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A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 623 


fUTi 8e fiiya fikv to exaa-Tf t3)V elprjuhaiu irpeirovras xPV"^^"'- • • • • '''°^" 
Be liiyiiTTOv to fieTa(f>opiK6v etvai. fiovov yap tovto oijt6 nap' aWov ecm, 
Xa^dv, ev(f>vtas Te a-tj/iuop ia-TLv' to yap ei iieTa<j)epeiv to to o/iotoi' 6ta,p€iv 


Aristotle, Poetics, xxii. 

I THINK it would repay his trouble if a real scholar were 
to write a good monograph upon Biblical metaphors. Such 
a scholar would first of all consider them from a purely- 
literary point of view, showing their peculiar excellences 
and defects, and how far they obey or transgress the canons 
of metaphor drawn up in various ages, from Aristotle in 
the Rhetoric down to Messrs. Abbott and Seeley in our own 
day. The real scholar would then illustrate them from 
comparative literature, firstly from cognate religious 
writings such as the Babylonian and Assyrian hymns in 
which even a glance at Zimmern and Sayce is enough to 
show many a suggestive parallel ; then from other branches 
of Oriental literature ; and lastly, he would supply us with 
an adequate number of similar or contrasted metaphors 
from the literatures of Greece and Rome. And these 
parallels, as the most literary, most beautiful and most 
sympathetic of all, would also be the most profitable and 
interesting. This is what the real scholar would do, and, 
as I said before, it would, I think, be well worth doing. 
Bishop Lowth, in his lectures on " Hebrew Poetry," has 
some chapters on Metaphors, Similes, Comparisons and 
Personifications, treated somewhat in this way ; but though 
the student of the history of Biblical interpretation will 

' A Lecture delivered at the Jews' College Literary Society, on May 
24th, 1891. 

624 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

jfind them quite worth reading, they will not supply the 
scholar with much raw material for his work. 

It is just a little such material which I have put together 
here in a survey o£ the Biblical metaphors themselves, 
divided off into classes and categories. Towards the pro- 
duction of the desired monograph I hope that even this im- 
perfect catalogue may be of use. 

One has to remember that similes and metaphors, when 
consciously used, are mainly to be looked for and found in 
poetry. This is also the case in the Bible. There are, 
indeed, a few metaphors in the Pentateuch and the historical 
books, but the vast proportion are elsewhere. But with a 
single exception the poetical books of the Bible were not 
written as mere poetry, with no ulterior object beyond 
pleasure or artistic satisfaction. They are didactic or 
liturgical, and their metaphors and similes were probably 
in very few cases only elaborated with a deliberate eye to 
artistic effect. The single exception is, of course, the love 
poem of Canticles. In Canticles the metaphors are mainly 
confined to elaborate comparisons of the hero and heroine, 
and of every portion of their bodies, with various animate 
and inanimate objects of nature. Some of these are of 
exquisite propriety, some at once daring and yet apposite. 
Has the glory of a woman's beauty and the overwhelming 
impression which it produces ever been more nobly ex- 
pressed than in the famous lines, " Who is she that looketh 
forth as the dawn, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and 
terrible as an army with banners?" (vi. 10). It would be in- 
teresting to compare the images of the Canticles with the 
images in the love poetry of Greece and Persia, and to trace 
their possible influence in our own great specimens of erotic 
poetry, such as the " Venus and Adonis " and the " Britain's 
Ida." But as the Canticles lie quite outside the remaining 
mass of Biblical poetry, I do not propose to consider them 
further in the present essay. 

In the Psalms metaphorical language is mainly employed 
to illustrate and impress the leading religious conceptions. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 625 

Thus we have a number of metaphors about God and his 
dealings with Israel and the nations. Divine punishment 
and beneficence, prosperity and sin, Israel's glory and its 
enemies' discomfiture, form the standing subjects which it 
is sought to illustrate by metaphor. Of the prophets the 
Book of Isaiah provides by far the largest number, and by 
far the best. Jeremiah's literary style is not one of his 
strongest points, while Ezekiel, in his metaphors as in his 
descriptions generally, shows exaggeration and a heavy 
hand. In the Book of Proverbs metaphors to illustrate 
general ethical ideas are naturally appropriate ; but there 
are surprisingly few of them, except in the 25th, 26th, and 
27th chapters. Among a good many metaphors in Job are 
some of the most striking, elaborate and poetical in all 

There are comparatively few fully worked-out similes in 
the Hebrew Bible. This is due, I suppose, to the fact that 
the similes are not used as ornament, but as illustration. 
In compensation for this curtness we often find a number of 
short, pregnant similes used one after another to illustrate 
the same idea. 

Thus, to take an example from Hosea: the prophet declares 
that the sinners among his people shall disappear in 
the Judgment, "like a morning cloud, or like the dew 
which early passes awaj?-, or as the chaff which is 
driven with a whirlwind out of the threshing floor, or 
as the smoke out of the lattice " (xiii. 3). Even the worked- 
out similes are far shorter than the similes of Homer 
for, " as a rule, they but tersely mark the point of 
comparison, and dispense with non-essential details."^ 
Very frequently, indeed, the simile is altogether dispensed 
with, and we get instead the true metaphor, without com- 
parison or middle term.* 

• Jebb's Homer, p. 29 ; and cf. Lowth, Lectures (Eng. Tr.), vol. I., p. 274. 

' Tte prevalence of metaphor may on Aristotelian principles be looked 

upon as a merit. For the simile (tiVwi/) which is a lura^opa oia^ipovaa 

G26 The Jetciah Quarterly Review. 

Bishop Lowth has several acute observations about 
Biblical similes and metaphors. Their excellence, he thinks, 
is shown in their purity, their directness and their per- 
spicuity. The last quality is partly due to the fact that the 
material of which the metaphors are made is taken mainly 
from common and familiar objects. The new idea is illus- 
trated by well-known analogies. Secondly, there is a con- 
sistency in the Biblical use of metaphors, a certafere ratio 
et via, the maintenance of a recepta quaedam consuetudinis 
norma, as he expresses it, which impresses them upon 
the imagination. Both observations are true. Many 
metaphors in the Bible recur at the proper places with 
almost wearisome iteration. Of these I shall naturally 
cite only a few of the best examples in each case. Lowth 
is equally accurate in the statement that the metaphors are 
almost invariably taken from common and familiar objects. 
As in Homer, so in the Bible, " subjective imagery, from 
sensation or thought, is extremely rare" (Jebb, Ibid., p. 31). 
"VVe should not now, however, be at equal pains with the 
dear, pedantic, pompous old bishop to prove the propriety 
of metaphors from the common world of every day. 

The writers of the Bible and its first hearers or readers 
lived a much more out-of-door life than we do, and were 
thus more familiar with the simpler processes of nature. 
Town life suggested few metaphors to them. By far the 
greater bulk come from nature, from the animate and 
inanimate world, as well as from agricultural and pastoral 
life. I propose now to begin my survey or index with 
instances of metaphors from the animal kingdom, from beasts 
and birds and insects. 

Let us take the wild beasts first. Among these, both in 
the Bible and in Homer, the lion occupies the foremost 
place. Lions of more than one variety, during the Biblical 
period, " had their lairs in the forests which have perished 

irpoOkan is fJTTov riiv, on fiaKpoTipiog' xai oii \iyei iig tovto tKiXvo' ovkovv 
ovSi Stjrti TviiTo >; '/'I'X'J- (.Rhet. HI. 10, § 3.) 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 627 

with them, and in the cane brakes o£ the Jordan."^ The 
lion may be either the emblem of irresistible hostility, or of 
proud and fearless confidence. Thus, Israel's enemies are 
frequently compared to a lion, and their war-shout to its 
roaring. So in Isaiah, of the Assyrian, "A roar has he 
like that of the lioness ; he roareth like the young lions, 
growling and catching the prey, and carrying it away safe, 
so that none can rescue " (v. 29). The Psalmist's enemy 
" lurks in a hiding-place as a lion in his lair " (x. 9). One 
metaphor alludes to the family life of the royal beast, 
" who tears in pieces enough for his whelps, and strangles 
for his lionesses, and fills his holes with prey, and his dens 
with ruin" (Nahum ii. 11-13). God himself is compared to 
a lion, both as Israel's enemy (Hosea v. M) and as his pro- 
tector {e.g., Hosea xi. 10 ; Isaiah xxxi. 4), In what has 
been called byDelitzsch the most Homeric simile in Isaiah, 
we are told how, " Like as the lion with the young lion 
growls over his prey, against whom there is called a troop 
of shepherds, at their cry he is not dismayed, and at their 
noise he is not cast down ; so shall the Lord of Hosts come 
down to fight for Zion" (xxxi. 4). Conflicts between 
shepherds and lions were clearly frequent. Thus, the few 
to be saved from the judgment are compared to the issue of 
a fight when " the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of 
a lion two legs or a piece of an ear " (Amos iii. 12). 

From another point of view Israel or its princes are 
compared to lions. Judah is described as a lion in the 
blessing of Jacob, Gad and Dan in the blessing of Moses. 
In one of his formal lamentations, Ezekiel typifies the land 
or people of Judah under the figure of a lioness, while 
the hapless kings, Joahaz and Jehoiachin, are her whelps. 
In Balaam's " parables " Israel is the lion who couches at 
his ease, and whom none can stir up against his will 
(Numbers xxiii. 24, xxiv. 9), while Micah predicts that the 
remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples, 

' Tristram's Natural History of the Bible, p. 116. 

628 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

"as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young 
lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through, 
both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can 
deliver" (v. 7). 

Other wild beasts which are used for similes are the 
bear, the leopard and the wolf, jackals and foxes, the 
antelope, the wild ass and " wild ox." The she bear, bereft 
of her whelps, is a familiar image of terror, yet a fool in 
his folly is an even worse thing to meet, according to the 
proverb (Pro v. xvii. 12; cp. 2 Sam. xvii. 8). Enemies are often 
compared to these creatures.^ Their peculiar cry supplies 
the motive of the comparison in the case of the bear and 
the jackal (Is. lix. 11 ; Micah i. 8). To the fox, who burrows 
in ruins, Ezekiel compares the false prophets who widen 
the social breach (xiii. 4). The sons of Jerusalem who lie 
in a swoon, fainting, at the corners of the street, are likened 
to the antelope, who, after vain struggles, lies exhausted 
and motionless within the hunter's net (Is. li. 20). One of 
the most famous metaphors in the Psalter is the comparison 
of the soul thirsting for nearer communion with God to 
the hind which pants for the water brooks (xlii. 2). 

Turning now to more domestic animals, we find the bull, 
which, after long enjoyment of free grazing in the forests 
or plains, often became wild (Tristram, p. 71), used to 
typify an enemy, just like the lion or the bear (Ps. 
xxii. 13 ; Ixviii. 31). So, again, Israel is the bull. Thus 
in the Song of Moses, " Jeshurun waxed fat and 
kicked." Balak fears that Israel may "lick up all 
which is round about as the ox licketh up the grass of the 
field " (Num. xxii. 4). Then we have a few references to 
the whip-training of the bullock for the yoke, and to the 
obstinacy of the heifer (Jer. xxxi. 18 ; Hosea iv. 16). 
The rejoicing of those who are saved after the Judgment 
is compared by Malachi to the gambolling of the calves 
who have been kept in their stalls through the winter and 

' Cp. Hosea xiii. 8 ; Jer. v. 6 ; Ez, xxii. 27 ; Is. Ivi. 9. 

A Tentative Catalogue OJ Biblical Metaphors. 629 

are let out into the fields with the spring (Mai. iii. 20). 
Isaiah's famous contrast, " The ox knoweth its owner, and 
the ass its master's crib : but Israel doth not know, 
my people doth not consider " (Is. i. 3), is not least appre- 
ciated by those who have seen the cattle brought down at 
close of day from the Swiss mountains and have watched 
how, as they pass through the long village street, they 
turn in, each one of them, at the proper door. The com- 
parison of Israel to a flock may be reserved for another 

There are but few metaphors from the horse. This is but 
natural, seeing that cattle and not horses were used for agri- 
culture, while cavalry was always more characteristic of 
foreign than of native armaments. The impetuous hurry 
with which the people of Jerusalem pursue their ways of 
wickedness is compared by Jeremiah (viii. 6 ; see Cheyne) 
to the war-horse rushing into the battle. The flight of 
locusts is compared to the onset of cavalry in Joel (ii. 4). 
The surefootedness of the horse is apparently the motive 
of the simile that God led the Israelites through the 
Eed Sea's bed like horses through the wilderness, without 
stumbling (Is. Ixiii. 13, 14). From a religious point of 
view the horse and mule supply an effective metaphor to 
the Psalmist, "Be ye not as the horse or mule which has no 
understanding ; with bit and bridle, his harness, must he be 
tamed, else he will not come nigh unto thee " (xxxii. 9). 

It seems strange to us Westerns that the dog should only 
furnish images of hostility, opprobrium or contempt. The 
homes of our Biblical ancestors must have been the poorer 
and the sadder for the absence of both the dog and the 
cat. The cat is not mentioned in the Bible at all, while 
the dog, like the wild dogs of the East to-day, bears no 
resemblance to the dogs of our European homes. Even 
Homer, in spite of Argos, alludes mainly to the dog as a 
beast to hunt, and not as a friend to live with. The dogs 
that " fawn about their lord when he comes from the feast, 
for he always brings them the fragments that soothe their 

630 The Jewish Quurterhj Bemw. 

mood" {Od., X. 216), have clearly not reached a high level 
of canine development ; one prefers the pure naturalism of 
the she-dog who " paces round her tender puppies growl- 
ing, when she spies a man she knows not, and is eager to 
assail him " {Od., XX. 14). In the twenty-second Psalm, 
dogs, like bulls and lions, typify the wicked and the hostile, 
and the snarl and greed of the dog are elsewhere alluded 
to (cf . Isaiah Ivi. 10, 1 1 ; Ps. ]ix. 7). A dog certainly objects 
to strangers meddling with his ears ; but it is really mourn- 
ful that the Proverbs only bring in the dog to refer to this 
and to one other more unpalatable quality (xxvi. 11, 17). 
In Job, indeed, the shepherd dog is mentioned once, but Dr. 
Tristram tells us that even in this capacity dogs were not 
used as with us for driving and seeking out the flocks, but 
only " for protecting them from the attacks of wolves and 
jackals by night " (p. 78). 

Many metaphors are made up from the habits of birds, 
although, as Dr. Tristram points out, there are strangely 
few allusions to their singing (cp. Ps. civ. 12 ; Koh. xii. 
4 ; Cant. ii. 12). Very frequent is the reference to 
their capture by the fowler's snaie, which, with the 
net, whether for beasts or birds, is a regular and stand- 
ing metaphor for hidden danger and secret attack.^ A 
Psalmist speaks of the snare breaking: "Our soul is 
escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowler : the snare 
is broken, and we are escaped " (cxxiv. 7). Striking, though 
not consistently worked out, is the metaphor from bird- 
nesting in Isaiah of the Assyrian king : " My hand reached 
as a nest the riches of peoples, and as a man gathereth for- 
saken eggs, I have gathered all the earth, and there was 
none that fluttered a wing, nor opened a beak, nor chirped " 
(x. 14). Jehovah, to Israel's foes as a lion undaunted by 
the shepherd's cry, is to Jerusalem as a bird, who keeps 
circling round and round her nest when danger is in sight. 

