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11

As an eagle stirs up its nest,

and hovers over its young;

as it spreads its wings, takes them up,

and bears them aloft on its pinions,


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10. He found him in a desert land. If the intention of Moses had been to record all the instances of God’s paternal kindness towards the people, he must have commenced from the time of Abraham; like the prophet who, when presenting a complete narrative in the Psalm, begins from that original covenant, which God had made with the fathers, (Psalm 105:8;) and also introduces the benefits which He had conferred upon them, when they were but few in number, and strangers in the land, when they went from one nation to another, yet he suffered no man to do them wrong, and reproved kings for their sakes. (Psalm 105:14.) But Moses, studying brevity, deemed it sufficient to bring forward a more recent and more notorious blessing; nay, he omits the early part of their deliverance, and only makes mention of the desert, he says, then, that God found them in the desert; not because He then first began to take pity upon them, since they had been previously rescued from the tyranny of Pharaoh by His marvelous power, and had passed the Red Sea dry-shod, but because it was profitable for them to have set before their eyes how they had been extricated from the deep abyss of death, in order that they might more readily acknowledge this to have been, as it were, the beginning of their life. For what was that waste and barren desert, in which not a crumb of bread, nor a drop of water was to be found, but a grave to swallow up a thousand lives? and, therefore, it is further called “the devastation of horror.” 259259     “The waste howling wilderness.” — A. V. “Un lieu vague off il n’y avoit qu’horreur, ou hurlement;” a waste place, in which there was nothing but horror or howling. — Fr. The suae is, that it was a kind of type of resurrection, not from one death only, but from innumerable deaths, that the people should have escaped from it in safety. That they should have done so, even had their march through it been straight and speedy, could not have been the case without a miracle; but, inasmuch as they wandered therein for forty years, our minds can hardly comprehend a hundredth part of the miracles (which followed one upon the other. 260260     Added from Fr. ) Thus the word “led about,” is not superfluous, for God’s power was far more conspicuous than as if they had flown swiftly through the air. I apply the same meaning to what follows, “he instructed him;” for some, in my opinion improperly, refer it to the Law, 261261     “He taught them the words of his law.” — Chaldee. whereas it rather relates to the teaching of experience. For there was manifold, and no ordinary instruction in all these acts of bounty and punishment, wherein God, as it were, put forth His hand, and manifested His glory.

Two similitudes follow, to express God’s love, mingled with solicitude more than paternal. First, he says, that God no less anxiously protected them from all injury and annoyance than every one is wont to protect the pupil of his eye, which is the most tender part of the body, and against the injury of which the greatest precautions are taken. And David also, when requesting that he may be kept safe under the special guardianship of God, uses the same expression. (Psalm 17:8.) Secondly, God compares Himself to an eagle, which not only fosters her young ones under her outspread wings, but also indulgently, and with maternal tenderness tempts them to fly. It would be unseasonable to enter here into more subtle philosophical discussions respecting the nature of the eagle. The Jews, who are wont to trifle hazardously with things they do not understand, have invented fables respecting this passage, which have no relation to the meaning of Moses, who unquestionably spoke of the eagle as he might of any other bird. Nor can it be doubted but that Christ, when He compares Himself to a hen, desired to express the same sedulous care.

“How often (he says) would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37.)

If, however, any should choose to apply here, what Aristotle writes respecting the eagle, I would not stand in his way: although I do not think Moses had anything in his mind, beyond what the words naturally express. And, surely that which at once occurs to us ought to be sufficient for us, viz., that we ought to be ravished with just. admiration of God’s inestimable goodness and indulgence, when He condescends so to stoop to us as to protect us with His wings, like a bird, and, hovering before us, to instruct and accustom us to follow Him: in which latter words a more than maternal anxiety to teach us is represented.




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