledge of him fhall the Juft One, my fervant, justify
For he shall bear their iniquities.
Our tranflators, not knowing this to be a title of the Messiah, though it is ufed as fuch, A&ts iii. 14. vii. 52. xxii. 14. James v. 6. 1 Pet. iii. 18. have made it an adjective to the fubftantive following, rendering it, my righteous fervant. But they ought to have known that, in Hebrew, the adjective always follows the fubftantive; and would have fet them right.-The Bishop of London, in his tranflation of this paffage of Ifaiah, omits this title of the Meffiah, alleging, that it makes the hemiftic too long, and that two or three MSS. omit it. As to the hemiftic, this title confiits but of two fyllables; and it muft require a nice difcernment, to fay a hemiftic is too long or too fhort by two fyllables: and as this title is of fuch importance as to be the fubject of David's laft prophetic words, and is frequently mentioned in the New Teftament, if thirty or forty MSS. had omitted it, I fhould not regard them; especially as it is ufed here with the utmoft propriety, where the prophet is fpeaking of Jefus in the very act of juftifying, by bearing our iniquities; to fay nothing of the beauty of the figure, the Just One fhall jurify.
As I published four years ago a tranflation of the 53d of Isaiah, I will take this opportunity to fay a word or two in fupport of it.The prophet begins this fubject at the 13th per. of the lii. The two next periods are plainly oppofed to each other. The LXX, found that oppofition in the copy they tranflated from. And this has induced men of the greateft eminence for learning, Grotius, Le Clerc, Bishop Chandler, Archbishop Secker, Dr. Grey, Dr. Durel, Bishop Lowth, and Dr. Jubb, who could never find in the prefent text the apodofis of the oppofition in per. 15. to wish to fee it restored. Now, if the Greek tranflators of Ifaiah rendered the fame Hebrew word by the fame Greek word, I have pointed out the very word which they found out in their copy (See my Note). This word fuits the place, while the prefent reading makes little better than nonfense of it. Admitting the LXX.'s reading to be the true one, there arifes this plain fenfe and oppofition
As, on the one hand, many (the Jews) shall be astonished at the fight of him:
Becaufe his appearance will be meaner than that of a man of rank,
So, on the other hand, many nations (the Gentiles) fhall furvey
And Kings that their mouths out of surprise;
Because they shall fee him, of whom they never had been told;