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illustration of this plague, and of the natural causes of which, in the unity of this his dispensation, the God of nature was again pleased to avail himself. The inundation had advanced considerably, and the pastures of the Delta were now under water. This was an anxious time for the herdsmen of Egypt. The cattle were penned for the night in mounds above the level of the water. In the day-time they were driven forth before the herdsmen into the higher parts of the fields, where the water permitted them to browse upon the young shoots of the lentils that were sprouting abundantly in the fertile mud below. The herdsmen, some in papyrus rafts, others wading or swimming, were in constant and anxious attendance upon them, to keep them out of the deep water, and to protect them from the crocodiles.
The cattle of Egypt were also at this season in requisition for an agricultural purpose of great importance in the tillage of the land. The seeds of many species of lentils, vetches, and other similar
plants, were scattered upon the surface of the water at the beginning of the inundation, and trodden in by the cattle, great and small, so as to secure them in the mud, that they might not be washed away by the retreating waters. This was accomplished by incessantly driving them through the plashy mud, backwards and forwards, by men armed with heavy whips.
The cattle suffered greatly from these operations, so contrary to their ordinary habits. This circumstance is most significantly represented in these ancient reliefs. In the same plane, with cattle in the water, are also diseased cattle, tended by skilled herdsmen who are administering medicine to them. This picture we believe to be thus associated with cattle in the water in every tomb in which it is repeated.
These were, so to speak, the suggestive circumstances of the present plague. In the administration of it, however, a character more decidedly miraculous and discriminative was imparted to it than to any of the former plagues. The murrain seizes the camels and horses of Pharaoh and his princes in the desert, as well as their cattle in Egypt. Yet the cattle of Israel, intermixed with the cattle of Egypt, breathing the same air, browzing the same marshes, are miraculously free from the ordinary unhealthiness of the season. All the cattle of Egypt died of the murrain ; but of the cattle of Israel there died not one. Sethos sent and ascertained this wonderful fact. Yet he went on still in his wickedness: he refused to let the people go. The cattle of Egypt were all dead. He will seize upon the cattle of Israel. This was, doubtless, the suggestion that Satan put into his heart.
“Then Jehovah said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the burning,* and let Moses sprinkle it towards heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. And it shall become small dust in all
*7 20 “conflagration,” “ tract of country on fire.” See Genesis xix. 28; Exodus xix. 18, which are the only other places in the Bible where this word occurs.
the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. And they took ashes of the burning and stood before Pharaoh ; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.
“ And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all Egypt.
“ And Jehovah hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had spoken unto Moses.” Exodus ix. 8—12.
Again in strict analogy to the actual succession of the phenomena of the yearly overflow in Egypt, Jehovah selects the next occurrence in the course of it for the instrument of his vengeance upon Pharaoh. The inundation has touched its highest point, aud the last great work of the husbandman is now being performed. The stubble and the weeds of the low lands have all been carefully gathered off and collected upon the highest mounds, which at the present time are out of the reach of the overflow, and to be watered with the shadoof or balancebucket. Here they are set on fire and burnt to ashes. The custom seems to be universal in Egypt at the present day. The cotemporary monuments are our unerring authority for stating in addition
that it prevailed also in Ancient Egypt. Every occupation in agriculture being associated with religion, it was celebrated there in a high and solemn festival, lasting probably for some days, the first day of the feast being named
a r kh*-na-hb -“the feast of the greater burning ;” and the last day, 28 Jurkh-tsb-hb_" the feast of the lesser burning.” These names are of very frequent occurrence. They seem to indicate that the heaps were frequently fired in order to insure their entire destruction. There is the same superstitious notion in Egypt at the present day. The peasants are very particular in burning up the whole.
The highest land in Egypt now is that on the brink of the river, and it is there that the burning takes place. It is a strange but beautiful sight in the thick darkness of an Egyptian night, to see the river as far as both horizons rolling along between two broad belts of fire. It is a yet stranger sight in the day-time, when the smoke and ashes of these conflagrations drive in whirls and eddies over the land before the rude blasts of the Elesian wind. It was gazing at this sight, and seeing the clothes of all present covered with the light and feathery particles of the ashes, that it first occurred to us, that this was the agent of God's vengeance in the plague of boils; though we did not then understand that
* Coptic, “to burn."