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cubit broad; and so they are still, as Bellonius hath delivered.
When 'tis said in the Canticles, “ thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them ;" * it may seem hard unto us of these parts to find whole flocks bearing twins, and not one barren among them; yet may this be better conceived in the fertile flocks of those countries, where sheep have so often two, sometimes three, and sometimes four, and which is so frequently observed by writers of the neighbour country of Egypt. And this fecundity, and fruitfulness of their flocks, is answerable unto the expression of the Psalmist, “that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets." of And hereby, besides what was spent at their tables, a good supply was made for the great consumption of sheep in their several kinds of sacrifices; and of so many thousand male unblemished yearling lambs, which were required at their passovers.
Nor need we wonder to find so frequent mention both of garden and field plants; since Syria was notable of old for this curiosity and variety, according to Pliny, Syria hortis operosissima ; and since Bellonius bath so lately observed of Jerusalem, that its hilly parts did so abound with plants, that they might be compared unto mount Ida in Crete or Candia; which is the most noted place for noble simples yet known.
46. Though so many plants have their express names in Scripture, yet others are implied in some texts which are not explicitly mentioned. In the feast of tabernacles or booths, the law was this, “ thou shalt take unto thee boughs of goodly trees, branches of the palm, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook.” Now though the text descendeth not unto particulars of the goodly trees and thick trees; yet Maimonides will tell us that for a goodly tree they made use of the citron tree, which is fair and goodly to the eye, and well prospering in that country: and that for the thick trees they used the myrtle, which was no rare or infrequent plant among them. And though it groweth but low in our gardens, was not a little tree in those parts; in which
plant also the leaves grew thick, and almost covered the stalk. And Curtius Symphorianus * in his description of the exotic myrtle, makes it folio densissimo senis in ordinem versibus. The paschal lamb was to be eaten with bitterness or bitter herbs, not particularly set down in Scripture : but the Jewish writers declare, that they made use of succory, and wild lettuce, which herbs while some conceive they could not get down, as being very bitter, rough, and prickly, they may consider that the time of the passover was in the spring, when these herbs are young and tender, and consequently less unpleasant: besides, according to the Jewish custom, these herbs were dipped in the charoseth, or sauce made of raisins stamped with vinegar,' and were also eaten with bread; and they had four cups of wine allowed unto them; and it was sufficient to take but a pittance of herbs, or the quantity of an olive.
47. Though the famous paper reed of Egypt be only particularly named in Scripture; yet when reeds are so often mentioned without special name or distinction, we may conceive their differences may be comprehended, and that they were not all of one kind, or that the common reed was only implied. For mention is made in Ezekiel † of " a measuring reed of six cubits;" we find that they smote our Saviour on the head with a reed, and put a sponge with vinegar on a reed, which was long enough to reach to his mouth, while he was upon the cross. And with such differences of reeds, vallatory, sagittary, scriptory, and others, they might be furnished in Judæa. For we find in the portion of Ephraim, vallis arundineti; and so set down in the maps of Adricomius, and in our translation the river Kana, or brook of Canes. And Bellonius tells us that the river Jordan affordeth plenty and variety of reeds; out of some whereof the Arabs make darts and light lances, and out of others, arrows; and withal that there plentifully groweth the fine calamus, arundo scriptoria, or writing reed, which they gather with the greatest care, as being of singular use and commodity
+ Ezek, xl. 5. ; # St. Matt. xxvii. 30, 48.
* Curtius de Hortis.
§ Josh. xvi. 17. 9 A reed which was long enough to reach to his mouth.] In the neighbourhood of Suez some reeds grow to the height of twelve yards.
at home and abroad; a hard reed about the compass of a goose or swan's quill, whereof I have seen some polished and cut with a web (neb? or nib?]; which is in common use for writing throughout the Turkish dominions, they using not the quills of birds.
And whereas the same author, with other describers of these parts, affirmeth, that the river Jordan, not far from Jericho, is but such a stream as a youth may throw a stone over it, or about eight fathoms broad, it doth not diminish the account and solemnity of the miraculous passage of the Israelites under Joshua. For it must be considered that they passed it in the time of harvest, when the river was high, and the grounds about it under water, according to that pertinent parenthesis :-“As the feet of the priests, which carried the ark, were dipped in the brim of the water, for Jordan overfloweth all its banks at the time of harvest."'* In this consideration it was well joined with the great river Euphrates, in that expression in Ecclesiasticus,“ God maketh the understanding to abound like Euphrates, and as Jordan in the time of harvest.”+
48. The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field, but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed “tares,” or as the Greek, zizania, “among the wheat.”
