Isaiah 40

CHAPTER XL

In this chapter the prophet opens the subject respecting the

restoration of the Church with great force and elegance;

declaring God's command to his messengers the prophets to

comfort his people in their captivity, and to impart to them

the glad tidings that the time of favour and deliverance was

at hand, 1, 2.

Immediately a harbinger is introduced giving orders, as usual

in the march of eastern monarchs, to remove every obstacle, and

to prepare the way for their return to their own land, 3-5.

The same words, however, the New Testament Scriptures authorize

us to refer to the opening of the Gospel dispensation.

Accordingly, this subject, coming once in view, is principally

attended to in the sequel. Of this the prophet gives us

sufficient notice by introducing a voice commanding another

proclamation, which calls of our attention from all temporary,

fading things to the spiritual and eternal things of the

Gospel, 6-11.

And to remove every obstacle in the way of the prophecy in

either sense, or perhaps to give a farther display of the

character of the Redeemer, he enlarges on the power and wisdom

of God, as the Creator and Disposer of all things. It is

impossible to read this description of God, the most sublime

that ever was penned, without being struck with inexpressible

reverence and self-abasement. The contrast between the great

Jehovah and every thing reputed great in this world, how

admirably imagined, how exquisitely finished! What atoms and

inanities are they all before HIM who sitteth on the circle of

the immense heavens, and views the potentates of the earth in

the light of grasshoppers,-those poor insects that wander over

the barren heath for sustenance, spend the day in continual

chirpings, and take up their humble lodging at night on a blade

of grass! 12-26.

The prophet concludes with a most comfortable application of

the whole, by showing that all this infinite power and

unsearchable wisdom is unweariedly and everlastingly engaged in

strengthening, comforting, and saving his people, 27-31.

The course of prophecies which follow, from hence to the end of

the book, and which taken together constitute the most elegant

part of the sacred writings of the Old Testament, interspersed

also with many passages of the highest sublimity, was probably

delivered in the latter part of the reign of Hezekiah. The prophet

in the foregoing chapter had delivered a very explicit declaration

of the impending dissolution of the kingdom, and of the captivity

of the royal house of David, and of the people, under the kings of

Babylon. As the subject of his subsequent prophecies was to be

chiefly of the consolatory kind, he opens them with giving a

promise of the restoration of the kingdom, and the return of the

people from that captivity, by the merciful interposition of God

in their favour. But the views of the prophet are not confined to

this event. As the restoration of the royal family, and of the

tribe of Judah, which would otherwise have soon become

undistinguished, and have been irrecoverably lost, was necessary,

in the design and order of Providence, for the fulfilling of God's

promises of establishing a more glorious and an everlasting

kingdom, under the Messiah to be born of the tribe of Judah, and

of the family of David, the prophet connects these two events

together, and hardly ever treats of the former without throwing in

some intimations of the latter; and sometimes is so fully

possessed with the glories of the future and more remote kingdom,

that he seems to leave the more immediate subject of his

commission almost out of the question.

Indeed this evangelical sense of the prophecy is so apparent,

and stands forth in so strong a light, that some interpreters

cannot see that it has any other; and will not allow the prophecy

to have any relation at all to the return from the captivity of

Babylon. It may therefore be useful to examine more attentively

the train of the prophet's ideas, and to consider carefully the

images under which he displays his subject. He hears a crier

giving orders, by solemn proclamation, to prepare the way of the

Lord in the wilderness; to remove all obstructions before JEHOVAH

marching through the desert; through the wild, uninhabited,

impassable country. The deliverance of God's people from the

Babylonish captivity is considered by him as parallel to the

former deliverance of them from the Egyptian bondage. God was then

represented as their king leading them in person through the vast

deserts which lay in their way to the promised land of Canaan. It

is not merely for JEHOVAH himself that in both cases the way was

to be prepared, and all obstructions to be removed; but for

JEHOVAH marching in person at the head of his people. Let us first

see how this idea is pursued by the sacred poets who treat of the

exodus, which is a favourite subject with them, and affords great

choice of examples:-

"When Israel came out of Egypt,

The house of Jacob from the barbarous people;

Judah was his sanctuary,

Israel his dominion."

Ps 114:1, 2.

"JEHOVAH his God is with him;

And the shout of a king is among them:

God brought them out of Egypt"___

Nu 23:21, 22.

