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tion of the sabbatical year, and the jubilee ; and more than all, the constant experience of Divine interposition, filled their minds with the most awful and grand ideas, and gave them the deepest impressions of the majesty, power, goodness, and justice of God".
We have not any account in sacred history of a navy of ships, until the reign of Solomon, and his connexion with the Tyrians. It is well known they were the successors of the Phænicians, who were for a considerable time the most distinguished navigators. Their capital was bidon.
The Abbé Milot says, “When we prefer the arts of peace to the bloody enterprises of heroes, one of the noblest spectacles which history can present to our view, is the industry of a people surmounting the obstacles opposed to them by nature, and supplying themselves by 'means of their genius and resolution, with whatever has been withheld by an unfavourable climate ; conquering the most terrible of all the elements, and paving a way to themselves over the raging billows, to render distant nations in some degree tributary; not by violence, but by supplying them with conveniencies, till then unknown.
“ Such were the Phænicians, called in scripture Canaanites, that is to say merchants, a peo
ple who were celebrated for their antiquity, their commerce, and maritime enterprises.
“ The Phænicians were navigators from time immemorial: living in a barren country upon the coast of the Mediterranean, they found the necessity of seeking resources elsewhere. They perceived that the sea which separates countries, might likewise serve to unite them; and after different attempts, exposed their lives in a piece of brittle wood, to the mercy of winds and waves, in order to procure, in other climates, what nature had denied to their own. The forest of mount Lebanon, and the convenience of their harbours, were advantages which they found how to improve. They could have no other guide but the stars. At first, they attended chiefly to the great bear, and afterwards to a star in the little bear, much nearer the pole.
“Who could imagine that, in a future period, ships would be guided upon the immense ocean by means of a small needle? It was a prodigy at that time to see people transported to different climates, and to new skies. While the Egyptians beheld the sea with a superstitious horror, the Phænicians had the courage to pass over it, and thence reaped the greatest advantages."
The Israelites never ranked high in a mari
time, any more than in a commercial, point of view, unless it was in the reign of Solomon. Though we have an account within thirty years after the creation of the world, of an instructor of artificers in brass and iron, yet not until fourteen hundred years from that time, have we any information of the progress of manufactures, and of mechanical arts; when Moses directed the construction of the tabernacle, from materials requiring both the labour of the loom and of the needle; blue, purple, and scarlet, and fine linen embroidered; and of gold, silver, brass, and precious stones.
It was not until 600 years afterwards, that Solomon built the temple. His reign inay be denominated the golden age of the Hebrews.
We read, I Kings, chap. x. 21: “ Ind all king Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold." His magnificence, with respect to drinking vessels, has not been exceeded by modern Eastern Princes. The gold plaie of the kings of Persia has been much noticed by Chardin. He observes, that the plate of the kings of Persia is of gold, and that very fine, exceeding the standard of ducats, and equal to those of Venice, which are of the purest gold. Shah Abas caused seven thousand two hundred marks of gold to be melted for this purpose. Now the two hundred tar
gets of gold which Solomon made, weighed little less than the drinking vessels which Shah Abas made. We may therefore believe that his royal drinking vessels were of equal if not of greater weight".
"Hiram's description of a workman, gives us such an idea of mechanical genius and skill, united in one person, as we have scarcely an instance
of in modern bistory: “And now I have sent a · cunning man, endued with understanding, of Hiram my father's. The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre; skilful to work in gold, and in si.ver, in brass, in iron, in stone, and in timber; in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson ; also to grave any manner of graving, and to find out every device which shall be put to him, with the cunning men of my Lord David, thy father.”
The magnitude of the undertaking of constructing the temple, may be estimated by the vast apparatus employed in it. Solomon had three-score and ten thousand that bare burdens, and fourscore thousand hewers in the mountains, besides three thousand and three hundred that ruled over the work; at which rate every officer might have the superintendence of forty-five workmen.
* Harmer, vol. i. p. 384
Besides recording the succession of the house of David, it does not appear that the sacred wri. ters on regal government, had much more in view, than to transmit to succeeding generations those proofs, with which the books of Kings and Chronicles abound, of the awful responsibility which is attached to the station of governors of nations and people, and thereby incontestably to demonstrate, that the “ Most Iligh ruleth in the kingdoms of men; that he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth."
Solomon, notwithstanding all his glory and splendour, was not exempted from the consequences of disobedience, in going after the goddess of the Zidonians, the most considerable part of his kingdom was rent from his family, and given to his servant. Jeroboamn, disregarding the warning of the prophet A hijah, brought on the destruction of his whole family, by cause ing Israel to sacrifice to olden calves. Who is not astonished at the absurdity of his selecting so unmeaning an animal, to be the representative of Divine, wisdom and power? Even a pigs or an ass, contemptible as they may soinetimes appear, are creatures of much more sagacity and discernment than a silly calf.