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THE BIRDS OF THE BIBLE.
BY REV. H. HARBAUGH. The Hawk is three times mentioned in the Bible. Levit. 11, 16: Deut. 14, 15: Job, 39, 26. In the two first passages in the German Bible, the word is translated Sperber, which means sparrow-hawk, one of the species of hawk. In Job, the German translation has it Habicht, which means simply hawk.
In the first two passages allusion is made to the uncleanness of this bird ; and in the last passage there is reference to its migratory habits, and the swiftness of its flight. There are two species of the hawk kind, the habits of which, will explain these two classes of passages.
I. THE GOSS-HAWK. This is evidently the species of this bird referred to in Levit. 11, 16: and in Deut. 14, 15. This will appear from a description of this bird, and its habits of life.
The Goss-hawk is common in the East. It is somewhat Jarger than our buzzard, one foot ten inches in length, slender in appearance, and more comely than the buzzard.
"Its bill is blue, tipped with black, the cere green; the eyes yellow; over each eye there is a whitish line; the head and all the upper parts of the body are of a deep brown color; and each side of the neck is irregularly marked with white; the breast and body are white, with a number of wavy lines, or bars of black; the tail is long, of an ash color, and crossed with four or five bushy bars ; the legs are yellow, and the claws black; the wings are much shorter than the tail.”
This bird in the above passages is pronounced unclean. It was to be held as an abomination by the children of Israel; they were neither permitted to eat its flesh, nor to touch its carcass. The reason for this is no doubt to be found in the following two facts:
First. It is a bird of prey, and consequently cruel in its temper, and gross in its habits of life. It feeds on mice, and small birds, and raw flesh. It tears its victims to pieces, and gorges down the pieces entire. This mode of living, especially in warm climates, imparts a very offensive flavor to their flesh. It is not relished by any people; and none are known to eat its flesh, except under the pressure of the most extreme emergencies of hunger. God would secure the Jewish people against low and degrading habits, and elevate them to that refinement and delicacy of taste which comports with the dignity of rational, religious, and immortal beings. There is wisdom in this law; for we know that there is an intimate connection between the physical habits of a people, and their mental and moral character. It is known that among the heathen, those who worship degraded objects as gods, become more degraded themselves; so, in this case, those who are mean in their modes and habits of life, suffer a corresponding degradation in every
other respect. By securing them from degrading habits, he did in reality at the same time secure them against degrading dispositions.
Secondly. The hawk was very early held in the highest estimation by the idolatrous heathen, and by them raised to the rank and honor of a divinity. The Egyptians held no animal so sacred as the ibis, and the hawk; among them it was sacred to the Sun. The Greeks borrowed the idea from the Egyptians, and also made the hawk sacred to the sun, of which Apollo was the representative. So sacred were these birds held that if any one killed a hawk, either with design or by accident, he was punished by death! Even the flight of the hawk was regarded as ominous; and it was thought to be exceedingly fortunate to discover them flying in circles from left to right, towards the south. The fact that idolators, especially in Egypt, were even already thus early regarding this filthy bird as a God, was a good reason why God should pronounce it unclean to his own people; and by inspiring them with disgust for it, guard them the most effectually against the very appearance of evil
. It were well if all christians were better guarded by a holy disgust against all which is made by the wicked an offence to God, and a source of evil. I Cor: 8.
II. THE PIGEON HAWK. This is evidently the species of the hawk kind referred to in Job 39: 26. God in order to impress Job with a deep sense of his own ignorance, and powerlessness, and weakness of faith, refers him to many mysteries in the natural world, challenging him whether he understands them, and whether his power has made them such. Among others he presents the challenge : “Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom and stretch his wings towards the south.” In which passage there is an allusion to the rapidity of its flight, and to its habits of migration.
This species of hawk is remarkable for the rapidity of its flight, and the rapid motion of its wings in flying. This the Hebrews observed; and it seems to have suggested its name, which is nets, from the verb natsa, to fly. The ancients reck
oned the hawk the swiftest of all the feathered race. Homer compares the descent of Apollo from heaven to the flight of the hawk : " From the mountains of Ida he descended like a swift hawk, the destroyer of pigeons, that is the swiftest of birds .” Ajax tells Hector that the day should come when he would wish for horses swifter than hawks to carry him back to the city. The Egyptians made the hawk the symbol of the winds.