"Make a highway for him that rideth through the deserts:

O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people.

When thou marchedst through the wilderness,

The heavens dropped"___

Ps 68:4, 7.

Let us now see how Isaiah treats the subject of the return of

the people from Babylon. They were to march through the wilderness

with JEHOVAH at their head, who was to lead them, to smooth the

way before them, and to supply them with water in the thirsty

desert; with perpetual allusion to the exodus:-

"Come ye forth from Babylon, flee ye from the land of the

Chaldeans with the voice of joy:

Publish ye this, and make it heard; utter it forth even to the

end of the earth;

Say ye, JEHOVAH hath redeemed his servant Jacob:

They thirsted not in the deserts, through which he made them go;

Waters from the rock he caused to flow for them;

Yea, he clave the rock, and forth gushed the waters."

Isa 48:20, 21.

"Remember not the former things;

And the things of ancient times regard not:"

(That is, the deliverance from Egypt:)

"Behold, I make a new thing;

Even now shall it spring forth; will ye not regard it?

Yea, I will make in the wilderness a way;

In the desert streams of water."

Isa 43:18, 19.

"But he that trusteth in me shall inherit the land,

And shall possess my holy mountain.

Then will I say: Cast up, cast up the causeway; make

clear the way;

Remove every obstruction from the road of my people."

Isa 57:13, 14.

"How beautiful appear on the mountains

The feet of the joyful messenger, of him that announceth

peace;

Of the joyful messenger of good tidings, of him that

announceth salvation;

Of him that saith to Sion, Thy God reigneth!

All thy watchmen lift up their voice, they shout together;

For face to face shall they see, when JEHOVAH returneth to

Sion.

Verily not in haste shall ye go forth,

And not by flight shall ye march along:

For JEHOVAH shall march in your front;

And the God of Israel shall bring up your rear."

Isa 52:7, 8, 12.

Babylon was separated from Judea by an immense tract of country

which was one continued desert; that large part of Arabia called

very properly Deserta. It is mentioned in history as a remarkable

occurrence, that Nebuchadnezzar, having received the news of the

death of his father, in order to make the utmost expedition in his

journey to Babylon from Egypt and Phoenicia, set out with a few

attendants, and passed through this desert. Berosus apud Joseph.,

Antiq. x. 11. This was the nearest way homewards for the Jews; and

whether they actually returned by this way or not, the first thing

that would occur on the proposal or thought of their return would

be the difficulty of this almost impracticable passage.

Accordingly the proclamation for the preparation of the way is the

most natural idea, and the most obvious circumstance, by which the

prophet could have opened his subject.

These things considered, I have not the least doubt that the

return at the Jews from the captivity of Babylon is the first,

though not the principal, thing in the prophet's view. The

redemption from Babylon is clearly foretold and at the same time

is employed as an image to shadow out a redemption of an

infinitely higher and more important nature. I should not have

thought it necessary to employ so many words in endeavouring to

establish what is called the literal sense of this prophecy, which

I think cannot be rightly understood without it, had I not

observed that many interpreters of the first authority, in

particular the very learned Vitringa, have excluded it entirely.

Yet obvious and plain as I think this literal sense is, we have

nevertheless the irrefragable authority of John the Baptist, and

of our blessed Saviour himself, as recorded by all the

Evangelists, for explaining this exordium of the prophecy of the

opening of the Gospel by the preaching of John, and of the

introduction of the kingdom of Messiah; who was to effect a much

greater deliverance of the people of God, Gentiles as well as

Jews, from the captivity of sin and the dominion of death. And

this we shall find to be the case in many subsequent parts also of

this prophecy, where passages manifestly relating to the

deliverance of the Jewish nation, effected by Cyrus, are, with

good reason, and upon undoubted authority, to be understood of the

redemption wrought for mankind by Christ.

If the literal sense of this prophecy, as above explained,

cannot be questioned, much less surely can the spiritual; which, I

think, is allowed on all hands, even by Grotius himself. If both

are to be admitted, here is a plain example of the mystical

allegory, or double sense, as it is commonly called, of prophecy;

which the sacred writers of the New Testament clearly suppose, and

according to which they frequently frame their interpretation of

passages from the Old Testament. Of the foundation and properties

of this sort of allegory, see De S. Poes. Hebr. Praelect. xi.

