Manners and Customs of the Bible

Table of Contents

1. 0. Preface
2. 1. Use of the Term Father
3. 2. Babylonian Bricks Bitumen
4. 3. Pharaoh
5. 4. Use of the Term Brother
6. 5. Uplifted Hand
7. 6. Burning Lamp
8. 7. Religion of Names
9. 8. Tent Door Time of Rest
10. 9. Bowing Hospitality
11. 10. Feet Washing
12. 11. Bread Making
13. 12. Hosts Flesh Food
14. 13. Butter Feasts
15. 14. Tent Partition
16. 15. Gates
17. 16. Town Quarters
18. 17. Looking Behind
19. 18. Cave Dwellings
20. 19. Weaning Feast
21. 20. Burden on Shoulder
22. 21. Early Rising Saddles
23. 22. Going and Coming
24. 23. Ceremonial Mourning
25. 24. Mode of Bargaining
26. 25. Middlemen
27. 26. How Money Was Used
28. 27. Transfer of Property
29. 28. Cave Sepulchers
30. 29. Chief Servant Mode of Swearing
31. 30. Bride Chosen by Parents
32. 31. Wells
33. 32. Pitchers
34. 33. How Wells Are Used
35. 34. Troughs
36. 35. Nose Jewels Bracelets
37. 36. Bridal Presents
38. 37. The Nurse
39. 38. Uplifted Eyes Mark of Respect
40. 39. The Veil
41. 40. Woman's Tent Marriage
42. 41. Birthright
43. 42. Pottage
44. 43. Customs Concerning Wells
45. 44. Strife at Wells
46. 45. Covenant Feasts
47. 46. Seasoned Food
48. 47. Time for Mourning
49. 48. Sleeping out of Doors
50. 49. Monumental Stones
51. 50. Well Stones
52. 51. Wells Opened
53. 52. Names From Animals
54. 53. Men Kissing
55. 54. Weak Eyes
56. 55. Relatives Preferred
57. 56. Brides Bought
58. 57. Marriage Feast
59. 58. The Elder First
60. 59. Significant Names
61. 60. Teraphim
62. 61. Tabret and Harp
63. 62. Camels' Furniture
64. 63. Covenant Stones
65. 64. Presents
66. 65. Kesitah
67. 66. Ear Rings
68. 67. Coat of Pieces
69. 68. Cisterns
70. 69. Caravans
71. 70. Mourning
72. 71. Captain of the Guard
73. 72. Prisons
74. 73. Use of Wine
75. 74. Burdens on the Head
76. 75. Birthday Feast
77. 76. Egyptian Magicians
78. 77. Shaving Among the Egyptians
79. 78. Elevation of Slaves
80. 79. Signets Robes Necklaces
81. 80. Second Chariot Call for Prostration
82. 81. Granaries
83. 82. Sacks, of Two Kinds
84. 83. Egyptian Dinners
85. 84. Form of Salutation
86. 85. Bread the Principal Food
87. 86. Egyptian Mode of Dining
88. 87. Position of Guests at Table
89. 88. Mode of Distributing Food
90. 89. The Bowl
91. 90. The Divining Cup
92. 91. Loud Weeping
93. 92. Egyptian Wagons
94. 93. Gifts of Raiment
95. 94. Eyes Closed
96. 95. Hatred of Shepherds
97. 96. Token of Triumph
98. 97. Milk Highly Esteemed
99. 98. Embalming Mourning
100. 99. Why Joseph Could Not See the King
101. 100. Large Funerals
102. 101. Threshing Floors
103. 102. Egyptian Coffins
104. 103. Ark Use of Bitumen
105. 104. Bathing in the Nile
106. 105. An Exceptional Marriage Custom
107. 106. Varied Pasture Grounds
108. 107. Shoes Removed
109. 108. Jewelry at Religious Feasts
110. 109. Egyptian Bricks
111. 110. Hard Labor a Punishment
112. 111. Irrigation
113. 112. Receptacles for Nile Water
114. 113. Reverence for Rivers Abhorrence of Blood
115. 114. Nile Water
116. 115. Ashes Used in Cursing
117. 116. The Outstretched Hand
118. 117. Shoes Within Doors
119. 118. Dough Kneading Troughs
120. 119. Egyptian Chariots
121. 120. "Third Men"
122. 121. Night Watches
123. 122. Egyptian Cavalry
124. 123. Dancing
125. 124. Flesh Pots Diet
126. 125. Omer Ephah
127. 126. Cleanliness in Worship
128. 127. Thorn Fires Grain Heaps
129. 128. Beasts to Be Helped
130. 129. Preparation for Festivals
131. 130. The Passover
132. 131. Feast of Harvest Feast of Tabernacles;
133. 132. Annual Pilgrimages
134. 133. Forbidden Seething
135. 134. The Cubit
136. 135. Beaten Oil
137. 136. The Span
138. 137. Metallic Idols
139. 138. Calf Worship
140. 139. Mirrors
141. 140. Talents
142. 141. The Jewish Tabernacle
143. 142. The Ark of the Covenant
144. 143. The Table of Show Bread The Golden Candlestick
145. 144. The Golden Altar of Incense
146. 145. The Great Altar of Burnt Offering
147. 146. The Brazen Laver
148. 147. The Outer Court
149. 148. Priestly Garments
150. 149. Forbidden Offerings
151. 150. Use of Salt
152. 151. The Burnt Offering
153. 152. The Meat Offering
154. 153. The Sin Offering
155. 154. The Trespass Offering
156. 155. Oven Frying Pan Pan
157. 156. The Peace Offering
158. 157. Earthenware Unclean
159. 158. Ranges
160. 159. Mortar
161. 160. The Victim's Head
162. 161. The Great Day of Atonement
163. 162. Goat Worship
164. 163. Molech
165. 164. Fruit of Young Trees Forbidden
166. 165. Idolatrous Use of Hair
167. 166. Memorial Cuttings Tattooing
168. 167. The Hin
169. 168. Forbidden Food
170. 169. Drink Offerings
171. 170. The Feast of Trumpets
172. 171. The Sabbatical Year
173. 172. The Year of Jubilee
174. 173. Stone Idols
175. 174. High Places Sun Images
176. 175. Shekel Gerah
177. 176. The Tithing Rod
178. 177. Standards
179. 178. The Levites
180. 179. Fullness of Food
181. 180. The Staff of Inheritance
182. 181. Sacrifice of the Red Heifer
183. 182. Prophets' Mantles
184. 183. Chemosh
185. 184. Baal
186. 185. Baal Peor
187. 186. Camping Grounds
188. 187. Stone Cities
189. 188. Bedsteads
190. 189. Zabaism
191. 190. Portal Inscriptions
192. 191. Watering With the Foot
193. 192. Idolatrous Use of Blood
194. 193. Abib
195. 194. Idol Groves
196. 195. Various Kinds of Divination
197. 196. Axes
198. 197. Landmarks
199. 198. Dedication of Houses
200. 199. The Gate a Place of Justice
201. 200. Distinction in Dress
202. 201. Battlements
203. 202. Mingled Seed
204. 203. Mixed Cloth
205. 204. Debtors Protected
206. 205. The Outer Garment
207. 206. Olive Gathering
208. 207. Threshing by Oxen
209. 208. Barefoot
210. 209. Weights
211. 210. Funeral Feasts
212. 211. Plastered Monuments
213. 212. Idolatrous Spots
214. 213. Treading Olives
215. 214. The Everlasting Arms
216. 215. Roofs Used for Storage
217. 216. Knives
218. 217. Stone Heaps
219. 218. Rent Bottles
220. 219. Degrading Service
221. 220. Enemies Trodden On
222. 221. Mutilation of Captives
223. 222. Baalim Asheroth
224. 223. Locks
225. 224. Keys
226. 225. Ox Goads
227. 226. White Asses
228. 227. Ambush Near Water
229. 228. Windows
230. 229. Embroidered Garments
231. 230. Torches
232. 231. Ornaments
233. 232. Baal Berith
234. 233. Betrothal and Marriage
235. 234. Riddles
236. 235. Grinding, a Punishment
237. 236. Dagon
238. 237. Sports Witnessed From the Roof
239. 238. The Middle Pillars
240. 239. Gleaning
241. 240. Mutual Salutations
242. 241. Vinegar Parched Corn
243. 242. Rude Threshing
244. 243. The Time for Winnowing
245. 244. Watching the Grain
246. 245. Sign of Marriage  —  The Goel
247. 246. The Veil
248. 247. The Sign of the Shoe
249. 248. The Seat of Judgment
250. 249. The Horn
251. 250. Talismanic Images
252. 251. Helmets Cuirasses
253. 252. Greaves Javelin
254. 253. Spear Large Shield.
255. 254. Cheese Pledge
256. 255. The Sword
257. 256. Staff Scrip Sling
258. 257. Princely Robes
259. 258. Joy in Victory Shalishim
260. 259. Responsive Singing
261. 260. Fleeing From the Dart
262. 261. Use of the Term Naked
263. 262. Relatives Cursed
264. 263. Valuables Wrapped in Clothes
265. 264. The Speaker Mentioned First
266. 265. Houses of the Dead
267. 266. Chieftain's Spear Cruse
268. 267. Armlets
269. 268. Recess in Gateway
270. 269. Beds for Biers
271. 270. Prisoners Fettered
272. 271. Storing and Grinding Grain
273. 272. The Sistrum
274. 273. The Beard Cut Off
275. 274. Spring, the Season for War
276. 275. Promenade on the Roof
277. 276. Animals Petted
278. 277. Fasting for Bereavement
279. 278. Covering the Head
280. 279. Earth on the Head
281. 280. Dust Throwing
282. 281. Cistern in the Court Yard
283. 282. Double Gates
284. 283. Watch Man Porter
285. 284. The Chamber Over the Gate
286. 285. Lamentations Over the Dead
287. 286. Ferry Boats
288. 287. Cherethites and Pelethites
289. 288. Touching the Beard
290. 289. Circling Nets
291. 290. The Pipe
292. 291. The Asylum
293. 292. Rarity of Burial in Cities
294. 293. Fodder
295. 294. Rafts
296. 295. Solomon's Temple
297. 296. The Month Zif
298. 297. The Month Bul
299. 298. Saws
300. 299. The Month Ethanim
301. 300. Uplifted Hands in Prayer
302. 301. Large Golden Shields
303. 302. Small Golden Shields
304. 303. Solomon's Throne
305. 304. Ashtoreth Milcom
306. 305. Cracknels
307. 306. A Monstrous Idol
308. 307. Sticks for Fuel
309. 308. The Meal Jar
310. 309. The Habits of a Heathen God
311. 310. Lacerations in Idol Worship
312. 311. Hour of Evening Sacrifice
313. 312. The Sound of Rain
314. 313. The Face Between the Knees
315. 314. Girdle Running Footmen
316. 315. Day's Journey
317. 316. Covering the Face
318. 317. Plowing
319. 318. Military Girdles
320. 319. Pavilions
321. 320. Gods for Hills and Valleys
322. 321. Token of Abasement
323. 322. Sale of Patrimony
324. 323. Seals
325. 324. The Fly God
326. 325. The Divan
327. 326. Schools of the Prophets
328. 327. The Cruse
329. 328. Baldness
330. 329. Washing Hands
331. 330. Human Sacrifices
332. 331. Rights of Creditors
333. 332. Vessel for Oil
334. 333. Aliyah Stool
335. 334. Ladies Riding
336. 335. Times of Public Instruction
337. 336. Formal Salutation
338. 337. Rimmon Etiquette
339. 338. The Cab
340. 339. Market at the Gate
341. 340. Ostentation in Making Presents
342. 341. Oil Vessel
343. 342. Eye Painting
344. 343. Enemies Beheaded
345. 344. Priestly Robes
346. 345. Storage for Beds
347. 346. Coronation Ceremonies
348. 347. The King's Place
349. 348. Bow and Arrows
350. 349. Mode of Declaring War
351. 350. Hebrew Mode of Burial
352. 351. Succoth Benoth Heathen Gods
353. 352. Deportation
354. 353. Various Uses of the Grape
355. 354. Captive Gods
356. 355. Nisroch
357. 356. Sun Dials
358. 357. Royal Treasures
359. 358. Horses Used for Idolatrous Purposes
360. 359. Grave Stones
361. 360. Prisoners Blinded Fetters
362. 361. Marriage of Slave to Master’s Daughter
363. 362. Tidings Carried to Idols
364. 363. Stone Bows
365. 364. Amen
366. 365. The Horn
367. 366. Fortified Cities
368. 367. Cremation
369. 368. Death by Being Thrown From a Rock
370. 369. Towers
371. 370. Engines of War
372. 371. Change of Name
373. 372. Nethinim
374. 373. The Persian Daric
375. 374. Money Tablets
376. 375. The Temple of Zerubbabel
377. 376. Adar
378. 377. Chisleu
379. 378. The Royal Butler
380. 379. Safe Conduct
381. 380. Shaking the Lap
382. 381. Letters
383. 382. Elul
384. 383. Tirshatha
385. 384. Sending Portions
386. 385. Wood for the Sacrifices
387. 386. Plucking the Hair
388. 387. The Court of the House
389. 388. Curtains Couches
390. 389. Drinking Customs
391. 390. Feasts for the Women
392. 391. Chamberlains
393. 392. The Royal Harem
394. 393. Tebeth
395. 394. The Persian Queen
396. 395. Etiquette of the Persian Court
397. 396. Feasting With the King
398. 397. Royal Honors Given to a Subject
399. 398. Sign of Royal Displeasure
400. 399. The Face Covered
401. 400. Sivan
402. 401. The Feast of Purim
403. 402. Pastoral Wealth
404. 403. The Value of Life
405. 404. Grain and Thorns
406. 405. Poisoned Arrows
407. 406. Shadows
408. 407. Primitive Mail Carriers
409. 408. Supposed Virtues of Snow Water
410. 409. Robbers
411. 410. Bosses
412. 411. Frail Houses
413. 412. Light and Darkness as Emblems
414. 413. The Net in Combat
415. 414. Books Tablets Monuments
416. 415. Houses of Clay
417. 416. Worms Feeding on the Body
418. 417. Raiment as Wealth
419. 418. Stone Oil Presses
420. 419. Eating Alone
421. 420. Impressions of Seals
422. 421. Cords and Rings
423. 422. Fish Spears
424. 423. Adversity a Prison
425. 424. Presents to the Afflicted
426. 425. Poetic Names
427. 426. Irrigation of Gardens
428. 427. Kissing an Act of Homage
429. 428. Waiting for Booty
430. 429. Anointing Guests
431. 430. Cataracta
432. 431. Symbolical Hand Washing
433. 432. The Psaltery
434. 433. Posture of the Face in Prayer
435. 434. The Servant's Ears
436. 435. Abuse of Hospitality
437. 436. Perfumed Garments
438. 437. Use of Hyssop
439. 438. Bottled Tears
440. 439. Serpent Charming
441. 440. Broken Teeth
442. 441. Thorns for Fuel
443. 442. Leather Tables
444. 443. Unburied Bodies
445. 444. The "Pit"
446. 445. Bird Snares
447. 446. Green Oil
448. 447. Trumpets
449. 448. Calf Worship
450. 449. Offerings for the Dead
451. 450. Shriveled Bottles
452. 451. Watchful Servants
453. 452. Grass on Housetops
454. 453. Oil Used Medicinally
455. 454. Caryatides
456. 455. Organs
457. 456. Cymbals
458. 457. External Applications
459. 458. Talking by Signs
460. 459. Coverings of Tapestry
461. 460. Mixed Wine
462. 461. Striking Hands
463. 462. Low Doorways
464. 463. The Lot
465. 464. Dwelling on the House Top
466. 465. Beautiful Work in Metal
467. 466. Snow Used in Summer
468. 467. Hinges
469. 468. The Number Seven
470. 469. Leaky Roofs
471. 470. Mortars
472. 471. Butter Making
473. 472. White Garments
474. 473. Bread on the Waters
475. 474. Tents
476. 475. Shepherds' Nooning
477. 476. Jewels Necklaces
478. 477. Use of Raisins
479. 478. The Royal Litter
480. 479. City Watchmen
481. 480. Treatment of Wounds
482. 481. Lodge in a Garden
483. 482. Plowshares
484. 483. Dancing Girls Anklets
485. 484. Cauls Tires
486. 485. Jewelry and Vials
487. 486. Sundry Articles, Useful and Ornamental
488. 487. Apparel
489. 488. Various Articles of Attire
490. 489. Hair Dressing Girdle
491. 490. Sitting on the Ground
492. 491. Attention Called
493. 492. Butter and Honey
494. 493. The Mattock
495. 494. Baldness a Sign of Mourning
496. 495. Singing at Work
497. 496. Papyrus Boats
498. 497. Egyptian Fishing
499. 498. Shields Oiled
500. 499. On the Roofs
501. 500. Quivers Shield Cases
502. 501. Rock Sepulchers
503. 502. Keys, How Carried
504. 503. Wooden Pegs
505. 504. Grape Gleaning
506. 505. Reserved for Triumph
507. 506. Filtered Wine
508. 507. Fuel Gathered by Women
509. 508. Threshing
510. 509. Spirit Voices
511. 510. Sowing
512. 511. Parchment Rolls
513. 512. Prisoners Bridled
514. 513. Preparing the Way of the King
515. 514. Lamp Wicks
516. 515. A Bath by Pouring
517. 516. How Idols Were Made
518. 517. Eyes Sealed
519. 518. Nebo
520. 519. Mode of Carrying Idols
521. 520. Astrologers
522. 521. Pictures on the Hands
523. 522. Modes of Carrying Children
524. 523. Dust Shaken Off
525. 524. Preparing for War
526. 525. Sprinkling
527. 526. Invitation to Buy
528. 527. Stone Worship
529. 528. The Arm an Emblem of Power
530. 529. Mode of Carrying Children
531. 530. Pigeon Houses
532. 531. The Open Gates
533. 532. A Diadem for Ashes
534. 533. Wedding Jewelry
535. 534. Repetition
536. 535. Idolatrous Feasts
537. 536. Cisterns
538. 537. Hands on the Head
539. 538. Bellows
540. 539. Mirth at Marriages
541. 540. Lodgings
542. 541. Mourning Women
543. 542. Adze
544. 543. Writing on the Ground
545. 544. The Potter
546. 545. Earthen Bottles
547. 546. Bottles Broken
548. 547. Tidings of a New Born Son
549. 548. Ceilings
550. 549. Smiting the Thigh
551. 550. Evidences of Purchase
552. 551. Cutting the Covenant
553. 552. Ink
554. 553. The Hearth
555. 554. Buried Treasures
556. 555. Spears Scale Armor
557. 556. Heavy Axes
558. 557. The God Ammon
559. 558. Pouring Wine
560. 559. Bel
561. 560. Sign of Submission
562. 561. Battle Axes
563. 562. Hanging by the Hand
564. 563. Writing on Both Sides
565. 564. Records on Pottery
566. 565. Mounts Forts Rams
567. 566. Chambers of Imagery
568. 567. Tammuz
569. 568. Posture in Worship
570. 569. Twigs Used in Heathen Worship
571. 570. The Inkhorn
572. 571. Marks of Consecration
573. 572. Unstable Walls
574. 573. Pillows Kerchiefs
575. 574. Babes Salted
576. 575. Pitfalls
577. 576. Scepters
578. 577. Smiting the Hands
579. 578. Three Modes of Divination
580. 579. Assyrian Garments
581. 580. Mural Sculptures
582. 581. Mutilations
583. 582. Weapons Buried
584. 583. Writing on Rods
585. 584. The Bath
586. 585. The Maneh
587. 586. The Cor
588. 587. Temple Treasures
589. 588. Babylonian Mode of Living
590. 589. Punishment of Criminals
591. 590. Musical Instruments
592. 591. Hour Burning Alive
593. 592. "Mighty Men"
594. 593. Various Garments
595. 594. The Use of Metal
596. 595. Prayer
597. 596. Court Etiquette Irreversible Edicts
598. 597. Divination by Rods
599. 598. Snares for Birds
600. 599. The Yoke
601. 600. The Chimney
602. 601. Worthlessness
603. 602. Idolatrous Customs
604. 603. Damask Covering
605. 604. Palaces
606. 605. Chiun
607. 606. Beds of Ivory
608. 607. Horses, Unshod
609. 608. Cultivation of Figs
610. 609. The Sieve
611. 610. Calling on the Gods
612. 611. Sailors' Superstitions
613. 612. The Covered Lip
614. 613. Sitting in the Shade
615. 614. Ninevite Conviviality
616. 615. Assyrian Warriors
617. 616. Tempering Clay
618. 617. Worship of Weapons
619. 618. The Use of Wood in Walls
620. 619. Silence
621. 620. The Naked Bow
622. 621. The Chemarim
623. 622. The Month Sebat
624. 623. Heavy Stones
625. 624. Separation of the Sexes
626. 625. Bells for Horses
627. 626. Fulling
628. 627. The Book of Remembrance
629. 628. Treatment of Enemies
630. 629. Espousals
631. 630. The Magi
632. 631. The Star of the King
633. 632. Rough Garments Locust Food
634. 633. Carrying Sandals
635. 634. Winnowing Grain
636. 635. The Pinnacle of the Temple
637. 636. The Synagogue
638. 637. Savorless Salt
639. 638. Lamp Bushel Lamp Stand
640. 639. Jot and Tittle
641. 640. Agreeing With an Adversary
642. 641. Profanity
643. 642. Compulsory Help
644. 643. Alms Giving
645. 644. The Two Hands
646. 645. Repetitions in Prayer
647. 646. Grass for Fuel
648. 647. Bread Resembling Stones
649. 648. The Scribes
650. 649. The Bed
651. 650. Use of the Term Children
652. 651. Skin Bottles
653. 652. Fringes
654. 653. The Purse
655. 654. Shoes
656. 655. Heathen Dust
657. 656. Councils Discipline of the Synagogue
658. 657. Public Proclamations
659. 658. The Assarius
660. 659. Games of Children
661. 660. Free Corn for the Hungry
662. 661. Testimony Given Standing
663. 662. Fishing Boats
664. 663. Going Forth to Sow
665. 664. The Way Side
666. 665. Wickedness at Night
667. 666. Leaven
668. 667. Hidden Treasure
669. 668. Fishing Nets
670. 669. Extravagant Promises
671. 670. Thanks at Meals
672. 671. Baskets
673. 672. Tradition
674. 673. Binding and Loosing
675. 674. The Temple Tax
676. 675. The Stater
677. 676. Millstone Drowning
678. 677. "Ninety and Nine"
679. 678. "Two or Three"
680. 679. Tormentors
681. 680. Benedictions on Children
682. 681. The "Needle's Eye"
683. 682. Hiring Laborers
684. 683. The Denarius
685. 684. The Market Place
686. 685. Daily Payment of Laborers
687. 686. Post of Honor
688. 687. Garments and Branches Strewn
689. 688. The Temple Market
690. 689. The Children's Song
691. 690. Vineyards Fences Wine Presses Towers
692. 691. Double Invitations
693. 692. Host and Guests
694. 693. The Pharisees
695. 694. The Herodians
696. 695. The Sadducees
697. 696. Summary of the Law
698. 697. Phylacteries
699. 698. Places of Honor
700. 699. Rabbi
701. 700. Hypocrisy
702. 701. Wine Straining
703. 702. Whitewashed Tombs
704. 703. Decorated Tombs
705. 704. Herod's Temple
706. 705. Getting Down From the House Top
707. 706. The Mill
708. 707. Marriage Procession
709. 708. Torches
710. 709. The Closed Door
711. 710. Sheep and Goats
712. 711. The Acquitted and the Convicted
713. 712. Alabastra - Ointments - Reclining at Meals
714. 713. Pieces of Silver
715. 714. Passover Guests
716. 715. Preparing for the Passover
717. 716. Passover Ceremonies in Christ's Time
718. 717. Chief Priests Elders
719. 718. The Sanhedrim
720. 719. Spitting Buffeting
721. 720. Peter in the Palace
722. 721. The Porch
723. 722. Position of the Accused
724. 723. The Prisoner Released
725. 724. Scourging
726. 725. The Roman Cohort
727. 726. The Robe
728. 727. Executions Outside the Walls
729. 728. Place of Capital Punishment
730. 729. Stupefying Potion
731. 730. Crucifixion
732. 731. The Guard
733. 732. The Tablet on the Cross
734. 733. The Veil of the Temple
735. 734. The "Door" of the Sepulcher
736. 735. Sealing the Sepulcher
737. 736. The Roof Broken Up
738. 737. Boat Cushion
739. 738. Tombs for Dwellings
740. 739. Diligent Hand Washing
741. 740. Corban
742. 741. Standing During Prayer
743. 742. Mite Farthing
744. 743. Night Watches
745. 744. An Exceptional Custom Pitcher
746. 745. The "Upper Room"
747. 746. Mode of Eating
748. 747. Counselor
749. 748. Wives of Priests
750. 749. Naming the Child
751. 750. Writing Tablets
752. 751. Swaddling Clothes Manger Inn
753. 752. "The Consolation"
754. 753. The First Day's Journey
755. 754. Doctors and Disciples
756. 755. Public Scripture Reading
757. 756. Books of Prophecy
758. 757. The Chazan - Posture of Teachers
759. 758. Night Fishing
760. 759. Tax Gathering
761. 760. The "Bosom.”
762. 761. Foundations
763. 762. Synagogue Building
764. 763. Customs at Funerals
765. 764. The Bier
766. 765. Kissing the Feet
767. 766. Guiding the Plow
768. 767. Formal Salutations
769. 768. Formal Visiting
770. 769. Neighbors
771. 770. Use of Oil and Wine
772. 771. Night Traveling
773. 772. Family Bedroom
774. 773. Neglected Tombs
775. 774. Money Bags
776. 775. Trees in Vineyards
777. 776. Sabbath Feasting
778. 777. Place of Honor at Feasts
779. 778. Arrangement of Guests
780. 779. Division of Property
781. 780. Feeding the Swine
782. 781. The Steward
783. 782. Disposition of Crumbs
784. 783. Semi Weekly Fasts
785. 784. Smiting the Breast
786. 785. The "Pound"
787. 786. Ornaments of the Temple
788. 787. Temple Captains
789. 788. Game of Blindfolding
790. 789. Division of Jewish Scriptures
791. 790. Priestly Benediction
792. 791. The Shoe Latchet
793. 792. The Firkin
794. 793. The "Governor of the Feast"
795. 794. The "Friend of the Bridegroom"
796. 795. Drawing Water
797. 796. Contempt for Women
798. 797. Sealing
799. 798. Ceremonies at the Feast of Tabernacles
800. 799. Freedom by the Son
801. 800. Jewish Hatred of Samaritans
802. 801. Period of Maturity
803. 802. Excommunication
804. 803. The Sheep Fold
805. 804. Shepherd and Sheep
806. 805. The Feast of Dedication
807. 806. The Hours of the Day
808. 807. Double Names
809. 808. Rabbinical Notions of Soul and Body
810. 809. The Furlong
811. 810. Formal Condolence
812. 811. Weeping at the Grave
813. 812. The Pound
814. 813. Need of Feet Washing
815. 814. Position at Table
816. 815. The "Sop"
817. 816. Place for Gardens
818. 817. Lanterns
819. 818. Female Door Keepers
820. 819. Charcoal
821. 820. Bearing the Cross
822. 821. The Tunic
823. 822. Preparation for Burial
824. 823. Salutation
825. 824. A Sabbath Day's Journey
826. 825. Time for Eating
827. 826. Time for Burial
828. 827. Reading Aloud
829. 828. Complimentary Names
830. 829. Prayer on the Housetop
831. 830. The Military Night Watch
832. 831. Prisoners Chained
833. 832. Sandals
834. 833. Knocker Street Door
835. 834. The Law and the Prophets Rulers of the Synagogue
836. 835. Gods in Human Form
837. 836. Jupiter and Mercury
838. 837. Idolatrous Garlands
839. 838. Places of Prayer
840. 839. Stocks
841. 840. Responsibility of Jailers
842. 841. Roman Citizens Not to Be Beaten
843. 842. Debates in the Market Place
844. 843. Epicureans Stoics
845. 844. Trades Learned
846. 845. Ephesian Letters
847. 846. Shrines of Diana
848. 847. The Temple of Diana
849. 848. The Theater at Ephesus
850. 849. The Asiarchae
851. 850. Town Clerk Diana of Ephesus
852. 851. Vows Nazarites
853. 852. Position of Teacher and Scholar
854. 853. Appeal Roman Councilors
855. 854. The Hand Stretched Forth
856. 855. The Skiff
857. 856. "Undergirding"
858. 857. Anchors, How Used
859. 858. Double Rudders
860. 859. Ships Named
861. 860. Capital Punishment
862. 861. Adoption
863. 862. The Kiss
864. 863. Set Forth Last
865. 864. Temperance Chaplets
866. 865. Boxing
867. 866. The Herald
868. 867. Glass
869. 868. Mode of Reckoning Time
870. 869. Enemies Under the Feet
871. 870. Roman Military Triumphs
872. 871. Wall - Window - Basket
873. 872. The Pedagogue
874. 873. The Mark
875. 874. Military Sandals
876. 875. Fiery Darts
877. 876. Register of Citizens' Names
878. 877. Roman Military Discipline
879. 878. Singleness of Aim
880. 879. Obligations of Law
881. 880. Mural Inscriptions
882. 881. The Cloak
883. 882. The Golden Censer
884. 883. Sawing Asunder
885. 884. The Race
886. 885. Traveling Merchants
887. 886. Adornments of the Head
888. 887. The Chief Shepherd
889. 888. Ink - Pens
890. 889. Love Feasts
891. 890. The Choenix
892. 891. Palm Branches
893. 892. Temple Watchmen
894. 893. Many Crowns

0. Preface

Though the Bible is adapted to all nations, it is in many respects an Oriental book. It represents the modes of thought and the peculiar customs of a people who, in their habits, widely differ from us. One who lived among them for many years has graphically said: “Modes, customs, usages, all that you can set down to the score of the national, the social, or the conventional, are precisely as different from yours as the east is different from the west. They sit when you stand; they lie when you sit; they do to the head what you do to the feet; they use fire when you use water; you shave the beard, they shave the head; you move the hat, they touch the breast; you use the lips in salutation, they touch the forehead and the cheek; your house looks outwards, their house looks inwards; you go out to take a walk, they go up to enjoy the fresh air; you drain your land, they sigh for water; you bring your daughters out, they keep their wives and daughters in; your ladies go barefaced through the streets, their ladies are always covered.” (The Jordan and the Rhine, W. Graham, p. 4.)
The Oriental customs of today are, mainly, the same as those of ancient times. It is said by a recent writer that “the Classical world has passed away. We must reproduce it if we wish to see it as it was.” While this fact must be remembered in the interpretation of some New Testament passages, it is nevertheless true that many ancient customs still exist in their primitive integrity. If a knowledge of Oriental customs is essential to a right understanding of numerous Scripture passages, it is a cause of rejoicing that these customs are so stereotyped in their character that we have but to visit the Bible lands of the present day to see the modes of life of patriarchal times.
The design of this volume is to illustrate the Bible by an explanation of the Oriental customs to which it refers. The Bible becomes more than ever a real book when we can read it understandingly. While this is eminently true of its doctrines, it is also true of its facts. A distinguished author has aptly said: “In studying the Bible the Dictionary of Things is almost as important as the Dictionary of Words.” It is a part of this “Dictionary of Things” that we propose to furnish in this book, though not in the form of a dictionary. The texts illustrated are arranged in the order in which they occur in the Bible, and are accompanied by explanations of the customs to which they allude. This method seems to be the most natural for Bible study, and is the plan followed by Burder, Rosenmüller and Roberts.
The materials for a work of this character are more abundant now than ever. Supplementing the labors of those who in former days visited Egypt and Syria, travelers have, within a few years, entered new regions and brought to light facts hitherto unknown. The explorations of such men as Botta, Layard, Loftus and Smith, and the labors of the Palestine Exploration Societies, both of England and America, have been productive of rich results, and, without doubt, results yet more valuable are to follow. The pick and the spade are to be the humble instruments of illustrating and authenticating the Word of God. Already, through their agency, important discoveries have been made. Ancient tablets covered with strange characters have been brought to light; by patient labor and wonderful ingenuity these characters have been deciphered, and made to tell the secrets which for ages they had kept concealed. The tombs of Egypt, the palaces of Assyria, and the royal records of Moab, have been compelled to speak, and now, in different languages, they bear testimony for God and his truth.
Of this varied and valuable material we have endeavored to make diligent use in the preparation of this volume. As it would encumber the work with multitudinous notes of reference to give, in every instance, the authority for the statements made, a list of the principal authors consulted is appended.
Should this volume aid the student in obtaining a better understanding of the Bible, the labor of the writer will not have been in vain.

1. Use of the Term Father

Genesis 4:20-21. Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. And his brother’s name was Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ.
In the East the originator of any custom is frequently spoken of as the “father” of that custom; so, also, a man is often described by representing him to be the “father” of some peculiarity which distinguishes him from others. A man of very long beard is called “the father of a beard.” One of the Arabs who accompanied Palmer in his journey across the desert of the Exodus was called “the father of the top-knot,” because the lock of hair on top of his head was of unusual size. A celebrated Arab chief was called “the father of the ostrich.” because of the fleetness of the favorite horse which he rode. Dr. Thomson was once called by the mischievous young Arabs “the father of a saucepan,” because they fancied that his black hat resembled that culinary utensil. When Loftus was in Chaldea his negro cook on one occasion killed two lion cubs. The Arabs, from that time forth, saluted him as “Abú Sebá’in” that is, “the father of the two lions.”
The name “father” is also applied to beasts or birds, and even to inanimate things. In Egypt the kite is sometimes called “the father of the air,” because of its power of flight. An African city was called Boo Hadgar, “the father of stone”—that is, a stony city. There is a Turkish coin called “the father of a cannon,” because of the representation of a cannon which is upon it.
In like manner Jabal was called “the father of such as dwell in tents,” because he was probably the inventor of tents; and Jubal, “the father of all such as handle the harp and organ,” because he invented those instruments.
This use of the term “father” is found, also, in other parts of the Bible.
In Isaiah 9:6, the Messiah is called “the everlasting Father,” or “the Father of eternity”; that is, he is the giver of eternal life: in John 8:44, the devil is called the father of lies; in Romans 4:12, Abraham is said to be “the father of circumcision”; in 2 Corinthians 1:3, God is called “the father of mercies”; and in Ephesians 1:17,” the father of glory.” There is a corresponding use of the word children. See note on Matthew 9:15 (#650).

2. Babylonian Bricks Bitumen

Genesis 11:3. They said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.
1. The soil of Babylonia is an alluvial deposit, rich and tenacious, and well adapted for brick making. While many of the bricks of that country were merely sun-dried, others were burned, as were those in the tower of Babel. Fire-burnt bricks were sometimes laid as an outer covering to walls of sun-dried brick. The finest quality of bricks was of a yellow color, resembling our firebricks; another very hard kind was of a dark blue; the commoner and coarser sorts were pink or red.
Amid the ruins of Babylonia ancient bricks have been discovered, in large quantities, stamped with inscriptions of great value to the archaeologist. The ordinary size of these bricks is twelve to fourteen inches square, and three to four inches thick. At the corners of buildings half-bricks were used in the alternate rows.
2. The “slime” here spoken of is bitumen, which is still found bubbling from the ground in the neighborhood of ancient Babylon, where it is now used for mortar, as in former times. It is also found in some parts of Palestine. At Hasbeiya, near the source of the Jordan, there are wells or pits dug, in which bitumen collects, exuding from the crevices in the rocks. The “slime-pits” mentioned in Genesis 14:10, may have been similar to these. They were near the Dead Sea, where bitumen is still to be found.
Loftus (Travels in Chaldea and Susiana, p. 31) approves the suggestion of Captain Newbold that the ancient Babylonians in some instances burned their bricks in the walls of their buildings, to render them more durable. Tine rude walls, erected with unburnt brick, cemented with hot bitumen, are supposed to have been exposed to the action of a furnace heat until they became a solid vitrified mass. This is indeed burning “thoroughly,” and it may have been the method which the Babel-builders intended to pursue had they been permitted to finish their tower; as they said, according to the marginal reading, “Let us make brick, and burn them to a burning.”

3. Pharaoh

Genesis 12:15. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her.
Pharaoh is the common title of the native Egyptian kings mentioned in Scripture. The word itself does not mean king, as was formerly supposed; recent investigations have satisfied Egyptologists that it means the sun. This title was given to the king because he was considered the representative on earth of the God RA, or the sun. It is difficult to tell what particular Pharaoh or king is referred to here.

4. Use of the Term Brother

Genesis 14:16. And also brought again his brother Lot.
In chapter Genesis11:31 Lot is said to be the nephew, not the brother, of Abram. In like manner Jacob told Rachel (Gen. 29:12) that he was her father’s brother; whereas, according to Genesis 28:5, he was the son of her father’s sister; that is, her father’s nephew. This elastic use of the word brother is quite common in the East, however strange it may seem to us; yet we have a usage somewhat similar in the application of the term to persons not in any way related to us. We call fellow countrymen, or fellow craftsmen, or fellow churchmen, brothers. The Orientals apply the term to their kinsmen of whatever relation.

5. Uplifted Hand

Genesis 14:22. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth.
This was Abram’s method of taking a solemn oath; a mode still practiced in the East, and to some extent in the West. It is said in Isaiah 62:8, “The Lord hath sworn by his right hand.” See also Daniel 12:7; Revelation 10:5-6; the note on Proverbs 11:21 (#461); and also on Ezekiel 21:14 (#677).

6. Burning Lamp

Genesis 15:17. And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.
The “burning lamp” is supposed to have been an emblem of the Divine presence, as fire is represented to be in other parts of the Scriptures. Roberts says that in India the burning lamp or fire is still used in confirmation of a covenant. If one’s promise is doubted he will point to the flame of the lamp, saying, “That is the witness.” The marriages of the East Indian gods and demigods are described as being performed in the presence of the God of fire; and it is to this day a general practice at the celebration of a marriage to have fire as a witness of the transaction. “Fire is the witness of their covenant, and, if they break it, fire will be their destruction.” Orient. Illus., p. 21.

7. Religion of Names

Genesis 16:13. And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God seest me.
One of the most prevalent superstitious in Egypt was connected with the religion of names. The Egyptians gave to each of their gods a name indicative of specific office and attributes. It was thus perfectly natural that Hagar, who was an Egyptian, should give a title of honor to Him who appeared to her in the wilderness. Some suppose that the Israelites were influenced by this superstition during their long bondage in Egypt, and that it is to this that Moses refers in Exodus 3:13; and, further, that God was pleased to give himself a name—one expressive of his eternal self-existence (Ex. 3:14). This ancient Egyptian custom found its way to other nations. Zechariah, alluding to this, speaks of the time when “in that day there be one Lord, and his name one” (Zech. 14:9).

8. Tent Door Time of Rest

Genesis 18:1. And he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day.
The “door of the tent” is a fold of the lower part of the tent, which is fastened by a loop to the post nearby. It may thus be opened or closed at pleasure. For the sake of light and air, it is generally thrown back during the day.
Noon is the hour of rest among the Orientals. When the sun is at its height, the wind often becomes softer and the heat more oppressive. Then the dwellers in tents may be seen sitting “in the door,” or reclining in the shade of the tent. It is also the hour for dinner. See Genesis 43:16,25. Some travelers say that the Arabs eat by the door of the tent in order to notice the stranger passing by, and to invite him to eat with them. In the case mentioned in the text Abraham had probably dined, and was resting after dinner.

9. Bowing Hospitality

Genesis 18:2-3. And when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant.
1. There are different modes of bowing in the East. In this case the word used (shachah) denotes complete prostration of the body. In this the person falls upon the knees, and then gradually inclines the body until the head touches the ground. See also Genesis 23:7,12; Genesis 42:6; Genesis 43:26.
2. There is in this text a beautiful illustration of Oriental hospitality. The company of the travelers is solicited as a personal favor to the host, and all the resources of the establishment are used for their entertainment. See Genesis 19:2-3; Judges 6:18; Judges 13:15; Job 31:32. Modern travelers often refer to the earnestness with which this hospitality is urged upon them at the present day. It is not always, however, to be regarded as unselfish; in many instances a return being expected from the traveler who is thus entertained. A recent writer says, “Arabs are still as fond as ever of exercising the virtue of hospitality. As they practice it, it is a lucrative speculation. The Bedaw sheikh, knowing that he must not nowadays expect to entertain angels unawares, takes a special care to entertain only such as can pay a round sum for the accommodation, or give their host a good dinner in return. The casual and impecunious stranger may, it is true, claim the traditional three days’ board and lodging; but he must be content with the scraps ‘which fall from the rich man’s table,’ and prepare to hear very outspoken hints of the undesirability of his presence” (Palmer's Desert of the Exodus, p. 486).

10. Feet Washing

Genesis 18:4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.
Where the soil is dry and dusty, and the feet shod with sandals, frequent washing of the feet becomes not only a luxury, but a necessity for comfort and health. It is as much a part of hospitality, under these circumstances, for a host to see that his guests’ feet are washed, as it is to provide them with food, or to furnish them a place for repose. See Genesis 24:32. The steward of Joseph gave to Joseph’s brethren water for their feet. Genesis 43:24. Among the ancient Egyptians the basins kept in the houses of the rich for this purpose were sometimes of gold.
To this custom of feet-washing the Saviour refers when he mildly reproves Simon the Pharisee, at whose house he was a guest, for neglecting to give him water for this purpose (Luke 7:44). Paul, when writing to Timothy concerning the qualifications necessary for the aged widows who are to be recipients of the charity of the Church, names this among others: “if she have washed the saints’ feet” (1 Tim. 5:10). This work was the duty of a servant (see 1 Sam. 25:41), and it is this fact which gives force to the beautiful symbolic action of our Lord, as recorded in John 13:4-15. The Master of all became a servant to all.
Feet were washed on returning from a journey and on retiring to bed. See Genesis 19:2; 2 Samuel 11:8; Song of Solomon 5:3.

11. Bread Making

Genesis 18:6. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.
1. Bread in the East is made from wheat or barley, rye being but little cultivated. The “fine meal” here spoken of is wheat flour finely sifted, and is considered very choice.
2. The “three measures” were equal to an ephah, which is supposed to have contained a little less than a bushel. It was an ordinary quantity for baking. See Judges 6:19; 1 Samuel 1:24; Matthew 13:33. The seah or “measure” is also mentioned in 2 Kings 7:1,16.
3. From the haste with which this bread was prepared it was evidently unleavened. The flour and water were hastily mixed, and the thin dough was either laid on heated stones, where the cakes would soon bake, or the “hearth” in the text was a smooth spot of ground on which fire had been kindled and the embers brushed off, when the dough was placed on the ground and the embers raked over it. In other way the bread would soon be ready for the guests. See also 1 Kings 17:12-13; 19:6.
Palmer, while visiting the outlying districts of Sinai, found, upon the watershed of Wady el-Hebeibeh, the remains of a large and evidently ancient encampment. “The small stones which formerly served, as they do in the present day, for hearths, in many places still showed signs of the action of fire, and on digging beneath the surface we found pieces of charcoal in great abundance.” (Desert of the Exodus, p. 258). What gives peculiar interest to this discovery is the fact that Mr. Palmer thinks that he here discovered the remains of the ancient Israelitish camp at Kibroth-Hattaavah. A detail of the reasoning by which he reaches this conclusion would be out of place here. The curious reader is referred to Palmer’s interesting work, pp. 260, 312, 507, 508.

12. Hosts Flesh Food

Genesis 18:7. Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf... and gave it unto a young man; and he halted to dress it.
The primitive mariner in which Abraham and Sarah personally attended to the wants of their guests, finds illustration in what Dr. Shaw says of the Arab chieftains in Barbary. There the greatest prince is not ashamed to bring a lamb from the flock and kill it, while the princess, his wife, prepares the fire and cooks it.
This meat was cooked as soon as the animal was killed, in accordance with the oriental usage. A common method of preparing a hasty meal among the Arabs is to cut up the meat into small pieces, run them on small spits or skewers, and broil them over the fire.

13. Butter Feasts

Genesis 18:8. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.
1. The word here rendered butter (chemah) is said usually to signify curdled milk. It is also supposed that it was this which Jael gave to Sisera “in a lordly dish” (Judges 5:25). It is at this day frequently used in eastern countries under the name of leben.
2. A description of an Arab feast, as given by modern travelers, will illustrate the mode of preparing and eating food. The meat is boiled with camel’s milk, and with wheat which has been previously boiled and then dried in the sun. It is served up in a large wooden dish, in the center of which the boiled wheat is placed, and the meat around the edge. A wooden bowl containing the melted fat of the animal is pressed down in the midst of the boiled wheat, and every morsel is dipped into this melted fat before being swallowed. A bowl of camel’s milk is handed round after the meal.
It is not certain that milk was formerly used in cooking meat, as is here seen to be the modern Bedawin custom.
3. It is common still in the East to see travelers and guests eating under the shade of trees.

14. Tent Partition

Genesis 18:10. Sarah heard it in the tent-door... behind him.
This was not the tent door referred to in verse 1, but the partition separating the women’s part of the tent from that belonging to the men. Such partitions are often seen in modern Bedawin tents. For description of these tents. See note on Solomon’s Song 1:5 (#474).

15. Gates

Genesis 19:1. And Lot sat in the gate of Sodom.
The gateways of walled cities, as well as the open spaces near them, were popular places of resort, being vaulted and cool, and convenient for the meeting of friends, or for a view of strangers, since all who went in or out must pass that way. They often resembled large stone halls, and had sufficient area to accommodate large assemblages. There the people assembled at the close of the day to tell the news, and to discuss various topics of interest. Thus it was that Lot at evening happened to be in the city gate when the strangers came by. In this position he readily saw them as they entered. Allusion to this use of the gate may be found in numerous other passages See Genesis 23:10; Genesis 34:20; 1 Samuel 4:13-18; Job 29:7; Psalm 69:12; Psalm 127:5; Proverbs 1:21.
Other uses of the gate will be noticed further on.

16. Town Quarters

Genesis 19:4. But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter.
In Eastern cities there are different quarters where people live according to their nation, religion, or occupation. These quarters are named after the occupants: as “The Christian quarter,” “The Jews’ quarter,” “The Franks’ quarter,” “The quarter of the water-carriers,” and the like. This usage may have existed at a very early age, and if so, it probably is referred to in the text. The merchants and tradesmen of Sodom came from the different “quarters” where they lived and surrounded Lot’s house. There may also be a reference to this custom in Isaiah 47:15; 56:11. In Jeremiah 37:21, “the bakers’ street” is spoken of.

17. Looking Behind

Genesis 19:26. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
1. Roberts says, that the expression “from behind him,” seems to imply that she was following her husband, which to this day is the custom in India.
2. He also states that when men or women leave the house they never look back, as “it would be very unfortunate.” Should a man on going to his work leave anything which his wife knows he will require, she will not call after him lest he turn or look back, but will either take the article herself or send it by another. If a palankeen (a closed litter borne by four) come up behind any persons who are walking in the road they will not look behind to see it, but carefully step a little on one side until it has passed, when they will gratify their curiosity.

18. Cave Dwellings

Genesis 19:30. He [Lot] dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
The country of Judea being mountainous and rocky is full of caverns. Caves and clefts in the rock were probably among the earliest dwelling-places of man. The inhabitants of Mount Taurus, even to this day, live in caves, as do many of the wandering shepherds of Arabia Petrea. Thus Lot found a home for himself and his daughters. Some of these caves are of immense size, capable of holding hundreds, and even thousands, of people, and might easily be converted into strongholds for troops. It was in this way that the children of Israel sheltered themselves from the Midianites (Judges 6:2), and from the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:6). It was thus that David, with four hundred men, was concealed in the cave Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1-2), and afterward with six hundred in Ziph and in En-gedi (1 Sam. 23:13-14,29; 1 Sam. 24:3). Caves have been common places of resort for the persecuted people of God in all ages. See Hebrews 11:38.

19. Weaning Feast

Genesis 21:8. Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
It is still customary in the East to have a festive gathering at the time a child is weaned. Among the Hindus, when the time for weaning has come, the event is accompanied with feasting and religious ceremonies during which rice is formally presented to the child.

20. Burden on Shoulder

Genesis 21:14. Putting it on her shoulder.
It was an ancient Egyptian custom for the women to carry burdens on the shoulder, and for the men to carry them on the head. The women in Palestine, to this day, carry the water skins and earthen jars upon the shoulder. It was thus that Rebecca carried her water pitcher (Gen 24:15). Sometimes they carry these jars on the head. It is said by some writers, that in India the women of high rank carry the water jars on the shoulder, and the common women carry them on the head.

21. Early Rising Saddles

Genesis 22:3. Abraham rose up early ... . and saddled his ass.
1. The habit of early rising is all but universal in Palestine. The climate makes this a necessity for the greater part of the year, the heat being so great that hard labor is oppressive a few hours after sunrise. At early dawn laborers go to their work and travelers start on their journeys. The Scripture references to this custom are numerous. See, for instance, Genesis 19:2; 21:14; 28:18; Exodus 34:4; Job 1:5; Psalm 63:1.
2. We are not to imagine by the term “saddle” anything similar to what we call by that name. The ancient saddle was merely a piece of cloth thrown over the back of the animal on which the rider sat. See Matthew 21:7. “No nation of antiquity knew the use of either saddles or stirrups.” (Goguet, Origin of Laws. Cited by Burder.)

22. Going and Coming

Genesis 22:5. I and the lad will go... and come again.
Roberts says, that the people of the East never say, as we do when taking leave, “I will go” or “I am going,” but, “I go and return.”

23. Ceremonial Mourning

Genesis 23:2. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
We shall have occasion, in noticing other passages, to refer to the different modes of manifesting grief at times of bereavement; it is only necessary to say here, that there is in this text an evident allusion to a ceremonial mourning. The word “came” indicates this. The passage shows the antiquity of the custom of formal manifestation of sorrow in honor of the dead.

24. Mode of Bargaining

Genesis 23:5-6. The children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchers bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulcher, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.
We have in the interesting narrative of this business transaction an exact representation of the Oriental mode of trafficking. Abraham, a great prince, but a stranger, wishes to buy a piece of land for a family burial place. He makes the proposition to those members of the tribe of Hittites in whose territory the land lies. They respond by offering him the use of any one of their own sepulchers which he may select. This generosity, however, is a mere ceremony preliminary to driving a bargain in which they mean to make as much as possible out of the rich stranger. So, also, when Ephron is approached in reference to selling the lot which Abraham desires, he says (vs. 11), “Nay, my lord, hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead.” This seems to be a wonderful liberality on the part of this Hittite, but be does not expect that his offer will be accepted; or, if actually accepted, he expects in return a present that shall be worth more than his gift.

25. Middlemen

Genesis 23:8. Entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar.
Abraham does not go directly to Ephron, but he gets some of the Hittites to plead for him. No business of importance can to this day be transacted in the East without middlemen.

