If you look at the sixth verse of the sixth chapter of Proverbs, youwill read, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and bewise." A sluggard, you know, is a man, or woman, or child, who does notlove to read or to do any kind of work, but likes to sleep or be idleall the day long. Do you think you were ever acquainted with one?
Now see what the Bible tells the sluggard to do. It bids him go to thelittle ant, and "consider her ways," that is, look on and see what shedoes. Have you ever watched the ants when they were busy at work? Itwill give you very pleasant employment for half an hour on a summer'sday. In some places you may see small ant-hills scattered about, soclose together that you can hardly step without treading on them; andyou may find other places where there are not so many, but where thehills are much larger. I have seen them so large that you could hardlystep over one of them without touching it with your foot and breakingsome part of it. And then how busy the little creatures are! Justkneel down on the grass beside them, and notice how they work! You willsee one little fellow creeping along as fast as he can go, with a grainof sand in his mouth, perhaps as large as his head. He does not stop torest, but when he has carried his grain to help build the hill, away hegoes for another. You may watch them all day and never see them idle atall.
You see why God tells the sluggard to go and look at the little ants: itis that when he sees them so busy, he may be ashamed of himself forbeing idle, and learn to be "wise," or diligent in whatever heundertakes. I should not think he could help going to work, after hehad looked at them a little while. The ants seem to be very happy, andI think it is because they are so busy. God has put nobody in thisworld to be idle: even children have something to do. The inside of anant-hill is very curious, but it is not easy to examine it withoutdestroying all the work that the little insects have taken so much painsto finish. There is a kind of ant in warm climates that builds foritself hills as high as a man. They are not made of sand, but of a kindof clay; and have a great many cells or apartments, and many windingpassages leading from one part to another. All this is done, as theBible says, without "guide, overseer or ruler;" that is, they have noone to direct them how to do it. God gives them skill just as he doesto the honey-bees in building the beautiful cells which you have sooften admired; all His works are wonderful.
T2 - THE DONKEY
Perhaps you may have seen the donkey, though it is not very common in thiscountry. It has some resemblance to a horse, but is not as large, andgenerally seems rather sleepy and dull. In some countries, such asthose where the Bible was written, it is a fine large animal, and thepeople use it for riding. Some persons mentioned in the Bible owned agreat many donkeys. Abraham had sheep, and oxen, and donkeys and camels;and Job had at one time five hundred donkeys, and afterwards he had athousand. A great many years ago, long before Christ came into theworld, the rich men and the judges used to ride upon donkeys: so we readin the 10th verse of the 5th chapter of Judges, "Speak, ye that rideupon white donkeys, ye that sit in judgment." After this time many finehorses were brought into those countries, and the kings and great menliked them for riding: so the donkey was used by the poorer people whocould not buy a horse. You remember that when our blessed Savior wasentering Jerusalem a few days before his death, he rode upon an donkey;thus showing his meekness and humility, even while the multitude wereshouting his praises, and spreading their garments in the way to do himhonor. How shall we be like our Savior, if we let pride stay in ourhearts?
The donkey is very gentle and patient, and does not seem angry even when hehas a very heavy load to carry. I should be very sorry to have himtreated unkindly. Though he seems so dull, he loves his master, andwill sometimes find him out and run to him even when he is in a crowd ofmen. God says, in the Bible, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the donkey hismaster's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider."Is it not a sad thing that the dull donkey should be more grateful than weare?
Would it not seem to you very wonderful to hear a dog or a horse speak,so that you could understand what he said? It would be a strange thingindeed-a miracle; but you will find in the 22d chapter of Numbers thatan donkey once spoke to his master. The master's name was Balaam. He wasa wicked man, and he was riding on an donkey to a place where he knew Goddid not wish him to go. As they were journeying an angel with a drawnsword in his hand stood in the way, but Balaam did not see him. The donkey saw him, and was so afraid that she turned aside out of the road, andwent into a field; then Balaam was angry and tried to drive her backinto the way. They had now come to a path of the vineyards, having awall on each side, and there the donkey saw the bright angel again. Intrying to avoid the angel, the donkey crushed Balaam's foot against thewall; and he was more angry and struck her again. Then the angel wentforward a little distance, and stood where the path was so narrow thatit was impossible to pass him. The donkey was now so much frightened thatshe would go no farther, and fell down in the road; and Balaam beat herin a great passion. Then the donkey spoke to Balaam and said, "What have Idone to thee that thou hast smitten me these three times?" And whenBalaam exclaimed, "I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now would Ikill thee," she only replied, "Am I not thine donkey upon which thou hastridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do sounto thee?" Can we not learn, even from the donkey, a lesson of meeknessand patience?
The wild donkey is often mentioned in the Bible, as in Psalm 104:11. "They(the springs) give drink to every beast of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst." They live in desert places, and go about in greatcompanies with one for their leader. You will find these words aboutthem in the 39th chapter of Job: "Who hath sent out the wild donkey free ?or who hath loosed the bands of the wild donkey? Whose house I have madethe wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings. He scorneth themultitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver.The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after everygreen thing." Travellers who have seen great herds of wild donkeys saythat the beautiful animal agrees exactly with this fine description,written so many years ago.
T3 - THE BEAR
Did you ever hear children say, "He is as cross as a bear? I hope itwill never be said of you, for nobody loves a child who is selfish andunkind, or who speaks cross and angry words. The bear is certainly avery cross animal; the name that was given to it in Bible times means agrumbler or growler. It does not even like other bears, excepting itsown young ones, but chooses to live by itself in the gloomiest woods-often in a dark cave, or in the hollow part of some great old tree.When winter begins, it lies down to sleep, and does not wake up tillwarm weather comes again; then it creeps out of its retreat, lean andhungry enough-and cross enough, too. It is not a handsome animal; itshair is rough and almost as close as wool, and its limbs are thick andclumsy. It eats nuts, juicy leaves, and such fruits and berries as growin the woods; it is fond of honey, and will climb the highest trees toreach it; and when it is very hungry, it will kill any animal that comesin its way and is not too strong for it to conquer.
The bear loves its young ones more than almost any other animal does, asthis little story will show you. A bear with two cubs or young onesonce came over the ice near to a ship where the sailors had just killeda large animal. The bears were very hungry, and the sailors threw oversome pieces of flesh for them; the old bear would tear them up, givingmost of the meat to the cubs, and keeping but little for herself.Presently some one in the ship cruelly shot both the young ones-thentheir mother was full of sorrow. She had been hurt herself by the guns,but she crawled along to her cubs, put her paw upon them, and tried tohave them get up; and when she found that they did not move, she went afew steps off, and then looked back with a sad, moaning noise, as thoughshe expected them to get up and follow her. When she saw that all herefforts were useless, she walked around them several times, turnedtowards the vessel with a terrible growl-for she was angry enough totear in pieces the men who had killed her young-and then lay downbetween her cubs and died. Does not his help you to understand thisverse in the 17th chapter of 2d Samuel? "For thou knowest thy fatherand his men, that they are mighty men, and they are chafed in theirminds, as a bear robbed of her whelps (or cubs) in the field;"-and thisalso, Hosea 13:8, "I will meet them as a bear bereaved of her whelps."Such verses as these show that the writers of the Bible were acquaintedwith the habits of different animals: we never find any mistakes in whatthey say about them. Solomon says in his Proverbs, "As a roaring lionand a ranging bear, so is a wicked ruler over the poor people."
You have often read or heard the sad story in the 2d of Kings, how forty-two children were killed at one time by two bears out of the wood. Doyou understand why God allowed this? Elijah, a holy servant of God, hadjust been taken up to heaven in a bright chariot with horses of fire;and these rude and wicked children called out to Elisha, "Go up, thoubald head!"-that is, "Go up, as Elijah did, to heaven." This mockerywould have been very wrong, even if Elisha had not been a holy prophet,for God has said, "Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honorthe face of the old man;" but the children were really dishonoring Godin their treatment of his servant, and it was for this reason that Hewas so displeased with them.
Do you remember what David said when he was trying to persuade king Saulto let him go and fight with the great giant Goliath? Saul thought hewas too young, and by no means strong enough; but David said, "Thyservant was keeping his father's sheep, and there came a lion and abear, and took a lamb out of the flock, and thy servant slew both thelion and the bear." He said also, "The Lord that delivered me out ofthe paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver meout of the hand of this Philistine." You see why David was not afraidto meet the giant. It was not because he felt strong of himself, but hebelieved that God would be near to help him; and it was the same feelingthat led him to say afterwards, "Though I walk through the valley of theshadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me." Happy willit be for you, dear child, if you can say the same words, with peace inyour heart, when you lie down to die.
T4 - THE BEE
Although the bee is so small an animal, it is very well known; and manylearned men have spent a great deal of time in observing it, and havewritten many very curious things about it. They tell us that there isin every hive a queen, larger than the rest, whom they all follow andobey; and that if she dies or is carried away, they all leave their workand unless the queen is restored or another one provided, they refuse toeat, and soon die. Only one queen is allowed in a hive at a time. Shedoes not go out to gather honey, but those who attend upon her bring toher cell as much as she wants.
It is very pleasant to watch the bees at their work, for they are quiteas busy as the ants, and as they are so much larger, it is more easy tosee what they are doing. Every thing about them seems curious andbeautiful; their waxen cells, their manner of gathering honey andstoring it up, their neatness and order, all are admirable. They areperfectly harmless when left to themselves; but if they are attacked,they fly around the person who disturbs them, in great numbers, andsometimes sting him very severely. David once said of his enemies,"They compassed me about like bees."
