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some extraordinary and over-ruling impulse, and felt herself acting under that Divine warrant which alone could justify her in the course she took. She may have heard of Deborah's prophecy, that Sisera would fall by the hand of a woman, and, under the peculiar circumstances, she may naturally have conceived herself to be the woman pointed out and called to that service. That she really did act under the Divine sanction cannot be denied, without impugning the authority of this book of Judges. In the prophecy, before the fact, it is said: "The Lord shall sell Sisera into the hands of a woman;" and, after the fact, she is pronounced "blessed above women" for this her deed (chap. v. 24). Does, then, the Scripture sanction the assassination of enemies? By no means. This was a peculiar case, in which the Hebrews felt that Jael had acted under a Divine mandate, and which therefore cannot be fairly adduced as a general sanction, or as a precedent on which self-delegated avengers might act. The conduct of Jael cannot be vindicated on any inferior ground; and every one who has essayed the vindication on common principles and customs, has miserably failed in the attempt. The Rev. T. H. Horne, for instance (who will thank us for pointing it out), says: "With regard to the conduct of Jael, we must judge of it by the feelings of those among whom the right of avenging the blood of a relative was so strongly rooted, that even Moses could not take it away. Jael was an ally, by blood, with the Israelitish nation: their chief oppressor, who had mightily oppressed them for the space of twenty years, now lay defenceless before her; and he was, moreover, one of those whom Israel was bound, by Divine command, to extirpate." On this we only need remark, that "there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor, and the house of Heber the Kenite" (verse 17); and that the very principles of Arabian honour, to which Mr. Horne refers for an explanation, would oblige a man to lay down his life to defend that of the guest he had received under his protection-even if that guest proved to be the murderer of his own son, or one against whom his heart had burned in hatred and revenge for years.
22. "As Barak pursued Sisera."-He continued to pursue the chariots after the escape of Sisera (verse 16), but, not finding Sisera when he had routed the whole host, appears to have hastened back to seek the fugitive.
the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.
6 In the days of 'Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the 'travellers walked through "byways.
7 The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.
8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?
9 My heart is toward the governors of Israel, that offered themselves willingly among the people. Bless ye the LORD.
10 Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.
11 They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the "righteous acts of the LORD, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the LORD go down to the gates.
12 Awake, awake, Deborah: awake, awake, utter a song: arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
13 Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the nobles among the people: the LORD made me have dominion over the mighty.
14 Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that "handle the pen of the writer.
15 And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak: he was sent on foot into the valley. the divisions of Reuben there were great "thoughts of heart.
16 Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds, to hear the bleatings of the flocks? 15 For the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart.
17 Gilead abode beyond Jordan: and why did Dan remain in ships? Asher continued on the sea shore, and abode in his 17breaches.
that jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.
19 The kings came and fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.
20 They fought from heaven; the stars in their "courses fought against Sisera. 21 The river of Kishon swept them away, that ancient river, the river Kishon. O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.
22 Then were the horsehoofs broken by the means of the "pransings, the pransings of their mighty ones.
23 Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.
24 Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent.
25 He asked water, and she gave him milk; she brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen's hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.
27 At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: at her feet he bowed, he fell: where he bowed, there he fell down "dead.
28 The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming? why tarry the wheels of his chariots ?
29 Her wise ladies answered her, yea, she returned "answer to herself,
30 Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; "to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?
31 So let all thine enemies perish, O LORD: but let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth in his might. And 18 Zebulun and Naphtali were a people the land had rest forty years.
4 Exod. 19. 18. 5 Chap. 3. 31.
10 Heb. righteousnesses of the LORD.
13 Or, in. 16 Or, port.
21 Heb. she hammered.
Chap. 4. 18.
Heb. crooked ways.
7 Heb. walkers of paths. 9 Or, meditate. 11 Heb. draw with the pen, &c 12 Heb. his feet 13 Or, in the divisions, &c. 14 Heb. impressions. 17 Or, creeks. 18 Heb. exposed to reproach. 19 Heb. paths. 20 Or, tramplings, or plannings. 24 Heb. between. 23 Heb. destroyed. 24 Heb. her words. 25 Heb. to the head of a man.
