[1]London Tract Society's Commentary, vol. i. p. 472. Alford's Greek Testament, vol. i. p. 412. Greswell, vol. i., Dissert. xii. Pp. 381-437.

[2]Gill, in his Commentary on Luke ii.8, has the following:--"There are two sorts of cattle with the Jews….there are the cattle of the house that lie in the city; the cattle of the wilderness are they that lie in the pastures. On which one of the commentators (Maimonides, in Misn. Betza, cap. 5, sect. 7), observes, 'These lie in the pastures, which are in the villages, all the days of the cold and heat, and do not go into the cities until the rains descend.' The first rain falls in the month Marchesvan, which answers to the latter part of our October and the former part of November….From whence it appears that Christ must be born before the middle of October, since the first rain was not yet come." Kitto, on Deut. Xi. 14 (Illustrated Commentary, vol. i. p. 398), says that the "first rain," is in "autumn," "that is, in September or October." This would make the time of the removal of the flocks from the fields somewhat earlier than I have stated in the text; but there is no doubt that it could not be later than there stated, according to the testimony of Maimonides, whose acquaintance with all that concerns Jewish customs is well known.

[3]Mede's Works, 1672. Discourse xlviii. The above argument of Mede goes on the supposition of the well-known reasonableness and consideration by which the Roman laws were distinguished.

[4]Archdeacon Wood, in Christian Annotator, vol. Iii. p. 2. Lorimer's Manual of Presbytery, p. 130. Lorimer quotes Sir Peter King, who, in his Enquiry into the Worship of the Primitive Church, &c., infers that no such festival was observed in that Church, and adds—"It seems improbable that they should celebrate Christ's nativity when they disagreed about the month and the day when Christ was born." See also Rev. J. Ryle, in his Commentary on Luke, chap. Ii., Note to verse 8, who admits that the time of Christ's birth is uncertain, although he opposes the idea that the flocks could not have been in the open fields in December, by an appeal to Jacob's complaint to Laban, "By day the drought consumed men, and the frost by night." Now the whole force of Jacob's complaint against his churlish kinsman lay in this, that Laban made him do what no other man would have done, and, therefore, if he refers to the cold nights of winter (which, however, is not the common understanding of the expression), it proves just the opposite of what it is brought by Mr. Ryle to prove—viz., that it was not the custom for shepherds to tend their flocks in the fields by night in winter.

[5]Gieseler, vol. i. p. 54, and Note. Chrysostom (Monitum in Hom. De Natal. Christi), writing in Antioch about A.D. 380, says: "It is not yet ten years since this day was made known to us" (vol. ii., p. 352). "What follows," adds Gieseler, "furnishes a remarkable illustration of the ease with which customs of recent date could assume the character of apostolic institutions." Thus proceeds Chrysostom: "Among those inhabiting the west, it was known before from ancient and primitive times, and to the dwellers from Thrace to Gadeira [Cadiz] it was previously familiar and well-known," that is, the birth-day of our Lord, which was unknown at Antioch in the east, on the very borders of the Holy Land, where He was born, was perfectly well known to all the European region of the west, from Thrace even to Spain!

[6]He is speaking of Jewish Sabbaths.

[7]Tertullian, De Idolatria, c. 14, vol. i. p. 682. For the excesses connected with the Pagan practice of the first foot on New Years day, see Gieseler, vol. i. sect. 79, Note.

[8]Wilkinson's Egyptians, vol. iv. p. 405. Plutarch (De Iside, vol. ii. p. 377, B), states that the Egyptian priests pretended that the birth of the divine son of Isis, at the end of December, was premature. But this is evidently just the counterpart of the classic story of Bacchus, who, when his mother Semele was consumed by the fire of Jove, was said to have been rescued in his embryo state from the flames that consumed her. The foundation of the story being entirely taken away in a previous note (see p. 59), the superstructure of course falls to the ground.

[9]Mallet, vol. i. p. 130.

