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THE TARGUM ON CANTICLES,
The Targum, or Chaldee Paraphrase on Solomon's Song, having been alluded to by Dr. Smith, the following specimen of it is offered for insertion.
Chap. i. ver. 1. The Song of Songs, which is Solomon's.—Songs and praises, which Solomon spake, the prophet, the king of Israel, by the spirit of prophesy, before Jehovah, the Lord of all the world. Ten songs were uttered in that age; and this song is to be praised before them all. The song of Adam, in the day in which his sins were forgiven him; and the sabbath-day came and defended him : he opened his mouth and said, “ the Psalm, a song for the sabbathday."* The second song spake Moses, with the sons of Israel, in the time when the Lord of the world divided for them the weedy sea; they all opened (their mouth) and spake, as one man, the song: as it is written, “ then sang Moses and the sons of Israel.” The third song spake the sons of Israel, in the time when there was given to them the well of water; as it is written, " then sang Israel.” The fourth song spake Moses, the prophet, when his time came to be dismissed from this world ; and he reproved in it the people of the house of Israel; as it is written, “ hear, O heavens, and I will speak." The fifth song spake Joshna, the son of Nun, when he waged war in Gibeon, and the sun and the moon stood still for him thirty-six kours, and they failed to utter a song; and he opened his mouth, and uttered a song; as it is written, “then sang Joshua before the Lord.” The sixth song spake Barak and Deborah, in the day when the Lord delivered Sisera and his host into the hands of the sons of Israel; as it is written, “then sang Deborah and Barak, the son of Abinoam.” The seventh song sang Hannah, in the time when a son was given her, from the presence of the Lord; as it is written, “and Hannah prayed by prophecy, and spake.” The eighth song spake David king of Israel, concerning all the deliverances which the Lord had wrought for him ; he opened his mouth and spake a song, as it is written, " and David sang, by prophecy, before the Lord.” The ninth song spake Solomon, king of Israel, by the Holy Spirit, before Jehovah, Lord of the whole world. And the tenth song, the sons of the captivity are to sing, when they shall go forth from captivity, as it is written and declared by the hand of Isaiah, the prophet; for so it is written, “ this song shall be to you for joy, as in the night in which the feast of the Passover was celebrated, and joy of heart as of a people who are going to appear before the Lord, three times a year, with instruments of song, and the sound of the cornet, to enter to the mount of the Lord, and to serve before the mighty one of Israel.”
Ver. 2.-"Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for thy love is better than wine.” Thus spake Solomon, the prophet, oblessed
* See the title to Psalm xcii.
be the name of Jehovah, who has given to us the law, by the hand of Moses, the great scribe, written on two tables of stone; and the six divisions of the Mishna and the Talmud, with the explanation, and has spoken with us, face to face, as a man who kisses his fellow, for the exceeding greatness of the love with which he loved us more than seventy nations.
Ver. 3.-“Because of the savour of thy good ointments : thy name is as ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee.”
At the sound of thy miracles, and the might which thou hast exercised for the people, the house of Israel, all the nations were agitated, who heard the report of thy might, and the good signs : and thy holy name was heard in all the earth, which is more choice than the great unction that abounded on the heads of kings and priests; and therefore the righteous love to walk after the way of thy goodness, that they may possess this world and that which is to come.
Ver. 4.-"Draw me; we will run after thee; the king hath brought me into his chambers; we will be glad and rejoice in thee; we will remember thy love more than wine; the upright love thee."
When the people of the honse of Israel went forth from Egypt, the Shechinah of the Lord of the world marched before them, in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night; the righteous of that generation said, “ Lord of all the world, draw us after thee, and we will run after the way of thy goodness; and bring us to the foot of Mount Sinai, and give us thy law from the house of the treasury of the firmament: and we will delight and exult in the twenty-two characters in which it is written, and we will remember them, and love thy deity, and we will remove from the idols of the nations; and all the righteous who do what is right before thee, love thy precepts."
Ver. 5. “ I am black, but comely, ( ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon."
