« PredošláPokračovať »
build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad
the whole earth;” as we have already begun to wander over a part. These were the open ends proposed unto the people; but the secret design of Nimrod, was to settle unto himself a place of dominion, and rule over his brethren, as it after succeeded, according to the delivery of the text, “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel.”
Of the Mandrakes of Leah. We shall not omit the mandrakes4. of Leah, according to the history of Genesis. “ And Reuben went out in the days of wheat-harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said unto Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes: and she saith unto her, Is it a small matter that thou hast taken my husband, and wouldst thou take
ту son's mandrakes also ? And Rachel said. Therefore he shall lie with thee this night for thy son's mandrakes." From whence hath arisen a common conceit, that Rachel requested these plants as a medicine of fecundation, or whereby she might become fruitful. Which notwithstanding is very questionable, and of incertain truth.
For, first, from the comparison of one text with another, whether the mandrakes here mentioned be the same plant which holds that name with us, there is some cause to doubt. The word is used in another place of Scripture,* when the church inviting her beloved into the fields, among the delightful fruits of grapes and pomegranates, it is said,
* Cant. vii. mandrakes.] For a brief description of a plant bearing this name, see vol. i.
Ross concludes a page of criticism on our author's reasons for rejecting the popular opinion of Rachel's motives for requesting the mandrakes—by the following pithy expostulation :—"To be brief, I would know, whether it be a greater error in me to affirm that which is denied by some, or in him to deny that which is affirmed by all ?”
“The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits.” Now instead of a smell of delight, our mandrakes afford a papaverous and unpleasant odour, whether in the leaf or apple, as is discoverable in their simplicity or mixture. The same is also dubious from the different interpretations : for though the Septuagint and Josephus do render it the apples of mandrakes in this text, yet in the other of the Canticles, the Chaldee paraphrase termeth it balsam. R. Solomon, as Drusius observeth, conceives it to be that plant the Arabians named Jesemin. Oleaster, and Georgius Nenetus, the lily; and that the word dudaim may comprehend any plant that hath a good smell, resembleth a woman's breast, and flourisheth in wheat-harvest. Tremellius interprets the same for any amiable flowers of a pleasant and delightful odour. But the Geneva translators have been more wary than
any ; for although they retain the word mandrake in the text, they in effect retract it in the margin ; wherein is set down the word in the original is dudaim, which is a kind of fruit or flower unknown.
Nor shall we wonder at the dissent of exposition, and difficulty of definition concerning this text, if we perpend how variously the vegetables of Scripture are expounded, and how hard it is in many places to make out the species determined. Thus are we at variance concerning the plant that covered Jonas : which though the Septuagint doth render colocynthis, the Spanish calabaca, and ours accordingly a gourd, yet the Vulgar translates it hedera or ivy; and as Grotius observeth, Jerome thus translated it, not as the same plant, but best apprehended thereby. The Italian of Diodati, and that of Tremellius have named it ricinus, and so hath ours in the margin; for palma Christi is the same with ricinus. The Geneva translators have herein been also circumspect, for they have retained the original word kikaion, and ours hath also affixed the same unto the margin.
Nor are they indeed always the same plants which are delivered under the same name, and appellations commonly received amongst us. So when it is said of Solomon, that he writ of plants, “from the cedar of Lebanus, unto the hyssop that groweth upon the wall,” that is from the
greatest unto the sinallest, it cannot be well conceived our common hyssop: for neither is that the least of vegetables, nor observed to grow upon walls ; but rather as Lemnius well conceiveth, some kind of the capillaries, which are very small plants, and only grow upon walls and stony places. Nor are the four species in the holy ointment, cinnamon, myrrh, calamus, and cassia, nor the other in the holy perfume, frankincense, stacte, onycha, and galbanum, so agreeably expounded unto those in use with us, as not to leave considerable doubts behind them. Nor must that perhaps be taken for a simple unguent, which Matthew only termeth a precious ointment; but rather a composition, as Mark and John imply by pistick nard, that is faithfully dispensed, and may be that famous composition described by Dioscorides, made of oil of ben, malabathrum, juncus odoratus, costus, amomum, myrrh, balsam, and nard, * which Galen affirmeth to have been in use with the delicate dames of Rome, and that the best thereof was made at Laodicea, from whence by merchants it was conveyed unto other parts. But how to make out that translation concerning the tithe of mint, anise and cummin, we are still to seek ; for we find not a word in the text that can properly be rendered anise, the Greek being åvndòv, which the Latins call anethum, and is properly Englished dill. Lastly, what meteor that was, that fed the Israelites so many years, they must rise again to inform us. Nor do they make it out,t who will have it the same with our manna; nor will any one kind thereof, or hardly all kinds we read of, be able to answer the qualities thereof, delivered in the Scripture; that is, to fall upon the ground, to breed worms, to melt with the sun, to taste like fresh oil, to be ground in mills, to be like coriander seed, and of the colour of bdellium.+5
Again, it is not deducible from the text or concurrent sentence of comments, that Rachel had
any such intention, and most do rest in the determination of Austin, that she desired them for rarity, pulchritude, or suavity. Nor is it
* V. Matthioli Epist.
