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218

BY R. JOSEPH ALBO.

DIVISION III.

CHAPTER I.

Sepher Ikkarim: “BOOK OF PRINCIPLES :"

(Continued from page 202.)

are numberless, and who cannot ex

ist unless those wants are satisfied ; As man in his nature and intel.. to do which requires the utmost ex, lectual capacity ranks above all other ertion of his skill, ingenuity, and animate beings on earth, he is the labour. But this opinion must, on most important and perfect of all the mature reflection, be considered as lower creation. That his nature is utterly untenable: For we maintain more exalted than that of all other that the outward form and conformaanimals, is proved by his producing tion of all that exists, prove a gramanifold and contrary effects. That dual ascent in the scale of terrestrial his fintellectual capacities exceed creation, as, at each progressive step those of other animals, is proved by of this ascent, we find the species by his various inventions, skilful arts, which it is occupied, endowed by naand sage industry. And although ture with greater perfection. The first other animals have less wants, or form of matter is simple or elemenneed of adventitious protection, tary, as the germ of its future orgathan man ; (as that of shade from nization: It then developes itself in the heat of the sun, a shelter against the vegetable organization, which is the rain ;) and as their food requires the next step of its progress. Veno preparation, aliments in their na- getable substances form the nourishtural state being adapted for their ment either directly or indirectly of condition and to their means of di- all living creatures, and serve to gestion; as, moreover, it appears develope the animal organization. that several animals are gifted with Animals are, in their turn, subsera certain degree of skill, as we see vient to the intellectual creature, some ravenous beasts and birds which MAN; who completes the scale of display art and cunning in their at- terrestrial creation.

For as every tempts to catch their prey :-We movable body is propelled by the say, it would, notwithstanding all continued impulse proceeding from this, be erroneous and unfounded to its successive parts, so likewise, in suppose, that any other animals are the body of creation, each part takes superior in perfection to man, as one its place in the orderly progress, of the ancient philosophers was for the purpose of being subservient tempted to assert: His opinion was, to those other parts which succeed it : that, as animals have fewer wants And this whole progression has but than man; as they need the aid of no one aim ; namely, all the others for their speedy conveyance rious forms and conformations to from one place to another, their own which matter is appropriated tend legs being gifted with strength and but to insure the existence of man, speed ;- -as they need no extraneous as every object in nature gradually arms of defence or offence to combat ascends from the less to the greater their foes, the weapons with which perfection. In this graduated ascent they are endowed by nature being we find various intermediate species : such as are best adapted to their As, for instance, corallines are the conformation, such as horns for the intermediate species between unorbull, tusks for the boar, quills for the ganized bodies and vegetation. The porcupine, and a shell for the crab; sea-nettle, which is only gifted with -as they likewise need no raiment, feeling, occupies the intermediate nature having furnished them with rank between vegetables and anithe necessary clothing ; and as thus, mals. The ape occupies the interin reference to all their wants, they mediate rank between animals and are more simple and better furnished man ; who occupies the highest rank by the bountiful hand of nature than in this scale, because all other earthly man is, the opinion of that ancient creatures exist but for him, their philosopher was, that other animals forms serving but as so many germs are far superior to man, whose wants to his developement, (and in him

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all their powers are concentrated. try of the bee or ant,—the tenderness Therefore, man is properly called of the dove,—the fidelity of the dog, " the lord of creation ; for all &c. The allegory of our Rabbies other animals are subservient to him teaches us, in the Perek Shirah, the as their ruler, who combines within thanks which each species of animals himself all those different powers, offers to the Creator; their meaning arts, skill, and inventive instincts, is, that from the natural qualities of with but one of which every other each class of animals a different individual species of animals is gene- moral lesson may be deduced, and a rally gifted. And to him reason, the fresh cause of gratitude to the Creafaculties of his understanding, and tor be discovered : And the expreshis corporeal formation, supply the sion which the Rabbies there use, place of that natural provision with which Providence has furnished the

or pronounce?” is of the same kind simple wants of every other aniinal. Thus the hands of man, guided by heavens proclaim the glory of God:” his reason, are found to be equiva- (Psalm xix. 2 :) As the motions of lent to the means of offence or de

the heavenly bodies teach us that fence with which all other animals they receive their impulse from the are gifted by nature. Instead of the First Great Mover, who himself is horns of the bull, man makes unto unmoved, and combines omnipotence himself a spear. Instead of the tusks and infinite duration, who is God, of the boar, man forms a sword for blessed be He! Thus in the Perek himself. Instead of the quills which Shirah we find, (as a few instances protect the porcupine, he covers his out of many,) “ What do the dogs body with a coat of mail. Instead