' Cp. Ps. XXV. 15 ; xxxi. .5 ; xxxv. 8 ; cxl. 6 ; Isaiah viii. 11 ; Ezek. xii. 13 ; 
Job xviii. 8, 9. Sometimes the net is God's. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 631 

" Like birds hovering, so shall the Lord of Hosts shelter 
Jerusalem, sheltering and delivering, passing over and 
rescuing" (xxxi. 5). 

Not less effective is the simile in the Song of Moses 
(Deiit. xxxii. 11) of the eagle teaching the eaglet to fly. " As 
an eagle stirs up his young ones to fly, and flutters over 
them, and then (when they are weary) spreads forth his 
wings and bears them upon his pinions (home), so did 
Jehovah bear his people to their promised inheritance." The 
Hebrew original is here illustrative of the usual desire of 
the Biblical authors not to waste time over their metaphors, 
but to come at once to the point. In this case the poet 
has actually transferred the latter portion of the simile to 
the object (here, God) with which the eagle is compared. The 
above inaccurate translation (as in the Authorised Version) 
makes the eagle the subject of all the details of the picture, 
whereas in the Hebrew the effect is somewhat marred by 
the fact that the spreading out of the wings and the bear- 
ing upon the pinions are applied to God instead of to the 
bird. That birds of prey train their j'oung to flight 
and carry them when weary is quite correct : it is again 
alluded to in Exodus, " Ye have seen what I did unto the 
Egyptians, when I bore you as on eagle's wings, and brought 
you unto myself " (xix. 4). On the other hand, the sheltering 
wings of female birds, under which their young can find 
refuge and warmth, supply a frequent figure to the 

An interesting instance of a myth leaving behind it a 
metaphorical use of language is supplied by the second 
verse of Genesis i. Here we are told that the Spirit of God 
brooded or hovered over the face of the waters ; now the 
same word is used in the Song of Moses for the eagle 
hovering over its young, and there seems little doubt that 
the conception has been, so to speak, watered down or rather 

' Cp. Ps. xxxvi. 7 ; Ivii. 21 ; xi. 5 ; Isiii. 8 ; xci. 4. Ruth ii. 12. Cp. 
JEsoh. Enmcvulcfi, 1002 : na\Xd(5o£ 5' viro ■KTtpoie, ovrac iiZirai variju. 

632 Tlie Jewish Quarterly Rcmew. 

spiritualised up, from the old myth of the World Egg. That 
God's spirit was compared with a bird we know from the 
stories in the Gospels. 

Isaiah had contrasted the spiritual denseness of Israel 
with the instinctive intelligence of the ass and the ox. 
Jeremiah (viii. 7) makes the same contrast with birds. "The 
stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed times (that is 
her period of migration), and the turtle and the swift and 
the crane observe the time of their coming ; but my people 
know not the religion of Yaliveh." 

We may now collect the curt allusions to particular birds 
scattered through the Biblical metaphors. The eagle claims 
the first place. Unfortunately, however, the Hebrew 
Nesher, which we ordinarily translate eagle, is not an eagle 
at all, but a particular kind of vulture, known according to 
Dr. Tristram as the Griffon or great vulture, in Latin as the 
Oyps fxilms. This creature's head is bald, a quality which 
is referred to by Micah, whereas the eagle's head is well 
covered with feathers. It is, however, not to be expected 
that we can give up " eagle " in our translations for a bird 
with the evil associations of the vulture.-^ Our eagle or 
vulture, whichever he be, supplies material for many com- 
parisons which space forbids me to quote. Its swiftness is 
specially emphasised, and allusion is also made to its 
longevity and to its nests in the clefts of inaccessible rocks. 
Like the lion it typifies powerful kingdoms, such as Egypt 
and Assyria.^ 

If the joyous song of birds is not often alluded 
to, their mournful notes are frequently used to symbolise 
human lamentations. So with the ostrich, the crane, 
and the dove (Mic. i. 8 ; Is. xxxviii. 14 ; lix. 11). The 
last-named bird, in one or other of its numerous species, 
is a favourite with the Biblical poets. Israel is called 
God's turtledove, as opposed to the birds of prey its ene- 

1 But compare Job xxxix. 30 ; Proverbs xxx. 17 ; Tristram, p. 174. 

2 Compare 2 Sam. i. 23 ; Is. xl. 31 ; Jer. xlix. 16 ; Ob. 4 ; Micah i. Ifi ; 
Job ix. 26 ; Ps. ciii. 5 ; Ezekiel xvii. 1-10. 

A Tentative Caialogue of Biblical Metaphors. 633 

mies. Hosea, however, compares Ephraim to a dove in a 
less flattering manner : Ephraim is like a silly dove without 
understanding ; they avoid the hawk by falling into the 
net of the fowler (vii. 11, 12, see Cheyne). Elsewhere refer- 
ence is made to the wild rock pigeon's precipitous dwelling- 
places : " O ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities and dwell 
in the rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest across 
the precipice on the rock's mouth " (Jer. xlviii, 28). Compare 
in Homer when Artemis escapes from the chastisement of 
Hera: "And weeping, from before her the goddess fled like 
a dove that from before a falcon flieth to a hollow rock, a 
cleft — for she was not fated to be caught — thus Artemis 
fled weeping, and left her bow and arrows where they lay." 
{Iliad, XXI. 493.) 

Before leaving the birds we must not forget the well- 
known simile in Jeremiah (xvii. 11) about the partridge. 
It rests upon some popular delusion, which has not been 
paralleled by industrious commentators from other litera- 
tures : " As a partridge gathers young which she has not 
brought forth, so is he that getteth riches unjtistly." Dr, 
Tristram's explanation follows the Authorised Version's 
rendering, but, as Professor Cheyne points out, that ren- 
dering violates the Hebrew. The point of the comparison, 
however, does not seem to lie where Professor Cheyne puts 
it ; it is not that " as the young birds soon leave the false 
mother, so unjustly acquired riches soon forsake their pos- 
sessors " ; it is merely the unjust acquisitions in either case 
which are compared together.''^ 

Serpents are naturally the emblems of the wicked, and 
their poison is a type of sinfulness. Thus the Psalmist's 
enemies " have poison as the poison of a serpent ; yea, as that 
of a deaf adder which stops her ear; which will not hearken 
to the voice of charmers, nay of the most cunning binder 
of spells " (Iviii. 5, 6). Israel shall triumph even over foes 

' The supposed cruelty of tlie ostrich to her eggs supplies a simile in 
Lam. iv. 8. (Compare Job xxxix. 14-17.) The jackals are tenderer to their 

634 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

like these : " Upon the lion and adder shalt thou tread ; 
the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under 
foot " (Ps. xci. 13 ; cf. cxl. 4 ; Jer. viii. 17). The collocation of 
wild beast with serpent was not unnatural ; and the latter 
was, perhaps, even a worse foe than the former. Thus 
Amos likens the folly of those who from the midst of pre- 
sent distresses, desire the coming of God's dreadful day — 
who would fly from ills they have to woes they know not 
of — to the case of him who fleeing from a lion was met by 
a bear, or " went into the house and leaned his hand on 
the wall, and a serpent bit him " (v. 19). II. Isaiah rather 
awkwardly combines the snake with the spider. The 
wicked "hatch vipers' eggs and weave spiders' webs: he 
that eateth of their eggs will die, and if one be crushed, it 
breaketh out into a viper "(lix. 5,6; cf. Job viii. 14). 
Isaiah had already used the figure of the snake to sym- 
bolise the destructive power of Assyria (xiv. 29). 

Besides beasts and birds and serpents, there are 
metaphors from insects. Locusts were only too familiar 
objects for supplying a metaphor of an enemy's speed, 
number or voracity. The figure is most eS'ectively 
employed in Nahum, though one or two of the details 
are obscure and disputed : " The fire shall devour thee ; 
the sword shall cut thee ofl^, it shall eat thee up like 
the locust, though thou make thyself many as the 
locust or the grasshopper. (Thus the locust is used now 
for the enemy and then for the Ninevites.) Thou hast 
multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven ; but 
yet the locust has spread out its wings and has flown away. 
(Here the merchants are the locusts.) Thy princes are as 
grasshoppers and thy marshals as locusts, which encamp 
upon the walls in the cool of day, but when the sun 
arises they flee away, and their place is not known where 
they are " (Nahum iii. 15-17). I need only allude 
to the famous description of the locust in Joel, which 
people now no longer perversely describe as an elaboi-ate 
metaphor for the attack of a human enemy. Besides 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 635 

the locust and the scorpion (Ezek. ii. 6), we have the moth, 
the emblem o£ mutability and rottenness (thus God 
will be unto Ephraim as a moth, Hosea v. 12), the worm, 
the emblem of lowliness and contempt, as well as the 
fly, the slug and the bee.^ Says the Preacher : " Poisonous 
flies make the perfumer's oil to stink and ferment ; even so 
is a little folly weightier than wisdom and honour " (x. 1) ; 
of which the meaning is that a small amount of evil out- 
weighs and stultifies a large amount of good. The simile 
from the slug is very odd. Apparently the popular notion 
was that a slug gradually melted away into slime ; and so 
the Psalmist amiably prays that his enemies may disappear 
as a slug which melts as it moves along.^ The bee, besides 
one allusion in the Psalter, forms a fine figure in Isaiah 
(vii. 18, 19). Egypt is symbolised by a fly, and Assyria by 
a bee, both images appropriate to the particular countries. 
On the day of judgment "Yahveh will hiss to the 
flies at the end of the Nile-arms of Egypt, and to 
the bees in the land of Assyria, and they shall 
all of them come and settle on the steeply-walled 
valleys of the torrents, and on the rents of the cliffs, and 
on all the thorn-bushes, and on all the pastures." It is 
curious how metaphor and statement are here fused to- 
gether. The predicted joint invasion of the Egyptian and 
Assyrian armies — a prediction which, by the way, was not 
fulfilled — is not merely likened to a swarm of bees and flies : 
Assyria is the bee, and Egypt is the fly, while the invasion 
is described in terms suitable, not to the human armies, but 
to the insect hosts. Homer never contracts his similes in 
this way ; but he also has a simile from bees, and it is 
worth while se'tting it side by side with Isaiah's : "Even as 
when the tribes of thronging bees issue from some hollow 
rock, ever in fresh procession, and fly clustering among the 
flowers of spring, and, some on this hand and some on that, 
fly thick, even so, from ships and boats before the low 

' Cp. Ps. xxxix. 12 ; Is. 1. 9 ; Ps. xxii. 7 ; cxviii 12. 
' Ps. Iviii. 9. Cp. Pliny"s Natural History, ix. 51. 

636 The Jeivish Quarterly Remw. 

beach, marched forth the many tribes (o£ the achaians) by 
companies to the place of Assembly." {Iliad, II. 87.) 

If we pass now to inanimate nature, we find that a large 
number of standing or customary metaphors are drawn from 
the elemental forces of water, wind, and fire. Water in all 
its forms is a constantly recurring image ; but the billows 
of the sea are less frequently in the minds of the Biblical 
writers than the billows of Jordan and the torrents of 
swollen mountain streams. 

To begin with, great waters are the symbol of calamity 
and Divine punishment.^ Isaiah, as usual, can show the 
noblest examples and the greatest variety of applica- 
tion. How fine is the contrast between the waters 
of Shiloah in Jerusalem, which symbolise the calm 
and gracious rule of God realised by faith, and the 
waters of the proud Euphrates, which symbolise the 
armies of Assyria ! " Forasmuch as this people has re- 
jected the waters of Shiloah, which flow softly, .... 
therefore behold the Lord bringeth upon them the waters 
of the river, mighty and great ; and it shall mount over all 
its channels and go over all its banks, and shall sweep 
along into Judah, shall overflow and pass over, reaching 
even to the neck ; and the stretching out of its wings shall 
fill the breadth of thy land " (viii. 6-8). Here it is curious 
to note how the metaphor of the river passes over at the 
end into a metaphor from a bird of prey. So, in a later 
chapter, Isaiah uses the strange compound of a "flood- 
ing scourge " (xxviii. 1 o). We have heard the battle-cry 
of the enemy compared to the lion's roar : it is also appro- 
priately likened to the roaring waves : " Ah ! the tumult 
of many peoples, like the tumult of the seas they are 
tumultuous ; and the uproar of nations, like the roaring of 
mighty waters they roar" (xvii. 12-14). So in Homer: 
"And as when at the mouth of some heaven-born river 

* A sea of troubles is a Greek metaphor also. Cp. iEscli., Prom. Vinot. 
476 has niXayog artipdi iirjQ. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 637 

a mighty wave roars against the stream, and arouses the 
high chfFs' echo as the salt sea bellows on the beach, so 
loud was the cry wherewith the Trojans came." {Iliad 
XVII. 263.) The powers of earth hostile to Israel and 
Israel's God are continually symbolised as waters. In 
the Psalms it is curious to note how this symbolism is, as 
it were, used by the way. There is often no direct simile; 
it is only pure personification and metaphor, and sevei'al 
passages make sense even without the symbolism. So in 
the ninety-third Psalm. On the face of it, it appears 
to be a hymn of the Divine rule over nature, and 
such a meaning is not excluded, but the indirect refer- 
ence to the nations was probably more prominent in 
the writer's mind. " The streams have lifted up, 
Yahveh, the streams have lifted up their voice ; the 
streams lift up their roaring. Than the voices of many 
waters, mighty waters, breakers of the sea, more mighty is 
Yahveh on high." ' A good example of the water meta- 
phor meaning calamity is the opening of the sixty-ninth 
Psalm : " Save me, O God, for the waters are come in, 
even to the soul. I am sunk in the mire of a gulf where 
there is no standing ; I am come into watery depths, where 
the tide overwhelms me." Here we get swamps as well 
as water, and the two ai'e often combined. Professor 
Cheyne, after his experiences in Palestine, says that the 
imagery becomes intensely vivid in the light of travel. I 
do not like to omit the fine passage in the forty-second 
Psalm : " Flood calls unto flood at the sound of thy cata- 
racts ; all thy breakers and billows have gone over me." 
And one of the noblest and truest sayings of the whole 
Bible makes use of the same standing metaphor : " Many 
waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown 
it " (Cant. viii. 7). 

We also find the great volume of a sea or a river's 
waters used metaphorically for other purposes. There is 

' Cf. Ps. Ixv. 7, 8, and Cheyne's Notes. 
R R 2 

638 The Jewish Quarterly Revietv. 

Amos' passionate demand (v. 24) ; " Let justice run down as 
waters, and righteousness as a perpetual flowing stream." 
With which we may compare : " Then would thy peace 
have been as the river, and thy righteousness as the waves 
of the sea" (Is. xlviii. 18; cf. Ixvi. 12). Not to be for- 
gotten, also, is the comparison between the fulness of the 
knowledge of God in the Messianic age with the waters, 
which in their measureless abundance cover the bottom of 
the sea (Is. xi. 9 ; Hab. ii. 14). Here may be mentioned 
too the similes from the sand of the sea-shore, which 
is sometimes used to typify the prospective numbers of 
Israel.^ A more striking image is that of the hun- 
dred and thirty-ninth Psalm, where the Divine thoughts 
are said to outnumber the sand. Job in one passage em- 
ploys it as a symbol of weight: " If his griefs were weighed 
in the balance they would be found to be heavier than 
the sand of the sea " (vi. 3). Two other applications of the 
water metaphor may here be added. One is from Isaiah 
Ivii. 20 : " The ungodly are like the sea that is tost up ; for it 
cannot rest, and its waters toss up mire and mud." The 
other is from Hosea x. 7 : " Samaria's king shall disappear 
as a chip of wood upon the water's face"; where Professor 
Cheyne has pointed out that this true rendering contains a 
figure even more appropriate (in its fine contrast between 
the helpless fragment of wood and the irresistible power 
of the current) than the Authorised Version's translation, 
" as the foam upon the water. "^ 

This metaphor from Hosea leads us naturally on to a 
few others connected with the flow of streams and rivers. 

