I shall die in my nest - As I endeavored to live soberly and temperately, fearing God, and departing from evil, endeavoring to promote the welfare of all around me, it was natural for me to conclude that I should live long, be very prosperous, and see my posterity multiply as the sands on the seashore.
Then I said - So prosperous was I, and so permanent seemed my sources of happiness. I saw no reason why all this should not continue, and why the same respect and honor should not attend me to the grave.
I shall die in my nest - I shall remain where I am, and in my present comforts, while I live. I shall then die surrounded by my family and friends, and encompassed with honors. A “nest” is an image of quietness, harmlessness, and comfort. So Spenser speaks of a nest:
Fayre bosome! fraught with virtue‘s richest tresure,
The neast of love, the lodging of delight,
The bowre of bliss, the paradise of pleasure.
The image here expresses the firm hope of a long life, and of a peaceful and tranquil death. The Septuagint renders it, “My age shall grow old like the trunk of a palm tree” - στέλεχος φοίνικος stelechos phoinikos - I shall live long; compare Bochart, Hieroz. P. ii. Lib. vi. c. v. p. 820, for the reason of this translation.
And I shall multiply my days as the sand - Herder renders this, “the Phoenix;” and observes that the Phoenix is obviously intended here, only through a double sense of the word, the figure of the bird is immediately changed for that of the palm-tree. The rabbis generally understand by the word here rendered “sand” (חול chôl ) the Phoenix - a fabulous bird, much celebrated in ancient times. Osaia in the book “Bereshith Rabba,” or Commentary on Genesis, says of this bird, “that all animals obeyed the woman (in eating the forbidden fruit) except one bird only by the name of חול chûl concerning which it is said in Job, ‹I will multiply my days as the כחול kechûl Jannai adds to this, that “this bird lives a thousand years, and in the end of the thousand years, a fire goes forth from its nest, and burns it up, but there remains, as it were, an egg, from which again the members grow, and it rises to life:” compare Nonnus in Dionys. Lib. 40. Martial, Claudian, and others in Bochart, Hieroz. P. ii. Lib. vi. c. v. pp. 818-825. But the more correct rendering is, doubtless, the common one, and it is usual in the Scriptures to denote a great, indefinite number, by the sand; Genesis 22:17; Judges 7:12; Habakkuk 1:9. A comparison similar to this occurs in Ovid, Metam. Lib. xiv. 136ff:
- Ego pulveris hausti
Ostendens cumulum, quot haberet corpora pulvis,
Tot mihi natales contingere vana rogavi.
The meaning is, that he supposed his days would be very numerous. Such were his expectations - expectations so soon to be disappointed. Such was his condition - a condition so soon to be reversed. The very circumstances in which he was placed were fitted to beget a too confident expectation that his prosperity would continue, and the subsequent dealings of God with him should lead all who are in similar circumstances, not to confide in the stability of their comforts, or to suppose that their prosperity will be uninterrupted. It is difficult, when encompassed with friends and honors, to realize that there ever will be reverses; it is difficult to keep the mind from confiding in them as if they must be permanent and secure.