[10]From Eöl, an "infant." The pronunciation here is the same as in eön of Gideon. In Scotland, at least in the Lowlands, the Yule-cakes are also called Nûr-cakes (the u being pronounced as the French u). Now in Chaldee Noûr signifies "birth." Therefore, Nûr-cakes are "birth-cakes." The Scandinavian goddesses, called "Norns," who appointed children their destinies at their birth, evidently derived their name from the cognate Chaldee word "Nor," a child.

[11]Sharon Turner's Anglo Saxons, vol. i. p. 219.

[12]Salverté, Des Sciences Occultes, p. 491.

[13]Stanley, p. 1066, col. 1.

[14]Sharon Turner, vol. i. p. 213. Turner cites an Arabic poem which proves that a female sun and a masculine moon were recognised in Arabia as well as by the Anglo-Saxons.—(Ibid.)

[15]In the authorised version Gad is rendered "that troop," and Meni, "that number;" but the most learned admit that this is incorrect, and that the words are proper names.

[16]See Kitto, vol. iv. p. 66, end of Note. The name Gad evidently refers, in the first instance, to the war-god, for it signifies to assault; but it also signifies "the assembler;" and under both ideas it is applicable to Nimrod, whose general character was that of the sun-god, for he was the first grand warrior; and, under the name of Phoroneus, he was celebrated for having first gathered mankind into social communities. (See ante, p. 51) The name Meni, "the numberer," on the other hand, seems just a synonym for the name of Cush or Chûs, which, while it signifies "to cover" or "hide," signifies also "to count or number." The true proper meaning of the name Cush is, I have no doubt, "The numberer" or "Arithmetician;" for while Nimrod his son, as the "mighty" one, was the grand propagator of the Babylonian system of idolatry, by force and power, he, as Hermes (see ante, pp. 25, 26), was the real concocter of that system, for he is said to have "taught men the proper mode of approaching the Deity with prayers and sacrifice" (Wilkinson, vol. v. p. 10); and seeing idolatry and astronomy were intimately combined, to enable him to do so with effect, it was indispensable that he should be pre-eminently skilled in the science of numbers. Now, Hermes (that is Cush) is said to have "first discovered numbers, and the art of reckoning, geometry, and astronomy, the games of chess and hazard" (Ibid. p. 3); and it is in all probability from reference to the meaning of the name of Cush, that some called "Number the father of gods and men" (Ibid. Vol. iv. p. 196). The name Meni is just the Chaldee form of the Hebrew "Mené," the "numberer" for in Chaldee i often takes the place of the final e. As we have seen reason to conclude with Gesenius, that Nebo, the great prophetic god of Babylon, was just the same god as Hermes (see ante, p. 25), this shows the peculiar emphasis of the first words in the Divine sentence that sealed the doom of Belshazzar, as representing the primeval god—"Mene, mene, Tekel Upharsin," which is as much as covertly to say, "The numberer is numbered." As the cup was peculiarly the symbol of Cush (see ante, p. 49), hence the pouring out of the drink-offering to him as the god of the cup; and as he was the great Diviner, hence the divinations as to the future year, which Jerome connects with the divinity referred to by Isaiah. Now Hermes, in Egypt as the "numberer," was identified with the moon that numbers the months. He was called "Lord of the moon" (Bunsen, vol. i. p. 394); and as the "dispenser of time" (Wilkinson, vol. v. p. 11), he held a "palm branch, emblematic of a year" (Ibid. p. 2). Thus, then, if Gad was the "sun-divinity," Meni was very naturally regarded as "The Lord Moon."

[17]Mallet, vol. ii. p. 24. Edin. 1809.

[18]Supplement to Ida Pfeiffer's Iceland, pp. 322, 323.

[19]See Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary, sub voce. Jamieson gives a good many speculations from different authors in regard to the meaning of the term "Hogmanay"; but the following extract is all that it seems necessary to quote:—"Hogmanay, the name appropriated by the vulgar to the last day of the year. Sibb thinks that the term may be … allied to the Scandinavian Hoeg-tid, a term applied to Christmas, and various other festivals of the Church." As the Scandinavian "tid" means "time" and "hoeg-tid" is applied to festivals of the Church in general, the meaning of this expression is evidently "festival-time;" but that shows that "hoeg" has just the meaning which I have attached to Hog—the Chaldee meaning.