' Of. Hosea ii. 1 ; Gen. xxxii. 12 ; Ps. Ixxviii. 27. So with the dust of 
the earth ; Gen. xiii. 16. We get the sand in Iliad II. 800, and sand and 
dust together, Tliad IX. 385. The last passage is cited by Aristotle as an 
example of an hyperbole, a form of metaphor which he regards as having 
a juvenile character, signifying vehemence, and chiefly used in anger. 
{Bhet. III. 2. § 16.) 

2 Another simile from water is in Job xiv. 19. " The waters wear the 
stones ; the overflowings thereof wash away the dust of the earth ; even 
so thou destroyest the hope of man." 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 639 

The ceaseless flood of tears has often, I suppose, in all 
literatures, been likened to the flow of a river; so in 
Lamentations, " Utter thy cry unto the Lord, virgin 
daughter of Zion, let tears run down like a torrent, day 
and night" (Lam. ii. 18, Bickell), with which we may com- 
pare Jeremiah's outburst, " that my head were waters 
and mine eyes a fountain of tears " (viii. 23). One of the 
few elaborate similes in Scripture deals with the torrents 
of winter, which dry up in the heat of summer. It is a 
simile noticed by Lowth as combining all the qualifications 
of a good comparison, vivid illustration, elegance, beauty, 
and what not. ' The wealth of detail in it is quite Homeric. 
Job, reproaching his friends, declares, " My brethren have 
dealt deceitfully as a torrent, as the channel of torrents 
which pass away; which (in the spring) are dark by 
reason of the (melted) ice, and in which the snow is 
hidden ; at the time when they feel the glow, they vanish ; 
when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place. The 
paths of their ways become crooked, they dissolve into 
nothing and disappear. The caravans of Tema looked, the 
companies of Sheba hoped for them ; they were abashed 
because they had been confident ; when they came thither 
they were ashamed " (Job vi. 15-20). In two passages in 
the Book of Isaiah God is compared to a stream. Indeed, 
there are few objects in nature at all used for metaphors^ 
to which, in one or other of his manifestations, the Deity is 
not compared. In the fifty-ninth chapter the Name of 
Yahveh is represented as coming to judgment "like a 
narrowed stream which the wrath of Yalaveh driveth on ; " 
and in the thirty-third chapter occurs the curious and diffi- 
cult passage, "For there (in Jerusalem) shall be for us 
a mighty one, even Yahveh, in place of rivers and broad 
canals, and upon him (namely, upon Yahveh compared to a 
river) oar^d galley shall not go, neither shall majestic ship 
sail over it."^ In the next verse but one (23), Jerusalem 

' Cp. Paalm xlvi. 5 and the commentators. The text is corrupt or in. 

640 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

is compared to a ship. In the day of danger " its ropes 
had become loose; they could not keep the mast firm in its 
stand, nor keep the sail spread out." A ship and streams 
suggest swimming. The Hebrew word for " swimming " 
is only twice found in the Bible, and on both occasions 
metaphorically. In the Psalms we have the exag- 
gerated metaphor, " I am wearied with my groaning ; 
eveiy night I make my bed to swim, I melt away my 
couch with my tears " (vi. 7) ; and in Isaiah — that book of 
metaphors — we find the prophecy, "that Moab shall be 
trampled down in his place, as straw is trampled down in 
the water of a dung pit, and though Moab shall spread out 
his hands within it, as a swimmer spreadeth out his hands 
to swim, yet God shall press down his pride in spite of the 
artifices of his hands" (xxv. 10, 11). 

From streams we pass to fountains. The most striking 
metaphorical use of them is the directly religious one, 
where the source or the contents of religious truth are 
symbolised as fountains. Through this Biblical usage, the 
water and well of life have become religious metaphors so 
common that their figurative character is well-nigh for- 
gotten. To trace and determine their earliest employment 
would land us in critical difficulties. I should be inclined 
to suppose that Jeremiah is the author of this, as of one or 
two other striking religious conceptions. In his second 
chapter he charges Israel with a twofold sin : " My people 
have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the 
Fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, 
hollow cisterns, that can hold no water" (ii. 13 ; xvii. 13 ; 
cf. Abot ii. 11). A later song-writer speaks of drawing 
water out of the wells of salvation (Isaiah xii. 3). More 
famous is the appeal of the prophet in Babylon, in which 
the metaphor from water passes into a more general 
metaphor from food : " Ho every one that thirsteth — come 
ye to the waters ; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy 
and eat ; yea, come buy wine and milk, for that which is 
not money and for that which is not a piice." Metaphors 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 641 

from food and feasting, which we shall have to notice 
presently, were naturally combined with metaphors from 
water and drinking, as in a famous passage of the thirty- 
sixth Psalm — the high-water mark of the Psalter's re- 
ligious mysticism : " How precious is thy loving kindness, 
O God! [in thee] do the children of men [put their trust] ; in 
the shadow of thy wings they find refuge ; they feast upon 
the fatness of thy house, and of the river of thy pleasures 
thou givest them their drink. For with thee is the foun- 
tain of life ; by thy light do we see light." What excellent 
use is made of the metaphor from water in the fourth Gospel 
is familar to all readers of that wonderful and fascinating 
book. '•' A well of life " is a familiar figure in Proverbs, 
to which are compared the mouth of the righteous, the 
teaching of the wise, and the fear of the Lord (x. 11; xiii. 14; 
xiv. 27), Other distichs use similar figures. Thus, "The 
words of a man's mouth are deep waters, a gushing brook, 
a well-spring of wisdom " (xviii. 4 ; of. xx. 6). And again : 
"A righteous man yielding to the wicked is a troubled 
fountain, and a corrupted spring " (xxv. 26, See Del.). An 
isolated, but striking use of a cistern metaphor is that in 
Jer. vi. 7 : "As a cistern keeps fresh her waters, so Jeru- 
salem keeps fresh her wickedness." It is as natural to 
Jerusalem to be always providing a perpetual supply of 
wickedness, as for a cistern to be always providing a 
continual supply of cool, fresh water. ■^ 

From the waters upon the earth we pass on to those 
from the sky, to rain and snow and dew. Rain, as the 
cause of the earth's fertility, may fitly symbolise the cause 
of a nation's material or spiritual well-being. Thus, we 
have a king's favour compared to rain both in Psalms and 
Proverbs (e.g., Psalm Ixxii. 6 ; Prov. xvi. 15). The author 
of the Song of Moses hopes that his words may have an 
effect in their own province equally beneficial : " May my 

' A striking metaphor from artificial irrigations is that in Prov. xxi. 1 : 
" A king's heart in Yahveh's hand is like to canals of water ; he leads it 
•whither he will." 

642 The Jewish (Quarterly Review. 

doctrine drop as the rain, may my speech distil as the dew, 
as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers 
upon the grass" (Deut. xxxii. 2). Job declares that in his 
prosperous days men waited for his speech "as for the rain, 
and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain " 
(xxix. 23). Both God and God's Word are compared to rain- 
Thus, in Hosea, God's salvation " is certain as the dawn ; 
he will come unto us as the heavy rain, as the latter rain 
which waters the earth" (vi. 3). Rain and snow are di- 
vine messengers or angels, and are so treated in the splendid 
simile of II. Isaiah : " For as the rain cometh down, and the 
snow from heaven, and thither returneth not, except it has 
watered the earth, and made it bring forth and sprout, and 
given seed to the sower, and bread to the eater : so shall 
my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth : it shall not 
return unto me empty " (Iv. 10, 11). 

A purely secular metaphor from rain is that in Proverbs 
xxvii. 15 : "A continual dropping in a very rainy day and 
a contentious woman are alike," Dr. Geikie tells us that 
this is an excellent proverb. " A rain-soaked roof is only 
too well known in Palestine. In my own case, at Tiberias, 
the rain fell through the tent on me in great dr'ops ; there 
was no protection from it. Rest was impossible ; the 
annoyance made the whole night miserable. Could there 
be a better comparison for a brawling woman than this 
perpetual splash, splash, when one wished, above all things, 
to be quiet ? "^ 

There are four separate metaphors from snow in the 
Bible, all noticeable and all different. In the first we get 
snow as the whitest thing in nature, to typify innocence 
or purity : " Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be- 
come white as snow ; though they be red like crimson, 
they shall become as wool"^ (Is. i. 18). With which may be 
compared the Psalmist's, "Purge me with hyssop and I shall 

1 G-eikie, The Holy Land and the BiUe, Vol. I., p. 53. The sense of 
Prov. ixvii. 16 is too doubtful to be here made use of. 
» Snow is itself compared to wool, Ps. oxlvii. 16. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 643 

be clean: wash me and I shall be whiter than snow" (li. 9). 
Colours are not elsewhere used to typify sin and purity. A 
totally diflPerent use of snow is met with in Proverbs. "As 
the cold of snow " — i.e., as a draught {e.g., of wine) made 
cool by snow — " in the time of harvest, so is a faithful 
messenger to them that send him ; for he refreshes the soul 
of his master " (xxv. 13). According to Delitzsch, snow is 
still stored up by the peasants of Menin, near Damascus, 
in a mountain cleft, and brought for sale in the summer to 
Damascus and the cities of the coast. A similar proverb 
runs, " As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news 
from a far country" (xxv. 25). Snow in summer may 
make a lovely drink (and a Greek epigram of Askle- 
piades-^ agrees with the proverb just quoted) ; but from 
an agricultural point of view it is decidedly in the way. 
So we get the further proverb : " As snow in summer and 
rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool " (xxvi. 
1). Lastly, in Job we find the following: "Drought and 
summer heat consume the snow waters, so Sheol consumes 
sinners " (xxiv. 19). Here the point of comparison is the 
sudden rapidity of disappearance. 

Dew in Palestine is heavier in quantity and more im- 
portant in its effects than in England. It is as a matter 
of fact not dew at all, but a sort of night-mist, the cause and 
nature of which can be read up in Geikie, Neill and the 
encyclopaedias. However, I do not think that in our transla- 
tions we need substitute " night-mist " for dew ; it would be 
as bad as having to put the bald vulture or griffon for the 
eagle. Three qualities were noticed in the dew : its great 
amount, its speedy disappearance, its beneficent effect. 
Each quality supplies a metaphor. Thus for the first we 
have a phrase of Hushai's in his false advice to Absalom. 
He counselled the rebel son to collect the whole manhood 
of Israel in a host " as the sand that is by the sea for 
multitude," so that when they light upon David and his 

' Mackail, Select E2yigrams from the Greek Anthology, I. 2, p. 91. 

G44 The Jewish Quarterly Hevmv. 

fellows it may be " as the dew falleth on the ground " (2 
Sam. xvii. 12). A metaphor from the transitoriness of dew 
has already been quoted. In another passage, also from 
Hosea, Israel's superficial and momentary repentance is 
aptly compared " to the morning cloud, and to the dew which 
early goeth away " (vi. 4). But most frequent is the meta- 
phorical application of the dew's reviving and fertilising 
agency. God himself is compared to dew by Hosea, a 
writer to whom the dew was a peculiarly favourite meta- 
phor : " I will be as the dew unto Israel ; he shall blossom 
as the lily " (xiv. 5). God's blessing, if Professor Cheyne 
be right, and not brothers' unity, is the subject of the 
famous double metaphor in Psalm cxxxiii., of which the 
first is " the fine oil upon the head, that descends upon the 
beard, even Aaron's, that descends upon the (upper) border 
of his vestures ;" while the second is " the dew of Hermon 
that descends upon the mountains of Zion." Israel, as 
well as Israel's God, is compared to dew. The instance is 
in Micah, and illustrates the contrasted conjunction of two 
opposite metaphors which we have already noticed in the 
comparison of God to a roaring lion and to a protecting 
bird in successive verses of Isaiah. Here the conjunction 
is of the lion with the dew. The lion metaphor has been 
already quoted, and relates to the conqueriug and destruc- 
tive operations of God's people in the opening of the 
Messianic age. It is, however — oddly enough — preceded by 
another metaphor in which Israel is compared to the dew. 
" And the remnant of Israel shall be in the midst of many 
peoples as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the 
grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons 
of men " (v. 6). Hitzig rather prosaically explains this 
metaphor upon the analogy of the passage from Samuel : 
there is no real contrast between it and the lion metaphor, 
but only a variety of the same thought. Israel will fall 
upon the nations as suddenly and swiftly as the dew falls 
upon the ground. But it is more probable that the two 
metaphors were deliberately chosen to symbolise the double 

A Teniatke Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 645 

aspect of Israel's work, the one redemptive and beneficial, 
the other violent and punitive. This interpretation is the 
more probable in view of the parallel antithesis in Proverbs 
(xix. 12), " The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion, but 
his favour is as dew upon the grass." With this proverb, 
which seems couched courtier-like in mock heroics to us 
to-day, but was a grirn reality when it was made, we may 
take leave of water metaphors and pass on to the clouds 
and to the winds. 

There are, indeed, clouds and clouds. Gog the invader 
is likened to the storm-cloud by Ezekiel : " Thou shalt 
ascend and come like a storm ; thou shalt be like a cloud to 
cover the land " (Ezek. xxxviii. 9, 16 ; Jer. iv. 13 ; and 
cf. the grand simile, Iliad VI. 275). Lighter clouds pass 
quickly. So in Isaiah : " Who are these that fly as clouds, and 
as the doves to their lattices ? " and in Job : " My welfare 
passeth away as a cloud ; "^ and the grander simile in one 
of his gloomiest speeches : " As the cloud is consumed and 
vanishes away, so he that goeth down to Sheol shall come 
up no more " (Isaiah Ix. 8 ; Job xxx. 15, vii. 9). Some 
clouds are deceptive, and give no rain when rain is longed 
for. Thus : " Whoso boasts with a deceitful gift is like 
clouds and wind, and yet no rain " (Prov. xxv. 14). 

The wind, taken by itself, is metaphorically a type of 
judgment and calamity. Thus in Hosea : " For though 
Ephraim bear fruit among his brethren (a pun here upon 
the meaning of " Ephraim " and a metaphor of states or 
tribes with trees) an east wind shall come, a wind of 
Yahveh, coming up from the desert, and his spring (from 
which the tree derived its nourishment) shall become dry, 
and his fountain shall be dried up " (xiii. 15). 

Here the destructive east wind symbolised the Assyrian 
conqueror (cf. Is. xxvii. 8 ; Ez. xvii. 10, xix. 12 ; Ps. xlviii. 
8). It is similarly used of calamity in general. So in Job, 

■ Op. Demostkenes De Corona, §388: tov ry ttoXu TrtpiaravTa icivdvvov 
iraptXOili' tTToiriaev &atrtp vk<f)OQ. For this and a few other classicai parallels 
I am indebted to Mr, Mackail. 