say or pronounce ? . Let us come of the shell which defends the crab, and bow, and kneel, and prostrate he wards off the coming blow with ourselves before the Lord his shield. Besides, man possesses Maker.'” (Psalm xcv. 6.) As dogs the additional convenience, that he are faithful and true to their benefacneeds not always to be encumbered tor, and grateful according to the with horns and teeth, or loaded extent of their capacities; so it bewith quills, or cased in a shell; but hoves man, when he contemplates can, at his option, either lay them these qualities implanted in them by down or resume them. While other nature, not to neglect the great moral animals are clothed by nature in lesson thus afforded, but to rememtheir respective skins and furs, man ber that he, too, has a Benefactor, to covers himself with garments suitable whom all faith and gratitude are to the season, which he alternates to due, to whose boundless goodness meet the summer's heat and the and mercy he owes his being and winter's cold. While the beast shel- preservation, and in humble adoraters in his den, and the bird seeks tion of whom it is his duty to kneel refuge in its nest, man,-gifted with and to prostrate himself. Again : reason, and enabled by the formation “ What does the ant say ?

. He of his hands to execute what reason giveth food to all flesh; for his plans, -builds unto himself a stately 'mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm dwelling of hewn stones, furnished cxxxvi. 28.) When man beholds with windows, which admit the light this most diminutive creature, which while they exclude the cold, and pro- sedulously in summer toils, gathers, tected by doors, which, opening to and stores up each solitary grain receive the welcome visiter, are closed that is to preserve it during the win. against every prying intruder. That ter season, he is not to neglect the which the separate instinct of differ- moral lesson which

this ent species enables them to perform, petty creature afford him : man's reason enables him to excel, Which is, that man, who is gifted and concentrates in him the varied with reason and understanding, is in mental powers of each separate race. duty bound to be industrious, and Their best qualities too, which are not to neglect his avocations : For, found separately in various animals,

Rabbies expounded these are all united in man; as the indus- words, “That the Lord thy God

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may bless thee in all the work of thy ought to take a lesson of justice and hands which thou doest ;” (Deut. xiv. industry from the ant, which, 29.) Man is not to say, As God has although not subject to any prince promised blessing and prosperity, or ruler, whose power punishes transwe may pass our days in idleness, gressors, nor controlled by the fear and need not follow or undertake of laws and the shame of disrepute, any occupation;" therefore Holy Writ -nevertheless, by the force of its adds, “In all the work of thy hands laudable habits of industry, is taught which thou doest :” To merit the to respect the property of others, and Divine blessing, thou must be in- not to violate their rights. Again : dustrious and active in whatever “What does the dove say? My useful pursuit thou undertakest. dove is in the clefts of the rock." Further: Our Rabbies say, “ If the (Cant. ii. 12.) Israelites are assimilaw did not teach us the rights of lated to a dove, because faithful tenproperty, we might learn that pre- derness is found in the dove ; as it cept from the ant; as one ant never is said in the Medrash Chaseth, As robs or steals from another what it the turtle dove is tender, so likewise has touched or found.” This is con- is the congregation of Israel. As firmed by the observations of natu- the turtle-dove, when once united to ralists, who have taken a grain away her mate, does not abandon him from one ant, and afterwards put it for any other; so likewise the Israelwithin reach of another ; but the lat. ites, having once acknowledged the ter, instructed (probably by the Lord, do not abandon him for any smell) that it had been already other.” These qualities, which are touched and appropriated by another found singly in various animals, and of her species, passed on without from which man may deduce moral touching it. Solomon, who was in- lessons, are, however, all to be found timately acquainted with the laws of combined within himself, in accordnature, and the instincts of various ance with his physical superiority animals, probably alludes to this and mental perfection. Therefore, quality of the ant, when he

says, as we said before, man ranks higher Go to the ant, thou sluggard ! be- than any other terrestrial creature, 'hold its ways and become wise. It and is superior to them in power and has neither prince, governor, nor perfection. His wisdom and underruler. During the summer it pre- standing render him the Lord of this pares its bread, it gathers its food lower world; as it is said, “Thou during harvest :” (Prov. vi. 7-9.) madest him the ruler of the works His meaning is, that the sluggard, of thy hand; thou hast laid all whose vicious idleness leads him to things submissive at his feet.” violate the rights of property rather (Psalm viii. 7.) than to labour for his own support,

(To be continued.)