Verse 1. "Then sang Deborah."-The fine triumphal ode in this chapter is a noble specimen of Hebrew poesy; the more prominent beauties of which will not fail to strike the reader even as seen through the disadvantages of a translation made at a time when the principles of Hebrew poetry were but little understood. It has been ably analyzed and illustrated by Bishop Lowth and others. "Its design," says Dr. Hales, "seems to be two-fold, religious and political:
first, to thank God for the recent victory and deliverance of Israel from Canaanitish bondage and oppression; and next, to celebrate the zeal with which some of the tribes volunteered their services against the common enemy; and to censure the lukewarmness and apathy of others, who staid at home and thus betrayed the public cause; and by this contrast and exposure to heal those fatal divisions among the tribes so injurious to the common weal." 6-8. "In the days of Shamgar," &c.-These three verses contain a very striking description of the state of Israel while under the oppression of Jabin.
8. "Was there a shield or spear seen...in Israel."-We thus see that it was the policy of the northern Canaanites, while the Israelites were in subjection, as it was afterwards of the Philistines (1 Sam. xiii. 9), to deprive the people of their arms. Did Shamgar's employment of the ox-goad arise from the want of a better weapon? This text affords us an opportunity of noticing shields and spears, which are so often mentioned in the Bible, with such pictorial illustrations as will at one view bring the whole subject fully before the reader. They exhibit the various forms of these offensive and defensive arms among the same and among different ancient people, and also among those modern Oriental nations which are supposed to have preserved the ancient forms of their weapons. From these, and the statements which we annex, some ideas of the form of the Hebrew weapons may be collected. We are not to suppose that there was any thing peculiar in their shape or substance. There are fewer peculiarities in the arms of most nations than in any thing else belonging to them. The act of warfare itself brings them acquainted with the weapons
of their neighbours, and perhaps of remote nations; and a nation is seldom slow to adopt from a conquered or conquering enemy improved or varied forms of the arms which they mutually employ. Hence, as we know little or nothing precisely concerning the forms of the Hebrew arms, we may safely consider them as represented by those of the nations with which they were acquainted.
Shields. The shield is unquestionably the most ancient and most general piece of defensive armour in the world. When it was first invented we cannot say; but it is mentioned in the Bible long before helmets or other defensive armour. It is the only defensive arm mentioned in the books of Moses. The Egyptians as usual claim the honour of the invention; and before it was discovered, men probably endeavoured to break the force of blows by doing what Diodorus tells us that the first kings of Egypt did-investing their persons with the skins of lions and bulls. Among the means for this purpose, the superior convenience and efficacy of such a contrivance as a shield, could not fail soon to occur to the mind: and accordingly, there is hardly any nation in which the shield, in some form or other, is not employed. Savages, who have not the least idea of such defences as the helmet or cuirass, are yet seldom found without the shield.
There are three if not four sorts of shields mentioned in Scripture; or, at least, there are four names by which they are distinguished. The largest seems to be that called, tzinnah, which was twice the size of the ordinary shield, as we learn from 1 Kings, x. 16, 17; 2 Chron. ix. 16, where 600 shekels of beaten gold were employed in the construction of the one, and 300 shekels in the other. Formidable as this weight of metal for the tzinnah is, it probably does not give an approximating idea of its full weight, and still less of its size, as shields were almost never wholly of metal, but were of wood or skin covered with metal. We may suppose the tzinnah to answer to the larger kind of shields which were used in ancient nations. Concerning these and other ancient arms there are very complete indications in Homer's Iliad. Among his heroes, as well as in other times and nations, these larger shields were chiefly used by persons fighting on foot. Their length was nearly equal to that of a man, as we gather from several passages in that old poet; thus, he says of Hector:
"So saying, the hero went, and as he strode,
Smote on his heels and on his neck behind."
The same fact is implied in the intimations which we find of the bodies of the slain being carried on a shield; as in the famous injunction of the Spartan mother to her son, "Either bring back this buckler, or be brought back upon it." This refers also to the sentiment of honour connected with the preservation of the shield. It was natural enough for a man, when escaping, to desire to disencumber himself of such a burden and incumbrance as the larger kinds of shields were; and therefore the sentiment of honour was brought in, and made it disgraceful to lose the shield under any circumstances. The civilized Greeks and Romans, and the barbarous Germans, equally shared this sentiment. Among the latter, those who left their shields in the enemy's power, were excluded from civil and religious privileges, and often sought a release from ignominy in a voluntary death. The Hebrews participated in this feeling: and David, in his fine elegiac ode on the death of Saul and Jonathan, does not omit to mention this among the subjects of national regret, "Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away." (2 Sam. i. 21.)