26. How Money Was Used

Genesis 23:16. Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant.
1. The Hebrews probably learned the use of metallic money from the Phenicians, among whom their ancestors dwelt, and who are said to have been the inventors of silver money. Other nations for a long time made oxen and sheep the standard of value. Silver was the metal at first generally used for currency, gold being kept for articles of jewelry. Gold money is first mentioned in 1 Chronicles 21:25. though, of course, it may have been used before the time there referred to. Some suppose that in early times gold jewelry was made of specified weight, so that it might be used for money. See Genesis 24:22.
2. Ancient money, being uncoined, was weighed instead of being counted. Even to this day Oriental merchants weigh the silver and gold which are the medium of traffic; not only the bullion, but the coined pieces also, lest some dishonest trader might pass upon them a coin of light weight. The ancient Egyptians, and some other nations, used rings of gold and of silver for the same purposes that coins are now used. These rings were weighed, the weights being in the form of oxen, lions, geese, sheep, and other animals. Some of these weights have been found; they are made of bronze, and with a ring projecting from the back for a handle. The weighing of money is also referred to in Jeremiah 32:9-10 and in Zechariah 11:12.
3. The word shekel (from shakal, to weigh) indicates the original mode of reckoning money by weight rather than by count; and when coined money was introduced it was natural that the name originally applied to what was weighed should be given to what was counted. Thus we find in the Bible a shekel of weight and a shekel of money. The exact weight of the shekel is not known. It is estimated to have been between nine and ten pennyweights, and is supposed to have been worth nearly sixty cents. This would make the value of the field Abraham bought of Ephron nearly two hundred and forty dollars.
4. The expression “current,” seems to indicate some understood standard of value, either as to the purity of the silver or the weight, or both. “The Phenician merchants usually tried the silver themselves, and then, after dividing a bar into smaller pieces, put the mark upon them” (Michoelis). There may also have been a mark on the bar or on the ring money to indicate its weight.

27. Transfer of Property

Genesis 23:17-18. The field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in at the gate of his city.
1. All the details of the contract are here given as is still customary in an Oriental bargain. Everything appertaining to the lot is here put down; field, cave, trees, everything “in all the borders round about.” Dr. Thomson says, “The contract must mention everything that belongs to it (the lot), and certify that fountains or wells in it, trees upon it, etc., are sold with the field. If you rent a house, not only the building itself, but every room in it, above and below, down to the kitchen, pantry, stable, and hen-coop, must he specified.” (The Land and the Book, vol. 2, p. 383).
2. There is no evidence here of any written contract, and probably there was none. The bargain was made “sure” by being consummated in the presence of the crowd assembled at the gate, as bargains often are now in the same country, the number of the witnesses precluding any withdrawing from the contract on either side.
3. We may now notice the steps by which the end of this bargain was gradually reached. How much time was consumed we are not told, but that there was a great deal of talking there can be no doubt. The whole scene vividly illustrates what many modern travelers describe from their own observation. 1. Abraham asks the Hittites the privilege of buying a place of burial (vs. 4). 2. They offer him the free use of any one of their own sepulchers that he may choose (vs. 6). 3. Abraham bows before them in acknowledgment of their courtesy (vs. 7). 4. He asks them to use their influence with Ephron to effect a sale (vs. 8). 5. Ephron offers to make him a present of the whole field and the cave, and calls on the people to be witnesses of his generosity and sincerity (vs. 11). 6. Abraham bows again before them (vs. 12). 7. He declines to take it as a gift, and offers to pay for it (vs. 13). (See a parallel instance in 1 Chronicles 21:22-25.) 8. Ephron names his price (three or four times what the land was worth, if the ancient usages were the same as the modern), and intimates that such a price is a small matter for so great a prince as he is dealing with (vs. 15). 9. Abraham, not being in a condition to insist on lower terms, accepts the offer (vs. 16). 10. The money is weighed, and the land becomes the property of Abraham (vs. 16).

28. Cave Sepulchers

Genesis 23:19. Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah.
Sepulchral caves are still found in many parts of the East. Sometimes a natural cave is used, with such modifications as necessity may require. The place where Abraham buried Sarah was undoubtedly a natural cave. Tombs were frequently hewn out of the rock. See note on Isaiah 22:16 (#501).

29. Chief Servant Mode of Swearing

Genesis 24:2-3. Abraham said unto his eldest servant... Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and... swear.
1. The most intelligent and faithful servant in the household was appointed overseer of the others. The word “eldest” is not of necessity expressive of age, but of authority. This was the head servant, chief of all the rest, though some of them may have been over others. In a similar way we use the word “elder” in an official sense, even when applied to young men. Such head-servants or stewards may still be seen portrayed on Egyptian tombs, with their secretaries, implements of writing, stewards’ account books, and articles for domestic use. This was the position which Joseph filled (Gen. 39:4).
2. The mode of swearing here spoken of seems to have been peculiar to the patriarchs. Jacob required Joseph thus to swear to him (Gen. 47:29). Various conjectures have been made as to the precise position of the hand or hands in taking this oath, for which, as well as for the supposed significance of the oath, commentators may be consulted.

30. Bride Chosen by Parents

Genesis 24:4. Thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
The bridegroom does not make choice of his bride; the parents negotiate this important business between themselves, and the young people are expected to acquiesce in the arrangement. In this instance Abraham sends a trusty servant hundreds of miles away to select for his son a wife whom he never saw. Hagar chose a wife for Ishmael (Gen. 21:21). Isaac gave command to Jacob on this important subject (Gen. 28:1). Judah selected a wife for Er (Gen. 38:6). Young men who chose wives for themselves without parental mediation usually afflicted their parents in so doing (Gen. 26:35; 27:46). The sons, however, had sometimes the privilege of suggesting their personal preferences to their parents. Thus Shechem did (Gen. 34:4) and also Samson (Judg. 14:2).

31. Wells

Genesis 24:11 He made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.
“A modern guide-book could hardly furnish a truer picture of what occurs at the close of every day in the vicinity of Eastern villages than this description, written so many thousand years ago.”—Hackett, Illustrations of Scripture, p. 89.
1. The position of a camel when at rest is kneeling. These animals are taught it when young.
2. Villages are built near wells or springs for convenience, but not near enough to be discommoded by the noise and dust and crowds which are sure to be drawn to such places.
3. The work of carrying water is done almost invariably by women, excepting in some large Oriental cities, where men as well as women become water carriers. See Genesis 29:10; Exodus 2:16; 1 Samuel 9:11.
4. Evening and early morning are the usual times for visiting the well for a supply of water.

32. Pitchers

Genesis 24:15. With her pitcher upon her shoulder.
The ancient pitchers were of earthenware (Lam. 4:2). See also Judges 7:20, where it is said that Gideon’s men brake theirs. Such are used now for drawing water. Some have one handle, and others have two.

33. How Wells Are Used

Genesis 24:16. She went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.
The wells are usually approached by flights of steps, so that the women may dip their pitchers directly into the water. In some cases the wells are dug deep, and require a rope, or some simple machinery, for raising the water. See note on John 4:11 (#491).

34. Troughs

Genesis 24:20. She hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough.
These troughs are placed near the wells for convenience in watering cattle. They are made of wood or stone. Sometimes a long stone block is hollowed out, from which a number of animals can drink at once; and sometimes the troughs are smaller, several of them lying about the same well, each so small as to accommodate only one animal at a time.
See also Genesis 30:38; Exodus 2:16.

35. Nose Jewels Bracelets

Genesis 24:22. It came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold.
1. The “ear-ring” here spoken of (nezem) is more properly a nose-ring. The servant says (vs. 47), “I put the ear-ring upon her face.” The present of a single earring would be strange; to put it on the face would be stranger still. Nose-jewels are referred to in Proverbs 11:22, Isaiah 3:21, and Ezekiel 16:12, where for “forehead” in the text the margin has “nose.”
The nose-ring is made generally of silver or gold, but sometimes of coral, mother-of-pearl, or even of horn, according to the taste or means of the wearer. This curious ornament varies considerably in size and thickness. The metal rings are usually from one inch to one inch and a half in diameter, and sometimes are as large as three inches. Beads, coral, or jewels, are strung upon them. They are usually hung from the right nostril, though sometimes from the left, and occasionally they are suspended from the middle filament of the nose. In India, according to Roberts. the nose-jewels are of different shapes, resembling a swan, a serpent, or a flower. Anderson saw them in Egypt, made of brass, but worn only by women of the lower class. Graham says that in Syria, as well as in Egypt, these ornaments are not worn among the respectable classes of society, but are found among the Africans and slaves; so that the fashion seems to have changed since Rebekah’s day, and since the time when Isaiah wrote.
2. The weight of the nose-jewel given to Rebekah (a half shekel) was nearly a quarter of an ounce, troy.
3. Bracelets are almost universally worn by women in the East. They are sometimes made of gold, sometimes of mother-of-pearl, but usually of silver. The poorer women wear them made of plated steel, horn, brass, copper, and occasionally nothing but simple strings of beads. The arms are sometimes crowded with them from wrist to elbow. They are sometimes flat, but more frequently round or semicircular, and are often made hollow to give, by their bulk, the appearance of greater weight. Bracelets (tsemedim) were also referred to in Numbers 31:50; Ezekiel 16:11; 23:42. The other passages in which “bracelets” occur have different words in the original, which will be explained under the several texts where they are used.
4. The weight of the bracelets presented to Rebekah (ten shekels) was over four and a half ounces. They are sometimes worn heavier than this, so as to seem more like manacles than bracelets.

36. Bridal Presents

Genesis 24:53. The servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah.
Rich and splendid apparel, especially such as was adorned with gold, was very general among Eastern nations from earliest times, and is still quite common. Reference is made to this in Psalm 45:9,13: “Upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.”—“clothing is of wrought gold.”
These beautiful and costly bridal-presents are given to the intended bride by the expectant bridegroom for the purpose of binding the contract. See note on Matthew 1:18 (#629).

37. The Nurse

Genesis 24:59. They sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse.
In an Eastern family the nurse is a very important personage. She is esteemed almost as a parent; and, accompanying the bride to her new home, there remains with her. She becomes the adviser, the assistant, and the friend of the bride. To the nurse, as to a mother, the bride will confide her greatest secrets. Thus Rebekah took with her on her long journey to her future home the nurse who had cared for her since childhood, so that, besides the female servants she took with her (vs. 61), she might have one intimate familiar friend among strangers.

38. Uplifted Eyes Mark of Respect

Genesis 24:64. Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.
1. The expression “lifted up” is often met with in the Scriptures in connection with the eyes. It does not always mean to look upward, but sometimes to look directly and earnestly at an object. Roberts says, it is to this day a common form of speech in India. We have in this text an illustration. Isaac may have looked upward when “he lifted up his eyes” and saw the caravan coming, for he was walking in the field, engaged in meditation (vs. 63), and very likely had his head inclined, and his eyes downward; but Rebekah, on the back of a camel, could hardly have looked upward when she saw Isaac. She simply looked directly and earnestly at him.
2. She quickly “lighted off” the camel when she discerned Isaac, thus giving him a customary mark of respect. In like manner Achsah alighted in the presence of Othniel and of Caleb (Josh. 15:18); Abigail thus alighted in the presence of David (1 Sam. 25:23), and even the haughty Naaman was so happy over his wonderful cure that he alighted from his chariot in the presence of Elisha’s servant (2 Kings 5:21), showing Gehazi the respect he would have shown to his master had he been present. Travelers tell us that this custom is still practiced.

39. The Veil

Genesis 24:65. The servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself.
1. The custom of veiling the face of women, now so common in the East, was not general in the days of the patriarchs, nor for a long time after. The women usually appeared in public with faces exposed. Much of the modern Oriental scrupulousness on this subject is due to Mohammedan influence, the Koran forbidding women to appear unveiled except in the presence only of their nearest relatives. No representations of veils are found on either the Assyrian or the Egyptian monuments; yet the Egyptians, as well as the Hebrews, did use the veil on special occasions. Wilkinson says, that the ancient Egyptian veil was not so thick as the boorko of modern Egypt; but was thin enough to be seen through, like that of the Wahabees. The veiling of the bride before coming into the presence of the bridegroom is a very ancient custom, indicating modesty, and subjection to the husband.
It is claimed by some, however, that the tsaiph—both here and in Genesis 38:14, rendered “veil”—was not properly a veil, but rather a large wrapper which was worn out of doors; a light summer dress, of handsome appearance and of ample dimensions, so that it might be thrown over the head at pleasure. Thus, when she saw Isaac, Rebekah slipped the upper part of her loose flowing robe over her head, thereby concealing her face from her expectant lover.

40. Woman's Tent Marriage

Genesis 24:67. Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife.
1. The expression “Sarah’s tent” may mean nothing more than her apartment in the principal tent of the encampment (see Gen 18:9-10; Judges 4:18; and see note on Song of Solomon 1:5, #474), though it is sometimes customary for the women to have separate tents of their own, as seems to have been the case with Leah and Rachel. Genesis 31:33. This would doubtless be desirable where there were more wives than one.
2. There is no evidence of any special religious forms in these primitive marriages. The preliminaries referring to dowry and similar financial matters being satisfactorily arranged, the man took his wife as Isaac took Rebekah. The essence of the marriage ceremony consisted in the removal of the bride from her father’s house to that of the bridegroom or of his father.

41. Birthright

Genesis 25:31,33. Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.... And he sold his birthright.
Great respect was paid by the household to the first-born son. He had headship over his brothers; he succeeded to the father’s official authority; He had a special claim to the father’s benediction; in him was the progenitorship of the Messiah; the domestic priesthood belonged to him, according to some authorities, though this is denied by others. Under the Mosaic law he received a double portion of the father’s goods. This birthright could be transferred to another for a consideration, or withheld by the father for cause.

42. Pottage

Genesis 25:34. Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
Pottage was often made of lentile, and is so made at this day. Dr. Shaw says that they are cooked like beans, which they very much resemble, “dissolving easily into a mass, and making a pottage of a Chocolate color.”
In India this sort of food is considered so cheap and common that it represents, in proverbial speech, anything that is worthless. “The fellow has sold his land for pottage”; that is, for an insignificant consideration. “The learned one has fallen into the pottage-pot”; that is, the wise man has done what was not expected of him—a mean thing. “He is trying to procure rubies by pottage”; that is, he wishes to get great things by small means (Roberts). These expressions illustrate the despicable conduct of Esau, who sold his priceless birthright for a mess of mean food, the emblem of worthlessness.

43. Customs Concerning Wells

Genesis 26:15. All the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.
In the East, digging wells gives title to unoccupied lands. Isaac therefore owned by inheritance the land in the vicinity of which these wells had been dug by his father’s direction. In a pastoral country it is a serious matter to choke up the wells which have been dug for the convenience of flocks and herds. It is, in fact, a declaration of war, and has always been considered a hostile act. Thus the Israelites did according to Divine command when they invaded Moab (2 Kings 3:19,25). In some parts of Persia the people have a way of concealing their wells with boards covered with sand, so as to conceal them from the eye of an enemy.

44. Strife at Wells

Genesis 26:20. The herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours.
These contests between rival herdmen for the possession of wells are still common in the land. Water is so necessary, and yet sometimes so hard to get, that it is no wonder there are battles waged for it. Some travelers state that the Bedouin would give a stranger milk to drink rather than water, the latter being more valuable. A contest similar to the one noticed in the text took place between the servants of Abraham and those of Abimelech (Gen. 21:25).

45. Covenant Feasts

Genesis 26:30-31. He made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up betimes... and sware one to another.
It was customary among the Hebrews, and also among the heathen nations, to eat together when entering into a covenant. When Jacob made his covenant with Laban he made a feast for his brethren (Gen. 31:54). Many allusions to this custom are made by classical writers.

46. Seasoned Food

Genesis 27:3-4. Go out to the field, and take me some venison; and make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat.
This means a dish prepared in any appetizing way, but especially by means of condiments. The Orientals are fond of highly seasoned food. Salt, spices, onions, garlic, and various aromatic herbs, such as saffron and mint, are used as seasoning for their meats.
Some commentators suppose a connection between this feast and the former patriarchal blessing. They regard it as a solemn covenant ceremony—a sacrifice which ratifies the blessing. Such covenant solemnities were usually associated with a meal among the Orientals.

47. Time for Mourning

Genesis 27:41. The days of mourning for my father are at hand.
This alludes to the formal ceremonious mourning for the dead, which usually lasted seven days (Gen. 50:10; 1 Sam. 31:13; Job 2:13), though it was sometimes continued for a longer period.
See note on John 11:17 (#808).

48. Sleeping out of Doors

Genesis 28:11. He lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night... and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
1. Sleeping out of doors all night could have been no hardship to a man inured to a shepherd’s life, for this was a shepherd’s custom.
2. It is not likely, as many seem to imagine, that his head rested on the naked stone. His outer mantle could easily have been drawn up over his head, and its folds would have made an excellent pillow on the stone headrest, the hardness of which could be further modified by the covering be usually wore on his head.

49. Monumental Stones

Genesis 28:18. Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
1. This stone was set up as a monument of God’s wonderful revelation to him, and of his vow (vs. 20). Thirty years later he repeated this solemn act in the same place (Gen. 35:14). Moses likewise built twelve pillars at Sinai as a sign of God’s covenant (Ex. 24:4). So Joshua set up a monument of stones in commemoration of the passage of the Jordan (Josh. 4:3-9). At Shechem also he set up a atone under an oak as a memorial of the covenant between God and his people(Josh. 24:26). In like manner Samuel erected a stone between Mizpeh and Shen to commemorate his victory over the Philistines(1 Sam. 7:12). As these stone pillars were all erected as testimonies of some great events, it has been suggested that Paul in 1 Tim. 3:15 designs to represent the Church as a pillar of testimony for the truth, God having founded and reared the Church as a monument for that purpose.
There existed in heathen countries a practice similar to the one referred to in the text. Morier gives a good illustration of our text in a little incident he saw while traveling in Persia. He says: “I remarked that our old guide, every here and there, placed a stone on a conspicuous bit of rock, or two stones one upon the other, at the same time uttering some words, which I learned were a prayer for our safe return” (Second Journey through Persia, p. 85). He had frequently seen similar stones without knowing their design.
2. The anointing of the stone by Jacob was doubtless designed as a solemn act of consecration of this stone to its monumental purposes; just as subsequently Moses, by command of God, anointed the tabernacle and its furniture (Num. 7:1). This act of the patriarch is not to be confounded with the idolatrous practice, common among heathens, of pouring oil upon stones and worshiping them. See note on Isaiah 52:6 (#527).

50. Well Stones

Genesis 29:2. Out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well’s mouth.
This was to protect the water from impurity, and from shifting sands, which without such protection would soon choke it. Modern travelers make frequent mention of the stone covers to wells and cisterns. Some of these stones are so large and heavy as to require the united strength of several men to remove them. May there not be reference to this custom in Job 38:30: “The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.”

51. Wells Opened

Genesis 29:3. Thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well’s mouth in his place.
This is not a part of the history, since all the flocks were not actually gathered and the stone removed until Rachel came (vs.10). The verse is meant to describe the general custom of the country. It was usual to wait until all the flocks were gathered, and then the stone was taken off and the work of watering began (vs. 8). Harmer refers to the statement of Sir John Chardin, that he had known wells or cisterns locked up in the East, and accepts Chardin’s explanation that this may have been the case in this instance, and that Rachel probably had the key, and that for that reason they were all obliged to wait until she came. But we see no reason for supposing any lock and key in the case; no mention is made of them in the narrative. The reason assigned in verse 8 for waiting for Rachel is, not that she had any special means for opening the well, but that it was customary for all the flocks to be gathered before the stone was rolled away.

52. Names From Animals

Genesis 29:6. Behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.
Burder calls attention to the fact that the name Rachel signifies, in Hebrew, a sheep, and says, “It was anciently the custom to give names even to families from cattle, both great and small.”Oriental Customs, No. 48. This ancient custom is no more singular than that which is common among us, of naming families after all sorts of beasts and birds, wild and tame; for example, Wolf, Fox, Lion, Bear, Bull, Nightingale, Jay, Hawk and Finch.

53. Men Kissing

Genesis 29:13. And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him.
This custom of embraces and kisses among men, though strange to us, is common enough in the East. Jacob kissed his father (Gen. 27:27). Esau embraced and kissed Jacob (Gen. 33:4). Joseph kissed all his brethren (Gen. 45:15). Jacob kissed and embraced Joseph’s sons (Gen. 48:10). Aaron kissed Moses (Ex. 4:27). Moses kissed Jethro (Ex. 18:7). David and Jonathan kissed each other (1 Sam. 20:41). The father of the prodigal is represented as kissing him when he returned home (Luke 15:20). The elders at Miletus fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him (Acts 20:37). Modern travelers make frequent mention of this custom.

54. Weak Eyes

Genesis 29:17. Leah was tendereyed.
That is, she had weak or dull eyes, which, according to the Oriental standard of beauty, is a great blemish.

55. Relatives Preferred

Genesis 29:19. It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man.
It is still customary among many Eastern tribes to give the preference in marriage to a cousin. It is expected that a man will marry his cousin. He is not compelled to do it, but he has the right, and she is not allowed to marry any other without his consent.

56. Brides Bought

Genesis 29:20. Jacob served seven years for Rachel.
The dowry comes not with the bride, but for the bride. In Oriental marriages the bride is given only on receipt of a consideration. In many cases the transaction amounts to actual bargain and sale; this, however, is not necessarily the case. Custom regards the father of the bride as entitled to some compensation for the trouble had in her training, and for the loss of service experienced by her departure from home. If this compensation cannot be rendered in money, jewels, or cattle, it may be given in labor. It was in this way that Jacob became herdman to Laban. Moses probably served Jethro in a similar manner, for the sake of having Zipporah. Compare Exodus 2:21; 3:1. Shechem offered to Jacob and his sons any amount of dowry he was pleased to ask for Dinah (Gen. 34:12).

57. Marriage Feast

Genesis 29:22. Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast.
The usual duration of a marriage feast was a week. Thus, “Fulfill her week,” in verse 27, means, “Wait until the week’s festivities are over.” This was the duration of Samson’s marriage feast (Judg. 14:12).

58. The Elder First

Genesis 29:26. Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the first-born.
This ancient custom still exists in India, and is sometimes observed in Egypt. It also prevailed in old imperial Germany. In India it is considered disgraceful in the extreme, and according to the Gentoo law a crime, for a father to permit a younger daughter to get married before the elder, or for a younger son to be married while his elder brother remains single.
If the eldest daughter be deformed, or blind, or deaf, or dumb, then the younger may be married first. If a father have an opportunity to marry one of his younger daughters advantageously, he will first do all he can to get the elder one married, and until this can be done the younger cannot be married.

59. Significant Names

Genesis 29:32. She called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction.
Reuben, that is, See! a son! This was in joyful acknowledgment of this evidence of God’s goodness. Many of the proper names in the Scriptures have a meaning in some way connected with the persons bearing them. Other people besides the Jews have had this custom: Africans, Arabs, East Indians, and the aborigines of our own land. Thus a certain Abyssinian was named Omazena, because of a wart on his hand; an Arab boy was called Human, because he was born before the gate Bab-el-Duma at Damascus. Among the Hindus we find Ani Muttoo, the precious pearl; Pun Amma, the golden lady; Chinny Tamby, the little friend. Among the North American Indians we have Kosh-kin-ne-kait, the cut-off arm; Wah-ge-kaut, crooked legs; Wau-zhe-gaw-maish-kum, he that walks along the shore.

60. Teraphim

Genesis 31:19. Rachel had stolen the images that were her father’s.
These “images” (teraphim) are supposed to have been rude representations of the human form; perhaps the statuettes of deceased ancestors. Nothing definite is known as to their size. They could not have been very large, or Rachel would not have been able to conceal them under the baggage; nor could they have been very small, or they would not have served Michal’s purpose of deception. See 1 Samuel 19:13,16. They may have been of different sizes. Their use is very ancient; the Israelites adopted them from the Ara-means. They were household gods which were consulted as oracles. Micah the Ephraimite placed them in his “house of gods” (Judg. 17:5; 18:14,17-18,20).
Some Jewish writers believe that the teraphim were supposed, on consultation, to be able to give any information desired, and that Rachel stole them from her father for fear he should learn, by consulting them, what route Jacob and his family had taken. Whether or not the teraphim were actually worshiped is a disputed question. The Hebrews certainly kept up the worship of Jehovah in connection with the use of the teraphim. It was not until the reign of Josiah that this singular custom was abolished (2 Kings 23:24). We even find traces of it afterward as late as the time of Hosea (Hosea 3:4). The practice became deeply rooted, and extended over large regions of country. The Laers and Penates of the Romans are supposed to have been used for the same purposes as these teraphim. “The Penates were divinities or household gods, who were believed to be the creators or dispensers of all the well-being and gifts of fortune enjoyed by a family, as well as an entire community.” “Every family worshiped one or more of these, whose images were kept in the inner part of the house.” The Laers were “guardian spirits whose place was the chimney-piece, and whose altar was the domestic hearth.” Laers and Penates were worshiped “in the form of little figures or images of wax, earthenware, or terra cotta, and of metal, more especially silver” (Barker's Laves and Penates, pp. 146-147).
Faber supposes the teraphim to be identical with the cherubim. He thinks that those which belonged to Laban were images resembling the cherubim which were afterward put on the ark (Origin of Pagan Idolatry, vol. 3, p. 621).

61. Tabret and Harp

Genesis 31:27. I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp.
1. The word toph, here and in other places rendered “tabret,” and in a number of texts translated “timbrel,” represents a very ancient musical instrument of percussion. There are three varieties depicted on the Egyptian monuments: one circular, another square or oblong, and a third consisting of two squares separated by a bar. Over these frames parchment was stretched, and in the rim were small bells or pieces of tinkling brass. The toph was used on occasions of joy, and was generally played by women, and often accompanied by dancing. It is reproduced in the “tambourine” which is occasionally seen in the streets of our large cities in the hands of itinerant musicians as an accompaniment to the barrel-organ.
2. The word kinnor, which frequently occurs in the Old Testament, and is translated “harp,” has given rise to considerable discussion. It was undoubtedly the earliest musical instrument made (Gen. 4:21), though some suppose that the text referred to is meant to show that Jubal was the inventor of stringed instruments generally, without referring to any particular kind. As to the shape of this ancient instrument there is no certainty. It has been variously represented by different writers as shaped like the lyre, the Greek letter 4, the guitar, and the modern harp. There is equal variety of opinion as to the number of strings. Seven, ten, twenty-four, and forty-seven have been named. It has also been asserted by some that it was played by means of a plectrum, while others assert that it was played by hand. These conflicting statements may all be harmonized by supposing that the shape varied at different times, or that the word kinnor was the generic term for all instruments of the lyre kind; that the number of strings varied at different periods, or with the size of the instrument; that the instruments were of different sizes; and that they were sometimes played with a plectrum and sometimes by hand. The kinnor was a very popular instrument with the Hebrews, and was used at jubilees and festivals. Its use was also practiced by other nations.

62. Camels' Furniture

Genesis 31:34. Rachel had taken the images, and put them in the camel’s furniture, and sat upon them.
It is not known whether this “furniture” was simply the cloth which covered the camel’s back, or a couch which might be used at night for a bed, or a fixture resembling the wicker work chair or cage, covered with a canopy, which is used by the modern Arab ladies when they ride on camels. Whether Rachel made use of any such arrangement or not, the place where the teraphim were concealed was evidently in the article, whatever it was, which took the place of a saddle, and on which Rachel sat. It is at this day common for the Arabs to hide stolen property under the padding of their saddles.

63. Covenant Stones

Genesis 31:48. Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and thee this day.
The use of stones in making a covenant is referred to in the Bible on several occasions. Herodotus speaks of a similar custom among the ancient Arabians. He says: “When two men would swear a friendship, they stand on each side of a third. He, with a sharp stone, makes a cut on the inside of the hand of each, near the middle finger, and taking a piece from their dress dips it in the blood of each, and moistens therewith seven stones lying in the midst, calling meanwhile on Bacchus and Urania” (Rawlinson's Herodotus, 2, p. 401).
Some think that Job refers to this custom when he speaks of a “daysman.” See Job 9:33.

64. Presents

Genesis 33:10. Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand.
The giving of presents is far more common in the East, and has more significance, than with us. Hardly any transaction of importance can take place without a gift. The formal visits which friends make to each other are preceded by presents of fowls, sheep, rice, coffee, and other provisions. Sir John Chardin notices that in Persia every one gives what is most at hand, and has a relation to his profession, and those who have no particular profession give money. A refusal to receive a present is, throughout the East, interpreted as an evidence of enmity. Hence Jacob’s anxiety that Esau should accept the gift he offered. See also Genesis 43:11; Judges 3:18; 1 Samuel 9:7; 10:27; 2 Samuel 17:27-29; 1 Kings 10:2,10; 14:3; 2 Kings 5:5,15; 8:9; 2 Chronicles 9:24; Psalm 72:10; 76:11; Proverbs 18:16; Matthew 2:11.

65. Kesitah

Genesis 33:19. He bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for a hundred pieces of money.
Under the impression that the word kesitah, here rendered “pieces of money,” means a lamb, many of the ancient commentators supposed that here was an evidence of early coinage; the “pieces of money” being coins having on them the impress of a lamb. Stanley (Hist. Jewish Church, Lect. III,) adopts this theory, and some other writers of our time agree with him. Coins have indeed been found with the figure of a lamb upon them, but they were not struck until later than B.C. 450, and, according to the best numismatists, probably belonged to Cyprus. Madden affirms that the earliest coined money was in the eighth century before Christ, and that “the use of coined money in Palestine cannot have existed till after the taking of Samaria by the Assyrians (in B.C. 721)” (Jewish Coinage, p. 14).
Other interpreters have supposed the kesitah to be a weight made in the form of a lamb, as ancient weights have been found in the shape of bulls, lions, and other animals. See note on Genesis 23:16 (#26).
Some of the recent philologists, however, deny that kegitan means a lamb. They derive it from a root signifying to weigh, and suppose it to have been a piece of silver of unknown weight or size.
The same word is used in Job 42:11.

66. Ear Rings

Genesis 35:4. They gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their ear-rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
Ear-rings were of various sizes, shapes, and material. At the present day, among the Orientals, they are of gold, silver, brass, ivory, horn, and wood; they are sometimes plain, and sometimes adorned with precious stones. Some are small, and fit closely to the ear, leaving no intermediate space; while others are large and heavy, and drop some distance below the ear. Some of these, by their weight, make a disagreeable-looking hole in the part of the ear whence they hang. MacGregor saw some men near Lake Huleh with ear-rings “not in the lobe of the ear, but in the projecting flesh.” (Rob Roy on the Jordan, p. 150). It is supposed by some that the use of ear-rings among the Hebrews was confined to the women. If so there must have been exceptions. See Exodus 32:2.
It is evident from this text that it was customary to connect the use of ear-rings with idolatry. This is further intimated in Hosea 2:13, where the wearing of ear-rings is associated with burning incense to Baal. Isaiah 3:20 is also supposed to refer to idolatrous practices. Ear-rings were doubtless used as amulets. With strange figures and characters engraved upon them they were considered as charms warding off evil. They are still thus used in the East. Jacob, being commanded to go to Bethel to renew his covenant with God, desired to put away every vestige of idolatry from the people, and for this reason buried these ear-ring amulets with the teraphim tinder the oak.

67. Coat of Pieces

Genesis 37:3. Israel loved Joseph: and he made him a coat of many colors.
Or, “a coat of pieces.” The ordinary tunic was a garment worn next to the skin, reaching to the knees, and usually without sleeves. Joseph’s coat is supposed to have had sleeves, and to have reached to the wrists and ankles; a luxurious robe, and a mark of distinction such as, in later times, Tamar and the other daughters of the king wore (2 Sam. 13:18). The “pieces” may have been different pieces of cloth variously colored, and of which the garment was made; or they may have been various colored threads, stripes, or plaids. In India coats of different colored patchwork are made for favorite children, pieces of crimson, purple, and other colors being sewed together. Jackets are sometimes embroidered with gold and silk of various colors. It is believed that a child thus clad will be saved from evil spirits, since the attention of the spirits will be diverted from the child by the beauty of the garment. There is no evidence of any such superstition in the case of Jacob. It was merely an instance of parental favoritism.

68. Cisterns

Genesis 37:24. They took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
There are numerous pits or cisterns still to be found in Palestine. They are often hewn out of the solid rock, and, being narrower at the mouth than at the bottom, it is not an easy thing to get out unaided, if one should he so unfortunate as to get in. Dr. Thomson mentions the case of an acquaintance who fell into one of these pits, or empty cisterns, and, being unable to extricate himself, passed two dreadful days and nights before he was discovered and drawn out, more dead than alive.
These cisterns, when dry, were sometimes used as dungeons for prisoners, and thus Joseph’s brethren put him into one. The prophet Jeremiah was also imprisoned in a cistern which had been dug in the courtyard of the prison. See Jeremiah 38:6, where the word bor is translated “dungeon.” This is the same word that in the text is rendered “pit,” and in some other places “cistern.”
See also Jeremiah 14:3, Zechariah 9:11, and the note on Jeremiah 2:18 (#530).

69. Caravans

Genesis 37:25. They sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead, with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.
This was a caravan of Arabian merchants on their way to Egypt with such drugs as the Egyptians used for embalming and for medicinal purposes. The Egyptians depended on these itinerant Arab merchants for their supplies of this nature. See note on James 4:13 (#885). The mode of traveling in a caravan is peculiar. Pitts describes it as he saw it in the great caravan which was journeying to Mecca on a religious pilgrimage. It was undoubtedly longer than this commercial caravan, yet this was probably arranged on a similar plan. “They travel four camels abreast, which are all tied one after the other, like as in teams. The whole body is called a caravan, which is divided into several cottors, or companies, each of which hath its name, and consists, it may be, of several thousand camels; and they move, one cotton after another, like distinct troops” (Religion and Manners of the Mahometans, p. 430). He also states that the camels have bells about their necks, which, with the singing of the camel drivers, who travel on foot, make pleasant music. Though there is great confusion at the setting out of a caravan, its different companies and divisions soon settle down into a condition of order.
The caravan is also referred to in Isaiah 21:13, Luke 2:44.

70. Mourning

Genesis 37:34. Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
Rending the clothes as a token of grief is a very ancient custom, and is often referred to in the Bible. See Joshua 7:6; 1 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 1:11; 3:31; 13:31; 2 Kings 2:12; 18:37; 19:1; Ezra 9:3; Job 1:20. A Jewish writer, quoted by Brinier, says that this ceremony was performed in the following mariner: “They take a knife, and holding the blade downward, do give the upper garment a cut on the right side, and then rend it a hand’s breadth. This is done for the five following relations, brother, sister, son, daughter, or wife; but for father or mother the rent is on the left side, and in all the garments” (Oriental Customs, No. 65).
Sackcloth is also frequently mentioned. It was generally made of the hair of goats or of camels, and was coarse and black. It was used for straining liquids, for sacks, and for mourning garments. When used for mourning it was sometimes worn next to the skin, which it must have chafed by its harshness, and at other times it was hung like a sack over the outer garments, or instead of them. A girdle of similar material confined its loose folds. Ahab, on one occasion, appears to have worn sackcloth next to his skin all night. See 1 Kings 21:27. In Revelation 6:12, in the darkness accompanying an earthquake, the sun is said to have become as “black as sackcloth of hair.”

71. Captain of the Guard

Genesis 37:36. The Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.
Literally, “captain of the executioners.” He was responsible for the safekeeping of state prisoners, and for the execution of sentence upon them. In cases of treason he sometimes executed the sentence himself. He was the official guardian of the person of the king—the chief of his bodyguard.
The king of Babylon had a similar officer in his service. See 2 Kings 25:8; Jeremiah 39:13; Daniel 2:14. In the ruins of the hall of judgment of the palace at Khorsabad, Assyria, there is on the wall a representation of a naked man with limbs stretched out, and arms and ankles fastened to the floor or table, while a tall, bearded man is in the act of flaying him alive. This is supposed to be “the chief of the executioners” engaged at his horrid work; and some commentators interpret the expression “cut in pieces,” in Daniel 3:29, to refer to this act of flaying alive. See also Micah 3:3.

72. Prisons

Genesis 40:3. He put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
According to the Eastern custom, the state-prison formed a part of the dwelling-house of the chief of the executioners, or of some other prominent personage. See Jeremiah 37:15. Sometimes even the king’s palace was so used. See Jeremiah 32:2.

73. Use of Wine

Genesis 40:11. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.
It has been supposed by some that the ancient Egyptians drank no wine, though they did not object to drinking the unfermented juice of the grape, and this text is referred to as an illustration. It was evidently a part of the duty of Pharaoh’s butler to press the grapes into the cup that the king might drink; but it by no means follows that because of this no fermented wine was used. A passage in Herodotus is usually cited as an evidence that only fresh mush was allowed. On the other hand, there is other ancient testimony that establishes the fact that the Egyptians used fermented wine. This testimony is corroborated by the old monuments, which have representations of different articles employed in making wine, wine-presses in operation, and drunken men and women.

74. Burdens on the Head

Genesis 40:16. I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head.
It is quite common in the East to carry burdens on the head. Thus the head and neck become so strong that it is not uncommon for a man to carry a weight which requires the united strength of three men to lift from the ground. Women and children, as well as men, carry loads in this way. In ancient Egypt only men carried burdens on the head. The women carried them on the shoulder. See note on Genesis 21:14 (#20).

75. Birthday Feast

Genesis 40:20. It came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants.
The Eastern kings celebrated their birthdays by holding feasts and granting pardon to offenders. On the occasion referred to in the text the king availed himself of this custom to pardon the chief butler; although, for some reason not stated, he refused to grant the same clemency to the chief baker.
See also Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:21.

76. Egyptian Magicians

Genesis 41:8. He sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt.
These magicians (chartummim) were an order of Egyptian priests who understood the sacred hieroglyphic writings. They cultivated a knowledge of art and science, interpreted dreams, practiced soothsaying and divination, and were supposed to possess secret arts. They were men of great influence in Egypt, much esteemed, and highly honored. They were applied to for direction and assistance on all subjects outside the ordinary range of knowledge. Hence Pharaoh sent for them when he desired an interpretation of his strange dreams. Moses in after years met this same class of men (Ex. 7:11,22). The same term is applied to the magicians in Babylon (Dan. 1:20; 2:2).

77. Shaving Among the Egyptians

Genesis 41:14. Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself.
Contrary to the custom of the Hebrews and other Orientals, the Egyptians shaved closely, only allowing the beard to grow as a sign of mourning; thus reversing the custom of the Hebrews, who shaved as a token of mourning.
See note on Isaiah 15:2 (#494). Strange to say, the Egyptians, while so careful to shave the beard, sometime fastened false beards to the chin. These were made of plaited, hair, and were different shape and sizes, according to the rank the wearer.
Joseph, while in prison, allowed his beard to grow; now that he is released be shaves, according to the Egyptian custom, as it would have been a disgrace for him to appear with a beard in the presence of the king.

78. Elevation of Slaves

Genesis 41:41. Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
This elevation of a slave to a position of high office, though uncommon among Western nations, was not so rare in the East. There, change of fortune was so sudden that the beggar of today might be the noble of tomorrow. Many of the most prominent characters in Oriental history were once slaves. The history of Joseph has in this respect often been paralleled. A most curious illustration of this is given by Harmer in his account of All Bey, who was stolen from his native place in Lesser Asia, near the Black Sea, in 1741, when he was thirteen years old, and was carried into Egypt, where, after varied fortunes, he reached a position next in power to the Pasha. (Observations, vol. 2, p. 520).

79. Signets Robes Necklaces

Genesis 41:42. Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck.
1. Great importance was attached to the signet ring, which contained the owner’s name, and the impression of which was of the same validity as a written signature is among us. Hence the gift of this royal signet ring was a transfer of royal authority to Joseph. Thus Ahasuerus gave his ring to Haman, and the document which Haman signed with it was considered as coming from the king (Esther 3:10-12). The same ring was afterward given to Mordecai, who used it in the same way (Esther 8:2,8,10). The value and importance attached to the signet ring are referred to in Jeremiah 22:24 and in Haggai 2:23. Some valuable specimens of ancient signet rings have been found by antiquaries. One of the most remarkable of these is now in the Abbott Collection of Egyptian Antiquities, in the Museum of the New York Historical Society. It is in most excellent preservation and of very high antiquity, bearing the name of Shoofoo, the Suphis of the Greeks, who reigned before the time of Joseph. It was found in a tomb at Gizeh, and is of fine gold, weighing nearly three sovereigns.
For description of other kinds of seals see note on 1 Kings 21:8 (#323).
2. The fine (or, literally, white) linen robes were worn by the Egyptian priests, which fact has given some occasion to think that Joseph was received into the caste of priests, which was of the highest rank in Egypt, as it was the one to which the king himself belonged.
3. The gold chain was another mark of distinction, since none but persons of high rank were permitted to wear such ornaments. There is in the Abbott Collection a gold necklace which has on it the name of Menes, the first Pharaoh of Egypt, and who reigned several hundred years before Shoofoo. The necklace has a pair of ear-rings to match. The signet and the necklace are no doubt similar in general appearance to those with which Joseph was invested. See also note on Song of Solomon 1:10 (#476).

80. Second Chariot Call for Prostration

Genesis 41:43. He made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee.
1. The “second chariot” was either the one which followed immediately after the king’s in state processions, or it was an extra chariot used by the king as a reserve in case of emergency. See 2 Chronicles 35:24.
2. The streets of modern Egyptian cities are so narrow that when an ordinary carriage passes through them it is customary to have an usher run before it to warn the people to get out of the way. In the case of Joseph, the command was to prostrate themselves, as they would do in the presence of royalty itself.

81. Granaries

Genesis 41:48. He gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities.
Granaries were often very extensive in Egypt, and every facility was made for the housing and subsequent delivery of the grain. The monuments have many illustrations of the different styles of store-houses that were in use, by which we can obtain some idea of the manner in which the ancient Egyptians received and delivered their grain. Some of these store-houses were evidently low flat-roofed buildings, divided into rooms or vaults, into which the grain was poured from bags. Similar structures were also used in Palestine, though we have no detailed account of the mode in which they were arranged. The Romans sometimes built store-houses for grain on stone pillars. The “barns” mentioned in Luke 12:18, were evidently above ground, since they were to be pulled down. Subterranean storehouses were also common in the East. See note on Jeremiah 41:8 (#554).

82. Sacks, of Two Kinds

Genesis 42:25. Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man’s money into his sack.
The sacks (keleihem) which were filled with corn, and the sack (sak) which had the money put into it, are supposed to have been of two different kinds. The latter is thought to have been a bag for holding the provender for the journey; while the former (more properly rendered vessels than sacks) were larger, and were filled with the grain that they were carrying to Canaan.

83. Egyptian Dinners

Genesis 43:16. Bring these men home, and slay, and make ready; for these men shall dine with me at noon.
The ancient Egyptians had the beasts they desired for food slaughtered in the courtyard of the dwelling. While the monuments give representations of poulterers’ shops, they do not show any shops for the sale of butchers’ meat, but represent the slaying, in private houses, of quadrupeds intended for food. The cause of this is not positively known. As poultry, fish, and vegetables formed the principal food of the people, it may be that there was not sufficient demand for the flesh of beasts to warrant the establishing of butcher-shops, such flesh perhaps being reserved for great feasts. The slaughter of animals for the table is a common subject of representation on these monuments. The four legs of the animal were tied together, and it was then thrown to the ground. Here it was held by assistants while the butcher cut the throat from ear to ear. The blood was caught in vessels, and set aside for food. The animal was then flayed, and dressed, and cut into pieces, which were carried in trays to the kitchen, where the cook immediately began to get them ready for the table. In this text we find Joseph issuing his orders to “slay and make ready” for the noon-dinner; so that not much time elapsed between the slaughter of the victims and their appearance on the tables ready for eating. See also 1 Samuel 28:24.

84. Form of Salutation

Genesis 43:29. Is this your younger brother, of whom ye spake unto me? And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son.
This is not a benediction, but one of the numerous forms of Oriental salutation used in meeting or in taking leave of all acquaintance.

85. Bread the Principal Food

Genesis 43:31. He washed his face, and went out, and refrained himself, and said, Set on bread.
Orientals in general are great eaters of bread. It has been computed that three persons in four live entirely upon it, or else upon such compositions as are made of barley or wheat flour. No doubt the term “bread” was often used to denote food in general; but this was because bread was more generally used than any other article of diet. When Joseph’s brethren had cast him into the pit, “they sat down to eat bread” (Gen. 37:25). When Moses was in Midian he was invited to “eat bread” (Ex. 2:20). The witch of En-dor “set a morsel of broad” before Saul and his servants (1 Sam. 28:22-25).

86. Egyptian Mode of Dining

Genesis 43:32. They set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
1. The Egyptian tables were placed along the sides of the room, the guests having their faces toward the wall. In this case Joseph probably sat at one end of the hall and his brethren at the other end, (“they sat before him,” verse 33), while the Egyptians sat on either side. The ancient Egyptian table was a round tray fixed on a pillar or leg, which was often in the form of a man, usually a captive, who was represented as holding the burden of the table on his head and shoulders. The entire structure was of stone or of some hard wood. These tables were sometimes brought in and removed with the dishes upon them. One or two guests sat at each table.
2. The Egyptians considered all foreigners unclean. No Egyptian would consent to kiss a Greek, nor to use any culinary utensil which belonged to one, nor to eat the flesh of any animal, even though a clean animal, which had been cut up with a Grecian knife. This was because Ibreigners ate animals which the Egyptians regarded either as unclean or as sacred. The Hebrews, for instance, slaughtered and ate the cow, which was sacred in the eyes of the Egyptians, and by them, on that account, exempt from slaughter. For this reason the representatives of the two nations could not eat together. Joseph ate by himself because he belonged to a higher caste than the Egyptians around him), and was above them all in social rank.

87. Position of Guests at Table

Genesis 43:33. They sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth.
The Egyptians sat at their meals; reclining was a Persian custom brought in at a later age. See note on Matthew 26:7 (#712). They used chairs of various kinds, and stools, and sometimes sat on the floor with the left leg drawn under them and the right foot planted on the floor, thus elevating the right knee.
The guests were placed according to the rank they occupied. This does not imply the use of long tables, since even at the present day there are posts of honor at the round tables of the modern Egyptians.

88. Mode of Distributing Food

Genesis 43:34. He took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs.
The ancient Egyptian mode of dining seems to have resembled the Persian rather than the Turkish. Different kinds of food were taken from the large dishes on which the cook had placed them, and were put on one smaller dish which was carried by a servant to the guest. In this instance Joseph saw that his brethren were well supplied from his own table.
Special respect was shown to guests of distinction by sending them some choice dainty, or a larger portion of food than was given to the others. Thus Joseph honored Benjamin with a five-fold portion, which must be considered the greater honor when we learn that a double portion was regarded sufficiently complimentary to a king. In Joseph’s estimation his brother Benjamin was worth more than two kings.

89. The Bowl

Genesis 44:2. Put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest.
The gabia, here rendered “cup,” was more properly a bowl, and was distinguished from the kosoth, or smaller cups, into which the liquid was poured from the gabia. The distinction is made in Jeremiah 35:5, where the two words are used.

90. The Divining Cup

Genesis 44:5. Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth?
The question whether Joseph actually practiced divination, or only pretended to do so, or merely instructed his steward to ask an ironical question; or whether the original words may not have a different interpretation from that which the translators have put upon them, is one which concerns the commentator rather than the archaeologist. It is an admitted fact that divining cups were used among the Egyptians and other nations. These cups bore certain magical inscriptions, and when used were filled with pure water. Authorities all agree as far as this, but they differ as to the use which was made of the cup after the water was poured into it. We give the statements of various writers, and it is quite’ probable that they are all correct, different modes being used at different times.
1. The divination was performed by means of the figures which were reflected by the rays of light which were permitted to fall on the water.
2. Melted wax was poured into the water, and the will of the gods was interpreted by the variously shaped figures formed in this way.
3. The cup was shaken, and the position, size, or number of the bubbles which rose to the surface was considered.
4. There were thrown into the water plates of gold and of silver, and precious stones, with magical characters engraved on them. Words of incantation were muttered. Then some of the signs engraved on the stones were reflected in the water, or a voice was supposed to be heard, or the likeness of the deceased person concerning whom the inquiry was made was thought to appear in the water.
5. The inquirer fixed his eye on some particular point in the cup until he was thrown into a dream-like or clairvoyant state, when he could see things strange and indescribable.

91. Loud Weeping

Genesis 45:2 He wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.
In the East emotions of joy as well as of sorrow are expressed by loud cries. Sir John Chardin (cited by Harmer, Observations, vol. 3, p. 17) says, “Their sentiments of joy or of grief are properly transports; and their transports are ungoverned, excessive, and truly outrageous.” He also states that when any one returns from a long journey his family burst into cries that may be heard twenty doors off. In like manner Joseph and his brethren, in their joy at meeting, indulged in excessive weeping.

92. Egyptian Wagons

Genesis 45:19. Take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.
Wilkinson supposes these wagons to have been similar to the war chariots, but with the sides closed. They had wheels with six spokes, and were drawn by oxen, which were harnessed the same as horses for the war chariots. In traveling the wagon was furnished with a sort of umbrella. It is evident from the narrative that wagons were at that time strange in Canaan. The sight of these Egyptian conveyances confirmed to the mind of Jacob the statement of his sons. See verse 27. Rosenmuller aptly suggests that Egypt was more likely than Canaan to develop the idea of a wagon, because it was a great plain (Morgenland, vol.1, p. 212).

93. Gifts of Raiment

Genesis 45:22. To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment.
Presents of costly and beautiful garments are among the modes of complimenting in use by the Orientals. Since the fashions of dress do not change as with us, these gifts are valuable as long as they last. These “changes of raiment” were designed to he worn on special occasions. Other biblical references are made to this custom of presenting gifts of clothing. Samson offered raiment to any who should guess his riddle (Judg. 14:12-13,19. When Naaman visited Elisha he took with him, among other gifts, “ten changes of raiment” (2 Kings 5:5). Even Solomon did not disdain to receive such presents (2 Chron. 9:24). Daniel was clothed with scarlet as a reward for interpreting the king’s dream (Dan. 5:29). It is said of an illustrious Oriental poet of the ninth century, that he had so many presents made him during his life-time that at his death he had one hundred complete suits of clothes, two hundred shirts, and five hundred turbans. The Hindus, at the close of a feast, commonly give to each guest a present of new garments. See also the notes on 1 Samuel 19:24 (#261), Esther 6:8 (#397) and Job 27:16 (#417).