Honey is often spoken of in the Bible. When Jacob wished his sons to godown into Egypt a second time to buy food, he said to them, "Take of thebest fruits of the land in your vessels, and carry down the man (Joseph)a present; a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts andalmonds." God told the children of Israel that he would give them "aland flowing with milk and honey," meaning one that was beautiful andfertile, producing abundantly every thing that would be needed for theircomfort. When David had been obliged to flee from Jerusalem to escapehis wicked son Absalom, he was in great want of provisions for himselfand his followers. After a long and fatiguing march he reached acertain city; and there three rich men who were friendly to him, sent"wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and honey,and butter, and sheep, and cheese," besides beds for them to rest on;"for they said, The people is hungry, and wary, and thirsty in thewilderness."
Perhaps no man ever loved the commandments of God more truly than kingDavid. He says in the Psalms, "How sweet are thy words unto my taste!yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" and again he says of God'sjudgments, "More are they to be desired than gold, yea, than much finegold; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb."
Besides the bees that live in hives, there are many called wild bees,which live in the woods, and put their honey in the clefts of rocks, orin old trees and other similar places. In the fourteenth chapter ofJudges you will find this story: There was a very strong man namedSamson, and once when he was travelling by himself in a lonely place, ayoung lion came roaring along in the very path where he was going.Would you not have been afraid? I suppose Samson was, at first, for thelion was very strong and very hungry, and Samson had nothing in his handto kill him with. But God gave him strength, and when the lion came up,Samson caught hold of him and tore him in pieces, as you would tear apiece of cloth. Then he left him dead on the ground. Sometime after hecame back the same way, and thought he would look after the lion that hehad killed. He soon found the skeleton, that is, the dry bones withoutany flesh on them; and when he looked at the parts of the dead lion hefound that a swarm of bees had been there, and laid up a great plenty ofhoney. So he took some of it in his hands to eat as he went along.
You can learn of the little bee to try to be useful, and to resolve inthe words of the hymn which I dare say you have learned:
T5 - THE CAMEL
There are two or three varieties of the camel, but they do not differfrom each other much more than our horses, some of which, the stout andstrong, we use to draw heavy loads; others, more slender and graceful,we use for riding. The swift camel is called a Dromedary; it will carryits rider a hundred miles a day. Dromedaries are mentioned in the bookof Esther, where messages were to be sent in haste to all parts of avast kingdom; the messengers rode "on mules, and camels, and youngdromedaries."
This is a very large animal and is mentioned a great many times in theBible. I think you will like to find all these places, and see what issaid about the camel. It seems as though God made it to live in justsuch countries as it does, for it can go a great many days withoutdrinking any water; and if it were not for this, it would die of thirst,because the wells and springs are so far apart. If the people of thosecountries had not the camel they could not travel; so you see how kindGod is to them.
The foot of the camel is curious. It is very broad, having twodivisions with a horny tip at the end of each; and underneath is a sortof elastic cushion, like a sponge, on which the animal treads. It isvery strange to see a dozen or twenty large and heavy camels pass alongalmost without any noise; so still that you would hardly know they werecoming if you did not look up.
There is a very beautiful story in the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis,in which there is something about camels. I will tell you part of it.In the country where it happened a man does not generally choose a wifefor himself, but his father or some other friend chooses for him. Youhave heard about Abraham, and know that he was a good man and a friendof God. When his son Isaac was forty years old, Abraham wished to finda wife for him, but he was not willing to take one from among the peoplewhere he lived, because they were very wicked. So he called a good oldservant that he had-a gray-headed man-and told him that he wished him togo to a distant country and bring a wife for Isaac from there. ThenEliezer, the servant, took several other servants, and ten of hismaster's camels, and many presents, and started on his journey. Afterthey had travelled a great many days, they came near to the city whereAbraham had told them to go. It was just before night, and that was thetime when the young women used to go out of the city to draw water. Ihave told you that there are not many wells in that country, so that agreat many persons draw water at one place. It is the custom forfemales to go for it, and they usually carry it in pitchers on theirheads.
Eliezer made his camels lie down by this well, because they had come tothe end of their journey and were very tired. But how was he to knowwho would be a good wife for Isaac, among all the women of this largecity? He did not know; but he was a good man, and he prayed to God tochoose one for him, and let him know which she was. And he asked God tolet him know in this way which I will tell you. When the young womencame out to the well, he was going to ask them for some water, and heprayed that the one who answered him kindly, and gave him drink, mightbe the right one for Isaac's wife. Pretty soon he saw a young womancoming with her pitcher on her head, and she was very fair and handsome;but this alone did not satisfy Eliezer. He waited till she had drawnsome water and placed it upon her head. Then he said to her, "I praythee let me drink a little water from they pitcher;"-and she took itdown and resting it on her hand, answered very pleasantly and kindly,"Drink, my lord." While he was drinking, she saw that he looked like astranger, and that his camels seemed tired with the journey, and she wassorry from them. So she said, "I will draw water for the camels too;"-and she did draw enough for all the ten camels, though she must havebeen pretty tired when it was done, for these animals drink a greatdeal. From all these circumstances Eliezer felt sure that God had heardhis prayer; and it gave him pleasure to think that if this young womanwas willing to take so much trouble for a traveller whom she did notknow, she would be a very kind and good wife.
I cannot tell you all; but Eliezer found that the young woman, whosename was Rebekah, was willing to go with him to be Isaac's wife. Whenall was ready for the journey she was seated upon one of the ten camels,and her nurse upon another, and some of her female servants upon others.After they had been riding some days, they came, just at evening, nearthe place where Isaac lived, and saw him walking in the field. He cameto meet Rebekah, and was very glad to see her, and when she became hiswife he loved her very much.
T6 - THE DOG
There are many dogs in the countries where the Bible was written, butthe people do not like them as well as we do, and do not let them liveabout their yards and houses. So the dogs go wandering about withoutany master, and live on whatever they can find in the streets or aroundthe markets. In the fifty-ninth Psalm you will find the verse: "Theyreturn at evening; they make a noise like a dog, and go round about thecity,"-and a little farther on you will see, "Let them wander up anddown for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied." These verses showthat the dogs wandered about in those days just as they do now.Sometimes when they do not find enough to eat, they become very fierceand cruel, so that you would be afraid to meet one of them.
There is a sad story in some of the chapters of the two books of Kings,in which you will find these dogs mentioned. There was a very proud andwicked queen, named Jezebel, and she tried to make her husband, kingAhab, do all the evil she could. Once Ahab wanted a piece of groundthat was near his palace, so that he might have it made into a garden,and he asked the owner of it, whose name was Naboth, to sell it to him.But Naboth was not willing, because he used it for his vineyard, andbecause his father had given it to him before he died. Then Ahab wasvery angry about it, and acted just as I have seen some foolish childrendo when they were not pleased. He went into his great splendid house,and laid himself down on the bed; then he turned his face towards thewall, and when it was dinner time he would not get up or eat any thing.So his wife Jezebel asked him what was the matter; and when she foundout, she told him that he need not be troubled, for she could get thatvineyard for him. Then she contrived to have Naboth killed by stoning,and when he was dead king Ahab took the vineyard.
Now you may be sure God was displeased with such wickedness as this, andyou will think it was very right that he should punish the cruelJezebel. Do you think her husband Ahab ought to be punished too? I do;because he knew that his wife was going to kill Naboth, and yet he didnot try to keep her from doing it. I think he was as wicked as she.After Ahab had taken the vineyard, God sent to him the prophet Elijah tosay to him these words, "Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogslicked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine." Andof Jezebel he said, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel."Now see how the word of God was fulfilled, just as he had said. Prettysoon after this, king Ahab went out to fight with his enemies, and as hewas riding along in his carriage a man drew his great, strong bow, andshot an arrow which pierced the king and almost killed him. He lived afew hours, until nearly night, and then he died. The blood had run downfrom his wound into the carriage, and after the king was dead they tookit to the pool of Samaria to wash it: there the dogs came and licked upthe blood of Ahab.
The wicked Jezebel lived some years after this, and one of her sonsbecame king; but God raised up another king, named Jehu, who slew thisson, and then went to Jezreel, the city where Jezebel lived. She heardhe was coming, and feared that he meant to put her to death; but shedetermined that, instead of begging him to spare her life, she would actas though she was still a queen, and then perhaps he would not dare toinjure her. So she put ornaments on her head, and painted her face, andthen sat down by an upper window in all the splendor of a queen. WhenJehu came near, she called out to him in great anger and scorn, toreproach him for having put her son to death. When Jehu heard her voiceand saw her sitting at the window, he cried out, "Who is on my side?"and two or three of the queen's officers looked out at the windows.Then he said to them, "Throw her down." They were very glad to get ridof the proud and cruel queen, and so they threw her down, as he hadsaid. It was so far to the ground that she was killed immediately, andher blood was sprinkled upon the walls. But Jehu did not care for this;he went into the house to eat and drink. After he had taken his dinner,he thought of Jezebel, and told some of his servants that they must goand bury her: but in the mean time a terrible thing had happened. Thedogs had seized and devoured the body, and nothing was left of it butthe feet, and the palms of the hands, and part of the bones of the head.So God's word came to pass, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel."
