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“ Est domus alta : jacent penitus defossa talenta
Cælati argenti: sunt auri pondera facti
Æn. x. 526.
Pitt. It is remarkable, that Xenophon makes Cyrus open a speech to his army, and in particular to the Medes, who made the principal part of it, with praising them for their disregard of riches. Avôges Mndos, xa. TAUTES Ó Tagovres, eyw 'vas 01da oaPWS, OTI OUTE genuatwy dojevOI OUV EMOI EĞnaders :-“Ye Medes and others who now hear me, I well know that youhave not accompanied me in this expedition with a view of acquiring wealth :” Cyrop. lib. v.
18. Their bows shall dash-] Both Herodotus, i. 61. and Xenophon, Anab. iii. mention, that the Persians used large bows, Toğa meyara : and the latter says particularly, that their bows were three cubits long; Anab. iv. They were celebrated for their archers : see chap. xxii. 6. Jer. xlix. 35. Probably their neighbours and allies, the Medes, dealt much in the same sort of arms. In Psal. xviii. 35. and Job xx. 24. mention is made of a bow of brass : If the Persian bows were of metal, we may easily conceive, that with a metalline bow of three cubits length, and proportionably strong, the soldiers might dash and slay the young men, the weaker and unresisting part of the inhabitants, (for they are joined with the fruit of the womb and the children,) in the general carnage on taking the city. .
18. And on the fruit-] A MS reads "na Syr. And nine MSS (three ancient) and two editions, with LXX, Vulg. Syr. add likewise the conjunction 1 to by afterward.
19. And Babylon] The great city of Babylon was at this time rising to its height of glory, while the Prophet Isaiah was repeatedly denouncing its utter destruction. From the first of Hezekiah to the first of Nebuchadnezzar, under
whom it was brought to the highest degree of strength and splendour, are about one hundred and twenty years. I will here very briefly mention some particulars of the greatness of the place, and note the several steps by which this remarkable prophecy was at length accomplished in the total ruin of it. · It was, according to the lowest account given of it by ancient historians, a regular square, forty-five miles in compass, enclosed by a wall two hundred feet high, fifty broad; in which there were a hundred gates of brass. Its principal ornaments were the temple of Belus, in the middle of which was a tower of eight stories of building, upon a base of a quarter of a mile square; a most magnificent palace; and the famous hanging gardens; which were an artificial mountain, raised upon arches, and planted with trees of the largest as well as the most beautiful sorts.
Cyrus took the city by diverting the waters of the Euphrates, which ran through the midst of it, and entering the place at night by the dry channel. The river, being never restored afterward to its proper course, overflowed the whole country, and made it little better than a great morass: This, and the great slaughter of the inhabitants, with other bad consequences of the taking of the city, was the first step to the ruin of the place. The Persian monarchs ever regarded it with a jealous eye; they kept it under, and took care to prevent its recovering its former greatness. Darius Hystaspis not long afterward most severely punished it for a revolt, greatly depopulated the place, lowered the walls, and demolished the gates. Xerxes destroyed the temples, and with the rest the great temple of Belus: Herod. iii. 159, Arrian. Exp. Alexandri, lib. vii. The building of Seleucia on the Tigris exhausted Babylon by its neighbourhood, as well as by the immediate loss of inhabitants taken away by Seleucus to people his new city: Strabo, lib. xvi. A king of the Parthians soon after carried away into slavery a great number of the inhabitants, and burnt and destroyed the most beautiful parts of the city: Valesii Excerpt. Diodori, p. 377. Strabo (ibid.) says, that in his time great part of it was a mere desert; that the Persians had partly destroyed it; and that time, and the neglect of the Macedonians, while they were masters of it, had nearly completed its destruction, Jerom (in loc.) says, that in his time it was quite in ruins, and that the walls served only for the inclosure of a park or forest for the king's hunting. Modern travellers, who have endeavoured to find the remains of it, have given but a very unsatisfactory account of their success; what Benjamin of Tudela and Pietro della Valle supposed to have been some of its ruins, Tavernier thinks are the remains of some late Arabian building. Upon the whole, Babylon is so utterly annihilated, that even the place where this wonder of the world stood, cannot now be determined with any certainty, See also note on chap. xliii. 14.