646 The Jewish Quarterly Eevieto. 

of the sudden destruction of the wicked: "He lays him 
down rich, but shall not do so again ; he openeth his eyes, 
and is not. Terrors overtake him like waters ; by night 
a whirlwind steals him away. An east wind carries him 
off, and he departs ; it sweepeth him out of his place " (Job 
xxvii. 19-21, where see Delitzsch's note on east winds, north 
winds, and whirlwinds in Palestine, and cf. Geikie, Vol. IT., 
pp. 61-64), In one passage in Jeremiah sinful Israel is 
apparently compared to a wind : " A sharp wind from the 
bare hills of the desert is the way of my people, not for 
fanning, nor for cleansing; a stormy wind from them 
meets me (saith the Lord), therefore will I hold judgment 
upon them " (Jer. iv. 11). The words "not for fanning, 
nor for cleansing," imply that the wind was too violent 
for winnowing the grain, a process which is still carried 
out in Palestine by the help of a light wind. (Geikie, I., 
pp. 146, 149, 150). The most frequent metaphorical use of 
the wind is in conjunction with dust and stubble, to indicate 
the destruction and dispersion of enemies : " Let them be 
as chaff before the wind " ; "I beat them small as the dust 
before the wind " ; " They shall be chased as the chaff of the 
mountains before the wind, and as whirling dust before the 
whirlwind "; " Wilt thou terrify a leaf driven to and fro, 
and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble ? " Such sentences 
as these are too familiar to need further illustration.^ But 
before passing from the wind, we ought not to omit the 
proverb: "As the north wind bringeth rain, so does a 
backbiting tongue an angry countenance " (xxv. 23). 

We pass now from wind to fire. Here we may well 
distinguish between the few examples in which there are 
similes from fire and the more numerous cases where fire 
is used metaphorically to express what is spiritual by a 
material symbol. Of the first class Isaiah can, as usual, 
Bupply the finest specimens. Here are two. The first 

' Cf. Ps. xxxT. 5, Izxziii. 14 ; Isaiah xvii. 13, il. 24, xU. 2 ; Jer. xiii. 
24 ; Job xiii. 25, etc. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Bihlical Metaphors. 647 

combines the simile of fire with the familiar symbolism 
of the tree: "Therefore as the fire's tongue devoureth 
stubble, and hay melteth in a flame, so their root shall 
become as rottenness, and their blossom go up as dust." 
And again : " Unrighteousness burnt like fire, consuming 
thorns and briars, and kindled in the thickets of the forest, 
so that they rolled upwards in a volume of smoke" 
(Isaiah v. 24 ; ix. 17. Of. xxxiii. 11 ; Mai. iii. 19 ; Joel ii. 6 ; 
Ps. Ixxxiii. 15 ; Iliad XI. 155f). 

Fire may be the symbol of mischief, trouble, or 
punishment. Thus of the first, in Isaiah 1. 11 : " Behold all 
ye that kindle a fire and set light to brands, begone into 
the flame of your fire and into the brands that ye have 
kindled." The meaning of the figure is not wholly clear, 
but it probably refers either to the rage of unrestrained 
passions among a certain section of the exiles, or more 
definitely to the plots and persecutions to which the same 
party subjected the pious. Fire as the symbol of trouble can 
be illustrated by the proverbial phrase (Ps. Ixvi. 12), " to 
go through fire and water," which is elaborated by II. Isaiah 
into the stately period : " When thou passest through the 
waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they 
shall not overflow thee ; when thou walkest through the 
fire thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle 
upon thee " (xliii. 2). Then for fire as punishment we get 
the following from the same writer : " Behold they are 
become as stubble, the fire hath burned them ; they cannot 
rescue their soul from the clutch of the flame ; it is not a 
coal to give warmth, a fire to sit before " (xlvii. 14). The 
last line is very grim. 

That Yahveh should frequently be symbolised by or 
compared to fire is, from an historical point of view, per- 
fectly natural. For to the fire the essence of his being, or 
the substance of his nature, was originally akin. I do not 
therefore, propose to deal here with the numerous descrip- 
tions of Divine theophanies, either past or predicted, in 
which there is a half -literal, half-metaphorical usage of the 

648 The Jewish Quarterly Hemew. 

fii-e symbolism.^ Yet two passages in Isaiah can hardly be 
passed over. Both relate to the judgment of God upon 
Assyria. In the first it is to be noticed how the image 
from fire is changed into an image from water, and this 
aojain into one from agriculture, and that into one from 
hunting : " Behold the name of Yahveh cometh from far, 
burning with anger, and in thick uplifting of smoke ; his 
lips are full of indignation, and his tongue like devouring 
fire, and his breath is like an overflowing torrent, dividing 
even to the neck, to swing nations in the face of nothing- 
ness ; and a bridle which leadeth astray (shall be) upon the 
cheeks of the peoples " (xxx. 27, 28). The second is pre- 
fixed by an image from sickness, so that the Assyrians are 
first compared to a robust man, and then to a forest and a 
garden : " The Lord shall send against his fat limbs wasting 
leanness, and under his glory shall burn a burning like the 
burning of fire ; and the Light of Israel shall be for a fire, 
and his Holy One for a flame, and it shall kindle and devour 
his briars and thorns in one day ; and the glory of his foi-est 
and of his garden-land shall it consume ; and the remnant 
of the trees of this forest shall be few, that a child may 
write them" (x. 16-19). 

Jeremiah compares God's Word to fire. " Is not my 
word like as a fire, saith Yahveh ; and like as a hammer 
that breaketh the rock in pieces ? " (xxiii. 29). It is here 
compared to a fire because of its prevailing character of 
severity and punishment. In another passage the object 
of the metaphor is very diflferent. Jeremiah gives us a 
glimpse of the inward conflict that was perpetually being 
carried on in his own soul between the desire for tranquillity 
and peace and the higher compulsion to embody the felt 
Divine inspiration in impassioned utterance : " When I 
say, I will not make mention of him nor speak any more 
in his name, then it becometh in my heart as a burning 

■ Pure metaphor was, I suppose, intended in such late passages as 
Zeeh. ii. 9; Isaiah xxxiii. 14. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Mefap/iors. 649 

fire shut up in my bones ; and I weary myself to liold it 
in, but cannot " (xx. 9 ; cf. Ps. xxxix. 4 ; uSneid TV. 12). 

If God and his word are thus compared to fire, they 
are naturally also compared to light : " The Lord is my 
light" (Ps. xxvii. 1). "In thy light do we see light" 
(ibid., xxxvi. 9). " The sun shall be no more thy light by 
day, neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto 
thee ; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting 
light, and thy God thy glory" (Is. Ix. 19). These passages, 
and such as these, are too familiar for comment. The last 
is a good instance of the half-literal, half-metaphorical 
language of the Babylonian Isaiah. 

Both the first and the second Isaiah use light as an 
emblem of prosperity and salvation. Thus, " The people 
that walk in darkness see a great light; they that dwell 
in the land of deadly shade, light shineth brilliantly upon 
them " (ix. 1 ; cf. Psalm xviii. 29). Or, again, " Then shall 
thy light break forth as the morning, and thy healing will 
spring forth speedily " (Is. Iviii. 8). Light is truth and good- 
ness ; darkness falsity and evil : " Woe unto those that call 
evil good, and good evil ; that put darkness for light, and 
light for darkness ; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for 
bitter ! " (Is. v. 20.) There are three interesting instances 
of the metaphor in Proverbs : " A commandment is a 
lamp, and teaching is light, and reproofs of instruction are 
the way of life " (vi. 23 ; cf. Ps. cxix. 105). The second is 
very curious, and of importance to the archseologist. " A 
lamp of Yahveh's is the spirit of man ; it searches through 
all the chambers of the body" (xx. 27).^^ Delitzsch states that 
it was upon the basis of this adage that the seven-branched 
candlestick became an old Jewish symbol of the soul. 
The proverb itself, with its quaint psychology, apparently 
implies that the spirit is able to penetrate into every nook 
and corner of the human personality, and establish a rigid 
self-inspection and a searching moral criticism. The last of 

' Among the examplef? of metaphors quoted by Aristotle (li/wf-. iii. ] 
§ 7), is ort ror i/ofij/ d Btbt^ fiot; (ivijxj/fii iv Tt} 4"'Xy' "/«0'" 7«p (f^Aot Tt. 

650 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

the three is simpler and more direct; it speaks of the 
difference between the wicked and the righteous : " The 
path o£ the wicked is thick darkness ; they know not at 
what they stumble. The path of the righteous is as the 
brightness of the morning light, which becomes brighter 
and brighter till the fulness of day" (iv. 18, 19). The 
victorious confidence and prosperous security of the righ- 
teous deepens more and more as life goes on — a curious 
illustration of the inveterate Old Testament combination 
of goodness and prosperity. For the light of the 
righteous, in so far as it typifies his spiritual know- 
ledge and the firmness of his faith, may not improbably 
advance in brightness from year to year ; but to the 
author of the proverb such a fuller knowledge and deeper 
faith implied also a corresponding outward prosperity, so 
that the " light " typifies both the inward essence and the 
outward accident. 

Before passing from light and fire to the sun, their 
source, and to the stars of the night, two isolated metaphors 
should not be passed over without quotation. The first is 
from Job (v. 7) : " Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks 
fly upward," in which the point of comparison, the natural 
necessity of either quality, is very remarkable and unusual.^ 
The second is from that 25th chapter of Proverbs, which, 
with the two following chapters, has already provided us 
with so many interesting metaphors. " If thine enemy be 
hungry give him bread to eat ; and if he be thirsty give 
him water to drink ; for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his 
head, and the Lord shall reward thee " (21, 22). Apparently 
the coals of fire are intended to symbolise the inward pangs 
of remorse and self-reproach, pangs such as Jean Valjean 
felt when the Bishop, confronted with the thief, pretended 
that the stolen candlesticks were a gift. 

It is curious that, although by far the greater number of 
Biblical metaphors are taken from outward nature, there 

' Compare the string of questions in Amos iii. 3 - 8. 

A Tentatwe Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 651 

should be so very few from the heavenly bodies. Perhaps 
they were too distant to impress. That, at least, is the 
quality which has suggested a few comparisons, e.g., " As 
the heaven is high above the earth, so great is God's mercy 
to them that fear him " (Ps. ciii. 11 ; cf. xxxvi. 6, Ivii. 11). 
Or were they too constant and changeless ? (cf. Ps. Ixxxix. 
37, 88 ; Isaiah Ixvi. 22). For the stars, at any i-ate, supply 
no metaphor or comparison, except from their numberless- 
ness (Gen. xv. 5, xxii. 17 ; Jer. xxxiii. 22).^ Oddly enough 
the poet of the Iliad hardly ever uses the stars for that 
purpose; it is their clear shining and dazzling brilliancy 
which form the subject of his glorious star similes, and 
even in the single exception to this rule it is their bright- 
ness, as well as their number, which provokes and 
substantiates the simile, as readers of the Laureate will 
remember. But there is one Biblical exception to the 
contrary rule, and that a notable one in a notable passage ; 
for it occurs in the prophecy of the resurrection in the 
book of Daniel : " And many of them that sleep in the dust 
of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some 
to shame and everlasting abhorrence. But they that be 
Mdse shall shine as the shining of the firmament, and they 
that have brought many to righteousness as the stars for 
ever and ever " (Dan. xii. 2, 3 ; cf . Wisdom iii. 7), 

Here may find a place the fine simile in the " last words 
of David " ; " Who ruleth justly over men, who ruleth in 
the fear of God, is like the morning light at sunrise, a 
morning without rain, when through sunshine after rain 
grass springeth from the earth " (2 Sam. xxiii. 3, 4). And 
here also the image from Malachi of the " Sun of righteous- 
ness, with healing in his wings " (iii. 20), in which 
righteousness is symbolised under the figure of the sun, 

> Mr. Morris Joseph reminds me of Numbers xxiv. 17 ("A star shall 
come forth out of Jacob "), to which should be added Isaiah xiv. 12. For 
sun metaphors he also adduces Judges v. 31, Ps. Ixxxiv. 12 (God a sun), 
Jer. XV. 9 (sun=prosperity), and Cant, vi, 10 quoted abore, 

652 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

and the sun under the figure of a bird, of which the wings 
are rays. 

It is now high time to come down from heaven to earth, 
and from elemental forces to the concrete objects of 
inanimate nature. 

Let us first collect metaphors from vegetation generally, 
and then from that portion of it which is under the control 
of man, and nurtured for his benefit. 

I suppose that the poets of all races have used the decay, 
death and resurrection of the vegetable world as a subject 
for metaphor and parable. Trees and flowers are either 
like man because they fade and die, or they are unlike him 
because though they die to-day they are re-born to-morrow. 
Both thoughts occur in the Scriptures. The first may be 
expressed generally, as in the beautiful 103rd Psalm : "As 
for man, his days are as grass ; as a flower of the field, so 
he flourishes. For the wind passes over it and it is gone ; 
and the place thereof shall know it no more" (ciii. 15, IG). 
Or again, in the 90th Psalm, where the idea of the perpetual 
renewal and the perpetual decay of humanity are touchingly 
alluded to: "Thou {i.e., God) stormest upon them (i.e., men) ; 
they fall into sleep ; in the morning they are as grass which 
sprouts again; in the morning it blossoms and sprouts again; 
in the evening it is cut down and withers" (xc. 5, 6). This 
touches close upon the famous metaphor in the sixth book 
of the Iliad, to which there is so curious a parallel in 
Ecclesiasticus : " Even as are the generations of leaves, such 
are those likewise of men ; the leaves that be the wind 
scattereth on the earth, and the forest buddeth and putteth 
forth more again, while the season of spring is at hand ; so 
of the generations of men, one springeth and another passeth 
away" (VI. 146; cf. Ecc. xiv. 18). More usually in Scrip- 
ture this metaphor is employed for the speedy fate which 
dogs, or, it is hoped, may dog, the fortunes of the wicked. 
The most famous example is from Psalm cxxix., where, as is 
usual in the Homeric similes, but is so rare in the Bible, 
there is a number of incidental accessories to make the 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 653 

main idea more vivid. " Let (the wicked) be as the grass 
o£ the housetops, which withers before it is unslieathed ; 
with which the mower fills not his hand, nor he that binds 
sheaves his bosom ; and they that go by say not, The 
blessing of Yahveh be upon you ; we bless you in the 
name of Yahveh " (cxxix. 6-8 ; cf . Cheyne's Notes, and 
Geikie i. 42 ; cf. also Ps. xxxvii. 2 ; xcii. 8 ; Job viii. 12 ; 
Isaiah xxxvii. 27). 

Yet flowers and trees have a resurrection or immortality 
of their own, which, according to earlier thought, is denied 
to man. It is interesting to compare two examples of 
this same idea, one from Hebrew and one from Greek 
literature.^ The Hebrew instance — it is from Job — does 
not, like the Greek, allude to the ordinary yearly resurrec- 
tion of plants, but to a more peculiar quality of trees, 
characteristic especially, as it would appear, of the palm, 
but also, as we shall see from Isaiah, where the same 
metaphor is used for a more hopeful purpose, of the 
terebinth and the oak. Job then complains : — 

For the tree there is hope : if it be cut down it will sprout again , 
and its shoots will not fail. Though its root wax old in the ground, 
and its stock perish in the dust, yet through the scent of water it will 
bud and bring forth boughs like a plant, but man 

the contrast is also worth quoting, for it contains a fresh, 
hitherto unquoted, metaphor from streams or canals : — 

but man dieth and lieth low ; yea, man giveth up the ghost, 

and where is he? As the waters fail from a lake, and a river 
decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down and riseth not ; till the 
heavens be no more he shall not awake, nor be aroused out of his 
sleep. '' 

The Greek parallel is from MoscJms' Lament over his Master 
BioH : — 

' Here too is one in Latin : Eedditur arboribus florens revirentibus 
setas ; ergo non hominl quod fuit ante redit ? (Albinovantis, El. ii. 113.) 