[20]Hieronym, vol. ii. p. 217.

[21]Plutarch, De Iside, vo. Ii. sect. 52, p. 372; D. Macrob. Saturn., lib. i. cap. 21, p. 71.

[22]Macrobius, Sat., lib. i. cap. 23, p. 72, E.

[23]See the Sanscrit Researches of Col. Vans Kennedy, p. 438. Col. K., a most distinguished Sanscrit scholar, brings the Brahmins from Babylon (Ibid. p. 157). Be it observed, the very name Surya, given to the sun over all India, is connected with this birth. Though the word had originally a different meaning, it was evidently identified by the priests with the Chaldee "Zero," and made to countenance the idea of the birth of the "Sun-god." The Pracrit name is still nearer the Scriptural name of the promised "seed." It is "Suro." It has been seen, in a previous Chapter (p. 77), that in Egypt also the Sun was represented as born of a goddess.

[24]Subsequently the number of the days of the Saturnalia was increased to seven. See Justus Lirsius, Opera, tom. ii., Saturnal, lib. i. cap. 4.

[25]If Saturn, or Kronos, was, as we have seen reason to believe, Phoroneus, "The emancipator" (see ante, pp. 51, 52), the "temporary emancipation" of the slaves at his festival was exactly in keeping with his supposed character.

[26]Adam's Roman Antiquities, "Religion, Saturn." See Statius, Sylv., lib. i. c. vi. v. 4, pp. 65, 66. The words of Statius are:—

[27]In Athenaeus, xiv. p. 639, C.

[28]From "Tzohkh," "to sport and wanton," and "anesh," "man," or perhaps "anes" may only be a termination signifying "the doer," from an "to act upon." To the initiated, it had another meaning.

[29]Crabb's Mythology, "Saturn," p. 12.

[30]Berlin Correspondent of London Times, December 23, 1853.

[31]Ovid, Metam., lib. x. v. 500-513.

[32]See ante, p. 69.

[33]"Ail," or "Il," a synonym for Gheber, the "mighty" one (Exodus xv. 15), signifies also a wide-spreading tree, or a stag with branching horns (see Parkhurst, sub voce). Therefore, at different times, the great god is symbolised by a stately tree, or by a stag. In the accompanying woodcut, the cutting off of the mighty is symbolised by the cutting down of the tree. On an Ephesian coin (Smith, p. 289), he is symbolised by a stag cut asunder; and there a palm-tree is represented as springing up at the side of the stag, just as here it springs up at the side of the dead trunk. In Sanchuniathon, Kronis is expressly called "Ilos"—i.e., "The mighty one." The great god being cut off, the cornucopia at the left of the tree is empty; but the palm-tree repairs all.

[34]The reader will remember that Æsculapius is generally represented with a stick or a stock of a tree at his side, and a serpent twining around it. The figure in the text evidently explains the origin of this representation. For his character as the life-restorer, see Pausanias, lib. ii., Corinthiaca, cap. 26; and Virgil, Æneid, lib. vii. Ll. 769-773, pp. 364, 365.

[35]From Maurice's Indian Antiquities, vol. vi. p. 368. 1796.

[36]Baal-bereth, which differs only in one letter from Baal-berith, "Lord of the Covenant," signifies "Lord of the fir-tree."

[37]Gieseler, p. 42, Note.

[38]In the Scandinavian story of Balder (see ante, p. 57), the misletoe branch is distinguished from the lamented god. The Druidic and Scandinavian myths somewhat differed; but yet, even in the Scandinavian story, it is evident that some marvellous power was attributed to the misletoe branch; for it was able to do what nothing else in the compass of creation could accomplish; it slew the divinity on whom the Anglo-Saxons regarded "the empire" of their "heaven" as "depending." Now, all that is necessary to unravel this apparent inconsistency, is just to understand "the branch" that had such power, as a symbolical expression for the true Messiah. The Bacchus of the Greeks came evidently to be recognised as the "seed of the serpent;" for he is said to have been brought forth by his mother in consequence of intercourse with Jupiter, when that god had appeared in the form of a serpent.—(See Dymock's Classical Dictionary, sub voce "Deois.") If the character of Balder was the same, the story of his death just amounted to this, that the "seed of the serpent" had been slain by the "seed of the woman." This story, of course, must have originated with his enemies. But the idolators took up what they could not altogether deny, evidently with the view of explaining it away.