Referring to this swift bird, God makes the challenge, Did you give the hawk those swift wings, and is it capable of such astonishing flight by your wisdom, power, and skill ?
The latter part of the verse, “and stretch her wings towards the south,” is an allusion to the migratory habits of this bird. The hawk belongs to that large class of birds of passage, which make for the south or warm climates, at the approach of winter. Now God demands of Job, Does your wisdom direct this bird to do this? Did your skill implant into its nature that wonderful sagacity of instinct, by which it knows, even better than man, at what precise time it ought to move toward more congenial climes ? No! This is not of thee; it has its origin in the wisdom of a God who doth all things well. It is an evidence and an example of that over-ruling
Providence, by which all creatures are governed and directed for their good. He who has so made this bird, and who so directs its flight, will see to it that thou, O my servant Job, art safely led. That God, who cares for birds, will much more care for you,
of little faith.
There is a world of comfort in this reflection. How often are faithless children of their heavenly Father afraid that the way in which He leads them will end in darkness. How often, thus, do they virtually reflect upon both his wisdom and his love! Such ought to remember, for their comfort, and for the strengthening of their feeble faith, that the same God who, by instinct, directs birds to the place of comfort and safety, is leading them also, by a power infinitely higher than instinct, even by the suggestions of His all-gracious providence; and so much as they are of more value than many birds, so much stronger reason have they to submit themselves in humble, joyful confidence, to His all-wise guidance.
THE HOUR OF DEATH.
Leaves have their time to fall,
And stars to set-but all,
LITTLE AT FIRST, BUT MIGHTY AT LAST.
A traveller through a dusty road
Strewed acorns on the lea,
And grew into a tree.
To breathe its early vows,
To bask beneath its boughs.
The birds sweet music bore,
A blessing evermore.
Among the grass and fern :
Where weary men might turn.
A ladle at the brink;
But judg'd that toil might drink.
By summers never dried,
And saved a life beside !
'Twas old and yet was new,
But strong in being true!
And lo! its light became
A monitory flame.
A watch fire on the hill,
And cheers the valley still!
That throng'd the daily mart,
Unstudied from the heart :
A transitory breath,
It saved a soul from death.
O thought at random cast !
But mighty at the last!
Translated from the German
by Rev. B. Bausman. THE EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY BRIDE. Let us make ourselves a little more familiar with the bridal relation, commencing with the bride in her common social position. When a young lady has been sweetly and cordially chosen by her lover as a suitable companion, to whom she is espoused and who expects through marriage to make her his partner for life, we call her a Bride. Owing to outward transient circumstances, the bridal season is not limited to any particular time, and is considered the happiest period in life, a cheerful spot of bright unclouded sunshine.
While this heavenly relation remains pure and untainted, it should serve as a soft and sweet prelude in which the several chords of affection are tuned into a vital harmony, and thus be made spiritually and really one. During this happy season of unclouded joys, the lovers must lay the abiding foundation of a covenant, whose ground-work is the love of Christ. For only when they are united firmly and faithfully by the ties of holy love in Jesus Christ can they escape from falling a prey to sense and sin.
The bridal relation is attended with such pure and unalloyed pleasures, because its chief and primary object is a union of hearts, hopes and affections, in the highest and holiest relations of life. This happiness always increases in proportion as the longings of her future husband, after a complete union of spirit, are refined of all that is merely earthly and sensual and are elevated to an earnest noble yearning after true spiritual marriage.
But what is the special duty of the Bride ? First, she must accommodate herself to the peculiarities of her companion, feel herself spiritually and morally bound to him by the most sacred ties, and seek in his firm and fearless constitution support for the wants and weakness belonging to her sex. Secondly, if she has a proper education and disposition, she must endeavor even at the risk of conflict and contention, to unfold and preserve unspotted the nobler part of her being, purity, virtue and love to the Redeemer, in opposition to the rougher masculine nature of her companion, so that during her married life her piety may never suffer by serving her husband. This is that real spiritual independence, which should be the aim of all true education. Lastly, she must learn the process of transition from a state of natural filial obedience to that of a cheerful subordination to the will and wishes of her husband-a will endeared by happy experience and affectionate esteem. She must also learn to pay a respectful deference to his superior penetration and judgment.