2 Job xiv. 7-12. See Delitzsch's Commentary and Wetzstein's illustra- 
tive note. Also, Cheyne's Job and Solomon, p. 28; for verse 11, cf. 
Isaiah xix. 5, for the author of Job probably thought of the Nile, and 
O' is not die See, but der See. 

ss 2 

654 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

Ah me, when the mallows wither in the garden, and the green 
parsley, and the curled tendrils of the anise, on a later day they live 
again, and spring in another year; but we men, we, the great and 
mighty, or wise, when once we have died, in hollow earth we sleep, 
gone down into silence : a right long, and endless, and unawakening 
sleep. {Moschus III. Mr. Lang's Translation). 

I said, in passing, that the metaphor from a cut-down 
tree was used by Isaiah. It occurs at the end of his 
inaugural sixth chapter, in connection with the doctrine 
of the Remnant. Judgment must succeed judgment, 
but without a full extermination, "for as the terebinth 
and the oak, of which, after the felling, a stock {i.e., a 
stock from which fresh shoots will spring) remaineth, so 
a holy seed shall be the stock thereof {i.e., of the tree which 
symbolises Israel)."^ 

Job and Moschus contrast reviving vegetation with the 
mortality of man ; the Second Isaiah contrasts the decay of 
vegetation with the eternity of God's Word. But the 
passage is too familiar to justify citation (Isaiah xl. 6-8). 

Before passing on to metaphors proper taken from trees, 
there is one noble simile in Isaiah which must not be over- 
looked : " The heart of Ahaz shook, and the heart of his 
people, as the trees of the forest shake before the wind " 
(vii. 2. Mr. Mackail compares Soph. Fr. Aegeus 24).^ 

In a passage from Isaiah, quoted above, we have already 
come across the metaphor of a forest or a thicket to typify 
a hostile army. It is a fairly frequent usage. Thus, in the 
same chapter : " Behold the Lord Yahveh of Hosts lops off 
the mass of boughs with a terrible crash, and the high of 
station are felled, and the lofty are brought low ; and he 
shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and 
Lebanon (still the Assyrian army) shall fall through a 
glorious one."^ 

' Isaiah vi. 13. Of. Dillman's note. Cp. also Isaiah xi. 1 ; liii. 2. 

' Notice also, " As the days of a tree are the days of my people " 
(Is. Ixv. 22). 

^ Isaiah x. 33, 34 ; c£. ii. 13, xxxii. 19 ; xl. 24 ; Ezekiel xxii. 3-18 ; Jer. 
xii. 2 ; Amos. ii. 9 ; Ps. xxxvii. 3,') ; see Cheyne. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 655 

In this passage and in others referred to in the note, it is 
Israel's enemies which are described as trees. In other 
places it is Israel himself who is now symbolised as an olive 
(Hos. xiv. 6 ; Jer. xi. 16), and now as a fir (Hos. xiv. 8), a 
cedar (Ezek. xvii. ; cf . Numbers xxiv. 6), and a forest (Ezek. 
xxi. 1-4). So also of the righteous individual, who may 
possibly often himself be only the personification of Israel. 
Thus, we have the elaborate simile in Jeremiah : " Blessed 
is the man that trusts in Yahveh, and whose hope Yahveh 
is. For he is as a tree planted by the waters, that spreads 
out its roots by the river, and does not fear when the heat 
comes, but its leaf is ever green, and it will not be careful 
in the year of drought, neither cease from bearing fruit."^ 
Or, again in the Psalms, where, however, " the i-ighteous " 
are probably synonymous with Israel : " The righteous shall 
spring up like a palm tree; he shall wax tall like a 
cedar in Lebanon (in contrast to the scrubby and transi- 
tory grass that symbolised the wicked in verse 8). Planted 
in the house of Yahveh, they shall spring up in the 
courts of our God. They shall still shoot forth in old age, 
full of sap shall they be and flourishing " (Ps. xcii. 13-15 ; 
cf. lii. 10. Odysset/ VI. 162)." 

With just a reference to a few metaphors from mountains 
and thorns,* we may now pass on to metaphors from man's 
relations to nature, whether in pastoral or agricultural 
life, and to such objects as the fig tree and the vine, 
which receive tending and cultivation from the hands of 

In this connection, one thinks at once of the long agri- 
cultural parable in Isaiah xxviii. 23-29. Unfortunately, the 
application of the parable is by no means clear. Is it that, 
as the farmer ploughs in order to sow, and threshes 
different grains with difterent degrees of violence, even so 

' Jer. xvii. 8 ; cf. the contrast xvii. 5, 6 ; Ps. i. .^ ; Job xxix. 19. 
' As to the meaning of lii. 10, xcii. 14, see especially Hupfeld. 
' Psalm XXX. 7 ; xxxvi. 7 ; Prov. xv. 19 ; xxvi. 9 ; 2 Samuel xxiii. fi ; 
Nahum i. 10 ; Micah vii. 4 ; Ez. ii, 6 ; Koh. vii. 6 ; Numb, xxxiii. 55. 

656 The Jetmh Qiuirterly Review. 

are there degrees of rigour in God's judgment pro- 
cesses and redemptive ends beyond the judgment, for which 
alone it was inflicted ? Or, again, are we to' interpret it with 
Professor Oheyne, but against Dillmann, as an appeal to the 
politicians to observe moderation and rationality in their 
moral and civic conduct ? The former seems, upon the 
whole, the more probable explanation, in spite of the want 
of connection with the preceding portion of the chapter. 

Here is the place for a whole series of detached meta- 
phors from ploughing and sowing, and all the various 
details of agricultural procedure. 

Similes in this province are not numerous ; it is mainly 
metaphor. Noticeable, however, is the interrogation of 
Amos (vi. 12) : " Shall horses run upon the rock ? Does 
one plough the sea with oxen ? For ye have turned justice 
into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood," — 
of which the meaning, apparently, is that the perversion of 
justice in Israel is as unnatural as the former idea, and as 
wanton or profitless as the latter. 

There is an odd mixture of personification and metaphor 
in the 129th Psalm, in which personified Israel complains 
that his enemies " have plowed upon his back, and made 
long their furrows." 

Frequent is the transference of the ideas of ploughing, 
sowing and reaping from the material to the spiritual. 
These metaphors are already prominent in Hosea. Thus in 
x. 11, the comparison of Ephraim to a heifer leads on to 
further images from agriculture: "Ephraim is a heifer broken 
in and loving to thresh, and I have (hitherto) spared the 
beauty of her neck ; (but now) I will make Ephraim to 
draw, Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break up his clods."^ 
Here, according to Professor Cheyne, whose rendering I 
have, as usual, quoted, we have Israel in its prosperity 
figured as a heifer whose business was but to thresh, for 

' " Judah " is out of place here. See Oort, Theol. Tijd., 1890, p.496. His 
enieiidation of v. 12 on basis of LXX. seems vei-y dubious. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 657 

" the work of treading out the corn was pleasant and easy," 
while the coming distress and judgment are typified as 
ploughing and tilling under a galling yoke. Then in the 
next verse, while the heifer metaphor is given up, the agri- 
cultural images are continued : " Sow to yourselves accord- 
ing to righteousness, and ye shall reap in proportion to 
love : break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek 
Yahveh, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Ye 
have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped injustice : ye have 
eaten the fruit of lies." To reap injustice here means 
that the only result of their evil life — typified as a plough- 
ing of wickedness — will be (the perfect is prophetic) the 
cruel oppression of the foreign conqueror (cf. Job iv. 8), 
A similar metaphor is Jeremiah's (iv. 3) : " Break up for 
you a fallow ground, and sow not among thorns." And 
the kindred image in Hosea : " They have sown the wind, 
and they shall reap the whirlwind : it {i.e., Israel typified 
as a cornfield) has no standing corn, the blade will yield 
no meal; or if it yield, strangers shall swallow it up" 
(Hosea viii. 7 ; cf. Prov. xxii. 8). Simpler and more fami- 
liar is the beautiful figure of the Psalmist: "They that 
sow in tears shall reap in joy. Though he goeth on his 
way weeping, bearing the store of seed, he shall come 
back with joy, bearing his sheaves" (Ps. cxxvi. 5, 6).^ 

Harvest joy is proverbial, and was connected with re- 
ligious thanksgivings (cf. Isaiah ix. 2 with Cheyne's note ; 
Ps. iv. 7). Metaphorically, reaping and gleaning stand for 
punishment. So Isaiah : " And it shall be as when the 
husbandman gathereth blades of corn together, and his arm 
reapeth the ears ; yea, it shall be as when one gathers 
ears in the valley of the plain. And a gleaning shall be 
left thereof, as at the striking of an olive tree two or three 
berries at the uttermost point, four or five on the branches of 
the fruit tree " (xvii. 5, 6 ;cf. xxiv. 13; Jeremiah vi. 9, ix. 21, 

' Sowing and reaping metapliors are also foand in Greek, e.g. iEsoh. 
Pers. 821, a,nd Plato Phaedrus, 2H0 C. Aristotle (Rhet.llI.S,§ 4) calls 
them too poetic for prose. See Thompson's note on the Phaedrus passage. 

G58 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

xlix. 9; Ob. 5).^ Similarly in Joel, where the wine-press is 
added to the harvest : " Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest 
is ripe ; come tread, for the press is full ; the vats overflow, 
for their wickedness is great" (iv. 13).^ 

The scattering of Israel by exile is not only aptly 
likened to winnowing (Jer. xv. 7) but, by a striking though 
confused metaphor, to the sifting of com in a sieve. " For, 
lo, I will command, and I will shake the house of Israel 
to and fro among all nations, as corn is shaken in a sieve, yet 
shall not the least grain fall upon the earth " (Amos ix. 9). 

In all these instances the thresher, reaper and win- 
nower is God, but sometimes it is Israel who punishes his 
enemies. So in II. Isaiah : " Behold, I will make thee a 
new threshing roller, sharp, double-edged ; thou shalt thresh 
mountains and crush them, and shalt make hills as chaff " 
(Isaiah xli. 15-16, Micah iv. 13 ; cf. Jer. li. 33). 

Other details of agricultural life furnish material for 
occasional similes and metaphors. Thus we have the yoke,^ 
typifying either slavery and oppression (1 Kings xii. 4 ; Is. ix. 
3) or a burden of iniquity (Lam. i. 14), the cart that shakes 
under its weight of sheaves (Amos ii. 13), the weeds that 
spring up in the furrows of an ill-kept field (Hosea x. 4), 
the booths of a vineyard neglected after the vintage. This 
last figure is more than once strikingly applied. So in 
Isaiah's first chapter : " The daughter of Zion is left as a 
booth in a vineyard, or a lodging- place in a cucumber-field " 
(Is. i. 8; cf. xxiv. 20). So in Job, of the wicked, whose glory 
is transitory : " He builds his house as the moth, and as 

1 Mr. Maokail tMnks one might here compare the lovely lines of Sappho' 
iFi: S»3, ed. Bergk) :— 

oloi" TO yXvKvuoKov IptvQiTai aicpif) lit' vaSii) 
dxpov err aKporaTi^' \t\d9ovTO Si iiaKoSp6'7ri]sg, 
ov fiiiv iK\(\d6ovr' , dX\' oiiK tSiivavT' iiriKfaBai. 
' Eipeness for harvest supplies a strange simile in Job v. 26 : "Thou 
shalt come to the grave in unbroken strength, as a sheaf of com is 
gathered in its season." 

' ' Yoke ' in the religious sense is not yet found in the O.T. Yet cp. 
" It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth" (Lam. iii. 27, 
cp. Psalms of Solomon vii. y, with Ryle and James' Notes). 

A Tentatm Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 659 

the booth which the watchman maketh " (xxvii. 18, with 
Delitzsch's note and Tristram, Natural History of Bible, 
p. 44!3). These booths, as occupied, form a different simile 
for Jeremiah : " The enemies of Jerusalem have encamped 
against her round about as keepers of a field " (iv. 17). 

The two cultivated trees which are the subjects of the 
largest number of Biblical similes and metaphors are the 
fig-tree and the vine. The early fig was a great delicacy ; 
hence we get similes like : " The fading flower of Ephraim's 
glittering bravery shall become as an early fig before the 
fruit harvest, which whoso seeth, while it is yet in his 
hand he swalloweth it " (Isaiah xxviii. 4 ; cf. Nahum 
iii. 12 ; Micah vii. 1). Israel, again, is likened to, or typified 
as, a fig-tree. Thus, Israel in his youth was found by God 
"as grapes in the wilderness, as the first ripe in the fig-tree 
at her first season" (Hosea ix. 10). So, in Jeremiah, we get 
the parable of the two baskets of figs, one having the first 
ripe, very good figs, the other very naughty figs, which 
could not be eaten, they were so bad (xxiv.). 

No metaphor from the vegetable world is more usual 
than that which is connected with the vine-tree, with the 
grape, and with the drunkenness which is the grape's 
most characteristic fruit. 

Israel is often represented under the figure of a vine. One 
starts with the blessing of Jacob. Joseph is there typified 
as " a young, fruitful vine by a well, whose branches run 
over the wall" (Gen. xlix. 22). Then comes Hosea: "Israel 
was a luxuriant vine, which freely put forth fruit " (x. 1). 
Then there is the famous parable in Isaiah, too familiar 
for quotation (Isaiah v. 1-7). The metaphor of a vine 
degenerating is taken up by Jeremiah : " I had planted 
thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed : how, then, art thou 
turned into the degenerate shoots of a strange vine unto 
me ? " ^ Ezekiel uses the vine figure in his usual elaborate 

' ii. 21. Cf . vi, 9, xii. 10 ; and for bad grapes typifying the enemy 
Dout. xxxii. 32. 

660 The Jewish Quarterly Revieio. 

way (xvii. 1-10, xix. 10-14). The metaphor seems to have 
become so common that in one passage he even covers it 
with contempt. Jerusalem and the men of Judah need 
not boast themselves of their prominent glory as the vine- 
yard of God. For " what is the vine-tree more than any 
other tree, or the vine-branch more than any other branch 
among the trees of the forest ? " It is meet for no work, 
but is cast in the fire for fuel (xv. 1-8). At great length is 
the vine metaphor worked out by a late Psalmist (Ixxx. 
9-17), and we find it once more in a late prophecy now 
included in Isaiah. God's vineyard shall ultimately 
triumph over its enemies: "In days to come Jacob shall 
take root, Israel shall blossom and bud, and they shall fill 
the face of the world with fruit " (xxvii, 1-6). 

Israel's foes are far more rarely typified as vines. Once 
Isaiah uses the metaphor for the Assyrians : " For thus hath 
Yahveh said unto me, I will be still and look on in my 
mansion, while there is clear heat in sunshine, while there 
are clouds of night-mist in the heat of the vintage. For 
before the vintage, when the blossom is over and the bud 
becometh a ripening grape, he shall cut off the branches 
with pruning-knives, and the shoots he heweth away " 
(xviii. 4, 5, with Cheyne's Notes ; cf. Deut. xxxii. 32). 

A more domestic simile is that of the Psalmist : " Thy 
wife shall be as a fruitful vine in the recesses of thine 
house ; thy children like olive plants round about thy 
table " (cxxviii. 3). 

