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Bible Dictionaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary


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The name of a ship used in the early days for annoyance, and not trade. Mention is made of it by Isaiah, (Isaiah 33:21) Since navigation hath in modern times been carried to such an extent, the idea of a galley with oars is not calculated to make much alarm. But in the remote age of the church in which the prophet ministered, a galley with oars was as formidable as now a fleet of ships of war. Who could have thought, that in the first attempt of joining a few rafters together to float around the creeks and shores of the sea, an idea would ever have been started in the human mind, to venture into the open ocean; yea, and to cross the great Atlantic by means of any vessel constructed by human art? And even when long experience had found the measure practicable, and commerce opened her rich invitations to men of different countries and climates to barter with each other their traffic by means of shipping, what imagination was vast enough to have conceived the possibility of making such floating machines instruments for human destruction? Could it ever have entered into the heart of any man to conceive, that the time would arrive when nations would construct vessels of the magnitude we now behold them, stored with implements for war, and that they should meet on the mighty waters purposely for battle? The storms and tempests of the great deep are in themselves at times so tremendous, that the stoutest and strongest built ships are upon these occasions as nothing, when "men are carried up to the heavens, and down again to the depths; and the souls of the mariners are melted because of the trouble." (Psalms 107:23-31) Indeed, in the calmest seasons at sea, it may be truly said, that there is but a step between the whole ship's company and death. (1 Samuel 20:3)

It is said of Anacharsis, that when he was demanded where the majority of mankind was to be numbered, among the dead, or the living? He said, You must first tell me in which class I am to rank seamen. Intimating by the answer, as if he thought they were in the midway, and belonged to neither. But in vessels of war fitted for destruction, we behold to what a state of presumption and evil sin hath hardened the mind.

There is a beautiful thought suggested in the passage of Isaiah, where he speaks of the galley with oars, which may be in some measure a relief from the distressing views before noticed; and for the introduction of which, indeed, I have mentioned this article, and that is, the peculiar security of the Lord's presence over his people upon such, and upon every other occasion of alarm. The prophet, when speaking of this galley with oars, was speaking also of Jerusalem, the holy city, as a quiet habitation, a tabernacle not to be taken down. "But there" (said he) "the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams, wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby." (Isaiah 33:20-21) The great beauty of the figure lies in this, that Jerusalem had no rivers of any extent. The brook Kidron, which emptied itself into the Dead Sea, was the only one near it. So that having no sea to keep off an enemy, and no frontiers or garrison-walls to keep and secure it by land, Jerusalem lay open on all sides. But, saith the Lord by the prophet, "the glorious Lord will be, instead of all these to us, a place both of broad rivers and streams." No galley with oars can come into that river, which is God himself. No gallant ship can pass by him, who is purposely there to prevent it. Sweet thought! The tacklings of the enemy may be loosed, but they can neither strengthen their mast, nor spread their sail. "The Lord is our judge; the Lord is our law-giver; the Lord is our king: he will serve us." (See the whole passage, Isaiah 33:20-24)

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Galley'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. London. 1828.

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