NOTES ON CHAP. XL

Verse 1. Comfort ye, comfort ye] "The whole of this prophecy,"

says Kimchi, "belongs to the days of the Messiah."

Verse 2. Double for all her sins-"Blessings double to the

punishment."] It does not seem reconcilable to our notions of the

Divine justice, which always punishes less than our iniquities

deserve, to suppose that God had punished the sins of the Jews in

double proportion; and it is more agreeable to the tenor of this

consolatory message to understand it as a promise of ample

recompense for the effects of past displeasure, on the

reconciliation of God to his returning people. To express this

sense of the passage, which the words of the original will very

well bear, it was necessary to add a word or two in the version to

supply the elliptical expression of the Hebrew. Compare Isa 61:7;

Job 42:10; Zec 9:12.

chattaah signifies punishment for sin, La 3:39; Zec 14:19. But

Kimchi says, "Double here means the two captivities and

emigrations suffered by the Israelites. The first, the

Babylonish captivity; the second, that which they now endure."

This is not a bad conjecture.

Verse 3. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness-"A voice

crieth, In the wilderness"] The idea is taken from the practice of

eastern monarchs, who, whenever they entered upon an expedition or

took a journey, especially through desert and unpractised

countries, sent harbingers before them to prepare all things for

their passage, and pioneers to open the passes, to level the ways,

and to remove all impediments. The officers appointed to

superintend such preparations the Latins call stratores. Ipse

(Johannes Baptista) se stratorem vocat Messiae, cujus esset alta

et elata voce homines in desertis locis habitantes ad itinera et

vias Regi mox venturo sternendas et reficiendas hortari.-Mosheim,

Instituta, Majora, p. 96. "He (John the Baptist) calls himself the

pioneer of the Messiah, whose business it was with a loud voice to

call upon the people dwelling in the deserts to level and prepare

the roads by which the King was about to march."

Diodorus's account of the marches of Semiramis into Media and

Persia will give us a clear notion of the preparation of the way

for a royal expedition: "In her march to Ecbatana she came to the

Zarcean mountain, which, extending many furlongs, and being full

of craggy precipices and deep hollows, could not be passed without

taking a great compass about. Being therefore desirous of leaving

an everlasting memorial of herself, as well as of shortening the

way, she ordered the precipices to be digged down, and the hollows

to be filled up; and at a great expense she made a shorter and

more expeditious road, which to this day is called from her the

road of Semiramis. Afterward she went into Persia, and all the

other countries of Asia subject to her dominion; and wherever she

went, she ordered the mountains and precipices to be levelled,

raised causeways in the plain country, and at a great expense made

the ways passable."-Diod. Sic. lib. ii.

The writer of the apocryphal book called Baruch expresses the

same subject by the same images, either taking them from this

place of Isaiah, or from the common notions of his countrymen:

"For God hath appointed that every high hill, and banks of long

continuance, should be cast down, and valleys filled up, to make

even the ground, that Israel may go safely in the glory of God."

Baruch 5:7.

The Jewish Church, to which John was sent to announce the coming

of Messiah, was at that time in a barren and desert condition,

unfit, without reformation, for the reception of her King. It was

in this desert country, destitute at that time of all religious

cultivation, in true piety and good works unfruitful, that John

was sent to prepare the way of the Lord by preaching repentance. I

have distinguished the parts of the sentence according to the

punctuation of the Masoretes, which agrees best both with the

literal and the spiritual sense; which the construction and

parallelism of the distich in the Hebrew plainly favours, and of

which the Greek of the Septuagint and of the evangelists is

equally susceptible.

John was born in the desert of Judea, and passed his whole life

in it, till the time of his being manifested to Israel. He

preached in the same desert: it was a mountainous country; however

not entirely and properly a desert; for though less cultivated

than other parts of Judea, yet it was not uninhabited. Joshua

(Jos 15:61, 62) reckons six cities in it. We are so

prepossessed with the idea of John's living and preaching in the

desert, that we are apt to consider this particular scene of his

preaching as a very important and essential part of history:

whereas I apprehend this circumstance to be no otherwise

important, than as giving us a strong idea of the rough character

of the man, which was answerable to the place of his education;

and as affording a proper emblem of the rude state of the Jewish

Church at that time, which was the true wilderness meant by the

prophet, in which John was to prepare the way for the coming of

the Messiah.