T7 - THE EAGLE
Did you ever see an eagle? There were once a great many among the rocksand mountains of our own country, but they will not stay where there aremany people; so they are seldom seen here now. They like to make theirnests in high and rocky places, where nobody can find them; as a versein the Bible says, "Though thou shouldest make thy nest on high as theeagle, yet will I bring thee down from thence." Their nests are notusually made in trees like those of many other birds, neither are theyshaped in the same way: they are nothing but a layer of sticks spreadflat upon the rock, and covered with some hay or straw. The care of theeagle for her young is spoken of in Deut. 32:11. "As an eagle stirrethup her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings,taketh them, beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone did lead him."This beautifully describes God's care over the children of Israel whilethey were passing through the wilderness; does it not also well expresshis kindness to us?
These birds fly very swiftly, and you will find verses in the Bible thatspeak of this. One is the forty-ninth verse of the twenty-eighthchapter of Deuteronomy. "The Lord shall bring a nation against theefrom far, as swift as the eagle flieth." In another place it is said,"His horses are swifter than eagles." Job says, "My days are swifterthan a post, (or post-rider;) they are passed away as the swift ships,as an eagle that hasteth to the prey."
The eye of the eagle is very curious. It has something like an innereyelid, only it is very thin; and the eagle can draw this over its eye,like a curtain, whenever there is too much light. You have heardperhaps that it can look directly at the bright sun; and this is thereason. It can see a great deal farther than we can; and when it isvery high in the air, so that it would look to you but little largerthan a speck, it often sees some small animal on the ground and fliesdown to catch it.
See how well this bird was described a great many years ago: these arethe last verses of the thirty-ninth chapter of Job: "Doth the eaglemount up at thy command and make her nest on high? She dwelleth andabideth upon the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place.From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Heryoung ones also suck up blood; and where the slain are, there is she."
The eagle lives a great many years; sometimes more than seventy, Ibelieve. It sheds its feathers every spring, and new ones come out;then it looks like a young bird. This is why David says in the Psalms,"Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth isrenewed, (or comes again,) like the eagle's." There is this beautifulverse in Isaiah, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew theirstrength; they shall mount up on wings as eagles; they shall run and notbe weary, they shall walk and not faint." How blessed and happy a thingit is to be a christian indeed! to "wait upon the Lord" every day forthe strength we need; and to be always preparing for that world wherethe inhabitants are for ever young, for ever active, for ever holy, forever happy.
T8 - THE FOX, or JACKAL
It is not quite certain whether the fox mentioned in the Bible is thesame animal that we now call by that name. It probably means what wenow call the jackal. This animal is about as large as a common sizeddog, and its color is yellow, or reddish brown. It never goes out aloneto seek its food, but always in companies of forty or fifty together.Then they make strange noises, which sound very much like the crying ofchildren.
They do not go out for their food in the daytime, but wait till itbegins to be dark; and then they kill all the animals they can find thatare not too strong for them. Sometimes a large animal like the lionwill hear the cries that they make when they are hunting, and will comeand snatch away from them whatever they have found. These foxes orjackals have been known to scratch away the earth from graves that havebeen lately made, and then devour the bodies of the dead. This explainsa verse in the sixty-second Psalm, where David says of those who "seekhis soul to destroy it,"-"They shall fall by the sword; they shall be aportion for foxes."
They eat plants of different kinds; sometimes roots, and sometimesfruits. This is one of the verses in Solomon's Song, "Take us thefoxes, the little foxes which spoil the vines; for our vines have tendergrapes."
These animals are often found in great numbers around the walls andruins of old cities; they live in holes or burrows which they dig in theground. Our Savior says, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the airhave nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." We haveread this verse so many times that we scarcely think how much it means;but was it not a wonderful thing that when Christ came from his brightthrone in heaven to this poor earth, he should not find even a homehere? Every animal on all the hills has its shelter and hiding-place;every little bird in all the forest has its comfortable nest; but ourSavior "had not where to lay his head." During all his life he was "aman of sorrows and acquainted with grief." For whom did he suffer allthis?-and when his sorrowful life was ended, for whom did he die? Ineed not tell you this, dear child, but I may ask you,
"Is there nothing we can do to prove our grateful love?"
T9 - THE GOAT
There are two kinds of goat in the countries where the Bible waswritten; one very much like those that we sometimes see; the otherdiffering from it in several respects, especially in the greater lengthof its ears. It is supposed that the prophet Amos speaks of the latterkind when he says, "As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion,two legs or a piece of an ear." The ear of this kind of goat is so longthat a large piece might easily be bitten off; it sometimes measuresmore than a foot.
Solomon says, in the Proverbs, when speaking to a man who is diligent inhis work, "Thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the foodof thy household, and for the maintenance of thy maidens." This seemsstrange to us, because we are not much used to it; but in thosecountries the milk of the goat is very sweet and good, and is often madeinto cheese.
The people there often have a great number of goats. Jacob sent apresent of two hundred and twenty to his brother Esau; and a great king,mentioned in the Bible, once received seven thousand seven hundred as agift. A man is mentioned in the first book of Samuel who owned athousand goats: perhaps you can find the place; and if you do, you willsee in the next verse what his name was, and also the name of his wife.
There are two kinds of hair upon the goat; one is long and coarse, theother soft and fine. Of the first kind the people make a kind of rough,coarse cloth; the other is made into very fine cloth, almost as soft assilk. A part of the curtains for the tabernacle were made of goats'hair.
The bottles mentioned in the Bible were usually made of goat-skins: thepeople in those days had not learned to make glass. When they had beenused a long time, they became worn, so that they would not hold what wasput in them. Our Savior once said, "Neither do men put new wine intoold bottles;" this was because the new wine would ferment and theleathern bottles would burst. There is a story in the Old Testamentabout some men who wished to deceive Joshua, and lead him to think thatthey lived at a very great distance from him, when they really livedvery near. So it is said, (Josh. 9:4, 5) "They took old sacks upontheir asses, and wine-bottles, old and rent, and bound up; and old shoesand clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all thebread of their provision was dry and mouldy" Then they said to Joshua,(verses 12 and 13) "This our bread we took hot for our provision out ofour houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold itis dry, and it is mouldy. And these bottles of wine which we filledwere new, and behold they be rent; and these our garments and our shoesare become old by reason of the very long journey."
The Israelites had a singular custom in ancient times, about which youmay read in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus. It was commanded byGod, and was to be observed once in every year. On the morning of theday appointed for it, the high-priest was to wash in pure water, andclothe himself in a dress of clean white linen. Then two fair andhandsome young goats were brought to him, one of which was to be killed.The priest was to cast lots, that he might know which of them it shouldbe; then he was to kill him, sprinkle his blood upon the altar seventimes, and burn the flesh. Afterwards he was to take the live goat, layboth hands upon his head, and confess over him the sins of theIsraelites, "putting them upon the head of the goat." Then the animalwas given into the care of a man who led him away and let him go in thewilderness, "bearing upon him all the iniquities" of the people. Thisgoat was a type of our Savior; that is, it represented what heafterwards did, when he came into the world and "bore our sins."
T10 - THE HART AND HIND
Several animals of the deer kind are mentioned in the Bible under thenames of Fallow-deer, Hart, Hind, and Roe-buck. They were all numberedamong the clean animals, or those which the Israelites were allowed toeat; as we see in Deut. 14:4, 5, "These are the beasts which ye shalleat; the ox, the sheep, the goat, the hart, the roe-buck and the fallow-deer." In 1st Kings, 4:23, we read of the daily provision which wasmade for king Solomon's table, and among the rest were "ten fat oxen,and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and a hundred sheep, besides harts,and roe-bucks, and fallow-deer."
These animals are all harmless, gentle, timid, loving and beautiful;noted for their branching horns, for the elegance of their form, and fortheir surprisingly swift and graceful motion. It has long been afavorite amusement in eastern countries to pursue them in the chase; andas the swiftest greyhound can scarcely overtake them, it is usual totrain hawks or falcons to attack them, and so delay them till the dogscome up. They bound along over the plains, "fleet as the wind," seemingscarcely to touch the ground: no motion can be more beautiful. In thelast verse of Solomon's Song we read, "Make haste, my beloved, and bethou like to a roe, or to a young hart on the mountains of spices." The35th chapter of Isaiah contains a beautiful description of the peacefulkingdom which Christ will one day establish in the earth; and amongother things it is said, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame manleap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing."
The hart or hind is remarkably sure-footed as well as swift: this mayexplain one or two verses in the Bible. David says, 2d Sam. 22:33, 34,"God is my strength and power, and he maketh my way perfect. He makethmy feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places." In thelast verse of Habakkuk we read, "The Lord is my strength, and he willmake my feet like hinds' feet."
The male deer is called a hart, the female a hind; and their affectionfor each other is beautiful. Solomon says in the Proverbs, "Rejoicewith the wife of thy youth; let her be as the loving hind and pleasantroe."
The hart often suffers from thirst in the dry and sandy countries whereit lives-especially when pursued by the hunters; it then longs forwater, and plunges with the greatest eagerness into the cooling stream.David says in the 42d Psalm, "As the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth forGod, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?"Nothing could more strongly express his love to God, or his ardentdesire for communion with him. Happy is the child who has in his heartsuch feelings towards God, and who finds pleasure in praying to him,from day to day; he has been taught by the Holy Spirit, and is preparingto meet God in peace. (See RoeRoe.)
T11 - THE HORSE
There is a fine description of a war-horse in the book of Job-a bookwhich some think to be the oldest in the world. It is in the thirty-ninth chapter. "Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothedhis neck with thunder? Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper?The glory of his nostrils is terrible. He paweth in the valley, andrejoiceth in his strength; he goeth on to meet the armed men. Hemocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from thesword. The quiver rattleth against him; the glittering spear and theshield. He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neitherbelieveth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. He saith among thetrumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder ofthe captains and the shouting."