94. Eyes Closed

Genesis 46:4 Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
It was an ancient custom that the nearest of kin should close the eyes of a deceased person, and give a parting kiss to the corpse. It was a comforting assurance to Jacob that his beloved Joseph, whom he had for many years mourned as dead, should perform this filial office for him. At Jacob’s death we are told that Joseph kissed him (Gen. 50:1), and it is to be presumed that he also closed the eyes of the patriarch, as God had promised.

95. Hatred of Shepherds

Genesis 46:34. Every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.
Frequent illustrations of the contempt in which the Egyptians held shepherds are seen on the ancient monuments: the shepherds being invariably represented as lank, withered, distorted, emaciated specimens of humanity. Concerning the cause of this feeling there are different opinions. It is certain that cattle were not by any means considered unclean by the Egyptians: The cow was sacred to Isis, and oxen were used for food and for labor; it is not likely, therefore, that taking care of them could have been considered polluting. The objection was not to the tending of cattle—which in itself is as necessary as the cultivation of the soil—but rather to the vagrant mode of life to which the shepherds were addicted, and which was opposed to the designs and policy of the ruling caste. When the foundations of the state rested on agriculture the Egyptians associated rudeness and barbarism with the name of shepherd.
Besides this, Egypt had at one time been invaded by a horde of wandering shepherds, descended from Cush. They established themselves in the country and had a succession of kings. They fought the Egyptians, burned some of their principal cities, committed great cruelties, and were not driven out until they and their descendants had occupied the country for hundreds of years. Some suppose that their expulsion took place only a short time before Joseph’s day.
Joseph skillfully availed himself of this well-known Egyptian hatred of shepherds for the purpose of having his brethren settled in a rich pastoral region, and isolated from the native Egyptians, thus keeping them a peculiar people

96. Token of Triumph

Genesis 49:8., Thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies.
This expression is intended to denote superiority and triumph. Job makes use of a similar figure where he represents God as taking him by the neck and shaking him to pieces (Job 16:12). David says, “Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies” (2 Sam. 22:41; Psa. 18:40). Jeremiah, lamenting the desolations of his people, says, “Our necks are under persecution” (Lam. 5:5). The ancient Franks had a custom of putting the arm around the neck as a mark of superiority. An insolvent debtor gave himself up to his creditor as a slave, and as a token of submission he took the arm of his new master and put it around his neck.
Compare notes on Joshua 10:24 (#220) and 1 Corinthians 15:25 (#869).

97. Milk Highly Esteemed

Genesis 49:12. His teeth white with milk.
This is meant to represent the pastoral wealth of Judah. Milk is, in the East, a very important and highly valued article of diet. In India it is sometimes said of a rich man, “He has abundance of milk.” A saying somewhat similar to this, but more closely resembling the text, is applied to one who has a plentiful supply of milk: “His mouth smells of milk.”

98. Embalming Mourning

Genesis 50:2-3. Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel. And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.
1. Among the ancient Egyptians there were numerous classes of physicians, divided according to the various diseases which were their special subjects of ‘study. They were not general practitioners, but specialists; hence their number was large. Joseph had them among his retainers. The Taricheuta, who superintended the process of embalming, were included among physicians as a special but subordinate class. They, in common with the higher class of physicians, belonged to the sacerdotal order.
2. There were different processes of embalming, varying according to the means at the disposal of the family of the deceased. The most expensive (and doubtless the mode by which Jacob and Joseph were embalmed) is estimated to have cost what would be equivalent to about twelve hundred and fifty dollars of our money. Preparatory to this process, the brain was removed by means of a crooked wire inserted through the nose. An incision was then made in the left side of the abdomen with a stone knife, the use of metal not being permitted. (Three of these ancient stone knives are now in the Abbott collection, and a saucer containing a gray embalming powder.)
Through this incision the viscera were drawn with the exception of the heart and kidneys. They were sometimes replaced after being prepared for preservation, and in other instances were put into vases. Some authorities assert that they were thrown into the river Nile; but this is denied by others.
After the removal of the viscera the body was carefully washed externally with water, and internally with palm—wine, oil of cedar, and other antiseptic preparations. The cavities of the head and abdomen were filled with myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, and other aromatic substances, and the incision in the abdomen was sewed up. The body was then steeped in a strong infusion of niter. The time occupied by this steeping process is variously stated at thirty, forty, and seventy days. It may have varied at different periods of Egyptian history, or in different parts of the land at the same time. Some have supposed that forty days were allowed for the embalming proper, and thirty for the steeping in niter.
When this process was completed the body and limbs were carefully wrapped in bandages of fine linen, plastered on the underside with gum. These bandages were seven or eight inches in width, and were sometimes six or seven hundred feet long. At this stage of the process the body seems to have been in some way subjected to extreme heat, precisely how is not known. Some have conjectured that it was soaked in pitch, boiling hot; others that it was put into a stove or oven. That extreme heat was applied in some way is evident from the charred bandages and from the appearance of the bones.
Layers of cloth, plastered with lime on the inside, were next placed on the body in a damped condition, fitting exactly to its shape. These layers were put on in sufficient numbers to make a thick case, which, when it was finished, was taken off until it became hardened, when it was replaced, and sewed up at the back. It was painted and ornamented with various figures, and in many instances was gilded. The part immediately over the face was made to resemble, as near as possible, the features of the deceased. The whole was then put into another case made of sycamore or cedar, and sometimes there was in addition an outside case made of the same material, or a sarcophagus of stone.
It is not positively known why the Egyptians embalmed the bodies of their dead. Some think that they believed the existence of the soul depended on that of the body, and hence desired to preserve the body as long as possible. Others suppose that they expected the soul at some distant future day to return to the body, and for that reason wished to preserve the body for its reception.
The oldest mummy known to the civilized world is now in the British Museum. “It is supposed to be that of Pharaoh Mycerinus, (Menkare,) of the fourth dynasty, the builder of the third great Pyramid at Gizeh, with whose coffin it was found by Colonel Vyse, in 1837. What is left of the coffin lies close by; it is unquestionably a very early piece of Egyptian work; wooden pegs instead of nails kept it together. Hieroglyphics are still seen on a portion of the lid and on the foot-piece; these, and especially the oval containing the name of Mycerinus, have been preserved with a freshness which is only to be accounted for by the extreme dryness of the climate of Egypt” (Handy Book of the British Museum, by T. Nichols, p. 145).
3. There is a special significance in the seventy days’ mourning for Jacob if the custom at that time were the same as in the days of Diodorus Siculus, who was in Egypt about forty years before the time of Christ. He says that on the death of a king the Egyptians put on mourning apparel and closed all their temples for seventy-two days, during which time the embalming proceeded. It would seem, therefore, that Pharaoh ordered royal honors on the occasion of the death of his prime minister’s father.

99. Why Joseph Could Not See the King

Genesis 50:4. When the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh.
The reason why Joseph did not himself prefer his request to the king, but solicited the intervention of his friends, is to be found in the fact that, having allowed his hair and beard to grow during the seventy days of mourning, he was not in a condition to appear before Pharaoh in the manner required by the etiquette of the court. See note on Genesis 41:14 (#77).

100. Large Funerals

Genesis 50:9 There went up with him... a very great company.
This not only shows the high esteem in which Joseph was held, but it also furnishes an illustration of the Egyptian fashion of large and stately funeral processions. The custom existed in every province in Egypt, and in every age of its history.

101. Threshing Floors

Genesis 50:10 They came to the threshing-floor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan.
The “threshing-floor” was not a shed, or a building, or any place covered with roof and surrounded by walls, but a circular piece of ground from fifty to a hundred feet in diameter, in the open air, on elevated ground, and made smooth, hardy, and clean. Here the grain was threshed and winnowed.

102. Egyptian Coffins

Genesis 50:26. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Though so much care was taken in ancient Egypt to embalm the body, there were many who were buried without coffins. The mention of the fact here that “Joseph was put in a coffin,” shows the high rank to which he had attained. His coffin was probably the outside receptacle or sarcophagus described in the note on Genesis 50:2-3. Whether it was of wood or of stone we have no means of knowing; the latter material would more probably be used for so exalted a personage.

103. Ark Use of Bitumen

Exodus 2:3. She took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch.
1. The precise form of this little “ark” is unknown. It may have been a basket, a boat, or a box. It was made of the leaf of the papyrus, a reedy plant which grew plentifully on the banks of the Nile, and which was used by the Egyptians for cordage, baskets, boats, sails, writing material, and a variety of other purposes; even sometimes for food.
2. The “slime” or bitumen is described in the note on Genesis 11:3 (#2). We have here an illustration of the manner of its use. Though melting easily and running freely, when cold it is very brittle; but if mixed with tar it becomes tenacious when set, and makes a firm cement. In preparing the little vessel for the reception of the infant Moses, it is probable that the papyrus leaves were first plaited together, and then coated with a mixture of hot bitumen and tar, which when cold became firm and waterproof.

104. Bathing in the Nile

Exodus 2:5. The daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side.
It would be quite inconsistent with modern Oriental ideas of propriety for women to bathe thus publicly; but among the ancient Egyptians it was admissible. Wilkinson (Anc. Egypt, vol. 3, p. 389) gives a picture from the monuments representing an Egyptian woman of rank bathing, attended by four female servants. The Nile was regarded as a sacred river, and divine honors were sometimes paid to it. Harmer (Obs., vol. 3, p. 531) gives a quotation from Irwin’s travels, in which the traveler tells of a company of dancing girls who went down to the Nile in the spring of the year to bathe in it, and to sing songs while marching along its banks, in honor of the fact that the waters of the river had begun their annual rise and overflow. It may have been some such sacred ceremony in which Pharaoh’s daughter and her maidens were engaged at the time when Moses was found.

105. An Exceptional Marriage Custom

Exodus 2:21. He gave Moses Zipporah his daughter.
In general the proposal of marriage came from the family of the bridegroom; but occasionally this custom was reversed, as in the case referred to in the text. Caleb gave his daughter Achsah to Othniel (Josh. 15:16-17). Saul gave his daughter Michal to David (1 Sam. 18:27).

106. Varied Pasture Grounds

Exodus 3:1. Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the back side of the desert.
In Arabia shepherds do not limit the pasturage of their flocks to places near at home, but wander sometimes long distances, being gone from home for weeks and months in pursuit of new pasture grounds. The Midianites had the principal place of their residence somewhere on the eastern border of Edom, but they pastured their flocks as far as Gilead and Bashan on the north, and on the south they went along both shores of the Atlantic Gulf.

107. Shoes Removed

Exodus 3:5. Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
Orientals are as careful to remove their shoes or sandals before entering a house, or a place of worship, as we are to remove our hats. Piles of shoes, slippers, or sandals, may be seen at the doors of Mohammedan mosques and of Indian pagodas; it is a mark of respect due to those places. Moses was in this way directed to show his reverence for the Divine Presence. In like manner, when Joshua met “the captain of the Lord’s host,” near Jericho, he was required to remove his shoes (Josh. 5:15). It was so unusual a thing to wear shoes in the house that on one important occasion when it was to be done it was necessary especially to command it. See note on Exodus 12:11 (#117).

108. Jewelry at Religious Feasts

Exodus 3:22. Every woman shall borrow of her neighbor, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.
With the controversy that has arisen among commentators in reference to the meaning of the borrowing, the lending, and the spoiling, spoken of in this text and in Exodus 11:1-3; 12:35-36, we have nothing to do in this work. (Those who desire to see an exhaustive presentation of the various views of commentators on this subject may find it in Kurtz's History of the Old Covenant, (Clark’s Foreign Theological Library,) vol. 2, pp. 319-334. Kurtz's conclusion is, “that the articles were not obtained by borrowing and purloining, but were spoils which came to the Israelites in the shape of presents, though they were forced from the Egyptians by moral constraint.”)
We notice the text only as it has reference to Eastern customs. It must be remembered that the Israelites were about to go into the wilderness to sacrifice to Jehovah. Roberts says: “When the Orientals go to their sacred festivals they always put on their best jewels. Not to appear before the gods in such a way they consider would be disgraceful to themselves and displeasing to the deities. A person whose clothes or jewels are indifferent will borrow of his richer neighbors; and nothing is more common than to see poor people standing before the temples, or engaged in sacred ceremonies, well adorned with jewels.” Oriental Illustrations, p. 70.
If this custom obtained among the ancient Egyptians, the transaction recorded in the text would be perfectly natural.

109. Egyptian Bricks

Exodus 5:7. Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
The ancient Egyptian bricks were made of clay moistened with water and then put into molds. After they were sufficiently dry to be removed from the molds, they were laid in rows on a flat spot exposed to the sun, which gradually hardened them. Some were made with straw and some without. Many had chopped barley and wheat straw; others bean haulm and stubble. The use of this crude brick was general in Egypt for dwellings, tombs, and ordinary buildings, walls of towers, fortresses, and sacred inclosures of temples. Even temples of a small size were sometimes built of unburnt brick, and several pyramids of this material are still to be seen in Egypt. The use of stone was confined mainly to temples, quays, and reservoirs.
Egyptian bricks were frequently stamped with the name of the king during whose reign they were made. They differ in size from the Babylonian bricks. They are from fourteen and a half to twenty inches long, from six and a half to eight and three quarter inches wide, and from four and a half to seven inches thick. Several bricks bearing the name of Thothmes III., and plainly showing the chopped straw used in their manufacture, are in the Abbott Collection, which also contains some of the ancient implements which were used in brick-making.

110. Hard Labor a Punishment

Exodus 5:11. Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not aught of your work shall be diminished.
M. Chabas, a French Egyptologist, discovered some years since a papyrus the writing on which, when deciphered, proved to be the report of a scribe, to the effect that twelve workingmen who had been employed at brick-making had failed in their tasks, and had therefore been appointed to harder work as a punishment. There is no evidence that these workmen were Hebrews, but the fact shows that the cruelty inflicted on the Hebrews by their task-masters was in accordance with the customs of the country. See Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 23, p. 685.

111. Irrigation

Exodus 7:19.... upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water.
For purposes of irrigation canals were cut in various directions, and artificial pools were made to receive the waters of the Nile at its annual overflow. See notes on Deuteronomy 11:10 (#191) and Psalm 1:3 (#426).

112. Receptacles for Nile Water

Exodus 7:19. That there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone.
These included all the vessels in which the Nile water was kept for daily use, among which were filtering pots of white earth. There were also stone reservoirs at the corners of the streets, and at other places, for the use of the poor.

113. Reverence for Rivers Abhorrence of Blood

Exodus 7:20. All the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
1. Many ancient nations had great reverence for rivers. The Egyptians, sharing this feeling, regarded the Nile as a sacred stream, and worshiped it as a deity, calling it “the Father of life,” and “the Father of the gods.”
2. The Egyptians, especially the priests, were very particular in their external habits, and there was nothing which they held in greater abhorrence than blood, seldom admitting any bloody sacrifices. Their horror must therefore have been extreme when they found the river, which they worshiped as a god, turned into blood, which they regarded with such utter disgust.

114. Nile Water

Exodus 7:21. The fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river.
The extent of this calamity will be seen when it is remembered that the waters of the Nile were to the Egyptians then, as now, the great source of dependence for drinking and for culinary purposes. The spring water is hard and unwholesome, wells are seldom found, and rain water cannot be collected because it hardly ever rains. The inhabitants are therefore driven to the river, which all travelers agree in saying furnishes as sweet and wholesome water as can be found in the world. It is at first very thick and muddy, but can be readily filtered. The Egyptians say that “Nile-water is as sweet as honey and sugar.” Great indeed must have been the misfortune when this universal supply of one of the greatest necessaries of life was cut off.

115. Ashes Used in Cursing

Exodus 9:8. Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.
“When the [East Indian] magicians pronounce an imprecation on an individual, a village, or a country, they take ashes of cow-dung, or those from a common fire, and throw them in the air, saying to the objects of their displeasure, Such a sickness or such a curse shall surely come upon you.” (Roberts, Oriental Illustrations, p. 65).

116. The Outstretched Hand

Exodus 10:21. The Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven.
This is the custom of the Indian magicians when they deliver their predictions. It is done to show that they have favor with their gods.

117. Shoes Within Doors

Exodus 12:11. Thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste.
1. While it would be quite superfluous to direct us to have shoes on while eating, the Israelites would not put them on without being ordered. This was in accordance with the custom referred to in the note on Exodus 3:5, q. v (#107).
The reason for their violating their ordinary usage is here given: they were in haste.
2. Roberts mentions a sect in India called Urechamanar, who eat their food standing, having their sandals on their feet, and a staff or a bunch of peacock feathers in their hands.

118. Dough Kneading Troughs

Exodus 12:34. The people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.
1. The dough was made by mixing flour with water, or, perhaps, with milk. It was then kneaded with the hands; in Egypt the feet also were used. When the kneading was completed leaven was generally added. See note on Matthew 13:33 (#666).
2. The kneading-troughs were either small wooden bowls, such as the Arabs now use for kneading dough, and into which their bread is put after it is baked, or they may have been similar to the leather utensil described by Pococke, Niebuhr, and other travelers. It is a round piece of leather, having iron rings at certain distances around it, through which a chain is passed, so that it may, when not in use, be drawn together like a purse and hung up. The Arabs, when they travel, sometimes carry dough in it, and sometimes bread.

119. Egyptian Chariots

Exodus 14:6. He made ready his chariot.
The Egyptian chariot was a framework of wood, nearly semicircular in front, having straight sides and open behind. The front was of wood, and the sides were strengthened and ornamented with leather and metal bindings. The floor was of rope network, to give a springy footing. The fittings of the inside and the harness were of raw hide or tanned leather.
On the sides quivers and bow-cases were fastened, crossing each other. The wheels were low, had six spokes, and were kept on the axle by a leather thong or linchpin. There was no seat in the chariot. The number of horses to each chariot was two.
The chariot of the king did not differ materially from ordinary war-chariots. He, however, usually rode alone into battle, having the reins fastened around his waist, leaving both hands free to manage his weapons of war.
Jehu seems to have imitated the custom of Egyptian monarchs in driving his own chariot. See 2 Kings 9:20.

120. "Third Men"

Exodus 14:7. He took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
The word rendered captains is, literally, third men. Usually each war-chariot carried two men: the charioteer, who was an important character, and the warrior. Sometimes, however, there was a third man, who had direction of the two others. The strength of Pharaoh’s chariot force is seen, then, in this, that he had, besides the usual pair of men to each chariot, a third man or “captain.” Thus one might act as charioteer, one as warrior, and one as shield-bearer.

121. Night Watches

Exodus 14:24. It came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians.
Before the captivity, the Hebrews divided the night into three watches. The first was from sunset to ten o’clock; the second from ten o’clock to two; the third from two o’clock to sunrise. The first was called the “beginning of the watches” (Lam. 2:19). The second was called the “middle watch” (Judg. 7:19). The third was called the “morning watch,” as in the text, and also in 1 Samuel 11:11.
This mode of dividing time is also referred to in Psalm 63:6; 119:148. The Psalmist meditated on God and his word in the “night-watches.” a later method of dividing the watches, see note on Mark 13:35 (#743).

122. Egyptian Cavalry

Exodus 15:1. The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Archaeologists are not agreed as to the existence of cavalry among the ancient Egyptians. This passage and others similar seem to refer to cavalry, but it is said by some to have reference only to chariot warriors, in distinction from foot soldiers. All agree in admitting that there are no representations of cavalry on the monuments. Why they are not represented, if they were known, it is hard to say. Wilkinson insists, however, that there must have been Egyptian cavalry notwithstanding there are no monumental pictures of them. He refers to 2 Chronicles 12:3, where it is said that Shishak, king of Egypt, had twelve hundred chariots and sixty thousand horsemen. These horsemen are by far too numerous to be the occupants of the number of chariots given; so that, however it may have been in the time of the Exodus, there must have been Egyptian cavalry five hundred years later. He further says that the hieroglyphics notice the “command of the cavalry” as a very honorable position, generally held by the most distinguished of the king’s sons, and he also refers to ancient profane authors who speak of Egyptian cavalry. See Ancient Egyptians, vol.1, pp. 283,292.

123. Dancing

Exodus 15:20. All the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
Dancing was performed at first on sacred occasions only. It was a part of the religious ceremonies of the Egyptians as well as of the Hebrews, and was engaged in by many idolatrous nations, and often accompanied with scones of debauchery. Among the Hebrews it was joined with sacred song, and was usually participated in by the women only. When the men danced it was in companies separate from the women, promiscuous dancing not being practiced. If the ancient Hebrew dances were like those of the modern Arabs, we can understand how Miriam led in the dance. One leads off in the step, and the others follow in exact imitation of all the varied movements that she makes. These movements are entirely extemporaneous, governed by no fixed rule, but varied at the pleasure of the leader. Dancing was usually performed by the Hebrews in the daytime, and in the open air. It was an outward expression of tumultuous joy. When Jephthah returned from his conquest over the Ammonites “his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances” (Judg. 11:34). When the men of Benjamin surprised the daughters of Shiloh the latter were dancing at “a feast of the Lord” (Judg. 21:19-21). When David returned after the slaughter of Goliath, the Israelitish women met him with singing and dancing (1 Sam. 18:6). When the ark was brought home, David danced before it “with all his might” (2 Sam. 6:14). Some suppose that the reason why Michal was offended at this was, not only because of his scanty costume (as intimated in 2 Sam. 6:20), but also because he engaged in a service that usually pertained to women only, and hence was undignified and unbecoming of a king. On several occasions God’s people are exhorted to praise the Lord in the dance. See Psalm 149:3; 150:4.

124. Flesh Pots Diet

Exodus 16:3. When we sat by the flesh-pots, and when we did eat bread to the full.
1. The flesh-pot was a three-legged vessel of bronze, which the Egyptians used for culinary purposes.
2. The ancient Egyptians were fond of animal food. They chiefly ate beef and goose, and also had an abundance of fish. The cow was sacred, and was not eaten. Some writers assert that sheep were not eaten; but the contrary is affirmed by others.
3. Bread here is a generic term denoting vegetable diet. This the Egyptians had in large variety. See Numbers 11:5.

125. Omer Ephah

Exodus 16:36. Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.
1. The omen or gomer was a dry measure supposed to contain two quarts, one pint, and one tenth, English corn measure.
2. The ephah is supposed to have contained three pecks, one quart, and a pint.

126. Cleanliness in Worship

Exodus 19:10. The Lord said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.
This was considered a necessary preparation for meeting Jehovah. Pagans have similar ceremonies ill connection with their worship. Roberts says: “No man can go to the temple wearing a dirty cloth: he must either put on a clean one, or go himself to a tank and wash it, if it be soiled; or he must put on one which is quite new. Near the temples men may be often seen washing their clothes, in order to prepare themselves for some religious ceremony” (Oriental Illustrations). Jacob commanded his household to be clean and change their garments when they went up to Bethel to build an altar to Jehovah (Gen. 35:2).

127. Thorn Fires Grain Heaps

Exodus 22:6. If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed therewith; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
Thorns grow plentifully around the edges of the fields, and intermingle with the wheat. “By harvest-time they are not only dry themselves, but are choked up with tall grass dry as powder. Fire, therefore, catches in them easily, and spreads with great rapidity and uncontrollable fury; and as the grain is dead ripe, it is impossible to extinguish it” (Thomson, The Land and the Book, 1, 529). The farmers are exceedingly careful of fire at such times The Arabs in the valley of the Jordan, according to Burckhardt, put to death any person who fires the grass, even though it be done innocently. After the harvest, and before the autumnal rains set in, it is quite common to set the dry thorns and weeds on fire in order to clear the land for plowing, and to furnish a fertilizer from the ashes.
2. The word “stacks” would be better rendered by heaps, since the grain was not put into stacks as with us; but being left uncut until fully ripe, it was, as soon as cut, gathered into heaps, ready for the threshing floor.

128. Beasts to Be Helped

Exodus 23:5. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
By reason of the roughness of the way, it was an easy matter for an ass, especially when overburdened, as was often the case, to fall to the ground, and it was also very difficult for the poor brute to extricate himself from the stones and hollows among which he fell. Hence this merciful law, requiring a man to help even his enemy when he finds him thus trying to aid an unfortunate brute. Wordsworth aptly suggests that this law sets the conduct of the priest and the Levite, in the parable of the Good Samaritan, in a most unenviable light, inasmuch as it shows them to have treated a fellow-being with less regard than their law required them to treat an enemy’s ass (Luke 10:31-32).

129. Preparation for Festivals

23:14. Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto Me in the year.
1. It is curious to notice how, at a time considerably later than the origin of these public festivals, the exact day of their occurrence was made known. In these days of almanacs and of exact astronomical calculations, we can hardly appreciate the difficulties they encountered in finding the right time. The first appearance of the new moon was the starting-point. To ascertain this the Sanhedrin took the deposition of two impartial witnesses as to the time they had seen it. They next spread the intelligence through the country by means of beacons. A person with a bundle of brushwood or straw went to the top of Mount Olivet, where he kindled his torch and waved it back and forth till he was answered by fires of a similar nature from the surrounding hills. From these, in like manner, the intelligence was spread to others until the whole land was notified. After a time the Samaritans imitated the signs, thus making great confusion. This made it necessary to send messengers all over the country. These, however, did not go abroad at every new moon, but only seven times during the year. In this way the time for these three great feasts—Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles—as well as for other important occasions, was published to the people. See citation from Maimonides in Brown's Antiquities of the Jews, vol.1, p. 424.
2. These three festivals were preceded by a season of preparation, called peres, which lasted fifteen days. During this time each person was expected to meditate on the solemnity of the feast, and to undergo whatever legal purifications might be necessary. This is referred to in John 11:55. Roads, bridges, streets, and public water-tanks were repaired for the convenience of travelers.
3. All the males of Israel were expected to attend, excepting the aged, the infirm, and infants who could not walk alone. They were commanded to bring offerings with them.

130. The Passover

Exodus 23:15. Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread.
This, the first of the three great feasts, is usually called the Passover, in commemoration of the passing over of the houses of the Israelites by the destroying angel, at the time when the firstborn of the Egyptians were slain. The ancient Jewish canons distinguish between what they term “the Egyptian Passover” and “the Permanent Passover”; the former signifying the feast in its original form, and the latter representing it as modified in the subsequent years or the history of the people. The essential parts of the feast, were however, the same. It took place during the month Abib, or, as it was subsequently called, Nisan, corresponding very nearly with April of our calendar. See note on Deuteronomy 16:1 (#193). While it lasted, great care was taken to abstain from leaven. A he-lamb or kid of the first year was selected by the head of the family and was slain, its blood being sprinkled originally on the doorposts, and subsequently on the bottom of the altar. The animal was then roasted whole with fire, and eaten with unleavened bread and a salad of bitter herbs. It could not be boiled, nor must a bone of it be broken. When they first ate it in Egypt the Israelites had their loins girt and their shoes on, all ready for a journey, and they partook of it standing, as if in haste to be away. In after years this position was changed to sitting or reclining. Not fewer than ten, nor more than twenty, persons were admitted to one of these feasts. Stanley (in his History of the Jewish Church, vol.1, p. 559, Am. ed.) gives a deeply interesting account, from his personal observation, of the modern observance of the Passover by the Samaritans. For the mode of observing the Passover in our Lord’s time, see notes on Matthew 26:19-20 (#715, #716).
It is supposed by some writers that, aside from the general design of the Passover, as already stated, there was in some of its ceremonies an intentional Divine rebuke of the idolatry of heathen nations, and especially of that of the Egyptians. One of their deities was represented by a human body with a ram’s head. To have a lamb slain, and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts, was an act of contempt against this deity. Some heathen people ate raw flesh in connection with their festivities. The passover lamb was to be cooked. This cooking was by roasting, for the Egyptians and Syrians sometimes boiled the flesh of their sacrificial victims in water, and sometimes in milk. It was to be roasted with fire, for the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and ancient Persians are said to have roasted their sacrifices in the sun. It was to be roasted whole, even to the intestines, for the heathen were in the habit of looking into these for omens, and sometimes even ate them raw.

131. Feast of Harvest Feast of Tabernacles;

Exodus 23:16. The feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.
1. The Feast of Harvest is sometimes called the Feast of Weeks, because of the “seven weeks” by which its time was determined (Deut. 16:9-10). It is also called the Day of Firstfruits (Num. 28:26), because on that day the first loaves made from the wheat harvest were offered to the Lord. Its later name was Pentecost, because it occurred fifty days after Passover. These fifty days began with the offering of the first sheaf of the barley harvest during Passover week (Lev. 23:10), and ended with the Feast of Harvest. This feast took place after the corn harvest, and before the vintage.
Its design was primarily to give an expression of gratitude to God for the harvest which had been gathered; but the Jews assert, that in addition to this, it was intended to celebrate the giving of the law on Siniai, which took place fifty days after the Passover. Maimonides says that the reason why the feast occupied but one day was because that was all the time occupied in giving the law.
On this day the people rested from all labor. Two loaves, made of the new wheat, were offered before the Lord. These were leavened, in distinction to the Passover bread, which was unleavened (Lev. 23:17). The Jews say that this was because the Passover was a memorial of the haste in which they departed from Egypt, when they had not time to get their bread leavened; while the Feast of Harvest was a token of thankfulness to God for their ordinary food. In addition to this offering of the loaves, every person was required to bring in a basket a portion of the firstfruits of the earth, and offer it unto the Lord (Deut. 16: 1-10). At the same time there was a burnt offering of seven young lambs, one young bullock, and two rams. A kid was given as a sin offering, and two young lambs for a peace offering (Lev. 23:18-19).
2. The Feast of Ingathering, more generally known as the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:34) was instituted to remind the people that their fathers dwelt in tents in the wilderness (Lev. 23:43) and also to be an annual thanksgiving after all the products of the earth—corn, fruit, wine, and oil—were gathered for the year (Lev. 23:39). It was held in the seventh month, Tizri, or Ethanim, corresponding to our October, and lasted for eight days; during which time the people dwelt in booths made of the branches of palm, willow, and other trees (Lev. 23:39-43). On each day there were offered in sacrifice two rams, fourteen lambs, and a kid for a burnt offering. During the continuance of the feast seventy bullocks were offered, thirteen on the first day, twelve on the second, eleven on the third, and so on, the number being diminished by one on each day until the seventh day, when only seven were offered. The eighth day was a day of peculiar solemnity, and had for its special offerings a bullock, a ram, and seven lambs for a burnt offering, and a goat for a sin offering (Num. 29:12-38). On the Sabbatical year, the Feast of Tabernacles was still further celebrated by a public reading of the law (Deut. 31:10-13). Whether this was intended to include the whole law, or only certain portions, and if so, what portions, is matter of dispute.
Other ceremonies than these, originally instituted, were afterward added. See note on John 7:37 (#798).
These festivals at the gathering of harvests were not peculiar to the Hebrews, but were in use among many Gentile nations. “The ancient sacrifices, assemblies, and conventions for sacrifices, were made at the gathering in of the fruits and productions of the earth, as the season of greatest leisure and rest” (Aristotle, cited by Maimonides, Reasons ... , p. 257).

132. Annual Pilgrimages

Exodus 23:17. Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God.
This great and sudden increase in the population of the sacred city—for it was to Jerusalem that the male inhabitants went, after they were settled in Canaan—could be accommodated much more easily than at first might be supposed. Three times a year these pilgrims were looked for, and every arrangement was doubtless made for their reception, while those who could not find room in the houses could pitch their tents in the streets or on the outskirts of the city. When the Mohammedans, in countless numbers, make their great pilgrimage to Mecca, they carry with them provisions enough to last during the journey both ways, and also during their stay in the city. They take from their homes butter, honey, oil, olives, rice, and bread, besides provender for camels and asses. They dwell in tents until their return.

133. Forbidden Seething

Exodus 23:19. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk.
As this injunction is put in connection with sacrifices and festivals, it seems to have referred to some idolatrous practices of the heathen. Cudworth says, on the authority of an ancient Karaite Comment on the Pentateuch, that it was an ancient heathen custom to boil a kid in the dam’s milk, and then besprinkle with it all the trees, fields, gardens and orchards. This was done at the close of their harvests for the purpose of making trees and fields more fruitful the following year. It will be noticed that the injunction of the text is given in connection with the feast of harvest.
Thomson says, that the Arabs “select a young kid, fat and tender, dress it carefully, and then stew it in milk, generally sour, mixed with onions and hot spices such as they relish. They call it Lebnimmu in his mother’s milk. The Jews, however, will not eat it” (The Land and the Book, vol.1, 135).

134. The Cubit

Exodus 25:10. Two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
The word cubit is derived directly from the Latin cubitus, the lower arm. The Hebrew word is ammah, the mother of the arm, that is, the forearm. It is evidently a measure taken from the human body; as were other measures of length among the Hebrews and other nations. There seem to be two kinds of cubits, and some say three kinds, mentioned in Scripture. In Deuteronomy 3:11, we read of “the cubit of a man.” In 2 Chronicles 3:3, “cubits after the first [or old] measure” are spoken of. In Ezekiel 41:8, we are told of “great cubits,” each one of which, according to Ezekiel 40:5, “measured a cubit and a handbreadth.” Some writers suppose these to represent three different measures of length; while others regard the first and second as identical, thus making but two kinds of cubits. Whether two or three cannot now be determined. It is no easier to decide as to the length of any one of the cubits named. Various estimates of the Mosaic cubit have been given, varying from twelve inches to twenty-two. The ancient Egyptian cubit was nearly twenty-one inches, which some of the best authorities now estimate as the length of the Mosaic. Other authorities, however, equally worthy of consideration, claim that the length of the Mosaic cubit, as applied to the Tabernacle and Temple, was eighteen inches; and that the Jews did not use the cubit of twenty-one inches—which was Babylonian as well as Egyptian—until after the captivity.

135. Beaten Oil

Exodus 27:20. Pure oil-olive beaten for the light.
This is supposed to have been oil which was obtained from olives not fully ripe, and pounded in a mortar instead of being put into a press. It was considered the best and purest, having a whiter color and better flavor, and yielding a clearer light than the ordinary oil from the press. Solomon made an annual present of this sort of oil to Hiram. 1 Kings 5:11. It is also mentioned in Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 24:2; Numbers 28:5. It may have been what is known as “cold drawn oil.” See note on Psalm 92:10 (#446).

136. The Span

Exodus 28:16. A span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.
The span (zereth) is the distance between the extremities of the thumb and outside finger of the outstretched hand. It is half a cubit.

137. Metallic Idols

Exodus 32:4. He received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf.
Most of the large idols worshiped by the ancients were first made of wood and then covered with plates of metal. We find illustrations of this in Isaiah 30:22, and 40:19. See also Nahum 1:14; Habakkuk 2:18. A wooden image (or one of stone; see Hab. 2:19) was first prepared, and the gold was then cast into a flat sheet which the goldsmith hammered and spread out into plating which was fastened on the wooden form. Thus the goldsmith first melted the gold, and then used “a graving tool” to fashion it to the shape of the image. Aaron’s molten calf seems to have been made in this manner. “This is evident from the way in which it was destroyed: the image was first of burnt, and then beaten or crushed to pieces, and pounded or ground to powder (Deut. 9:21); that is, the wooden center was first burnt into charcoal, and then the golden covering beaten or rubbed to pieces; verse 20, compared with Deuteronomy 9:21” (Keil).
See further note on Isaiah 44:10 (#446).

138. Calf Worship

Exodus 32:6. They rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings; and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
“This expression [play—Heb. tsachek, to laugh; and so rendered in Genesis 21:6] often signifies dancing among the ancients. It probably refers here to some mystic dance which imitated the course of the stars. The sun-god was represented by the ancients by the image of a bull. Its worship was well known to the Israelites because the Egyptians paid honor to the bull Apia in Memphis; and earlier than this to the bull Mnevis in On, by which name the Greek Heliopolis (City of the Sun) was called. On was near the land of Goshen, which was given to the Israelites when they were brought from Canaan to Egypt” (Stollberg's History of Religion, vol. 2, p. 127; cit. by Rosenmuller, Morgenland, vol. 2, p. 134).
The Egyptian idolaters worshiped deity under animal forms, thus differing from many other nations of antiquity whose deities were in human form. They kept live animals in some of their temples, and exhibited representations of them in others. The worship was accompanied with lascivious dances and other obscene practices. This is probably referred to in the twenty-fifth verse.
Reference is made to the Egyptian origin of this calf-worship in Ezekiel 20:6-8, and in Acts 7:39, 40. Jeroboam, who afterward set up the two golden calves (1 Kings 12:28) had lived in Egypt (1 Kings 12:2).

139. Mirrors

Exodus 38:8. He made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the looking-glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Ancient mirrors were metallic. The mirrors of the Egyptians were made of a mixed metal, chiefly copper, and were admirably polished. They were usually small, being in size and in general shape what would now be called hand-mirrors. They were wrought with great skill, and the handles, which were of wood, stone, or metal, were artistically shaped and highly ornamented. The Egyptian women were in the habit of carrying a mirror in one hand when they went to their temples to worship. It may be that the Hebrew women imitated this custom when they brought their mirrors to “the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”
Dr. Shaw (Travels, p. 24) says that the Moorish women he saw made their mirrors a part of the ornaments of their costume, hanging them on the breast, and wearing them with their other ornaments even when engaged in severest drudgery.
Allusion is made to metallic mirrors in Job 37:18; Isaiah 3:23; 2 Corinthians 3:18; James 1:23.

140. Talents

Exodus 38:24. Twenty and nine talents.
The gold talent, which is here spoken of, is supposed to have weighed 1,320,000 grains, or very nearly 230 pounds troy. Its money value is reckoned at £5,475, or over $27,000. The silver talent, mentioned in verse 25, was half the weight, that is, 660,000 grains, or almost 115 pounds troy. Its value is estimated at £340, or $1,700. Of course there was no coin which represented this sum. The word was used to designate large amounts of money. See Matthew 25:15.

141. The Jewish Tabernacle

Exodus 40:2. On the first day of the first month shalt thou set up the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
This was thirty cubits long by ten wide, and was ten cubits in height (Ex. 36:20-30). It was made of boards of shittim or acacia wood, every board being ten cubits long, and one cubit and a half wide (Ex. 36:21). The thickness is not mentioned in the Bible, but Josephus says that each of these boards was four fingers thick, excepting the two corners of the west end, which were each a cubit in thickness. (Ant. of the Jews, Book 3, chap. 6, § 3). Each board had two tenons at the base (Ex. 36:22), which fitted into silver mortises (Ex. 36:24). These mortises in turn were fastened to the ground by means of brass pins (Ex. 38:20), which, according to Josephus, were each a cubit in length. The boards were held together by means of wooden bars covered with gold (Ex. 36:31-34).
Several kinds of curtains and coverings were made for the Tabernacle. One was of fine linen, the threads being “blue, purple. and scarlet,” and on the curtains were figures of cherubim, either woven or embroidered (Ex. 36:8-13). Another was of goats’ hair, spun and woven into cloth (Ex. 35:26; 36:14). Another was of “rams’ skins dyed red,” and a fourth was of the skins of the tachash or “badger” (Ex. 36:19), though precisely what animal is meant by that name is not known.
The design and arrangement of these different curtains and coverings are a subject of dispute among restorers of the Tabernacle. Some regard them as coverings thrown over the tabernacle, the figured curtain being the first, and making a beautiful ceiling, the goats’ hair next, the dyed rams’ skins next, and over all the tachash skins. Others think that the figured curtains not only made a ceiling, but also were suspended on the inside, either partially or entirely covering the gilded boards.
Connected with this question is that of the shape of the Tabernacle roof, whether flat, like Oriental houses, or peaked and slanting, like Oriental tents. Great names might be mentioned on both sides. Fergusson, the celebrated English architect, presents a very strong plea in favor of the tent theory in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, art. “Temple.” Some very strong arguments against his plan of restoration may be found in a recent work by a learned Scotch layman (The Tabernacle and its Priests and Services, by Willam Brown, Edinburgh, 1871). One of the most original treatises on the subject is to be found in Solomon’s Temple, etc., by the Rev. T. O. Paine, Boston, 1861. Mr. Paine adopts the tent-theory, but, as we shall presently see, has a method of restoration entirely his own.
Fergusson supposes that the Tabernacle of gilded boards was entirely uncovered within and without, and that above this, and stretching beyond it on either side, so as completely to cover and protect it, were the curtains and coverings, in the form of a tent. The beautiful figured curtain was first thrown over the ridge pole, and was thus visible from the inside of the Tabernacle. Over this was the cloth of goats’ hair, and over this the “rams’ skins dyed red.” The tachtash skins he places along the ridge polo as a protection to the joint of the ram-skin covering.
Mr. Paine supposes that the linen curtains were hung in festoons on the inside of the gilded boards, four cubits from the bottom, thus leaving six cubits of gilded boards uncovered. Stretched over the Tabernacle, in tent form, was a double covering, made of goats’ hair, spun and woven into cloth of a dark brown color. This made the roof of the tent, and it came down close to the boarded sides of the Tabernacle. Fergusson’s tent, it will be remembered, stretches some distance beyond. Next to the gilded planks, on the outside, Paine puts the tachash skins, and over these the skins of the rams, with the wool on and dyed red. Thus “the Tabernacle had red sides and end, and a brown roof and gable, nearly black” (Solomon’s Temple, p. 16). He makes the front entirely open above the low entrance veil, and also has a small. opening in the rear, or west end, between the top of the gable and the peak of the roof. (See engraving on p. 77).
Nothing is said of the floor of the Tabernacle; whether of earth or boards is not known. In front were five pillars, over which was hung an embroidered curtain for a door (Ex. 36:37-38). There was also a veil dividing the interior into two rooms. This veil was of embroidery and hung on four pillars (Ex. 36:35-36). The precise length of each of these two rooms is not given, though, from the analogy between the Tabernacle and the Temple, two thirds of the space are supposed to have been given to the first room and the remaining third to the second. See 1 Kings 6:17-20.
The first room, which was called the Holy Place (Ex. 28:29) contained on one side the table of show-bread, on the other the golden candlestick (Ex. 26:35) and in front of the veil the golden altar of incense (Ex. 30:6). Behind the veil was the second room, supposed to have been in the form of a perfect cube. It contained the ark, and was called the Most Holy Place (Ex. 26:33-34).
In this Tabernacle of the Israelites there was a general resemblance to the temples of other ancient nations. This resemblance is to be seen, among other things, in the secret place where no one was permitted to enter, the special shrine of the Deity.
The wandering tribes of Asia have tents for their temples. They are larger than their dwelling-tents, and of better material and workmanship.

142. The Ark of the Covenant

Exodus 40:3. Thou shalt put therein the ark of the testimony, and cover the ark with the veil.
This is called elsewhere the “ark of the covenant” (Deut. 31:26) and “the ark of God” (1 Sam. 3:3). It was made of acacia wood, overlaid with gold within and without. It was two cubits and a half long, one cubit and a half in width, and the same in height. An ornamental cornice, or “crown,” of gold ran around the top. In each corner of the ark was a gold ring, and through the rings two gilded staves were kept for the purpose of carrying it when the Tabernacle was removed (Ex. 25:10-15).
In the work by Brown, referred to in the last note, the author expresses the opinion that the ark had feet, and that the rings were put into these feet in order, by means of the staves, to lift the ark on high when it was carried. He contends that peamoth,“corners,” in Exodus 25:12, should be rendered “feet.” Gesenius also gives this definition to the word.
The ark was put into the Most Holy Place (Ex. 26:34). In it were placed the two tables of the law, for whose reception it was specially designed (Ex. 25:16). According to Hebrews 9:4, there were in addition to these a golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod which budded. Some think, however, that this is not in accordance with 1 Kings 8:9, and that these two objects were laid up by the side of the ark. The passage referred to does not prove that the manna and the rod were never in the ark, but only that they were not there at the time the ark was put into Solomon’s Temple; they may have been previously destroyed. It has also been supposed by some that a complete copy of the law was placed within the ark. See Deuteronomy 31: 24-26. Others claim that “in the side” should be “by the side.”
The cover was of solid gold, and was called “the mercy-seat” (Ex. 25:17,21). Springing from the ends of this cover were two golden cherubim with outstretched wings. (Ex. 25:18-20). No particular description is given, here or elsewhere, of their size, shape, or general appearance. We do not know how to account for this failure to describe them, especially as all other articles connected with the Tabernacle are minutely described. Whether the form of the cherubim was so generally known as to make description unnecessary, or whether the description was purposely concealed, as among the secrets of Jehovah, cannot now be known. From the account given by Ezekiel in chapter 1:4-11, the cherubim seem to have been composite figures; but these could not have been in all respects like the cherubim over the ark, for Ezekiel represents them with four wings, each, two of which covered their bodies; while Moses speaks of the wings being stretched forth on high, “covering the mercy-seat,” thus implying that they had but two wings each. More particular description is given of the colossal cherubim in the Temple of Solomon, which were probably patterned after those of the Tabernacle. These are distinctly stated to have had two wings each, and to have stood with their wings outstretched, and their faces turned inward (2 Chron. 3:10-13). However composite the form, it was doubtless more human than anything else; in this respect differing from the winged figures of other nations. According to the Jewish tradition the cherubim over the mercy-seat had human faces.
Most of the nations of antiquity had arks, in which they preserved some secret things connected with their religion. These arks were likewise commonly surmounted with winged figures, but in spiritual meaning they are not worthy of comparison with the ark of the Hebrews. Clement of Alexandria, speaking of the Egyptians, says: “The innermost sanctuary of their temples is overhung with gilded tapestry; but let the priest remove the covering, and there appears a cat, or a crocodile, or a domesticated serpent wrapped in purple.” How different this from the tables of the law, the Divine covenant!

143. The Table of Show Bread The Golden Candlestick

Exodus 40:4. Thou shalt bring in the table, and set in order the things that are to be set in order upon it; and thou shalt bring in the candlestick, and light the lamps thereof.
1. The “table of show-bread” was on the north side of the Holy Place (Ex. 26:35). It was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, was two cubits long, one cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high. It had an ornamental cornice of gold around the top, and was furnished with rings of gold and gilded staves (Ex. 25:23-28). On it were placed twelve loaves of bread in two rows or piles, and on each row frankincense was put. The bread was changed every Sabbath (Lev. 24:5-9). There were also golden vessels of various kinds (Ex. 25:29), probably for the bread, frankincense, and wine.
The shape of the table of show-bread in Herod’s Temple is preserved to us in the celebrated triumphal arch erected in Rome to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Among the spoils of war represented on it are those taken from the Temple. These articles probably bore some general resemblance to one in Solomon’s Temple and in the Tabernacle.
2. The “candlestick” consisted of a standard with three branches on each side, thus affording room for seven lamps, which were supplied with olive oil. The candle’ stick stood on the south side of the Holy Place, and with its snuffers and tongs was made of gold (Ex. 25:31-40). Nothing is known of its size, or of the formation of its base, or of the exact position of the six branches. Whether the tops of these branches were on a level, or in the form of an arch; and whether the branches extended in the same plane or in different planes is not known.

144. The Golden Altar of Incense

Exodus 40:5. Thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony.
This was made of acacia wood covered with gold. It was two cubits high, one cubit in length, and one in breadth. It had four “horns” or projections on tin four corners at the top, and like the ark and the table of show-bread, it had a corners of gold, and rings and staves for transportation. The rings were of gold, and the staves of acacia wood covered with gold (Ex. 37:25-28). Its position wit; in the west end of the Holy Place, near the veil which concealed the Most Holy Place (Ex. 40:26). It was thus immediately in front of the Ark of the Covenant, though separated from it by the veil.

145. The Great Altar of Burnt Offering

Exodus 40:6. Thou shalt set the altar of the burnt offering before the door of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation.
This altar was placed in the court, not far from the entrance to the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:6,29). It was made of acacia wood, and covered with plates of brass. It was five cubits long, five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had four horns at the four corners. It had brazen rings, and staves covered with brass were provided for moving it. It was hollow, and is supposed to have been filled with earth, thus complying with the command in Exodus 20:24. See also Exodus 38:1-7.
Around the altar, midway from the bottom, was a projecting ledge on which the priest stood while offering sacrifice. This is represented in the word karkob, rendered “compass” in Exodus 27:5 and Exodus 38:4; a word which Gesenius renders margin or border. It is supposed that an inclined plane of earth led to this on one side, probably the south. Thus we may see how Aaron could “come down” from the altar (Lev. 9: 22).
Various views have been entertained in reference to the grating or network spoken of in Exodus 27:4-5 and Exodus 38:4. Some place it at the top of the altar, supposing that the lire and the sacrifice were put upon it; but if the altar was tilled with earth, as we have supposed, there would scarcely have been any need of a grating for such a purpose. Others suppose the altar to have been only half-filled with earth, and that this grating was placed inside of the altar half way to the bottom, for the purpose of holding the earth. Both these theories assume that the grating occupied a horizontal position. Some archaeologists, however, suppose this grating or network to have been perpendicular, and to have dropped from the edge of the karkob, or projecting ledge, to the ground. Thus in Exodus 27:5, it is said, “And thou shalt put it [that is, the “grate of network of brass,” verse 4] under the compass [karkob] of the altar beneath, that the net may be even to the midst of the altar.”
Meyer is very decidedly in favor of this view; indeed we are not sure but he ought to be credited with having first suggested it. After speaking of the karkob, or ledge, he says: “Under the outer edge of this bench was the copper lattice work, which extended from it to the ground on all four sides, just as the body of the chest extended from the inner edge of the bench. It formed, with the bench or the karkob around, an expanding set-oft; by reason of which the under half of the altar, on all sides, appeared wider than the upper. On the karkob, bench, or passage-way, the priest walked in order to attend to the sacrifice, to lay wood upon the altar, or to officiate in other ways....The grating served to preserve the base of the altar from the sprinkled blood of the sacrifices (see Ex. 29:12; Lev. 4:7) and to keep away from the sacred altar men and the beasts to be offered in sacrifice” (Bibeldeutungen, pp. 201-211).

146. The Brazen Laver

Exodus 40:7 Thou shalt set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and shalt put water therein.
This was made out of the “brazen mirrors” of the women (Exod 38:8) and was used for the ablutions of the priests (Ex. 30:17-21). The better to accomplish this purpose it was placed between the brazen altar and the door of the Tabernacle (Ex. 40:30-32). No description is given of its shape or size, but it is supposed to have been circular. In connection with the laver frequent mention is made of what is called its “foot.” See Exodus 30:18,28; 31:9; 35:16; 39:39; 40:11; Leviticus 8:11. This has led some commentators to believe that the “foot” was something more than a mere pedestal for the support of the laver, and they suppose that it may have been a lower basin to catch the water which flowed through taps or otherwise from the laver, thus making a convenient arrangement for washing the hands and feet of the priests.

147. The Outer Court

Exodus 40:8. Thou shalt set up the court round about, and hang up the hanging at the court gate.
This outer court which enclosed the Tabernacle was one hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide. It was surrounded by a canvas wall five cubits high. The sides and ends, excepting the entrance, were made of fine linen curtains, which were hung on fillets, or, more properly, rods, made of silver. These silver rods were supported by pillars of brass, being connected to them by hooks of silver. There were twenty pillars on each side and ten on each end, all of them fitted into brazen sockets. At the east end of the court was the entrance. It occupied three panels, and was twenty cubits wide, thus taking up two fifths of the front. The curtains of the gate were made of the richest kind of needlework, and were wrought in colors (Ex. 27:9-19). The frail walls of the Tabernacle were steadied by cords, which were fastened into the ground at suitable distances by means of tent-pins. See Exodus 35:18.