The unripe grape suggested the familiar proverb : " The 
fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth 
are set on edge" (Jer. xxxi. 29; Ezek. xviii. 2); while 
the result of the wicked's injustice in that he is deprived 
of ofi'spring, is, in an odd simile in Job, compared to a 
vine which, not suffering its grapes to come to maturity, 
shakes them oif while they are yet unripe (xv. S3. See 

The fermentation and effervescence of new wine is al- 
luded to by Elihu : " Behold it is within me as wine which 

A Tentatm Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 661 

has not been opened; like new bottles, it is ready to burst" 
(Job xxxii. 19).^ 

Not wholly clear is the simile in II. Isaiah : " As when 
the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy 
it not, for a blessing is in it, so will I do for my servants, 
that I destroy not the whole " (Ixv. 8) ; which Dillmann 
explains to mean no more than that as the grapes which 
already contain serviceable juice, suited for the vintage, are 
tenderly dealt with, so will God act towards his people. 
Delitzsch and Cheyne give more detailed interpretations. 

Another curious image from a particular trait in the 
treatment of wine is found in Zephaniah and Jeremiah. 
It appears to have been the custom to leave the new-made 
wine with — that is, upon — its lees or sediment, to the 
end that it might retain and absorb more strength and 
aroma. Such wine, so kept and then passed through a 
strainer, was much prized (Is. xxv. 6). But. bad or poor 
wine left on its lees would become the worse and the more 
ill-flavoured. So Zephaniah (i. 12) speaks of the men in 
Jerusalem who are " settled or thickened on their lees " — 
that is, who have become deeply ingrained with spiritual 
callousness, and who say, in their heavy dulness, " The 
Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil." Jeremiah 
(xlviii. 11) speaks of Moab as having been at ease from 
his youth : " He has become settled on his lees, and has not 
been emptied from vessel to vessel ; therefore his taste 
remains in him, and his scent is not changed." This means 
that Moab's quiet life has confirmed and deepened the 
traits — here, doubtless, unflattering traits were referred to 
— of his national character. The punishment which is to 
befall him continues the figure : " I will send tilters unto 
him, and they shall tilt him, and shall empty his vessels 
and break his bottles " (xlviii. 12. See Cheyne).^ 

' In tte simile Ps. cxix. 83, "I am become like a wine skin in the 
smoke," the point of comparison is only that he is regarded as equally- 
useless and valueless as an empty unused wine skin hung up amid the 
smoke. See Xowack and Del. 

* Apparently, too, transferring the wine from one cask to another, or 

662 The Jewish Quarterlp Review. 

God's cup of reeling is a frequent symbol for confusion, 
bewilderment and distress. " Thou hast showed thy 
people hard things ; thou hast made us to drink of the 
wine of reeling " (Ps. Ix. 5). Or, again : " Wake thee up, 
arise, Jerusalem, who hast drunk at the hand of Yahveh 
the cup of his fury : the goblet-cup of reeling hast thou 
drunken and wrung out " (Isaiah li. 17, 21, 22 ; Ezek. 
xxiii. 33 ; Hab. ii. 16). The image is portrayed as a con- 
crete fact in Jeremiah, who receives from God's hand his 
cup of fury, and is bidden to make the nations drink it 
(Jer. XXV. 15-28). The following verse from the seventy- 
fifth Psalm has, perhaps, suggested a glorious stanza in 
Rabbi Ben Ezra : " In the hand of Yahveh there is a cup 
with wine — ^foaming wine that is full of mixture ; and he 
pours out to this one and to that one ; surely the dregs 
thereof shall all the ungodly of the earth sup up and 
drink"! ^j^xv. 8). 

Drunkenness may typify spiritual blindness or per- 
plexity (Isaiah xix. 14 ; Jer. xxiii. 9). It also supplies the 
figure for sailors of a ship in a storm at sea, who reel about 
the deck in bewildered witlessness (Ps. cvii. 27) ; and, finally, 
it is combined with the image of the wind-tossed booth to 
illustrate the convulsions of the earth upon the Judgment- 
day (Isaiah xxiv. 20). 

Other products of agricultural life also used for meta- 
phors are butter, oil, and honey — butter for smoothness, 
oil for softness. So in the Psalter : " His mouth is 
smoother than butter, but his heart is all war ; his words 

from skins to skina. made it milder ; but care had to be taken lest this 
process made the wine sour. See Lowth on Isaiah xxv. 6, and a curious 
Latin metaphor for degeneration taken from wine becoming sour by being 
poured from vessel to vessel :— "Quare quum integri nihil fuerit in hao 
gente plena, quam valde eam putamus tot trannfusionibus eoaouisse " — 
" Since in this people in its original unity there was nothing good, how 
much must it have degenerated through so many transplantations." 
Cicero, Scaurus § 43, quoted by Naegelsbach Lateiyiische StyluWk, p. 445 
(ed. 1881). 
' So Gheyne, See his Notes, He compares 11. XXIV. 527. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 663 

are softer than oil, and yet they are drawn swords."^ The 
precious oil that ran down upon Aaron's beard (Ps. cxxxiii. 2) 
has already been noticed; the metaphor of another Psalmist 
is, perhaps, also worth a line of printer's ink: "Let the 
righteous smite me in kindness and correct me ; oil so fine 
let not my head refuse."^ 

A number of conventional similes and constant meta- 
phors are constructed from the net, as well as from the 
" broad " or the " slippery path." The net is the trouble 
in which the righteous have been involved through the 
machinations of the wicked. It is parallel to and some- 
times combined with the gin and the snare.^ God's net, 
symbolising his judgment, is used by Hosea (vii. 12), 
Ezekiel (xii. 13, xvii. 20, xxxii. 3), and the author of Job 
(xix. 6 ; cf. Lam. i. 13), while Isaiah boldly compares God 
to a snare : " He shall be for a stone of stumbling and a 
rock of offence to both the houses of Israel ; for a gin and 
for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many 
shall stumble thereat and fall, and be broken and snared 
and taken " (Isaiah viii. 14, 15). 

The " broad path " in the Psalter typifies prosperity and 
deliverance (xviii. 20, xxxi. 9, cxviii. 5), and an "even 
path " has a quite similar meaning (xxvi. 12, xxvii. 11, 
cxliii. 10 ; Prov. xv. 19).* Slippery or narrow paths, on the 
contrary, typify circumstances of calamity or danger (Ps. 
Ixxiii. 18, XXXV. 6; Jer. xxiii. 12). " Slipping ofi' the path " 
may have a more spiritual meaning, as in Ixxiii. 2, where it 
stands for i^eligious unfaith ; while " firm steps " may denote 
moral stability, as in xxxvii. 31.® A more directly 

' Ps. Iv. 22. For honey, of. Prov. v. 3, xvi. 24 ; Ps. xix. 11, cxix. 103. For 
a simile from butter-making cf . Prov. xxx. 33. 

' Ps. cxli. 5. See Cheyne, and tor the assonance cf. Ko. vii. 1. 

' Cf, Psalm XXV. 15, xxxi. 5, xxxv. 7, cxl. 6, Ixiv. 5, cxli. 9, 10, 
cxix. 110. 

* Of. the use of " mountains " for security. Ps. xxx, 8. 

' Of. further Ps. xl. 3, xxiii. 3 ; Isaiah xxvi. 7. 

QQ4i The Jewish Quarterly Eemw. 

religious metaphor is the "path of life,"^ which is equiva- 
lent to the ways or paths of God.^ 

Pastoral life furnishes the standing metaphor of the 
flock, which symbolises Israel, while the shepherd is either 
its king (and in the plural its princes and rulers), or he is 
God. Perhaps the oldest use of the figure is in Kings 
(1 Kings xxii. 17), where Micaiah says that he saw "all 
Israel scattered upon the mountains as sheep that have not 
a shepherd. And Yahveh said-: These have no master ; 
let them return every man to his house in peace." The 
figure is fully worked out both by Jeremiah and Ezekiel 
(Jer. xxiii. 1-4; Ezekiel xxxiv. 1-31). It is most delicately 
handled by II. Isaiah in a single verse : " God will feed his 
flock like a shepherd ; he will gather the lambs in his arms, 
and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those 
which give suck " (xl. 11 ; cf . Micah vii. 14). It is very 
frequent in the Psalter ; Israel is the sheep of Yahveh's 
pasture (c. 3, Ixxvii. 20, Ixxviii. 31, Ixxix. 13, xev. 7), 
while this phase of the figure culminates in the famous 
Psalm, " The Lord is my Shepherd " (xxiii.), in which the 
figure is more or less kept up through the first four 

Israel is also represented as the helpless sheep which are 
driven to the slaughter. So in the Maccabean Psalm 
(xliv. 23) : " For thy sake are we killed all the day long ; 
we are counted as sheep for the slaughter."^ Jeremiah 
compares himself to " a mild lamb, or an ox that is led to 
the slaughter" (xi. 19); and in the great fifty-third chapter 
of Isaiah, whereas Israel has gone astray like a flock, the 
suffering Servant let himself be humbled, and opened not 
his mouth ; " as the sheep that is led to the slaughter, and 
an ewe that before her shearers is dumb " (liii. 6, 7 ; cf. 
Ps. cxix. 176). 

' Ps. xvi. 11, and frequent in Proverbs ; e.g., ii. 19, v. 6, vi. 23, x. 17, 
XV. 24. 2 Ps. xvii. 5, xxv. 4, xxvii. 11, cxliii. 10. 

* Cf. Mackail's Select Epigrams, etc., XII. 35, p. 276. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 665 

We now may turn from outdoor life and objects of 
nature to life within the home and the domestic relation- 
ships. The relation of father to son, of mother to child, of 
husband to wife, are all made use of for metaphorical 
purposes, and chiefly in that to each of them is likened the 
relation of God to Israel. Thus for the first we have Hosea's 
touching expostulation : " When Israel was a child, I loved 
him, and out of Egypt I called my son .... I taught 
Epbraim to walk, and took them up in my arms. ... I 
drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love."^ So 
in Deuteronomy : " In the wilderness thou, Israel, hast seen 
how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear 
his son, in all the way that ye went until ye came into this 
place." ^ And, again, with a difierent example of paternal 
behaviour: "As a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord 
chasteneth thee " ; which is improved in Proverbs into the 
adage, " Whom the Lord loveth he correcteth, even as a 
father the son in whom he delighteth ; " and with which 
we may also compare the Psalmist's, " As a father pitieth 
his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him."* 
Deutero-Isaiah uses the relationship of mother and child to 
express the unforgetting kindness of God's love for Israel : 
" Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should 
not have compassion on the son of her womb ? Yea, she 
may forget, yet I will not forget thee " (xlix. 15 ; cf. 

1 Hosea xi. 1-3. The figure is not kept Tip consistently. For the text 
see Cheyne, who also cites a pretty parallel from the Rig- Veda, " Thou 
barest him as a father bears his son on his lap." 

2 i. 31. Cf. Isaiah xlyi. 3, 4 ; Ixiii. 9. Moses repudiates such a charge 
Numbers xi. 12. 

3 Deut. Tiii. 5 ; Prov. iii. 12 ; Ps. ciii. 13. Cf. Mal. iii. 17. The greatest 
grief is likened to the sorrow for an only son. Am. viii. 10 ; Jer. tI. 26 ; 
Zech. xii. 10. The idea that Grod, as a loving father, chastens his human 
children is also found in Seneca, e.g., De Prudentia II, where a difference 
is drawn between a father's severe training and a mother's spoiling. 
God's method is like a father's : " Patrium habet Deus adversus bonos 
viros animum, et illos f ortiter amat ; et operibus, inquit, doloribus, ac 
damnis exagitentur ut verum colligant robur " (Stewart's Seneca, Minor 
Dialogues, 1889, Bell ; p. 4). 

666 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

Ixvi. 13). A better simile for peaceful and happy resig- 
nation in God's inscrutable will it would be hard to find 
than the Psalmist's : " Surely I have composed and quieted 
my soul, as a weaned child in its mother's arms ; my soul 
is within me like a weaned child " (cxxxi. 2). The weaned 
child (in the East one must suppose a child of at least three 
years,)^ is happy and content by the mere presence of and 
contact with its mother ; so the resigned spirit, filled with 
faith, is happy and content in the mere consciousness of 
nearness to and communion with God. 

The relationship of husband and wife applied metaphori- 
cally to the relation of God to Israel is a too elaborate 
chapter in the religious history and thought of the 
ancient Hebrews to be touched upon here. Suffice it to 
allude to the similes taken from the joyousness of bride- 
groom and bride (Is. Ixii. 5), of which one outward feature 
was the festive attire with its ornaments {e.g., Jer. ii. 32 ; 
Isaiah Ixi. 10). In the book of Proverbs ornaments of head 
and neck typify teaching and instruction {e.g., i. 9, iv. 9, 
XX. 15). They also suggest the material for many a simile. 
Thus : " As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair 
woman who is without discretion." Or again : " As an 
ear-ring of gold and an ornament of fine gold so is a nice 
speech upon a listening ear." And, lastly : " Apples of gold 
in chased work of silver; a word smoothly spoken."* 
Prominent and prized among personal ornaments is the 
seal-ring or signet. So we get in Jeremiah : "As I live, 
saith Yahveh, even though Ooniah ... be the signet 
upon my right hand, yet will I pluck him thence " (Jer. xxii. 
24). And contrariwise in Haggai ; " I will take thee, O 
Zerubbabel, my servant, and will make thee as a signet, for 

' See Professor Oheyne's Commentary. (I hope Prof. Cheyne will for- 
give me for having perpetually made use of his tranalations all through 
this paper.) 

' Prov. xi. 22, xxv. 12 (LXX., xxv. 11) ; for which see Cheyne, p. 144, 
and Delitzsch ad loc. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 667 

I have chosen thee, saith Yahveh of Hosts."^ Nor must 
the fine exclamation of the Beloved in the Song of Solomon 
be passed over : " Set me, as a seal, upon thine heart, as a 
seal upon thine arm " (viii. 6), a verse which has been so 
aptly introduced by Swinburne in the third antistrophe 
of his great ode upon the Proclamation of the French 
Republic : 

" Who shall heal me ; who shall come to take my part ? 
Who shall set me as a seal upon his heart ? 
As a seal upon his arm made bare for fight ? " 

The lower household relations, those of slave and hand- 
maiden to master and mistress also furnish their quota to 
the metaphorical store. For who does not remember the 
simile of the Psalmist : " As the eyes of servants are upon 
the hand of their master, as the eyes of a handmaid are 
upon the hand of her mistress, so our eyes are upon 
Yahveh our God, until he have pity upon us " (cxxiii. 2). 
The day-labourer's life supplies a simile for Job. " Has not 
man a hard service upon eaith ? Are not his days as the 
days of an hireling, as a servant, who pants for the shadow, 
and like a hireling who looks for his labour's reward ? " 
(vii. 2). A few other isolated and not especially interest- 
ing metaphors of this class may find a place in the notes.' 

Of what goes on within a household not the least 

' ii. 23, an important passage when taken in connection with the pre- 
ceding one from .Icremiah ; see Stade, Gcschichte, vol. II., 127. 