To the Editor of the Hebrew Review. SIR,—To

you, whose object is to make known and render familiar the merits of the Hebrew writers, the enclosed verses may be, perhaps, acceptable. They are translated from Rabbi Naphtali Hertz Wessely's

* “ Songs of Glory,” to which they are the introduction. Sensible that they can impart but a very faint idea of the style and composition of that immortal author, I am only induced to bring them under your notice by my wish to show to your Christian

*שירי תפארת beautiful poem, the

onxon qov, “Songs of Glory,” an epic poem in eighteen cantos, by Napthtali Hertz Wessely: Prague, 1809, (5569,) in 8vo. This, the most beautiful Hebrew composition of latter times, embodies the History of Exodus until the giving of the law at Sinai.

readers, that the varied talents of the writers of our nation are not confined to moral and religious subjects. I am, Sir, 4, Bury-street, St. Mary Axe, Yours very obediently, Dec. 29th, 1834.

E. N.

EPIC POETRY OF THE HEBREWS.

GLORIOUS in might, thy dwelling high and grand,
O God, all springs from thy creative hand.
Ethereal spirits, from all substance free,
Arose at thy command, derived their life from thee.
Things high and low thou holdest in thy span :
O, fearful God, then what to thee is man,

That thou shouldst search his heart, explore his views,
And, gracious, midst his race an habitation choose ?

In Eden's garden, planted by thy care,
Thou bad'st him, placed there, to share
Eternal life and bliss, with sense to know
The joys which e'er from boundless wisdom flow.
Had he obey'd, these had he now possess'd :
He sinn'd; yet, driven from his place of rest,

Thou neither him nor his didst quite reject :
Thy glorious name thou gav'st, the righteous to protect.

But when the earth itself corrupted grew
By man's foul deeds, thou, righteous to pursue,
Didst cut him off; thy cup of wrath was still
With mercy sweeten’d, whilst, released from ill,
The righteous thou didst set apart, to save
From the wild rush of the destructive wave :

Blessed by thee, protected from the flood,
Both Noah and his sons unhurt before thee stood.

Evil increas'd again with men's increase ;
Their erring passions robb’d their hearts of peace.
All moral rules they broke with scornful pride,
Until, confused their speech, each turn'd aside
And track'd the earth; which dark as night had grown,
Had not the glorious light of Abraham shone,

Taught men the folly of their idol-creeds,
And, wond'ring, to behold their mighty Maker's deeds.

The heav'nly firmament, the starry maze,
Proclaim aloud thy never-ending praise ;
So did this pious sage aloud thy grace declare,
Teach men to raise to thee the supplicating prayer ;
To know that here, created not in vain,
By practis'd virtues, it is theirs to gain

A state of endless life, a good degree,
From earthly cares and griefs, from earthly pleasures, free.

For after-years to him thou wast reveald,
With him alone thy covenant was seald,
Thou chosedst him with thy benignant grace,
From all his father's house : And, childless yet, his race
Mad’st holy to thyself: Their future weal and woe,
Their joys and griefs, permittedst him to know;

And in a vision, clear of view, to see
The wondrous things to come, the deep futurity.

In his old age thy wonders still appear :
Isaac born to him in his hundredth year,
When Sarah ninety transient years had seen!
He, as a sacrifice, had nearly been
Consum'd upon thy altar ; had not thy
Angel of mercy, with arresting cry,

Cali’d to his father, “ This has only been
Thy piety to prove, which now is clearly seen.”

The perfect saint, protected by thy love,
Endow'd by thee with worth and force above
The strength of angels, whom, unknowing, he
Compell’d to own his might, was Isaac's progeny.
To him thou cam’st at Bethel, when he paid
The vows which in affliction's time he made ;

And blessing him with happiness and fame,
From Jacob unto Israel thou didst change his name.

Thy chosen people whom thou e'er didst tend,
The tribes of God, those men of fame, descend
From righteous Israel, the lasting vine
Round which the healthy tendrils clinging twine.
Joseph, the branch most fruitful of them all,
When envious blasts and hatred caus’d his fall,

Thou didst to Egypt send, rais’d from the pit,
O’er nations' fates to rule, on kingly thrones to sit.

:

Then o'er their hearts were bonds fraternal spread,
By thee united : no more did the dread
Of famine or of want disturb the mind
Of Joseph's brethren; for they found him kind,
And of their deeds forgetful. Jacob went
With all his house to Egypt; and, content,

There found his son, bless'd by the Power Divine.
Whose promises, O God, so lasting are as thine ?

When Israel's sons reach'd the' Egyptian states,
To them each city gladly ope'd its gates,
Gave them the fruitful lands and fields to share :
Where, bless'd with ease and riches, void of care,
In numbers and in strength they daily grew.
Then rose a mighty nation from the few

Who, for their wants once seeking to provide,
Now safe amidst the sheltring tents of Ham reside.

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