148. Priestly Garments

Exodus 40:13. Thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments.
We shall first notice the garments which the high priest wore in common with the other priests:—
l. Linen drawers, reaching from the loins to the thighs (Ex. 28:42). Maimonides (Reasons, etc., p. 267) says that these were to be worn as an evidence that the divine worship sanctioned no such impurities as were associated with idolatrous worship, and that this is also the reason for the command in Exodus 20: 26.
2. A tunic, or shirt, of white linen. It was made of one piece, (see note on John 19:23, #821), had sleeves, and is supposed to have reached to the ankles, and to have been of a checker pattern (Ex. 28:39-40; 29:5).
3. A girdle. This was wound around the tunic between the waist and the shoulders. Josephus says it was four fingers broad, and “so loosely woven that you would think it were the skin of a serpent” (Ant., Book 3, chap. 7, § 3). It was embroidered in colors (Ex. 28:39).
4. The miter, or turban, made of linen, called a bonnet in Exodus 39:28, and elsewhere.
We now notice the articles of dress which were peculiar to the high priest:—
1. The robe. This was woven of blue stuff; in one piece, with an opening by which it might be put on over the head. It was worn over the tunic, but whether it reached to the knees or to the ankles is uncertain. It was beautifully ornamented at the bottom with pomegranates in purple and scarlet. Little gold bells were hung between these, and made a tinkling sound whenever the wearer moved (Ex. 39:22-26).
2. The ephod. The ordinary priest also wore an ephod (see 1 Sam. 22:18), but it was different in material and in style from that of the high priest.
This was made of beautifully colored woven work, variegated with gold threads, the art of weaving which was known to the ancient Egyptians, from whom the Israelites may have learned it. These threads were made from thin plates of gold which were cut into wires (Ex. 39:3). The ephod was in two pieces, one for the back and the other for the breast. The two pieces were joined by “shoulder pieces,” which were a continuation of the front part of the ephod (Ex. 28:6-7; 39:4). On the shoulder pieces were two precious stones, each having the names of six of the tribes of Israel. These stones were placed in gold settings, which some think made clasps for fastening the shoulder pieces together (Ex. 28:9-12). The two parts of the ephod were fastened around the body by means of a girdle, which was really a portion of the front part of the ephod (Ex. 28:8). The ephod had no sleeves.
3. The breastplate. This was made of the same material as the ephod It was half a cubit wide and a cubit in length, but being doubled, it became a half cubit square, and formed a pouch or pocket.
On the front of this were four rows of precious stones, three in each row, and on them were engraved the names of the twelve tribes. These stones were set in gold. The breastplate was fastened to the ephod by golden chains (Ex. 28:15-29). Connected with this breastplate were the Urim and Thummim —Lights and Perfections—but precisely what these were no man knows. They were used as a means of consulting Jehovah in cases of doubt (Num. 27:21; 1 Sam. 28:6). How they were used cannot now be told. Some think that the twelve stones were the Urim and Thummim the stones themselves being the Urim or 7-Lights, and the names of the tribes engraven on them being the Thummim or Perfections, because they represented the tribes in their tribal integrity. From the fact that the Urim and Thummim are said to be in the breastplate, others again think that they were separate from the twelve stones and were put into the pocket behind them. Some suppose them to have been three precious stones which were placed in this pouch of the breastplate to be used for casting lots to decide questions of doubt; and that on one of the stones was engraven, Yes, on another, No, the third being without any inscription. The stone drawn out by the high priest would indicate the answer: affirmative, negative, or no answer to be given. This may have been so, but there is no proof of it. Trench, acting on the suggestion of Züllig, supposes the urim and Thummim to have been a diamond, kept in the pouch of the breastplate, and having the ineffable name of the Deity inscribed on it. He thinks this is the “white stone” referred to in Revelation 2:17. See Trench on the Epistles to the Seven Churches, (American Edition,) p. 177.
4. The diadem. This was a plate of pure gold fastened around the miter by blue ribbons, and having engraved on it the words “HOLINESS TO THE then.” (See page 84.)

149. Forbidden Offerings

Leviticus 2:11. Ye shall burn no leaven, nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire.
Maimonides assigns as a reason for this law that it was “the practice of the idolaters to offer only leavened bread, and to choose sweet things for their oblations, and to anoint or besmear them with honey” (Reasons, etc., p. 275).

150. Use of Salt

Leviticus 2:13. Every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.
The reason for this law, according to Maimonides, was found in the fact that the heathen never offered salt in sacrifices. If this were the case in the time of Moses, their custom must have changed subsequently, since there is abundant evidence of this use of salt among heathen of a later day. Some suppose that they imitated in this the Jewish sacrifices.
The partaking of salt by different persons together is regarded among the Arabs as a pledge of friendship. It is equivalent to a most solemn covenant. Numerous instances are recorded by travelers illustrative of this. So deeply rooted is this sentiment, that intended robbery has been abandoned when the robber has accidentally eaten salt while getting his plunder. Travelers have sometimes secured their safety in the midst of wild Bedouin by using stratagem in getting the Arabs to eat salt with them. Macgregor tells how he thus outwitted a sheikh who had made him a prisoner, and whose disposition seemed to be unfriendly. “We had now eaten salt together, and in his own tent, and so he was bound by the strongest tie, and he knew it” (The Rob Roy on the Jordan, p. 260).
By thus using salt in their sacrifices the people were bound to Jehovah in most solemn covenant. Hence we read of the “covenant of salt” (Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5).

151. The Burnt Offering

Leviticus 6:9. This is the law of the burnt offering: It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, and the fire of the altar shall be burning in it.
The different victims for the burnt offering were bullocks, sheep, goats, turtle doves, and young pigeons. The person making this voluntary offering, when he offered a bullock, put his hand on the victim’s head, and then slew the animal. The priests took the blood and sprinkled it all around the great altar. In Solomon’s Temple there was a red line half way up the sides of the great altar; some of the blood was sprinkled above and some below this line. See Lightfoot, Works, (Ed. Pitman,) 9:75. After the blood was sprinkled the person offering flayed the animal and cut him in pieces. In after times the priests and Levites sometimes did this (2 Chron. 29:34). The entire offering was then burnt by the priests. If the offering consisted of a goat, a sheep, or fowls, the ceremony was slightly changed.
The burnt offering was the only offering that was entirely burnt. Thus it is sometimes called the “whole” burnt offering (Deut. 33:10; Psa. 51:19). The burning was to be so gradual that it should last from morning to evening, or from one daily sacrifice to the next. It was commanded that the fire on the altar should never go out.
The burnt offering is described in detail in Leviticus 1:1-17; 6:8-13.
The design of the burnt offering is not clearly stated in the Bible, and learned Jews differ in reference to it; some affirming that it was for evil thoughts, others that it was for a violation of affirmative precepts. Many Christian divines regard it as a symbol of entire and perpetual consecration to God; self-dedication, following upon and growing out of pardon and acceptance with God. See Fairbairn's Typology, vol. 2, p. 316.

152. The Meat Offering

Leviticus 6:14. This is the law of the meat offering.
The meat offering was wholly vegetable in its nature, and was sometimes presented in a raw state and sometimes baked. Specific directions were given concerning the ceremonies to be observed in either case. A portion only was consumed in the fire, and the rest was given to the priest. Neither leaven nor honey was allowed to be mixed with it. It usually accompanied and was subsidiary to the sin and burnt offerings, and the quantity offered was graduated according to the victim presented as a burnt offering (Num. 15:4-9).
It is supposed that oil was used to give the meat offering a grateful relish; and frankincense to make a sweet odor in the court of the Tabernacle. Paul alludes to the fragrant meat offering in Philippians 4:18. The heathen used oil in their sacrifices, not mixed with flour, but poured over the burnt offerings, to make the burning better. They likewise made free use of frankincense in their sacrifices. Full directions concerning the meat offering are given in Leviticus 2:1-16; 6:14-23.

153. The Sin Offering

Leviticus 6:25. This is the law of the sin offering.
There were two kinds of sin offering: one for the whole congregation and the other for individuals. For the first kind a young bullock was brought into the outer court of the Tabernacle, where the elders laid their hands upon his head and he was killed. The high priest then took the blood into the Holy Place and sprinkled it seven times before the wail, putting some on the horns of the golden altar of incense. The remainder of the blood was then poured out at the foot of the altar of burnt offering. The fat of the animal was burnt upon the altar, and the rest of the body was taken without the camp and burnt (Lev. 4:13-21).
Of the second kind of sin offering there were three varieties. The first was for the high priest. The ceremonies only slightly varied from those just described (Lev. 4:3-12). The second was for any of the rulers of the people. A kid was killed instead of a bullock. The priest did not enter the Holy Place, but merely put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and poured the rest out by the foot of the altar. The fat was burned upon the altar (Lev. 4:22-26). The third was for any of the common people. A female kid or lamb was brought and treated as in the case just described (Lev. 4:27-35). If poverty prevented the procuring of kid or lamb, two turtle doves or two young pigeons could be substituted; and for the very poorest a small offering of fine flour (Lev. 5:7-13).
What was left of the sin offering for one of the rulers or for one of the common people was not burned without the camp, as in the two other instances, but was eaten by the priests and their sons. It was considered peculiarly holy, and special directions were given concerning the vessels in which it was cooked (Lev. 6:24-30). The sin offering was offered for sins of ignorance against negative precepts (Lev. 4:2,13,22,27).

154. The Trespass Offering

Leviticus 7:1. This is the law of the trespass offering.
The trespass offering was similar to the sin offering; yet there were several important points of distinction. In the trespass offering rams were offered, and the blood was sprinkled around the altar of burnt offering (Lev. 5:18; Lev. 7:2). The priest was required to make a special valuation of the ram offered (Lev. 5:15-16).
The trespass offering was offered in cases of trespass committed in holy things: dishonesty or falsehood in a trust; robbery joined with deceit; dishonesty and falsehood in reference to things found (Lev. 5:15-6:7).

155. Oven Frying Pan Pan

Leviticus 7:9. All the meat offering that is baken in the oven, and all that is dressed in the frying-pan, and in the pan, shall be the priest’s that offereth it.
1. One form of oven common in the East consists of a hole dug in the ground four or five feet deep and three feet in diameter, and well plastered.
When the oven is thoroughly heated the dough is rolled out no thicker than a finger, and is stuck against the sides of the oven, where it is instantly baked. Another oven is made of a great stone pitcher, in the bottom of which a fire is made among small flints which retain the heat. On these the dough is placed arid is soon baked. Sometimes it is rolled out very thin, and is stuck on the outside of the heated pitcher, whence it instantly falls, baked through. It is thought by some that reference is made to this pitcher-oven in Leviticus 2:4, and that the “unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil” were to be baked inside the pitcher, and the “unleavened wafers anointed with oil” were to be baked on the outside; the “cakes” being mixed with oil, while the “wafers,” rolled out thinner, were only smeared with it.
2. The “frying-pan” (marchesheth) was a deep vessel of iron used for boiling meat, and which could also be used for baking bread.
3. The “pan” was a thin flat plate of iron on which bread could be quickly baked as on our griddles. This is the utensil referred to in Ezekiel 4:3.

156. The Peace Offering

Leviticus 7:11. This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings.
Peace offerings were of three kinds: 1. Thank offerings; 2. Free-will offerings; 3. Offerings for vows (Lev. 7:12,16). The peace offering might be either of the herd or of the flock, and either male or female (Lev. 3:1,7,12). The offerings were accompanied by the imposition of hands, and by the sprinkling of blood around the great altar, on which the fat and the parts accompanying were burnt (Lev. 3:1-5). When offered for a thanksgiving a meat offering was presented with it (Lev. 7:12-13). A peculiarity of the peace offering was, that the breast was waved and the shoulder heaved (Lev. 7:34). According to Jewish tradition this ceremony was performed by laying the parts on the hands of the offerer, the priest putting his hands again underneath, and then moving them in a horizontal direction for the waving, and in a vertical direction for the heaving. This is supposed to have been intended as a presentation of the parts to God as the supreme Ruler in heaven and on earth. The “wave-breast” and the “heave-shoulder” were the perquisites of the priests (Lev. 7:31-34). The remainder of the victim, excepting what was burnt, was consumed by the offerer and his family, under certain restrictions (Lev. 7:19-21). It has been suggested that this ceremony of eating the peace offerings by the offerer and his family may have given rise to the custom among the heathen of eating flesh offered to idols in an idol temple (1 Cor. 8:10). See Brown’s Antiq. Jews, 1, 376.

157. Earthenware Unclean

Leviticus 11:33. Every earthen vessel, whereinto any of them [that is the weasel, the mouse, and so forth, named in verses 29-30] falleth, whatsoever is in it shall be unclean; and ye shall break it.
This is an illustration of the great attention paid by the Jews to ceremonial purity. Earthenware, being porous, was capable of absorbing any uncleanness, and hence mere washing or scouring was not sufficient to purify it: it must be destroyed. For a reason precisely opposite to this, earthen vessels used in connection with the sin offering were destroyed, lest afterward any unclean thing should be put into them. See Leviticus 6:28.

158. Ranges

Leviticus 11:35. Whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down.
Some think that instead of “ranges for pots,” we should read “pots with lids.” Others refer the words to some arrangement by which two or more cooking vessels could be used at once, thus economizing fuel. Rauwolff (cited by Harmer, Obs., 1, 465) describes an apparatus he saw among the Arabs which may have been similar to the “ranges” spoken of here. A hole was dug in the ground about a foot and a half deep, into which the earthen pipkins were put filled with meat and with covers on. Stones were piled around the pots on three sides of the little pit, and on the fourth side the Arabs threw the fuel. In a short time the heat was intense, and the meat cooked. The expression “broken down,” in the text, may refer to the taking apart of the rude structure.

159. Mortar

Leviticus 14:42. He shall take other mortar, and shall plaster the house.
There were several kinds of mortar used by the Hebrews. Sometimes they used common mud and clay, mixed with straw chopped and beaten small. This may have been the kind especially referred to in the text. Aphar, “mortar,” is frequently rendered “dust,” and indeed is so translated in the verse preceding, where reference is made to the coating of old mortar which was scraped from the outside of the house. They also had several varieties of calcareous earth, any of which, mixed with ashes, made a good mortar. They likewise prepared an excellent cement of one part sand, two parts ashes, and three parts lime. These ingredients were well pounded, and were sometimes mixed with oil, while at other times the oil was put on as an outer coating.
Mortar was usually mixed by being trodden with the feet, but wheels were sometimes used.

160. The Victim's Head

Leviticus 16:21. Both his hands upon the head of the live goat.
It was customary among the Egyptians for the person offering sacrifice to wish that all evil might be kept from him and fall on the head of his victim. For this reason the Egyptians would not eat the head of any animal, but sold it to the Greeks or else threw it into the river.

161. The Great Day of Atonement

Leviticus 16:34. This shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year.
The Great Day of Atonement took place on the tenth day of the seventh month, Tisri, corresponding to our October. It was a day of great solemnity, especially designated and kept as a fast day (see Lev. 23:27; Num. 29:7; compare Psa. 35:13; Isa. 58:5) and in later times was known by the name of The Fast. Acts 27:9. On this day the high priest, clad in plain white linen garments, brought for himself a young bullock for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering; and for the people two young goats for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. The two goats were brought before the door of the Tabernacle, and by the casting of lots one was designated for sacrifice and the other for a scapegoat. The high priest then slaughtered the bullock and made a sin offering for himself and family. He next entered the Most Holy Place for the first time, bearing a censer with burning coals, with which he filled the place with incense. Taking the blood of the slain bullock, he entered the Most Holy Place the second time, and there sprinkled the blood before the mercy-seat. He next killed the goat which was for the people’s sin offering, and, entering the Most Holy Place the third time, sprinkled its blood as he had sprinkled that of the bullock. Some of the blood of the two animals was then put on the horns of the altar of incense, and sprinkled on the altar itself. After this the high priest, putting his hands on the head of the scapegoat, confessed the sins of the people, and then sent him off into the wilderness. He then washed himself, and changed his garments, arraying himself in the beautiful robes of his high office, and offered the two rains as burnt offerings for himself and for the people (Lev. 16).

162. Goat Worship

Leviticus 17:7. They shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils.
Seirim, here and in 2 Chronicles 11:15 rendered “devils.” is derived from a word signifying hairy, shaggy, rough, from which it is used to designate he-goats. The Egyptians worshiped the goat under the name of Mendes, by which name a province in Egypt was called. The goat was worshiped as a personification of the fructifying power of nature, and was reckoned among the eight principal gods of Egypt. A splendid temple was dedicated to Mendes, and statues of the god were erected in many places. The Israelites doubtless learned the worship of the Seirim among the Egyptians. It was accompanied with the vilest acts of bestiality.

163. Molech

Leviticus 18:21. Thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech.
Molech (sometimes written Moloch) was an old Canaanitish idol, into whose worship the Israelites gradually became drawn. Similar rites were performed among other nations, probably varying at different times and in different places. The usual description given of this god is that of a hollow image made of brass, and having a human body with the head of an ox. The idol sat on a brazen throne with hands extended. In sacrificing to it the image was heated to redness by a fire built within. The parents then placed their children in the heated arms, while the noise of drums and cymbals drowned the cries of the little sufferers. It is also said that there were seven chapels connected with the idol, which were to be entered according to the relative value of the offering presented; only those who offered children being allowed to enter the seventh. Miniatures of these are supposed to be the “tabernacle” referred to in Amos 5:26; Acts 7:43. Others think the “tabernacle” was a shrine or ark in which the god was carried in procession.
Some eminent writers deny that the description above given refers to the Molech of the Old Testament. The Bible itself gives no account of the idol save that children were made to “pass through the fire” to it. A diversity of opinion prevails as to the meaning of this expression. Most Jewish writers claim that it does not imply the actual sacrificing or burning of the children, but merely an idolatrous ceremonial purification; a fire baptism, which was accomplished by carrying the children between fires, or leaping over fires with them, or causing them to do the same. However this may have been in earlier times it is certain that the service—of Molech implied more than this at some periods of Jewish history. In the days of Ezekiel God’s testimony was, “Thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them” (Ezek. 16:21). Here passing through the fire is evidently synonymous with death. See also 2 Chronicles 28:3; Psalm 106:37, 38; Jeremiah 7:31.
Frequent reference is made in the Scriptures to this heathen abomination. See 2 Kings 16:3; 17:17; 21:6; 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35; Ezekiel 20:31. The crime was threatened with the severest punishment (Lev. 20:1-5).
Human sacrifices were anciently known to the Phenicians, Egyptians, Carthaginians, and other nations.
Some writers have sought to identify the worship of Molech with that of Baal. Others suppose that, according to the well-known astrological character of the Phenician and Syrian religions, Molech was the planet Saturn. Winer says: “The dearest ones might well be sacrificed to a star so dreaded as Saturn, in order to appease it, especially by nations who were by no means strangers to human sacrifices” (Biblisch. Realw., s. v. Molech).

164. Fruit of Young Trees Forbidden

Leviticus 19:23. Ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
The fruit of young trees was not to be eaten until the fourth year after being planted, because of certain heathen superstitions. Maimonides says that the idolaters believed that unless the first-fruits of every tree were used in connection with certain idolatrous ceremonies the tree would suffer some great harm, and perhaps die. They further made use of magical rites for the purpose of hastening the bearing of fruit. The law in the text was aimed at this folly, for as no fruit could be touched until the fourth year, the Hebrews could not offer the first of the fruit as the idolaters did; nor would it be of any use to seek, by incantations and sprinklings, to hasten the coming of the fruit, since they could not eat it before the time designated, and long before that it would come naturally.

165. Idolatrous Use of Hair

Leviticus 19:27. Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
Among the ancients the hair was often used in divination. The worshipers of the stars and planets cut their hair evenly around, trimming the extremities. According to Herodotus the Arabs were accustomed to shave the hair around the head, and let a tuft stand up on the crown in honor of Bacchus. He says the same thing concerning the Macians, a people of Northern Africa. This custom is at present common in: Lania and China. The Chinese let the tuft grow until it is long enough to be plaited into a tail.
By the idolaters the beard was also carefully trimmed round and even. This was forbidden to the Jews. Dr. Robinson says, that to this day the Jews in the East are distinguished in this respect from the Mohammedans the latter trimming their beard, the former allowing the extremities to grow naturally.
It was also an ancient superstitious custom to cut off the hair at the death of friends and throw it into the sepulcher on the corpse. It was sometimes laid on the face and breast of the deceased as an offering to the infernal gods. From the verse following it would seem that this custom, as well as the other, may be referred to in the text.
The express on “utmost corners” in Jeremiah 9:26;. 25:23; 49:32 refers not to any dwelling-place, but to the custom forbidden in Leviticus; and accordingly the margin reads, “cut off into corners, or having the corners [of their hair] polled.”

166. Memorial Cuttings Tattooing

Leviticus 19:28. Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you.
1. The custom of scratching the arms, hands, and face as tokens of mourning for the dead is said to have existed among the Babylonians, Armenians, Scythians, and Romans, and is practiced by the Arabs, Persians, and Abyssinians of the present day, and also by the New Zealanders. It was sometimes accompanied by shaving the hair from the forehead. See Leviticus 21:5; Deuteronomy 14:1; Jeremiah 16:6; 48:37. Some suppose that reference is made in Zechariah 13:6 to this custom of cutting the hands as a token of mourning.
2: The Orientals are very fond of tattooing. Figures of birds, trees, flowers, temples, and gods are carefully and painfully marked in their flesh with colors by the puncturing of sharp needles. This is still done in India for idolatrous purposes, and, in the time of Moses, probably had some connection with idolatry. Others do it for eccentric desire of adornment, as we sometimes find our own sailors printing their names and making representations of ships, anchors, and other objects on their arms by means of needles and india-ink, the latter mingling with the blood drawn by the needles, and leaving an indelible mark of a light blue. See note on Isaiah 49:16 (#321), and also on Galatians 6:17 (#873).

167. The Hin

Leviticus 19:36. A just hin.
The hin was a liquid measure containing about ten pints.

168. Forbidden Food

Leviticus 22:8 That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith.
1. It might not be necessary among us to forbid the eating of animals which have died of disease, but in the East the lower classes will eat such food. Tavernier noticed that in Ispahan dead horses, camels, and mules were bought by people who made hashes of the meat, which they sold to the poor day-laborers.
2. The ancient Greeks prohibited the eating of the flesh of animals which had been torn by wild beasts. The Mohammedans have a similar rule. Some commentators suppose this prohibition to be grounded on the fact that the animals thus torn may have been killed by wolves, dogs, or foxes which were mad, and the flesh in this way rendered unwholesome.
The text is specially addressed to the priests; so also is Ezekiel 44:31. A similar command, directed to the people at large, is found in Exodus 22:31 and Leviticus 17:15.

169. Drink Offerings

Leviticus 23:18. They shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings.
Accompanying other offerings was the drink offering, which consisted of a certain quantity of wine, proportioned to the nature of the sacrifice. This was taken by the priest, and poured out like the blood at the foot of the altar of burnt offering. For a bullock, half a hin (five pints) of wine was used; for a ram, a third of a hin; and for a lamb or kid, a fourth of a hin. See Numbers 15:4-12. In the temple service the pouring out of the wine of the drink offering at the morning and evening sacrifice was the signal for the priests and Levites to begin their song of praise to God.

170. The Feast of Trumpets

Leviticus 23:24. In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.
This festival, commonly called the “Feast of Trumpets,” is universally regarded by the Jews as the Festival of the New Year, which began with the seventh month, Tisri. As it occurred at the new moon, and on the first day of the month in which the Great Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles took place, it was an occasion of great interest. It has always been observed by the Jews as connected with the Day of Atonement, and the ten days between the two are considered days of preparation for the solemn day. The silver trumpets, which were ordered to be prepared for the purpose of calling the people together (Num. 10:1-10) were blown on this day more than at other times, because the new year and the new month began together. Hence the name by which the feast is commonly called.
The day was kept as a Sabbath, no work being performed. The usual daily morning sacrifice was offered, then the monthly sacrifice of the new moon, and then the sacrifice peculiar to the day, which consisted of a bullock, a ram, and seven lambs for a burnt offering, and a kid for a sin offering (Num. 29:1-6).

171. The Sabbatical Year

Leviticus 25:4. The seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
Every seventh year was to be a time of recuperation to the soil. The spontaneous produce of this Sabbatical Year was free to all comers, but especially to the poor (Ex. 23:11; Lev. 25:6). It was also a time for the debtor to be released by his creditor (Deut. 15:1-2). During the Feast of Tabernacles of this year the law was publicly read to the people (Deut. 31:10-13).

172. The Year of Jubilee

Leviticus 25:10. Ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you.
The Year of Jubilee was ushered in by the sound of trumpets through the land, every fiftieth year, on the Great Day of Atonement. Like the Sabbatical Year, it was a year of rest to the soil (Lev. 25:11). Thus two idle years came together every fifty years, and God promised by special providence to give such a plentiful harvest during the sixth year that there should be enough until the harvest of the ninth year could be gathered (Lev. 25:20-22). See also 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 37:30. A similar providence no doubt watched over the productions of the season before the Sabbatical Year, in addition to the spontaneous growth of that year. All their transfers of real estate were made in reference to the Year of Jubilee, and the poor and unfortunate were specially favored (Lev. 25).

173. Stone Idols

Leviticus 26:1 Neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God.
Maskith, here rendered “image,” is in Numbers 33:52, (where the word is in the plural) translated “pictures.” Some writers suppose that eben maskith, “figure stone,” is a stone formed into a figure; that is, an idol of stone in distinction to one made of iron or of wood. See Keil, Com. in loco.
Others, however, regard it as referring to stones with figures or hieroglyphic inscriptions on them; “pictured” or “engraven stones,” which in that age of idolatry were liable to be worshiped.

174. High Places Sun Images

Leviticus 26:30. I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images.
1. Frequent mention is made in the Scriptures of the “high places” of the heathen, where they were accustomed to worship their gods, supposing themselves there to be nearer to them, and more likely to be heard by them. This practice was imitated by the Hebrews, though denounced in their laws. They sometimes worshiped on their house-tops as a substitute for hills or mountains. See Jeremiah 19:13; 32:29; Zephaniah 1:5.
2. The “images” (chammanim) here spoken of are called “sun images” in the margin, in several places where the word is used. They are supposed to have been identical with the sun-god Baal. From 2 Chronicles 34:4, it would seem that they were sometimes placed on top of the altars of Baal, from which it is thought that they may have resembled rising flames. In some places where their destruction is spoken of they are represented as being “cut down” (Ezek. 6:4), and in other places they are said to be “broken” (Ezek. 6:6). Thus they may sometimes have been made of wood, and sometimes of stone. Perhaps they were made of stone when placed as a fixture on the altar, and of wood when put in other positions.

175. Shekel Gerah

Leviticus 27:25. All thy estimations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs shall be the shekel.
1. What the “shekel of the sanctuary” was is not definitely stated. There are those who think it was worth double the value of the ordinary shekel. Others, again, suppose that “the shekel of the sanctuary” was the standard to which all shekels must conform if of full weight. See note on Genesis 23:16 (#26).
2. The gerah was the smallest weight known to the Hebrews, and the smallest. piece of money used by them. It weighed between eleven and twelve grains, and was in value about three cents.

176. The Tithing Rod

Leviticus 27:32. Whatsoever passeth under the rod.
The reference here is to the Jewish mode of tithing sheep. As the sheep passed through a narrow gate, one by one, the person counting stood by, holding in his hand a rod colored with ocher. Every tenth one he touched with his rod, thus putting a mark upon it. Jeremiah alludes to this method of counting sheep in chapter 33:13. So also does Ezekiel in chapter 20:37.

177. Standards

Numbers 2:2. Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father’s house.
The degel, “standard,” was the large field sign which belonged to each division of three tribes, and was also the banner of the tribe at the head of that division. The oth,”ensign,” was the small flag or banner which was carried at the head of each tribe and of each subdivision of a tribe. The Bible gives us no intimation of the form of these different signals. They probably bore some general resemblance to the Egyptian military signals, representations of which are to be found on the monuments. These were not at all like our modern flags or banners. They were made of wood or metal, and ornamented with various devices, and shaped in the form of some sacred emblem. Some illustration of the mode of using these signals may perhaps be obtained from the account which Pitts gives of the signals which are carried on the top of high poles in an Arabian caravan, not only by day, but also at night, at which time they are illuminated. “They are somewhat like iron stoves, into which they put short dry wood, which some of the camels are loaded with; it is carried in great sacks, which have a hole near the bottom, where the servants take it out as they see the fires need a recruit. Every cottor [that is, company] hath one of these poles belonging to it, some of which have ten, some twelve, of these lights on their tops, more or less. They are likewise of different figures as well as numbers; one, perhaps, oval way, like a gate; another triangular, or like an N or an M; so that everyone knows by them his respective cottor” (Religion and Manners of the Mahometans, p. 43).

178. The Levites

Numbers 3:6. Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.
The family of Aaron were set apart especially to the duties of the priesthood. The rest of the tribe of Levi were consecrated to special services in connection with the worship of Jehovah. Each of the three families had its particular duties assigned. The Kohathites had charge of the sacred utensils of the Tabernacle. They saw that they were properly removed when on the march, and that they were put into their appropriate places when the encampment was again fixed (Num. 4:4-15). The Gershonites took care of the hangings and curtains of the Tabernacle (Num 4:21-28). The Merarites were required to look after the boards, sockets, pillars, pins, and cords of the Tabernacle (Num. 4:29-33). Moses also gave the Levites judicial authority (Deut. 17:8-12) and made them keepers of the book of the law (Deut. 31:9,25-26). After the temple was built they acted as porters, musicians, and assistants to the priests.
The first Levites who were appointed began their service at thirty years of age (Num. 4:23,30,35), but it was ordered that after that the age for commencing should be twenty-five years (Num. 8:24). In David’s time they began serving at twenty (1 Chron. 23:24-27). They were released from all obligation to serve when they became fifty years old (Num. 8:25).
Forty-eight cities were set apart for their residence in the Land of Promise. Six of these were also cities of refuge, and thirteen of them they shared with the priests (Num. 35:1-8; Josh. 21:13-19; 1 Chron. 6:54-60).

179. Fullness of Food

Numbers 11:20. Until it come out at your nostrils.
Roberts says, that this figure of speech is used in India to convey the idea of being filled to satiety. A host says to his guests, “Now, friends, eat mookamattam: to the nose. That is, Eat until you are filled to the nose. Of a glutton it is said, “That fellow always fills up to the nose.”

180. The Staff of Inheritance

Numbers 17:2. Take of every one of them a rod, according to the house of their fathers.
In the pictures on the walls of the ancient Egyptian tombs the chief person is always represented with a long staff—the mark of his rank as a land owner, and as the head of his family. In the Abbott Collection there are fragments of two of these rods with hieroglyphic inscriptions.
In the engraving this staff is seen in the left hand. The stick in the right hand is supposed to be a scepter. Sharpe represents this man as “an Egyptian of the reign of Amunmai Thori II, who lived at least two centuries before the time of Moses” (Bible Texts, etc., p. 46).

181. Sacrifice of the Red Heifer

Numbers 19:2. Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke.
The sacrifice of the red heifer was a peculiar ceremony designed to purify from the ceremonial defilement resulting from contact with a corpse (Num. 19:11-16). A heifer perfectly red, and which had never borne the yoke, was selected by the people, and brought to Eleazar the priest. She was then taken outside the camp and slaughtered. Eleazar sprinkled her blood seven times before the Tabernacle, after which the entire carcass was burnt, the priest throwing into the fire cedar, and hyssop, and scarlet. The ashes were then carefully collected and laid up in a suitable place for future use (Num. 19:1-10). When purification from the defilement of a corpse became necessary, the ashes were made into a lye by means of running water, and the water was sprinkled from a bunch of hyssop on the person, the tent, the bed, or the utensils which had been defiled (Num. 19:17-19).
This sacrifice differed from all others in several important particulars. The victim was not slaughtered in the court, nor was it burnt on the altar; it was killed and burnt outside the camp. Neither the high priest nor any ordinary priest officiated, but the presumptive successor of the high priest. The animal chosen was not a bullock, as in other sacrifices, but a heifer, and the precise color was specified. The ashes were carefully preserved.
Much has been written on these subjects, and various attempts have been made to give full explanations of all the minutiae of the ceremonies, but some things connected with them are not easily explained. The Jews are represented as saying, that Solomon himself; with all his wisdom, did not fully understand them.
The general design, doubtless, was to keep in remembrance the awful fact of sin, which brought death into the world, and the necessity of purification from its pollution. Paul makes reference to this in Hebrews 9:13-14. As Kurtz remarks, “This idea of an antidote against the defilement of death was the regulating principle of the whole institution, determining not only the choice of the sacrificial animal, but what should be added to it, and all that should be done with it” (Sacrificial Worship of the Old Testament, p. 426).

182. Prophets' Mantles

Numbers 20:28. Moses stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son.
This was the formal initiation of Eleazar into the sacred office. We find, also, that Elijah threw his mantle over Elisha, when, in obedience to divine command, he called him to the prophet’s work (1 Kings 19:19). This mantle Elisha took up as soon as Elijah was translated (2 Kings 2:13-14). In a similar way Eliakim was appointed the successor of Shebna (Isaiah 22:15,20-21).
Among the Persians the prophet’s mantle is a symbol of spiritual power, and is transferred from a prophet to his successor. Among the Hindus when a Brahmin is inducted into the sacred office he is always covered with a yellow mantle.

183. Chemosh

Numbers 21:29. Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh.
Chemosh was the national god of the Moabites, and hence they are called in this text, and in Jeremiah 48:46, “the people of Chemosh.” He was also worshiped by the Ammonites (Judg. 11:24). Solomon built high places for Chemosh and Molech in the neighborhood of Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7). Nothing definite is known concerning this god, or the mode of his worship. There is an old Jewish tradition that he was worshiped under the form of a black stone; and another that his worshipers went bareheaded, and refused to wear garments that were made by use of a needle. Chemosh is also mentioned in Jeremiah 48:7,13. His name is found on the celebrated Moabite Stone.

184. Baal

Numbers 22:41. It came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal.
The word Baal signifies lord, not so much in the sense of ruler, as possessor, or owner. The name was given to the principal male deity of the Phenicians, corresponding to Bel or Bolus of the Babylonians. See note on Isaiah 46:1 (#518). The name of the female deity associated with Baal was Astarte. The worship of Baal was of great antiquity, and was accompanied with splendid ceremonies. Priests and prophets were consecrated to his service (2 Kings 10:19). Incense (Jer. 7:9) and prayers (1 Kings 18:26) were offered. The worshipers prostrated themselves before the idol and kissed it, (1 Kings 19:18) perhaps at the same time kissing the hand toward the sun. See note on Deuteronomy 4:19 (#109). They danced with shouts, and cut themselves with knives (1 Kings 18:26-28). The offerings were sometimes vegetable (Hosea 2:8) and sometimes animal (1 Kings 18:23). Human sacrifices were also offered (Jer. 19:5).
Efforts have been made to identify Baal with one of the gods of classical mythology, but the results are by no means satisfactory. The Greek Zeus, the Roman Jupiter, Cronos or Saturn, Ares or Mars, and Hercules, have each been supposed by different writers to be the same as Baal. In reference to the astrological nature of the worship, the most prevalent opinion is, that Baal represented the sun, while Astarte, his companion, represented the moon; but Gesenius and others assert that the two terms respectively stood for Jupiter and Venus. Baal and Gad are considered by some to be identical. See note on Isaiah 65:11 (#535).
The ordinary symbol of Baal was a bull.

185. Baal Peor

Numbers 25:3. Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor.
The worship of this special form of Baal is generally supposed to have been accompanied with obscene rites. This seems to be indicated in this chapter. Some consider Baal-peor to be the same as Chemosh.

186. Camping Grounds

Deuteronomy 2:23. The Avims which dwelt in Hazerim.
Hazerim is not the name of a place, as it appears to be in the text. The same word occurs in Genesis 25:16, where it is translated “towns” and in Psalm 10:8 and Isaiah 42:11, where it is translated “villages.” In the text it is untranslated. The hazerim are supposed to have been the camping-grounds of wandering tribes, with a stone wall around them for protection. Mr. Palmer, in endeavoring to trace the route of the Israelites across the desert, found remains of some camping-grounds, evidently of ancient origin. The Maghrabim, or African Arabs, have their encampments on this principle at the present day. “When a camping-ground has been selected, cattle, as the most precious possession of the tribe, are collected together in one place, and the huts or tents are pitched in a circle round then; the whole is then fenced in with a low wall of stones, in which are inserted thick bundles of thorny acacia, the tangled branches and long needle-like spikes forming a perfectly impenetrable hedge around the encampment. These are called Dowars, and there can be but little doubt that they are the same with the Hazeroth, or ‘field inclosures,’ used by the pastoral tribes mentioned in the Bible” (Desert of the Exodus, p. 321).

187. Stone Cities

Deuteronomy 3:5. All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many.
These cities of Basilan, which are also referred to in 1 Kings 4:13, seem to have astonished their conquerors. “Why were these cities, with their walls and gates, something so remarkable to the Israelites? Because they had come from the Red Sea through the wilderness, until near the Mandhur, [that is, the Hieromax,] almost exclusively through a limestone region, in which, until this day, the troglodyte-life predominates; the soft limestone being adapted to the excavation of artificial caverns. That, in a land of hard basalt, is not to be thought of. There, in order to obtain the security which the caverns afford, it is necessary to build cities, walled around and provided with strong gates. To the astonishment of European travelers, there remain today large numbers of the walled cities of Basilan, with their black basalt houses, gates, doors, and bolts” (Raumer, Palästina, pp. 78-79).
Recent travelers tell marvelous stories of these unoccupied stone cities, which are still in excellent preservation. Porter believes that some of them are the veritable cities taken by the Hebrews at the time referred to it the text. He says: “Time produces little effect on such buildings as these. The heavy stone slabs of the roofs resting on the massive walls make the structure as firm as if built of solid masonry; and the black basalt used is almost as hard as iron. There can scarcely be a doubt, therefore, that these are the very cities erected and inhabited by the Rephaim, the aboriginal occupants of Bashan” (Giant Cities of Bastian, p. 84).
Macgregor also speaks of the immense slabs of stone which were used in the construction of these black basalt houses. He saw double doors made of slabs seven feet high and six inches thick, and with pivots about four inches long and three in diameter, turning in stone sockets; and stone window shutters, in size four feet by three. The room in which he slept was fourteen feet long, nine wide, and eleven high. Stone rafters supported a stone roof. The walls were from four to six feet thick. Many of the houses were two stories high, and a few three stories. See The Rob Roy on the Jordan, pp. 175-179.
The high antiquity claimed for these houses has been disputed, though all agree that they are of great age; but, whether they are the same buildings which the Hebrew warriors saw, or are of more recent date, they are undoubtedly similar in construction and in general appearance to the dwellings which made up the cities spoken of in the text.

188. Bedsteads

Deuteronomy 3:11. Behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron.
Bedsteads are less common in the East than with us, the bed being usually made on the divan, or platform around the room. Frames, however, are sometimes used. In Palestine, Syria, and Persia, those are made of boards. In Egypt they are made of palm-sticks, and probably were so made in Palestine in the time of King Og, when the palm was more plentiful than now.
The palm-sticks, however, would make rather a rickety bedstead for a heavy man, and hence the giant-king needed something more substantial. Bedsteads of metal seem to have been in more common use in the East formerly than at present, though their use in ancient times appears to have been limited mainly to princes and persons of distinction. Bedsteads of gold, and also of silver, are spoken of by heathen writers. Some of these were used in temples, and some in palaces. Mention is likewise made of such in Esther 1:6, where see the note (#388). Bedsteads of brass and of iron are also mentioned by ancient writers.

189. Zabaism

Deuteronomy 4:19. Lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them.
The worship of the heavenly bodies is the most ancient and widely spread form of idolatry, and frequent allusions are made to it in the Scriptures. Its chief promoters were called Sabians and sometimes Zabians; and the idolatry itself is known as Sabaism or Zabaism: probably from the Hebrew tsaba, a host. Thus in the name of the system the objects of worship are indicated: the “hosts of heaven.”
It is supposed that many of the precepts in the Mosaic law were directed against Zabaism in its various corrupt forms. The text is an illustration. Besides the direct reference to this superstition in this and in other passages, occasional allusion to it may be found elsewhere. The many texts in which the expression “the Lord of hosts” occurs, seem to be directly leveled at Zabaism; teaching that there is a being superior to the hosts the Zabians worshiped, and to all hosts, whether of heaven or earth. Thus we read in Genesis 2:1: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the hosts of them,” and in Job 9:7-9, “Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars; which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea; which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.” In these and similar passages God is declared to be the Creator of the heavenly bodies, and therefore far above them. There is also an allusion to Zabaism in Job 31:26-28: “If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand; this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.” Kissing the hand was a mark of respect to superiors, and was also an ancient idolatrous rite (1 Kings 19:18), may also refer to this custom, as well as to that of actually kissing the idol. An old writer, speaking of these two texts, says: “These places refer to the Gentiles’ mode of adoring the sun by lifting the right hand to their mouth; of which there is frequent mention among Pagan writers” (Gale's Court of the Gentiles, vol.1, book 2, chap. 8). Mollerus quaintly suggests that as “men could not attain to kiss the sun and moon with their mouth, they extended their hand to those celestial bodies, and thence moving it back to their mouth, they kissed it in token of homage and worship.”
According to Maimonides the Zabians made images of the sun in gold and of the moon in silver. They built chapels and placed these images in them, believing that the power of the stars flowed into them. They offered to the sun at certain times “seven bats, seven mice, and seven reptiles, together with certain other matters.”
Zabaism is likewise referred to in Deuteronomy 17:3; 2 Kings 17:16; 21:3; 23:4-6; Jeremiah 8:2.

190. Portal Inscriptions

Deuteronomy 6:9. Thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
It was a common custom among the ancient Egyptians to write inscriptions on the doors of their houses. Besides the names of the dwellers, lucky sentences were written. The Mohammedans write passages from the Koran on their doors. “O God!” is written on some; “the Excellent Creator is the Everlasting,” is also seen. The modern Jews have in some places an arrangement equivalent to this. The passages in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21, are written on one side of a piece of parchment which is prepared especially for the purpose, while on the other side is written שַׁדַּי, the Almighty. The parchment is then rolled up, so that the sacred name shall be on the outside, and is put into a reed or metallic cylinder, which has in it a hole just large enough to show the שַׁדַּי upon the parchment. This hole is covered by a piece of glass. Such a cylinder, with its parchment roll, is known by the name of Mezeuza, and is fastened to the right-hand door-post of every door in the house, so that it is in full sight, and may be touched or kissed as the dwellers in the house go in and out. The Jews from a very early period believed that the Mezeuza guarded the house against the entrance of diseases and evil spirits.

191. Watering With the Foot

Deuteronomy 11:10. Not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out,where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot.
Two interpretations are given of this passage, either of which can find illustration in Oriental customs, and in the fact that from the absence of rain in Egypt, and the great breadth of plain country unbroken by hills, it has ever been necessary to water the land by artificial means.
1. One ancient mode of raising water from the Nile, or from the canals which were cut through Egypt, was by means of a wheel which was worked by the feet. Dr. Robinson saw in Palestine several of these wheels which were used to draw water from wells. In describing one he says: “On the platform was fixed a small reel for the rope, which a man, seated on a level with the axis, wound up, by pulling the upper part of the reel toward him with his hands, while he at the same time pushed the lower part from him with the feet” (Bibl. Res. in Palestine, vol. 2, p. 22).
2. For crops which required to be frequently watered the fields were divided into square beds, surrounded by raised borders of earth, to keep in the water, which was introduced by channels or poured in from buckets. The water could easily be turned from one square to another by making an opening in the border, the soft soil readily yielding to the pressure of the foot. This mode is also practiced in India.
Allusion to one or the other of these customs is made in 2 Kings 19:24.

192. Idolatrous Use of Blood

Deuteronomy 12:23-24. Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.
See also Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 7:26-27; 17:10-14.
The discussion which has risen on the various reasons for this prohibition of blood for food, so far as it concerns the physical consequences of such diet, or the typical character of sacrificial blood, or the relation of the blood to the life, can have no place here. There are, however, reasons for the law which may have been drawn from ancient idolatrous and cruel customs to which we may with propriety refer. R. Moses Bar Nachman, an old Jewish writer, says that the Zabians “gathered together blood for the devils, their idol gods, and then came themselves and ate of that blood with them as being the devil’s guests, and invited to eat at the table of devils, and so were joined in federal society with them; and by this kind of communion with devils they were able to prophesy and foretell things to come.” (Townley's Maimonides, p. 76).
The sacred books of the Hindus exhibit traces of the same infernal mode of worship. They give directions concerning various oblations of blood, the different animals from which it may be drawn, and the different vessels in which it may be offered, positively forbidding, however, to pour it on the ground. If a similar prohibition existed among the Zabians, verse 24 may be a reference to it, commanding the Hebrews to do what the Zabians were forbidden. Hindu devotees drink the reeking blood from newly killed buffaloes and fowls.
“Drink offerings of blood” are spoken of in Psalm 16:4 and in Zechariah 9:7; there is evident allusion to the idolatrous use of blood.
In addition to this, the old Jewish rabbis say that this prohibition against blood was made on account of an ancient custom of eating raw flesh, especially the flesh of living animals cut or torn from them, and devoured while reeking with the warm blood. Bruce tells of a similar custom among the modern Abyssinians, and his statement, though at first received with ridicule, has been confirmed by other travelers. The hungry Israelites, after defeating the Philistines between Michmash and Aijalon, seem from the narrative in 1 Samuel 14:32-34, to have indulged in a similar horrid practice.

193. Abib

Deuteronomy 16:1. The month of Abib.
Abib means a green ear. This denotes the condition of the barley in Palestine and Egypt during this month. It was the first month of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, and was in later times called Nisan. See Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7. It corresponded nearly to our month of April.

194. Idol Groves

Deuteronomy 16:21. Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the Lord thy God, which thou shalt make thee.
Idol temples and altars were surrounded by thick groves and trees, which became the resort of the abandoned of both sexes, and in which, under plea of idolatrous worship, excesses of the vilest kind were perpetrated. For this reason God forbade the planting of trees near his altars, lest his people should become, or seem to be, like the heathen. See also Isaiah 57:5; 65:3; 66:17; Jeremiah 2:20; 3:6; Ezekiel 6:13; 20:28; Hosea 4:13. Some suppose the word “grove” here to mean a high wooden pillar, planted in the ground. See note on Judges 3:7 (#222).

195. Various Kinds of Divination

Deuteronomy 18:10-11. That useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
The word divination (kosem kesamim, “divining divinations”) may here be taken as a generic term, of which the seven terms following represent the species. This might be more clearly shown by a slight change in the punctuation, and an omission of the word or, which was supplied by the translators; for example, “that useth divination; an observer of times, or an enchanter.”
By divination, as the term is used in the text, we understand an attempt to penetrate the mysteries of the future by using magical arts, or superstitious incantations, or by the arbitrary interpretation of natural signs. Its practice was very prevalent in the time of Moses among all idolatrous nations, as indeed it is to this day. We have occasional illustrations of it in Christian lands. It became necessary, therefore, to warn the Hebrews against the fascinating influence of this ungodly habit. God provided certain lawful means by which his will was revealed, such as by urim and thummim, by dreams, by prophecies, and by several other modes, so that there was no excuse for resorting to the practices of the heathen. These are spoken of under the following heads.
1. An observer of times, “meonen:” one that distinguishes lucky from unlucky days, recommending certain days for the commencement of enterprises, and forbidding other days; deciding also on the good or bad luck of certain months, and even of years. This sort of diviners often made their predictions by noticing the clouds. Some would refer this to divination by means of words, of which we have illustration in more modern times in bibliomancy, that is, opening a book at random and taking, for the will of God, the first words seen. Still others suppose that meonen has reference to fascination by means of “the evil eye.”
2. An enchanter, “menachesh.” This may refer to divination by the cup, as already explained in the note on Genesis 44:5 (#90), in which passage the word nachesh is used. The Septuagint translators supposed it to mean divination by watching the flight of birds; while some later interpreters refer it to the divination by means of serpents, which were charmed by music.
3. A witch, “mekashsheph.” This word is used in the plural in Exodus 7:11, to denote the “magicians” of Pharaoh, who were well versed in the arts of wonder-working. In Exodus 22:18 the word is used in the feminine, and is translated witch, as in the text. Maimonides informs us that the greater number of works of divination were practiced by women.
4. A charmer, “chober:” (from the root chabar, to bind.) This was one who used “a species of magic which was practiced by binding magic knots.”Gesenius. Some think it may have been one who practiced a kind of divination which drew or bound together noxious creatures for purposes of sorcery; others, that it was one who used a magic ring for divination.
5. A consulter with familar spirits, “shoel ob.” This may have reference to a species of divination in which ventriloquism was used. The primary meaning of the word ob is a leathern bottle, which has led some authorities to think that this divination was one which called up departed spirits, and that the use of the word ob “probably arose from regarding the conjuror, while possessed by the demon, as a bottle, that is, vessel, case, in which the demon was contained” (Gesenius). Or, the word may have been used because these necromancers inflated themselves in the act of divination, like a skin bottle stretched to its utmost capacity (see Job 32:19) as if they were filled with inspiration from supernatural powers. See Wordsworth on Leviticus 19:31. The woman of Eudor who was consulted by Saul when the Philistines were about to attack him belonged to this class. Saul asked her to divine to him by the ob: (“the familiar spirit.”) (1 Sam. 28:7-8).
6. A wizard, “yiddeoni: “ (the knowing one.) This may have indicated any one who was unusually expert in the various magical tricks of divination.
7. A necromancer, “doresh el hammethim:” (one who seeks unto the dead.) The necromancers had various modes of divination by the dead. They sometimes made use of a bone or a vein of a dead body; and sometimes poured warm blood into a corpse, as if to renew life. They pretended to raise ghosts by various incantations and other magical ceremonies.

196. Axes

Deuteronomy 19:5. His hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve.
There were doubtless different forms of ax in use among the Hebrews, as different words are used to signify the instrument. Garzen, the word used here and in Deuteronomy 20:19; 1 Kings 6:7 and Isaiah 10:15, was probably an ax which was used for felling trees and for hewing large timber. Representations of ancient Assyrian and Egyptian axes have come down to us..Some of these axes are fastened to the handle by means of thongs. There is one kind, however, which is not so fastened, but which has an opening in it into which the helve is inserted, as with us. It bears a close resemblance to a modern ax, and from the reference in the text to the head slipping off seems to have been the garzen here spoken of. Egyptian axes were made of bronze, and perhaps of iron also. That some, at least, of the axes of the Hebrews were made of iron is evident from 2 Kings 6:5-6.