Verse 4. Crooked] The word akob is very generally rendered

crooked: but this sense of the word seems not to be supported by

any good authority. Ludolphus, Comment. ad Hist. AEthiop. p. 206,

says "that in the Ethiopia language it signifies clivus, locus

editus:" and so the Syriac Version renders it in this place,

arama: Hebrew, aramah, tumulus, acervus. Thus the

parallelism would be more perfect: "the hilly country shall be

made level, and the precipices a smooth plain."

Verse 5. "The salvation of our God."] These words are added here

by the Septuagint: τοσωτηριοντουθεου, eth

yesuath Eloheynu, as it is in the parallel place, Isa 52:10. The

sentence is abrupt without it, the verb wanting its object; and I

think it is genuine. Our English translation has supplied the word

it, which is equivalent to this addition, from the Septuagint.

This omission in the Hebrew text is ancient, being prior to the

Chaldee, Syriac, and Vulgate Versions: but the words stand in

all the copies of the Septuagint, and they are acknowledged by

Luke, Lu 3:6. The whole of this verse is wanting in one of my

oldest MSS.

Verse 6. The voice said, Cry-"A voice saith Proclaim"] To

understand rightly this passage is a matter of importance; for it

seems designed to give us the true key to the remaining part of

Isaiah's prophecies, the general subject of which is the

restoration of the people and Church of God. The prophet opens the

subject with great clearness and elegance: he declares at once

God's command to his messengers, (his prophets, as the Chaldee

rightly explains it,) to comfort his people in captivity, to

impart to them the joyful tidings, that their punishment has now

satisfied the Divine justice, and the time of reconciliation and

favour is at hand. He then introduces a harbinger giving orders to

prepare the way for God, leading his people from Babylon, as he

did formerly from Egypt, through the wilderness, to remove all

obstacles, and to clear the way for their passage. Thus far

nothing more appears to be intended than a return from the

Babylonish captivity; but the next words seem to intimate

something much greater:-

"And the glory of JEHOVAH shall be revealed;

And all flesh shall see together the salvation of our God."

He then introduces a voice commanding him to make a solemn

proclamation. And what is the import of it? that the people-the

flesh, is of a vain temporary nature; that all its glory fadeth,

and is soon gone; but that the word of God endureth for ever. What

is this, but a plain opposition of the flesh to the spirit; of the

carnal Israel to the spiritual; of the temporary Mosaic economy to

the eternal Christian dispensation? You may be ready to conclude,

(the prophet may be disposed to say,) by this introduction to my

discourse, that my commission is only to comfort you with a

promise of the restoration of your religion and polity, of

Jerusalem, of the temple, and its services and worship in all its

ancient splendour. These are earthly, temporary, shadowy, fading

things, which shall soon pass away, and be destroyed for ever;

these are not worthy to engage your attention in comparison of the

greater blessings, the spiritual redemption, the eternal

inheritance, covered under the veil of the former, which I have it

in charge to unfold unto you. The law has only a shadow of good

things; the substance is the Gospel. I promise you a restoration

of the former, which, however, is only for a time, and shall be

done away, according to God's original appointment: but under that

image I give you a view of the latter, which shall never be done

away, but shall endure for ever. This I take to be agreeable to

St. Peter's interpretation of this passage of the prophet, quoted

by him, 1Pe 1:24, 25: "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory

of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth and the flower

thereof falleth away; but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.

And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you."

This is the same word of the Lord of which Isaiah speaks, which

hath now been preached unto you by the Gospel. The law and the

Gospel are frequently opposed to one another by St. Paul, under

the images of flesh and spirit: "Having begun in the spirit, are

ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Ga 3:3.-L.

All the goodliness thereof-"All its glory"] For chasdo

read chadu; the Septuagint and Vulgate, and 1Pe 1:24.

Verse 7. The grass withereth] The whole of this verse is wanting

in three of Kennicott's and five of De Rossi's MSS., and in a very

correct and ancient MS. of my own, and also in the Septuagint and

Arabic.

Surely the people-"Verily this people"] So the Syriac; who

perhaps read haam hazzeh.

Because the spirit of the Lord-"When the wind of JEHOVAH"]

ruach Jehovah, a wind of JEHOVAH, is a Hebraism, meaning

no more than a strong wind. It is well known that a hot wind in

the east destroys every green thing. Compare Ps 103:16. Two MSS.

omit the word Yehovah, Jehovah.

