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not the LORD among us? none evil can come | upon us.

12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be

8 Jer. 26. 18.

Verse 12. "Therefore shall plowed as a field.”—Whether this received any literal fulfilment when the city was ruined by the Babylonians we do not know; but we do know that Jerusalem then "became heaps" as the next clause expresses. The prediction has however been hterally accomplished in more ways than one. It was an insulting act of ancient conquerors to pass a plough over a conquered and ruined city, to express that the site should be built upon no more, but be devoted to agriculture. Horace mentions it as a Roman custom :

"From hence proud cities date their overthrow,
When, insolent in ruin, o'er their walls

plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.

The wrathful soldier draws the hostile plow,

That haughty mark of total overthrow."-Carmin. 1. i. Ode xvi. FRANCIS.

And these very Romans did draw the "hostile plough" over Jerusalem. For we are told by various old Hebrew writers, whose testimony is confirmed by Jerome that after the city and temple of Jerusalem had been by them destroyed. Turnus Rufus, or, as Jerome calls him, Titus Annius Rufus, passed the plough over the site, according to an order which he received from the emperor; and in consequence of which the site remained for many years utterly desolate and occupied.

Another interesting corroboration of this passage, if understood as applying specially to Mount Zion, might be found in its present condition, as described by Dr. Richardson, in a passage quoted under Ps. xlviii. 2; and in which its application to the illustration of the present text is particularly mentioned.


1 The glory, 3 peace, 8 kingdom, 11 and victory of

the church.

BUT 'in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.

2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

3 ¶ And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into 'plowshares, and their spears into 'pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.

5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and


6 In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted;

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10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.

11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.

12 But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor.

13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the LORD of the whole earth. ✦ Zeph. 3. 19. 5 Dan. 7. 14. Luke 1. 33.

1 Isa. 2. 2, &c. Isa. 2. 4. Joel 3. 10. 3 Or, scythes. Verse 4, "They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree."-This proverbial and beautiful imagè, emn ployed by the Hebrews to express a state of security and peace, has already received, under 1 Kings iv. 25, the requi site explanation. We are happy, under the present recurrence of the image, to afford it that pictorial illustration from 2 P 289


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existing Oriental usages, with which we were not provided on the former occasion. We may take this opportunity of adding a few further observations. Pliny, in speaking of vines, mentions three kinds and modes of training:-1. Those which ran along the ground ;-2. Those which grew upright, without support ;-3. Those which were sustained by a single prop ;-4. And those which covered a frame or trellis. We have ourselves seen all these methods in the East: and although we doubt that the first method of treating the vine was the prevalent one in Syria and Asia generally, as Pliny seems to intimate, it no doubt existed there, the vineyard being probably, as now, laid out in ridges over which the vines extended. May not this explain the "spreading vine of low stature" of Ezek. xvii. 6? But some one of the other vines, or all of them, did of course supply the shade under which the Hebrews delighted to repose. In reading this and the parallel passages, it is by no means necessary to suppose that vines were trained over a trellis, and formed a sheltering arbour; since one or more of the standard vines, which grow unsupported, and which to a considerable extent form the vineyards of the East, would extend a grateful shade whether in the suburban garden, or in that which the house enclosed. Vine-shades, or arbours, such as our cuts exhibit, must however be understood as included, and are perhaps principally intended. These are and have been in use, wherever the vine is common. Palestine was more of a vine country than Egypt: yet even in Egypt, the ancient inhabitants were fond of sitting in vine-arbours. There are examples in their paintings; and one of considerable interest appears in the mosaic pavement of Præneste. In this example the arched trellis, over which the vine is trained, spans a stream, on each bank of which, within the arbour thus formed, persons repose on couches, drinking wine and playing on instruments of music.-The old rabbinical writers attest the prevalence of the general custom to which the text alludes; as they are constantly describing their learned predecessors as sitting and studying the law, meditating, or conversing, on particular occasions, under fig-trees, olivetrees, and vines. Where the fig-tree grows, its broad leaf and expanded shade naturally point it out for that preference which the Scriptural intimations assign.

Although, in the previous note, we have supposed that the vine and fig-tree may have been generally in the court of the house, this does not by any means preclude the notion that the people may not also have rejoiced in the shelter of the fig-trees and the vines which grew in their suburban gardens. Indeed, as these became dangerous places in troublous times, when it is unsafe to venture beyond the walls of a town, the blessed condition of the times of which the prophet speaks, would be beautifully evolved by our understanding him to intimate, that the people might then repair in safety to their gardens, and that none should make them afraid as they sat there under their own vine and under their own fig-tree.


The birth of Christ. 4 His kingdom. 8 His within our borders.


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deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth

Heb. the days of eternity.
Or, with her own naked swords.

7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.

8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of 'sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

9 Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.

10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:

11 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:

12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:

13 Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.

3 Or, rule. 7 Or, goats.

4 Heb. princes of men.
8 Or, statues.

$ Heb. eat up.

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Verse 2. "Beth-lehem Ephratah."-Ephratah appears to have been the more ancient name of the place (see the note on Gen. xxxv. 16), and is here added to the later and more common name, Bethlehem, to distinguish it from another Bethlehem. This is the place where Christ was born-an event to which the prophet not obscurely refers: and it being thus a spot of the greatest interest to Christian traveller,s there are few who have visited Jerusalem without making an excursion to Bethlehem. Hence the accounts which we possess are numerous and ample; but they are chiefly occupied with details concerning the place of the nativity, and other spots connected, or supposed to be con nected, with the circumstances which the sacred narrative records. Reserving these for a future and more appropriate occasion, we shall confine our present notice to the town itself and the approach to it.