In the fifth chapter of Judges you will find this verse. "Then were thehorse-hoofs broken by the means of the prancings, the prancings of theirmighty ones." And it seems likely from this, that it was not the customto shoe horses in those days, so that their hoofs were more easilybroken.
They had horses in Egypt in very ancient times, as you will find if youread the first part of the book of Exodus. You will see there how thechildren of Israel escaped from Egypt, after they had been kept in hardbondage a great many years; and how when they had gone only a shortdistance, the wicked king Pharaoh went after them to try to get themback. There was a great company of the Israelites, men, women andchildren; they had nothing to ride on, and had their flocks and herdswith them, so that they could not go very fast. They took the coursewhich God directed, and it brought them to the Red Sea, where there wereneither boats nor bridges for them to go over.
Just then they heard that Pharaoh and his army were coming after them.Some came in chariots of war, and of these there were six hundred drawnby horses; and a great many more came on horseback. Now what couldthese people do? If they went on, they would be drowned; and if theywent back, or stayed where they were, they would fall into the hands ofthe Egyptians. God told them not to be afraid, for he would take careof them; so he divided the waters of the sea, and made a dry road forthem to go through, while the water stood up like a wall on each side ofthem. Then the Egyptians followed on, and God let the waters flow downupon them, so that they were all drowned. Think what a sight it musthave been, when the chariots, and horses, and men, were all surroundedby that great, mighty water, and then sunk down one after another, sothat they could be seen no more. The children of Israel sang a psalm ofpraise after God had saved them in this wonderful manner, and thesewords are a part of it: "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphedgloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."
In one of the last chapters in the Old Testament you will find thesewords, "In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses,HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD." This speaks of a time which has not yet come,but for which christians are looking, when this world will not be wickedas it now is; but when every thing, even the bells of the horses, shallbe holy unto the Lord.
T12 - THE IBEX, or WILD GOAT
The Ibex is a kind of goat, but different from the one described at page33. It is sometimes called the Rock Goat, or Wild Goat; and the last isthe name given it in the Bible. It resembles the common goat, but islarger, and its horns are much longer; they are sometimes considerablymore than a yard in length, beautifully curved, and surrounded by manycurious rings or ridges.
It lives in places where you would think no animal could get withoutfalling and breaking its neck; you would be frightened to see itsometimes, when it climbs up rough and narrow places, or jumps from onegreat rock to another. But God has given it just such a kind of foot asit needs; it has a small hoof, something like those of a sheep,excepting that it is hollow underneath, and has a sort of ridge aroundit by which the animal can cling to the rock, and so keep from slipping.I never heard of such a thing as one of them sliding off the rocks,unless it was pursued by the hunters. Two goats once met on a highnarrow path, where there was just room for one to walk. There was ahigh rock rising close to their shoulders on one side, and on the otherwas a place so steep that it would have made you dizzy to look down.They could not go back without danger of falling, and they could notpass each other; what do you think they could do, but stay there andstarve? It seemed for a little while as if they were considering aboutit; at last one bent his knees and laid down, and the other walkedsafely over his back.
The ibex feeds during the night in the highest woods that grow on themountains; but as soon as the sun rises it begins to climb, eating thegrass or whatever it finds, till it has got up where it is too high fortrees to grow. They go in small companies of eight or ten, and lie downin sunny places among the rocks while the sun is hot; but about three orfour o'clock in the afternoon they begin to go down again towards thewoods. They can climb up rather more easily than they can get down,because their fore legs are shorter than the others.
See how the ibex or wild goat is spoken of in the Bible. In the onehundred and fourth Psalm you may find the words, "The high hills are arefuge for the wild goats;" and another place where the animal ismentioned is in the twenty-fourth chapter of first Samuel: "Saul tookthree thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David andhis men upon the rocks of the wild goats." I should like to have youread with me the whole history of Saul and David in the Bible, so thatwe might talk about it, for it is very interesting; but now I can onlywrite down what this one verse means. David had been made king overIsrael by the command of God; but Saul, who was a very wicked man, wasdetermined to kill him. So David was obliged to fly for his life, withonly a few faithful friends; and month after month he hid himself in oneplace and another, so that Saul might not find him. At last he came toa wild, gloomy place, where nobody lived, near the Dead Sea: it wasrocky, and there were many wild goats there. He thought he was safenow; but Saul heard where he was and came after him.
One night Saul and his men went into a large dark cave among themountains, and behold David and his friends were already there; but theywere hidden, so that Saul did not know it. David's men wanted very muchto kill Saul, now that he was in their power, but David would not allowthem. He only cut off a small piece from the robe that Saul wore, andhe was sorry afterwards that he had done even as much as this He did nothurt Saul in the least, but allowed him to go safely out of the cave,though he might have killed him as easily as not. Was not thisreturning good for evil?
T13 - THE JERBOA, or MOUSE
You will not find the name of the Jerboa in the Bible; but it issupposed to be the same animal that is called a mouse in the 17th verseof the 66th chapter of Isaiah, "They that sanctify themselves, andpurify themselves in the gardens, eating swine's flesh, and theabomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the Lord;"and also in Leviticus, where God is telling the children of Israel whatanimals they may be allowed to eat, and also what they must not taste.He says, "These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping thingsthat creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoiseafter his kind." Whether the Jerboa is the same animal or not, theIsraelites must have been well acquainted with it, for it is found ingreat numbers in Syria and Egypt, and other countries mentioned in theBible. They like to live where the soil is sandy, and make theirburrows, or holes to live in, in the sides of sand-hills. These burrowsare often several yards long, and the part where they sleep is made softwith grass.
The Jerboa is about as large as a rat, and its color is a tawny yellow,something like that of dried lemon-peel. Its fur is very smooth andsoft; its eyes are full and round, and its head is much like that of ayoung rabbit. When it eats, it sits and hold its food in its fore-paws,very much as a squirrel does.
There is a very great and curious difference in the length of its legs;those in front being so short that you would hardly notice them, andthose behind very long. It bounds along over the ground very rapidly;so that the greyhound, which is one of the swiftest of dogs, is oftenunable to overtake it. It seems, when you first look at it, to use onlyits hind legs in jumping, but his is not so. When it is about to take aleap, it raises its body upon the toes of its hind feet, keeping thebalance by the help of its long tail. It springs and comes down on itsshort fore legs, but does it so very quickly that you can hardly see howit is done, and the animal seems to be upright all the time.
They appear to be very fond of each other's company, and great numbersare usually found together. They sleep during the day, but like thehare and rabbit, go out of their burrows to eat and to play as soon asit begins to be dark.
T14 - THE KITE
The kite is mentioned but once or twice in the Bible. In Leviticus, 11: 13,14, it is named among the birds which the Israelites were notallowed to use for food. "And these are they which ye shall have inabomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are anabomination; the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray, and thevulture, and the kite after its kind." These are all birds of prey,that is, they live by destroying other animals, and some of them arevery fierce and cruel; I suppose this is one reason why they were not tobe eaten.
The kite is a large bird, more than two feet long; and when its wingsare spread it would take a string five feet and a half long to stretchfrom the tip of one across to the other. It does not fly very rapidly,but its motion in the air is very graceful and beautiful. On thisaccount it has sometimes been called the Gled, or the gliding bird.
The kite is very much dreaded and disliked by those who have ducks andchickens, because it carries them off for food. It also eats frogs andmoles: it is said that more than twenty of the latter have been found inone Kite's nest. It is a cowardly bird, and does not attack any animalthat is strong enough to defend itself. Its nest is usually builtbetween the forked branches of some tall tree in the thickest part ofthe forest; and if you could look into one of them in the spring, youwould probably see three eggs, almost white, but a little tinged withblue.
T15 - THE LION
You have seen pictures of the lion a hundred times, I suppose, andperhaps you have seen it alive; would you not like to know what theBible says about it? You have heard it called the "king of beasts,"because it is so strong and so bold; it is afraid of no other animal,and it is strong enough to carry away a horse or a buffalo. In the 30thverse of the 30th chapter of Proverbs, we read about "the lion which isstrongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any." When king Davidwas mourning for the death of Saul and Jonathan, he said, "They wereswifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions." How strong Samsonmust have been to take hold of a young lion and tear it in pieces withhis hands! Did you ever read a riddle in one of the chapters of Judges?This is it, "Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strongcame forth sweetness;" and it was made by Samson after he had found thehoney in the skeleton of the lion,-as I told you when speaking of thebee. He promised some of his friends that he would give them thirtysheets and thirty changes of raiment, if they would find it out in sevendays; but they would not have been able to do it, if Samson's wife hadnot told them what he meant. Then they came to him and said, "What issweeter than honey, and what is stronger than a lion?"
The boldness of the lion is noticed in a verse in Isaiah: "Like as thelion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude ofshepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of theirvoice, nor abase himself for the noise of them." In Proverbs, 28 : 1,you will read, "The wicked flee when no man pursueth; but the righteousis as bold as a lion." This is true, dear child; and if you will loveGod and trust the kind Savior, there is nothing in all the wide world ofwhich you need be afraid. God can take care of you as he did of Daniel,even if you were shut up in a dark cave with cruel and hungry lionsaround you.