2 Thus we have metaphors of a " tent " applied to the heavens or to a 
city (as in Isaiah xl. 22, xxxiii. 20, liv. 2 ; Jer. x. 20 ; cf . Job iv. 21) : A 
door and its hinges supplies a comparison in Prov. xxvi. 14, the coiner 
jiillars of a house in Ps. cxliv. 12. If we call our bodies "houses of clay," 
that comes from Job iv. 19. We have a metaphor from S' p<:g and a key in 
Isaiah xxii. 22-25 (where see Dillmann), and from the former in Ezra ix. 8 ; 
a simile from winging and playing in Ezekiel xxxiii. 32, and one from 
throwing a ball in lEaiah xxii. 18. I do not propose to enter into the dis- 
cussion of the long passage in Kob. xii. 1-7, nor how far the description 
of old age is symbolic and metaphorical in its every detail or not. Cf . 
Cheyne, Joh and Solomon, ps. 226-23U. I should not have omitted to quote 
in the text the proverbial " I will sweep it with the besom of destruction ' ' 
(Is. xiv. 23). 

VOL. 111. T T 

668 The Jewish Quarterly Bevietv. 

important part are the doings in the kitchen. It is not 
surprising, therefore, that we get many metaphors borrowed 
from cooking, or from food and drink — all the more so as 
with a solemn feast religious ideas are clearly associated. 
Even the scullery supplies a simile which, simple as it is, 
has won the warm approval of Bishop Lowth. It occurs in a 
prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, and is preceded 
by a figure from building : " I will stretch over Jerusalem 
the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of 
Ahab : and 1 will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, 
wiping it and turning it upside down " (2 Kings xxi. 13). 
From wiping dishes there is only a step to the oven, which, 
in its glowing heat, is a common simile without further 
expansion (e.^., Lam. v. 10; Isaiah xxxi. 9; Ps. xxi. 10; Mai. 
iii. 19). The simile is elaborated in Hosea. The prophet 
is denouncing the Ephraimite aristocracy: "They are all 
adulterers," he says, " as an oven kindled by the baker, 
who ceases from kindling after he has kneaded the dough 

until it is leavened For their inward part is like an 

oven, their heart burns in them ; all the night their anger 
smokes : in the morning it burns as a flaming fire (Hosea 
vii. 4, 6). This is the rendering, with emendations in v. 6, 
of Professor Cheyne, and the explanation of the metaphor 
must be sought for in his Notes.^ Then, besides the oven 
we have the seething pot. Thus, in Micah, as a figure of 
horrible oppression : " Ye princes of the house of Israel 
.... who pluck their skin from oif them, and their 
flesh from ofl!" their bones ; who also eat the flesh of my 
people, and flay their skin from oflT them ; and they break 
their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as 

1 See also Q. P. B. Less available for every student may be Oort's 
proposed emendations in Thool. Tijd., 1890, p. 481. He reads in verse 4, 
CD\"1Si3D for D'SX^)?, and -inSf* Dn njJi for "O '3, and ^P3p for n*J?r 

and then translates : " They are all glowing with heat ; they are like a 
burning oven, the baker of which ceases to kindle it after he has kneaded 
the dough until it is leavened." For another metaphor from cooking 
cf. Hosea vii. 8. and Cheyno's note. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 669 

flesh within the caldron " (Micah iii. 2, 3). The representa- 
tion of Jerusalem, under the figure of a pot, is well worked 
out by Ezekiel (xxiv.). Elsewhere he quotes a popular 
saying, in which the metaphor of the caldron is quite dif- 
ferently applied. The men of Jerusalem in Zedekiah's reign, 
believing that the danger had passed over, were apparently 
wont to say in their fancied security : " This city is the 
caldron and we are the flesh."^ 

From implements of cooking we pass to food. With tears 
as food and drink (or with ashes as bread, Ps. cii. 9) we are 
familiar from the Psalms (e.g. Ixxx. 5 ; xlii. 4). " The bread 
of adversity and the water of affliction," was original in 
Isaiah (xxx. 20 ; cf. 1 Kings xxii. 27) ; " gall and vinegar " 
make a sort of accentuated double metaphor in Psalm 
Ixix. 21, where food and drink stand for comfort and 
pity, and vinegar and gall for the mockery which was 
dealt out in their stead (cf. Jer. viii. 14 ; ix. 14 ; xxiii. 15 ; 
Lam. iii. 15, 19). Vinegar reminds one of two good 
Proverbs : " As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the 
eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him " (x. 26). 
" Vinegar falling upon a wound, and he who sings songs to 
a heavy heart " (xxv. 20, Cheyne, p. 148). 

'What is the meaning of Koheleth's exhortation, " Cast 
thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many 
days?" (xi. 1). If, as is still possible, it refers to charity, 
there is a curious parallel, by way of contrast, in Theog- 
nis, who (1. 105) compares the beneficence shown to the 
bad with the sowing of seed upon the " hoary " sea. 

Metaphors from feasts are usually of a religious character. 
But these may be prefaced by the quite general simile in 
Isaiah. The disappointment of the enemies who war 
against Zion shall be: "As when a hungry man dreameth, 
and behold, he eateih, but he awaketh, and his soul is 

' Ezek. xi. 3, 7. So Cornill; but see also Smend and Orelli, who 
explain differently. Ps. Iviii. 10 is unfortunately too corrupt to be made 
use of bere. See Cheyne. 

TT 2 

670 The Jetoish Quarterly Review. 

empty ; and as when a thirsty man dreameth, behold, he 
drinketh, but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint and his 
soul craveth." (Isaiah xxix. 8. Note that the dream simile 
is also used with a different, more Homeric application, in 
the preceding verse.) 

Feast metaphors are frequent in the Psalms. So in the 
twenty-third, " Thou furnishest a table before me in the 
presence of my foes; thou hast anointed my head with 
oil, my cup is abundance."-^ And again in Psalm xxxvi. 9, 
"They feast upon the fatness of thy house; and of the 
river of thy pleasures thou givest them their drink." 
This imagery is, of course, borrowed from the temple ritual, 
the fat of sacrificed bullocks becoming the figure for 
spiritual joys (cf. Psalm Ixiii. 6). A similar image is 
expressed in the twenty-fifth chapter of Isaiah : " The 
Lord of Hosts shall make unto all peoples in this moun- 
tain a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of 
fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well 
strained." The prophecy is Messianic and universalist 
(xxv. (j ; see Cheyne and Dillmann against Gratz). 

It is remarkable how few similes and metaphors are 
taken from the sights or avocations of life in cities. 
Such proverbs as " He that has no rule over his own spirit 
is like a city that is broken down and without walls ; " or 
such comparisons as " My soul waiteth for the Lord more 
than they that watch for the morning " (Prov. xxv. 28 ; 
Ps. cxxx. 6), are isolated and rare. The commonest religious 
metaphor from city life is that of the law-suit, in which 
God is the plaintiff (and the judge) and Israel or the 
nations the defendants.^ 

There are a few similes from clothes. The sad mutability 
of human raiment was as common a feature then as now. 
(So e.g., Ps. cii. 27 ; Is. li. 6.) To put on either virtue or 

' Psalm xxiii. 6, so Cheyne. Q-od Himself is " the portion and the cup " 
in Ps. xvi. 5. 

^ E.g., in Hosea iv. 1, xii. 2 ; and then onwards in Isaiah i. 18 ; iii. 13 ; 
Micah vi. 3 ; .Ter. xxv. 31 : II. Isaiah xli. 1, and passim. ; .loel iv. 2, etc. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 671 

disgrace as a vesture or as a girdle is a usual figure of 
speech.^ Jeremiah uses the odd figure o£ Nebuchadnezzar 
" wrapping himself in " the land of Egypt " as a shepherd 
wraps himself in his mantle," which apparently means that 
the Babylonian king will be able to collect together the 
spoils of Egypt as easily as a shepherd can fling his night 
cloak around his shoulders (Jer. xliii. 12, Ewald).^ 

Among the town-life metaphors are some interesting ex- 
amples from building. The corner-stone supplies one or two, 
to appreciate which one must, as Professor Cheyne points 
out, recollect the " enormous size and cost of the founda- 
tion-stones of Eastern public huildings." Thus in Psalm 
cxviii., of Israel, " The stone which the builders rejected 
has become the chief corner-stone " (see Cheyne), and be- 
fore the Psalmist, in a difficult passage of Isaiah, the appli- 
cation of which is much disputed, " Behold, I am he that 
hath laid in Zion a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner- 
stone of solid foundation."' In the next verse (xxviii. 17) 
we get the metaphor of the line and the plummet, " I will 
set justice for a line, and righteousness for a plummet." 
Here God's action or work is likened to a building, for 
which the main implements used are righteousness and 
justice. In other places the line and plummet are very 
strangely employed contrariwise in metaphors of destruc- 
tion, to indicate that God will carry out his work of 
ruin with the same care and accuracy as a builder 
carries out his pre-arranged design. (See Del. on Isaiah 
xxxiv. 11.) So in the vision of Amos, " I will set a plumb- 

• E.g., of virtues, Isaiah xi. 5, Ixi. 10 ; Job xxix. 14 ; in Isaiah lix. 17 
armour is included ; of cursing and disgrace, Ps. cix. 18, 19, 29. 

^ From weaving we get Isaiah xxxviii. 12 : " Thou hast cut ofiE, like a 
weaver, my life ; from the warp did he sever me " (So Oh. ; but see Dill.), 
and Job vii. 6, "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle." Job 
illustrates the fleetness of his life by many other similes. Note e.g., the 

three figures in ix. 25, 26, from the runner, the ship and the eagle a 

collocation of the swiftest things on earth, in the sea and in the air. 

3 See Dillmann and Cheyne for the various interpretations of the text 
and the metaphor. 

672 The Jewish Quarterly Remeie. 

line in the midst of my people Israel " (vii. 8), and in a 
prophecy against Edora, " God will stretch out upon it the 
line of chaos and the plummet of desolation " (Isaiah xxxiv, 
11 ; cf. 2 Kings xxi. 13; Lam. ii. 8). A Psalmist likens 
himself in his weakness " to a toppling wall, a fence pushed 
in " (Ixii. 4), and Isaiah (xxx. 13) compares the sinful 
policy of the Jerusalem statesmen, which must inevitably 
end in ruin and collapse, to " a swelling (i.e., increasing) and 
threatening breach in a high wall, which is shattered sud- 
denly in a moment." (So Dillmann; but cf. Cheyne.) 
Last among the building metaphors shall come a fine 
passage from Ezekiel, in which Jerusalem is symbolised as 
a wall, the cracks and breaches in which the false prophets 
vainly hide by a coating of a whited plaster. God will 
throw down the wall with his hailstones and his wind, so 
that men shall say, Where is the wall, and where are they 
that plastered ? (Ezek. xiii. 10 — 15. See Smend and 
Cornill. The interpretation is clear.) 

From the art of building we may now turn to that of 
pottery and metal work. Books upon Palestine make 
the frequent pottery figures of the Bible intelligible to us. 
There still is made in Syria an enormous amount of coarse 
pottery, which is very brittle and very cheap. The com- 
parison of Israel in its hour of tribulation to a " vessel 
wherein there is no pleasure " lay ready to hand and is of 
frequent occurrence since Hosea (Hosea viii. 8 ; Lam. iv. 2 ; 
Ps. xxxi. 13; Jer. xxii. 28; cf. Jer. xlviii. 38; Ps. Ix. 
10). So Isaiah, immediately after the wall simile quoted 
above, predicts that Yahveh will break this bulging wall 
"as one breaketh an earthen pitcher, shivering it un- 
sparingly, so that not a sherd is found in its shivered 
pieces for taking fire from the hearth, or drawing water 
from a cistern." Dr. Geikie thus illustrates the figure : — 

When accident has caused the breaking of a large vessel there are 
naturally some fragments comparatively large, and these are still of 
some use. A hollow piece serves as a cup in which to lift water from 
the spring, either to drink or to fill a jar. Nothing is more common 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 673 

than for neighbours to borroTv a few lighted coals in a hollow pot- 
sherd from each other to kindle their fire, or for a poor man to come, 
in the evening, to the baker's oven with his lowly fire-pan and get 
from it a few glowing embers to boil bis tin of coffee or heat his 
simple food (II. 51). 

This simile of his predecessor Jeremiah is commanded 
to enact as a visible parable before the eyes of the capital's 
inhabitants. He is bidden to buy a potter's earthen bottle, 
and take of the elders of the people and the elders of the 
priests, and then having gone " forth unto the valley of the 
sons of Hinnom," and having uttered there his prophecy of 
ruin and retribution, " to break the bottle in the sight of 
the men " that went with him, and to say, " Thus saith 
Yahveh of Hosts: Even so will I break this people and 
this city, as one breaketh a potter's vessel that cannot be 
made whole again " (xix. 1-11 ; cf. Ps. ii. 9). 

It was a further but natural development of the figure 
to make God the potter and man tlie pot. Isaiah leads the 
way. He laughs bitterly at the folly of those who would 
hide their purposes from God as if he could not detect 
and discern the machinations of their heart. " O your 
perverseness ! should the potter be accounted as clay, that 
the work should say of him that made it, He made me 
not ? and the thing formed say of him that formed it, He 
hath no understanding ?" (xxix. 16). Jeremiah once more 
transforms the simile into a concrete parable in his famous 
visit to "the potter's house" (Jer. xviii. 1-10), and in the 
last twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah the metaphor of the 
potter is twice employed with admirable effect. Thus, 
first : " Woe unto him that striveth with him that formed 
him, a potsherd among potsherds of the ground ! Doth 
the clay say to him that formeth it. What makest thou ? 
or his work (say), Thou hast no hands " (xlv. 9, reading 
ib3?S; see Dill). And, secondly, in the long prayer which 
extends from Ixiii. 7 to Ixiv. 12, the same figure is humbly 
used, and its truth acknowledged by the human suppliants 
themselves. "And now, O Yahveh^ thou art our father; 

674 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

we are the clay, and thou our fashioner, and the work of 
thy hands are we all."^ 

As regards the individual metals, iron and brass are 
naturally types for obstinacy or endurance. (Compare 
Isaiah xlviii. 4 ; Jer. i. 18 ; xv. 20.) In Proverbs we come 
across the pregnant adage: "Iron is sharpened by iron, 
and a man sharpens the face of his friend" (xxvii. 17). 
Gold can be a type of scarcity (Isaiah xiii. 12), or of 
preciousness. That the gain of wisdom is better than the 
gain of gold, or that wisdom should be sought for as men 
search for silver, are familiar comparisons in Proverbs. 
More striking is the metaphor in Lamentations in which 
the nobles of Jerusalem are likened to gold : " How is the 
gold become dim : how is the most fine gold changed ! The 
hallowed stones are thrown down at the corners of every 
street. The sons of Zion, the precious ones, who were 
comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen 
pitchers, the work of the potter's hands " (Lam. iv. 2). 