When the house of Israel made the calf, their faces became black as the sons of Ethiopia, who dwell in the tents of Kedar; and when they repented, and their sin was remitted to them, the splendour of the glory of their countenance was multiplied like that of angels, for they made the curtains of the tabernacle and the slechinah of Jehovah dwelt among them, and Moses their master ascended to the firmament, and gave peace between them and their King.
In the preceding paraphrase the reader will perceive the esprit de corps of the synagogue. This is one of the uses of cultivating the knowledge of languages, that, in acquiring these, we necessarily catch the spirit and manners of the people whose literature we read in the originals. Though the Jews are dwelling among all nations, when intimately known, they are found to have a marked peculiarity of spirit and taste, which shows the fulfilment of God's decree, that they should never truly amalgamate with the nations.
The specimen of a Targum which we have given must strike every one as peculiar, and may seem at first sight to be in opposition to the Christian opinion of the meaning of the Song. But as the difference of interpretation between Jews and Christians here is not greater than on other books; so, when examined more closely, it will be found that the application of the song which the Targum teaches, is virtually the same as Christians make. Both consider Solomon's ode to be a mystic declaration of the love that exists between God and his people. The Jew applies it to Israel after the flesh; the Christian to those who are Israelites indeed, by faith in Jesus Christ. The men of the synagogue doat on the law; the members of the church glory in the gospel. The former party look forward to the love of a Messiah to come; the latter look back to him that has come, and actually “behold how he loved us !" Christians apply the minor imagery to the exercises of the graces of religion, such as faith, love, joy, or hope ; but Jews go into the details of the law of commandments contained in ordinances, the erecting of the tabernacle, and the two and twenty Hebrew letters in which the law was written.
The “sons of the captivity,” mentioned as destined to sing the tenth song, are not those who returned from Babylon, for that the Targum was written after that event, is proved by its mentioning Alexander the Great. But though the dispersion of Israel are not now captives, strictly speaking, any where, they naturally apply terms taken from the Babylonish captivity to their present state of banishment from the Holy Land.
Under the second verse, the Targumist speaks as if Solomon gave thanks for the Mishna and Talmud; for the Jews suppose that these virtually existed from the earlier times; though in their present form they are comparatively modern.
THE SCRIPTURE COSMOGONY, ILLUSTRATED AND CONFIRMED BY THE DISCOVERIES AND CONCLUSIONS OF GEOLOGY
“ By the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out
of the water, and in the water."
CHRISTIANITY, as founded upon Divine Revelation, has had to contend, in every age since its first introduction into the world, with virulent opposition, carried on under numerous and endlessly diversified forms. Infidelity has, at different times, put on every disguise, tried every point of attack, taken up every possible position that appeared to present the slightest probability of hindering the diffusion, or weakening the evidences of christian doctrines. It might have been expected that such opposition to a system so pure, so intellectual, so well authenticated, would have been confined to the sensual, the vicious, and the ignorant. But, through the exceeding and mysterious corruption of human nature, this has not been the case. Many of those great and powerful minds, whom God created to guide, instruct, and influence their fellow men, and
whose learning, talents, and genius might have enabled them to apprehend the truth, acknowledge the obligations, and admire the beauty of revealed religion, have been found desecrating those talents and energies in rancorous hostility and persevering warfare against it. Science and literature, under almost every form, has been set, or attempted to be set, in array against Revelation. Philosophy was pressed into this odious service by Celsus and Porphyry; eloquence by Julian the apostate and his friend Libanius; history by Ammianus, Marcellinus, and Zosimus in ancient times, and in modern ages by Volney and Gibbon; metaphysics by David Hume and several fellow labourers, both in this country and on the continent; and astronomy and natural history by the French savans of the elose of the last century. The powers of satire, wit, and ridicule have been still more frequently employed, and have been clothed in the graceful fascinations of poetry by Shelley and Byron.