The lion lies in his den and sleeps in the daytime, but at night he goesout to find his food. His eyes are a little like those of a cat, and hecan see in the night better than we can. The Bible says, "Thou makestdarkness and it is night; wherein all the beasts of the forest do creepforth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat fromGod. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay themdown in their dens." It has soft feet, like a cat, so that it can creepquietly along and not frighten the animals that it means to kill, tillit comes very near them. Sometimes the lion lies in his den, verystill, until some animal comes by; then he gives a sudden spring, andseizes it just as a cat seizes a mouse. The Bible says, when speakingof a wicked man, "He lieth in wait secretly, as a lion in his den; helieth in wait to catch the poor; he doth catch the poor, when he drawethhim into his net."
The lion has very strong claws hidden in the soft cushion of his paws,and when he has caught his prey he uses them to tear it in pieces. Histongue is like that of a cat, only a great deal more rough, and withthis he can strip the flesh off from the bones. David in one of thePsalms prays that God will save him from an enemy, "Lest," he says, "hetear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces when there is none todeliver."
The roaring of the lion is very terrible, especially at night. He seemsto delight to be wandering around for his prey when it is dark andstormy; then when he puts his mouth near the ground, his roaring soundslike thunder, and all the animals that hear it are full of fear. Youhave read of Satan, that most wicked being, who would be glad to make usas wicked as he is; the Bible says he is like "a roaring lion, walkingabout, seeking whom he may devour." Let us pray God to keep us safefrom this roaring lion.
Christ is sometimes called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah." He isalways gentle and kind to those who love him; but if we will not receivehim as our Savior, the day is coming when he will meet us in judgment;then where can his enemies hide themselves.
T16 - THE LEOPARD
The leopard is a beautiful animal, though very savage and cruel. It isabout as large as the largest of our dogs, but it looks much more like acat than a dog. You have watched kittens at their play a hundred times,and you know how very quick, and pretty, and graceful all their motionsare. It is just so with the leopard; and it can creep along too, assoftly as a cat, and run up a tree after a monkey, as easily as a catdoes after a bird. It lives mostly upon young antelopes and deer, andit often lies still a long time watching one till it comes near, andthen springs out upon it. The Bible says in one place, "A leopard shallwatch over their cities; every one that goeth out thence shall be tornin pieces;" and in another, "Therefore will I be to them as a lion; as aleopard by the way will I observe (or watch for) them." The leopardruns very swiftly when it is trying to overtake any animal: the Biblesays, "Their horses are swifter than leopards."
Its color is a clear, handsome yellow, spotted with black; the spots arefound in little groups, two, or three, or four together, and the skin isvery smooth and shining. There is such a great difference between thecolor of the spots and the rest of the skin, that you would think it avery curious looking animal. The 23d verse of the 12th chapter ofJeremiah is this: "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard hisspots? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil." Itwould be no easy thing to wash away the leopard's black spots; indeednothing but God's power could do it. So it is not easy to do right whenwe have been used to do wrong, and have loved to do it: this is why weneed to pray that God will "create a clean heart and renew a rightspirit within" us. Should we not be careful about every sinful habit?Remember, dear child, that such a habit in you may become fixed, almostlike the leopard's spots; and pray God to help you love every thing thatis "pure, and lovely, and of good report."
What a peaceful and happy time that will be, when Jesus our Savior shallreign in all the earth-when all men shall love him and each other-when"the leopard (fierce and cruel as it is now) shall lie down with thekid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and alittle child shall lead them." That bright day is coming; and if youlove Christ, even you-a child-can do something to prepare for it.
T17 - THE LOCUST
The locust is called an insect, as well as the ant and the bee, butinstead of being harmless, as they usually are, it does a great deal ofinjury. It is also much larger than they; for it is generally threeinches long, and sometimes as much as four or five. The plague of thelocusts was the eighth that God sent upon the Egyptians, because theywould not let the children of Israel go, as he commanded; and it was avery terrible one indeed. The Bible says, "They covered the face of thewhole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herbof the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left; andthere remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of thefield through all the land of Egypt." This is the way they often do inthose countries, though perhaps it is not common for so many to come atonce.
They fly in companies of thousands together, and so close that they looklike a great black cloud. When they alight on the ground they all comedown in a body, and immediately begin to devour the grass and grain;they also eat the leaves of the trees, and every green thing they canfind. The people dread them more than they do the most terrible fire orstorm; because though they are so small, they destroy all the food, andleave the people ready to starve. When the inhabitants see them comingover their fields, they try to drive them away by making loud noises orby kindling fires; but this does little good.
It is said that a great army of locusts came over the northern part ofAfrica about a hundred years before the birth of Christ. They consumedevery blade of grass wherever they alighted; also the roots, and bark,and even the hard wood of the trees. After they had thus eaten up everything, a strong wind arose, and after tossing them about awhile, it blewthem over the sea, and great numbers of them were drowned. Then thewaves threw them back upon the land, all along the sea-coast, and theirdead bodies made the air so unwholesome that a frightful pestilencecommenced, and great numbers of men and animals died.
Many travellers have seen these great clouds of locusts, and describethem in their books. One says that he saw a company consisting of somany that they were an hour in passing over the place where he was.They seemed to extend a mile in length and half a mile in width. Whenhe first noticed them, they looked like a black cloud rising in theeast; and when they came over head, they shut out the light of the sun,and made a noise with their wings like the rushing of a water-fall.Another swarm is mentioned which took four hours to pass over one spot;and they made the sky so dark that one person could not see another attwenty steps off.
You can now understand two or three passages from the Bible which I willmention. David says in the 23d verse of the 109th Psalm, "I am tossedup and down as the locust;" that is, as the clouds of locusts are tossedabout by the wind. In the first chapters of Joel God threatens to sendthe locust among the people, because of their wickedness; and he says ofthem, "Before their faces the people shall be much pained; all facesshall gather blackness. They (the locusts,) shall run like mighty men;they shall climb the wall like men of war. They shall run to and fro inthe city; they shall run upon the wall; they shall climb up upon thehouses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief." An Englishclergyman who visited countries where the locusts are found, a few yearsago, says that these verses describe them exactly as he has himself seenthem.
Locusts are sometimes used for food. The Arabs boil them with salt, andthen add a little oil or butter; sometimes they toast them by the firebefore eating them. A traveller speaks of seeing the Arab womenemployed in filling bags with locusts, which were to be used for food.You know it is said in the New Testament that John the Baptist "did eatlocusts and wild honey," but it is not quite certain that this insectwas meant; perhaps it was the fruit of the locust-tree that he ate.
T18 - THE MOLE
I remember but two places in the Bible where this animal is mentioned.One is in Leviticus, where it is named among the unclean animals whichthe Israelites were forbidden to eat; and the other is this verse in thesecond chapter of Isaiah: "In that day a man shall cast his idols ofsilver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself toworship, to the moles and to the bats." Have you read about the firstmissionaries who went to the Sandwich Islands? And do you remember thatalthough the people had always been worshippers of idols, they had castthem all away just before the missionaries came? That was a verywonderful thing to happen; and it seems as though God was making thesepoor people ready to hear about the Savior, when the missionaries shouldcome. Well, this verse in Isaiah declares that the same thing willhappen by and by over the whole earth. You know that there are nowmillions and millions of poor heathen who worship nothing but images ofgold, or brass, or stone; but the day is coming when not an idol shallbe seen, and no being shall be worshipped but the true God. The molelives under ground, and the bat in gloomy, dark caves where nobodythinks of going; so when it is said that the idols shall be "Cast to themoles and to the bats," it means that they shall be thrown away in darkand neglected places, just as we throw away old shoes, or any thing thatwe care nothing about. Will you try to remember this verse about theidols? Perhaps you may live to see the near approach of that day.
The mole is a very curious animal in its appearance and in its manner ofliving. It is almost always under ground, and we should think that thelittle creature could not be very happy; but its skin is as smooth andhandsome as that of any animal, and it seems very well contented withits dark home. God made it to live there, and he has given it just sucha body at it needs. It is covered with fine, short, silky hair, almostlike soft velvet, so that the earth does not stick to it; and its legsare very short, so as not to be in the way. If its legs were long itcould not get through the ground very well, you know. Its eyes are verysmall, because it does not need to see much, and they are almost buriedtoo under its soft fur, which keeps out all the dust and dirt. Theopening of the ear is covered in the same way, so that nothing can hurtit.
Its fore-paws are made broad like a shovel, and are very strong; eachone, too, has five short fingers with which the earth can be removed.The nose is sharp and bony, and this helps the mole to work its waythrough the earth. They throw up the earth when they make their housesunder ground, and in this way mole-hills are made. They like to work atmorning and evening, and also after a shower, when the earth is damp andsoft, and easily moved.
The mole is larger than a mouse, but not as large as a rat. It eatsinsects and worms, and sometimes the roots of plants.
T19 - THE NIGHT-HAWK
I believe this is the only animal of any kind mentioned in the Bible,the name of which begins with N. It is named in the 11th chapter ofLeviticus, among other birds, such as the owl, the cuckoo and the raven,which the children of Israel were not allowed to eat.
It is somewhat like the owl in its shape, and in its large, full, roundeyes. It flies at evening, and hides itself during the day from thebright light of the sun. It likes to live in lonely, dark woods, andwhen it comes out at twilight to get the insects that it lives upon, youcould hardly hear the sound of its wings, it flies so very gently. Ithas a very wide, gaping mouth, which helps it to seize upon moths andflies, and its mouth is bordered with a row of stiff bristles, so thatthe insects may not escape again after they have been caught.
