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human form, not sinless, not faultless, but so good, breathing an air so pure and so beneficent, that it renders it easy for you to believe in angels beyond. And there are “ legions” of such there! The deathless companies await your coming to welcome you to the heavenly home. They “speak of your decease," and anticipate your arrival. “I go to prepare that place for you," to present before God's High Throne that sacrifice through which alone entrance into immortality becomes possible for mortals. “I am the door," the“ gate of Heaven." "By Me ye shall enter in.” Infinity will welcome you within its illimitable extension, “ to go no more out," and eternity will smile upon you as you enter its portals. There is but a vail between this and that. All is my Father's House, and you who are at home here shall be also and for ever at home in the heavens: For death is but a translation; and as when at night a mother changes her nursing child from one side to the other, and it is still enfolded in the embrace of an unspeakable affection, so when the soul departs, it is but a change from one to the other of the Everlasting Arms, and it shall awake in the embrace of Him who hath said, “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you."
HEBREW DIDACTIC POETRY AND THE
BOOK OF PROVERBS. *
Tais is the most extensive and important class of Hebrew poetry, as will appear from an enumeration of its specific forms.
1.-PROPHETIC ORATIONS. 1. Ordinary prophecy.—Though the prophets were not poets in the strictest sense, the object of their addresses being to teach others rather than to give relief to their own spirits, yet they spoke when their spirits were inspired and agitated, and in no common prosaic mood. The elevated poetic rhythm, therefore, was well fitted to be the vehicle of their words. Yet prophetic poetry assumes a somewhat different form from lyric. There is the ebb and flow, the rise and fall of the rhythm, but the verses are longer, slower, and in all respects nearer to prose.
* “Die Dichter des Alten Bundes erklärt von Heinrich Ewald. Ersten theiles erste hälfte. 2te Aufl.," and the second part of the same work, namely :-"Die Salomonischen Schristen." 2te Aufl. Göttingen, 1867.”
2. Patriarchal prophecy.—The Pentateuch contains prophetic orations of the ancient venerated fathers and founders of the nation; Gen. xlix.; Deut. xxxiii. In these the style is more poetic than in the ordinary prophetic orations.
3. Lyric prophecy.—After David had worked so mightily upon the people by his lyrics, the prophets sometimes availed themselves of the powerful aid of song to give efficacy to their teaching ; Ps. cx.; lx. 8—10; Amos v. 1 f.; Is. xiv. 4–20; Ps. 1.
II.-PARABLES. Some things may not be said save in "parables” and “dark sayings,” and especially to some hearers. They can only be hinted at, left to the hearer to infer, think out, and apply. Such parables may be taken from all nature; Judges ix. 7–15; 2 Kings xiv. 9; 2 Sam. xii. 147, &c. But the Hebrews have not clothed their parables in the adornment of verse.
III.—PROVERBS, GNOMAI. A proverb is the clear, definite, rounded expression of an important truth. The expression of a newly-found truth is of greatest value, for he only discovers a truth who expresses it. In its expression the mind makes it its own, and secures it; the hand is laid upon the bird in the bush; the nail is fastened in a sure place. Further, the mind loves brevity, smoothness, and beauty. The form of expression is next in value to expression itself. A great truth lodged in a compact, smooth, wellsounding sentence is like a fine soul in a well-formed body. Hence the best proverbs are always well expressed, either in the compactest and strongest prose, or in the briefest and smoothest verse. Besides, the coiner of proverbs rounds and polishes them not only, or chiefly, for his own pleasure, but rather for the public good. He gives them a fair form, that men may look at them for their beauty's sake; he makes them round and ringing, that they may be easily remembered, and pass from mouth to mouth.