Now, how to render zizania, and to what species of plants to confine it, there is no slender doubt; for the word is not mentioned in other parts of Scripture, nor in any ancient Greek writer: it is not to be found in Aristotle, Theophrastus, or Dioscorides. Some Greek and Latin fathers have made use of the same, as also Suidas and Phavorinus; but probably they have all derived it from this text.
And, therefore, this obscurity might easily occasion such variety in translations and expositions. For some retain the word zizania, as the vulgar, that of Beza, of Junius, and also the Italian and Spanish. The low Dutch renders it oncruidt, the German oncraut, or herba mala, the French yvroye or lolium, and the English tares.
Besides, this being conceived to be a Syriac word, it may still add unto the uncertainty of the sense. For though this
gospel were first written in Hebrew or Syriac, yet it is not unquestionable whether the true original be any where extant. And that Syriac copy which we now have, is conceived to be of far later time than St. Matthew.
Expositors and annotators are also various. Hugo Grotius hath passed the word zizania without a note. Diodati, retaining the word zizania, conceives that it was some peculiar herb growing among the corn of those countries, and not known in our fields. But Emanuel de Sa interprets it plantas semini noxias, and so accordingly some others.
Buxtorfius, in his Rabbinical Lexicon, gives divers interpretations, sometimes for degenerated corn, sometimes for the black seeds in wheat, but withal concludes, an hæc sit eadem vox aut species cum zizaniâ apud evangelistam, quærant alii. But lexicons and dictionaries by zizania do almost generally understand lolium, which we call darnel, and commonly confine the signification to that plant. Notwithstanding, since lolium had a known and received name in Greek, some may be apt to doubt why, if that plant were particularly intended, the proper Greek word was not used in the text. For Theophrastus* named lolium aipa, and hath often mentioned that plant; and in one place saith, that corn doth sometimes loliescere or degenerate into darnel. Dioscorides, who travelled over Judæa, gives it the same name, which is also to be found in Galen, Ætius, and Ægineta; and Pliny hath sometimes Latinized that word into æra.
Besides, lolium or darnel shows itself in the winter, growing up with the wheat; and Theophrastus observed, that it was no vernal plant, but came up in the winter; which will not well answer the expression of the text, “And when the blade came up, and brought forth fruit,”. or gave evidence of its fruit, the zizania appeared. And if the husbandry of the ancients were agreeable unto ours, they would not have been so earnest to weed away the darnel; for our husbandmen do not commonly weed it in the field, but separate the seed after thrashing. And, therefore, Galen delivereth, that in an unseasonable year, and great scarcity of corn, when they neglected to
* oủ taipnobar. Theophrast. Hist. Plant. lib. 8.
separate the darnel, the bread proved generally unwholesome, and had evil effects on the head.
Our old and later translators render zizania tares, which name our English botanists give unto aracus, cracca, vicia sylvestris, calling them tares and strangling tares. And our husbandmen by tares understand some sorts of wild fitches, which grow amongst corn, and clasp unto it, according to the Latin etymology, vicia à vinciendo. Now in this uncertainty of the original, tares, as well as some others, may make out the sense, and be also more agreeable unto the circumstances of the parable. For they come up and appear what they are, when the blade of the corn is come up, and also the stalk and fruit discoverable. They have likewise little spreading roots, which may entangle or rob the good roots, and they have also tendrils and claspers, which lay hold of what grows near them, and so can hardly be weeded without endangering the neighbouring corn.
However, if by zizania we understand herbas segeti noxias, or vitia segetum, as some expositors have done, and take the word in a more general sense, comprehending several weeds and vegetables offensive unto corn, according as the Greek word in the plural number may imply, and as the learned Laurenbergius* hath expressed, runcare, quod apud nostrates weden dicitur, zizanias inutiles est evellere. If, I say, it be thus taken, we shall not need to be definite, or confine unto one particular plant, from a word which may comprehend divers. And this may also prove a safer sense, in such obscurity of the original.
And, therefore, since in this parable the sower of the zizania is the devil, and the zizania wicked persons; if any from this larger acception will take in thistles, darnel, cockle, wild straggling fitches, bindweed, tribulus, restharrow, and other vitia segetum ; he may, both from the natural and symbolical qualities of those vegetables, have plenty of matter to illustrate the variety of his mischiefs, and of the wicked of this world.
* De Horti Cultura. This may also prove a safer sense.] But the later commentators seem rather disposed, with Forskäl, to consider it to have been the dainel.