Page images

times of its first destroyers. It was, in fact, a work of ages to bring Babylon to that scene of desolation described in the prophecy. The diverting of the waters of the Euphrates, when Cyrus besieged the city, which were never afterwards properly restored to their former channel, is mentioned by historians as an irreparable damage to the city and country; and as reducing many parts to the condition of stagặant pools, and extensive morasses. In the reign of Alexander the Great, however, Babylon was still an inhabited city. The prophecy had not then been fulfilled. But between that period and the commencement of the Christian era, the destruction seems to have gone on fast; for Strabo, who wrote about that time, speaks of it as having become a desert.

Travellers were, for some time, almost at a loss to find where “ the great Babylon” had stood; and it is among the wonders of our own times, that the ruins of this “ glory of kingdoms” should be developed in the very state in which the prophet describes them. “ The appellation of ruins, in its proper sense,” we read in a recent publication, * “ cannot be applied to the present ruins of Babylon, which consists almost wholly of bricks, fragments, and rubbish; piled, as it were, in masses, and serving for the construction of new cities.” In this condition, nevertheless, they have deservedly attracted the attention of modern travellers; and interesting notices have been given by Della Vella, Niebuhr, Ives, Otter, and Beauchamp. But the recent observations of Mr. Rich,+ enlightened by the previous inquiries of Major Rennell, have been so much more carc

* Encyclopedia Brit. Sup. + Meinoirs of the Ruins of Babylon, by Claudius Rich, Esq. London,


ful and complete, that they nearly supersede all prior information. Mr. Rich, speaking of part of these ruins, describes them as “heaps of rubbish, vitrified brick, and even shells, bits of glass, and mother of pearl.” “ There are many dens,” he says, “ of wild beasts in this part of the ruins; and most of the cavities are filled with bats and owls.” Babylon is now, therefore, in the condition foretold by this prophecy: and it is with Babylon desolated thus, as we at this day behold her, and not with the taking of the city by the Medes and Persians, that the following part of the wonderful prediction is connected :

22. And now' her time draws near,

And her days shall not be prolonged. It will be asked, To what does the feminine pronoun here refer? Clearly not to Babylon; for what concerns her in the prophecy was not near; her days of desolation were to be “ drawn out" for many generations. It is, then, to the remnant of the fourteenth verse that this must be applied : and prophecy connects the time of Zion's mercy, not with the taking of the city by the Medes and Persians, but with the desolation of Babylon completed, as we behold it at this day:

And now her time draws near,
And her days shall not be prolonged,
1. When Jehovah will have pity upon Jacob,

And shall again look with regard on Israel,
And shall cause them to rest on their own land. *

. Observe, it is Jacob and Israel that are said to be the object of mercy -" to find rest on their land." This

* Chap. xiv.

could not be fulfilled by the restoration of a small number of the remnant of Judah only, as at the restoration, when Cyrus had taken the city of Babylon. And as little does what follows agree with the circumstances of that remnant, in the city they built after the captivity.

And the stranger shall be joined to them,

And shall cleave to the house of Jacob; 2. And the nations shall take them,

And shall bring them to their place :
And the house of Israel shall inherit them;
Upon the land of Jehovah “ shall they be"
For servants and for handmaids :
And they shall lead them captive whose captives they were,
And they shall subdue their oppressors.

What will be the scenes of Israel's prosperity, in the days to come, which will answer to this prediction, it is not so easy to say, as it is to affirm, that it relates to nothing which has yet taken place.

The “Mashal” “parable,” or “ song of triumph," which follows, must be understood, as to the circumstances of its application, with the same latitude of interpretation as the prophecy to which it is annexed. If the prophecy received not its full accomplishment at the time of Judah's restoration from the Babylonian captivity, neither are we to suppose, that this song of triumph is to be confined to the literal Babylon and its fallen head. But we know, from a comparison of other Scriptures, that the last great enemy of Israel, and of the church of God, is “spiritually called Babylon :" no doubt, in reference to these Scriptures, where the fall of this ancient enemy of the Jews is made to stand as a type of the fall of that last enemy, and

is celebrated in a language, that may form a song of anticipated triumph of future deliverance. It is in this point of view that the following song falls within the

present work:

scope of the

4. How hath the oppressor ceased!

Ceased the spoiler!' 5. Jehovah hath broken the staff of the wicked,

The sceptre of the rulers.
6. The stroke on him, that struck the nations in his anger,

Is without intermission;
He that trampled the nations in his wrath,

Is chased, and none hindereth.
7. The whole earth resteth and is in quiet,

They shout for joy;
The fir trees also rejoice over thee,

The cedars of Lebanon :
8. « Since thou hast fallen, there hath come up

No feller against us."
9. Hades below is in motion for thee,

To greet thy coming:
Rousing for thee the souls of the deceased,


All the leaders of the earth :
Making to rise from their seats

All the kings of the nations.
10. These all will accost thee, and say to thee:

“ Hast thou too failed as well as we,

Art thou become like us?

1 "Spolia agens," à rad. voj 277, abegit, abstulit, scil. prædam. SCHULTENS.

O'xs), mortui, qui vivere desierent. Manes (proprie faccidi) ad inferos ainandati vel orco clami.

3 Literally “ all the be-goats of the earth;" in allusion, no doubt, to the manner in which these animals are accustomed to march like chiefs or leaders before the flock. “Dux gregis ipse caper."

11. Thy pomp is led down to Hades,

The music of thy viols ;
Thy mattress the maggot' has spread,

The worm thy covering !
12. How hast thou fallen from the skies,

Lucifer, son of the morning?
How art thou cast prostrate on the earth,

Among the nations ?
13. But thou saidst in thine heart,

I will ascend the heavens ;
Above the stars of God,
I will raise


throne: I will sit on the mount of the testimony,

'Thus explained, it has been supposed to refer to the Chaldean notion of the local station of the divine throne; but I rather adopt the interpretation of Bishop Lowth and others; referring it to the sanctuary on Mount Zion,—the prophecy having in its view, what that chosen spot of divine revelation is one day to become. In the opening of the forty-eighth psalm we have also the same expression : “ Sides of the north,”

“ the northern quarters ;” and it is found in the same connexion. “ The hill of Zion, with the northern quarters, is the city of the great King. God is in her towers, he is made known as a defence." From Ezek. vii. 22, we may, bowever, argue that by means the secret place of a sanctuary.


In the recesses of the sanctuary: :



0729 I render maggot, to distinguish it from my bun, which is the red-coloured of the soil. The non appears to be that which breeds in the putrid corpse : compare computruit, cariosus evasit.

? The greater part of interpreters follow the Septuagint, in supposing 55 to be a term denoting the morning star. Michaelis, however, could render “Howl, son of the morning :” others compose the term of bob and 57, i. e. splendor noctis. Sim. Lex. Heb.

3 Or, “ In the northern quar-

mons conventus deorum septentrionalis sub ipso

.” quoad sensum interiora alicujus

. , plaga septentrionis." See Simon.

הר מועד ",ters


ירכה " .polo arctico stellaque polari

,ירכתי צפון.

.res designat


« PreviousContinue »