Slike strani

Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it:
The well which the princes digged,
Which the nobles of the people delved,

With the sceptre, and with their staves.*

This was followed, after the arrival at Mt. Pisgah, by the Hymn of Scorn, which grew out of the refusal of Sihon, king of the Amorites, to permit the Israelites to pass through his dominions. It shows the revival among the Hebrews of a warlike spirit on a larger scale, national in conception, not justifiable perhaps, but exhibiting the redeeming tendency to defend the Jahveh worship against the arrogance of the devotees of Chemosh,, the tutelar deity of the Moabites.

Come ye to Heshbon,

Let the city of Sihon be built and established:

For a fire is gone out of Heshbon,

A flame from the city of Sihon:

It hath doomed Ar of Moab,

The Lords of the high places of Arnon.

Woe to thee, Moab!

Thou art undone, O people of Chemosh :
He hath given his sons as fugitives,

And his daughters into captivity,
Unto Sihon, king of the Amorites.

We have shot at them; Heshbon is

Perished even unto Dibon,

And we have laid waste even unto Nophah.
Which reacheth unto Medeba.†

In the time of the Judges a number of songs were written and sung which illustrate and prove the gradual development of the divinely appointed mission of the Hebrews in its effect upon the art of music. The most important among them are Balaam's Hymns of Blessing in praise of the people of Israel, as a chosen nation to whom was given the promise of a "star out of Jacob," and "a scepter in Israel." §

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Lo, it is a people that dwell alone,

And shall not be reckoned among the nations.
Who can count the dust of Jacob,

Or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous,
And let my last end be like his. *

The Hymn of the Rock,† perhaps erroneously ascribed to Moses, was a product of this era. Idolatry had reappeared among the Hebrews, and for eight years they were the subjects of Cushan rishathaim, king of Mesopotamia.§ This hymn reflects the humiliation and repentance born of that bondage.

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For he will avenge the blood of his servants,

And will render vengeance to his adversaries,

And will make expiation for his land, for his people.

Soon after their liberation from the hand of Cushan-rishathaim, the Hebrews were again defeated in a conflict waged against them by Eglon, king of Moab, and they paid him tribute for eighteen years. This series of wars, so disastrous in issue to the Chosen People, had an ill effect upon their religious customs and national life. Defeat in battle was the fruit of moral decay, and each recurring subjugation scattered still wider the seeds of dismemberment. But the old traditions and the gracious promises connected with the Jahveh worship were not forgotten. The gift of prophecy was on the ascendancy in Israel. Again and again it came to the rescue. Redeemed

from the tyranny of Moab, after a peace of eighty years a still more trying oppression was forced upon Israel through the conquests of the Canaanites. In that bondage the Hebrews suf

*Numb. 23: 9-11.

Deut. 32: 1-43.

Judges 2: 13, 14.

Judges 3: 8.

Judges 4: 1.

fered untold humiliation and cried to Heaven for aid. Deborah, the prophetess, became the agent of their deliverance. At her behest the different tribes, whom misfortune had demoralized and estranged, were organized into an army under the command of Barak, who led them to victory on the banks of Kishon. In celebration of that event, on the day of its consummation, and accompanied by the shouts of the multitude, Deborah sang her Hymn of Triumph.

For that the leaders took the lead in Israel,

For that the people offered themselves willingly,
Bless ye the Lord.

Hear, O ye Kings; give ear, O ye princes;

I, even I, will sing unto the Lord;

I will sing praises to the Lord, the God of Israel,
Jahveh! When thou wentest forth from Seir,

When thou marchedst hither from the land of Edom,
The earth trembled and the heavens streamed down;

The clouds poured forth waters;

The mountains melted before Jahveh

Sinai flowed down before the face of Jahveh,

Before the God of Israel!*

But the victory and the restoration under Barak and Deborah were not final. The oscillation between obedience to Jahveh and the worship of false gods, between peace and war, freedom and bondage, still continued. After a time the Midianites by robbery reduced the Hebrews to poverty and drove them from their homes into the caves and fastnesses of the mountains. From this sore distress they were reclaimed by the valiant and matchless Gideon, the foremost Judge in all the line, chosen, for his faith, from the poorest family in Manasseh. After a peace of forty years' duration under his rule, at the close of Gideon's career the Israelites again became estranged through the influence of Abimelech. Tola ben Puah delivered them from the snare. Then followed the great defection to the worship of Baalim and Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, of Zidon and Moab, of Ammon and Philistia. Oppression ensued. * Judges 5.


