Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Horns Of Moses by A. Smythe Palmer 1900

The Horns Of Moses by A. Smythe Palmer 1900

When Mr. F. T. El worthy, in his recent work 'Horns of Honour,' maintains that, in the belief of the Hebrews, Moses descended from the Mount with solid horns upon his head, he draws an unwarrantable conclusion from the wording of the Vulgate of Exodus xxxiv. 29, "faciem esse cornutam." It is a well-known usage of the Semites to compare the spreading rays of the sun to the horns of an animal, and the Hebrew word employed in this passage (qaran) means either to emit rays of light or to put forth horns (qeren). I may refer to Goldziher, 'Mythology among the Hebrews' 178, and my 'Babylonian Influence on the Bible ' (Nutt), 99-100, where I give several illustrations. The original merely says that the face of Moses was radiant. St. Jerome unhappily adopted the alternative rendering of horned. The Authorized Version of Habakkuk iii. 4 makes a similar mistake in causing "horns" to come out of the Almighty's hand instead of "bright beams," which has a parallel in Deut. xxxiii. 2, "at His right hand were rays of fire." Coleridge, when at Rome, in gazing on Michael Angelo's statue of the horned Moses, read its meaning correctly when he "called to mind the horns of the rising sun" ('Biographic Literaria,' chap. xxi.). Tertullian mentions that Carthaginian nurses had nursery songs about "the towers of Lamia and the horns of the sun"('Works,'"Ante-Nic. Lib.,"ii. 123), but the Latin here, pectines solis, is rather ambiguous. The Rabbis, with their habitual coarse literalism, fable that with one of his horns of glory Moses blinded Satan in the eye when he came to take away his soul (Edersheim. 'Jesus the Messiah,' ii. 755).

Among the Aryans, Apollo Karnaios was the horned, i.e. rayed, sun-god; the hind of Keryneia with golden horns was the dawn; and in Lettish folk-songs the wether with golden horns is the sun (see R. Brown, 'Semitic Influence in Hellenic Mythology,' 116; M. Muller, 'Contributions to Mythology,' 627).
[Cf. Milton's 'Par. Lost,' i. 439— Astarte, queen of heaven with crescent horns— where the reference is plainly to the moon.]

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