197. Landmarks

Deuteronomy 19:14. Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance.
In the East the fields of different owners are not marked by fences, as with us, but the boundaries are indicated by heaps of small stones, or by a ridge, or by posts, or by single stones set upright about a rod apart. It is easy for a dishonest man to remove these landmarks, little by little each year, and thus gradually encroach upon his neighbor. This practice is alluded to in Job 24:2, and is forbidden in Proverbs 22:28 and 23:10 as in our text. A curse was pronounced upon those who removed landmarks (Deut. 27:17). A figurative allusion is made to this crime in Hosea 5:10.
Not only the Jews, but other ancient nations, especially the Romans, had stringent laws against the removal of landmarks. In the British Museum are two or three very curious Babylonian monuments which are supposed to have been landmarks, and to be covered with curses on those who remove them. One of them is of marble, in shape of a massive fish. On the head is the figure of a serpent, and various other characters; and on the sides, in arrow-headed letters, are the curses.

198. Dedication of Houses

Deuteronomy 20:5 What man is there that hath built a new house and hath not dedicated it.
We are not informed as to the ceremonies accompanying the dedication of a dwelling; they were probably a combination of social and devotional. The title of the thirtieth Psalm is, “A Psalm or Song at the Dedication of the House of David.” The completion of the wall of Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah was celebrated by a dedication, at which there was great rejoicing (Neh. 12:27). The rabbis say that not only was a newly built house to be dedicated, but a house lately obtained, whether by inheritance, purchase, or gift. Houses that were not suitable for habitation, and that could not be made so, were not dedicated; but houses such as granaries and barns, that could in ease of necessity be converted into dwellings, were dedicated.
The custom of dedicating dwelling-houses was common among the ancient Egyptians, and is practiced to this day among the Hindus.

199. The Gate a Place of Justice

Deuteronomy 21:19. Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place.
As the vicinity of the gate was a place of popular resort, (see note on Genesis 19:1, #15) it became a convenient place for the administration of justice. Here courts were held, and disputes were settled. See Deuteronomy 16:18; 25:7; Joshua 20:4; Ruth 4:1; Job 5:4; 31:21; Psalm 127:5; Proverbs 22:22; 31:23; Jeremiah 38:7; Lamentations 5:14; Amos 5:12; Zechariah 8:16. From the fact that princes and judges thus sat at the gate in the discharge of their official duties, the word gate became a synonym for power or authority. This is illustrated in Matthew 16:18, where the expression “gates of hell” means powers of hell. We find it also in the title given to the government of the Turkish Empire, “the Ottoman Porte” or “the Sublime Porte”; (porta, a gate.) “The Gate of Judgment” is a term still common among the Arabians to express a court of justice, and was introduced into Spain by the Saracens.
Modern Oriental travelers speak of the existence at this day of the custom mentioned in the text.

200. Distinction in Dress

Deuteronomy 22:5. The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.
The distinction between the dress of the sexes being less than with us, there was the greater need of this regulation. There is reason to believe that the law was made not merely to preserve decency, but because the heathen were in the habit of pursuing a different course as a part of their idolatrous worship. Maimonides says: “In the books of the idolaters it is commanded that when a man presents himself before the Star of Venus, he shall wear the colored dress of a woman; and when a woman adores the Star of Mars, she shall appear in armor.” Pagan idols were frequently represented with the features of one sex and the dress of the other, and their worshipers endeavored to be like them. It is not at all unlikely that this custom was as old as the time of Moses, and was a partial reason for the enacting of this law.

201. Battlements

Deuteronomy 22:8. When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, it any man fall from thence.
The roofs of Eastern houses are flat, having a slight declivity from the center. As they are used for a variety of purposes by day, and often for sleeping at night (1 Sam. 9:26) it becomes necessary to guard them by means of a wall. Almost every Eastern house has a parapet, the Moslems making theirs very high, to screen their women from observation.
The houses of Christians are sometimes built without parapets, and serious accidents occur. Dr. Shaw describes the battlements on the roofs of the houses in Barbary as very low on the side next the street, and also when they make partitions from the roofs of neighbors. He says of this outside wall that it is “frequently so low that one may easily climb over it” (Travels, p. 210). He also states that the inside parapet, next to the court of the house, is always breast high. There is sometimes here only a balustrade or lattice-work. In Syria, however, the higher battlement is next to the street, and the lower one next to the court.

202. Mingled Seed

Deuteronomy 22:9. Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou halt sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.
The Zabians were accustomed to sow barley and dried grapes together, believing that without this union there would not be a good vintage; but that with it the gods would be propitious to them. Bishop Patrick observes, that if the Israelites had done this the fruits of the harvest would have been impure, because associated with idolatry. The firstfruits would not have been accepted by God, and hence the whole crop would have been useless.

203. Mixed Cloth

Deuteronomy 22:11. Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together.
This was in opposition to the Zabian priests, who wore robes of woolen and linen, perhaps hoping thereby to have the benefit of some lucky conjunction of planets, which would bring a blessing on their sheep and their flax. It is said that the pious Jews would not sew a garment of woolen with a linen thread, and that if one saw an Israelite wearing a garment of mixed cloth it was lawful for him to fall upon him and tear the forbidden garment to pieces.

204. Debtors Protected

Deuteronomy 24:10,11. When thou dolt lend thy brother anything, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge. Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.
This was a humane law designed to protect the poor man from the intrusion of the money lender. “ The strict laws regulating Oriental intercourse sufficiently guard the harems of all but the very poor. When the money lender goes to any respectable house he never rudely enters, but stands ‘abroad’ and calls, and the owner comes forth to meet him” (Thomson, The Land and the Book, vol.1, p. 500). Another advantage of this law was, that it prevented the usurer from selecting his pledge, giving the choice to the poor debtor. He could “bring out” what he pleased, provided its value was sufficient to meet the claim of the creditor. The latter was compelled to accept it, whether pleased with it or not.

205. The Outer Garment

Deuteronomy 24:12-13. If the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge: in any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment.
From this it would seem that the most common article of pledge was a part of the clothing. The words salmah and simlah (as it is in the parallel passage, Ex. 22:26) were used to denote clothing in general, but especially the large outer garment, or wrapper, which was skillfully wound around the person, and was as useful at night for a bed covering as during the day for clothing. This is the “raiment” of the text. The Orientals do not change their clothes on retiring to rest, and hence this large outer garment becomes very serviceable. To keep such a garment from a poor man over night was indeed an act of inhumanity which is justly condemned by the law. Tile consequences of such cruelty are touchingly described by Job where he speaks of the works of wicked men: “They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold. They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter” (Job 24: 7-8).
The abba of the modern Bedawi is supposed to bear a close resemblance to the ancient garment spoken of. It is made of wool and hair, of various degrees of fineness; is sometimes entirely black, and sometimes entirely white; and is marked with two broad stripes. It is altogether shapeless, being like a square sack, with an opening in front, and with slits at the sides to let out the arms. Very similar to this is the hyke, which is worn by the Moors of Northern Africa, and used by them for a covering at night and for a cloak by day. Dr. Shaw speaks of several varieties of the hyke, both as to size and quality. It is a loose but troublesome garment, being frequently disconcerted and falling to the ground; so that the person who wears it is every moment obliged to tuck it up and fold it anew about his body” (Travels, p. 224). It is often used to wrap up burdens that are to be carried, and in this way the Israelites carried their kneading troughs wrapped up in the folds of their outer garments, and borne on their shoulders (Ex. 12:34).
The outer garment is in the New Testament represented by the word ιμύτιον, which in the Septuagint is the word used in this text and in Exodus 22:26. It is called a cloak in Matthew 5:40; raiment in Matthew 27:31; vesture in Revelation 19:13; garment in Matthew 14:36. In most of the passages in the New Testament where the word “garment” is used this is the article meant.
This outer garment was easily and frequently laid aside. See Matthew 21:7-8; 24:18; John 13:4,12; Acts 7:58; 22:20,23.

206. Olive Gathering

Deuteronomy 24:20. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger; for the fatherless, and for the widow.
This refers to one of the modes of gathering olives still practiced in the East, that is, by beating the branches with sticks. It was mercifully ordered that the Israelites should give the trees but one beating, leaving for the poor gleaners all the fruit that did not by this means drop off.
Olives are gathered also by shaking the trees. This is referred to in Isaiah 17:6 and 24:13. In these passages the mode of gleaning seems to be referred to.

207. Threshing by Oxen

Deuteronomy 25:4. ‘Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
Threshing was sometimes done by instruments, (see note on Isa. 28:27-28, #508) and sometimes by having the grain trampled underfoot by horses or oxen. This is still a common mode in the East. The cattle are driven over the grain, treading heavily as they go, and in this rude, wasteful manner the threshing is accomplished. In general, the patient beasts are allowed to eat of the grain they tread out, though sometimes they are muzzled by parsimonious masters. See also Hosea 10:11. Paul from this law enforces the duty of ministerial support (1 Cor. 9:9).

208. Barefoot

Deuteronomy 25:10. His name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.
To go barefoot was a sign of distress and humiliation. Thus David went up Mount Olivet when he left Jerusalem at the time of Absalom’s rebellion (2 Sam. 15:30). The humiliation of the Egyptians was represented by the prediction of their walking barefoot (Isa. 20:2-4). When Ezekiel was directed to cease his mourning be was told to put on his shoes (Ezek. 24:17). Michaelis says, “Barefooted was a term of reproach, and probably signified a man who had sold everything, a spendthrift and a bankrupt” (Com. Laws Moses, vol.1, p. 435). In this way the man who refused to marry his brother’s childless widow was considered a worthless fellow.

209. Weights

Deuteronomy 25:13. Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small.
1. The marginal reading for “divers weights” is “a stone and a stone,” which is a literal rendering of the Hebrew. See also Proverbs 11:1; 16:11. Weights were no doubt originally made of different-sized stones, from which fact eben, a stone, was used to signify a weight, even after other materials were used for weights. We have the word “stone” in our own language to denote a weight of a certain size, and the Germans use the corresponding word stein for a similar purpose.
2. Oriental peddlers still have, as in ancient times, two sets of weights, one for buying and the other for selling. Allusion is made to this species of dishonesty in Proverbs 20:10 and in Micah 6:11.

210. Funeral Feasts

Deuteronomy 26:14. I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away aught thereof for any unclean use, nor given aught thereof for the dead.
There is no evidence of any allusion here to idolatrous customs. The reference is probably to the feasts which were given on funeral occasions to the friends assembled. See Hosea 9:4. The custom still exists in Palestine. The phrase “given aught thereof for the dead” may have reference to the practice of sending provisions into a house of mourning; to which custom allusion is supposed to be made in 2 Samuel 3:35, where David, on occasion of Abner’s death, refused to eat the food which was set before him. The expression “Eat not the bread of men” in Ezekiel 24:17, is thought to refer to the same custom. See also Jeremiah 16:7-8. Dr. Thomson, however, furnishes a different explanation to this giving for the dead. He says: “On certain days after the funeral large quantities of corn and other food are cooked in a particular manner, and sent to all the friends, however numerous, in the name of the dead. I have had many such presents, but my dislike of the practice, or something else, renders these dishes peculiarly disgusting to me” (The Land and the Book, vol.1, p. 150).

211. Plastered Monuments

Deuteronomy 27: 2, 3. Thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: and thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law.
Michælis supposed that the letters were first cut in the stone and then covered entirely with plaster, so that in the coming ages, when the cement should crumble off, the law might be found in all its integrity. In this he has been followed by some commentators. The probability, however, is, that the lime was first spread over the stories, and the words of the law then cut into the plaster or painted on it. Such stones thus prepared, two thousand years ago or longer, are still in existence in Palestine. The Egyptians are said to have spread a kind of stucco over sandstone, and even over granite, before the paintings were made. Prokesch found in the tombs in the pyramids of Dashoor a stone on which red mortar had first been laid, arid then the hieroglyphics and a figure of Apis impressed on the coating.

212. Idolatrous Spots

Deuteronomy 32:5. They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children.
The spot or blot here spoken of is said to be something that does not belong to the children of God. “Their spot is not of his children.” Allusion is supposed to be made here to the marks which idolaters put upon their persons, particularly on their foreheads, in honor of their deities. It is a very ancient practice, and probably existed before Moses’ time. Forbes, in his Oriental Memoirs, says that in India different idolatrous sects have different marks. These are specially common among the two principal sects, the worshipers of Siva and the worshipers of Vishnoo. The marks are horizontal and perpendicular lines; crescents or circles; or representations of leaves, eyes, and other objects. They are impressed on the forehead by the officiating Brahmin with a composition of sandal-wood dust and oil, or the ashes of cow-dung and turmeric. The colors are red, black, white, and yellow. In many cases these marks are renewed daily.
Zophar may have referred to a similar custom when he spoke to Job about lifting up his face without spot (Job 11:15). Eliphaz also spoke of lifting up the face to God (Job 22:26). Job himself subsequently denied that any blot was on his hands. Job 31:7. In the Revelation of John there are several references to idolatrous marks on the forehead and hands. See Revelation 13:16; 14:9; 19:20; 20:4.

213. Treading Olives

Deuteronomy 33:24. Let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.
This refers to the primitive method of treading the olives in order to express the oil. It is not now practiced, and could only be done when the olives were very soft. There is a similar allusion in Micah 6: 15. See also the note on Job 29:6 (#418).

214. The Everlasting Arms

Deuteronomy 33:27. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
By this bold image Moses represents the protecting power of God; thus reversing the idea of the Egyptians, who had pictures of the god Horus with inverted head and outstretched arms over the earth. This was one mode by which they represented the vault of heaven, as is shown in the engraving. The beetle, or scarabaeus, is the hieroglyphic for the name of Horns.

215. Roofs Used for Storage

Joshua 2:6. She had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax, which she had laid in order upon the roof.
The flat roofs of Eastern houses, being exposed to sun and air, are well adapted for the reception of grain or fruit, which may be placed there to ripen or to be dried. The flax-stalks, piled upon the roof to dry in the sunshine, would afford a very good hiding place for the spies.

216. Knives

Joshua 5:2. At that time the Lord said unto Joshua, Make thee sharp knives.
Knives were made of flint, bone, copper, iron, or steel. Specimens of ancient Egyptian and Assyrian knives are to be found in museums, and they probably have a general resemblance to those used by the Hebrews. They are of various shapes, according to the purpose for which they were made. Knives were not much used at meals. Even to this day the Orientals prefer dividing their meat with the fingers.

217. Stone Heaps

Joshua 7:26. And they raised over him a great heap of stones.
It was customary to heap up stones as rude monuments of important events. See Genesis 31:46; Joshua 4:3, 6. In the case of noted criminals this was done, not merely to mark the spot of their burial, but as a monument of the popular abhorrence of their crimes. This case of Achan is an illustration. Another instance may be found in the case of Absalom (2 Sam. 18:17). When Joshua captured and hanged the king of Ai, he commanded a heap of stones to be raised over his grave. Travelers tell us that it is still customary in Palestine to cast stones upon the graves of criminals, the passers-by adding to the heap for a long time afterward. In the valley of Jehoshaphat is a monument popularly known by the name of “Absalom’s Tomb,” and supposed to mark the site of the “pillar” which Absalom set up for himself “in the king’s dale” (2 Sam. 18:18). Mohammedans and Jews have for very many years been in the habit of casting stones at it as they pass, in token of their detestation of the crime of the rebellious son.

218. Rent Bottles

Joshua 9:4. Wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up.
Bottles made of skins when they get old are liable to be torn. The rents are repaired by sewing the broken edges together, by letting in a piece of leather, by putting in a round piece of wood, or by gathering up the rent place like a purse.
For a description of skin bottles, see note on Matthew 9:17 (#651).

219. Degrading Service

Joshua 9:21. Let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water.
This was a degradation that must have been greatly felt by the Gibeonites, since it compelled them to relinquish the duties of soldiers, and take upon themselves menial services usually performed by women.

220. Enemies Trodden On

Joshua 10:24. Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them.
This is an ancient Oriental mode of treating captured kings, not as an act of cruelty, but as a symbolical representation of complete subjugation. Compare notes on Genesis 49:8 (#96) and 1 Corinthians 15:26 (#869).
Roberts says of the East Indians: “When people are disputing, should one be a little pressed, and the other begins to triumph, the former will say, ‘I will tread upon thy neck, and after that beat thee.’ A low-caste man insulting one who is high, is sure to hear someone say to the offended individual, ‘Put your feet on his neck’” (Oriental Illustrations, p. 135).

221. Mutilation of Captives

Judges 1:6. They pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes.
This was an ancient method of treating captured enemies. It rendered them permanently incapable of performing the duties of a soldier. According to his own confession (vs. 7) Adoni-bezek had practiced the same cruelties on many of the royal captives whom he had taken in battle. The Assyrian kings were addicted to similar cruelties. One of the ancient monuments bears an inscription which Was put upon it by order of Asshur-izirpal, who began his reign B.C. 883. In this he says, speaking of a captured city, “Their men, young and old, I took prisoners. Of some I cut off the feet and hands; of others I cut off the noses, ears, and lips; of the young men’s ears I made a heap; of the old men’s heads I built a minaret” (Rawlinson's Five Great Monarchies, vol. 2, p. 85, note).

222. Baalim Asheroth

Judges 3:7. The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
Baalim is the plural of Baal. Gesenius defines it “images of Baal.” Against this, however, it has been said that the verbs which are associated in the Bible with the word Baalim are not verbs which are used in connection with images, such as “set up,” “cast down,” “adorn,” or “break in pieces”; but rather verbs which are used in connection with heathen deities, for example, “to serve,” “worship,” “seek to,” “go after,” “put away.” See Fairbairn’s Imp. Bib. Dict., vol.1, pp. 137,167. Some of these latter terms, however, can be used as properly in reference to images as to deities.
Some writers explain the word as indicating or including the various modifications of Baal, such as Baal-Peor, Baal-Berith, Baal-Zebub. This might find illustration in Hosea 2:17: “For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.”
Others suppose Baalim to be what the old grammarians called the pluralis excellentioe; a form of speech designed to describe the god in the wide extent of his influence and the various modes of his manifestation. The word is of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament. See Judges 2:11; 8:33; 10:10; 1 Samuel 7:4; 12:10; 2 Chronicles 24:7; Jeremiah 2:23; 9:14.
2. The word asheroth, here rendered “groves,” is often found either in singular or plural form. In most places where it is used, the word “groves” is evidently inappropriate, though in this our English translation is like the Septuagint and the Vulgate. Belden, the eminent lawyer and antiquarian, in his work De Diis Syris Syntagmata Duo, published in 1617, was the first to suggest that the word must be understood to mean, at least in some places, not groves, but images of Ashtoreth, the companion deity to Baal. This is the view now entertained by some of the best critics. It is certainly more correct to speak of making images than to say that groves were made. If the words “image of Ashtoreth” or “images of Ashtoreth” are substituted for the word “grove” or “groves” in the following passages the sense will be much clearer: 1 Kings 16:33; 2 Kings 17:16; 21:3; 2 Chronicles 33:3. So in 2 Kings 17:10 and in 2 Chronicles 33:19 it is said that asheroth wore set up; that is, these wooden figures of Ashtoreth, in addition to the graven images also mentioned. In the days of Josiah there was an asherah in God’s house. We are told in 2 Kings 23:6, what the good king did with it; “And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.” All this Is much more appropriately said of an image than of a grove. This asherah likewise had over it a canopy or tent, woven by the women (2 Kings 23:7). It was doubtless the same image which Manasseh had put into the house of the Lord (2 Kings 21:7). From Judges 6:25-30, and from other passages which speak of the asheroth as cut or burnt, it appears that they were made of wood. Some suppose that the expression “stamped it small to powder,” in the text above quoted, indicates that the asherah in that instance was made of metal, since otherwise there would have been no need or stamping it after burning; but the king may have pulverized the burnt wood in order more deeply to express his detestation of the idolatry which had occasioned its erection.
The asherah of the Phoenicians is thought by some writers to be connected with the “sacred tree” of the Assyrians, an object which appears very frequently on the Assyrian monuments. If this conjecture be based on fact we may find in the representations of the sacred tree which have come down to us a picture of the asherah which the idolatrous Jews worshiped.
Another opinion, which has found favor in some quarters, is, that Asherah was the name of a goddess worshiped by the Canaanites, either Ashtoreth or some other. The word “served” in the text, and in 2 Chronicles 24:18, seems at first to sanction this view; but as the passages previously quoted evidently speak of wooden images, it is probable that in these two texts the symbol is put, by metonymy, for the divinity.
A learned English writer, some years ago, advanced a very singular idea in reference to the asherah. He suggested that it was “an armillary and astronomical machine or instrument, erected long, very long ago—quite in the primitive ages”; that it was used for purposes of divination in connection with idolatrous worship; that it was probably about the height of a man, and had small balls branching off curvedly from the sustaining rod or axis; and that this axis was made of iron and brass, the bottom being set in a socket of stone, in which it turned as a pivot, requiring oil for lubrication. In proof of this last assertion he refers to the blessing which Moses pronounced on Asher (Deut. 33:24-25). He assumes that the word Asher in that text has reference to the asherah; that the shoes of iron and brass refer to the axis of the armillary machine, the foot of which is dipped in oil, that it may revolve more easily! The reasoning of his lengthy dissertation is more curious than conclusive. See Sabaean Researches, by John Landseer, Essay VIII.

223. Locks

Judges 3:23. Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlor upon him, and locked them.
The early Oriental lock consisted merely of a wooden slide drawn into its place by a string, and fastened there by teeth or catches. The lock commonly used in Egypt and Palestine is a long hollow piece of wood fixed in the door and sliding back and forth. A hole is made for it in the door post, and when it is pushed into this hole small bolts of iron wire fall into holes which are made for them in the top of the lock. The lock is placed on the inside of the door, and a hole is made in the door near the lock, through which the hand can be passed, and the key inserted. This will explain Solomon’s Song 5:4, “My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door.” Some of these locks are very large and heavy.

224. Keys

Judges 3:25. Behold, he opened not the doors of the parlor: therefore they took a key, and opened them.
The key was usually of wood, though some have been found in Egypt of iron and bronze. The ordinary wooden key is from six inches to two feet in length, often having a handle of brass or silver, ornamented with filagree work. At the end there are wire pins, which are designed to loosen the fastenings of the lock. The key was anciently borne on the shoulder. See note on Isaiah 22:22 (#502).

225. Ox Goads

Judges 3:81. Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad.
This must have been a formidable weapon if, as is doubtless the case, the goad of that day was similar to the one now used in Palestine. It is a strong pole about eight feet long and two inches in diameter. At one end is a sharp point for pricking the oxen when their movements become intolerably slow, and at the other end is a broad chisel-like blade, which is used to clear the plowshare of the roots and thorns which impede it or of the stiff clay which adheres to it. The pointed end of this instrument is alluded to in Acts 9: 5; 26:14.

226. White Asses

Judges 5:10. Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way.
There is no reason to interpret, as some writers do, the expression “white asses,” to mean asses covered with white caparisons. The intention is to indicate the wealth and luxury of the riders; and as asses wholly white, or even nearly so, are rare and costly, the men who own them must be classed among the rich and influential. Morier says that in Persia the Mollahs, or men of the law, consider it a dignity suited to their character to ride on white asses.

227. Ambush Near Water

Judges 5:11 They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord.
This refers to the practice of lying in ambush near wells and springs for the purpose of seizing flocks and herds when brought thither for water. Moses defended his future wife and her sisters against those who attacked them at the well (Ex. 2:17). Dr. Shaw saw, near the coast of the western province of Algiers, a basin of Roman workmanship, which received the water of a beautiful rill, and which was called by the suggestive title of Shrub we krub, that is, Drink and away. The name was given on account of robbers, who lurked for booty near the drinking-place.

228. Windows

Judges 5:28. The mother of Sisera looked out at a window, and cried through the lattice.
The walls of Oriental houses present but few windows to the street, and these are high up from the ground. They very seldom have glass in them, but are made of lattice-work, which is arranged for coolness, and also to give the inmates an opportunity of seeing without being seen. These windows are sometimes thrown out from the wall like our bay-windows, and thus afford a good opportunity of seeing what is going on in the street below. They are not hung like our ordinary sashes, but open and shut like doors. The window spoken of in the text was evidently on the street side of the house. So also was the window from which Michal saw David (2 Sam. 6:16), the window from which Joash shot the arrows (2 Kings 13:17); the window spoken of in Proverbs 7:6 and in Song of Solomon 2:9; and probably the windows which Daniel opened when he prayed (Dan. 6:10). The window from which Jezebel was hurled may have opened into the street or into the court (2 Kings 9:30-33), so may also the window from which Eutychus fell (Acts 20:9).

229. Embroidered Garments

Judges 5:30. To Sisera a prey of divers colors, a prey of divers colors of needlework, of divers colors of needlework on both sides.
Rikmah, hero rendered “needlework,” means work made in different colors, whether by means of the needle or the loom. Precisely how this beautiful cloth was made is not now known. The Israelites were doubtless able to make figured cloth either with the needle or by weaving, since there is evidence from the Egyptian monuments that both methods were Very ancient. The Israelites could therefore have learned the art in Egypt. Elegant and highly ornamented garments have ever been greatly prized by the Orientals. Babylon was anciently specially famous for their manufacture; whence the expression, “Babylonish garments” (Josh. 7:21). In the sacking of cities or camps all these variegated cloths were considered highly desirable booty. Thus Deborah, in this fine battle-poem, represents the ladies who attended on the mother of Sisera as suggesting to her that her son was detained because of the valuable spoil he had taken. Gold thread was sometimes used in the manufacture of beautiful garments. See Psalm 45:13-14. The prophet Ezekiel refers to the fondness of the Assyrians for costly clothing. See Ezekiel 23:12, and the note on that passage (#579).

230. Torches

Judges 7:16. He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
These “lamps” were probably torches, which could be quickly prepared for the use of the three hundred men. Lane says, that in the streets of Cairo the Agha of the police goes about at night accompanied by an executioner and a torch bearer, the latter of whom carries with him a torch which is called “shealeh.” “This torch burns, soon after it is lighted, without a flame, excepting when it is waved through the air, when it suddenly blazes forth; it therefore answers the same purpose as our dark lantern. The burning end is sometimes concealed in a small pot or jar, or covered with something else when not required to give light” (Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, vol. 1, p. 178).

231. Ornaments

Judges 8:21. The ornaments that were on their camels’ necks.
Saharonim, here translated ornaments, is in Isaiah 3:18, rendered “round tires like the moon.” In Judges 8:26 it is said that there were chains about the camels’ necks. It thus appears that these camels had gold chains around their necks on which were the saharonim, or little moons, probably gold ornaments shaped like a moon either full or crescent. “Perhaps they were made in honor of the moon-faced Astarte, and intimated that they who bore them were placed under her protection. The taking away of these ornaments would thus be a removal of idolatrous objects” (Wordsworth). The Arabs of the present day are accustomed to hang ornaments around the necks of their camels. Some are shaped like crescents, and are made of cowrie shells sewed on a band of leather or cloth.

232. Baal Berith

Judges 8:33. The children of Israel ... .made Baal-berith their god.
Baal-berith, or the covenant Baal, was one of the numerous Baalim that the Israelites worshiped at different times. We have no definite description of this god. A temple was built for him at Shechem (Judges 9:46), but what were the special ceremonies we do not know. The worship is supposed to have been an imitation of the worship of Jehovah; an adulteration of that worship, in which Baal was put in the place of Jehovah.

233. Betrothal and Marriage

Judges 14:7-8. He went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. And after a time he returned to take her.
The former part of this passage has reference, doubtless, to the betrothal; the latter part, to the marriage. About a year usually elapsed between betrothal and marriage, though this was not always the case. The expression “after a time,” literally, after days, is sometimes equivalent to a year.
See also note on Matthew 1:18 (#629).

234. Riddles

Judges 14:12. Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you.
The Hebrews, in common with all Oriental people, were very fond of riddles, and amused themselves with them, especially at ordinary meals and feasts. Even princes sometimes competed in their solution. The queen of Sheba tested Solomon’s wisdom with them. See 1 Kings 10:1, where the plural of the word which is here tendered riddle is translated “hard questions.”

235. Grinding, a Punishment

Judges 16:21. The Philistines... bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.
Grinding a hand mill was the lowest kind of slave labor. Among the Greeks and Romans slaves were sometimes compelled to do this as a punishment. It was doubtless considered equally degrading in the days of Samson, and for this reason the Philistines condemned him to it after they destroyed his sight. Some have endeavored to illustrate this scene by a pictorial representation of the Hebrew giant harnessed in leather bands to a huge wooden lever which is connected with a mill! Nothing of the sort is referred to in the text. The “ass’s mill” was probably the invention of a later age, and even if it existed in Samson’s day, how could he use it when he was “bound with fetters?” He was simply compelled to do the degrading work of a woman or a slave at the ordinary hand-mill, which is described in the note on Matthew 24:41 (#706). Jeremiah laments the same fate which befell the young men of his people (Lam. 5:13).

236. Dagon

Judges 16:23. The lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god.
Dagon was the national god of the Philistines. The name is derived from dag, a fish. Dagon is the diminutive of dag, and signifies “little fish”; not so much, however, in reference to size, as to the affection entertained for it; so that some would render it, “dear little fish.” From the description given in 1 Samuel 5:4, the idol is supposed to have been a combination of the human form with that of a fish. “And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.”
Omitting the words supplied by the translators [“the stump of”] and we find that the human part, consisting of the head and hands, was cut off, while dagon, or the fish part, remained. This description is corroborated by ancient traditions. The Babylonians believed that a being part man and part fish emerged from the Erythraean Sea, and appeared in Babylonia in the early days of its history, and taught the people various arts necessary for their well-being. Representations of this fish god have been found among the sculptures of Nineveh. The Philistian Dagon was of a similar character. The deity is supposed to have been intended to represent the vivifying and productive powers of nature. The fish was an appropriate image to be used for this purpose, by reason of its rapid and enormous multiplication.

237. Sports Witnessed From the Roof

Judges 16:27. Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport.
This building must have been of great size to have gathered on its flat roof three thousand people. The blind Samson probably “made sport” on one side of the enclosed courtyard, where the spectators on the roof and the crowds within could see him at the same time. In Algiers, on occasions of public festivity, the courtyard of the palace is covered with sand for the accommodation of the wrestlers, who are brought there to amuse the crowd. Dr. Shaw says, “I have often seen numbers of people diverted in this manner upon the roof of the dey’s palace at Algiers” (Travels, p. 217).

238. The Middle Pillars

Judges 16:29. Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up.
The two “middle pillars” here spoken of constituted the key of the entire building: these falling, the house would he destroyed. Pliny mentions two large theaters built of wood, and planned with such ingenuity that each of them depended on one hinge. Dr. Thomson suggests, from his observations of the peculiar topography of Gaza, that the building was erected on a side-hill, having a steep declivity, and in such a position that the removal of the central columns would precipitate the whole edifice down the hill in ruinous confusion (The Land and the Book, vol. 2, p. 342).

239. Gleaning

Ruth 2:3. She went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers.
The Israelites were commanded by their law to be merciful to the poor. The corners of the fields were not to be reaped (Lev. 19:9; Lev. 23:22). If a sheaf should be accidentally left in the field it was to be allowed to remain there (Deut. 24:19). This grain in the corners, and these odd sheaves in the field, were for the poor. The story of Ruth is a most beautiful illustration of this law. Reference is supposed to be made to this custom in Job 24:10, “They take away the sheaf from the hungry.”

240. Mutual Salutations

Ruth 2:4. Behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee.
These salutations are heard at this day in the East. The Psalmist prays that the haters of Zion may be like grass upon the house tops, and not like the grain which is reaped in the harvest field amid these mutual benedictions of employer and laborer (Psa. 129:6-8).

241. Vinegar Parched Corn

Ruth 2:14. Boaz said unto her, At meal time come thou hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the vinegar. And she sat beside the reapers: and he reached her parched corn, and she did eat, and was sufficed, and left.
1. Chomets—”vinegar”—was a beverage consisting generally of wine or strong drink turned sour. At present it is made in the East by pouring water on grape juice and leaving it to ferment. The Nazarites were forbidden to drink it (Num. 6:3). It was doubtless excessively sour (Prov. 10:26). It was similar to the posea of the Romans, which was a thin sour wine, unintoxicating, and used only by the poor. This is what is referred to under the name of vinegar in the narrative of the crucifixion of our Lord. See Matthew 27:34,48; Luke 23:36; John 19:29-30.
In Turkey grape juice is boiled from four to five hours, until it is reduced to one fourth the quantity put in. This is called Nardenk. It is of a dark color, has an agreeable sour-sweet taste, is turbid, and not intoxicating. It is sometimes used in the manner in which the chomets is said in the text to be used: the bread is dipped into it. It is thought by some to be the “vinegar” referred to in this passage. (See Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 5, p. 289.)
2. The “parched corn” is prepared from grains of wheat not yet fully ripe. These are sometimes roasted in a pan or on an iron plate; sometimes the stalks are tied in small bundles, by which the ears are held in a blazing fire until roasted. Grain thus parched may be eaten with bread or without. In Leviticus 23:14, it is classed with bread and with green ears. Jesse sent an ephah of it and ten loaves of bread to his sons in the army, by the hand of David (1 Sam. 17:17). Abigail took five measures of it as part of her present to David (1 Sam. 25:18). David also received it with other provision from the hands of his friends when he was in want, after having fled from his rebellious son Absalom (2 Sam. 17:28). In Leviticus 2:14, it is called “green ears of corn dried by the fire.” It is a common article of food in Palestine and in Egypt to this day.

242. Rude Threshing

Ruth 2:17. So she gleaned in the field until even, and beat out that she had gleaned.
This is still done by the gleaners at the close of their day’s work, sticks or stones being used as convenient though rude instruments for threshing the grain they have gathered.

243. The Time for Winnowing

Ruth 3:2. Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshing floor.
The evening was selected not only because it was cooler than the day, but because of the increase of wind which enabled the husbandman to winnow more thoroughly. For the Oriental mode of winnowing see note on Amos 9:9 (#609) and on Matthew 3:12 (#634).

244. Watching the Grain

Ruth 3:7 When Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn.
The threshing floor being uninclosed, (see note on Gen. 50:10, #101) and exposed to robbers, it was necessary for the proprietor or some trusty servant to keep up a watch. We therefore find Boaz taking his supper and sleeping at the end of the heap of corn. This is still done by the proprietors of threshing floors in Palestine. The grain is carefully watched until it is all threshed, winnowed and garnered.

245. Sign of Marriage  —  The Goel

Ruth 3:9. Spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.
1. The expression “spread thy skirt” imports protection, and here signifies protection of a conjugal character. When marriages are solemnized among the Jews the man throws the skirt of his talith or robe over his wife and covers her head with it.
2. Goel, “kinsman,” is, literally, “one who redeems.” When a Hebrew was obliged to sell his inheritance on account of poverty, it was the duty of the nearest relative to redeem it for him (Lev. 25:25). Hence the word goel came to signify kinsman. The goel also became the recipient of property which had been unjustly kept from a deceased kinsman (Num. 5:6-8). It was likewise his duty to avenge the blood of his next of kin by seeking the life of the murderer (Genesis 9:5-6; Num. 35:19; 2 Sam. 14:7).
Some have supposed from the association of the goel with marriage, as in this history of Ruth, that it was his duty to marry the widow of a deceased kinsman: but according to Deuteronomy 25:5, this duty was only obligatory on a brother-in-law, which relation to Ruth was certainly not sustained by Boaz. Nor is there any evidence that it was sustained by the unnamed kinsman spoken of by Boaz in verse 12. Had this nearer goel been a brother-in-law Boaz would not have begun by asking him to redeem the property (Ruth 4:4) but would instantly have demanded that he should marry the widow, on refusing to do which he was liable to judicial disgrace (Deut. 25:7-10). But in the case of the god it was not until he redeemed the property of his relative, dying without a son, that he was under obligation to marry the widow. As Winer says, “The latter was to him the consequence of the former and not the reverse, as in the case of the levir, [brother-in-law.] Should he refuse to take possession of the property he was under no obligation to marry the widow. In so refusing he incurred no judicial disgrace, because he did not fail to discharge a duty, but only relinquished a right. The law had expressly imposed the duty of marriage on the levir only, and beyond him the obligation did not extend” (Real Wörterbauch, s. v. Ruth).
Boaz had no right to redeem the property until the nearer kinsman refused, and neither he nor the other kinsman was under any obligation to do it; but having once assumed the redemption, the one thus exercising his right was by that act under obligation to marry the widow.

246. The Veil

Ruth 3:15. Also he said, Bring the veil that thou hast upon thee, and hold it. And when she held it, he measured six measures of barley, and laid it on her.
Mitpachath, veil, is called mantle in Isaiah 3:22, and some lexicographers assert that this is its meaning; that it does not signify what is commonly understood by a veil, but simply a large outer mantle or cloak, in one corner of which Ruth received the barley. Others, however, and among them Dr. Kitto, insist that a veil is meant; one made of strong cotton cloth and used for outdoor wear.
The engraving represents a large veil, or mantle, which is worn by Egyptian women at the present day. It is called milayeh.

247. The Sign of the Shoe

Ruth 4:7. Now this was the manner in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbor: and this was a testimony in Israel.
There was no divine law ordaining this; it was simply an ancient custom. It is not to be confounded with the law in reference to levirate marriages in Deuteronomy 25:7-10. It probably originated from the fact that the right to tread the soil belonged only to the owner of it, and hence the transfer of a sandal was a very appropriate representation of the transfer of property. Allusion to this custom is doubtless intended in Psalm 60:8, “Over Edom will I cast out my shoe”; that is, I will transfer it to myself. The custom was prevalent among the Indians and ancient Germans, and is said still to exist in the East.

248. The Seat of Judgment

1 Samuel 1:9. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord.
In some parts of the East a seat is placed in the court-yard, where the master of the house may sit and give judgment on all domestic affairs. This seat is usually placed in some shady part of the court, against a wall or column. Thus in the text, Eli “sat upon a seat by a post.” So David sat upon a seat by the wall (1 Sam. 20:25). These seats probably had no backs, and were therefore placed near the post or wall for support. Thus we are told that Eli fell backward from his seat at the gate and died (1 Sam. 4:18). The Assyrian monuments have many representations of such backless seats.

249. The Horn

1 Samuel 2:1. Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord.
The horn is an emblem of power and of dignity; the exaltation of the horn therefore expresses elevation of privilege and honor, and its depression represents the opposite. See also 1 Samuel 2:10; Job 16:15; Psalm 75:4-5; 89:17,24; 92:10; 112:9. The Druse ladies on Mount Lebanon wear a horn as a part of their head-dress. These horns are made of various materials according to the wealth of the owner: dough, pasteboard, pottery, tin, silver, and gold. They vary in length from six inches to two feet and a half, and are three or four inches in diameter at the base, tapering almost to a point. The veil is thrown over the horn, and from it flows gracefully down. When once put on, the horn is never taken off; it remains on the wearer’s head by day and at night, through sickness and health, even down to death.
It has been supposed by many writers that the passages above cited all refer to this article of costume, and it is frequently spoken of as an illustration of them. It should be borne in mind, however, that some of the most judicious critics deny all such reference, there being no evidence that the horn was ever used by the Hebrews. It appears rather to be a fashion of comparatively modern date. As good an interpretation of the above passages can be given by supposing the horn to refer to the natural weapon of beasts, and to be used in a figurative sense, as by imagining it to refer to an artificial ornament for human beings.

250. Talismanic Images

1 Samuel 6:5. Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land.
These were doubtless talismanic figures made according to some occult laws of astrology. Such talismans are very ancient. They were supposed to cure diseases and to ward off evils. The learned Gregory thinks that they originated in false views entertained by the Gentiles concerning the brazen serpent. His theory is, that their astrologers, finding that among the Israelites the bite of serpents had been cured by the image of a serpent. concluded that all sorts of evils might be remedied, provided corresponding images were made under proper astrological conditions. Whether this theory be correct or not, there is abundant evidence of the ancient prevalence of this superstition. It still exists in India. Talismans, generally of silver, are carried to the heathen temples. These images represent as nearly as may be the diseases or the special troubles under which the offerers suffer. It is supposed that the gods will be propitious on seeing them, and give the sufferer the relief sought. Roberts (Oriental Illustrations, pp. 158, 159) has cuts of some of these little images which came into his possession by the gift of a friend.
We here insert three of these, representing a deformed boy, an infant, and an old man. Images of eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and hands are also hung up in the temples.
Some commentators suppose that “the blind and the lame,” mentioned in 2 Samuel 5:6-8, were talismanic images set up in the fort by the Jebusites for their protection.

251. Helmets Cuirasses

1 Samuel 17:5. He had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail.
1. In the earliest times helmets were made of osier or rushes, and were in the form of bee-hives or skull-caps. The skins of the heads of animals were sometimes used. Various other materials were employed at different times. The ancient Egyptian helmet was usually made of linen cloth quilted. It was thick and well padded, sometimes coming down to the shoulder, and sometimes only a little below the ear. The cloth used was colored green, or red, or black. The helmet had no crest, but the summit was an obtuse point ornamented with two tassels. The Assyrian helmet was a cap of iron terminating above in a point, and sometimes furnished with flaps, covered with metal scales and protecting the neck. The Philistine helmet, as represented on ancient monuments, was of unique form. From the head-band there arose curved lines, by which the outline of the helmet was hollowed on the sides and rounded on top.
Goliath’s helmet was doubtless of this shape, and, being made of brass, must have presented a beautiful appearance. The form of the Hebrew helmets is unknown; but they probably did not vary widely from the Egyptian. As is seen in verse 38 they were sometimes made of brass. The helmet is also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26:14; Jeremiah 46:4; Ezekiel 23:24; 27:10; 38:5.
2. For the body, the skins of bents were probably the earliest protection in battle. Felt or quilted linen was also used subsequently. The ancient Egyptians had horizontal rows of metal plates well secured by brass pins. The ancient Assyrians had scales of iron fastened on felt or linen. Iron rings closely locked together were likewise used by different nations. Scales made of small pieces of horn or hoof were also used. Sometimes a very serviceable armor was made of small plates of metal, each having a button and a slit, fitting into the corresponding slit and button of the plate next to it. It is supposed that Ahab had on armor of this sort when he was slain; the “joints of the harness” being the grooves or slits in the metallic plates, or the place between, where they did not overlap (1 Kings 22:34; 2 Chron. 18:33). Goliath’s “coat of mail” was scale armor (shiryon kaskassim, “armor of scales”). This kind of armor consisted of metallic scales rounded at the bottom and squared at the top, and sewed on linen or felt. The Philistine corselet covered the chest only. On the bas-relief at Nineveh are seen warriors with coats of scale armor which descend to the knees or ankles. In one of the palaces Mr. Layard discovered a number of the scales used for this armor. Each scale was of iron two to three inches long, rounded at one end and squared at the other, with a raised or embossed line in the center, and some were inlaid with copper. At a later period the Assyrian armor was made of smaller scales, which were pointed and ornamented with raised figures, and the coat of mail reached no lower than the waist.
In several passages shiryon is rendered in our version “habergeon.” See 2 Chronicles 26:14; Nehemiah 4:16.
The lorica of the Romans end the thorax of the Greeks—rendered “breastplate” in Ephesians 6:14 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8—were scale armor covering breast and back.

252. Greaves Javelin

1 Samuel 17:6. He had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders.
1. Greaves were coverings for the legs. There are none represented on the Egyptian monuments, but they are seen on the Assyrian sculptures. They were of leather, wood, or, as in the case of Goliath, of brass, and were bound by thongs around the calves and above the ankles.
2. Kidon, here rendered “target,” is translated by the word “shield” in verse 45 of this chapter, and in Job 39:23; “spear” in Joshua 8:18, 26; Job 41:29; Jeremiah 6:23; and “lance” in Jeremiah 50:42. It was probably a light javelin, which could be easily hurled at an enemy. Some suppose it to have been decorated with a flag, like the lances of the Polish lancers. It would seem from this verse that when not in actual use it was carried on the back; for this is the meaning of “between the shoulders.” It was probably slung across he shoulders by means of a leathern strap.

253. Spear Large Shield.

1 Samuel 17:7 The staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam; and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.
1. The chanith, “spear,” was a heavier weapon than the kidon. See preceding note. The word is rendered both “spear,” and “javelin.” It was the chanith with which Saul endeavored to strike David (1 Sam. 18:10-11; 19:9-10) and which at another time he aimed at Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:33). This heavy spear had at its lower extremity a point by which it could be stuck into the ground. It was in this way that the position of Saul was naked while he lay sleeping in the camp at Hachilah, his spear being his standard (1 Sam. 26:7). This lower point of the spear was almost as formidable as the head. The Arab riders of today sometimes use it to strike backward at pursuers, and it was with this “hinder end of the spear” that Abner killed Asahel (2 Sam. 2:23). The size of Goliath’s chanith, is expressed by the description of the staff and of the head; the latter being of iron, in contrast to the brass head of his kidon, and to his brazen helmet, cuirass, and greaves. See also note on Jeremiah 46:4 (#555).
2. The tsinnah, “shield,” was the largest kind of shield, and was designed to protect the whole body. This shield, as represented on the Egyptian monuments, was about five feet high, with a pointed arch above and square below. The great shield of the Assyrians, as is shown by their sculptures, was taller, and of an oblong shape, and sometimes had at the top an inward curve. The large shields were generally made of wicker work or of light wood covered with hides. They were grasped by a handle of wood or of leather. Goliath had man to bear his great shield before him. In the Assyrian sculptures there are representations of warriors fighting in this manner, with men before them holding the large shields, with the bottom resting on the ground, thus forming movable breastworks. The great shields of the Philistines seem to have been of circular shape.
The beauty of the figure used in Psalm 5:12 is heightened by the fact that the tsinnah is the shield there spoken of. The Lord uses the great buckler for the protection of his people.

254. Cheese Pledge

1 Samuel 17:18. Carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge.
1. The cheese used in the East is made up into small cakes, strongly salted, soft when new, but soon becoming dry and hard. It is greatly inferior to either English or Dutch cheese. Burckhardt speaks of a kind of cheese made of coagulated buttermilk, which is dried until it becomes quite hard, and is then ground. The Arabs eat it mixed with butter.
2. By the expression “take their pledge,” is probably meant, Bring some token from them that they are yet alive and well. Roberts says that among the Hindus a person in a distant country sends to those who are interested in his welfare a ring, a lock of hair, or a piece of his nail, as a “pledge” of his health and prosperity.

255. The Sword

1 Samuel 17:39. David girded his sword upon his armor, and he assayed to go.
The sword was one of the earliest weapons in use. The Egyptian sword was short and straight, two and a half to three feet long, and double-edged. The handle was plain and hollowed in the center, the better to afford a firm grasp. The Hebrew sword probably resembled it.

256. Staff Scrip Sling

1 Samuel 17:40. He took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand.
1. The shepherd carries a staff which he holds in the center. It is used not only as a support in climbing hills, but for the purpose of beating bushes and low brushwood in which the flocks stray, and where snakes and other reptiles abound. It may also be used for correcting the shepherd-dogs, and keeping them in subjection. Thus Goliath says, “Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves?” verse 43. This useful accompaniment of shepherd life is mentioned in Genesis 32:10; Psalm 23:4; Micah 7:14, and in other passages.
The scrip was a lag of leather thrown over the shoulder, and used by shepherds and travelers to carry provision. It is still used by Eastern shepherds, and is made of the skin of a kid stripped off whole and tanned. This is the only passage in the Old Testament where it is mentioned, but reference is made to it in several places in the New Testament (Matt. 10:10; Mark 6:8; Luke 9:3; 10:4; 22:35-36).
The sling was made of leather, or of plaited work of wool, rushes, hair, or sinews. The middle part, where the stone lay, was called the cup (caph), because of its cup-like depression. It was wider than the ends, but the sling gradually narrowed toward the extremities, so that it could be easily handled. In the Egyptian sling, which probably was the same as the Hebrew, there was a loop at one end which was placed over the thumb, in order to retain the weapon when the stone was hurled and the other end became free. The sling was used by shepherds to keep the beasts of prey from the flock, and also to keep the sheep from straying. Husbandmen likewise used it to drive away birds from the fields of corn. In war it was a formidable weapon in skillful hands. The Egyptian ginger carried a bag of round stones depending from his shoulder, as David did. The Assyrians, however, according to their sculptures, had lying at their feet a heap of pebbles, which they picked up as they were needed. In using the sling, the stone was put into the broad hollowed part, the ends were grasped together in the hand, and after a few whirls around the head to give impetus, the stone was discharged, frequently with force enough to penetrate helmet or shield.
A weapon so peculiar in its formation and so great in its power was appropriately referred to as an illustration of swift and certain destruction. Thus Abigail said to David, “The souls of thine enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the middle of a sling” (1 Sam. 25:29). Thus the Lord said to Jeremiah, “I will sling out the inhabitants of the land at this once, and will distress them” (Jer. 10:18). The figure in both these passages is drawn. not from the destructive power of the sling, but from the ease and rapidity with which, by a practiced hand, the stone was hurled from it.
The Benjamites were so skillful in the use of this weapon that some of them “could sling stones at a hair breath, and not miss” (Judg. 20:16). The youthful David showed great skill, since he hurled the pebble with such aim and force that it smote the giant in the forehead and brought him to the ground (vss. 49-50).

257. Princely Robes

1 Samuel 18:4. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
It is considered in the East a special mark of respect to be presented by a prince with some of the garments he has for his own wearing. The gift of a girdle is a token of the greatest confidence and affection, and is very highly prized. Joab expressed his intense desire for the death of Absalom by his willingness to give a girdle to the man who would murder him (2 Sam. 18:11). Morier gives a curious instance of the estimation placed on the possession of garments which had once covered, and of weapons which had once adorned, the person of royalty. He says that when the treaty was made between Russia and Persia in 1814, the Persian plenipotentiary, who had been honored by various gifts of weapons and clothing from his sovereign, designated himself in the preamble of the treaty as “endowed with the special gifts of the Monarch, lord of the dagger set in jewels, of the sword adorned with gems, and of the shawl-coat already worn” (Second Journey through Persia, p. 299). It was in this way that the shepherd-warrior was honored by Jonathan. See also note on Esther 6:8 (#397).

258. Joy in Victory Shalishim

1 Samuel 18:6. It came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music.
1. It was customary for the women to express their delight in victory by songs and music, and dancing in the presence of the conquerors. See Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34.
2. Precisely what is meant by shalishim, which in our version is rendered “instruments of music,” is not known. From the construction of the word there was evidently a triple arrangement of some sort in the formation of the shalishim. The margin of our English Bibles has “three-stringed instruments.” They may have been harps of three strings, or of triangular shape; but most authorities now agree in supposing them to have been triangles. These instruments of percussion are said to have originated in Syria, and if so may have been known to the ancient Hebrews. They were well adapted for the ringing music of a military triumph.

