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They worshipped the sun under the figure of o man in polished gold; his face represented the sun. In the body there were seven divisions for the reception of offerings. This idol was called Moloch, which in Hebrew means a king or governor, the sun being king or ruler in nature.
Many writers have supposed that the Ammonites were not only idolaters, but that they also performed their rites with the greatest cruelty; and that they made their children pass through fire to their idol. But such information cannot be gathered from the Bible, it has only been thus understood from the present translation: no such monstrous barbarity is sanctioned in the original. This custom of passing their children through fire to Moloch, was similar to the custom of baptising children with water, at this day, as a sign that they are received into the church. Being worshippers of the solar fire, represented by this idol, their passing before the fire which was burning before the altar, was an outward sign that these children were considered as belonging to that religion; and they were registered in their temples, as was the practice among the Jews, and as is now the custom among all christian nations.
THE WORSHIP OF THE AMALEKITES
Was the same as that of the Edomites, for they worshipped the same idols. Amalek was the first of the nations that fought against Israel; they ignobly took an advantage of the rear of the Israelites, and maliciously smote those who could not defend themselves. They were therefore commanded to destroy their government, but not the people, and to blot it out from under heaven.
THE WORSHIP OF THE CANAANITES.
That part of the world assigned to Ham, by Noah, was divided among his sons; Cush had that which afterwards became the Babylonian empire; Mitsraim settled in Egypt; and Canaan had the land which took his name, and his posterity were called Canaanites.
Their religion appears to have been the same as that of the Ammonites. They worshipped the same idol* Moloch, with the same ceremony of passing their children before this idol of the sun. From the commands given to Moses, to destroy " their altars and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and to burn their graven images with fire," it appears that they were idolaters of a deeper dye, than most of the infatuated nations of Canaan.
The true religion established by Noah, does not, however, appear to have been altogether rejected by all the posterity of Ham, though he approved of, and introduced, idolatry. Notwithstanding this was the prevailing profession in after-time, we find that the true worship of God was known among the canaanites, eight generations after Ham. In the time of Abraham, Melchizedeck the king of Salem was a priest of the most high God, or a priest who taught the true worship of God, in opposition to the idolatrous worship which pro. vailed at that day.
*Lev. 18. 21.
THE WORSHIP OF THE PHILISTIANS.
The Philistians descended from Mitsraim. They appear to have been a sect of idolaters, pretending to greater humility and self-abasement, than those who followed the established idolatrous worship of the land. The word Philistim means to roll themselves in the dust, or to cast dust on their heads, as a token of greater humility than other professors, by which their crafty teachers got great numbers of proselytes, until they had sufficient power to become the governors of the country. Hence came the custom among the Hebrews of casting dust on their heads in token of humility. Lam. ii. 10. "they have cast up dust on their heads." Isaiah, xlvii. 1. "Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon."
The most famous idol of the Philistians was Dagon, which means, the corn-giver. To him they ascribed the invention of growing corn; he was worshipped in the figure of a man, not half man and half fish, as has been supposed, for we read of his head, face, hands, that he fell upon his face, and it is not said that the lower part was like a fish.
Baal-Zebub was also an idol of the Philistians. Baal in Hebrew means lord, and Zebub has been usually rendered a fly, i- e. the lord of the flies: but this has neither meaning nor application. This latter word truly means a quick transition from place to place, and has on this account been rendered a fly. It appears from scripture, that by this idol, they originally meant to represent the omniscience of God, for when the King of Israel was sick "he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go and inquire of Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover of this disease," i. e. "Go to Baal-Zebub, the lord who knows all things," but the lord of flies was not likely to know future events.
Ashtaroth was another idol of the Philistians, said also to have been the abomination of the Zidonians. Jlshtaroth is a feminine noun plural, a compound word from Ashah, 'to make,' and thour, 'a tour, a circuit,' like the Moon round the earth, and Venus round the sun. That the planets Venus and the Moon were understood by this word, will be very easily determined; it is said Gen. xiv. 5. Ashteroili karnaim: karnaim* means that which
* In the first edition of this work, the following observation was made in one of the reviews: "Mr. Bellamy asserts that none of the celestial bodies assume the crescent form but the Moon and Venus, but the planet Mercury assumes that form also." It is allowed that if there were twenty planets between the earth and the sun, they must at certain times apparently assume the crescent form. But as the greatest elongation of Mercury from the sun is not more than twenty three degrees, and as this planet is constantly enveloped in the intense splendor of the rays of the sun, it is very rarely indeed that his body can be seen with the telescope. The eccentricity of the orbit of Mercury being far greater than any of the other planets, always accompanying the sun, it was not at all probable that this planet should have been so noticed by them. It was the custom of the .ancients, as it is of the moderns, to fiifix terms to the celestial bodies agreeably to their known periods when they made their appearance in a certain part of the heavens. Thus we say of Venus, when she is in a certain part ot her orbit as seen from the earth, she is a morning, or an evening star; the new Moon, when she passes from the conjunction with the sun; consequently it could only be the celestial bodies which were statedly seen to rise and set at certain periods, and which were useful in determining the seasons, as the Moon and Venus, which were worshipped by these most ancient people, the Antediluvians. I have made observations with a very powerful reflector at the time the earth was in that part of her orbit, when Mer. is horned, Deut. xxxiii. 17. and as none of the celestial bodies are regularly seen horned but the Moon and Venus, the Moon, when she makes her first appearance, after the conjunction with the Sun, and Venus, when seen from the earth in a particular part of her orbit; it proves that these planets were worshipped by them, and that they must also have had the use of the telescope, as the .planet Venus cannot be discovered to have that horned figure with the naked eye. The full meaning of these words will be comprehended thus, the horned tour-making goddesses.
The septuagint render the word Ashtaroth, 'ao.tojrrsf Astarte; and kavnaim, by itSo^currxi, was glorified, which may read, the glorified tour-making goddesses, for horns, or rays are significative of glory, Hab. iii. 4.—This I say proves that these ancient people were well acquainted with astronomy, as none of the celestial bodies assume the crescent form but the Moon and Venus, which are evidently referred to by the above words.
THE WORSHIP OF THE ANCIENT SYRIANS.
The scriptures inform us that the idol of the ancient Syrians was called Rimrnon. 2nd Kings, v. 18. The word
• cury should have that appearance, and have never been fortunate enough to see it so falcated. But admitting that Mercury was known in those early ages, which may be proved from scripture, it would be a farther proof that these primeval people had the use of the telescope, and that they had it in great perfection. The feminine noun rvYH?J?, Jlshlaroth, will also be applicable to the Moon, Venus, and Mercury; for Mercury by these ancients was allowed to assume the nature and quality of those with whom it was conjoined.