Bethlehem is about six miles to the south of Jerusalem, and the distance is thickly strewed with spots and objects of alleged sanctity, which are enumerated by most travellers, as pointed out to them by their guides. These are nearly the same now as upwards of two centuries since, when they were mentioned by Sandys. After clearing the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem, that instructive old traveller thus proceeds :-" We passed through a countrey hilly and stony, yet not utterly forsaken of the vine, though onely planted by Christians; in many places producing corne; here shadowed with the fig-tree, and there with the olive. Sundry small turrets are dispersed about, which serve for solace as well as for safeguard. Some two miles from the citie, on the left hand, and by the highway side, there groweth a turpentine-tree, yet flourishing, which is said to have afforded a shelter to the Virgin Marie, as she passed between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. This tradition, however absurd, is generally believed by those Christians; and it is a place of high repute in their devotions. Towards the west, about two miles off, on a little hill, stands an ancient tower, which is said to have been the habitation of Simeon. A mile beyond the foresaid tree, in the midst of the way, is a cisterne, vast within and square at the mouth, which is called the Cisterne of the Starre, for that (as they say) the wise men of the East there first againe did see that conducting star, which went before them unto the place of our Saviour's nativitie. A little on the right hand, there are the small remaynes of an ancient monasterie, built, they affirme, in that place where the angell tooke up Abacuck by the haire of the head, and conveyed him to Babylon. Half a mile further, on the left side of the way, there is another religious house, but in good repaire, in forme of a fortresse, and environed with high walls, to withstand the insolencies of the infidels; possessed by the Greek Coloieros, and dedicated to Elias. Hard by there is a flat rocke, whereon, they told us, that the prophet accustomed to sleepe, and that it bears as yet the impression of his bodie. Indeed, there are certain hollowes in the same, but not by my eyes apprehended to retayne any manly proportion. As farre beyond are the decayes of a church, which stood (as they say) in the place

where the patriarch Jacob inhabited. About a mile further west of the way, and a little off, stands the Sepulchre of Rachel." But of this, see the note on Gen. xxxv. Then, after this, the road soon conducts the traveller to a ridge of hills, from whence "The Dead Sea doth appeare as if neere at hand; but not so found by the traveller, for that those high declining mountains are not to be directly descended. Within half a mile of Bethlehem, separated from the same by a valley, and a little on the left hand of the way, are the cisternes of David, whereof he so much desired to drinke-a large deepe vault, now out of use, having onely two small tunnels at the top, by which they draw out water." All these objects are noticed by later travellers, with the exception of the terebinth-tree and the Cistern of the Star: the former has probably since perished. Sandys omitted to notice that the same hills which offer a view of the Dead Sea, also first bring Bethlehem under the traveller's notice. The view of Bethlehem obtained from hence is very interesting. The town appears covering the ridge of a hill, on the southern side of a deep and extensive valley and reaching from east to west; the most conspicuous object being the monastery erected over the Cave of the Nativity, in the suburbs and upon the eastern side. The battlements and walls of this building seem like those of a vast fortress. The ground in front of the town is divided into several small enclosures, and planted with olives and fig-trees. The soil is diversified with hill and dale, and other requisites of picturesque situation; but the soil has now few visible claims to the character of fertility, implied in the appellation of Ephratah, by which it was anciently distinguished. Volney, indeed, says, "The soil is the best in all these districts; fruits, vines, olives, and sesamum succeed here extremely well;" but he tempers his eulogium with the observation, “But, as is the case every where else, cultivation is wanting." Bethlehem itself is now but a poor village; "But," said Dr. Richardson, "it was the birth-place of David and David's Lord, which is praise sufficient for any village upon earth. It is not the least among the princes of Judah." Dr. Richardson seems however to form a lower estimate of the place than most other travellers. Volney says, that in his time it contained about 600 men capable of bearing arms, which would give a population of about 2500. Buckingham says it is nearly as large as Nazareth, and containing a population of from 1000 to 1500; while Richardson does not state it at more than 300. Probably the population is declining. The place has an air of cleanliness and comfort not often seen in Eastern villages. The inhabitants are mostly Christians, and derive a very considerable part of their support from the manufacture of rosaries, crosses, &c., which are eagerly purchased by pilgrims. Buckingham describes the men as robust and well made, and the women as among the fairest and handsomest he had seen in Palestine. The men bear an indifferent character. What Pococke long ago observed is true now, that the Christians at the holy places, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, St. John's, and Nazareth, were worse than any other Christians. At Bethlehem the women bore a good character; but at the other places, and especially at Jerusalem, they were worse than the men. He adds, wisely, "I will not venture to say whether too great a familiarity with those places in which the sacred mysteries of our redemption were acted may not be a cause to take off from the reverence and awe which they should have for them, and lessen the influence they ought to have on their conduct." (See the respective Travels' of Sandys, Volney, Clarke, Buckingham, and Richardson; with the 'Journey' of Maundrell, and the Letters' of Jolliffe.)

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5 O my people, remember now what 'Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from 'Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.

sands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my 'body for the sin of my soul?

8 He hath 'shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to 'walk humbly with thy God?

9 The LORD's voice crieth unto the city, and "the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.

10 "Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?


11 18Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?

12 For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

6 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves 'of a year old?

13 Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins.

14 Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst

7 Will the LORD be pleased with thou- | of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt

1 Or, with. 2 Isa. 1. 2. Exod. 12. 51, and 14. 30. 4 Num. 22. 5, and 23. 7. 5 Num. 25. Josh. 5. Heb. sons of a year. 7 Heb. belly. 8 Deut. 10 12. Heb. humble thyself to walk. 10 Or, thy name shall see that which is. 11 Or, is there yet unto every man an house of the wicked, &c. 12 Heb. measure of leanness, 13 Or Shall I be pure with, &c.

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