259. Responsive Singing

1 Samuel 18:7. The women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
One part of the women probably sang, “Saul hath slain his thousands,” and the others responded, “and David his ten thousands.” This responsive chorus-singing is very ancient. Over four hundred years before this Miriam had led the women in the responsive chorus of victory on the occasion of the destruction of Pharaoh’s army, the men and women alternating in their song. Ex. 15:21. It is supposed to have been an Egyptian custom. See also Ezra 3:11; Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8-11; 5:9-14.

260. Fleeing From the Dart

1 Samuel 19:10. Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.
According to an ancient Asiatic custom, when a dart was thrown at a freedman, and he escaped from it by flight, he was thereby absolved from all allegiance to his master. Thus Saul by his murderous fury gave complete liberty to David, whose subsequent acts of war against the king could not be considered rebellion. From that hour he was no longer a subject of King Saul (See Kitto's Cyclopoedia of Biblical Literature, vol.1, p. 225).

261. Use of the Term Naked

1 Samuel 19:24. He stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night.
This does not mean absolutely without any clothing. A person was called naked whose outer garments were thrown aside, leaving nothing but the tunic and girdle. See note on John 19:23 (#821). Thus Isaiah was naked by simply removing his sackcloth mantle (Isa. 20:2). This is also the meaning of “flee away naked” in Amos 2:16. The young man who followed Jesus at the time of his arrest was probably “naked” in this sense (Mark 14:51-52). Peter was also “naked” in the same way at the time he cast himself into the sea to meet the Lord (John 21:7). Compare 2 Samuel 6:14,20.

262. Relatives Cursed

1 Samuel 20:30. Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman.
This is a favorite Oriental mode of abuse. It is supposed that an indignity offered to a man’s mother will give him greater pain than one offered to himself. “Strike me,” said the servant of Mungo Park, “but do not curse my mother.” Sir W. Ouseley tells of a man who, seeking for wine, put to his lips a bottle of some nauseous medicine, and immediately cursed, not the man who made the disgusting draft, but all the female relatives in whose welfare he had the greatest interest; his wives, mother, daughters, and sisters (Burder, Oriental Customs, No. 312). Professor Hackett, having incautiously approached a large flock of sheep for the purpose of getting a better view, was assailed by the three women who were watching them, with “a volley of words almost terrific.” They cursed his father, his mother, his grandfather, and all his ancestors (Illustrations of Scripture, p. 106).

263. Valuables Wrapped in Clothes

1 Samuel 21:9. The priest said, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom thou slewest in the valley of Elah, behold, it is here wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod.
It is customary to wrap in cloths all articles which are esteemed specially valuable or sacred. Sacred books are enclosed in rich cases of brocade silk or costly velvet. Harmer suggests that the simlah, “cloth,” in which the sword of Goliath was wrapped, may have been a part of some magnificent dress of David (Observations, vol. 2, p. 517).
Money was sometimes put aside in a similar way. The unfaithful servant laid up his lord’s money in a napkin, or handkerchief. See Luke 19:20.

264. The Speaker Mentioned First

1 Samuel 24:12. The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.
With us it is a marked want of etiquette for the speaker to mention himself first, especially when speaking to or of those of superior rank or position. Chardin, however, says that among the Persians it is customary for the speaker to name himself first. From this text it seems to have been considered perfectly respectful in the days of David, and we have instances more ancient still. Sarai said to her husband Abram, “The Lord judge between me and thee” (Gen. 16:5). When Ephron the Hittite was bargaining with Abraham for the sale of the cave of Machpelah he said, “What is that betwixt me and thee?” (Gen. 23:15). So Laban said to Jacob, “The Lord watch between me and thee” (Gen. 31:49).

265. Houses of the Dead

1 Samuel 25:1. Samuel died; and all the Israelites were gathered together, and lamented him, and buried him in his house at Ramah.
Some commentators assert that Samuel was placed in a tomb erected in the house he occupied during his life, or in its court. Of this, however, there is no evidence. Long before Samuel’s time the grave was spoken of as “the house appointed for all living.” See Job 30:23. So afterward Joab “was buried in his own house in the wilderness” (1 Kings 2:34). It is much more probable that a tomb for the dead should be called a house than that a dwelling-place built for the living should be used as a tomb. An American missionary in Syria says that at Deir el Kamr, on Mount Lebanon, he found a number of small solid stone buildings, having neither doors nor windows. These were the “houses of the dead.” It was necessary to open the dead walls every time an interment took place.—Jowett's Researches, p. 207.
In India it is quite common to build a house in a retired place over the remains of the dead, where also the rest of the family, when they die, are interred. In some of these houses the funeral car, or palanquin in which the body was borne to its burial, is suspended from the ceiling. Great pains are taken to keep these houses of the dead in good repair, and some of them are built in a most magnificent manner.

266. Chieftain's Spear Cruse

1 Samuel 26:11. Take thou now the spear that is at his bolster, and the cruse of water, and let us go.
1. The spear here spoken of is the chanith, already described in the note on chapter 17:7 (#253). In the Arab encampments of the present day the sheikh’s tent is always recognized by a tall spear stuck in the ground in front of it; and the place where the sheikh reclines to rest when halting on a march is designated in like manner.
2. It is not known what was the precise shape of the cruse, (tsappachath,) or the material of which it consisted. Some suppose it to have been made of iron plates shaped like a shallow cup or bowl. The vessel at present used in the East for the purposes of a cruse or flask is globular in shape, and is made of blue porous clay. It is nine inches in diameter, with a neck three inches long. At the lower part is a small handle, and opposite is a straight spout having an orifice about the size of a straw, through which water is sucked. The tsappachath is spoken of in the Bible as a receptacle for oil (1 Kings 17:12) and also for water. See text and 1 Kings 19:6.
The “cruse” mentioned in 1 Kings 14:3 and the one in 2 Kings 2:20 are different vessels from the cruse of this text, and the words themselves are different in the original. See notes on those passages (#305, #327).

267. Armlets

2 Samuel 1:10. I took ... the bracelet that was on his arm.
Etsadah, “bracelet,” is, according to Gesenius, more properly an anklet than a bracelet; yet as it is here spoken of in connection with the arm it doubtless means an armlet. The word occurs also in Numbers 31:50, where it is associated with tsamid, (bracelet,) and is rendered “chains.” Saul’s armlet is supposed to have been a part of the insignia of his’ royalty. Egyptian monarchs are often represented on the monuments wearing armlets and bracelets. The Persian kings often wore them, and they are still common among Oriental sovereigns, many of them being elaborately wrought and richly ornamented with jewels. From Song of Solomon 8:6, it appears that the signet was sometimes placed in the armlet: “As a seal upon thine arm.”

268. Recess in Gateway

2 Samuel 3:27. Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly.
The expression “ in the gate,” is literally in the midst of the gate, and probably refers to some dark corner in the vaulted gateway where two persons might retire and converse unseen. To some such recess Joab invited Abner, avowedly for conversation, but really to kill him.

269. Beds for Biers

2 Samuel 3:31. Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David himself followed the bier.
Natal, “bier,” would be better rendered by bed. Persons of distinction were sometimes carried to the grave on their beds. Josephus describes minutely the preparations which were made by Archelaus for the funeral of his father Herod. The body was placed on a gilded bed, which was richly adorned with precious stones (Antiquities, book 17, chap. 8, § 3).

270. Prisoners Fettered

2 Samuel 3:84. Thy hands were not bound, nor thy feet put into fetters.
Strigelius supposes that David meant, by using this language, to distinguish Abner from those criminals who are carried to execution with their hands tied behind them; and from soldiers who are taken captive in war, and have their feet fastened by fetters to prevent their running away. For a description of fetters see note on 2 Kings 25:7 (#360).

271. Storing and Grinding Grain

2 Samuel 4:6. They came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat.
Harmer (Observations, vol.1, p. 435) suggests that the pretense of these men that they went into the house for wheat, was rendered plausible by the fact that it was necessary to obtain the grain in the afternoon in order to have it ready for grinding early the next morning, according to daily custom. All suspicion of their murderous intention was thus avoided. Ishbosheth was taking his usual daily nap after the noon meal (vs. 5). They went toward the place where the grain was stored, and thus gained access to the apartment of the sleeping king and murdered him.

272. The Sistrum

2 Samuel 6:5. David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on... cornets.
This is the only place where the word menaanim appears. The instrument it represents bore no resemblance to a cornet or to any other wind instrument. Gesenius describes it as “a musical instrument or rattle, which gave a tinkling sound on being shaken.” He supposes it to have been the ancient sistrum. Other authorities agree with this interpretation, though some discard it. The sistrum was used in the worship of the ancient Egyptians. It was “generally from eight to sixteen or eighteen inches in length, and entirely of bronze or brass. It was sometimes inlaid with silvergilt, or otherwise ornamented, and, being held upright, was shaken, the rings moving to and fro upon the brass” (Kitto).
The other instruments named in this verse are described in other places.

273. The Beard Cut Off

2 Samuel 10:4. Wherefore Hanun took David’s servants, and shaved off the one half of their beards.
According to Oriental sentiment a greater indignity could not have been put upon them. The beard is considered a symbol of manhood, and, in some places, of freedom-slaves being compelled to shave their beards in token of servitude. By shaving half their beard Hanun not only treated David’s ambassadors with contempt, but made them objects of ridicule. The beard is usually kept with care and neatness; and thus when David feigned madness in the presence of Achish, king of Gath, he “let his spittle fall down upon his beard,” which convinced the beholders that he must be bereft of his senses (1 Sam. 21:13). So disgraceful is it considered to have the beard cut off, that some of the Orientals would prefer death to such a punishment. Niebuhr, in his Description of Arabia, relates that in the year 1764, Kerim Kahn, one of the three rebels ‘who at that time desired to obtain dominion over Persia, sent ambassadors to Mir Mahenna, the prince of a little independent territory on the Persian Gulf, to demand a large tribute, and threatened to come to him with his army if he did not conduct himself as an obedient subject. Mahenna, however, treated the ambassadors with great contempt, which was especially marked in cutting off their beards. Upon hearing of this, Kerim Kahn was so indignant that he sent a large army which subdued the territory.

274. Spring, the Season for War

2 Samuel 11:1. It came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth.
“After the year was expired” is literally “at the return of the year,” that is, in the spring. This was the time of the year for the commencement or renewal of military movements, the season for severe storms being over.

275. Promenade on the Roof

2 Samuel 11:2. It came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself.
1. After his customary afternoon rest had been taken, David walked on the flat roof of his palace. In the cool of the evening the roofs of the houses are occupied by family groups who go there for air and exercise. In Daniel 4:29 we have an account of the walk of another king. Instead of walked in the palace, the marginal reading is, upon the palace. It was on the roof that Nebuchadnezzar walked, and from there he obtained that view of his great city which lilted his heart with pride and made him forget God.
2. The bath in which Bathsheba was washing was in the courtyard, secluded from all ordinary observation, but yet visible from the palace roof.

276. Animals Petted

2 Samuel 12:3. It grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.
There is a beautiful touch of nature about this; for though uttered in a parable the words are in truthful accordance with Eastern manners.
Bochart says that anciently not only lambs, but other animals, were by many persons allowed to eat with them at their tables, and to lie with them in their beds. The Arabs of today keep pet lambs as we keep lap-dogs.

277. Fasting for Bereavement

2 Samuel 12:21. Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread.
What astonished the servants of David was, that their master should act so contrary to old established customs of mourning in time of bereavement. Sir John Chardin says, “The practice of the East is to leave a relation of the deceased person to weep and mourn, till on the third or fourth day at furthest the relatives and friends go to see him, cause him to eat, lead him to a bath, and cause him to put on new vestments, he having before thrown himself on the ground” (Hardier, Observations, vol. 4, p. 424). David, on the contrary, changed his apparel and ate food as soon as he learned of the death of the boy.

278. Covering the Head

2 Samuel 15:30. David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered, and he went up barefoot.
Covering the head, as well as uncovering the feet, (see note on Deut. 25:10, #208) was a token of great distress. It was probably done by drawing a fold of the outer garment over the head. When Haman mourned over his great discomfiture his head was covered (Esther 6:12). Jeremiah pathetically represents the plowmen as mourning in this way because of the severe drought. “Because the ground is chapped, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads” (Jer. 14:4).

279. Earth on the Head

2 Samuel 15:32. Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent, and earth upon his head.
His rent coat signified mourning, (see note on Genesis 37:34, #70) as did also the earth on his head. In the British Museum is a tombstone from Abydos, on which is a representation of a funeral procession, the mourners in which show their grief by throwing dust on their heads. There was an ancient tradition among the Egyptians that, in the infancy of their history as a people, their god Nom had taught their fathers that they were but clay or dust. The practice of putting dust on their heads is supposed to have been originally designed to be symbolical of their origin from dust, and to convey the idea of their humility in view of that fact. We find frequent scriptural reference to the custom. When the Israelites were defeated at Ai, Joshua and the elders “put dust upon their heads” (Josh. 7:6). The Benjamite who brought to Eli the news of the death of his sons came to Shiloh “with earth upon his head” (1 Sam. 4:12). The young Amalekite who brought to David the tidings of Saul’s death had “earth upon his head” (2 Sam. 1:2). Tamar, dishonored, “put ashes on her head” (2 Sam. 13:19). In the great fast which was held in Nehemiah’s time in Jerusalem, the children of Israel had “earth upon them” (Neh. 9:1). When Job’s three friends mourned with him in his great troubles, they “sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven” (Job 2:12). This shows the great antiquity of the practice. Jeremiah, in lamenting over the desolations of Zion, says that the elders “have cast up dust upon their heads” (Lam. 2:10). Ezekiel, in predicting the destruction of Tyrian commerce, represents the sailors as casting up “dust upon their heads” (Ezek. 27:30). See also Revelation 18:19.

280. Dust Throwing

2 Samuel 16:13. As David and his men went by the way, Shimei went along on the hill’s side over against him, and cursed as he went, and threw stones at him, and cast dust.
Throwing dust at a person is an Oriental mode of expressing anger and contempt. In addition to the instance here given we find another in the history of Paul. The mob whom he addressed in Jerusalem became very much excited at his speech and sought to destroy him, declaring that he was not fit to live, and as evidence of their fury they “threw dust into the air” (Acts 22:23). The precise meaning of this symbolic action we do not know. There may, however, be some connection between this custom and the practice of persons in trouble putting dust on their own heads in token of grief. See the preceding note (#279). Throwing dust at others may be a symbolic mode of wishing them such trouble and grief that they may feel like covering themselves with dust, as an expression of their sorrow.

281. Cistern in the Court Yard

2 Samuel 17:18-19. But they went both of them away quickly, and came to a man’s house in Bahurim, which had a well in his court; whither they went down. And the woman took and spread a covering over the well’s mouth, and spread ground corn thereon; and the thing was not known.
The well (beer) here spoken of was not a living fountain, but simply a cistern or reservoir dug in the courtyard, as is often the case in the East at the present day. Such cisterns sometimes become dry, and then make excellent hiding-places for fugitives. The mouth being on a level with the ground, could be easily covered by a mat or some other article, and the corn being spread over this, suspicion would be disarmed. For description of the “court,” see note on Esther 1:5 (#387).

282. Double Gates

2 Samuel 18:24. David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the roof over the gate.
At the gateways of walled cities special care was taken to increase the strength of the wall and the power of resistance, since the most formidable attacks of the enemy would probably be made there. The ordinary thickness of wall not being sufficient it was here widened, or, more properly, doubled. Considerable space was included between the outer and the inner wall, and to each of these walls there was a gate. It was in the room thus made that “David sat between the two gates.”

283. Watch Man Porter

2 Samuel 18:26. The watchman saw another man running: and the watchman called unto the porter.
1. Even strong walls and double gates would not of themselves secure a city from the enemy. Men were therefore employed to watch day and night on the top of the walls, and especially by the gates. It was thus that the messengers from the army were seen long before they reached the place where David anxiously sat. In like manner the watchman of Jezreel saw in the distance the company of Jehu driving furiously (2 Kings 9:17-20). So Isaiah in one of his sublime visions saw a watchman standing by his tower day and night (Isaiah 21:5-12). A figurative use of the watchman and his work is beautifully made in Isaiah 62:6; Ezekiel 33:2,6-7; Habakkuk 2:1.
2. It was the business of the porter to open and shut the gates at the proper time. In this case the porter, being in a convenient position below, could receive the intelligence from the watchman above and communicate the same to David. In 2 Kings 7:10 this officer is called “the porter of the city.” Porters are spoken of in connection with the rebuilding of the walls by Nehemiah (Neh. 7:1). In Solomon’s Temple there were four thousand of them (1 Chron. 23:5) who were divided into courses (2 Chron. 8:14) and had their posts assigned by lot (1 Chron. 26:13).

284. The Chamber Over the Gate

2 Samuel 18:33. The king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept.
This chamber was a second story, which was built over the room referred to in the note on verse 24 (#282), and corresponded to it in size. It communicated with it by a stairway, and David retired there that he might have greater privacy in his grief. It was on the roof above this, which was a higher point of observation than the ordinary height of the wall, that the watchman stood when he saw the messengers coming (vs. 24).

285. Lamentations Over the Dead

2 Samuel 19:4. The king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!
Though concealed from sight in the upper chamber, the lamentations of the bereaved king could be easily heard by his followers, for he “cried with a loud voice.” These loud exclamations are alluded to in several other places. At Jacob’s funeral there was “a great and very sore lamentation” (Gen. 50:10). When Jephthah, after his vow, saw his daughter coming, he cried, as if she were already dead, “Alas, my daughter!” (Judg. 11:35). When the old prophet of Bethel buried in his own grave the disobedient prophet whom he had deceived to his death, he cried out, “Alas, my brother!” (1 Kings 13:30). It was among the curses heaped on Jehoiakim that he should have “the burial of an ass”(Jer. 22:19) and not be consigned to the grave with the usual lamentations. “Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah; They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah sister! they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!” (Jer. 22:18). Somewhat similar to these are the cries of the Egyptian mourners at the present time. When the master of a house dies, the wives, children, and servants cry out, “O my master!” “O my camel!” “O my lion!” “O camel of the house!” “O my glory!” “O my resource!” “O my father!” “O my misfortune!” (Lane's Modern Egyptians, vol. 2, p. 318).
Roberts, in his Oriental Illustrations, pp. 236-241, gives a number of striking specimens of Hindu lamentations over the dead. Among them are the expressions of grief uttered by a husband on the loss of his wife: “What, the apple of my eye gone! my swan, my parrot, my deer, my Lechimy! Her color was like gold; her gait was like the stately swan; her waist was like lightning; her teeth were like pearls; her eyes like the kiyal-fish (oval); her eyebrows like the bow; and her countenance like the full-blown lotus. Yes, she has gone, the mother of my children! No more welcome, no more smiles in the evening when I return. All the world to me is now as the place of burning. Get ready the wood for my pile. O my wife, my wife listen to the voice of your husband.”
A father also says over the body of his son, “My son, my son! art thou gone? What I am, I left in my old age? My lion, my arrow, my blood, my body, my soul, my third eye! Gone, gone, gone!”

286. Ferry Boats

2 Samuel 19:18. There went over a ferry boat to carry over the king’s household.
This is the only passage where a ferry-boat is named, and some critics think that a mere crossing of a ford is meant. The Hebrews could not have been ignorant of the use of boats, since they were employed by the Egyptians, as is evident from the monuments. The king’s servants may have used rafts, or fiat-bottomed boats, for conveying his household over the river. See, further, the note on Isaiah 18:2 (#496).

287. Cherethites and Pelethites

2 Samuel 20:7. There went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men.
Commentators and philologists are divided in the interpretation of these terms. Lakemacher was the first to advance the idea that the Crethi and the Plethi were Philistine soldiers whom David had enlisted in his army This opinion was adopted by Ewald, and has since been agreed to by many eminent scholars and theologians, and is the view taken by Fuerst in his Hebrew Lexicon. On the other hand, others, equally eminent, contend that David would not have employed foreign soldiers as his body guard, as it is evident the Crethi and the Plethi were. Compare 2 Samuel 20:23 with 23:23. Some, however, attempt to meet this objection by supposing that they were Israelites who, from a lengthy residence in foreign parts, had attracted to themselves a foreign name. See Fairbairn's Imp. Bib. Diet., a. v. Cherethites. Gesenius defines the Crethi to be executioners, and the Plethi runners or couriers; the duty of the former being to administer capital punishment, and of the latter to convey the king’s orders wherever he chose to send them. Benaiah, who commanded them (vs. 23) held an office similar to that of Potiphar under Pharaoh (Gen. 37:36) and Arioch under Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2:14).

288. Touching the Beard

2 Samuel 20:9. Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
To touch the beard of another was an insult, unless done as an act of friendship and a token of respect. Joab therefore showed the base treachery of his heart by coming to Amasa in the manner of a friend, thus entirely concealing his murderous intent. He inquired after his health, gently touched his beard as if to give a kiss, and then suddenly grasped it with his right hand and quickly stabbed the unsuspecting Amen with the unnoticed sword which he held in his left.

289. Circling Nets

2 Samuel 22:6. The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me.
The margin has “cords,” instead of sorrows, which is a better rendering, because more consistent with the figure employed in the text. The allusion is to an ancient mode of hunting, still in use. A certain tract of land, where wild beasts are known to be, is surrounded by a circle of nets, which is gradually contracted as the animals are driven in, until they are all brought to one common center, when escape is impossible. Similar reference is made in Psalm 18:5; 116:3; Isaiah 51:20. Representations of this mode of hunting are found on the Egyptian and Assyrian monuments.

290. The Pipe

1 Kings 1:40. The people piped with pipes, and rejoiced with great joy.
The pipe was one of the most ancient, as it was one of the simplest, of instruments. It was originally merely a reed with holes perforated at certain distances, whence it derived its Hebrew name, chalit: bored through. As its use became more general it was made with greater care, and sometimes of other materials, such as brass, box-wood, horn, bone, or ivory. Sometimes a double pipe was used, one part being played with the right hand and the other with the left, and both uniting at the mouth-piece. The pipe was used for seasons of merriment or of joy. See 1 Samuel 10:5; Isaiah 5:12; Luke 7:32. It also served to enliven the journeys to the great feasts (Isa. 30:29), as music is now used in the East to entertain great companies of travelers. Sometimes, by reason of its soft wailing tones, it was used at funerals (Jer. 48:36; Matt. 9:23).

291. The Asylum

1 Kings 1:50. Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar.
The right of asylum in sacred places was common to all nations, and though nowhere formally declared in the Mosaic law, it was clearly recognized, as is evident from Exodus 21:14, where it is directed to be refused under certain extreme circumstances. It would seem from the text, and also from chapter 2:28, that if an accused person could take hold of the horns of the altar he was safe unless his crime were of a peculiarly glaring character. The “Cities of Refuge” were appointed for a similar purpose. See Numbers 35:15-32.

292. Rarity of Burial in Cities

1 Kings 2:10. So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David.
This was a departure from the ordinary custom, as the dead were usually buried outside the cities. It was therefore a mark of high honor to the remains of the departed king that he was buried within the city; the stronghold of Zion which was called after his name. Here, also, Solomon was afterward buried (1 Kings 11:43). Ahaz was likewise buried in the city, though not in the tomb of the kings (2 Chron. 28:27). Hezekiah, his son, was buried “in the chiefest of the sepulchers of the sons of David” (2 Chron. 32:33). Manasseh, who succeeded him and Amon, his son, were both buried in Jerusalem in the garden of Uzza (2 Kings 21:18,26).
The sepulcher of David was known in apostolic times (Acts 2:29). Its location is pointed out in the present day on the southern hill of Jerusalem, commonly called Mount Zion, under the Mosque of David. It is jealously guarded by Mohammedans from all intrusion. Dr. Barclay thinks that “the Tomb of David is several hundred yards east of the traditional locality” (City of the Great King, p. 215).

293. Fodder

1 Kings 4:28. Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries.
Barley was the usual fodder for cattle. They were also fed with a mixture of chopped straw, barley, beans, and pounded date kernels.

294. Rafts

1 Kings 5:9. I will convey, them by sea in floats unto the place that thou shalt appoint me.
See also 2 Chronicles 2:16. These are what we call rafts, consisting of a number of planks fastened together and launched upon the water. The practice is an ancient one, and it is said that the earliest boats were nothing more than mere rafts made in this way, though there is another form of raft that is very ancient. See note on Isaiah 18:2 (#496).

295. Solomon's Temple

1 Kings 6:2. The house which king Solomon built for the Lord, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits.
The idea of the temple did not originate with Solomon, but with David, who was not permitted to carry out his intention because he had been a man of war (1 Chron. 28:2-3). God gave him a plan for the temple, as he had previously given Moses the plan for the tabernacle. This plan David communicated to Solomon, directing him to erect the building (1 Chron. 28:11-19).
It was built on Mount Moriah, on the site of the altar which David erected on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite (2 Sam. 24:21-25; 2 Chron. 3:1). It stood on the boundary line of Judah and Benjamin. According to Jewish authorities, the greater space of the courts was in Judah, but the temple and altar were in Benjamin. The hill being uneven, the top was leveled, and walls were built on the sloping sides up to a level with the summit, the intervening space being filled partly with vaults and partly with earth.
The temple had the same general arrangements as the tabernacle, being designed for the same purpose; the difference between the two structures being mainly such as would be suggested by the fact that the tabernacle was merely temporary and movable, while the temple was permanent and fixed. The dimensions of the temple were double those of the tabernacle. Like that, it faced the east, having the Most Holy Place in the west.
Its length (including the porch) was seventy cubits. Of this length the porch had ten cubits, the Holy Place forty, and the Most Holy Place twenty (I Kings 6:3,17,20). The width of the building on the ground was twenty cubits, but to this there was added to the house proper a width of five cubits, for three stories of chambers which were built adjoining all the walls of the temple, excepting the porch. At the height of every five cubits the temple wall receded a cubit until half the height was reached; thus making each story of chambers a cubit wider than the one below it (1 Kings 6:5-6,10). The chambers on the west side must also have added five cubits to the length. The height of the building varied in different parts. The chambers were fifteen cubits high, the Most Holy Place twenty, the Holy Place thirty, and the porch one hundred and twenty (1 Kings 6:3,20; 2 Chron. 3:4). It is thought by some critics that this last measurement is an error in the copying of some ancient manuscript. Eighty has been suggested by some as the correct reading, and twenty by others.
In the porch were the two celebrated pillars called Jachin and Boaz. These were made of brass and highly ornamented (1 Kings 7:15-22). It is not definitely stated that they were placed in the porch as a support to that part of the building, but this would seem to be probable, though it is denied by some. Crossing the porch, which was ten cubits by twenty, we find folding doors of fir or cypress, having posts of olive wood. These doors were ornamented with carved cherubim, palm trees, and flowers, all of which were covered with gold (1 Kings 6:33-35). Within the doors was the Holy Place, forty cubits long, twenty wide, and thirty high. There were windows in this, probably of lattice work (1 Kings 6:4). These windows must have been in the upper part of the room, since the three stories of the chambers reached on the outside half way up the height. The stone walls were completely covered on the inside with wainscoting of cedar. The floor was made of cedar covered with cypress, which in turn was covered with gold (1 Kings 6:15,30). The ceiling was cypress overlaid with gold (2 Chron. 3:5). The sides were elegantly carved with cherubim, palms, and flowers, covered over with gold (1 Kings 6:18; 2 Chron. 3:7).
In the Holy Place there were ten golden candlesticks, five on each side, and ten tables of show-bread, arranged in a similar way (2 Chron. 4:7-8). It is supposed by some that only one candlestick and one table were in use at a time. See 2 Chronicles 13:11; 29:18; where the words are in the singular number. There were snuffers, tongs, basins, and all other necessary articles, also of gold (1 Kings 7:50). The altar of incense, which was in this part of the temple, was made of cedar and covered with gold. 1 Kings 6:20.
Between the Sanctuary, or Holy Place and the Oracle, or Most Holy Place, there was a partition, in which were double doors made of olive-wood carved and overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:31-32). There was also a rich veil of embroidery at this doorway (2 Chron. 3:14). The Oracle, like the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle, was a perfect cube. It was twenty cubits in length, breadth, and height (1 Kings 6:20). Floor, sides, and ceiling were of wood, with carved cherubim, palm-trees, and flowers, all overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:29-30). There were no windows here; Jehovah dwells in “thick darkness” (1 Kings 8:12). Two gigantic cherubim, made of olive-wood and covered with gold, were in the Oracle. They were ten cubits high, and their outstretched wings, touching each other at the tips, reached entirely across the width of the room (1 Kings 6:23-28). They were in a standing position, and had their faces turned toward the veil (2 Chron. 3:10-13). The ark of the covenant, which had been in the tabernacle, was put into the Oracle under the wings of the cherubim after the temple was finished (1 Kings 8:6). No doubt the original cherubim and the mercy-seat accompanied it, though this is nowhere expressly stated. It may be inferred, however, from the fact that after the temple was built Jehovah is represented, as in the days of the tabernacle, “dwelling between the cherubim.” Compare 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; Psalm 80:1; 99:1 with 2 Kings 19:15; Isaiah 37:16.
No definite account is given of the court or courts surrounding the temple. In 1 Kings 6:36 the “inner court” is spoken of. This was doubtless the space immediately around the sacred edifice. Its dimensions are not given, nor is it certain what is meant by the text just referred to: “He built the inner court with three rows of hewed stone, and a row of cedar beams.” Some commentators suppose this to mean that the inner court was surrounded by a wall consisting of three courses of stone capped with cedar beams. Others suppose that the inner court was a raised platform elevated to the height of three courses of stone with a coping of cedar, and they refer to Jeremiah 36:10, where this is called “the higher court.”
This court, which was also called the “Court of the priests” (2 Chron. 4:9) contained the brazen altar of burnt offering, which was much larger than the one in the court of the tabernacle, being twenty cubits in length and in breadth, and ten in height. There was also here a circular “molten sea,” ten cubits in diameter and five in height. It stood on twelve brazen oxen, three facing each point of the compass. On each side of the altar there were five brazen lavers (2 Chron. 4:1-6).
Around this court was another and a larger one, called the “Great Court” in 2 Chronicles 4:9; the “Outer Court” in Ezekiel 46:21; and the “Court of the Lord’s House” in Jeremiah 19:14; 26:2. This was the Court of the People and was surrounded by strong walls in which were gates of brass (2 Chron. 4:9).
The foregoing description of Solomon’s temple coincides in the main with the accounts usually given by commentators. It is proper, however, to notice the ingenious theory advanced by the T. O. Paine, in his Solomon’s Temple, already referred to in the note on Exodus 40:2 (#141). Mr. Paine has evidently studied the subject with much care, and has given the results of his investigations in an interesting monograph. He assumes that the description given by Ezekiel in chapter 40 following chapters is not the description of an ideal temple, but of Solomon’s temple as it actually appeared before its destruction; and that it is designed to be a complement to the account given in the books of Kings and Chronicles, the one narrative detailing points omitted by the other. He asserts that the building, contrary to the usual opinion, was wider at the top than at the bottom, and refers to Ezekiel 41:7 for proof, that the “chambers” mentioned as running around the building were galleries, and that these were supported by columns, the galleries increasing in distance from the temple-wall as they rose. He contends that “all pictures of the temple which represent it as widest on the ground and narrower upward are bottom upward” (Solomon’s Temple, p. 2). (See the engravings on the opposite page.)

296. The Month Zif

1 Kings 6:37. In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the Lord laid, in the month Zif.
This was the second month of the sacred year of the Hebrews, and corresponded nearly to our month of May.

297. The Month Bul

1 Kings 6:38. In the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished.
This was the eighth month of the sacred year, and answered nearly to our November.

298. Saws

1 Kings 7:9. All these were of costly stones, according to the measures of hewed stones, sawed with saws.
When the saw was invented is not known. It is seen on the Egyptian monuments, and also on the Assyrian. The saws referred to in the text were doubtless double-handed, since they were used for sawing stones. A striking peculiarity of the Oriental saw is that the teeth usually incline toward the handle instead of from it, as in the saws used among us.

299. The Month Ethanim

1 Kings 8:2. All the men of Israel assembled themselves unto king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
Ethanim was the seventh month of the sacred year, and the first of the civil year, and corresponded nearly with our month of October. The great day of atonement and the feast of tabernacles took place during this month. It is to this feast that reference is made in the text.

300. Uplifted Hands in Prayer

1 Kings 8:22. Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven.
This was an ancient custom in prayer, not only among the Hebrews, but among the heathen. At the present day a favorite praying posture with Mohammedans is standing with hands uplifted. The allusions to it in classic writers are frequent, and so also are the references in Scripture. See Exodus 9:29,33; 2 Chronicles 6:12; Ezra 9:5; Job 11:13; Psalm 28:2; 44:20; 68:31; 88:9; 134:2; 141:2; 143:6; Isaiah 1:15.

301. Large Golden Shields

1 Kings 10:16. King Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.
The “target” here is different from the one spoken of in 1 Samuel 17:6, where see the note (#252). There it is kidon, a javelin; here it is tsinnah, a large shield, for the description of which see note on 1 Samuel 17:7 (#253). These great golden shields of Solomon were probably made of wood, and covered with plates of gold instead of leather. See also 2 Chronicles 9:15.

302. Small Golden Shields

1 Kings 10:17. He made three hundred shields of beaten gold: three pounds of gold went to one shield.
These shields were of a smaller size than those referred to in the sixteenth verse. The Hebrew magen is in some places rendered “buckler” (2 Sam. 22:31; 2 Chron. 23:9) and, on the other hand, buckler is sometimes the rendering of tsinnah. See note on 1 Samuel 17:7 (#253). While, however, the two words are thus interchanged by the translators, there was an essential difference in the size and weight of the two objects represented by them. The tsinnah, in verse 16, was for heavy troops, and was large enough to protect the entire person; while the magen, in this verse, was a shield which only protected a part of the person, could be carried on the arm, and was used by light troops. See also 2 Chronicles 9:16.

303. Solomon's Throne

1 Kings 10:18. Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.
The body of the throne was probably of wood, entirely covered with ivory and gold, both being visible and relieving each other. Judging from the description given of this throne it must have been one of extraordinary magnificence. It had, by the two arms, lions such as are represented on the monumental pictures of ancient Egyptian and Assyrian thrones. Six steps reached to the platform on which it was placed, and on either side of each step was an image of a standing lion: Thus the upward passage to the throne was guarded by twelve lions, six on either side. Oriental monarchs have always been noted for the splendor of their thrones. Gold and precious stones of every kind, and wrought by the most elaborate workmanship into forms of rarest beauty, are described by travelers as dazzling the eye by the brilliancy of their appearance. We are told of thrones that are covered with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls, of almost fabulous size, and fashioned in the semblance of birds, beasts, trees, and vines with leaves and fruit. See also 2 Chronicles 9:17.

304. Ashtoreth Milcom

1 Kings 11:5. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.
1. Ashtoreth was the companion deity to Baal. See note on Numbers 22:41 (#184). This text, verse 33 of this chapter, and 2 Kings 23:13, are the only places where the word is used in the singular. In all other passages it is Ashtaroth, which is a term probably corresponding to Baalim, the plural of Baal. See note on Judges 3:7 (#222). The two words are in several places coupled together. See Judges 10:6; 1 Samuel 7:4; 12:10. Ashtoreth, or Astarte, was a goddess of the Sidonians, and also of the Philistines (1 Sam. 31:10). Under different names she was worshiped in all the countries and colonies of the Syro-Arabian nations. As Baal is supposed to have represented the sun, so Astarte is thought to have represented the moon; though some take the two to stand for Jupiter and Venus. The worship of Astarte is very ancient, and was undoubtedly connected with impure rites. But little is known of the form of the goddess or of the mode of worship. She is sometimes seen represented with the head and horns of a cow, and sometimes with a woman’s head having horns. We read in Genesis 14:5 of the city of Ashtaroth Karnaim, that is, the horned Ashtaroth. As the city was doubtless named because of the worship of Astarte, the word Karnaim (horns) is thought to have reference to the horns of the goddess, either lunar or bovine, or both. If “the queen of heaven” spoken of by Jeremiah was meant for Astarte, as many suppose, we have a little light thrown on the mode of her worship. “Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger” (Jer. 7:17-18). See also Jeremiah 44:17-19. Here a whole family is represented as engaging in the worship of the goddess. They present to her meat offerings and drink offerings, and burn incense. The worship of Astarte is also referred to in Judges 2:13; 1 Samuel 7:3; 12:10.. See likewise note on Isaiah 65:11 (#535).
2. Milcom, also called Malcham (Zeph. 1:5), is another name for Molech. See note on Leviticus 18:21 (#163).

305. Cracknels

1 Kings 14:3. Take with thee ten loaves, and cracknels, and a cruse of honey, and go to him.
Cracknels (nikkuddim) were some sort of thin hard biscuit carried by the common people on their journeys. Their name (from nakad, to mark with points) may indicate thin punctured biscuits, or those which will easily crumble.

306. A Monstrous Idol

1 Kings 15:13. Also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron.
Miphletseth, here, and in the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 15:16, rendered “idol,” is defined by Fuerst, “horror, terror, monstrosity.” From the mode of its destruction here noticed this image was evidently of wood. It is supposed to have been an obscene figure, the worship of which shows the demoralizing influence of idolatry. Such figures were often worshiped among the ancient idolaters, and are still worshiped in India.

307. Sticks for Fuel

1 Kings 17:10. When he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks.
There seems to have been a scarcity of fuel in Palestine then as now. Twigs, branches, sticks of all kinds, and even thorns (Psa. 58:9) are carefully gathered for making fires, and the greatest economy is practiced in their use.
See note on Psalm 58:9 (#441) and also on Matthew 6:30 (#646).

308. The Meal Jar

1 Kings 17:12. She said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel.
The kad was not what we understand by a barrel, a wooden vessel with staves and hoops, but a vessel made of clay. The same word is translated “pitcher” in several other places. It is still common in the East to keep grain in earthen jars. The same sort of vessel which was used for meal by this widow was afterward used for water on the occasion of Elijah’s sacrifice (1 Kings 18:33).

309. The Habits of a Heathen God

1 Kings 18:27. It came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
Faber maintains the identity of Baal with the Hindu deity Jagan Nath, the “lord of the universe,” who is represented by his followers as sometimes wrapped in profound meditation, sometimes sleeping, and sometimes taking long journeys. He says, “Elijah is not simply ridiculing the worship of the idolatrous priests; he is not taunting them, as it were, at random; but he is ridiculing their senseless adoration, upon their own acknowledged principles” (Origin of Pagan Idolatry, vol. 2, p. 503).

310. Lacerations in Idol Worship

1 Kings 18:28. They cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
It was customary among the heathen to make lacerations in their flesh, not only as a mark of mourning for the dead, as shown in the note on Leviticus 19:28 (#166), but also as an act of idolatrous worship. This custom was not, however, of Egyptian origin, as were many of the customs practiced in Canaan. Wilkinson says that the Egyptians beat themselves at the close of their sacrifices, as is shown by paintings in the tombs. He also says that the custom of cutting was from Syria. The same practice is followed at the present day among idolaters of different nations. They cut their flesh in various ways until they are streaming with blood. They consider that this voluntary blood-shedding is meritorious, and will help to wash away their sins.

311. Hour of Evening Sacrifice

1 Kings 18:36. It came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near.
The precise time at which that sacrifice was offered is a matter of dispute. In Exodus 29:39, it is directed to be offered “at even”; literally, between the two evenings. On the meaning of this expression the controversy turns. Some suppose the first evening to have been at sunset, and the second at the time when the stars became visible. The two evenings must have been earlier than this in Elijah’s time, since the events which took place after his sacrifice on this occasion required a longer period of daylight than can be found so late in the day. See 1 Kings 18:40-46. The tradition among the Jews is that the first evening was at the time the sun began to decline toward the west; that is, shortly after noon. The second evening was the time the sun set. The time of the evening sacrifice would thus be midway between noon and sunset, or from half past two to half past three o’clock. This was about the time of its offering in the days of Christ.

312. The Sound of Rain

1 Kings 18:41. Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.
In India, according to Roberts, it is as common to say, sound of rain, as with us to say, appearance of rain. This expression sometimes refers to the thunder which precedes rain, and sometimes to a blowing noise in the clouds which shows the approach of rain.

313. The Face Between the Knees

1 Kings 18:42. He cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees.
This is not, as some commentators have thought, a posture obtained by kneeling on the ground and then bending the face over to the earth. It refers to a common Oriental position for meditation and devotion. The person sits with the feet drawn close to the body, thus bringing the knees nearly on a level with the chin. In Egypt there are many statues of men in this position. Specimens of these can be seen in museums of Egyptian antiquities; there are several such in the Abbott Collection in New York, and a number in the British Museum, one of which is made of black basalt. This was undoubtedly the posture of Elijah, who, in addition to sitting in this peculiar manner, inclined his head forward until his face was literally “between his knees.” Dr. Shaw found this to be an occasional posture of the Turks and Moors in Barbary while engaged in their devotions. Rosenmüller tells of a Persian poet who was so lost in religious contemplation, with his head upon his knees, that he failed to hear the voice of a friend who accosted him (Morgenland, vol. 3, p. 194). In India this posture is likewise common for those who are engaged in deep meditation or who are in great sorrow. Roberts gives several illustrations of it: “This morning, as I passed the garden of Chinnan, I saw him on the ground with his face between his knees. I wonder what plans he was firming! It must have been something very important to cause him thus to meditate.” “Kandan is sick or in trouble, for he has got his face between his knees” (Oriental Illustrations, p. 205).

314. Girdle Running Footmen

1 Kings 18:46. He girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
1. The girdle is one of the most useful articles of Eastern costume, and frequently the most ornamental of them all. With the long loose dress of the Orientals it becomes a necessity, since it would be difficult to walk or run unless the dress were tightened. Hence Elijah “girded up his loins” as a preparation for running. See also 2 Kings 4:29; 9:1. Thus the Israelites prepared for their exodus (Ex. 12:11). It is also thought to give strength to the body while engaged in severe bodily labor or exercise, and hence the word is sometimes used figuratively to denote strength. See Job 40:7; Psalm 65:6; 93:1.
Girdles are of various sizes, and are made of different materials, from calico to cashmere. The rich use silk or linen, and sometimes decorate their girdles with gold, silver, and precious stones. The poor have them of coarser materials, leather being very commonly used. Elijah’s girdle was of leather (2 Kings 1:8), so also was that of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:4).
Graham thus describes the mode of putting on the girdle. “The girdle is put on thus: your slave having folded it the right breadth, holds it at one end, while you take the other and lay it upon your side, and roll yourself round and round, as tight as possible, till you. arrive at the slave, who remains immovable. If you have no slaves, a hook or the branch of a tree will answer the same purpose” (The Jordan and the Rhine, p. 163). When running, the ends of the outer garment are tucked into the girdle.
2. It is still customary to do honor to a king by running before his chariot; and the same honor is conferred upon persons of less distinction. When Mohammed All came to Jaffa, some years ago, with a large army, to quell the rebellion in Palestine, he had his quarters inside the city, while the camp was on the sand-hills to the south. The officers in their passage from camp to headquarters “were preceded by runners, who always kept just ahead of the horses, no matter how furiously they were ridden; and in order to run with the greater ease, they not only girded their loins very tightly, but also tucked up their loose garments under the girdle, lest they should be incommoded by them” (Thomson, The Land and the Book, vol. 2, p. 227).
Allusion is also made to this custom in 1 Samuel 8:11; 2 Samuel 15:1; 1 Kings 1:5. (See the engraving on the opposite page.)

315. Day's Journey

1 Kings 19:4. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness.
This is a very ancient mode of estimating distances, and is still in use. A “day’s journey” varies, according to circumstances, from eighteen miles to thirty. The ordinary day’s journey of Scripture is probably not far from twenty miles. See also Genesis 30:36; 31:23; Exodus 5:3; 8:27; Numbers 11:31; Deuteronomy 1:2; 2 Kings 3:9; Luke 2:44.
The “Sabbath day’s journey” was a less distance. See note on Acts 1:12 (#824).

316. Covering the Face

1 Kings 19:18. It was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.
Covering the face was a sign of reverence in the presence of God. Thus Moses, when the Lord appeared to him in the burning bush, “hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God” (Ex. 3:6). So the seraphim seen by Isaiah in his temple-vision covered their faces with two of their wings (Isa. 6:2).

317. Plowing

1 Kings 19:19. So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth.
The Eastern plow is a rude affair, far inferior to the one in use in our country. It does not enter deep into the soil, and is of very light and simple construction, sometimes being made merely of the trunk of a young tree having two branches running in opposite directions. There are many plows, however, not quite so primitive in structure as this. See note on Isaiah 2:4 (#482). Some of them have one handle and some have two handles, and they are usually drawn by two oxen. The plowmen often plow in company. Dr. Thomson says he has seen more than a dozen plows at work in the same field, each having its plowman and yoke of oxen, and all moving along in single file. Anderson makes a similar statement. We can thus see how Elijah “was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him.” He had not, as some have imagined, twenty-four oxen yoked to a single plow, but there were twelve plows in a file, each having its own oxen and plowman, and he was “with the twelfth”; that is, he had charge of the last plow in the file.

318. Military Girdles

1 Kings 20:11. Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.
The girdle is used as a convenient place for carrying different weapons. The sword, the dagger, and in modern times the pistol, are placed there. It was thus that Ehud carried his dagger (Judg. 3:16). We are told in 1 Samuel 25:13, that David and his men girded on their swords. Similar allusions to this use of the girdle are made in Deuteronomy 1:41; Psalm 45:3; Song of Solomon 3:8; Isaiah 8:9. The military girdle was not, however, a mere sword-sash, but a strong belt, designed to sustain the body, and at the same time to cover such portion of the abdomen as might be unprotected by the cuirass. Some girdles, indeed, seem to have been a constituent part of the cuirass, intended to fasten it more firmly. The importance of the girdle as a piece of armor is seen in the fact that thorough preparation for the fight is called “girding on.” Paul says: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (Eph. 6:14).
Military girdles were made of stronger materials than those designed for common purposes. Leather, iron, and bronze were used in their construction, and, where rich ornament was required, silver and gold.

319. Pavilions

1 Kings 20:16. But Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the pavilions, he and the kings, the thirty and two kings that helped him.
It is not necessary to associate any idea of splendor with these “pavilions.” They were merely booths, (succoth,) as the word is rendered in Genesis 33:17; Job 27:18; Jonah 4:5. In Isaiah 1:8, the same word is translated “lodge”; in Amos 9:11 it is “tabernacle.” Such “pavilions” were nothing but temporary structures of boughs erected to keep off the heat, and even kings were not ashamed to make use of them. It is said that such are still erected for Turkish pashas while on warlike expeditions.

320. Gods for Hills and Valleys

1 Kings 20:28. The Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys.
There seems to be an allusion here to the opinion, prevalent among all heathen nations, that the different parts of the earth had different divinities. They had gods for the woods, for the mountains, for the seas, for the heavens, and for the lower regions. The Syrians seem to have received the impression that Jehovah was specially the God of the mountains; but he manifested to them that he ruled everywhere.

321. Token of Abasement

1 Kings 20:32. So they girded sackcloth on their loins, and put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel.
This was a sign of deep abasement and submission. It was a Persian custom for persons desiring clemency from the sovereign to approach him with a sword suspended from the neck. The same practice has also been noticed in Egypt. Harmer suggests that these servants of Ben-hadad appear before Ahab with ropes around their necks from which their swords hung. Others suppose that these ropes were halters.

322. Sale of Patrimony

1 Kings 21:3. Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.
The law of Moses would not permit the sale of one’s patrimony, except in cases of extreme destitution. See Leviticus 25:23,25; Numbers 36:7. Roberts gives an interesting description of an Eastern garden, and speaks of the high value placed on it by its owner, who has inherited it from his ancestors, and whose dearest associations in life are connected with it. “To part with such a place is, to the people of the East, like parting with life itself” (Oriental illustration, p. 208).

323. Seals

1 Kings 21:8. So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, and sealed them with his seal.
The seal is, in the East, of more importance than the signature, and indeed is often used in place of a signature. No document is of any validity without it. The ordinary mode of using it is to cover it with ink, and press it on the paper. The seal is often connected with a ring, and worn on the finger. See note on Genesis 41:42 (#79).
Ancient seals have been found of various shapes—cylindrical, square, pyramidal, oval, and round. A very common style of seal among the ancient Egyptians was one made of stone, rounded on one side and flat on the other. The inscription for the seal was on the flat surface, and the convex surface was skillfully wrought into the form of a scarabaeus or beetle.
Since the beetle was worshiped by the Egyptians, whose example was followed by the Phenicians, after whose deities Ahab had gone, some have thought that Ahab’s seal was of this description.
Seals that were not set in rings were perforated with a hole through which a string passed, by means of which the seal was suspended from the neck. It is supposed that Judah’s was worn in this way (Gen. 38:18).
Many ancient seals were in shape of a cylinder, and some of these were set in a frame which enabled the seal to revolve as the impression was made. Some beautiful specimens of this kind of seal have been found among the ruins in Chaldea and Assyria. The figures engraved on seals were various. Modern Oriental seals have usually the name of the owner on them, and often a sentence from the Koran. The ancient seals had devices of symbolical meaning, and letters either hieroglyphic or cuneiform.
Seals are made of brass, silver, gold, pottery, and stone, either precious or common, set in metal. The art of engraving stones is very ancient. See Exodus 28:11,36; 39:6.
See also note on Nehemiah 6:5 (#381) and on Job 38:14 (#420).

324. The Fly God

2 Kings 1:2. He sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.
Baal-zebub is, literally, “the fly-god”; but whether this name was given in honor or in contempt is not known. It may have been at first a name of contempt, which afterward, by general use, lost its original significance. Some suppose this god to have been one of the medical idols of the Philistines, receiving its title from its imaginary influence over pestiferous insects which are said to infest Philistia. In Taylor’s Calmet there is a curious picture of an antique paste representing a head of Jupiter, and having the appearance of a huge fly.
Gale says: “The Phenicians styled their principal god Baal Samen, ‘the lord of heaven,’ (in the Phenician language.) The Jews called him Baal-zebub, lord of a fly.’ Scaliger supposes that the original name was Baal-zebahim, lord of sacrifices,’ contracted, by way of contempt, to Baal-zebub, lord of flies,’ that is, he could not keep flies away from his sacrifices” (Court of the Gentiles, book 2, c. 7, p. 80).
It is thought that Beelzebul is a contemptuous designation of this Philistine Baal, by it being called dung-god. See Matthew 10:25; 12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15,18-19, where, according to the best authorities, Beelzebub should read Beelzebul. The Jews, being fond of playing upon words, may have intentionally altered the name of this god. Some, however, define Beelzebul to mean “the lord of the dwelling,” and deny any connection between Beelzebul of the New Testament and Baalzebub of the Old.