The night-hawk belongs to the same family with the whip-poor-will; and,like that bird, it places its eggs on the ground in the shade of somethicket, with only a layer of withered leaves under them instead ofmaking a nest.
T20 - THE OSTRICH
The ostrich is sometimes called the "camel-bird," because it is so verylarge, because it can go a long time without water, and because it livesin desert and sandy places, as the camel does. It is often taller thanthe tallest man you ever saw, and it neck alone is more than a yard inlength.
Each of the wings is a yard long when the feathers are spread out; butalthough the wings are so large, the bird cannot fly at all. One reasonof this is, because it is so very heavy, and another is that its wingsare not of the right sort for flying. They are made of what we callostrich-plumes, and if you have ever noticed these beautiful feathers,you will remember that they are very different from others that you haveseen. If you take a quill from the wing of a goose, you will find thatthe parts of the feather lie close together, so that you cannot veryeasily separate them; but in an ostrich plume they are all loose andopen, and would not support the bird at all in flying. The feathers aregenerally either white or black. There are none under the wings, or onthe sides of the body, and only a few small ones on the lower part ofthe neck. The upper part of the neck, as well as the head, is coveredwith hair.
Its feet are curious, and different from those of most birds. They aresomewhat like the foot of the camel, having a soft pad or cushionunderneath, and only two toes. The largest toe is about seven incheslong, and has a broad claw at the end; the other is about four incheslong, and has no claw.
Although this bird cannot fly, it can run faster than the swiftesthorse. If it would keep on in a straight line no animal could overtakeit; but it is sometimes so foolish as to run around in a circle, andthen, after a long chase, it may perhaps be caught. A travellerspeaking of the ostrich, says, "She sets off at a hard gallop; but sheafterwards spreads her wings as if to catch the wind, and goes sorapidly that she seems not to touch the ground." This explains what ismeant by the verse, "When she lifteth up herself on high she scorneththe horse and his rider."
The ostrich has but little to eat in the desert places where it lives:only some coarse grass, or rough, thorny plants, with a kind of snailwhich is sometimes found upon them; and perhaps it sometimes eatslizards and serpents.
The voice of the ostrich is very mournful, especially when heard atnight in a lonely desert. It is said to be like the crying of a hoarsechild. It is on this account that the prophet Micah says, "I will makea mourning like the ostrich."
In the 39th chapter of Job we read, "Gavest thou wings and feathers untothe ostrich ? which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them inthe dust, and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wildbeast may break them. She is hardened against her young ones as thoughthey were not hers." See how well this agrees with the accounts givenby travellers. They say that the ostrich is frightened by the leastnoise, and runs away from her nest, leaving the eggs or young oneswithout any protection; and very often she does not return for a longtime, perhaps not until the young birds have died of hunger. The eggsare cream-colored, and large enough to hold about a quart of water. Theshell is very hard, and as smooth as ivory. It is often made into adrinking-cup, with a rim of gold or silver.
T21 - THE PEACOCK
The peacock is first mentioned in the Bible in the time of Solomon. Heused to send his vessels to distant countries, and they came back oncein three years, "bringing gold, and silver, and ivory, and apes, andpeacocks." Solomon was the richest among all the kings that the Bibletells us about. When he first became king God spoke to him in a dream,and told him to ask for any thing he wished. If God should speak so toyou, what would you ask for?
Solomon did not pray that God would make him rich, or that he would givehim health, or let him live a great many years on the earth; but hesaid, "I am a little child, I know not how to go out or come in. Givetherefore thy servant an understanding heart." Then God was pleasedwith what he asked, and besides giving him great wisdom, he gave himalso riches and honor. He had forty thousand horses, and silver andgold in abundance. All the vessels used in his house were of gold,because silver was not good enough; it was "as stones" for plenty, andwas "nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon." In the secondchapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon himself speaks of his riches, and aftertelling us of some of his treasures, he says: "Whatsoever my eyesdesired I kept not from them; I withheld not my heart from any joy."Perhaps you think he must have been perfectly happy, if any man in thisworld ever was; but what does he say? "All is vanity and vexation ofspirit." This does not sound much like being contented. No, dearchild, these are not the things that make us happy; nothing but the truelove of God in the heart can do this.
There are many peacocks in India, and large flocks of them are sometimesseen around the temples; they also live among the bushes near the banksof rivers. They sometimes rest on high trees, but always make theirnests on the ground, under the shrubs.
There was once a foolish and wicked emperor who cared little for anything excepting "what he should eat, and what he should drink, andwherewithal he should be clothed." He took great pride in telling howmuch his dinners cost, and how much trouble it gave people to preparethem. One of the dishes that pleased him, because it cost money enough,and time and trouble enough, was made up of the tongues of flamingoes,(a kind of bird,) and the brains of peacocks-do you envy such a king asthat?
The peacock is a very splendid bird; its colors are most rich andbeautiful. The feathers of the tail are often more than a yard long,and when they are spread out in the sunlight, like a great fan, nothingcan be more elegant. Yet with all its beauty I do not believe you couldever love a peacock, as you love a lamb or a dove. It seems selfish andvain, and there is nothing lovely about it-its voice is very harsh anddisagreeable. There are some people who, like the peacock, are calledhandsome or beautiful, but whose hearts are not pure and lovely in thesight of God. "Beauty," in itself, "is vain;" but "the ornament of ameek and quiet spirit is in the sight of God of great price."
T22 - THE PELICAN
The pelican is a large bird, and a curious one. It sometimes measuresnearly six feet from the top of the head to the end of the tail; and youknow that this is the height of a tall man. It may be called a water-bird, because it lives on the sea-coast, or on the borders of lakes andrivers and lives upon fish only. It has a very long bill, and underthis is a curious bag or pouch to hold the fish which it takes. Whenthere is nothing in it, you would hardly notice it, because it is drawnup close under the bill; but it is so large that it will hold two orthree gallons of water.
When the pelican goes to seek for its food, it flies up into the air forsome distance, then turns its head on one side, and with one eye lookssharply down into the water until it sees a fish. Then it darts downvery swiftly, and is almost sure to seize it. Instead of eating thefish at once, it usually stores it away in its pouch, and watches foranother. When its bag is filled, it flies away to some lonely place tosatisfy its hunger, or to feed its young. In order to get out the fish,it presses its bill against its breast; and this has led some people tobelieve that it pierces its breast, and feeds its young ones with itsown blood. Of course this is only a fable.
The pelican likes to live in lonely places, such as a rocky island inthe midst of the ocean, where nobody will come near to disturb it: it isfor this reason that David says in the 102d Psalm, "I am like a pelicanin the wilderness," or solitary place. I suppose he wrote this Psalmwhen he was very sorrowful; perhaps when Saul was pursuing him, andtrying to take his life.
T23 - THE QUAIL
The quail is about the size of a pigeon. It is called a bird ofpassage, because it does not always live in the same place, but spendsthe winter in one country, and in the spring flies away to another. Intheir journies, they fly together in very large flocks, as you haveperhaps seen wild geese or pigeons do. A great many spend the summernorth of the Black Sea, and when autumn comes they fly away to spend thewinter in some warmer place, farther south. They usually start earlysome fine evening in August, when there is a north wind to help them on,and fly perhaps a hundred and fifty miles before morning. The people onthe opposite shore of the Black Sea know about what time to look forthem, and catch a great many of them for food.
God sometimes sent quails to the children of Israel when they were inthe wilderness. Once they complained because they had no meat to eat,pretty soon after God had saved them from the hand of Pharaoh; and thenhe brought a great many quails into their camp, so that they had as manyas they wanted for food. At another time, when they were on theirjourney, these ungrateful people complained again, and wished they wereback in Egypt, where they could have "fish, and melons, and cucumbers,"as they said. Then God saw fit to send them quails again, though he wasvery much displeased with their wickedness; so much so that he sent adreadful sickness among them, of which many died. The Bible says, "Andthere went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought quails from the sea,and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side,and a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as itwere two cubits high upon the face of the earth. And the people stoodup all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and theygathered the quails; he that gathered least, gathered ten homers; andthey spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp."
The number of these quails was very wonderful. They covered the groundall around the camp, and as far every way as a person could go in a"day's journey," by which they meant twenty miles or more. And they notonly covered all that ground, but were piled upon each other, to theheight of more than a yard. The people gathered great quantities ofthem; probably they intended to dry a part, which is still a custom inthose hot and sandy countries. "He that gathered least," we read,"gathered ten homers." A homer was about eight bushels, or as much asan donkey could carry at a load; and ten homers, of course, was abouteighty bushels. You see how eager the people were to get them, for theycould not even sleep at night through fear that they should not have asmany as they wanted; so they stood up to gather them "all that day, andall that night, and all the next day."
These things are several times spoken of in other parts of the Bible,especially in the 78th Psalm. It is there said, "He rained flesh uponthem as dust, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea. And helet it fall in the midst of the camp, round about their habitations. Sothey did eat, and were well filled, for he gave them their own desire;but while the meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came uponthem."
Perhaps it was not wrong for the children of Israel to ask for meat toeat, but God was displeased with them for their complaining spiritnotwithstanding all his goodness; and although he gave them what theyasked, it proved to be only a curse to them. This may teach us to begrateful for the thousand blessings that God has given us, and when weask any thing from him, to be willing that he should deny us if he seesbest.
T24 - THE RAVEN
The raven has always been very well known to man, and is mentionedalmost at the beginning of the Bible. You remember that this was thefirst bird that Noah sent out of the ark to see whether the waters hadbegun to dry up; and that it did not go back to him again. I suppose itwas very glad to be at liberty after it had been shut up more than ayear; and as it lives upon the flesh of other animals, it probably foundfood enough from the bodies of those that had been drowned.