Verse 9. O Zion, that bringest good tidings-"O daughter, that

bringest glad tidings to Zion"] That the true construction of the

sentence is this, which makes Zion the receiver, not the

publisher, of the glad tidings, which latter has been the most

prevailing interpretation, will, I think, very clearly appear, if

we rightly consider the image itself, and the custom and common

practice from which it is taken. I have added the word daughter to

express the feminine gender of the Hebrew participle, which I know

not how to do otherwise in our language; and this is absolutely

necessary in order to ascertain the image. For the office of

announcing and celebrating such glad tidings as are here spoken

of, belongs peculiarly to the women. On occasion of any great

public success, a signal victory, or any other joyful event, it

was usual for the women to gather together, and with music,

dances, and songs, to publish and celebrate the happy news. Thus

after the passage of the Red Sea, Miriam, and all the women, with

timbrels in their hands, formed a chorus, and joined the men in

their triumphant song, dancing, and throwing in alternately the

refrain or burden of the song:-

"Sing ye to JEHOVAH, for he is greatly exalted;

The horse and his rider hath he cast into the sea."

Ex 15:20, 21.

So Jephthah's daughter collected a chorus of virgins, and with

dances and songs came out to meet her father, and to celebrate his

victory, Jud 11:34. After David's conquest of Goliath, "all the

women came out of the cities of Israel singing and dancing to meet

Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music;" and,

forming themselves into two choruses, they sang alternately:-

"Saul has slain his thousands:

And David his ten thousands."

1Sa 18:6, 7.

And this gives us the true sense of a passage in the

sixty-eighth Psalm, which has frequently been misunderstood:-

"JEHOVAH gave the word, (that is, the joyful news,)

The women, who published the glad tidings, were a great

company;

The kings of mighty armies did flee, did flee:

And even the matron, who stayed at home, shared the spoil."

The word signifying the publishers of glad tidings is the same,

and expressed in the same form by the feminine participle, as in

this place, and the last distich is the song which they sang. So

in this place, JEHOVAH having given the word by his prophet, the

joyful tidings of the restoration of Zion, and of God's returning

to Jerusalem, (see Isa 52:8,) the women are exhorted by the

prophet to publish the joyful news with a loud voice from

eminences, whence they might best be heard all over the country;

and the matter and burden of their song was to be, "Behold your

God!" See on Ps 68:11.

Verse 10. His reward is with him, and his work before him.-"His

reward is with him, and the recompense of his work before him."]

That is, the reward and the recompense which he bestows, and which

he will pay to his faithful servants; this he has ready at hand

with him, and holds it out before him, to encourage those who

trust in him and wait for him.

Verse 11. Shall gently lead those that are with young-"The

nursing ewes shall he gently lead."] A beautiful image,

expressing, with the utmost propriety as well as elegance, the

tender attention of the shepherd to his flock. That the greatest

care in driving the cattle in regard to the dams and their young

was necessary, appears clearly from Jacob's apology to his brother

Esau, Ge 33:13: "The flocks and the herds giving suck to their

young are with me; and if they should be overdriven, all the flock

will die." Which is set in a still stronger light by the following

remark of Sir John Chardin: "Their flocks," says he, speaking of

those who now live in the east after the patriarchal manner, "feed

down the places of their encampments so quick, by the great

numbers that they have, that they are obliged to remove them too

often, which is very destructive to their flocks, on account of

the young ones, who have not strength enough to follow." Harmer's

Observ. i., p. 126.

Verse 16. And Lebanon is not sufficient] The image is beautiful

and uncommon. It has been imitated by an apocryphal writer, who

however comes far short of the original:-

"For all sacrifice is too little for a sweet savour unto thee:

And all the fat is not sufficient for thy burnt-offering."

Judith 16:16.

Does not the prophet mean here that all the burnt-offerings and

sacrifices that could be offered were insufficient to atone for

sin? That the nations were as nothing before him, not merely

because of his immensity, but because of their insufficiency to

make any atonement by their oblations for the iniquities which

they had committed? Therefore the Redeemer was to come to Zion,

&c.

Verse 19. And casteth silver chains-"And forgeth for it chains

of silver."] For tsoreph, the participle, twenty-seven MSS.,

five ancient, and three editions, read tsaraph, pret. third

person.