The length of these shields seems to show that they were either oblong or oval; and that they were hollow, which implies external convexity, we gather from their being described as " enclosing" or "encompassing" the body. Homer has such expressions, and so has David ("With favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield," Ps. v. 12), which seems to prove the analogy in this respect. Tyrtæus, in one of his hymns still extant, is very precise on this point: "The warrior stands in the contest firm upon both feet: the hollow of the spacious shield covering, below, his sides and thighs, and his breast and his shoulders above." The manner in which these large heavy shields were used may be collected by a comparison of the different passages in Homer. They were supported by a leathern thong which crossed the breast. So Agamemnon advises the warriors to "Brace well their shields," and foretels that before the approaching battle is over,
His wound was on the right shoulder; whence we may infer that the belt hung from that shoulder, and crossed the breast to the left side, where it was attached to the shield, which could, of course, be moved at pleasure, behind or in front. Lighter shields had sometimes a thong fastened to the handle, by which they were hung round the neck, and carried in any convenient position when not in use-upon the arm, at the back, or even on the hip. In action, and indeed often out of action, shields of different sizes were carried and swayed by means of a handle fixed to its inner surface; or, if large, by two loops or handles, through one of which the arm was passed while the hand grasped the other. In marching it must have been thrown behind, as we see from the instance of the margin of Hector's shield smiting his heels as he walked. In marching immediately to the assault, it was however sometimes turned entirelv in front; the warrior then advanced, like Mars,
"Behind his broad shield pacing;"
but then the length of the shield obliged the owner to walk with short steps, like Deïphobus:—
"Tripping he came, with shorten'd steps, his feet
This also shows its length, and seems at the same time to prove that its weight prevented it, under such circum· stances, from being held at such a distance before the body, as to allow the free action of the feet. The weight of the larger kind of shield rendered it so great an incumbrance to a person otherwise heavily armed, that persons of consideration had an attendant, whose principal business it was to carry the shield of his superior. And this he did not merely when it was not wanted, but in action he sometimes marched before the warrior, to ward off the missiles which were aimed against him. The warrior of course sometimes took it himself when in close action. David was made Saul's armour-bearer. Jonathan's armour-bearer took a very active part in his master's exploit against the
Philistine garrison (1 Sam. xiv). Goliath had an armour-bearer who carried his great shield before him (1 Sam. xvii. 6, 7. 45). Arrian relates that Alexander had the shield which had been taken from the temple of the Trojan Pallas carried before him in all his wars. The large shields were of great service when a body of men, acting in concert, joined their shields and opposed, as it were, a wall against the assault of the foe. In attacking fortified places the soldiers also joined their shields over their heads, to protect themselves from the missiles which were discharged upon them by the besieged. This was called the testudo, or tortoise, because the soldiers were thus covered
The TESTUDO, or Tortoise-shaped Assemblage of Shields. From the Column of Trajan.
from the weapons of their enemies as a tortoise by its shell. This invention was exhibited in various forms, which ancient authors describe. That it was known to the Jews, appears from Ezek. xxvi. 8, where the king of Babylon is described as lifting up the buckler against the city of Tyre. To render this junction of shields the more compact the Roman legions had their scutum, with squared sides. It was of an oblong form (Polybius says, generally four feet long by two and a half broad) with a convexity given to its breadth. This shield, though it seems to have been reduced by the Romans to a comparatively moderate size, may be taken as an average representative of the class of large shields, and therefore may be put in the same group with the Hebrew tzinnah. But the square form being intended to assist united action, we are not to expect to find it so prevalent among Orientals and barbarians, who trusted less to the effect of combined action than did the Romans: and to an individual, a square shield with its sharp angles. is less convenient than one more or less of a rounded figure. Hence we seldom find shields other than round or oval, among the Orientals, either ancient or modern; the Egyptians, however, had their shield of the shape of a tomb-stone square at one end, and round at the other.