But by far the most frequent metaphor suggested from 
the precious metals is that of refining — metaphors from 
alloy and dross, from their removal by the purifying pro- 
cesses of the furnace, or from the pure metal which is so 
produced. Thus, first generally in Provei-bs : " Remove the 
dross from the silver, and the vessel is ready for the gold- 
smith : remove the wicked from before the king, and his 
throne is established in righteousness" (xxv. 4). And, 
again : " Silver dross spread over an earthen vessel — 
fervent lips and a bad heart" (xxvi. 23). Next, in the 
distinctly religious sphere. In the Psalms the words of 
God are often spoken of as pure — that is, as free from 

' xiv. 8. Bliphaz calls men " dwellers in houses of clay " (Job iv. 19) with 
which expression Delitzsch compares ■nrfK'w vXaanaTa in Aristoph., Aves, 
636 ; in a fragment of ^Slschylus, quoted by Liddell and Scott, man is 
called TTtiXoTtXaaTov (nrkpfia. The idea, Mr. Mackail tells me, is frequent 
in later Greek poetry. He compares e.g. Auth. Pal. x. 45 (i/c ttj/XoC 
yiyovac k.t.X.). There is only one simile from the potter in Homer ; and 
the point of comparison is the light swiftness of the motion of the potter's 
wheel {r/iad XV 111. fiOO). 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 675 

alloy. The figure is expanded in Psalm xii. 7 : " The say- 
ings of Yahveh are pure from dross— silver well tried (and 
running) to the ground, seven times refined." (So Oheyne, 
and compare his Notes.) Then we have the meta- 
phor of God refining by trouble the mingled human 
character, and purging the State, by his judgments, from 
the wicked, which are its alloy. Thus, in the Psalms : 
" Thou, God, hast proved us ; thou hast tried us as silver 
is tried " (Ixvi. 10 ; cf . xvii. 3) ; and in Zechariah, of the 
residue yet left after the Judgment: " I will bring the third 
part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is 
refined, and will try them as gold is tried " (xiii. 9). In 
these passages the persons who are freed from their own 
dross, and are thus made pure, are one and the same ; in 
others (of which class there are more), the dross represents 
the wicked who are removed by death. So, in Isaiah's 
opening chapter : " Thy silver is become dross, thy choice 
drink thinned with water. . . . But I will smelt out as 
with lye thy dross, and will take away all thy alloy" (Is. i. 
22, 25). The same figure is worked out at some length, 
both by Jeremiah and Ezekiel (Jer. vi. 27-30 ; Ezekiel xxii. 
18-22), and the " last of the prophets " repeats it (Mai. iii. 
2, 3). With which of these various passages — whether of the 
first or of the second category — is that verse (xlviii. 10) of the 
Babylonian Isaiah parallel, to which we owe a now familiar 
phrase, " the furnace of affliction " ? Some (e.g., Ewald 
and Dillmann) would compare it to Jer. ii. 27-30, in which 
the prophet laments that the frequent purification of 
calamity has not separated the metal from the dross ; or 
may we, with Professor Cheyne, assimilate it to the predic- 
tion in Zechariah, and translating " Behold I have refined 
thee, but not as silver," interpret the distinction to imply 
that the Divine furnace of affliction is less severe and more 
discriminating than the furnace of the human refiner ? ' 

' Note tliat in Prov. xvii. 3 the comparison merely means that God, 
with perfect knowledge, weighs the human heart in the balance of judg- 
ment (cf. xvi. 2) ; xxvii. 21 is obscure. 

676 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

From metals fashioned into implements of war there 
are still a few metaphors to be collected. 

They are usually employed when dealing with Israel's 
enemies. The cruel and reviling tongue is naturally com- 
parable to a sword. So in the Psalms : " Their teeth are 
spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword." 
" They have whet their tongue, like a sword, and stretched 
their arrow — a bitter speech " (Ivii. 5, Ixiv. 4 ; cf . lix. 8 ; 
Prov. xii. 18, v. 3, 4). But II. Isaiah uses the sword differently 
in the soliloquy of the Servant : " God hath made my mouth 
as a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me ; 
and he made me a polished shaft, in his quiver he covered 
me " (xlix. 2). This verse leads us on from the sword to 
the bow. The true bow may be an emblem of stren'gth 
(Gen. xlix. 24 ; Hosea i. 5 ; Jer. xlix. 35 ; Job xxix. 20), 
while the bow whose arrow flies aslant is the emblem of 
deceit (Hosea vii. 16; Ps. Ixxviii. 57). God's arrows are 
the calamities he sends (Deut, xxxii. 23 ; Job vi. 4), but to 
a man's arrows may be compared his best support. So the 
Psalmist : " As arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are sons 
of (a man's) youth. Happy is the man that has filled his 
quiver therewith " (cxxvii. 4, 5). The slinger furnishes a 
metaphor to Jeremiah for violent expulsion and captivity 
(Jer. X. 18), and a twofold sling metaphor in a prose book is 
familiar to us all from the spiritualised use of its first half 
upon every tomb within the "House of Life": "And should a 
man rise up to pursue thee, and to seek thy soul, may the soul 
of my lord be bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord 
thy God ; but the souls of thine enemies, them may he sling 
out, as from the hollow of a sling " (1 Sam. xxv. 29. Prov. 
xxvii. 17 is obscure). 

Most of the biblical metaphors have been included in 
one or other of the foregoing classes. A few, however, yet 
remain which are interesting from a religious point of view, 
and should not, therefore, be passed over. We have already 
noticed the large number of natural objects to which God, 
in one or other of his aspects or operations, has been com- 

A Tentatm Catalogue of Bihlkal Metaphors. 677 

pared. He was likened to beasts of prey, such as the lion 
and the bear ; to birds that carry their young upon their 
wings, or flutter hovering over the nest ; to a stream and to 
a fountain ; to rain and to dew ; to destroying fire and to 
purifying light. In the Psalms, in addition to these, he is 
also addressed in prayer as a rock, a tower, and a shield.^ 
Passing over the ordinary anthropomorphisms of God as 
warrior and judge, we have found him represented as, or 
likened to, a father, a mother, and a husband ; as a shepherd, 
with Israel for his flock ; as a refiner or as a potter, with 
Israel for his metal or his clay. A prayer in the book of 
Jeremiah (xiv. 8, 9) adds to this last by complaining that 
God, whose intercession and deliverance amid the prevailing 
trouble had been vainly sought, has become " as a stranger 
in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to 
tarry for a night." It is more usual to speak of God as 
the host or owner ; man as the guest and sojourner. Thus 
besides the mystic allusions to God's house with which 
I have dealt elsewhere, we get metaphors such as that 
in Lev. xxv. 23, where the figure is half real and half 
metaphorical : " The land is mine, and ye are strangers and 
sojourners with me." The figurative sense predominates in 
the fine prayer put into David's mouth by the Chronicler : 
" We are strangers before thee and sojourners, as all our 
fathers were ; our days on the earth are as a shadow, and 
there is no hope " (1 Ch. xxix. 15) — a verse partly borrowed 
from an earlier Psalm (xxxix. 13). 

' Of. also Isaiah xiv. 4, 5 : " Thou hast been a fortress to the weak, a 
fortress to the poor in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from 
the heat. As heat in a parched land, thou subduest the uproar of 
foreigners ; as heat by the shadow of clouds, the song of terrible ones m 
brought low." 4 J is omitted as a gloss ; so Dill. Note how God's action 
is first compared to heat, and then to the shadow which overcomes th© 
heat. Compare Is. xsxii. 2 : " A great man shall be as a hiding-place from 
the wind, and a covert from the rain-storm, as rivulets in a parched land, 
as the shadow of a huge olifE in a thirsty land." The cool protection of 
the shade is strikingly used in the appeal: "Make as the night thy 
shadow in the midst of the noon " (Isaiah xvi. 3). 

678 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

Again, many examples of the transference by metaphor 
of the physical into the spiritual sphere have already been 
instanced. Here, in conclusion, may be adduced a few 
others, which seem to fall outside our categories. 

First may be mentioned three metaphors concerning the 
heart, of which the first two were clearly framed to con- 
trast outward form with inward spirit. Whether Jeremiah, 
or his contemporary the Deuteronomist, first coined the 
happy phrase of " circumcising the heart " is a disputed 
point in criticism. At any rate, this heart-circumcision 
appears to be the only form of that rite which is coun- 
tenanced or approved by the law-giver. Joel's bidding is 
expressed in a metaphor of similar kind, " Rend your heart 
and not your garments " (ii. 13) ; while Ezekiel, the sup- 
posed " legalist " and man of externals, must be credited 
with the invention of the metaphorical opposition between 
the " heart of stone " and the " heart of flesh " (xi. 19 ; 
xxxvi. 26). 

Another interesting set of spiritual metaphors is the 
transference of bodily infirmities to the religious sphere. 
Thus sickness is a type of sin, and, as sin and affliction are 
closely co-ordinated, it is also a type of calamity. Already 
in Hosea it is found as a figure for the " corruption of the 
body politic" (v. 13, see Cheyne ; vi. 1). Isaiah, in a 
splendid personification of the State, works out the 
metaphor more fully. " The whole head is sick, and the 
whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot, even to 
the head, there is no sound part in it ; wounds and wales 
and festering sores — not pressed, and not bound up, and 
not softened with oil." ^ Wounds and breaches (here the 
figure is fi'om a wall) are frequent metaphors for calamities 
in Jeremiah. For in his day the breach was incurable, and 
the wound desperate. No medicine or plaster could heal 

' Isaiah i. 5, 6. So Cheyne, except that with Dillmann I have sub- 
stituted, " the -whole head " for " every head." Cp. metaphors with 
Vi ativ in Greek. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 679 

them, no Gilead balm or physician effect a cure.^ In the 
Psalms sickness is mote directly associated with sin. 
Calamity and iniquity are co-ordinated in the distich : 
" There is no soundness in my flesh for thy fervent ire ; no 
health in my bones because of my sin." ^ with which one 
might compare the double use of the word in Isaiah liii., in 
which the sinless Servant is described " as a man of pains, 
and familiar with sickness," whereas he it was who " bore 
our sicknesses and carried oUr pains " (liii. 3, 4). 

More specifically we frequently find the infirmities of 
eye and ear transferred to the lack of comprehension and 
knowledge of spiritual truth. To close the eyes is to shut 
the capacity of spiritual discernment. Thus Isaiah is 
bidden : " Make the heart of this people fat, and its ears 
heavy, and its eyes besmear, lest it should see with its eyes 
and hear with its ears, and its heart should understand, 
and it should be converted and be healed " (vi. 10 ; and cf. 
xliv. 18 ; for the fat heart cf. Ps. xvii. 10 ; cxix. 70). And 
the same figure recurs as an amazing passage in a later 
chapter, which is itself a perfect forest of metaphors : — 

Astonish yourselves, and be astonished ; blind yourselves, and be 
blind ! They are drunken, but not v/ith wine ; they stagger, but not 
with strong drink. For Yahveb hath poured out upon you a spirit of 
deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes which see, and your heads hath 
he covered, so that the vision throughout is become unto you as the 
Words of a sealed book, which if one delivers to a man that is book- 
learned, saying, Pray read this, he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed ; 
and should the book be delivered to one that is not book-learned, 
saying. Pray read this, he saith, I am not book-learned. ' 

'Cf. Jer. viii. 21, 22, x. 19, xiv. 17, xv. 18, xxx. 12, 17, xxxiii. 6 ; cf. 
Nahum ill. 19. 

2 Ps. xxKviii. 4, 6 ; cf. vi. 3, xxxi. 11, xxxii. 3, xli. 4. 

^ A striking simile from a scroll is that in Isaiah xxxlv. 4, " The heavens 
shall roll up as a scroll, and all their host shall fade, as foliage fades from, 
the vine, and as fading leaves from the fig-tree.'' Cf . Steinthal Zu Bibel 
und It,elig'ion.iiMlosoph,io, p. 46, " Poetisch gewaltiger wirht die dritte Form,, 
icenn dag Bild das Kleiiic hietct, an welohem gemescen die Sache ihre Grosse 

ojfenhart Dlase Form diirfte, in, der Bibel die Mufignte sein." The 

Grreek Rhetoricians would hardly have approved of this method. 

680 The Jewish Quarterly Review. 

Yet in the time to come, " a Verj'- little while," " the deaf 
shall hear the words of a book, and out of gloom and 
darkness the eyes of the blind shall see " (xxix. 9-12, 18 ; 
cf. xxxii. 3, 4). In the great list of curses in the twenty- 
eighth chapter of Deuteronomy analogous metaphors are 
employed : " Yahveh shall smite thee with madness and 
blindness, and astonishment of heart, and thou shalt grope 
at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou 
shalt not prosper in thy ways" (xxviii. 28, 29; cf. Is. lix. 10). 
The Babylonian Isaiah (and his disciples ?) is especially 
fond of this metaphor, and he associates it with others, 
such as those of the dungeon and of thirst, which all 
express the same line of thought, though occasionally, as 
in the case of the dungeon, a more literal reference may be 
also possibly combined. I need here do no more than allude 
to the famous contrast of the Janus-faced Servant in the 
forty-second chapter, who in his higher aspect so spiritually 
keen and tender " that he will not break the crushed reed 
nor quench the dimly -burning wick," and destined " to open 
blind eyes, to bring out captives from the prison, and those 
who^ sit in darkness from the house of restraint," is in his 
lower aspect himself among the deaf deafest and blindest 
among the blind. ^ 

The idea of self-purification or of Divine forgiveness lent 
itself naturally to metaphor. For inward sin is described 
as outward impurity. Man is either bidden to wash him 
of his sin and be clean, or he bids God to do it for him 
(Isaiah i. 16 ; Ps. li. 4, 9). It is only through judgment 
that God can wash away the filth of the daughters of 
Jerusalem (Isaiah iv. 4); and at a later period the wicked- 
ness of Judah was such that, " though thou wash thee with 
natron and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is iu- 

' Isaiah xlii. 3, 7, 18-20 ; cf ., too, xliii. 8. For the figure of the reed see 
Cheyne, and of. xxxvi. 6 ; Ez. xxix. 6-7, where it is used asaiigureof the 
outward weakness of Egypt. In Ps. xxxviii. 14, deafness and dumbness are 
emblems of humility ; of. Is. liii. 7. In Isaiah xxxiv., xxxv., many images 
of the great Second Isaiah are imitated and exaggerated. See Dillmann. 

A Tentative Catalogue of Biblical Metaphors. 681 

grained before me, said the Lord God " (Jer. ii. 22). Yet God 
can -work the miracle : " I will sprinkle clean water upon 
you, and ye shall be clean ; from all your filthiness will I 
cleanse you " (Ezek. xxxvi. 25; cf. Ps. xxvi. 6, Ixxiii. 13). 
The ordinary words for forgiveness are palpably meta- 
phorical, the idea in each case being that the sin is removed 
by being covered up or wiped out from the sight and 
memory of God. Unforgiveable sin is "written before 
God with a pen of iron and with the point of a diamond " 
(Jer. xvii. 1 ; cf. Job xix. 24), or it is carefully tied up as 
in a bag, and laid up in store among God's treasures (Job 
xiv. 17; Hosea xiii. 12; Deut. xxxii. 34). But what men 
pray for is that God will subdue their iniquities, and cast 
the burden of them "into the depths of the sea"^ (Micah 
vii. 19). 

It would be interesting, did space allow, to consider 
how far certain originally material conceptions in 
the earlier Hebrew religion were spiritualised by later 
teachers. How far, for example, did the idea of God's 
glory free itself from material associations, and become, as 
God's face became, purely metaphorical ? And, again, it 
would be interesting to discuss whether the contrary process 
has ever taken place, and whether within the Bible itself 
or in the post-Biblical pei'iod metaphors have been mis- 
understood and hardened into rites. A prominent instance 
lies immediately to hand (cf. Exodus xiii. 9-16; Deut. vi. 8, 
9, xi. 18 ; Prov. iii. 3, vi. 21, vii. 3). And these inquiries 
might lead on to a more general one : how far symbol and 
metaphor must be always a constituent feature of religious 
teaching ; and wliat, in such a case, should be their limits 
and their function. But these great questions are beyond 
the scope of an index, and beyond the powers of an index- 


1 1 have been compelled from lack of space to omit all Biblical