325. The Divan

2 Kings 1:4 Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die.
The royal bed was probably made, as beds are now in the houses of wealthy Orientals, on the divan, which is a platform about three to four feet in width, extending sometimes across one end of the room and sometimes around three sides. It is used as a sofa by day, and as a sleeping-place at night. It is usually elevated from six inches to a foot from the floor, though Professor Hackett found one instance at least in which the height of the divan was such that it was necessary to mount to it by two or three steps. In the palace of a king it would probably be higher than in ordinary dwellings, and thus Ahaziah literally went “up” to his bed. In like manner David speaks of going “up” into his bed (Psa. 132:3).

326. Schools of the Prophets

2 Kings 2:3. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha.
The disciples of the prophets were called sons, as teachers are sometimes called fathers (2 Kings 2:12; 6:21). These “sons of the prophets” formed a peculiar order, whose mission seems to have been to assist the prophet in their duties, and in time to succeed them. They were not a monastic order, as some suppose, nor were they merely theological students, though they probably studied the law and the history of God’s people, together with sacred poetry and music.
The “schools of the prophets” in which these “sons” were trained are supposed to have been founded by the prophet Samuel, though their origin and history are involved in obscurity. They were located not only in Bethel, as appears from the text, but also in Rama (1 Sam. 19:19-20) in Jericho (2 Kings 2:5) in Gilgal (2 Kings 4:38) and probably in other places. See 1 Samuel 10:5,10 and 2 Kings 6:1. Their members were numerous; a hundred are spoken of in Gilgal (2 Kings 4:43) and at least fifty in Jericho (2 Kings 2:7).
Some of “the sons of the prophets” were married, and probably lived in houses of their own (2 Kings 4:1-2). Others were unmarried and occupied a building in common (2 Kings 6:1-2) and ate at a common table (2 Kings 4:38).
How long the “schools of the prophets” lasted is not definitely known. They seem to have flourished most in the time of Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha. Fifty years after. Elisha’s death Amos prophesied; and, according to his statement, he had no training in a prophetic school, though it does not follow that none existed in his day. See Amos 7:14.
An extended account of these schools may be found in Keil’s Commentary on 1 Samuel 19:18-24

327. The Cruse

2 Kings 2:20. He said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.
Tselochith, here translated “cruse,” is rendered “dish” in 2 Kings 21:13, “pan,” in 2 Chronicles 35:13, and “bosom” in Proverbs 19:24; 26:15. It is supposed to have been a flat metal dish.

328. Baldness

2 Kings 2:23. There came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
In India the expression “bald-head” has no special reference to a lack of hair, but is often applied to men who have an abundance. It is rather a term of contempt, intended to signify a mean and worthless fellow.
The Hebrews valued a good head of hair and greatly deprecated baldness. See Isaiah 15:2 and note.

329. Washing Hands

2 Kings 3:11. Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.
As no knives or forks are used in the East, it is absolutely necessary to have a plentiful supply of water for the hands at the close of every meal.
For this a pitcher and basin are provided. The hands are held over the basin while a servant pours water from the pitcher. The basin has a double bottom, the upper part of which is full of holes, through which the water as soon as used passes out of sight into the lower part. From the center of the bottom there rises a small projection which is used as a receptacle for the soap. The expression in the text, “poured water on the hands,” is intended to show that Ensile performed the work of a servant for Elijah. He was Elijah’s assistant as well as his disciple.

330. Human Sacrifices

330. Human Sacrifices
2 Kings 3:27. Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall.
The offering of human sacrifices is a very ancient custom, and was practiced at different times among many nations. Burder, in an elaborate note, (Oriental Literature, No. 570,) gives a long list of nations who offered human sacrifices. Among these are the Ethiopians, the Phenicians, the Scythians, the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Persians, the Indians, the Gauls, the Goths, the Carthaginians, the Britons, the Arabians, and the Romans. These sacrifices were offered in various ways. Some were slaughtered by the knife; some were drowned; some were burned; some were buried alive. In some instances, as in the case recorded in the text, parents sacrificed their own offspring. The idolatrous Israelites followed the example of their Phenician neighbors in this respect. See Jeremiah 19:6. Allusion is made to this custom in Micah 6:7.
A few years since an inscription was discovered in Behistun, which, according to the rendering of Professor Grotefend of Hanover, contained an offer of Nebuchadnezzar to let his son be burned to death in order to ward off the affliction of Babylon (Savile’s Truth of the Bible, p. 281).

331. Rights of Creditors

2 Kings 4:1. The creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.
The Mosaic law gave the creditor the right to claim the person and children of the debtor who could not pay that they, might serve him until the year of Jubilee, when they again became free. See Leviticus 25: 39-41. Reference is made to this custom in Nehemiah 5:5,8; Job 24:9; Isaiah 50:1.
There was a similar, though severer, law among other nations, who are supposed to have derived the idea from the Hebrews. See Matthew 18:25.

332. Vessel for Oil

2 Kings 4:2. She said, Thine handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil.
Asuk, pot, is supposed to have been an earthen jar, deep and narrow, with a pointed bottom which was inserted into a stand of wood or stone, or stuck into the ground like the Roman and Egyptian amphora. Phillott (Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, s. v. Pot) thinks that the asuk had no handles, while the amphora had a handle on each side. Amphora; were used for containing or carrying oil, wine, or water. Though usually of earthenware, they were sometimes made of metal. The “pitcher” referred to in Mark 14:13 and in Luke 22:10 is supposed to have been an amphora.

333. Aliyah Stool

2 Kings 4:10. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick.
1. The aliyah. “chamber,” is an upper room of an Eastern house, being sometimes built on the roof, and sometimes making a second story to the porch, to which it has access by stairs. It is hence called in 2 Samuel 18:33, “the chamber over the gate.” See note on that text (#284). In the text it is called a chamber “in the wall,” probably because its window, opening to the street, made a break in the dead wall, and was thus about the only evidence to an outside spectator of the existence of rooms in the house. It is usually well furnished, and kept as a room for the entertainment of honored guests. Thus the Shunammite entertained Elisha, as related in the text. It was in such a room that Elijah dwelt in Zarephath at the house of the widow (1 Kings 17:19,23). In the first of these two verses we have the word “loft” as a translation of the word aliyah, thus conveying to many minds the idea of a bare desolate garret, which is very far from the fact. Further than this. Dr. Thomson states that the poorer kind of houses have no aliyah, which leads him to the conclusion “that this widow woman was not originally among the very poorest classes, but that her extreme destitution was owing to the dreadful famine which then prevailed” (The Land and the Book, vol.1, p. 285).
Such a room makes a desirable place of retirement for the master of the house. Ahaziah was in an aliyah, in his palace of Samaria, when he fell through the lattice-work of the window and injured himself (2 Kings 1:2). Eglon, King of Moab, was in a room of this description when he was assassinated by Ehud (Judg. 3:20). Aliyah is in this text rendered “summer parlor”; the marginal reading is “a parlor of cooling.” Doubtless the latticed windows were so arranged as to keep the room as cool and comfortable as possible.
It was on the roof of an aliyah in the palace of Ahaz that the kings of Judah had erected altars for idolatrous worship (2 Kings 23:12). It was in an aliyah where, in the midst of idolaters, Daniel prayed three times daily to the one true God (Dan. 6:10). Aliyoth are also referred to in Jeremiah 22:13-14 and in Psalm 104:3,13 where the word is most beautifully used in a figurative sense.
In the New Testament the aliyah is referred to under the name of “upper room,” (ύπερῷον, which is the Septuagint rendering of aliyah.) It was in such a place that the disciples gathered immediately after the ascension of the Saviour (Acts 1:13). In a room of this kind the corpse of Tabitha or Dorcas was placed Here the widows whom she had helped wept over her, and here Peter restored her to life (Acts 9:37,39). In a similar place, in the city of Troas, Paul once preached until midnight (Acts 20:7-8).
It is also supposed by some commentators that the “upper room” where Jesus ate the passover with his disciples was a room of this description (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12). Others, however, deny this, since ύπερῷον is not the word used to denote the room. See note on Mark 14:15 (#745).
2. “Stool,” here, like “loft” in 1 Kings 17:19, seems to indicate something very rude; but in reality the original word (kisse) is the very word that is used in some other passages to designate a throne. The seat for the prophet was probably the very best that could be procured.

334. Ladies Riding

2 Kings 4:22. She called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again.
Ladies of the higher class in the East seldom walk, but almost always ride on asses, which are there more frequently used for riding than with us. The rider is attended by a servant who runs behind, and, with a whip or stick, drives or goads the animal forward at whatever pace may be desired. Solomon is thought to refer to this custom in Ecclesiastes 10:5-7.

335. Times of Public Instruction

2 Kings 4:23. He said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him today? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath.
The prophets were probably accustomed at the new moon and on the Sabbath-day to assemble the people for instruction and edification. The question of the husband of the Shunammite woman appears, therefore, to express his astonishment that she should go to the prophet at a time which was neither new moon nor Sabbath. The prophet Amos represents the greedy, sordid men of his day as saying, “When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?” (Amos 8:5). They preferred their worldly business to the keeping of sacred days, or listening to the instructions of the men of God.

336. Formal Salutation

2 Kings 4:26. Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well.
These are merely the customary formal salutations which are so profusely used by Orientals. Dr. Thomson says, “If you ask after a person whom you know to be sick, the reply at first will invariably be well, thank God, even when the next sentence is to inform you that he is dying” (The Land and the Book, vol. 2, p. 177). The expression is also used without any reference to the state of one’s health; as in verse 23, when the husband expressed his surprise at his wife’s going to see the prophet at that time, her only answer was, “Well.” The salutation is the same in form as that of “Peace,” so often spoken of in the Bible. See note on John 20:19 (#823).

337. Rimmon Etiquette

2 Kings 5:18. When my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand.
1. Rimmon is supposed to have been a prominent deity of the Syrians. Traces of the name are found in Tabrimon, the father of Benhadad, king of Syria (1 Kings 15:18) and perhaps in Hadadrimmon (Zech. 12:11). Nothing definite is known of this deity or of the nature of his worship, and the derivation of the word is uncertain. Some suppose it to be the application to a deity of the word rimmon. a pomegranate. Stollberg in his History of Religion, (cited by Rosenmuller, Morgenland, vol. 3, p. 231,) says that the Orientals consider apples as symbols of the sun, and on this account certain court servants of the king of Persia carried a staff with a golden apple on the point. Others derive the word from ramam, to be high, or lifted up. This again would point to the sun; and it is highly probable that the worship of Rimmon had some connection with that adoration of the sun so common among the heathen nations of the East.
2. It was probably a part of the court etiquette that the king should lean on the arm of one of his chief officers. The king of Israel had this custom as well as the king of Syria (2 Kings 7:2,17). The Jews have a tradition that two young women waited on Esther when she was queen of Persia, one to hold up her train, and the other for her to lean upon.

338. The Cab

2 Kings 6:25. The fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver.
The cab was a dry measure holding nearly two quarts.

339. Market at the Gate

2 Kings 7:1. Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of ripe flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.
The vicinity of the gate was a convenient place for the sale of produce, since what was for sale would be exposed to the view of all passing in or out. Reference is made to this in Nehemiah 13:20-21. Layard, speaking of the vaulted recesses in the gateways of Assyrian cities, says, “Frequently in the gates of cities, as at Mosul, these recesses are used as shops for the sale of wheat and barley, bread and grocery” (Nineveh and Babylon, p. 57, note).

340. Ostentation in Making Presents

2 Kings 8:9. So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels’ burden, and came and stood before him.
There is no reason to suppose, as some commentators have done, that these camels were loaded with all that they could carry “of every good thing of Damascus.” It was merely the Oriental desire for display which sent the forty camels. No doubt the royal present was really valuable, but the different articles of which it was composed were probably so distributed that each camel had but a small portion, and thus a caravan was brought into use. Maillet (cited by Harmer, vol. 2, p. 313) says, speaking of bridal presents, “Through ostentation, they never fail to load upon four or five horses what might easily be carried by one; in like manner, as to the jewels, trinkets, and other things of value, they place in fifteen dishes what a single plate would very well hold.”
Probably the present which the children of Israel sent to Eglon, king of Moab, was accompanied with a similar parade. It is said of Elm, that “when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present” (Judg. 3:18). This indicates that a number of persons were called into requisition to convey the gift. It is said to be a custom in Persia, when a present is brought to the king, not to permit any person to carry more than one article, no matter how small it may be.

341. Oil Vessel

2 Kings 9:1. Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead.
We have no account of the material or shape of the pak, which is here called “box,” and in 1 Samuel 10:1, “vial.” Gesenius derives it from pakah, to drop. This would seem to indicate a flask with a narrow mouth, from which oil or perfumery might be dropped. Such flasks have been found among Egyptian and Assyrian remains.

342. Eye Painting

2 Kings 9:30. When Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.
This is literally, “put her eyes in paint,” and alludes to the very ancient custom, still observed in the East, of coloring the eyes with a black powder called kohl. Graham says: “It is probable that stibium or antimony was formerly used for this purpose, and in some places it may be so used still, especially for painting the edges of the eyelids. Kohl, the substance now in general use for blackening the eyes and the eyebrows, is produced by burning liban, a kind of frankincense, and by burning the shells of almonds. This kind is merely ornamental; but the kohl, formed from the powder of the ore of lead, is used as much for its supposed medicinal as its beautifying properties. The arch of the eyebrow is much darkened and elongated, and the edges of the eyelids, both above and below, tinged with the dark hues of the kohl, which is supposed to add to the natural beauty of the countenance by the effects of contrast” (The Jordan and the Rhine, p. 190).
In Jeremiah 4:30 reference is made to this practice: “Though thou rentest thy face with painting.” The marginal reading is eyes, instead of “face,” and the allusion is to the effect of the powder on the eye. Being astringent, it contracts the eyelids, and by contrast of color makes the white of the eye look larger, thus “rending” or widening the eye Proverbs 6:25 is also supposed to allude to this custom; and there is a reference to it in Ezekiel 23:40. Some think the practice was common as far back as the days of Job, from the fact that one able daughters was called Keren-happuch, that is, paint-horn (Job 42:14). The powder is kept in glass vessels, and was anciently kept in boxes of wood, stone, or pottery of various shapes; some of them highly ornamented, and having from two to five different compartments. Several of these curious boxes, brought from Egypt, and very ancient, are now in the Abbott Collection, New York.
The kohl is applied to the eyelids by a small piece of wood, ivory, or silver, made for the purpose, and in shape not unlike a bodkin. This is moistened in rose-water and dipped into the black powder and then drawn under the eyelids.

343. Enemies Beheaded

2 Kings 10:8. There came a messenger, and told him, saying, They have brought the heads of the king’s sons. And he said, Lay ye them in two heaps at the entering in of the gate until the morning.
Beheading enemies is a very ancient custom. Thus David cut off the head of Goliath and carried it to Saul (1Sam. 17:51,57). So also the Philistines cut off the head of Saul (1 Sam. 31:9). Layard found at Nineveh representations of scenes which well illustrate the text. Heads of slain enemies are collected and brought to the king, or to the officer appointed to take account of their number. Morier, in his narrative of his second journey through Persia, states that prisoners have been known to be put to death in cold blood in order to increase the number of heads of the slain which are deposited in heaps at the palace gate. Many such heaps of heads are piled up in Persia. Sir William Ousely, who was in Persia in the early part of this century, saw the remains of some of these heaps on which the skulls seemed to be stuck together in a mass of clay or mortar. Similar accounts are given by later travelers.

344. Priestly Robes

2 Kings 10:22. He said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshipers of Baal, And he brought them forth vestments.
Like the priests of almost all nations, the priests of Baal had their particular sacred robes which they used only while officiating. They were made probably of white byssus, and were kept in a particular wardrobe of the temple under the care of some person appointed for the purpose.

345. Storage for Beds

2 Kings 11: 2. They hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber.
Literally, in the chamber of beds, which was a room, not for sleeping, but for storing beds, whence they could be brought out when needed for use. Their place of concealment was thus less likely to be discovered than if they had been hidden in a mere sleeping room. See also 2 Chronicles 22:11.

346. Coronation Ceremonies

2 Kings 11:12. He brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.
We have here noted the most important ceremonies connected with the coronation of a Hebrew king. See also 2 Chronicles 23:1.
1. The crown was put upon him. We have no definite knowledge of the shape of the crowns which were worn by the Hebrew kings. The original word used here is the same that is used to denote the diadem of the high priest, which was a plate of gold tied around the head with a ribbon (Ex. 39:30-31). Doubtless there were other forms of crowns, as other words are used in various passages.
2. They gave him the “testimony.” That is, they made to him a formal presentation of a manuscript roll of the Divine law, as an indication that this was to be his guide in administering the government.
3. They anointed him. This was not done in every case of coronation, and from the expression “they made him king,” which precedes the statement of his anointing, it has been inferred that the essential parts of the coronation ceremony were those connected with the crown and the “testimony”; the anointing of the founder of a dynasty being considered all that was necessary so long as the succession was unbroken in his family. Saul was thus anointed (1 Sam. 10:1) and so also was David (2 Sam 2:4). Solomon was likewise anointed (1 Kings 1:39), because there was a probability that his right to the throne would be disputed; and Joash, in the text, was anointed for the same reason. Anointing was a ceremony connected with coronation before the Jews ever had a king, as is evident from Judges 9:8,15. It was by Divine command that the people of God adopted it. See 1 Samuel 9:16; 10:1; 1 Kings 1:34,39. From this circumstance the king was called “the Lord’s anointed.” See 1 Samuel 12:3,5; 2 Samuel 1:14,16; Psalm 2:2; Habakkuk 3:13.
4. The people then clapped their hands and shouted, “Live the king.” This was their part of the ceremony, and denoted their approbation of the newly crowned sovereign. Mr. Harmer (Observations, vol. 2, p. 433) calls attention to the fact that the Hebrew text in this place, and in Psalm 47:1 and Isaiah 40:12, has hand instead of hands, as our translators have it. He suggests that a different sort of clapping may have been meant by this than what is ordinarily understood by clapping hands, where one hand is forcibly struck upon another, though that is practiced in the East. He refers to an Oriental custom of striking the fingers of one hand gently and rapidly upon the lips as a token of joy, and supposes that the expression clap the hand, in distinction from clap the hands, refers to some similar custom observed by the Hebrews.

347. The King's Place

2 Kings 11: 14. The king stood by a pillar as the manner was.
This “pillar” was some prominent place which the king was in the habit of occupying in the temple. It is also referred to in 2 Kings 23:3. It is said in 2 Chronicles 34:31, that king Josiah “stood in his place.” The same word is there used that is here rendered “pillar.” It is supposed to have been an elevated stand or platform, and some commentators think it identical with the brazen scaffold which Solomon built in the center of the temple court. See 2 Chronicles 6:13; 23:13.

348. Bow and Arrows

2 Kings 13:15. Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows.
1. The bow is a very ancient weapon, and early mention is made of it in the Bible. Ishmael became an archer (Gen. 21:20). Isaac sent Esau to get venison by means of the bow (Gen. 27:3). It also came into early use as a weapon of war (Gen. 48:22). Bows were made of various materials: wood, horn, and even ivory, were used. Sometimes the wood and horn were united in the bow, the wood being backed with horn. Metallic bows were also used. See Job 20:24; Psalm 18:34. Bows were of various shapes. The Egyptian bow—a round piece of wood from five feet to five and a half long—was either nearly straight, with a slight curve at each end, or else showed a deep curve in the center when unstrung.
Assyrian bows were sometimes curved and sometimes angular. They were shorter than the Egyptian bows. The strings of ancient bows were of leather thongs, horse hair, hide, or catgut. Various modes were adopted for bending the bow, the hand, the knee, or the foot being used. It was probably most usually bent by the aid of the foot, since darak, the word commonly used in speaking of bending the bow, literally means to “tread.”
2. The arrows were made of reed or wood and tipped with metal or horn. They were sometimes feathered, though not always. From Psalm 38:2, we infer that they sometimes had barbed points.

349. Mode of Declaring War

2 Kings 13:17. He said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot.
This was an ancient method of declaring war, and is often referred to in ancient and classical writings. A herald came to the confines of the enemy’s territory, and, after observing certain solemnities, cried with a loud voice, “I wage war against you,” at the same time assigning the reasons for the war. He then shot an arrow or threw a spear into the country to be invaded, which was considered sufficient warning of warlike intentions. Thirty days were allowed for peaceable settlement; if no such settlement was reached during that time, hostilities began at the expiration of it.

350. Hebrew Mode of Burial

2 Kings 13:21. It came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulcher of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
To understand this text fully, it is necessary to remember that among the Israelites the dead were not buried in coffins as with us. The Egyptians sometimes used coffins, (see note on Genesis 50:26, #102) but the Israelites, who brought many Egyptian customs with them into Palestine, did not adopt this custom. They wrapped their dead in linen cloths and laid them in the tomb. See note on John 19:40 (#822). Thus the man mentioned in the text was about to be buried when his friends saw the Moabites. Seeing that they could not reach the grave prepared for him without being perceived by the enemy, they quickly rolled away the stone from Elisha’s sepulcher, near which they were, and put the corpse there. As there was no coffin for either body, the body of the newly dead could easily touch the bones of the buried prophet.

351. Succoth Benoth Heathen Gods

2 Kings 17:30, 31. The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, and the men of Cuth made Nergal, and the men of Hamath made Ashima. And the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burnt their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.
1. The precise meaning of Succoth benoth is not known. Its literal signification is, “booths of the daughters”; and it is supposed to be, not the name of a god, but of places where women abandoned themselves to impure rites con fleeted with the worship of Babylonian deities. Sir H. Rawlinson believes that the word represents the Chaldee goddess Zir-banit, worshiped at Babylon and called queen of the place. Gesenins suggests that “perhaps it should read Succoth-bamoth, the booths in high places, consecrated to idols.”
2. Nergal was a well-known Assyrian deity. The word signifies “great mail” or “hero.” He is called by various names on the monuments: “the great brother”; “the storm ruler”; “the god of battles”; “the god of the chase.” The last is his principal title, and he seems to have been the chief patron of hunting, which fact has led some to believe that he represented the deified hero Nimrod. The name of Nergal often appears on Assyrian seals and cylinders, and his symbol was a man-lion, or human-headed lion with eagle’s wings. Astronomically, Nergal corresponds to Mars.
3. Ashima was a god of the people of Hamath. The majority of Jewish writers assert that this deity was worshiped under the form of a goat without wool; others say under the form of a lamb. The goat is found among sacred animals on Babylonian monuments. This would make Ashima correspond to the Egyptian Mendes and the Greek Pan. It is also supposed by some writers that Ashima was the same as the Phenician god Esmun, the Phenician Esculapius, to whom were also attributed the characteristics of Pan.
4. Nibhaz was a god of the Avites, but nothing is known with certainty of the peculiarities of the deity or the shape of the idol. The Hebrew interpreters say that the idol was in the form of a man with the head of a dog. The Egyptians worshiped the dog, and, according to some writers, their god Anubis was represented by a man with a dog’s head, though Wilkinson asserts that the head is that of a jackal. The family relation of the two animals is, however, sufficiently near for the purposes of idolatry.
Tartak was another Avite deity. Some Jewish writers suppose the idol to have been in the form of an ass; but others assert that this is mere conjecture, and that the name, which they render hero of darkness, haft, reference to some planet of supposed malign influence, such as Mars or Saturn.
Adrammelech was a god of the Sepharvites, and is supposed to be identical with Molech, for a description of which deity see note on Leviticus 18:21 (#163). Rawlinson identities Adrammelech with the Chaldean god San or Sansi.
7. Anammelech was also a god of the Sepharvites. No satisfactory etymology of the name has been found. Some suppose this deity to be represented by the Arabian constellation Cepheus, containing the shepherd and the sheep. Some authorities give the idol the figure of a horse, others that of a pheasant or a quail. Human sacrifices were offered to this god as well as to Adrammelech.

352. Deportation

2 Kings 18:11. The king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
The practice of carrying into captivity all the inhabitants of a city or of a section of country was in use by the Assyrians from a very early period of their history, and is frequently referred to and illustrated on their monuments. “In the most flourishing period of their dominion—the reigns of Sargon, Sennacherib, and Esar-haddon—it prevailed mast widely, and was carried to the greatest extent. Chaldeans were transported into Armenia; Jews and Israelites into Assyria and Media; Arabians, Babylonians, Lusianians, and Persians into Palestine—the most distant portions of the empire changed inhabitants, and no sooner did a people become troublesome from its patriotism and love of independence than it was weakened by dispersion, and its spirit subdued by a severance of all its social associations” (Rawlinson, Five Great Monarchies, vol. 2, p. 238).
Tiglath Pileser carried a large number of captives to Assyria twenty years before the captivity referred to in the text. See 2 Kings 15:29. Eight years after this Sennacherib took “the fenced cities of Judah” (2 Kings 18:13). An account of this event is given on one of the Assyrian monuments. The king claims to have carried away over two hundred thousand of the inhabitants. More than a hundred years after this Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, invaded Judea, and by several distinct deportations carried the people into captivity. See 2 Kings 25:14; 24:11; 2 Chronicles 36:20; Jeremiah 52:28-30.

353. Various Uses of the Grape

2 Kings 18:32. A land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey.
An American missionary in Turkey states that in some districts grapes are so plentiful that, with oil and bread, they form the chief nourishment of the people. Thus it was, according to the text, in Palestine and in Assyria in the days of Hezekiah. Each was “a land of bread and vineyards.”
The same writer, in speaking of the various uses of the grape as a staple food of the people, enumerates fifteen different articles made from that fruit.
Among them are preserves, jellies, and confectionery, made of the fresh juice; pickles, molasses, and sugar; besides wine and brandy, and other more familiar preparations. See Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 5, pp. 283, 287.

354. Captive Gods

2 Kings 18:34. Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?
The Assyrian monuments give evidence of a custom which illustrates the haughty language of this text. It was the practice of Assyrian conquerors to take the idols which they found in the temples of the people whom they subdued and convey them to Assyria, where they were assigned a place in Assyrian temples as captive gods. Hence Sennacherib spoke to the Jews by his embassador informing them that the Assyrian deity was so powerful that none other could cope with him. The gods of all other people against whom the Assyrians had fought had been captured, and it was in vain for the Jews to expect their god to save them.

355. Nisroch

2 Kings 19:37. As he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god.
Nisroch was an idol of Nineveh, concerning which there have been various conjectures. The rabbins affirmed that it was made out of one of the planks of Noah’s ark. Others supposed it to be an image of the dove which Noah sent out from the ark. Some have thought the planet Saturn to be represented by it, and some the constellation of the eagle. Others have supposed Nisroch to be a representation of Asshur, the deified patriarch and head of the Assyrian pantheon.
These various opinions are sufficient to show the obscurity connected with the subject. The etymology of the word, which occurs only here and in Isaiah 37:38, is uncertain. Some philologists think that Nisroch is not a correct reading, while others suppose the word to mean the great eagle. This bird was held in great veneration by the ancient Persians, and was also worshiped by the Arabians before the time of Mohammed. From the frequent appearance on the Assyrian sculptures of a human figure with the head of an eagle or a hawk, Layard conjectured that this was the representation of Nisroch, and this has so often been asserted that many imagine that whenever they see a picture of one of these hawk-headed figures they see a picture of Nisroch. Rawlinson, however, asserts the contrary, and says that the hawk-headed figure is more like a subordinate character, an attendant genius, than a god. No name of any god has yet been discovered on the monuments which bears any resemblance to Nisroch.

356. Sun Dials

2 Kings 20:11. Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.
Maaloth, “dial,” is the same word that is rendered “degrees” in this verse, and “stairs” in 2 Kings 9:13. This and the parallel passage in Isaiah 38:8, are the only places where the word “dial” occurs. Our translators probably judged correctly in supposing from the context that by maaloth in this place some instrument for measuring time is meant; but what was its peculiar shape is left to conjecture. The Babylonians were doubtless the originators of the sun-dial. Herodotus states that the Greeks derived it from them (Euterpe, chap. 109), and it is highly probable that king Ahaz, after whom this dial in the palace court was named, obtained the idea from Babylon.
Some think this dial was a hemispherical cavity in a horizontal square stone, with the gnomon in the middle, the shadow of which, falling on different lines cut in the hollow surface, marked the hours of the day. Others imagine a vertical index surrounded by twelve concentric lines. It may have been, as some suppose, a pillar set up in an open elevated place, with encircling steps on which the shadows fell; or stairs so constructed that the shadow of an obelisk or of a gnomon on the top platform might indicate the hours.
The “degrees,” however, must have marked shorter periods than hours, since ten forward and ten backward are spoken of as only a part of the whole number of degrees. See KEIL, Commentary, in loco.
It has been suggested that the “stairs” from which Jehu was proclaimed king, as recorded in 2 Kings 9:13, were the same as the “dial” of Ahaz. As already noted, the same word, maaloth, represents both. The idea is that Jehu was taken up the different steps of the dial until he reached the top platform, where he was placed by the aide of the gnomon, when the trumpets were blown and the formal announcement was made, “Jehu is king.” See Clarke, Commentary on 2 Kings 9:13

357. Royal Treasures

2 Kings 20:18. Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures.
It has long been the custom for Eastern princes to amass great quantities of treasure merely for ostentation. The kings of Judah may have had a similar custom. Burder (Oriental Customs, No. 433) tells of the treasure of an Eastern monarch which was so immense that two unusually large cellars or warehouses were not sufficient to hold It. It consisted of precious stones, plates of gold, and gold coin enough to load a hundred mules. It had been collected by twelve of his predecessors, and it was said that he had in his treasury a coffer three spans long and two broad, full of precious stones of incalculable value.

358. Horses Used for Idolatrous Purposes

2 Kings 23:11. He took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun.
Allusion is here made to a peculiar form of sun-worship. Among the Persians horses were considered sacred to the sun. The king of Persia when be sacrificed offered a white horse to that luminary. The people, when they wished to sacrifice to the sun, mounted their horses in the early morning and rode toward the rising orb as if to salute it, and then offered the noble victims to it in sacrifice. See Gale's Court of the Gentiles, chap. 8, p. 115.
The kings of Judah had evidently heard of this custom, and imitated it; though some commentators doubt that they actually slew the animals, supposing that they simply went in state in the early morning to see the sun rise and to adore it. Some have even imagined that these horses were not real, but merely statues, made of wood, stone or metal, which stood at the entrance of the temple. The mention made of the “chariots of the sun” in the latter part of the verse seems, however, to indicate that living animals were intended, and that they were harnessed to these chariots. Whether they were really sacrificed or not, they were kept and used for idolatrous purposes, and therefore became proper subjects of confiscation.

359. Grave Stones

2 Kings 23:17. He said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulcher of the man of God.
This refers to the custom of marking the graves of the dead by some distinguishing sign. The word here rendered “title” is the same that in Ezekiel 39:15, is rendered “sign.” It means a pillar set up to designate a grave, and served the twofold purpose of a tablet for an epitaph, and also as a sign to warn all passerby lest they should become ceremonially unclean by touching the grave. The absence of any such sign is what is referred to in Luke 11:44: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.”
Dr. Shaw says of the cemeteries in Barbary: “The graves are all distinct and separate; each of them having a stone, placed upright, both at the head and feet, inscribed with the name of the deceased (Travels, p. 219).

360. Prisoners Blinded Fetters

2 Kings 25:7. They slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.
See also Jeremiah 39:7; 52:11.
1. Blinding has long been a common Oriental punishment. See Judges 16:21; 1 Samuel 11:2. In Persia, during the time of the younger Cyrus, men deprived of their sight for crimes were a common spectacle along the highway. This penalty is still inflicted by the Persians on princes who are declared to have forfeited their right to the throne. Chardin states that one mode of blinding was by passing a red-hot copper plate before the eyes. This did not always produce total blindness, and sometimes the point of a dagger or of a spear was thrust into the eye. The Babylonians and the Assyrians, as well as the Persians, made use of the same cruel punishment. Frequent representations of it are found on the ancient sculptures. The engraving represents part of a scene from a marble slab discovered at Khorsabad. The Assyrian king has several prisoners brought before him to be blinded. In his left hand he holds the cords at the end of which are hooks inserted in the prisoner’s lips. See note on Isaiah 37:29 (#572). In his right hand is a spear, which he thrusts into the eyes.
2. Fetters were of various shapes and materials. Those which were put on Zedekiah were made of brass or copper; so also were those with which Samson was fastened (Judg. 16:21). There is in the British Museum a pair of bronze fetters, brought from Nineveh, which weigh eight pounds eleven ounces, and measure sixteen and a half inches in length. These probably resemble the fetters put on Zedekiah. “The rings which enclose the ankles are thinner than the other part, so that they could be hammered smaller after the feet had been passed through them. One of these rings has been broken, and when whole the fetters may have weighed about nine pounds” (Sharpe's Bible Texts Illustrated).

361. Marriage of Slave to Master’s Daughter

1 Chronicles 2:34-35. Now Sheshan had no sons, but daughters. And Sheehan had a servant, an Egyptian, whose name was Jarha. And Sheshan gave his daughter to Jarha shis servant to wife.
According to the Mosaic law, daughters were not to be married out of the tribe to which they belonged. This was commanded in order to keep the inheritance of each tribe to itself. See Numbers 36. In the text, Sheshan, who had no sons, is represented as marrying his daughter to an Egyptian, and that Egyptian a servant. Harmer states that though this may have been contrary to the law of Moses, it was in accordance with a custom frequently practiced in the East. He quotes from one of Maitlet’s letters, in which an account is given of one Hassan, who had been a slave to Kernel, the “Kiaia of the Asaphs of Cairo, that is, colonel of four or five thousand men who go under that name.” “Kamel,” says Maillot, “according to the custom of the country, gave him one of his daughters in marriage, and left him at his death one part of the great riches he had amassed together in the course of a long and prosperous life.” He also succeeded his master in his office (Observations, vol. 4, p. 298).

362. Tidings Carried to Idols

1 Chronicles 10:9. They took his head, and his armour, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to carry tidings unto their idols.
The Hindus have a custom corresponding to this. When they gain a victory over their enemies they carry the tidings to their idols with great pomp and ceremony. In the common affairs of life the same practice is resorted to. A man delivered from prison, or from the wicked scheme of his enemies, always goes to his gods to carry the news. Roberts gives the following as a specimen of the formal speech used on such occasions: “Ah! Swamy, you know Muttoo wanted to ruin me; he therefore forged a deed in my name, and tried to get my estates. But I resisted him, and it has just been decided before the court that he is guilty. I am therefore come to praise you, O Swamy!” (Oriental Illustrations, p. 229).

363. Stone Bows

1 Chronicles 12:2. They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow.
It will be noticed that the words hurling and shooting have been supplied by the translators. Without them the reading would be, “could use both the right hand and the left in stones and arrows out of a bow.” This has led some to think that there was in use among the Hebrews a kind of bow for shooting stones as well as arrows; an instrument corresponding to the stone-bow in use in the Middle Ages. These stone-bows of David’s men may have suggested the invention, two hundred and fifty years’ later, of the heavier instruments of a similar character to be used in sieges. See note on 2 Chronicles 26:15 (#370).

364. Amen

1 Chronicles 16:36. All the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord.
Amen literally means firm, from aman, to prop, to support. Its figurative meaning is faithful. Its use is designed as a confirmatory response, and the custom is very ancient. See Numbers 5:22; Deuteronomy 27:15-26.
“The Jewish doctors give three rules for pronouncing the word: 1. That it be not pronounced too hastily and swiftly, but with a grave and distinct voice. 2. That it be not louder than the tone of him that blessed. 3. It was to be expressed in faith, with a certain persuasion that God would bless them and hear their prayer” (Burder, Oriental Customs, No. 438).
It is also customary for the Mohammedans, at the close of every public prayer, to say, Amen.

365. The Horn

1 Chronicles 25: 5. All these were the sons of Heman the king’s seer in the words of God, to lift up the horn.
Some of the earliest wind instruments were no doubt made of the horns of animals, and when afterward metals were used in their manufacture they retained more or less of the original shape, and continued to be called by the original name. The difference between the keren, “horn,” and the shophar, “trumpet,” “cornet,” is supposed to have been principally in the shape, the latter having less of a curved shape than the former. See note on Psalm 98:6 (#447). The keren is mentioned as a musical instrument in Joshua 6:5 and in Daniel 3:5,7,10,15. In the passage in Daniel it is translated “cornet.”

366. Fortified Cities

2 Chronicles 8:5. Also he built Beth-horon the upper, and Beth-horon the nether, fenced cities, with walls, gates, and bars.
1. Fortifications are as ancient as cities; indeed, some writers assert that the difference, anciently, between cities and villages was simply the difference between walled and unwalled towns. The Egyptian and Assyrian sculptures contain representations of “fenced cities” with walls of squared stone or squared timber on the summit of scarped rocks. Some of the fenced cities of Scripture are thought to have been protected by stockades of wood. Sometimes there was more than one wall to a fortified city. It was thus with Jerusalem. See 2 Kings 25:4; 2 Chronicles 32:6. Sometimes there was a ditch outside the wall, and a low wall or rampart protecting that. At regular distances on the wall there were towers for the purposes of watching and defense. See 2 Kings. 9:17; 2 Chronicles 26:5. The gates were strongly protected with bolts or bars of brass or iron. Sometimes there was built at some central point within the city a citadel or stronghold which might resist attack even after the walls were destroyed.
2. To “build” a city often meant not to give a new town a location, and to erect the houses, but to build walls around a town already inhabited. It was thus that Solomon built the two Beth-horons mentioned in the text. Thus Rehoboam “built” the cities named in 2 Chronicles 11:5-10. So Jeroboam “built” Shechem and Penuel (1 Kings 12:25) and Hiel “built” Jericho (1 Kings 16:34) a city which had been inhabited long before (Judges 1:16; 3:13).

367. Cremation

2 Chronicles 16:14. Laid him in the bed which was filled with sweet odours and divers kinds of spices prepared by the apothecaries’ art: and they made a very great burning for him.
There is a division of opinion among commentators concerning the meaning of the last clause in this verse. Some of the best authorities believe that the “very great burning” was the burning of the odoriferous substances which were brought together. They understand that a large quantity of these substances was collected and placed in the sepulcher of Asa, and that after these were burned the body of the dead king was laid upon the perfumed ashes, as on a bed. This is also referred to in the promise which was made to Zedekiah concerning his burial (Jer. 34:5). It is likewise thought to have been this which was denied to Jehoram, on the occasion of his death, because of his wickedness (2 Chron. 21:19).
On the other hand, it is asserted that burning spices and perfumes in this way for the dead does not find a parallel in the customs of any nation ancient or modern; and that these various passages refer to the burning of the body together with the spices on a funeral pile. Jahn says, “The ancient Hebrews considered burning the body a matter of very great reproach, and rarely did it except when they wished, together with the greatest punishment, to inflict the greatest ignominy” (Gen. 38:24). He considers the burning of Saul and of his sons (1 Sam. 31:12) an exceptional instance, designed by their friends to prevent any further indignities from the Philistines. The sentiment in reference to the burning of bodies afterward underwent a change. A hundred and forty years after Saul’s death the body of Asa was burnt, and the event is spoken of by the historian not as a new thing, but as a custom already established. Over a century later we find the same custom referred to. See Amos 6:10. In time the revolution of sentiment became so complete that while burning was considered the most distinguished honor, not to be burned was regarded the most signal disgrace, as in the case of Jehoram already mentioned. Another change of sentiment eventually took place. After the captivity the Jews conceived a great hatred to this rite, and the Talmudists endeavored to explain the passages respecting it as referring to the burning of the aromatic substances alone. See Jahn’s Archeology, § 210.
Roberts takes substantially the same view, and gives a detailed account of the Hindu method of cremation. The Hindus burn the bodies of nearly all their illustrious dead, and it is considered disgraceful not to have the ceremony performed. They first wash the corpse with water mingled with fragrant oils and scented waters. The body is then placed on a bed, or on a chariot covered with crimson cloth, and is carried on men’s shoulders to the place of burning. The funeral pile is seldom more than five feet high, and when prepared for a great man is made of sandal and other aromatic woods, to which are added sweet odors and spices. The body is then placed on the pile, and the son or nearest relative has his head shaved. Then the son takes a torch and, turning his head away from the pile, sets fire to it, and returns home. Those who remain to see the corpse consumed throw clarified butter and oils on the fire to hasten the combustion. See Roberts’ Oriental Illustrations, p. 234.

368. Death by Being Thrown From a Rock

2 Chronicles 25:12. Brought them unto the top of the rock, and cast them down from the top of the rock, that they all were broken in pieces.
This was a very ancient punishment, practiced among different nations.
In Greece, according to the Delphian law, those who were guilty of sacrilege were punished in this manlier. The Romans also inflicted the same punishment for various offenses. Among the Turks and the Persians a similar mode of capital punishment was adopted. Selden has suggested that the mode of Jezebel’s death is an illustration of this custom (2 Kings 9:33).

369. Towers

2 Chronicles 26:10. He built towers in the desert.
The duties of shepherds often led them into wild districts where their lives wore in danger from wandering brigands. Hence it became necessary to erect towers into which they might retire for safety from the attacks of large forces, and from which they could drive off the marauders. The reason assigned for building the towers by Uzziah is the same as that given for digging the wells: “for he had much cattle.” See also 2 Chronicles 27:4. A beautiful figurative use is made of this custom in Psalm 61:3 and in Proverbs 18:10. Towers were also built in vineyards. See note on Matthew 21:33 (#690).

370. Engines of War

2 Chronicles 26:15. He made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal.
The invention of these engines of war marks an era in warfare, since by their use the power of an army was greatly increased whether for attack or defense. They were simply machine bows and slings, which, by the application of mechanical principles, were made to throw heavier projectiles than the smaller weapons which were held in the hand. We have here doubtless the origin of the balistae and catapult which afterward became so famous in Roman warfare. The balista was used to shoot stones; the catapults projected darts. Historians mention three sizes of balista, which were graded according to the weight of the stones they threw, namely: a half hundred weight, a whole hundred weight, and three hundred weight. Occasionally there were some used which threw stones as light as two pounds. Several balls of limestone, which were found in the excavations in Jerusalem in 1869, are thought to have been used as missiles and hurled from a balista. Catapultae were denominated according to the length of the darts thrown from them. No exact idea can now be had of the forms of these engines. The Romans classified them under the generic title of tormentum, because of the twisting of the hairs, thongs, and vegetable fibers from which the elastic string was made which gave impetus to the projectile. See Smith's Dict. Class. Antiq., s. v. Tormentum. These engines were often used from the top of a “mount” or inclined plane. See note on Ezekiel 4:2 (#565).

371. Change of Name

2 Chronicles 36:4. The king of Egypt made Eliakim his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem, and turned his name to Jehoiakim.
It has long been a custom among Eastern people to change their names on the occurrence of some great event in life. It was in accordance with the divine command at the time of the renewal of the covenant that the name of Abram was changed to Abraham (Gen. 17:5; Neh. 9:7) and that of Sarai to Sarah (Gen. 17:15). Jacob’s name was changed to Israel, in commemoration of his prevailing prayer (Gen. 32:28; 35:10). The king of Egypt changed the name of Joseph to Zaphnath-paaneah, because of his ability to reveal secrets (Gen. 41:45). Another king of Egypt subsequently changed the name of Eliakim the son of Josiah to Jehoiakim, when he made him king of Judah, as narrated in the text, and also in 2 Kings 23:34. So when the king of Babylon made Matianiah king he changed his name to Zedekiah. 2 Kings 24:17. In like mariner the name of Hadassah was changed to Esther (Esther 2:7). So, also, when Nebuchadnezzar wished to have a few of the young Jewish prisoners taught in the Chaldean language and customs, he changed their names from Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego (Dan. 1:6-7).
The custom is further illustrated by Sir John Chardin in his Travels in Persia. He states that King Sefi, the first years of whose reign were unhappy on account of wars and famine in many of the Persian provinces, was persuaded by his counselors to change his name as a means of changing the tide of fortune, since there must be about the name of Sefi some hidden fatal power of evil. He was, therefore, crowned anew in the year 1666 under the name of Solyman III. All seals, coins, and other public symbols that had on them the name of Sefi, were broken, the same as if the king had been dead, and his successor had taken his place upon the throne.

372. Nethinim

Ezra 2:43. The Nethinims.
These were men who assisted the Levites in performing the meanest offices connected with the temple service. Part of them lived in Jerusalem, and part were distributed among the Levitical cities. They are supposed to have been Canaanites reduced to servitude (Josh. 9:21-27) and captives taken in war, who were set apart to this service, and therefore called nethinim: the given, the devoted. They were held in low esteem by the Jews, occupying a social position even lower than the rammer or illegitimate offspring.

373. The Persian Daric

Ezra 2:69. Threescore and one thousand drams of gold.
The coin referred to here and in Ezra 8:27 and also in Nehemiah 7:71-72, is the Persian daric. It was a thick piece of gold having on one side the figure of a king with bow and javelin, or bow and dagger, and on the other an irregular oblong depression. The weight of the daric was from 124 to 129 grains troy. Its value has been variously estimated; it was probably not far from six dollars, gold.

374. Money Tablets

Ezra 3:7. They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters.
The particular kind of money which was given to these workmen is not here mentioned. It may have been gold and silver; perhaps it was clay; for it is a fact worth mentioning that in Babylonia and in Persia at that very time there were in use certain clay tablets which are supposed by some writers to have been used for the same purpose that we now use banknotes! Among other curious things which Loftus unearthed at Warka were about forty “small tablets of unbaked clay, covered on both sides with minute characters.” They were in length from two inches to four and a half, and in breadth from one inch to three. They had on them the names of various kings, and dates ranging from 626 to 525 B.C. Among these was the name of Cyrus, the king who directed the work for which the money was given according to the text. Sir Henry Rawlinson, who examined the inscriptions, says that the tablets “seemed to be notes issued by the government for the convenience of circulation, representing a certain value, which was always expressed in measures of weight, of gold or silver, and redeemable on presentation at the royal treasury.” Loftus adds, “These tablets were, in point of fact, the equivalents of our own banknotes, and prove that a system of artificial currency prevailed in Babylonia, and also in Persia, at an unprecedented early age—centuries before the introduction of paper or printing” (Travels in Chaldea and Susiana, p. 222).

375. The Temple of Zerubbabel

Ezra 6:3-4. Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits; with three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber.
This temple, sometimes called the second temple, and sometimes the temple of Zerubbabel, was built on the site of the first, or Solomon’s temple. We have not so definite a description given of this as we have of Solomon’s temple. The second temple was larger than the first. The “rows” of stones are supposed to refer to three stories of chambers, such as were attached to Solomon’s temple, and on these was placed an additional story of wood. The temple of Zerubbabel, though of greater size than that of Solomon, was inferior to it in magnificence. According to Jewish authorities its altar of burnt offering was of stone instead of brass, and it had but one table of show-bread and but one candlestick. It is also said that the sanctuary was entirely empty, excepting that in place of the ark of the covenant a stone was set three fingers high, on which the high priest placed the censer and sprinkled the blood of atonement. Some suppose, however, that a new ark was made and set in the sanctuary. The rabbit’s reckon five different important features of the first temple which were wanting in the second: 1. The Ark of the Covenant. 2. The Sacred Fire. 3. The Shekinah. 4. The Holy Spirit. 5. The answer by Urim and Thummim. Some of these distinctions are, however, thought by more sober writers to be a little fanciful.

376. Adar

Ezra 6:15. This house was finished on the third day of the month Adar.
This was the closing month of the year, and corresponded very nearly to our month of March.

377. Chisleu

Nehemiah 1:1. It came to pass in the month Chisleu.
This corresponded very nearly to our month of December.

378. The Royal Butler

Nehemiah 1:11. For I was the King’s cupbearer.
The office of royal cup-bearer or butler is of high antiquity, and was a place great honor in the Persian court. The cup-bearer, being in the daily presence of the king, and seeing him at his seasons of relaxation from care, had many opportunities of ingratiating himself into the goodwill of the monarch, and thus doubtless obtained many favors which were denied others. Cup-bearers were generally eunuchs, and are often found represented on Assyrian monuments. In these representations they hold the cup in the left hand, and in the right hand a fly-flap made of the split leaves of the palm. A long napkin, richly embroidered and fringed, is thrown over the left shoulder for the king to wipe his lips with. Among the Medes and Persians the cup-bearer, before serving the king, took the wine into the cup from the vessels, and then poured a little into the palm of his left hand and drank it; so that if the wine were poisoned the king might ascertain it without running any personal risk. Pharaoh had cup-bearers to attend him (Gen. 40:2). Solomon also had them (1 Kings 10:5; 2 Chron. 9:4).

379. Safe Conduct

Nehemiah 2:7. Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah.
It is still customary in many parts of the East to obtain letters of recommendation, or orders for safe conduct, when the traveler desires to visit different districts under one central authority. Without these he could not travel in comfort or safety; but having them, those to whom he presents them are bound to protect him. Thus Nehemiah was able to travel safely throughout the Persian empire.

380. Shaking the Lap

Nehemiah 5:13. Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied.
The “lap” was a fold made in the outer garment, near the breast, for the reception of various articles. See note on Luke 6:38 (#760). To shake this was equivalent to a curse, and to empty it was a significant suggestion of utter extermination. Roberts says that the natives of India always carry in their lap a pouch made of the leaf of cocoa or of some other tree, and that they are careful never to have the pouch entirely empty. They have in it money, areca nut, betel leaf, and tobacco. Even when they wish to find any article they never empty the pouch, but rather fumble about for a long time until they get hold of the object sought. They say if the pouch should become empty it might remain so for a long time. They also shake the lap of the robe when they curse each other.
When the Roman embassadors proposed the choice of peace or war to the Carthaginians they made use of a similar ceremony. “When the Roman embassadors entered the senate of Carthage they had their toga gathered up in their bosom. They said, ‘We carry here peace and war; you may have which you will.’ The senate answered, ‘You may give which you please.’ They then shook their toga, and said, ‘We bring you war.’ To which all the senate answered, ‘We cheerfully accept it’” (Burder, Oriental Illustrations, No. 645).
It was in a similar way that Nehemiah significantly suggested to the usurers of his time their utter extermination if they failed to keep the covenant of restitution which they had made. See also Acts 18:6.