And even where this direct opposition has not heen displayed, when men of a superior order of mind have prosecuted with a laudable zeal, and with delight equalled only by their ability and success, the pursuits of literature and science; yet have they but too often pursued their interesting investigations, not indeed in a spirit of scepticism or hostility as to the speculative and theoretical doctrines of the gospel, but still with that indifference to pure and undefiled religion, which proves that it has in reality no hold either on their understanding or their heart. It is therefore often the case, that when well-meaning and pious, yet timid and ill informed Christians look at this state of things, they begin to fear lest the progress of learning and science, or of any particular branch of them, may prove inimical and detrimental to the interests of religion, and that among the many new discoveries continually being made, it may happen that something will be propounded and established irreconcileable with scriptural truth. But it may easily be seen how groundless and futile is this lurking suspicion, and how positive the certainty of the direct contrary taking place. An incontrovertible course of reasoning assures us that the Scriptural documents are really what they are asserted to be a revelation from the Deity to mankind. The evidence attesting this fact is, to say the least, incalculably more satisfactory and incontestable than that on which rest the conclusions of science. These conclusions, then, are either erroneous, or they are correct; if erroneous, they may, by sound reasoning, be detected and exposed ; if true, they are the mere expressions of the existence of actual facts, and consequently of the effects of the divine omnipotence exerting itself in different acts and operations. Therefore, since both correct scientific knowledge, and the divine communications of revelation, proceed alike from the same Deity, and are independently proved to be true by their respective branches of evidence, it is certain, from the incompatibility of their co-existence, did they involve a contradiction, that there are not, there never can be, any real discrepancies between them. And so far have the labours and researches of even infidel and irreligious philosophers been from weakening the evidences or contradicting the statements of Scripture, that the most cursory view of the history of human knowledge will show that they have been toiling, equally with the most devotedly pious, though unconsciously to themselves, in the erection of that great temple of evidence in which Jehovah has designed to enshrine his holy word.
The Bible was not given to instruct mankind in natural science, but to make them wise unto salvation. It is therefore a vain and futile attempt to endeavour, as some have done, to deduce a system of knowledge from it, or to seek in it that instruction which it was never intended to afford. The time is now happily gone by, when monkish ignorance could inculcate, and despotic superstition enforce a dogma so absurd and detrimental to the interests of intellectual cultivation, as that which asserts that science must be pursued in the pages of the Bible, and not in observations on the existences which God has laid open to the rational minds he has formed. Philosophy must be pursued in the tract of legitimate deduction from properly ascertained facts, without suppressing or accommodating what is really true, in the vain and groundless fear that it may not be found to agree with the word of the Creator of all things. And, on the other hand, when that word mentions or treats of the works of God, (as, to a certain extent, it really does,) we may be quite sure, that though a superficial glance may sometimes induce us to suppose there is a disagreement between them, yet that the discrepancy is merely apparent, and that, for the reasons already detailed, there cannot be any real contradiction between them. And even, if on a further investigation we cannot always apprehend the point of union and reconciliation, yet reason will not allow us to entertain the notion that they can be discordant, and assures us that a complete knowledge of the subject would point out to us their agreement. It is, however, a matter deeply interesting, and well worthy of attention, to become acquainted with that agreement when it can be made apparent; since every fresh discovery of the connection subsisting between science and revelation, sends fresh conviction of the truth of the latter to the understanding, and leads the mind to adore the wisdom of its God.
At the present moment these remarks apply with more force to the science of geology than perhaps to any other. It has been skilfully and ardently cultivated by numerous philosophers, who have not been deterred from following out scientific investigations to their utmost extent by the fear of any evil consequences thence arising to the interests of religion or Biblical theology, and by some, perhaps, who have secretly wished to undermine the evidences of scriptural documents by confuting their statement. It has thus, for a considerable time, been by many persons supposed to present a hostile appearance to the Mosaical doctrines and assertions, and consequently to revealed truth at large; and this impression has been strengthened by confutations being given by writers on the science of erroneous and ill-judged methods of reconciling them. The controversy has, therefore, been carried on with greater or less energy for several years past. Fifty years ago, the amiable and pious Cowper wrote,