Firebrand

Firebrand (אוּד, ud, a poker or burnt end of a stick, Isa 7:4; Am 4:11; "brand," Zec 3:2; לִפַּיד, lappid', Jg 15:4, a lamp, or torch [as often elsewhere], i.e. flambeau; זֵק, zek, only in the-plur., burning darts, i.e. arrows, [q.v.] fitted with combustibles, Pr 26:18;: comp. Eph 6:16). In Jg 15:4, it is said, "And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes [jackals], and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails." A firebrand in such a position, if sufficiently ignited to kindle a blaze in the shocks of corn, would soon have burnt itself free from the tails of the foxes, or have been extinguished by being drawn over the ground. A torch or flambeau, on the other hand, made' of resinous wood or artificial materials, being more tenacious of flame, would have answered a far better purpose, and such is the legitimate import of the original. His "turning them tail to tail" was apparently intended to prevent them making too rapid a retreat to their holes, or, indeed, from going to their holes at all. They were probably not so tied that they should pull in different directions, but that they might run deviously and slowly, side by side, and so do the more effectual execution. Had he put a torch to the tail of each, the creature, naturally terrified at fire, would instantly have betaken itself to its hole, or some place of retreat, and thus the design of Samson would have been wholly frustrated. But by tying two of them together by the tail they would frequently thwart each other' in running, and thus cause the greater devastation. Similar conflagrations' produced by animals, particularly by foxes, were well known to the Greeks and Romans. Thus Lycophron (Alexandra, 344) makes Cassandra represent Ulysses as a cunning and mischievous man, the 'man for many wiles renowned" of Homer, and styles him, very properly, λαμπουρίς, fre-tail, a name for the fox (AEsch. Fragm. 386). The Romans, also, at their feast in honor of Ceres, the patron goddess of grain, offered in sacrifice animals injurious to corn-fields, and therefore introduced into-the circus, on this occasion, foxes with firebrands so fastened to them as to burn them: a retaliation, as Ovid seems to explain it, of the injuries done to the corn by foxes so furnished (Fasti, 4:681, 707, 711). In Leland's Collectanea, there is an engraving representing a- Roman brick found twenty-eight feet below a pavement in London, about the year 1675, on which is exhibited, in basso-relievo, the. figure of a man driving into a field of corn two foxes with a fire fastened to their tails, which many have supposed to refer to the feat of Samson, or at least to be a memento of the Roman usage just mentioned. Richardson, in his Dissertation oe the Eastern Nations, speaking of the great festival of fire celebrated by the ancient Persians on the shortest night of the year, says, "Among other ceremonies common on this occasion, there was one which, whether it originated in superstition or caprice, seems to have been singularly cruel. The kings and great men used to set fire to large bunches of dry combustibles, fastened around wild beasts and birds, which being let loose, the air and earth appeared one great illumination; and as these terrified creatures naturally fled to the woods for shelter, it is easy to conceive that the conflagrations which would often happen must have been peculiarly destructive." SEE FOX.

Bible concordance for FIREBRAND.

Definition of firebrand

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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