We are astonished at the accounts which ancient historians of the best credit give, of the immense extent, height, and thickness of the walls of Nineveh and Babylon: nor are we less astonished when we are assured, by the concurrent testimony of modern travellers, that no remains, not the least traces, of these prodigious works are now to be found. Our wonder will, I think, be moderated in both respects, if we consider the fabric of these celebrated walls, and the nature of the materials of which they consisted. Buildings in the East have always been, and are to this day, made of earth or clay, mixed or beat up with straw to make the parts côhere, and dried only in the sun. This is their method of making bricks: see note on chap. ix. 9. The walls of the city were built of the earth digged out on the spot, and dried upon the place; by which means both the ditch and the wall were at once formed; the former furnishing materials for the latter. That the walls of Babylon were of this kind is well known; and Berosus expressly says, (apud Joseph. Antiq. x. 11.), that Nebuchadnezzar added three new walls both to the old and new city, partly of brick and bitumen, and partly of brick alone. A wall of this sort must have a great thickness in proportion to its height, otherwise it cannot stand. The thickness of the walls of Babylon is said to have been one-fourth of their height, which seems to have been no more than was absolutely necessary. Maundrell, speaking of the garden walls of Damascus,—." They are,” says he,“ of a very singular structure. They are built of great pieces of earth, made in the fashion of brick, and hardened in the sun. In their dimensions they are two yards long each, and somewhat more than one broad, and half a yard thick.” And afterward, speaking of the walls of the houses :-“ From this dirty way of building they have this amongst other inconveniences, that upon any violent rain the whole city becomes, by the washing of the houses, as it were a quagmire,” p. 124.; and see note on chap. xxx. 13, When a wall of this sort comes to be out of repair, and is neglected, it is easy to conceive the necessary consequences; namely, that in no long course of ages it must be totally destroyed by the heavy rains, and at length washed away, and reduced to its original earth.
22. in their palaces] 70gabxa, a plain mistake, I presume, for wax). It is so corrected in one MS. « Πουλυπoδες δ' εν εμοι θαλαμας, φωκαιτε μελαιναι, · Oiria TOINOOTA, Arnded, XnTel Raw.” Homer. Hymn. in Apol. 77. Of which the following passage of Milton may be taken for a translation, though not so designed :
“And in their palaces, Where luxury late reigned, sea-monsters whelp'd, And stabled."
P. L. ix. 750.
1. And will yet choose Israel.] That is, will still regard Israel as his chosen people; however he may seem to desert them, by giving them up to their enemies, and scattering them among the nations. Judah is sometimes called Israel; see Ezek. xiii. 16. Mal. i. 1. ii. 11.; but the name of Jacob, and of Israel, used apparently with design in this place, each of which names includes the twelve tribes, and the other circumstances mentioned in this and the next verse, which did not in any complete sense accompany the return from the captivity of Babylon, seem to intimate, that this whole prophecy extends its view beyond that event.
3. -in that day] #9777 01). The word X3707 is added in two MSS, and was in the copies from which the LXX' and Vulg. translated : εv in njegą, szelvn, in die illa, (, AVATAVOSI, MS Pachom. adding ;). This is a matter of no great consequence: however, it restores the text to the common form almost constantly used on such occasions; and is one among many instances of a word lost out of the printed copies.
4. —this parable—] Mashal. I take this to be the general name for poetic style among the Hebrews, including every sort of it, as ranging under one or other, or all of the characters, of sententious, figurative, and sublime; which are all contained in the original notion, or in the use and application of the word mashal. Parables or proverbs, such as those of Solomon, are always expressed in short pointed sentences; frequently figurative, being formed on
some comparison, generally forcible and authoritative both in the matter and the form. And such in general is the style of the Hebrew poetry. The verb mashal signifies to rule, to exercise authority; to make equal, to compare one thing with another; to utter parables, or acute, weighty, and powerful speeches, in the form and manner of parables, though not properly such. Thus Balaam's first prophecy, Numb. xxiii. 9-10. is called his mashal; though it has hardly any thing figurative in it: but it is beautifully sententious, and, from the very form and manner of it, has great spirit, force, and energy. Thus Job's last speeches, in answer to the three friends, chap. xxvii—xxxi. are called mashals; from no one particular character which discriminates them from the rest of the poem, but from the sublime, the figurative, the sententious manner, which equally prevails through the whole poem, and makes it one of the first and most eminent examples extant of the truly great and beautiful in poetic style.
The LXX in this place render the word by Igavos, a lamentation. They plainly consider the speech here introduced as a piece of poetry; and of that species of poetry which we call the elegiac—either from the subject, it being a poem on the fall and death of the king of Babylon; or from the form of the composition, which is of the longer sort of Hebrew verse, in which the Lamentations of Jeremiah, called by the LXX Ignvoi, are written.
11. —thy covering] Twenty-eight MSS (ten ancient) and seven editions, with the LXX and Vulg. read yo91, in the singular number. .
12. O Lucifer, son of the morning] See note on xiii. 10.
13. the mount of the divine presence-] It appears plainly from Exod. xxv. 22. and xxix. 42, 43. where God appoints the place of meeting with Moses, and promises to meet with him before the ark, to commune with him, and to speak unto him; and to meet the children of Israel at the door of the tabernacle ; that the tabernacle, and afterward the temple and Mount Sion, (or Moriah, which is reckoned a part of Sion), whereon it stood, was called the tabernacle, and the mount of convention, or of appointment; not from the people's assembling there to perform the services of their religion, (which is what our translation expresses by calling it the tabernacle of the congregation), but because God appointed that for the place where he himself would meet with