Proverbs have their special period in literary history. They are not the first nor the last born of man's spiritual children. They come when the mind begins to reflect upon its experiences and discoveries, and before it has attained to a system of philosophy. They are our first opinions, yvõuai, sententiæ, from the observation of some facts, not our ultimate generalizations from the observation of all facts. They are also essentially practical, not in the least speculative, being rules for human life and not
observations about the universe. Proverbs are the commencement of philosophy, the dawn of reflective thought.
The Bible contains a large book of proverbs, as well as single proverbs scattered through other books. Their common name is smo, similitude, comparison, every proverb being a general truth in which the man to whom it refers may see his conduct reflected.
The Bible proverbs, however, are not the common proverbs of the field and the market, “the wisdom of the many,” “ the hobnailed philosophy of the masses.” They are laboured, artistic productions; the philosophy of educated thinkers, expressed in the classic poetic form. As proverbial expressions, they may owe in part their compactness and brevity to the common proverbs of the people, but as poetry they are clothed in the approved rhythmical verse.
The proverbial verse, in its primary and classic form, is exceedingly brief and simple. It consists invariably of two members of equal length, each containing 3—4, rarely 5, rather short words. In Prov. x.--xxii. 16, there is no verse with more than two members, xix. 7 being anomalous.
Further, a proverbial verse is complete as to its meaning. It conveys a full and independent sense. It is a clear, finished expression. This law does not exclude the grouping together of verses relating to the same subject, as Prov. x. 2–5; for though a number of verses may exhaust what is to be said as to one thing, each may contain a complete assertion in reference to it.
Lastly, since brevity with fulness is the aim of a proverbial utterance, the antithetical verse is a favourite form. Everything is made more clear and striking by contrast, and proverbs generally are often expressed antithetically. The nature of the Hebrew verse, the contrast of its rise and fall, also favours antithesis. We find, therefore, this artifice largely used in Hebrew proverbs, esp. x.xxii. 16.
The requirements of a good proverb affect also the grammatical structure of sentences. Whilst the general law is for the subject to follow the predicate, the order is reversed in most proverbial sentences, and the subject precedes. By this arrangement prominence is given to the person spoken of. * The calmness and clearness of a picture is thus attained. It is only in later proverbs that the less calm and more subjective imperative is used.
But hitherto we have considered the proverb in its first and simplest form only. This primary form was not long retained. When once proverb-making became fashionable, the purity and strength of the first proverbs were lost.
First, the compact, brief sentence is lengthened. Instead of the thought being expressed in one short verse, two, or three, or more are required, Prov. xxv. 4 f. The two-membered verse is lengthened to a three-membered one, Prov. xxiv. 27.
Second, whilst the conciseness and force of the old proverb is lost, an equivalent is sought in attractive miniature pictures ; Prov. xxvii. 23—27; xxiv. 30–34; xxiii. 29–35. In this way the transition to a new kind of poetry was made, as Prov. xxx. 1-14; xxxi. 10–30; i.-X., the book Qóheleth (Ecclesiastes). We can now consider
THE BOOK OF PROVERBS. The editorial annotations, as well as the marked dissimilarity of various parts of this book, invite the examination of the historical inquirer. The last two chapters are ascribed to Agûr and a King Lemôel. The whole book is prefaced with the words Proverbs of Solomon, Son of David, King of Israel. But most unexpectedly we find, x. 1, another heading, Proverbs of Solomon, as if the first nine chapters were but introductory to the true proverbs of Solomon. Further on, xxv. i., there is a third heading, Also these are Proverbs of Solomon, collected by the men of Hezekiah King of Judah. And, lastly, the portion xxii. 17--xxiv. 34, altogether unlike the foregoing portion, X.—xxii. 16, is called Words of the Wise, xxii. 17; xxiv. 23.
The five parts into which the book is thus divided for us are all distinguished by differences of poetic form, language, and subject-matter.
