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the moon as symbolising the people or subjects ; ) but in domestic questions, as in Joseph's dream, the sun represented the husband, and the moon the wife, because subject to him. And here it may be remarked, for the analogy is striking, that Artemidorus states, that, a lamp-stand symbolises a wife,' for which he assigns this reason :* that, as a lamp, or the light thereof, signifies the master of the house, because he superintends it; so the lampstand signifies his wife, over whom he rules and presides.
As an example of apparent change,—for the change is only in appearance,--which a symbol receives in its meaning, from a change of circumstances, I shall exhibit one drawn from the heavens. Stars sometimes symbolise, not inferior magistrates, but kings. In this case more than one king is spoken of, or the Ruler of the universe is alluded to in the context: if the former, as there is but one sun in our system, he is necessarily excluded, where a plurality of kings is the subject, and therefore other luminaries are substituted; if the latter, the sun symbolising the King of Kings, the powers ordained by him are represented by stars. In the remark that has just been made, the reader will easily perceive one of the steps, by which ignorance deified the
In hieroglyphical language the Deity is · Lib. i. cap. 76.
* Cap. 80.
“the sun of righteousness,"—that is, the righteous king, ruler or governor.
The object I have in view, in offering these remarks, is, not to give, at present, an explanation of particular symbols, but, to press upon the reader the necessity of distinguishing with care between metaphors and symbols. In hieroglyphical language it is not left to fancy, or to sagacity, to attach to a symbol any signification which the reader may imagine would have been more appropriate than that assigned to it by the ancients; for in elucidating such writings our business is not now to make a language, but to read one already made; and we might as well refuse to assign to any word in Hebrew, Greek, or Latin, its known and admitted sense, from a conceit that a more expressive word might have been formed, to convey that idea, as quarrel with the meaning of a bieroglyphic, because, in our judgment, a more appropriate one might have been formed. But this is, in fact, the line of conduct that has been followed by the greater part of the expositors of prophecies. They have confounded symbols with metaphors; and, because the figures employed in the latter, according to their various combinations, admit of various significations, have used the freedom to assign meanings to the former, not recognised by the ancients, and therefore inadmissible. Where symbols are employed it is the duty of an expositor, instead of resorting to fancy, to employ industry; not to make, but to find out the admitted sense. In Daniel and John many of the symbols they employ are explained; the meaning of others may be found in other prophecies; and where these fail, recourse must be had to profane authors. Nor is there more danger in seeking the meaning of a symbol in such works, than in ascertaining the sense of any word in the New Testament, by comparing the best Greek writers with each other and with the Septuagint. By following this method it can hardly be doubted that the true and genuine signification of every one of the symbols they employ may be satisfactorily ascertained. It may not be in the power of any single individual to accomplish this desirable object. Where he cannot, by his industry, discover the meaning of any particular hieroglyphic, instead of showing himself ingenious, let him be ingenuous and confess his want of success, and we may hope that others, from sources which he may not have had an opportunity of consulting, will sooner or later supply the deficiency.
On the sources whence useful information may be derived on this subject, I cannot do better than offer a quotation from Bishop Hurd, who expresses himself thus :
“ Much of the Egyptian hieroglyphic, on “ which the prophetic style was fashioned, may “ be learned from many ancient records and “ monuments still subsisting; and from innu
by learned men.
species, which were either derived from Egypt, “ or conducted on hieroglyphic notions, have “ been of singular use in commenting on the “Jewish prophets. Their omens, augury, and
judicial astrology, seem to have proceeded “on symbolic principles; the mystery being “ only this, that such objects as in the hierogly“phic pictures were made the symbols of cer“ tain ideas, were considered as omens of the
things themselves ...
“ But of all the pagan superstitions, that “ which is known by the name of oneirocritics, “ or the art of interpreting dreams, is most directly to our purpose.
There is a curious “ treatise on this subject, which bears the name “ of ACHMET, an Arabian writer ; and another
by ARTEMIDORUS, an Ephesian, who lived “ about the end of the first century. In the “ former of these collections (for both works are “ compiled out of preceding and very ancient
writers) the manner of interpreting dreams according to the use of the oriental nations is
delivered ; as the rules, which the Grecian “ diviners followed, are deduced in the other. “ For, light and frivolous as this art was, it “is not to be supposed that it was taken up at " hazard, or could be conducted without rules.
... But the rules, by which both the “ Greek and oriental diviners justified their in“ terpretations, appear to have been formed on symbolic principles . .
....... So that the prophetic style, which is all over painted with hieroglyphic imagery, receives an evident il“ lustration from these two works .. “ Nor is any sanction, in the mean time, given
... to the pagan practice of divining by “ dreams. For though the same symbols be in
terpreted in the same manner, yet the prophecy “ doth not depend on the interpretation, but on " the inspiration of the dream ........ It follows, “ that the rules, which the ancient diviners ob“ served in explaining symbolic dreams, may be
safely and justly applied to the interpretation “ of symbolic prophecies."
To these remarks of the learned Bishop, I shall only add, that considerable help may be obtained from Pierius's work on Egyptian hiero- tide