Page images
PDF
EPUB

make David say, Psalm Ixxxiii. 3,—“My life draweth nigh unto hell.” And to complain, Psalm vi. 5,—“ in hell who shall give thee thanks.”

To translate Sheol hell, would represent David as a monster in cruelty, in the following passages. Thus, speaking to his son Solomon, and just before his death, he says to him concerning Joab,"let not his hoar head go down to hell in peace.” And concerning Shimei, he adds,—“ but his hoar head bring thou down to hell with blood.” See 1 Kings, ii. 6, 9. No fault is generally found with David, as to Joab, mentioned in verse 6th, for his crimes justly subjected him to death. But David's conduct in regard to Shimei, verse 9th, has been often blamed. The following quotation from the Missionary Magazine, vol. vii. p. 333, removes all difficulty from this passage, which has afforded sport to infidels. It is there said, “David is here represented in our English version as finishing his life with giving a command to Solomon to kill Shimei; and to kill him on account of that very crime, for which he had sworn to him by the Lord, he would not put him to death. The behaviour thus imputed to the king and prophet, should be examined very carefully, as to the ground it stands upon. When the passage is duly considered, it will appear highly probable that an injury has been done to this illustrious character. It is not uncommon in the Hebrew language to omit the negative in a second part of a sentence, and to consider it as repeated, when it has been once expressed, and is followed by the connecting particle. The necessity of so very considerable an alteration, as inserting the particle not, may be here confirmed by some other instances. Thus Psalm i. 5. •The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor (the Hebrew is and, signifying and not) sinners in the congregation of the righteous.' (Psalm ix. 18. ; xxxviii. i.; lxxv. 5. Prov. xxiv. 12.) If, then, there are many such instances, the question is, whether the negative, here expressed in the former part of David's command, may not be understood as to be repeated in the latter part? and if this may be, a strong reason will be added why it should be so interpreted. The passage will run thus: Behold, thou hast with thee Shimci, who cursed me; but I sware to him by the Lord, saying, I will not put thee to death by the sword. Now, therefore, hold him not guiltless, (for thou art a wise man, and knowest what thou oughtest to do unto him,) but bring not down his hoary head to the grave with blood. Now, if the language itself will admit this construction, the sense thus given to the sentence derives a very strong support from the context. For, how did Solomon understand this charge? Did he kill Shimei in consequence of it? Certainly he did not. For, after he had immediately commanded Joab to be slain, in obedience to his father, he sends for Shimei, and, knowing that Shimei ought to be well watched, confines him to a particular spot in Jerusalem for the remainder of his life. 1 Kings, ii. 36-42. See Kennicott's Remarks, p. 131." Those who wish to see this verse noticed at considerable length, may consult the Christian's Magazine, vol. i. p. 172-181.

But to return from this digression: David says, Psalm xxxi. 17,4 let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in hell." In some of the preceding texts we read of persons going down to hell, and in the following we read of persons being brought up from it. Thus, it is said, 1 Sam. ii. 6,«" the Lord killeth and maketh alive: he bringeth down to hell and bringeth up.” And, again it is said, Psalm xxx. 3,—“O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from hell." But what this means is explained in

the next words,—“thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” In these passages the language is evidently figurative. It is evident, that by hell could not be meant a place of endless misery, nor could these passages be understood literally ; for surely David, nor no one else, was ever brought down to such a place, and afterwards brought up from it. We find Job says, ch. vii. 9,—" he that goeth down to hell shall come up no more, which contradicts what was said in these passages about persons being brought up from hell. But what Job means, is plain from the next words, “he shall no more return to his house."

But further, if Sheol was translated hell instead of grave in the following texts, as it is in other places, it would make the sacred writers represent all men as certainly going to hell. Thus it is said, Psalm lxxxix. 48,

what man is be that liveth and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of hell ??? Not. withstanding this, David says, Psalm xlix. 15,—“But God will redeem my soul from the power of hell.” By comparing these two last texts, it is evident that "hand of hell,” and “power of hell,” mean the same thing. We have also a proof, that Sheol did not mean a place of future eternal misery, but the state of the dead; for death and Shepl are words used to express the same idea. Besides, we know for certainty, that no man can deliver himself from the power of death, or hand of the grave; but surely all men do not go to hell, or a place of eternal misery?

Again : if Sheol is translated hell instead of grave, it makes Solomon say, Eccles. ix. 10,"there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in hell whither thou goest.” But is there none of these things in the place of eternal misery? To answer this in the negative, would be to contradict common opinion on the subject. But this can be affirmed concerning the state of the dead, and shows that Solomon, by Sheol, did not understand a place of endless misery, but this state, or, as Job calls it, “ the house appointed for all the living." Here " there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom.”

But further; if Sheol indeed means hell, in the common sense of this word, very strange statements are given us in the following passages. It is said, Prov. i. 12,-“ Let us swallow them up alive as hell.” And in Job xxiv. 19. it is added, "drought and heat consume the snow waters; so doth hell those who have sinned.” Again it is said, Psalm xlix. 14,—“like sheep they are laid in hell; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in hell from their dwelling.” And it is said, Psalm cxli. 7,65our bones are scattered at hell's mouth as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood.” Now, I ask every candid man, whether all these statements do not perfectly agree with understanding Sheol to mean the grave, but are contrary to truth, yea, absurd, to understand them of hell, or a place of eternal-misery. Such an idea does not appear to have entered the minds of the Old Testament writers. Does any man believe that people's bones are scattered at the entrance or the mouth of the place of eternal misery ? and does this place consume persons in it as drought and heat consume the snow waters?

It is not generally noticed by most readers of the bible, that our translators have rendered Sheol both grave and hell in the same passage, and speaking of the same per

An example of this occurs in Ezek. xxxi. 15—18. In the 15th verse it is rendered grave, and in verses 16th and 17th it is twice rendered hell. Besides, observe, that what is called grave and hell in verses 15th, 16th and 17th, is called in verse 18th, “the nether parts of the earth."

sons.

Another example we have of this in Isai. xiv. 3-24. In this passage, too long for quotation, is given a description of the fall of the king of Babylon. Any one who reads it, may see that things are stated which forbid us thinking, that by Sheol, translated both hell and grave, a place of eternal misery was intended. But it is well known that detached parts of this passage have been so applied. The persons represented as in hell, are said to be moved at the coming of some other sinners to the same place of misery; and as saying to them,—“ Art thou also become weak as we ? Art thou become like unto us?” But the passage needs only to be read by any man of ordinary sense to convince him of the absurdity of such an interpretation.

But further; in Prov. xxx. 16. Sheol, or hell, is represented as never satisfied. And in Cant. viii. 6. jealousy is said to be “ cruel as Sheol, or hell.” All this may be said of the grave, but how it could be said of a place of eternal misery I cannot perceive.

Had our translators rendered Sheol hell in the following passage, it would have given such a plausible aspect to it, as meaning a place of misery, that it would not have been easy to convince many people to the contrary. Thus it is said Job xxi. 13. speaking of the wicked,“they spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to hell.” Had this been done, people would have quoted it as a decisive text in proof of the doctrine of eternal misery. Why it was not rendered here hell instead of grave, I know not, but sure I am, it is as strong as any of the texts in which it is rendered hell, to prove this doctrine,

« EelmineJätka »