1. Poetic form. The portion x.-xxii. 16 is made up of proverbs bearing the clear mark of the earliest and simplest coinage. They are all of the character described p. 457, brief, complete, and often antithetical. On the contrary, the portion XXV.-xxix. bears all the marks of a later origin, less precision and fulness, longer verse-members, the thought taking up more than one verse, miniature pictures, and long exhortations. In the two portions, i.-ix., xxii. 17–xxiv. 34, all these changes are more decisive.
2. Language.—The portion x.—xxii. 16 presents many peculiarities of language, a few of which only can be quoted. The frequent use of the figures fountain of life, x. 11; xiii. 14; xiv. 27; xvi. 22, and tree of life, xi. 30; xiii. 12; xv. 4; of nmnm only here x, 14, 15, xiii. 3 ; xiv. 28; xvij. 7; x. 29; xxi. 15; of net xii. 17; xiv. 5, 25; xix. 5, 9 (vi. 9). Further, the antique expressions, npION TY xii. 19; 7?? T xi. 21; xvi. 5; yhana xvii. 14; xviii. 1; xx. 3, 19?? xvi. 28; xvii. 8; comp. xxvi. 20, 22. Further, in this section there is a remarkably constant omission of the article. Lastly, the emphasising
of a noun in the constructed state by appending its pronoun to the preceding governing noun is peculiar, niņaia mạng her end, viz., that of joy, xiv. 13; xiii. 4; xxii. 11.
The absence of all the above peculiarities distinguishes the portion XXV.—xxix, from the preceding portion, while at the same time it has positive marks to further isolate it. These are decisive, since they are peculiarities of style and construction rather than of mere words. The use of 'n sawest thou ?xxvi. 12; xxix. 20 ; of this perf. itself, as expressing a condition; the use of the simple ? in the second member of a comparative sentence, xxv. 3, 20, 25; xxvi. 3, 7, 9f., 21 ; and the comparison by mere collocation without even this particle, xxv. 11-14, 18f, 26, 28; xxvi. 23.
The two sections i.-ix.; xxii, 17—xxiv. 34, also present linguistic peculiarities. The new form niani. 20; ix, 1 ; xxiv, 7: comp. xiv. 1; 177 or .7'?the foreign, strange woman. The decline of the Hebrew language is also apparent, e.g., the construction of ppl with the masc. pl. of the verb, v. 2; the form O'
Wp viii. 4, hardly found in any composition from Jerusalem before the seventh century.
Further, these two sections, with all their linguistic similarity, present peculiarities that separate them. The first has not the remarkable emphatic repetition of the pronoun, xxi. 19; xxiii. 15; nor the use of Siya xxiii. 8; xxiv. 4, 25; or of 3? hp xxii. 17; xxiv. 32; or of ning in the sense of future, hope, xxiii. 18; xxiv. 14, 20; while the words 17700 to show, teach, and this doctrine, common in the first, is not found in the second piece.
3. Subject-matter.—The portion x.-xxii. 16 distinguishes itself from the rest not only in the form of expression but also in what is said. The proverbs refer to all the great interests and circumstances of the whole people, political and social. The pictures of the condition of the nation given in this section are unlike those given in other sections. 1. Here we see the regal power honoured, feared, trusted, and loved, xvi. 10, 12; xx. 8, 26; xix. 12; xx. 2 ; xvi. 15 ; xiv. 35; xxii. 11; xx. 28 ; xx. 2 ; xvii. 11. 2. In this section we see the nation in peace and prosperity: There is no sign of oppression and its attendant national calamities.
But a different picture is presented in the section xxy.—xxix. 1. The king is spoken of in less glowing terms. The government is rather the subject of sad complaints than enthusiastic praise, xxviii. 2, 3, 15 f.; xxix. 4, 14; xxv. 2-5; xxix. 12. 2. Society is more complex, artificial, and distrustful than in the former section. Slaves are spoiled, xxix. 19, 21; men are banished, xxvii. 8; court favour is sought, xxv. 6 f.; contention is great, xxv. 8-10; xxvi. 17, 20 f.; xxviii. 25; xxix. 9, 22;