[39]For the mystic meaning of the story of the boar, see ante, p. 65.

[40]Pausanias, lib. vii., Achaica, cap. 7.

[41]See ante, pp. 29, 30.

[42]Theocritus, Idyll xxx. v. 21, 45.

[43]From Kitto's Illustrated Commentary, vol. iv. p. 137.

[44]Times' Berlin Correspondent, December 23, 1853.

[45]The reader will remember the Sun was a goddess. Mallet says, "They offered the largest hog they could get to Frigga"—i.e., the mother of Balder the lamented one.—(Vol. i. p. 132.) In Egypt swine were offered once a-year, at the feast of the Moon, to the Moon, and Bacchus or Osiris; and to them only it was lawful to make such an offering.—Ælian, x. 16, p. 562.

[46]"Iste tibi faciet bona Saturnalia porcus."—Martial, p. 754.

[47]Wilkinson, vol. v. p. 353.

[48]Ibid. vol. ii. p. 380.

[49]Juvenal, Satires, vi. 539, 540, p. 129.

[50]Livius, Historia, lib. v. cap. 47, vol. i. p. 388.

[51]From Barker and Ainsworth's Lares and Penates of Cilicia, chap. iv. p. 220.

[52]Moor's Pantheon, p. 10.

[53]Kitto's Illustrated Commentary, vol. iv. p. 31.

[54]The symbolic meaning of the offering of the goose is worthy of notice. "The goose," says Wilkinson, "signified in hieroglyphics a child or son;" and Horapollo says (i. 53, p. 276), "It was chosen to denote a son, from its love to its young, being always ready to give itself up to the chasseur, in order that they might be preserved; for which reason the Egyptians thought it right to revere this animal."—Wilkinson's Egyptians, vol. v. p. 227. Here, then, the true meaning of the symbol is a son, who voluntarily gives himself up as a sacrifice for those whom he loves—viz., the Pagan Messiah.

[55]Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. xxiii. cap. 3, p. 355, and Macrob., Sat., lib. i. cap. 3, p. 47, G, H. The fact stated in the paragraph above casts light on a festival held in Egypt, of which no satisfactory account has yet been given. That festival was held in commemoration of "the entrance of Osiris into the moon." Now, Osiris, like Surya in India, was just the Sun.—(Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride, sect. 52, vol. ii. p. 372, D. The moon, on the other hand, though most frequently the symbol of the god Hermes or Thoth, was also the symbol of the goddess Isis, the queen of heaven. The learned Bunsen seems to dispute this; but his own admissions show that he does so without reason.—(Vol. i. pp. 414, 416.) And Jeremiah xliv. 17 seems decisive on the subject. The entrance of Osiris into the moon, then, was just the sun's being conceived by Isis, the queen of heaven, that, like the Indian Surya, he might in due time be born as the grand deliverer. (See note, p. 96.) Hence the very name Osiris; for, as Isis is the Greek form of H'isha, "the woman," so Osiris, as read at this day on the Egyptian monuments, is He-siri, "the seed." It is no objection to this to say that Osiris is commonly represented as the husband of Isis; for, as we have seen already (p. 22), Osiris is at once the son and husband of his mother. Now, this festival took place in Egypt generally in March, just as Lady-day, or the first great festival of Cybele, was held in the same month in Pagan Rome. We have seen that the common title of Cybele at Rome was Domina, or "the Lady" (Ovid, Fasti, lib. iv. 340), as in Babylon it was Beltis (Euseb. Præp. Evang., lib. ix. Cap. 41, vol. ii. p. 58), and from this, no doubt, comes the name "Lady-day" as it has descended to us.

Home | The Gospel | Comments?
Articles | Books | Hymns | Links 
21st Century Puritan Web Site - 1997-2005 Mitch Cervinka