Repentance, so often repeated, came again. Jephthah appeared and led the Hebrews over the bodies of the slain to renewed independence. The reigns of Ibzan and Abdon passed away. They were succeeded by the fierce Philistine oppression of forty years' duration.

In the midst of that tyranny, almost equal in intensity to the Egyptian, Samson arose in Israel, and by his simple sturdy faith revived in a measure the few remaining hopes of the Jewish people. For more than three hundred years, with slight intermissions, war had been the constant employment of the Hebrews. Again and again their cities were sacked and their homes despoiled. Idolatry became the growing menace of their ancestral faith. The battles in which they engaged "seem of very small importance to us now, those perpetual contests with the Canaanites, and the Midianites, and the Ammonites, and the Philistines, with which the Books of Joshua, and Judges, and Samuel are almost filled. We may half wonder that God should have interfered in such quarrels, or have changed the course of nature, in order to give one of those nations of Palestine the victory over another. But in those contests, on the fate of one of these nations, the happiness of the human race depended. The Israelites fought, not for themselves only, but for us."* And yet whatever significance for future times those bloody conflicts may have had, they were accompanied by a serious and wide-spread loss to the generations who were engaged in them. Throughout that long period of religious fluctuation and moral decay, from the days of Barak and Deborah to the hour which heralded the reformation under Samuel, Israel's muse of poetry and song, chosen to perpetuate and magnify the Jahveh worship, subsided into almost total silence.

With the public career of Samuel, who had been reared by the timid but pious Eli, a new era began in Israel. The twelve tribes were re-united, the national spirit was revived and strengthened, patriotic obedience to social and political law, sanctioned and enforced by centralized authority, became the

*Arnold's Sermons, vol. V. pp. 353-7. Quoted by Geikie.

ripened demand of the hour. Thus the ancestral faith of the Hebrews, leaping into fresh life upon the soil of this vital political reformation, gave an impulse to the cultivation of sacred literature and song unequaled since the days of Moses. But scarcely anything remains to illustrate the wholesome and reverent achievments of that period in Hebrew hymnology, for the writings of the prophet Samuel, of the seers associated with him, and the productions of the "schools of the prophets " which were instituted by him for training in the skillful use of the psaltery, tabret, pipe and harp, failed to reach the eyes of later generations. And yet one song was rescued from the literature of that time, by the writer of the Books of Samuel. It is known as Hannah's Hymn of Thanksgiving. As it is one of the earliest productions of the closing years of the Judges, it gathers into a beautiful cluster the holiest sentiments and yearnings of many in Israel who rejoiced that at last the dawn of a better day had come.

My heart exulteth in the Lord!

My horn is exalted in the Lord!

My mouth is enlarged over my enemies :

For I rejoice in thy salvation.

No one is holy as the Lord.

For there is no God beside Thee!

Neither is there any rock like our God.*

From the renaissance of Hebrew poetry in the time of Samuel, the Golden Period of Jewish song, the reign of King David, emerges. The son of a herdsman, born and reared upon the plains, inspired with the breath of the Almighty under the silent gaze of the stars, and placed in the royal line by the anointing hand of Samuel, was destined to create and witness

* 1 Sam. 2: 1-11. Some doubt has been expressed about the authorship of this song. The concluding words:

And he shall give strength unto his king,

And exalt the horn of his anointed,

seem to point to a later writer, possibly David, as the author, since in Hannah's time there was no king in Israel.


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