It is a large bird, considerably larger than the crow; and its feathersare very black, very glossy, and very beautiful. People in ancienttimes seem to have liked a black color, and were especially pleased withblack hair; so we read in the Song of Solomon, where one who isbeautiful is described, "His locks are bushy, and black as a raven."
It is said that the raven always attacks the eye of an animal first;seeming to prefer that to every other part. This may explain one of theverses in Proverbs, "The eye that mocketh at his father, and despisethto obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and theyoung eagles shall eat it." It has been the custom, in many countries,to hang those who have been guilty of great crimes on a tree or on agallows in the open air; and there to leave the body for the birds topeck at and devour if they chose. I suppose this verse means thatstubborn and disobedient children, or those who are not kind andrespectful to their parents, must expect to come to some sad end; andthey very often do so.
I have heard that the raven drives out its young ones very early fromthe nest, almost before they are able to seek their food. This mayexplain a verse in the Psalms, "The Lord giveth to the beast his food,and to the young ravens which cry;" and another in Job, "Who providethfor the raven his food ? when his young ones cry unto God, wandering forlack of meat." Our Savior speaks of this bird in the 12th chapter ofLuke, "Consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap; they haveneither store-house nor barn; and God feedeth them." He was speaking tohis disciples, and it was as much as to say, "If God takes care of theravens, he will certainly take care of you; so you need not be anxiousor afraid.
Have you read in the Bible how a good prophet's life was once saved byravens? The people who were living then were very wicked, and wouldhave been glad to kill the prophet Elijah; so God told him to go intothe wilderness and live there alone by the side of a small brook.Elijah went to the brook, and there was water enough for him to drink,of course, but no food to keep him from starving. You may be sure thatGod did not forget his servant; but you would hardly believe, if it wasnot in the Bible, that he would send the ravens to carry food to him.Yet so it was: "the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning,and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook." It issupposed that he was fed in this way for as much as a year. It was along time to stay there by himself; but I do not think he was lonely orafraid, for he loved God, and felt sure that He was always near him,even in the wilderness.
T25 - THE ROE, OR GAZELLE
The roe belongs to the class of antelopes-animals very much resemblingthe deer; they are equally innocent and beautiful, and are oftenmentioned together in the Bible. The form of the antelope is, ifpossible, still more graceful than that of the deer, and its limbs stillmore delicate; but the principal difference between them is in thehorns. Those of the deer grow from the bone of the forehead, and are atfirst small; but they are renewed every spring-the old horns fallingoff, and being succeeded by larger ones which grow in their place. Theyare at first covered with a soft, downy substance, called "the velvet;"but this soon comes off in fragments, leaving the horn white and smooth.The antelope never sheds its horns.
The roe or gazelle is the smallest animal of the antelope kind; it isonly about two feet in height, and not more than half the size of thefallow-deer. Its eyes are remarkably soft and expressive; so that thepeople of those countries sometimes say of a beautiful woman, "She hasthe eyes of a gazelle." Like the hart and hind, it is noted for itsswiftness: so we read, in 1st Chronicles, 12 : 8, of men who were "asswift as the roes upon the mountains." In 2d Samuel, 2 : 18, it issaid, "And Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe;" and in the Songof Solomon, "The voice of my beloved ! behold he cometh leaping upon themountains, skipping upon the hills: my beloved is like a roe or a younghart."
The gazelle is often pursued in the chase; so Solomon says, "Deliverthyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter." They go in very largecompanies, sometimes as many as two or three thousand; and they arestill found in great numbers on the hills of Judea, the land where ourSavior lived and died.
T26 - THE SCORPION
This frightful creature is several times mentioned in the Bible. It isthe largest among insects, and more dangerous than any of them. It issometimes found in Europe, and is there about four inches long; butthose of hot countries are sometimes more than a foot in length.
The scorpion is very easily made angry, and then its sting is terrible;it very often causes death, but not always. In Revelation, 9:5, 6, weread, "And their torment was as the torment of a scorpion when hestriketh a man; and in those days shall men seek death and shall notfind it: and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them." Thisshows that the pain caused by their sting is very great. When a personhas been stung by a scorpion, the part around the wound swells andbecomes very painful, the hands and feet become cold, the skin is pale,and there is a feeling as though there were needles in every part of it.This pain often increases and rages until the person dies in greatsuffering.
It is well for man that scorpions destroy each other as readily as theydo animals of a different kind. It is said that a hundred were once puttogether under a glass, where they immediately began to attack and killeach other; so that in a few days only fourteen were left alive. I haveheard that if a circle of alcohol or spirit of any sort, is set on fire,and a scorpion placed within it so that he cannot get out on any side,he will sting himself so as to cause his death. I am not certain thatthis is true, and it would be a very cruel thing to try it even upon sodangerous an animal as the scorpion.
It seems that this creature was sometimes seen in the wilderness throughwhich the children of Israel passed. When they had nearly reached theend of their journey, Moses reminded them to praise God for having keptthem safely in so many dangers, while passing through "that great andterrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions anddrought; where there was no water."
Our Savior asks, "If a son shall ask of his father an egg, will he givehim a scorpion?" The scorpions in that country are about as large as anegg, and when rolled up look a little like one. Yet no father would beso wicked as to give one to his child instead of the egg which he neededfor food.
Christ once said to his disciples, when they were going out to preachand to heal the diseases of the people, "Behold I give you power totread on serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall by any means hurtyou." This was a very wonderful power; and whoever should see one ofthose disciples tread on the terrible scorpion without being hurt, wouldknow that Christ was surely with him to take care of him.
T27 - THE SHEEP
I suppose you think you already know as much about sheep and lambs as Ican tell you, and perhaps you do. Yet I dare say you never took up yourBible to see how many times they are mentioned there, or how manybeautiful things are said about them.
Abel, who, as you know, was the third man that lived on the earth, was a"keeper of sheep;" and there have always been a great many shepherds inthe world from that time to this. Some of the men who lived in oldtimes had a great many sheep. Job had seven thousand, which God allowedto be taken from him; but afterwards gave him twice as many-fourteenthousand. At the time when Solomon's beautiful temple was dedicated toGod, he offered a sacrifice of a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. Ifyou want to know how many that is, try to think of a pasture with ahundred sheep in it-then think of a hundred pastures, just like it, withjust as many sheep in each-then think of those hundred pastures takentwelve times over, and you will begin to understand how many there were.It is not common with us to have persons whose whole business it is totake care of sheep, but that was always the way in Bible countries.This was not done by servants, at least not always; for a great manyrich men employed their children as shepherds. Rachel, who wasafterwards the wife of Jacob, "kept her father's sheep"-so did Jacob'stwelve sons-so did Moses for his father-in-law.
When God was about to make David king, he sent Samuel the prophet to doit by anointing him, or putting oil upon his head. David had sixbrothers, and Samuel did not know which of all the sons was to be king;but both he and their father Jesse supposed it would be one of the olderones, and nobody remembered even to call little David, who had been leftwith the sheep, until they found that he was the one whom God hadchosen. David often spoke of his shepherd-life after he became a king,and even when he was an old man. You remember that most beautiful psalmof his, the twenty-third, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want: hemaketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the stillwaters." That is the way they are accustomed to do in those countries:the shepherd walks on, and the sheep follow where he wishes them to go.So Christ says, "And when he (the shepherd) putteth forth his own sheep,he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know hisvoice."
The sheep in many countries are in danger from wolves, which prowl aboutand try to carry them off; so it is necessary to watch them by night aswell as by day. You remember the shepherds were watching their flocksby night when the bright angels appeared to tell the glad tidings that ASAVIOR had come; and they were the first to hear that sweet song in thestillness of the night, when all around were hushed in sleep.
The sheep is so timid and gentle that it needs the protection of man,and without the care of the shepherd would often stray away and be lost,or devoured by other animals. David says, "I have gone astray like alost sheep;" and in Isaiah we read, "All we like sheep have goneastray." Is not this true of us-that we have gone away, far away, fromJesus our good shepherd? Perhaps, dear child, you are wandering still;but why should you thus go on, alone, and every hour in danger? Whyshould you, when he calls you back with his voice of kindness, and isready to "gather you with his arms, and carry you in his bosom." as theshepherd does his tender lambs?
T28 - THE STORK
The Bible name of this bird means gentleness or affection, and the storkvery well deserves such a name. It is very kind indeed to its youngones, and takes pains to find some things for them that it does notitself eat. It is said that when a house, on the top of which was astork's nest, once took fire, the mother bird would not fly away,because the young ones were not large or strong enough to go with her,and so they were all burned together. They are very kind to the oldbirds, too; and I have read that the younger storks sometimes carry theold ones on their wings when they have become tired with flying a greatway; and bring food to them in their nests just as the old ones used tobring it to them. I am not quite certain that this is true, though manypeople have said so; but if it is, I am sure it is a beautiful examplefor every child, teaching him to repay his parents in every way he canfor all their love and care.
The stork is about a yard long from its head to the end of the tail; itscolor is white, excepting some of the great quill feathers, which areblack. Its nest is large and flat, and made mostly of sticks; the eggsare about as large as those of a goose, and a little yellowish.
It does not sing; the only noise it makes is by striking one part of itsbill upon the other. While it is sleeping it stands on one leg, withits neck bent backward, and its head resting between its shoulders. TheJews were forbidden by God to use the stork for food; perhaps this wasbecause it lives upon such animals as frogs, fishes and serpents.