Verse 20. Chooseth a tree that will not rot] For what? To make a

god out of it! The rich we find made theirs of gold and silver;

the poor man was obliged to put up with a wooden god! From the

words "he that hath no oblation chooseth a tree," we may learn

that the gold and silver necessary to make the graven image was

first dedicated, and then formed into a god! How stupid is

idolatry! Strange that these people did not perceive that there

could be no help in these molten and wooden idols!

Verse 21. Have ye not known] On this verse Kimchi has a very

interesting comment, an extract of which I subjoin. "The whole

world may be considered as a house built up; heaven its roof; the

stars its lamps; and the fruits of the earth its table spread.

The Master of the house is God, blessed for ever; and man is the

steward into whose hand all the business of the house is given. If

he always consider in his heart that the Master of the house is

continually over him, and that he keeps his eye upon his work, and

if in consequence he acts wisely, he shall find favour in the eyes

of the Master of the house. But if he find wickedness in the

house, then will he remove him min pekidutho, 'from his

stewardship.' The foolish steward does not think of this; for as

his eyes do not see the Master of the house, he saith in his

heart, 'I will eat and drink what I find in this house, and will

take my pleasure in it; nor shall I be careful whether there be a

master over this house or not.' When the Lord of the house marks

this, he comes and expels him from the house speedily, and with

great anger; therefore it is said, Isa 40:23,

He bringeth the princes to nothing." It seems that this parable

had been long in use among the Jews, as our blessed Lord alludes

to it in his parable of the unjust steward. Or did the rabbin,

finding it to his purpose, steal the parable from the Gospel? In

both places it has great and peculiar beauties.

Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth-"Have

ye not understood it from the foundations of the earth?"] The true

reading seems to be mimmosedoth, to answer to

merosh in the foregoing line. It follows a word ending with

mem, and out of three mems concurring, it was an easy mistake to

drop the middle one.

Verse 22. As a curtain-"As a thin veil"] "It is usual in the

summer season, and upon all occasions when a large company is to

be received, to have the court sheltered from heat or inclemency

of the weather by a velum, umbrella, or veil, as I shall call it;

which being expanded on ropes from one side of the parapet wall to

the other, may be folded or unfolded at pleasure. The psalmist

seems to allude to some covering of this kind in that beautiful

expression of spreading out the heavens like a curtain."-Shaw's

Travels, p. 274.

Verse 24. And he shall also blow upon them-"And if he but blow

upon them"] The Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate, and MS. Bodl., with

another, have gam, only, without the conjunction vau,

and.

Verse 26. Left up your eyes on high] The rabbins say, He who is

capable of meditating on the revolutions of the heavenly bodies,

and does not meditate on them, is not worthy to have his name

mentioned among men.

Verse 28. There is no searching of his understanding-"And that

his understanding is unsearchable."] Twenty-four MSS., two

editions, the Septuagint and Vulgate, read veein, with

the conjunction vau.

Verse 31. They shall mount up with wings as eagles-"They shall

put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle"] It has been a

common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his

vigour to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other

birds, he moults in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with

them his youth. "Thou shalt renew thy youth like the eagle," says

the psalmist, Ps 103:5; on which place St. Ambrose notes, Aquila

longam aetatem ducit, dum, vetustis plumis fatiscentibus, nova

pennarum successione juvenescit:-"The eagle lives to a very

advanced age; and in moulting his youth is renewed with his new

feathers."

Phile, De Animalibus, treating of the eagle, and addressing

himself to the emperor Michael Palaeologus junior, raises his

compliment upon the same notion:-

τουτουσυβασιλευτονπολυνζωοιςβιον

αεινεουργωνκαικρατυνωντηνφυσιν

"Long may'st thou live, O king; still like the eagle

Renew thy youth, and still retain thy vigour."

To this many fabulous and absurd circumstances are added by

several ancient writers and commentators on Scripture; see

Bochart, Hieroz. II. ii. 1. Rabbi Saadias says, Every tenth

year the eagle flies near the sun; and when not able any longer to

bear the burning heat, she falls down into the sea, and soon loses

her feathers, and thus renews her vigour. This she does every

tenth year till the hundredth, when, after she has ascended near

the sun, and fallen into the sea, she rises no more. How much

proof do such stories require! Whether the notion of the eagle's

renewing his youth is in any degree well founded or not, I need

not inquire; it is enough for a poet, whether profane or sacred,

to have the authority of popular opinion to support an image

introduced for illustration or ornament.-L

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