Eastern Manners and Customs: "Muzzle the Ox"; "Bidden"; "Bind Them in Thy Skirts"

 •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
" Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn." -Deut. 25:44Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. (Deuteronomy 25:4).
"THE traveler's first sight of an oriental custom has a special charm, and is a memorable event. It is now some years since, wandering about the Pyrenees, we first lighted on a few illustrations of eastern life, drifted there, we suppose, by some waves of Moorish influence, during the possession of Spain by the Saracens. In a small village on the Spanish side, we once came suddenly upon a little yard, where cattle unmuzzled were quietly going round and round, trampling upon heaps of barley, and so threshing it out; whereupon, of course, we saw in a new and practical light, the old Hebrew law, " Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn." Anon.
It would appear to us unnecessary to send round to those who had not then, apparently, refused the invitation; but a similar custom still prevails in some parts of the East. A missionary lady, recently writing from India, described an entertainment which she gave to as many of her pupils as she could gather together; and said of her guests, "although invited, as I have said, a week beforehand, yet, according to custom, they had to be bidden again when everything was ready." R. A. W.
One day, in our Egyptian Class of Bible study, the lesson was the fifth of Ezekiel, which we were reading in the Hebrew. A member of the class is blind, and it came to him to translate into Arabic the third verse "and thou shall take thereof a few in number and bind them in thy skirts."
The blind lad inquired "why is the word translated skirts? It means wings. The wings of a garment are the sleeves, and we always bind up things in our sleeves, and not in our skirts."
It is quite true that kenef means wings, and Orientals are accustomed to tie up almost everything, from a dose of medicine to a bushel of barley, in their sleeves: see Haggai 2:11, 1211Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. (Haggai 2:11‑12), where the holy flesh is carried in the sleeve.