Lastly, dc.] This passage was added in the 2nd edition.
probable she would have resigned her bed unto Leah, when at the same time she had obtained a medicine to fructify herself. And therefore Drucius, who hath expressly and favourably treated hereof, is so far from conceding this intention, that he plainly concludeth, Hoc quo modo illis in mentem venerit, conjicere nequeo ; -“how this conceit fell into men's minds, it cannot fall into mine;" for the Scripture delivereth it not, nor can it be clearly deduced from the text.
Thirdly, if Rachel had any such intention, yet had they no such effect, for she conceived not many years after, of Joseph ; whereas in the mean time Leah had three children, Issachar, Zebulon, and Dinah.
Lastly, although at that time they failed of this effect, yet is it mainly questionable whether they had any such virtue, either in the opinions of those times, or in their proper nature.
That the opinion was popular in the land of Canaan, it is improbable; and had Leah understood thus much, she would not surely have parted with fruits of such a faculty ; especially unto Rachel, who was no friend unto her. As for its proper nature, the ancients have generally esteemed it narcotick or stupefactive, and it is to be found in the list of poisons, set down by Dioscorides, Galen, Ætius, Ægineta, and several antidotes delivered by them against it. It was, I confess, from good antiquity, and in the days of Theophrastus, accounted a philter or plant that conciliates affection; and so delivered by Dioscorides. And this intent might seem most probable, had they not been the wives of holy Jacob; had Rachel presented them unto him, and not requested them for herself.
Now what Dioscorides affirmeth in favour of this effect, that the grains of the apples of mandrakes mundify the matrix, and applied with sulphur stop the fluxes of women, he overthrows again by qualities destructive unto conception; affirming also that the juice thereof purgeth upward like hellebore ; and applied in pessaries provokes the menstruous flows, and procures abortion. Petrus Hispanus, or Pope John the Twentieth, speaks more directly in his Thesaurus Pauperum: wherein among the receipts of fecundation, he experimentally commendeth the wine of mandrakes given with triphera magna. But the soul of the medicine
pessaries.] Medicines made into an oblong shape.
may lie in triphera magna, an excellent composition, and for this effect commended by Nicolaus. And whereas Levinus Lemnius, that eminent physician, doth also concede this effect, it is from manifesto causes and qualities elemental occasionally producing the same. For he imputeth the same unto the coldness of that simple, and is of opinion that in hot climates, and where the uterine parts exceed in heat, by the coldness hereof they may be reduced into a conceptive constitution, and crasis accommodable unto generation; whereby indeed we will not deny the due and frequent use may proceed unto some effect; from whence, notwithstanding, we cannot infer a fertilitating condition or property of fecundation. For in this way all vegetables do make fruitful according unto the complexion of the matrix; if that excel in heat, plants exceeding in cold do rectify it; if it be cold, simples that are hot reduce it; if dry, moist; if moist, dry correct it; in which division all plants are comprehended. But to distinguish thus much is a point of art, and beyond the method of Rachel's or feminine physic. Again, whereas it may be thought that mandrakes may fecundate, since poppy hath obtained the epithet of fruitful, and that fertility was hieroglyphically described by Venus with an head of
poppy in her hand; the reason hereof was the multitude of seed within itself, and no such multiplying in human generation. And lastly, whereas they may seem to have this quality (since opium itself is conceived to extimulate unto venery, and for that intent is sometimes used by Turks, Persians, and most oriental nations), although Winclerus doth seem to favour the conceit, yet Amatus Lusitanus, and Rodericus à Castro, are against it; Garcias ab Horto refutes it from experiment; and they speak probably who affirm the intent and effect of eating opium is not so much to invigorate themselves in coition, as to prolong the act, and spin out the motions of carnality.