The stork is a bird of passage; it spends the summer in Holland andother countries in the north of Europe, but flies to a warmer climatebefore cold weather comes. They seem to have a kind of agreement amongthemselves about starting on these long journeys; and for a fort-nightbefore they are ready, they may be seen collecting in great numbers-thenall take to their wings at once. This explains a verse in the eightychapter of Jeremiah, "The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointedtimes;" that is, her times of going to a warmer climate or returning.
After the winter has gone, the storks fly back to their summer home, andvery often take their old nests again. In Europe, these are generallymade on the tops of houses or old chimneys, and the birds are so gentleand harmless that the people never disturb them, but are glad to seethem come back. In some countries the roofs of the houses are flat, andthe people walk and sleep on them; in these places the storks oftenbuild their nest on the flat branches of some spreading tree. In the104th Psalm we read, "As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house."
T29 - THE TURTLE-DOVE
This is a very beautiful and innocent bird, and no one is mentioned morefrequently in the Bible. It does not live upon the flesh of animals: sowhen Noah sent one out of the ark, she soon came back again, because shecould find nothing to eat, and no rest for the sole of her foot. Noahput out his hand and gently took her in, and she did not go out againfor a whole week. Then Noah let her fly, and the beautiful creaturecame back in the evening, having in her mouth a green leaf which she hadplucked from an olive-tree; as though she wanted to tell him that thewaters were beginning to dry up. After another week she went out, anddid not come back again to the ark, because the earth was dry.
The dove was often offered as a sacrifice in ancient times; and was atype of our innocent Savior, to show how he would afterwards be put todeath for the guilty. The Holy Spirit once condescended to take theform of a dove, when he rested upon Christ at the time of his baptism.Our Savior speaks of the innocence of this bird when he says to hisdisciples, "I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves; be ye wiseas serpents, and harmless as doves."
This bird has a very sweet but mournful voice; and this is referred toin the Bible. Hezekiah, one of the Jewish kings, had been very sick andexpected to die; but as he lay on his bed, he prayed that God would bepleased to spare his life. God heard his prayer, and promised that heshould live fifteen years longer; and soon after he became quite well.He was grateful to God for his goodness, and wrote a beautiful song ofpraise to be sung in the temple. Among other things he told how he feltwhen he lay so sick upon his bed. He says, "Like a crane or a swallow,so did I chatter; I did mourn as a dove."
The turtle-dove is a bird of passage. It appears in Judea early in thespring, when the leaves are coming out, the flowers opening, and everything looking lovely and beautiful. This will explain some verses inthe Song of Solomon, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away, forlo ! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appearon the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice ofthe turtle (or turtle-dove) is heard in our land." It remains untilsummer is gone; and then flies away to a warmer climate to spend thewinter. It is in reference to this that David says, "Oh ! that I hadwings like a dove ! for then would I flee away, and be at rest; lo, thenwould I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness; I would hasten myescape from the windy storm and tempest." You will find these beautifulverses in the 55th Psalm.
Who would not wish to be like the gentle, peaceful dove?
T30 - THE UNICORN
There is only this animal mentioned in the Bible, the name of whichbegins with U, and of this I cannot give you a picture, because noperson now knows what sort of an animal it was. Some suppose it was akind of wild goat; others think that it was a sort of deer; and others,that it was what we call the rhinoceros. Perhaps you have seen pictureswith the name of the unicorn under them; but you must remember thatthose who made them only guessed it was so, and that no person cancertainly tell what it was.
T31 - THE VULTURE
The vulture is called a bird of prey, because it lives on flesh; but ithas not such strong claws as the eagle, to seize and tear its food. Itdoes not often kill other animals; but preys upon those that have beenkilled in some other way, or have died of themselves. It is adisagreeable bird, and one that you would not like very well to see; nowonder the Israelites were forbidden to eat it. It is about a yard longfrom the top of its head, and it sometimes measures two yards across thewings.
It lives only in warm or hot climates, and there it is very useful,though you might at first be puzzled to think how this can be. It isbecause it lives upon such things as would be very injurious to man ifthey were left to decay in the open air. It not only consumes the deadbodies of animals, but takes away many things from the streets of thecities which the inhabitants are too indolent to remove. It is for thisreason that in the city of Cairo, in Egypt, there is a law forbiddingany person to kill a vulture. These birds sometimes follow an army, andprey upon the bodies of those poor soldiers who have been killed inbattle. Ah ! it is a sad thing to go to war; almost every thing aboutit is sad.
The vulture has a very keen eye, and, like the eagle, can see what is onthe ground, even when it is very high in the air. This is referred toin the book of Job. "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and whichthe vulture's eye hath not seen." It often happens in those countriesthat almost as soon as an ox, or a horse, or any other large animal hasbeen killed, great multitudes of vultures will gather around, though notone could be seen in the sky before. they seem to fly down from everypart of the heavens, and being to pull and struggle for the flesh of theanimal; until in the course of a few hours nothing is left but thebones. We read in Isaiah, "There shall the vultures be gathered, everyone with her mate." This must have been written by one who had seenthese birds coming together, as they do in great flocks or companies.
T32 - THE WHALE
The whale is mentioned in the first chapter of the Bible, 21st verse."And God created great whales." Some suppose that large fish of everykind are here meant.
An animal called the leviathan is described in one of the last chaptersof Job, which some suppose to be the whale. It certainly means a largeand strong animal, as you will see by the questions asked about him:"Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook ? or his tongue with a cordwhich thou lettest down? Canst thou put a hook in his nose ? or borehis jaw through with a thorn? Wilt thou play with him as with a bird?When he raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid. The arrow cannotmake him flee; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear; he maketh the deepto boil like a pot; one would think the deep to be hoary." This is likethe whale in some things; but you will remember that it is not certainthat he is meant.
The common whale for which so many sailors are always seeking on thegreat ocean, is an enormous animal. It is often found seventy feetlong; and it is said that they have been found of the length of ahundred feet. If you do not know how long this would be, you will dowell to ask some friend to tell you of a building or something else withwhich you can compare it; for it is not very likely that you will eversee the whale itself, and its size is very wonderful. It is coveredwith a coat of fat, sometimes more than a yard thick; and when this iscut up and put over fires in great kettles, a hundred barrels of oil aresometimes obtained from a single whale.
Perhaps you already know how they take the whale. As soon as thesailors see one, they go towards him in a boat until they get as near tohim as they dare. Then they throw their harpoons at him; these aresharp-pointed irons, fastened to a very long rope, one end of which theykeep in the boat. As soon as the whale is wounded, he dives down intothe water, and swims away to some distance. He is usually obliged tocome up again in about half an hour to breathe, for he cannot live allthe while under water; and then the men throw other harpoons at him.Sometimes he comes so near as to upset the boat with a blow of hisstrong tail. The picture shows you a scene of this kind, where the boatwas tossed into the air, the men thrown out, and one of them drowned.
T33 - THE WOLF
The wolf is rather larger than our largest dogs, and looks somewhat likethem; but he seems more wild, savage and cruel. The wolves go in largecompanies, making a terrible howling noise; and though they are ingeneral cowardly, yet when they are very hungry they attack largeanimals, and even men. They almost always go out by night, and theBible refers to this when it says, "Their horses are more fierce thanthe evening wolves." Jacob, just before his death, said of one of hissons, "Benjamin shall raven as a wolf; in the morning he shall devourthe prey, and at evening he shall divide the spoil."
There were once a great many wolves in New England and in other parts ofthe United States, and some are left yet, although many have been killedor driven away. There are still great numbers of them in somecountries. In England the month of January used to be called Wolf-monat, or wolf-month; "because," as an old book says, "people are wontin that moneth to be more in danger to be devoured of wolves than in anyseason els of the yeare, for that through the extremity of cold and snowthose ravenous creatures could not find other beasts sufficient to feedupon."
A sad story is told of something that happened in Russia a many yearsago. A woman was one day riding on a sledge with her three childrenover a lonely road, when suddenly she heard the noise of wolves behindher. She was not very far from home, and tried to urge her horse on, toget out of their reach; but they gained upon her every moment, and werejust on the point of rushing on the sledge, when the poor woman, to savethe lives of the rest, caught up one of the children and threw it to thewolves. This stopped them but a short time; they devoured it at onceand again ran howling after the sledge. The mother threw out a secondchild, hoping to escape with the other; but in vain. Again the cruelanimals were close behind her, and to save her own life, hardly knowingwhat she did, she threw over her only remaining child. She succeeded inreaching home herself, in safety, but where were her children? She toldthe terrible story; but while she was endeavoring to excuse herself bytelling of her exceeding fright and danger, a man who stood by struckher on the head with an axe and killed her at one blow-saying that awoman who would thus give up her children to save her life, was not fitto live.
The Bible tells us of a time yet to come, when "The wolf shall feed withthe lamb." Perhaps this will be exactly true of the animals in thosedays, though it now seems so unlikely; but I suppose it means also thatwicked and cruel men shall become holy and Christ-like. Then all willbe peace on earth, and "none shall hurt or destroy in all" God's "holymountain."
I do not find the names of any animals mentioned in the Bible, beginningwith X, Y, or Z. If you can find one, I should like to know it. And noI hope that whenever you see the names of any of these animals in yourBible, you will take pleasure in noticing what is said about them, andwill remember what I have told you. I have been very happy in talkingto you about them.