381. Letters

Nehemiah 6:5. Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand.
1. The first mention that is made in Scripture of a letter is of that which David sent to Joab (2 Sam. 11:14). We also read of the letters which Jezebel wrote in the name of Ahab (1 Kings 21:8). The king of Syria wrote a letter to the king of Israel (2 Kings 5:5-7). Jehu also wrote letters (2 Kings 10:1). Later on in the history more frequent mention is made of them.
On what substance those ancient letters were written it is now impossible to say. They may have been written on skins dressed for the purpose, on palm-leaves, or on papyrus, the use of which is now known to have been very ancient with the Egyptians, and from them neighboring nations may have learned it.
2. In Persia, as well as in some other Oriental lands, letters, when sent to persons of distinction, are generally, after being rolled up in a scroll, enclosed in a bag or purse, which is sometimes made of very elegant and costly material. The end of this purse is tied, closed over with clay or wax, and then sealed. See Isaiah 8:16; 29:11; Daniel 12:4,9; Revelation 5:4-5,9; 10:4; 22:10. For the mode of sealing, see note on 1 Kings 21:8 (#325). This is considered a mark of respect, and a recognition of the rank or position of the person to whom it is sent. When sent to inferiors, or to persons whom the writer wishes to treat with contempt, the letters are uninclosed. This custom probably existed among the Persians in the time of Nehemiah, since special emphasis is in the text laid upon the fact that the letter was an open letter; that is, as we understand it, that it was not enclosed in a bag, and therefore indicated the contempt which Sanballat had for Nehemiah. He treated him as a person of inferior position.

382. Elul

Nehemiah 6:15. The twenty and fifth day of the month Elul.
This month corresponded very nearly with September of our calendar.

383. Tirshatha

Nehemiah 7:65. And the Tirshatha said unto them.
This was the title of the Persian governor of Judea. Gesenius derives the word from the Persian torsh: “severe,” “austere,” which would make the meaning equivalent to your Severity. He compares it with the German gestrenger Herr, (that is, your “Worship”; but, literally, Severe Master,) a title which was formerly given to the magistrates of the free and imperial German cities. The English have a corresponding expression: “most dread Sovereign.”
See also Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:70; 8:9; 10:1.

384. Sending Portions

Nehemiah 8:10. Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared.
This has generally been interpreted to mean that the wants of the poor were to be supplied; but Harmer (Observations, vol. 2, p. 107) prefers to refer it to the custom of sending a portion of a feast to those who can not well come to it, especially to the relatives of those who give the feast, and to those in a state of mourning, who in their grief would make no preparation. In Esther 9:19 it is said that among the ceremonies of the feast of Purim there was to be “sending portions one to another.” In the twenty-second verse of the same chapter the order of Mordecai is given for keeping the feast, and it is directed “that they should make them days of feasting and joy, and of sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor.” From this verse it is evident that sending “gifts to the poor ‘ is not the same thing as” sending portions one to another.” This latter custom, however, may, in turn, be different from the one referred to in Nehemiah, and may mean that these pious Jews expressed their joy by a mutual exchange of the good things provided for the feast. This custom is alluded to in Revelation 11:10, where the enemies of the “two witnesses” are represented as rejoicing over their death: “And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”

385. Wood for the Sacrifices

Nehemiah 10:34. We cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the law.
The work of supplying the wood necessary for the altar fires was a part of the task assigned to the Nethinim. See note on Ezra 2:43 (#372). On the occasion of the captivity these became scattered, and their organization was broken up, and though some Nethinim returned to Jerusalem, they were probably not so numerous as before. It became necessary, therefore, for all classes of the people to attend to this work, and the time of their doing it was regulated by lot. This work is what is called the “wood offering” in the text and in Nehemiah 13:31. We have no further mention of it in the Scriptures, but the Jewish writers give additional accounts of the manner in which the work was done. Different families had different times of the year assigned them for their share in the work. This was the origin of a great festival which was known by the name of the feast of wood-carrying, and was celebrated annually on a certain day in Ab, (August.) This was the last day of the year on which wood could be cut for this purpose, and all the people without distinction of tribe or grade brought wood to the temple on that day. The festival was universally and joyously kept; no fasting or mourning was permitted.

386. Plucking the Hair

Nehemiah 13:25. I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair.
This is equivalent to what we term “tearing the hair out by the roots.” It was sometimes a self-inflicted suffering as a token of mourning (see Ezra 9:3), sometimes an act of wanton persecution (see Isa. 50:6), and sometimes punishment, as represented in the text. It is said that the ancient Athenians punished adulterers by tearing the hair from the scalp and then covering the head with hot ashes.

387. The Court of the House

Esther 1:5. In the court of the garden of the king’s palace.
The “court” of an Oriental house is the open space around which the house is built. The outside of the building shows to the observer hardly anything but blank walls, the privacy of the people being such that the interior of their dwellings is completely hidden from public gaze. The ordinary houses have but one court, but houses of a better class have two or three, and some of the best houses in Damascus have seven courts. The palaces of kings had a number of courts.
The courts are sometimes laid out in beautiful gardens containing various fruits and flowers; and trees are often planted there: the palm, the cypress, the olive, the pomegranate. To this the Psalmist alludes when he says. “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God” (Psa. 52:8). Again, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God” (Psa. 92:12-13). Sometimes the court is handsomely paved with marble (see verse 6), and has a fountain in the center. Cisterns are also built here. See note on 2 Samuel 17:18-19 (#281).
The court usually has a covered walk nine or ten feet wide projecting from the house. This walk is generally on the four sides of the court, though sometimes only on one side. If the house is over one story high, the roof of this covered walk forms a gallery, and is protected by a balustrade. This gallery is supported by pillars. Solomon is supposed to refer to this in Proverbs 9:1: “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.” See also Job 9:6; 26:11; Psalm 75:3; Galatians 2:9; 1 Timothy 3:15; but on this last text see note on Genesis 28:18 (#49). On occasions of feasting, the guests are often assembled in the court, as is related in the text.
The rooms of the house open into the court. In some houses this opening is by means of doors; but in others the rooms are divided from the court by a low partition only. Where the house is more than one story in height the stairs to the upper apartments are usually, though not always, in one corner of the court.
The diagram on page 198 represents the ground-plan of an Oriental house.
In the left-hand corner, at the bottom, is the door, which opens directly into the porch or entrance-hall. To enter the court it is necessary to cross this hall and go through an adjacent room. It can thus be seen how one might enter the porch and yet have no view of the interior arrangements of the house. In the center of the court, at the place marked A in the diagram, is the fountain or cistern. The small circles around the court mark the positions of the pillars which support the gallery above; and the square and oblong spaces represent various apartments. The engraving on page 199 gives a representation of the court of a house with tesselated marble pavement, garden and fountain.
Reference is made to the court in 1 Kings 7:8-9,12; Neh. 8:16; Esther 6:4-5.

388. Curtains Couches

Esther 1:6. Where were white, green, and blue hangings, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black marble.
1. In the heat of summer an awning is sometimes stretched across the court from one gallery to another. Reference is thought to be made to this in Psalm 104:2, and Isaiah 45:12; and many writers think that the text speaks of an awning of variegated colors thrown over the courtyard of the palace. In the ruins of the palace at Khorsabad a small bronze lion was found of beautiful workmanship and fixed in a flagstone in the pavement of the court. At intervals there were similar flagstones in the pavement, where it is evident that other lions had been placed. From the fact that this lion had a ring rising from his back, resembling the rings in the animal-shaped weights which have been found (see note on Genesis 23:16, #26), it is supposed that these bronze images were used in the pavement to fasten the cords of the awning which was spread over the court.
Some authorities, however, suppose that the variegated hangings, instead of making an awning, were magnificent curtains suspended between the marble pillars of the court. This is the opinion of Professor Rawlinson, and also of Loftus. The latter excavated among the ruins of the great palace at Susa, which he believes to have been the very palace referred to in the book of Esther. His investigations satisfied him that “the Great Hall at Susa consisted of several magnificent groups of columns, together having a frontage of three hundred and forty-three feet nine inches, and a depth of two hundred and forty-four feet. These groups were arranged into a central phalanx of thirty-six columns, (six rows of six each,) flanked on the west, north, and east by an equal number, disposed of in double rows of six each and distant from them sixty-four feet two inches” (Travels in Chaldea and Susiana, p. 367). He thinks that the colored curtains wore hung around the central group of marble columns.
2. It is customary to spread mats and carpets on the court pavement for the accommodation of guests; Ahasuerus with kingly magnificence placed costly couches. These couches of “gold and silver,” on which the guests reclined in the palace court while they feasted, (see note on Matthew 26:7, #712) may have been covered with cloth in which these materials were interwoven, (see note on Proverbs 7:16, #459) or they may have been put on frames which were ornamented with the precious metals. Layard says that “choirs and couches adorned with feet of silver and other metals were looked upon as a great object of luxury in Persia” (Nineveh and its Remains, vol. 2, p. 300). According to Herodotus, the tables, thrones, and couches in the temple of Bolus at Babylonia were of solid gold.

389. Drinking Customs

Esther 1:8. The drinking was according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure.
Revelers of all nations seem to have had their peculiar drinking customs which were as binding as laws. Among the Egyptians, wine was offered before dinner commenced, and the guests also drank during the repast. Among the Greeks, each guest was obliged to keep the round or leave the company. “Drink, or be gone,” was the proverb. At the Roman feasts, a master of the feast was chosen by throwing dice. He prescribed rules to the company which all were obliged to observe. See note on John 2:8 (#793).
Bishop Patrick, in his note on this place, suggests that the text means that though it was the custom to compel men to drink whether they would or not, yet the king on this occasion directed that each guest be left to his own discretion, and that none were obliged to drink according to this custom. Leaving out the word was, which the translators supplied; rendering the Hebrew word dath, “custom,” instead of “law,” as in our version; and slightly changing the punctuation, the Bishop translates: “The drinking according to custom, none did compel.” Thus no one would incur displeasure who violated the ordinary rule of conviviality.

390. Feasts for the Women

Esther 1:9. Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house which belonged to king Ahasuerus.
The women in the East do not have their feasts in the same room with the men. This separation of the sexes is an ancient custom which was observed at this time at the court of Persia, though Jahn, speaking of the custom, says that “Babylon and Persia must, however, be looked upon as exceptions, where the ladies were not excluded from the festivals of the men (Dan. 5:2), and if we may believe the testimony of ancient authors, at Babylon they were not remarkable for their modesty on such occasions” (Archaeology, § 146).
As far as Babylon is concerned the remark is correct, and it serves to illustrate the relaxation of manners which showed itself among the dissolute Babylonians. It is not true, however, in reference to Persia, as is plainly seen by the indignation of Vashti when her drunken husband sent for her to come and display her beauty before the revelers. Her womanly spirit was aroused and she refused. See verse 12. This error as to the Persian custom probably rests on an oft-quoted story told by Herodotus, who says that seven Persian embassadors, being sent to Amyntas, a Grecian prince, were entertained by him at a feast, and told him when they began to drink that it was customary among their countrymen to introduce their concubines and young wives at their entertainments. Dr. Pusey says of this statement, “If historical, it was a shameless lie, to attain their end” (Lectures on Daniel, p. 461, note). Rawlinson represents the Oriental seclusion of women as carried to an excess among the ancient Persians. See Five Ancient Monarchies, vol. 3, p. 222.

391. Chamberlains

Esther 1:10. The seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king.
Sarisim is variously rendered “chamberlains,” “officers” and “eunuchs.” They were emasculated persons who had charge of the harems of Oriental monarchs, and who were also employed by them in various offices about the court. They often became the confidential advisers of the monarch, and were frequently men of great influence, and sometimes had high military office. See Jeremiah 39:3. This was especially the case in Persia, where they acquired great political power, and filled positions of great prominence, and sometimes engaged in conspiracy against the life of the king, an illustration of which may be found in Esther 2:21.
The Hebrew monarchs had them in their courts. See 1 Samuel 8:15; 1 Kings 22:9; 2 Kings 8:6; 9:32; 23:11; 25:19; 1 Chronicles 28:1; Jeremiah 29:2; 34:19; 38:7; 52:25.
Though it was the barbarous custom of Eastern sovereigns to mutilate many of their young prisoners in the manner here indicated, there is no evidence that the Hebrew kings ever did this. The eunuchs employed by them are supposed to have been imported. It is thought that Daniel and his companions were thus maltreated by the king of Babylon in fulfillment of the prediction contained in 2 Kings 20:17-18; Isaiah 39:7.

392. The Royal Harem

Esther 2:13. Out of the house of the women unto the king’s house.
The place appointed as a residence for the wives and concubines of the king was separated from the rest of the palace by a court. There were in it three sets of apartments: one set for the virgins who had not yet been sent for by the king, one for the concubines, and one for the queen and the other wives. The first is referred to in verse 8; it was under the charge of a special chamberlain. The second is mentioned in verse 14, and is spoken of as under the charge of another chamberlain. The third is mentioned in Esther 1:9, and was under the charge of the queen herself: she was not watched over by a chamberlain, but had one subject to her orders. See Esther 4:5.

393. Tebeth

Esther 2:16. The tenth month, which is the month Tebeth.
This corresponded very nearly to our month of January.

394. The Persian Queen

Esther 2:17. The king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.
There was one of the wives of the Persian monarchs who occupied a higher position than any of the others, and to her alone the title of “queen” belonged. “The chief wife or queen consort was privileged to wear on her head a royal tiara or crown. She was the acknowledged head of the female apartments or Gynecium, and the concubines recognized her dignity by actual prostration. On great occasions, when the king entertained the male part of the court, she feasted all the females in her own part of the palace. She had a large revenue of her own, assigned her, not so much by the will of her husband, as by an established law or custom. Her dress was splendid, and she was able to indulge freely that love of ornament of which few Oriental women are devoid” (Rawlinson, Five Ancient Monarchies, vol. 3, p. 218).
This was the elevated position filled by Vashti, and afterward by Esther.

395. Etiquette of the Persian Court

Esther 4:11. Whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live.
The etiquette of the Persian court was very strict. Except the “Seven Princes,” no one could approach the king unless introduced by a court usher. To come into the king’s presence without being summoned was a capital crime; and the severity of the Persian punishments may be seen in the fact that an act like this was followed by the same punishment as murder or rebellion. The intruder was instantly put to death by the attendants unless the king, by extending his golden scepter, showed his approval of the act. It was well understood, therefore, that whoever thus appeared before the king deliberately risked life; and it is an evidence of the influence which Esther had gained over Ahasuerus that, when she appeared, the scepter was extended. See Esther 5:2 and 8:4.

396. Feasting With the King

Esther 5:12. Tomorrow am I invited unto her also with the king.
It was a rare privilege for a subject, however high his station, to be permitted to banquet with the king. Occasionally, however, this was allowed, and Haman had reason to feel highly honored at the invitation he received from the queen by permission of the king. It must be understood, however, that when subjects were thus admitted to feast with royalty they were reminded of their inferior position. “The monarch reclined on a couch with golden feet, and sipped the rich wine of Helbon; the guests drank an inferior beverage, seated upon the floor” (Five Monarchies, vol. 3, p. 214). On some very special occasions the rigidity of this rule was relaxed. The king presided openly at a banquet where large numbers of dignitaries were assembled, and royal couches and royal wine were provided for them all. Such a feast is referred to in Esther 1:3.

397. Royal Honors Given to a Subject

Esther 6:8. Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head.
1. Chardin says that when the grandees visited Solyman III., to congratulate him on his coronation, the king made every one of them a present of a Calate, or royal vest. “It is an infallible mark of the particular esteem which the sovereign has for the person to whom he sends it, and that he has free liberty to approach his person” (Travels in Persia, p. 11). See also note on 1 Samuel 18:4 (#257).
2. Herodotus states that the kings of Persia had horses of remarkable beauty and of a peculiar breed which were brought from Armenia. To ride upon the king’s horse was almost as great an honor as to sit upon his throne.
3. Some commentators think that by “the crown royal” is meant merely an ornament which was a part of the bead-trappings of the horse; though why the horse’s head-dress should deserve such special mention here it is not easy to tell. It is more likely that the crown of the king is meant, and if so, it is probable, as some authorities suppose, that the crown was put, not on the head of Mordecai but on the head of the horse. It is said to have been a custom among the Persians, as well as some other nations, that the crown of the king was sometimes put on some favorite royal steed when the animal was led in state.

398. Sign of Royal Displeasure

Esther 7:7. The king arising from the banquet of wine in his wrath went into the palace garden: and Haman stood up to make request for his life to Esther the queen; for he saw that there was evil determined against him by the king.
The rising of the king in this way was an evidence to Haman of his condemnation to death; it was the royal method of expressing displeasure and vengeance. An instance is cited by Rosenmüller, from Olearius, which illustrates this Persian custom. Schah Sefi once considered himself insulted by an unseemly jest which one of his favorites had permitted himself to relate in his presence. The king suddenly arose and left the place, and the favorite saw that his fate was sealed. He went home in dismay, and in a few hours the king sent for his head (Morgenland, vol. 3, p. 314).

399. The Face Covered

Esther 7:8. As the word went out of the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face.
The precise design of thus covering the face of a condemned criminal is not known, though it has been conjectured that it was intended to signify that the person condemned was not worthy again to look on the face of the king. The custom was observed in other nations as well as among the Persians.

400. Sivan

Esther 8:9. In the third month, that is, the month Sivan.
Sivan corresponded nearly to our month of June.

401. The Feast of Purim

Esther 9:26. Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur.
Pur is a Persian word signifying a part, and thence denoting a lot. With the Hebrew plural termination it becomes purim, “lots.” This is the name by which the feast is known which is kept to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from the plot of Haman. It is called the Feast of Lots because Haman in his superstition resorted to divination for the purpose of ascertaining when he could most effectually destroy the Jews. See Esther 3:7. Some think that the name was given in irony, as denoting the contempt in which the Jews held Haman and his divination.
There is a tradition that the introduction of this feast among the Jews met with some opposition, though it afterward became generally observed. The day before the feast is kept as a solemn fast. On the day of the feast the people assemble in the synagogue, where the book of Esther is read amid clapping of hands and stamping of feet, as demonstrations of contempt for Haman and of joy for the deliverance of the Jews. After leaving the synagogue there are great feasts at home, which have been sometimes carried to such excess that some writers have called the Feast of Purim the Bacchanalia of the Jews.

402. Pastoral Wealth

Job 1:3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses.
Among people of pastoral and nomadic habits it is natural to estimate wealth, not by houses and lands, but by the number of animals owned.
Abram was very rich in cattle (Gen. 13:2). Lot had flocks and herds (Gen. 13:5). See also Genesis 24:35. Job’s wealth, on the return of his prosperity, was estimated in like manner. See Job 42:12. Special mention is made of she-asses because they were more highly valued than the males on account of their milk, a nourishing drink. To this day the riches of the Bedawin are reckoned by the number and quality of their cattle.

403. The Value of Life

Job 2:4. Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
Many interpretations have been given of this passage, which was evidently a familiar proverb in the early times when Job lived. It probably refers to some ancient custom of bartering by means of skins of animals slain in the chase. The hungry hunter trades with the grain grower, parting, for a supply of food, with the skins of the beasts he has slain, and if necessary he will exchange all he has in order to obtain bread. As Kitto says of this text. “It will then express the necessity of submitting to one great evil to avoid incurring a greater, answering to the Turkish proverb, ‘We must give our beards to save our heads.’” (Daily Bible Illustrations, vol. 5, p. 83).

404. Grain and Thorns

Job 5:5. Whose harvest the hungry eateth up, and taketh it even out of the thorns, and the robber swalloweth up their substance.
This may refer either to the thief who takes all the grain, even that which is mixed with thorns, or to a custom which Dr. Thomson mentions as illustrating this text. He says, “The farmers, after they have threshed out the grain, frequently lay it aside in the chaff in some private place near the floor, and cover it up with thorn-bushes to keep it from being carried away or eaten by animals. Robbers who found and seized this would literally take it from among the thorns” (The Land and the Book, vol.1, p. 537).

405. Poisoned Arrows

Job 6:4. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit.
An allusion is doubtless made here to the practice, common among barbarous nations of all times, of dipping the points of arrows into some poisonous substance for the purpose of insuring the death of the persons who might be struck with them.

406. Shadows

Job 7:2. As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as a hireling looketh for the reward of his work.
The lengthening shadow indicates the close of day and the termination of toil, and is therefore desired by the weary laborer. In India time is measured by the length of one’s shadow. If a man is asked for the time of day, he stands erect in the sunshine, observes where his shadow terminates, and then paces the distance, and is able to tell the time with considerable accuracy. A person wishing to leave his work often exclaims, “How long my shadow is in coming!” (Roberts, Oriental Customs, p. 261).

407. Primitive Mail Carriers

Job 9: 25. My days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good.
Swift runners were often employed in ancient times to convey important messages. Kings kept a number of such in their service as a part of the royal household. When Hezekiah sent invitations to the solemn passover which he designed holding at Jerusalem, it is said that “the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah” (2 Chron. 30:6). In the time of Jeremiah there seems to have been a regular postal service established, for he says, in prophesying the destruction of Babylon: “One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end” (Jer. 51:31). The Persians also made use of swift messengers. The order commanding the murder of all the Jews in the empire was sent by this means. See Esther 3:13,15. The order which neutralized the effect of this proclamation was sent by “posts that rode upon mules and camels” (Esther 8:14).
While there may have been no systematic communication of this sort in the time of Job, yet it is evident from the text that men fleet of foot were employed when occasion required. The patriarch compares the rapid flight of his days to a post; literally, a runner, a man hastening with news. This was the swiftest mode of communication with which he was familiar, and his days went swifter still.
See further the note on Matthew 5:41 (#642).

408. Supposed Virtues of Snow Water

Job 9:30. If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean.
Snow water was anciently supposed to possess peculiar virtues for cleansing the skin. It was thought that the skin was whitened by it, and that it contracted the fibers and prevented perspiration. “In the fable of Lockman, No. 13, the black man rubs his body with snow in order to make it white. Therefore Mohammed prays, Lord, wash me from my sins white with water, snow, and ice.’” (Umbreit, Version of the Book of Job).

409. Robbers

Job 12:6. The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure.
Robbery has from a very early period of history been a common occupation of lawless men, and has also often proved a profitable employment, as intimated by the text. Whole tribes, and in some instances entire nations, adopted it as a means of livelihood. The Sabeans stole Job’s oxen and asses, and “the Chaldeans made out three bands and fell upon the camels” (Job 1:15,17). The Shechemites “set liers in wait” for Abimelech “in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them” (Judg. 9:25). The robbery mentioned in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30) frequently found its counterpart in facts, and at the present day travelers are sometimes robbed by predatory bands.

410. Bosses

Job 15:26. He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers.
The boss was the external convex part of the round shield, its thickest and strongest portion. There were some shields whose shape was wholly convex, the center being an elevated point, as may be seen in the engraving, which represents an Assyrian convex shield.
There were also convex ornaments which were placed on the outside of shields, adding strength as well as beauty. Layard found at Nimrod circular bronze shields, each having an iron handle fastened by six nails. The heads of these nails formed bosses on the outside of the shield.
In the text Eliphaz expresses the uselessness of the attack which the wicked man makes on God, by representing him as running upon the most impenetrable part of the shield.

411. Frail Houses

Job 15:28. He dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.
Many of the rude huts in the East are made of small stones or built of mud. The roof is made by covering the beams with brushwood, and this in turn with earth. The rain soaks into the earth, and the weight settling on brush and beams gradually breaks them down unless there is an industrious occupant (see Eccl. 10:18) to keep the roof in proper condition. When the roof is broken down the walls easily fall, and the whole house soon becomes a heap of ruins. But this is true not merely of such rude mud huts, but of large edifices, temples and palaces, built of sun-dried brick, as the ruins of Babylon and Nineveh amply testify.

412. Light and Darkness as Emblems

Job 18:5-6. Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.
To the susceptible mind of the Oriental, light is an object of desire, and darkness something to be greatly dreaded. The lamp is usually kept burning in the house all night; and its light is used as an emblem of prosperity, and the extinguishment of it as an emblem of a great calamity. Thus Job speaks of the days of his prosperity when the candle of the Lord shone upon his head (Job 29:3). David says, “Thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness” (Psa. 18:28). On the other hand, we find Job saying, as expressive of great affliction: “How oft is the candle of the wicked put out” (Job 21:17). Solomon says, “Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness” (Prov. 20:20). “The candle of the wicked shall be put out” (Prov. 24:20).
The Saviour on two occasions refers to this Oriental dread of darkness where he represents the punishment of the wicked under the figure of “outer darkness.” See Matthew 8:12; 22:13. Both ideas are blended in Proverbs 13:9: “The light of the righteous rejoiceth: but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.”
See also Jeremiah 25:10.

413. The Net in Combat

Job 19:6. Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.
Some commentators find here an illustration of an ancient mode of corn bat practiced among the Persians, Goths and Romans. Among the Romans one of the combatants had a sword and shield, while the other had a trident and net. The latter endeavored to throw his net over the head of his adversary. If he succeeded in this, he immediately drew the net around his neck with a noose which was attached to it, pulled him to the ground and dispatched him with the trident. If he failed to throw the net over the head, he in turn ran the risk of being destroyed by his adversary while seeking his net for another throw. If Job knew of this custom in his day, he represents himself in this text as having engaged in a contest with God, and, being defeated, he now lies entangled in the net and completely at the mercy of his conqueror.

414. Books Tablets Monuments

Job 19: 23-24. O that my words were now written Oh that they were printed in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever!I See also Jeremiah 17: 1.
Three different substances for the preservation of record’s are usually supposed to be referred to here: 1. Books. These were anciently made of linen or cotton cloth, skins, or the leaves of the papyrus. From the last word comes our English word, paper. The inner bark of trees was also sometimes used. The Latin word for bark being liber, this word at length came to signify a book; it is still found in the English word library. When made of cloth or skins the book was made up in the form of a roll. See note on Isaiah 34:4 (#511).
2. Leaden tablets. These are of high antiquity. In 1699 Montfaucon bought at Rome a very old book entirely made of lead. It was about four inches long and three wide, and had a cover and six leaves or sheets. The hinges and nails were also made of lead. The volume contained Egyptian gnostic figures and inscriptions in Greek and Etruscan characters.
In a temple in the Carian city of Cnidus, erected in honor of Hades and Persephone, about the fourth century before Christ, the women were in the habit of depositing thin sheets of lead on which were written the names of persons they hated, together With their misdeeds. They also inscribed on the lead tablets imprecations against those who had thus injured them. Many of these tablets were discovered in 1858 when excavations were made in the ruins of the temple. They are now in the British Museum.
It is not, however, certain that Job in the text refers to leaden tablets or leaves on which inscriptions were made. He may have alluded to the custom of first cutting letters in stone and then filling them up with molten lead. There are indications that some of the incised letters in Assyrian monuments were filled with metal. M. Botta states that the letters on the pavement slabs of Khorsabad give evidence of having been filled with copper. See Layard's Nineveh and Its Remains, vol. 2, p. 188.
3. Stone monuments. The law was originally written on tables of stone “with the finger of God” (Ex. 31:18). The second set of tables were written by Moses by Divine command (Ex. 34:4,28). Joshua copied the law on the stone altar at Mount Ebal (Josh. 8:32). This mode of recording important truths or events was very common in ancient times. Job desires that his sentiments should be thus engraved, that generations to come might read the record.
The some records of ancient Oriental nations, which modern discoveries have brought to light, are all illustrations of the custom which Job evidently had in mind. Many of these bear on Scripture facts and history, confirming and supplementing the sacred record. The most remarkable, in some respects, of any of these ancient monuments is the famous Moabite stone, the discovery of which in the year 1868 created such intense excitement among biblical scholars and antiquarians. This is the very oldest Semitic inscription of importance as yet discovered, and is the only one thus far found which reaches back to the age of the Jewish monarchy. It gives the Moabitish account of the conflict described in the 2 Kings 3.

415. Houses of Clay

Job 24:16. In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime.
This refers to houses that are built of clay. Of these there are several varieties. Some have a framework of wicker hurdles thickly daubed with mud. In others the walls are made of layers of mud placed one over the other, each drying before the next is put on. Others still are made of sun—dried bricks. This style of building is very ancient, and is still common in many parts of the East. A thief might easily break through a wall of this kind, and modern thieves are as ready to do it as were the burglars who lived in the days of Job.
Houses like these are referred to by Eliphaz in Job 4:19, where he speaks of “houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth”; and also in Ezekiel 12:5, where the prophet is commanded, in a figurative way, to dig “through the wall.” The Saviour also refers to them when he speaks of thieves breaking through to steal (Matt. 6:19) and of the house which was broken up by the thief (Matt. 24:43). The frailty of the walls of such houses is also probably referred to in Psalm 62:3 and Isaiah 30:13.

416. Worms Feeding on the Body

Job 24:20. The worm shall feed sweetly on him; he shall be no more remembered.
It is an Oriental opinion that worms exist in the skin and in all parts of the body, and that they are among the principal causes of its destruction. Roberts (Oriental illustrations, p. 271) quotes from an ancient Indian medical work in which eighteen kinds of worms are enumerated by the author in as many different parts of the body. In Job 19:26, the translators have supplied the word worms: “Though after my skin worms destroy this body.” Though the word is not in the original, yet the sentiment is in accordance with the text we are now illustrating and with several other passages. See Job 7:5; 17:14; 21:26; Isaiah 14:11. In India it is common for a sick man to say, “Ah, my body is but a nest for worms; they have paths in all parts of my frame!” “Ah, these worms are continually eating my flesh!”

417. Raiment as Wealth

Job 27:16. Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay.
The Eastern people have always reckoned collections of raiment among their choice treasures, and estimate them in the accounts of their wealth along with gold and silver. This is seen in the text, and is also to be found in the injunction of the Saviour in Matthew 6:19, where, in speaking of the uncertain character of worldly wealth, he refers to the ravages of the moth upon the treasures of raiment. So Paul in his address at Miletus to the elders of Ephesus, says, “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel” (Acts 20:33). He also refers to the value of garments in 1 Timothy 2:9, where he speaks of “costly array.” James likewise says in his epistle, James 5:2, “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.”
See also the note on Genesis 45:22 (#93).

418. Stone Oil Presses

Job 29:6. The rock poured me out rivers of oil.
Some think the reference here is to the fact that the olive-tree sometimes grows in very rocky soil; but allusion is more probably made to stone oil presses, from which the oil flowed like a river. See also Ezekiel 32:14. Moses speaks of oil being sucked “out of the flinty rock” (Deut. 32:13).

419. Eating Alone

Job 31:17. Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof.
It is a part of Oriental etiquette to invite others to partake of food. See note on Genesis 18:2-3 (#9). Dr. Shaw says, referring to his travels in Arabia: “No sooner was our food prepared, whether it was potted flesh boiled with rice, a lentil soup, or unleavened cakes served up with oil or honey, than one of the Arabs, (not to eat his morsel alone,) after having placed himself on the highest spot of ground in the neighborhood, calls out thrice, with a loud voice, to all his brethren, The sons of the faithful, to come and partake of it; though none of them were in view, or perhaps within a hundred miles of us. This custom, however, they maintain to be a token at least of their great benevolence, as indeed it would have been of their hospitality, provided they could have had an opportunity to show it” (Travels, Preface, p. 12).

420. Impressions of Seals

Job 38:14. It is turned as clay to the seal.
The bricks of Egypt, Babylonia, and Assyria boar marks which have evidently been made with a seal. Egyptian wine jars and mummy pits were sometimes sealed with clay. There have been found in Assyria public documents made of clay, and having the letters stamped in them, and the marks of official sealing. In the East, doors of granaries or of treasure rooms are to this day sometimes sealed with clay, so that it is impossible to enter without first breaking the seal. The sepulcher of Christ was probably sealed in this way. See note on Matthew 27:66 (#735). Clay is used in preference to wax because the former hardens with the heat, while the latter melts. The engraving represents a lump of clay from Assyria, having several impressions of seals upon it.
For description of seals, see note on 1 Kings 21:8 (#323).

421. Cords and Rings

Job 41:2. Canst thou put a hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?
1. Agmon, “hook,” is more correctly a rush-cord or rope made of reeds, (Gesenius;) and the question of the text suggests the wonderful strength of the leviathan by the impossibility of putting a rope around his nose, thus binding his jaws.
2. Choach, “thorn,” is really a ring; and the text probably refers to a custom, very ancient and still practiced, of inserting a strong iron ring into the jaw of a fish as soon as caught. A cord is fastened to the ring and the fish is let down into the water, where it remains until the fisherman has an opportunity of selling it.

422. Fish Spears

Job 41:7. Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?
There is an allusion here to an instrument resembling the trident or two-tongued fish-spear in use by the Egyptians, and frequently depicted on the monuments. This spear was a slender rod some ten or twelve feet long, doubly feathered at the end, like a modern arrow. It had two sharp points about two feet in length, and on these the fish were impaled. The fisherman pushed along the Nile in a flat-bottomed boat among the papyrus reeds and lotus plants, and on seeing his finny prey drove the weapon with his right hand, steadying it through a curve in his left.

423. Adversity a Prison

Job 42:10. The Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.
This, in the figurative language of the East, means that the Lord restored Job to his former prosperity. Roberts says, “A man formerly in great prosperity speaks of his present state as if he were in prison. ‘I am now a captive. Yes, I am a slave.’ If he be again providentially elevated, it is observed, His captivity is changed’” (Oriental Illustrations, p. 302). David says, “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name” (Psa. 142:7).

424. Presents to the Afflicted

Job 42:11. Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house.... Every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.
It is said to be still a custom in some parts of the East for friends and relatives to visit, at some previously appointed time, a man in trouble, bringing with them presents to supply his wants, and to make up for whatever losses he may have sustained by his calamity. After partaking of a feast, prepared by the lost, the guests leave their gifts, and express their desire for his future prosperity.
On the meaning of a “piece of money” (kesitah), see note on Genesis 33:19 (#65).

425. Poetic Names

Job 42:14. He called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Keren-happuch.
Rosenmuller has the following note on this verse: “A Jewish writer, Solomon Jarchi, correctly remarks that the names of the daughters of Job indicate their beauty, as it is said in the fifteenth verse: ‘And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job.’ The first name, Jemima, means resembling a clear day, (with the brilliancy of its beauty)—fair as the day. So, according to Hesychius, Hăimera, that is, day, was a surname of Diana. The second name, Kezia, means Cassia, one of the most valuable spices of antiquity. The third name, Keren-happuch, means Horn of the Eye-paint, that is, a vessel made of horn, wherein the Oriental women kept the paint which they used for their eyes. Thomas Roe, in his Travels, remarks that the Persians are accustomed to give their women names which mean spices, fragrant ointments, pearls or precious stones, or something otherwise beautiful and delightful” (Morgenland, vol. 3, p. 375).
It is proper to say, however, that the etymology above given is disputed by some authorities. Gesenius derives Jemima from an Arabic word signifying dove. Dr. Alexander, editor of Kitto’s Cyclopedia, defines Kerenhappuch, Horn of adornment, or Horn of beauty. These interpretations, as much as the others given, represent the names as names of beauty.

426. Irrigation of Gardens

Psalm 1:3. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season.
Several commentators call attention to the fact that palge-mayim, here rendered “rivers of water,” literally means divisions of waters; and reference is supposed to be made to a very favorite mode of irrigation in some Eastern countries. Canals are dug in every direction, and through these the water is carried, to the great improvement of vegetation. Egypt was once covered with these canals, and in this way the waters of the Nile were carried to every part of the valley through which the river ran. Some Eastern gardens are so arranged that water is conveyed around every plot, and even to every tree. Allusion is probably made to this custom in Ezekiel 31:3-4, where “the Assyrian” is spoken of as “a cedar.” “The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running around about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field.” We do not know that this ancient custom existed so early as the time of Job, but Job 38:25 seems to indicate it: “Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters.” Solomon says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Prov. 21:1). In enumerating the many works of his reign the same king says, “I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees” (Eccl. 2:5-6). See note on Deuteronomy 11:10 (#191). See also Isaiah 1:30; 58:11; Jeremiah 17:8; 31:12.
Several methods are adopted for conveying the water from a river to the canals which run through the gardens. Sometimes largo wheels are so set that while the bottom enters the water, the top is a little above the level of the bank. The circumference of every wheel has earthen jugs fastened to it. The turning of the wheel, either by the current or by oxen, plunges the jugs under the water and fills them; when the jugs rise to the top of the bank they empty themselves into a channel prepared for the purpose, and the water is thus conveyed to the garden. Sometimes the water is raised from the river to the canal on the bank by means of a shadoof, or well-sweep, very similar to the old-fashioned machine for drawing water from wells in our own country—a horizontal pole, hung on a perpendicular one, having a bucket at one end and a balance of stones at the other.

427. Kissing an Act of Homage

Psalm 2:12. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.
When Samuel anointed Saul he kissed the newly made king. This act of homage was a recognition of his royalty (1 Sam. 10:1). It is a custom still observed in India and Arabia. In this way the Psalmist desires all men to recognize the royalty of the Son. Kissing was an act of worship among idolaters. See 1 Kings 19:18; Job 31:27; Hosea 13:2. Instead of worshiping idols, God would have us worship his son Jesus Christ.
An interesting incident is given in Irby and Mangle’s Travels showing how kissing was used as a token of reconciliation. The circumstance recorded occurred near Petra.
“While we were deliberating on this subject, we saw a great cavalcade entering our camp from the southward. There were many mounted Arabs with lances, and we observed that there were some amongst the horsemen who wore richer turbans, and of more gaudy colors, than is usual amongst Bedouins or peasants. As the procession advanced, several of About Raschid’s Arabs went out and led the horses of the chiefs by the bridles into the camp. The whole procession alighted at the tent of our chief, and kissed his turban; this was the signal of pacification. Peace was immediately proclaimed throughout the camp, and notice was given that men bearing arms, who had come from a distance, many of whom had joined us that very morning, were to return to their respective homes” (Travels in Egypt, p. 122).

428. Waiting for Booty

Psalm 10:8. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent.
This is an accurate description of the habit of the Bedawin of the present day. They watch for booty in villages, or “in the wilderness,” (see Jeremiah 3:2,) anywhere where they can be hidden from view and where they may hope to find an unwary passerby. They do not hesitate to add murder to robbery if, in their opinion, necessity demands it.
See also Psalm 56:6; Proverbs 1:11; Jeremiah 5:26.

429. Anointing Guests

Psalm 23:5. Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Anointing was an ancient custom practiced by the Egyptians, and afterward by the Greeks and Romans and other nations. Olive oil was used, (see note on Psa. 92:10, #446) either pure or mixed with fragrant and costly spices, often brought from a long distance. See note on Matthew 26:7 (#712). The practice was in use, not only as a part of the ceremony in connection with the coronation of kings, (see note on 2 Kings 11:12, #346) and at the installation of the High Priest (Psa. 133:2), but as an act of courtesy and hospitality toward a guest. Thus, the Lord accuses Simon of a want of hospitality in neglecting to anoint the head of him whom he had invited to eat with him (Luke 7:46). There are pictures on the Egyptian monuments representing guests having their heads anointed. Oil was used for other parts of the body as well as for the head, and at home as well as when visiting. The biblical references to the custom are numerous.
See Deuteronomy 28:40; Ruth 3:3; Psalm 92:10; 104:15; Ecclesiastes 9:8; Micah 6:15; Matthew 6:17. The neglect of anointing was considered a sign of mourning. See 2 Samuel 14:2; Daniel 10:3. An anointed face, on the other hand, was a sign of joy; hence we read of being anointed with the “oil of gladness” (Psa. 45:7; Heb. 1:9).
Tavernier states that he found the Arabs always ready to accept a present of olive oil. As soon as one received it he lifted his turban and anointed his head, his face, and his beard, at the same time lifting his eyes to heaven and saying, “God be thanked!” Captain Wilson, an Oriental traveler, speaking of the custom alluded to in this passage, says: “I once had this ceremony performed on myself in the house of a great and rich Indian, in the presence of a large company. The gentleman of the house poured upon my hands and arms a delightful odoriferous perfume, put a golden cup into my hands, and poured wine into it until it ran over; assuring me, at the sometime, that it was a great pleasure to him to receive me, and that I should find a rich supply in his house” (Murder, Oriental Customs, No. 539).
The Psalmist in the text represents himself as an honored guest of Jehovah, who prepares a table for him, hospitably anoints him, and puts into his hands a full cup.

430. Cataracta

Psalm 24:7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors.
Allusion is thought to be made here to the custom of hanging gates so that, instead of opening in the ordinary way, they rise and fall as they open and shut. A gate of this description was called cataracta, because of the force and noise with which it fell. It was used in the fortification of towns, and corresponded to the portcullis of modern times; and is supposed to have been known in the time of David. See Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, s. v. Cataracta.

431. Symbolical Hand Washing

Psalm 26:6. I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord.
There were several occasions on which the Jews were accustomed to wash their hands in connection with religious rites. The Psalmist may have had one or all of these in mind when he uttered the text. See also Psalm 73:13.
1. There was the washing required of the priests in the service of the tabernacle and temple. The brazen laver was made for this purpose. See Exodus 40:30-32. It is said to have been customary for the priests, when they had bound the sacrifice to the horns of the altar to march around it, after they had washed their hands. Thus David says, “So will I compass thine altar, O Lord.”
2. The Jews were also accustomed to wash their hands before engaging in prayer. Paul is thought to refer to this in the expression “holy hands” in 1 Timothy 2:8.
3. There were certain ceremonies directed to be observed in cases of murder where the murderer was unknown. The elders of the city nearest to which the body of the murdered man was found were directed to strike off a heifer’s head, and then it is commanded that they “shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: and they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it” (Deut. 21: 6-7). This was considered a most solemn asseveration on their part of their innocence in the matter. Pilate, though a Gentile, had probably lived long enough among the Jews to understand this custom, and is, therefore, supposed to refer to it when, on the demand of the people that Barabbas be freed and Jesus crucified, “he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it” (Matt. 27:24). The custom is said to have been Gentile as well as Jewish; but this is denied. See Bloomfield, Greek Testament, see Matthew 27:24.
Since David desires in this text to symbolize inward purity by outward washing, any one of these customs may serve for illustration.

432. The Psaltery

Psalm 33:2. Sing unto him with the psaltery, and an instrument of ten strings.
These two instruments, the “psaltery” and “the instrument of ten strings” (see also Psa. 92:3; 144:9) are supposed to have been the same, the one term being used to explain the other. The shape of the nebel, or psaltery, is unknown. Some suppose it to have been like an inverted Delta, Δ Others, from the name, imagine that it was shaped like a leathern bottle, the word nebel having that signification. A skin bottle inverted and an inverted Delta would in general shape be similar, so that both ideas may be correct. Others think that it was shaped somewhat like a guitar, and that it resembled that instrument in its general style. Josephus says, “The psaltery had twelve musical notes, and was played upon by the fingers” (Antiquities, Book 7, chap. 12, § 3). These twelve “notes” are supposed to have been represented by twelve strings, whereas the texts above cited speak of but ten. It may be that the number differed in different varieties of the instrument. If we suppose these varieties to have been designated by the number of their strings, we may find the reason for the explanatory clause of the Psalmist, the kind of psaltery to which he specially refers being the one known as “the ten-stringed.” The strings, whatever their number, were stretched over a wooden frame (2 Sam. 6:5; 1 Kings 10:12).
When the nebel was invented and when it came into use among the Hebrews is unknown. It is first mentioned in connection with the inauguration of King Saul. When the company of young prophets met him, shortly after Samuel had anointed him, one of the instruments on which they played was the nebel (1 Sam. 10:5). It was used in Divine worship. See 2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Chronicles 13:8; 15:16; 16:5; 25:1; Amos 5:23. It was also used on festive occasions. See Isaiah 5:12; 14:11; Amos 6:5. (In these last passages and in Amos 5:23, nebel is rendered viol in our English version.) From 1 Chronicles 13:8; 15:16 and Amos 5:23, it appears that the nebel was used to accompany the voice.

433. Posture of the Face in Prayer

Psalm 35:13. I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.
Reference is thought to be made here to the custom among Orientals of praying with the head inclined forward until the face is almost hidden in the bosom of the garment.

434. The Servant's Ears

Psalm 40:6. Mine ears hast thou opened.
The Psalmist uses this expression to denote the fact that he is a servant of God, ready to do his will, as he further declares in the eighth verse. He seems to have in his mind the ceremony by which a Hebrew servant, if unwilling to leave his master, might be bound to him for life. “Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever” (Ex. 21:6). See also Deuteronomy 15:16-17. This custom was observed, not only by the Jews, but also by many other ancient nations.

435. Abuse of Hospitality

Psalm 41:9. Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
It is considered an act of great baseness among Eastern nations for anyone to do an evil deed against those who have shared his hospitality. This feeling is very ancient, and is often alluded to by ancient authors. The Saviour refers to it when he mentions the baseness of Judas, and cites this very passage from the Psalmist. John 13:18. See also Obadiah 7. Similar to this notion of the sacredness of hospitality, though more binding in its nature, was “the salt of the covenant.” See note on Leviticus 2:13 (#150).

436. Perfumed Garments

Psalm 45:8. All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia.
In many parts of the East the people are excessively fond of perfuming their garments, sometimes making the fragrance so strong that Europeans can scarcely endure it. They sprinkle their clothing with sweet scented oils extracted from spices or sandal wood, and with a great variety of strongly perfumed waters. They fumigate them with powerful incense or by burning scented woods. They make use of camphor, civet wood, sandal wood, aloes, and even sometimes sew chips of perfumed wood into the garments. Reference is made to this custom in Song of Solomon 4:11: “The smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon”; and possibly in Hosea 14:6. Most commentators suppose an allusion to this custom to be made also in Genesis 27:27, where Isaac kissed Jacob, and it is said, “he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord Hath blessed.” This, however, is disputed by some. Kurtz refers to Tuch’s view of the passage, and agrees with his interpretation. “We must, therefore, agree with Tuch, that an aromatic smell of the herbs, flowers, and other produce of the field, must have been felt off the garments of Esau, who was a man of the field; a supposition this which involves no difficulty, considering that the country was so rich in aromatic and smelling herbs” (History of the Old Covenant, vol.1, p. 298).

437. Use of Hyssop

Psalm 51:7. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.
Hyssop was appointed to be used in ceremonial purification. It was used in connection with the passover (Ex. 12:22), the cleansing of lepers (Lev. 14:4,6,49,51,52), and the sacrifice of the red heifer (Num. 19:6,18). See also Hebrews 9:19. Hyssop was anciently considered a means of actual bodily purification, and was even taken internally for that purpose.

438. Bottled Tears

Psalm 56:8. Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
Reference is usually thought to be made here to the lachrymatories or tear-bottles which have been found in ancient tombs, and which are supposed to have been used for the purpose of receiving the tears of mourning relatives and friends at the time of burial. These tear-bottles are made of various materials, such as glass and earthenware, and are of different shapes. The most of them are broad at the bottom, with long slender necks and funnel-shaped mouths. Morier says that in Persia, “in some of their mournful assemblies, it is the custom for a priest to go about to each person, at the height of his grief, with a piece of cotton in his hand, with which he carefully collects the falling tears, and which he then squeezes into a bottle, preserving them with the greatest caution.” “Some Persians believe that, in the agony of death, when all medicines have failed, a drop of tears so collected put into the mouth of a dying man has been known to revive him; and it is for such use that they are collected” (Second Journey Through Persia, p. 179).
Some commentators, however, deny that there is any reference in this text to the ancient lachrymatories, or that there is any evidence of their use among the Hebrews. Such affirm that the allusion here is to the custom of putting into bags, or small leathern bottles, articles of value for safe keeping. See note on Luke 12:33 (#774). The idea would then be, “Treasure up these tears as something of great value.”

439. Serpent Charming

Psalm 58:4-5. They are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.
Serpent charming has from remote times been practiced among Oriental nations. While there is doubtless imposture often associated with the exhibitions of serpent charmers, yet there are many carefully observing travelers who give it as their opinion, from their own observation, that there are men who, in some way, can detect the presence of serpents in houses and old walls, and can draw them out and keep them from doing mischief by the power of shrill musical notes. Since none of the serpent tribe have any external ear, and consequently can only hear very sharp sounds, it is hardly necessary to explain the deafness of the adder as willful, occasioned, as some old travelers have gravely asserted, by putting one ear to the dust and stopping the other with its tail.
Some travelers give it as their opinion that all the serpents exhibited by the charmers have previously had their fangs extracted, while others assert that some of the serpents thus sported with have afterward given unmistakable evidence of still possessing the death-dealing power. Forbes gives a curious illustration of this. He once painted the picture of a cobra de capello, which a Hindu snake charmer kept dancing on the table for a whole hour, while the artist was at his work. During this time he “frequently handled it to observe the beauty of the spots and especially the spectaclos on the hood, not doubting but that its venomous fangs had been previously extracted.” The next morning his servant informed him, very much to his astonishment, that “while purchasing some fruit in the bazar he had observed the man who had been with me on the preceding evening entertaining the country people with his dancing snakes. They, according to their usual custom, sat on the ground around him, when, either from the music stopping too suddenly, or from some other cause irritating the vicious reptile which I had so often handled, it darted at the throat of a young woman, and inflicted a wound of which she died in about half an hour” (Oriental Memoirs, vol.1, p. 44).
Besides the text, reference is made to serpent charming in several other passages. Solomon refers to it in Ecclesiastes 10:11: “Surely the serpent will bite without enchantment; and a babbler is no better.” In the prophecy of Jeremiah, there is allusion made to the same custom: “For, behold, I will send serpents, cockatrices, among you, which will not be charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord” (Jer. 8:17).

440. Broken Teeth

Psalm 58:6. Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord.
This is thought by some to be a continuation of the figure in the preceding verse, and to allude to the custom of snake charmers, who, it is said, often break out the teeth of the serpents they wish to tame, and remove the poisonous gland; though this is not always done, as the preceding note shows.
This interpretation, however, supposes a “mixed figure” in the text: a sudden transition from the serpent’s teeth to the teeth of young lions. Other interpreters therefore suppose that the reference to serpent charming closes with the fifth verse, and that in the sixth verse an allusion is made to an ancient custom of heathen kings, who were in the habit of knocking out the teeth of their prisoners, or of those who had offended them.

441. Thorns for Fuel

Psalm 58:9. Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind.
There is a great variety of thorny shrubs and plants abounding in Palestine. These the people gladly gather and use for fuel. They make a quick, hot fire, which kindles easily and soon expires. The idea conveyed in the text is that of swift destruction. The wicked are to be destroyed quicker than the heat from a fire of thorns could reach the cooking vessels.
A similar figure is used in the prophecy of Isaiah: “And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire” (Isa. 33:12). It has been supposed from this text that thorns may have been used in lime-kilns.
Allusion to the use of thorns for fuel is also made in 2 Samuel 23:6-7; Psalm 118:12; Eccl 7:6; Isaiah 9.18; 10:17; Nahum 1:10.
See note on 1 Kings 17:10 (#304) and also on Matthew 6:30 (#646).

442. Leather Tables

Psalm 69:22. Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.
The table of the modern Arabs is usually nothing but a piece of skin or leather, a mat, or a linen cloth spread upon the ground. The ancient Hebrews are supposed to have used a table of this sort, and this is thought to be referred to in the text. A table thus spread on the ground might easily become a trap by which the feet of the unwary would be entangled so that they should fall. For a description of the “snare” and “trap” referred to here, sea note on Psalm 91:3 (#445).

443. Unburied Bodies

Psalm 79:2. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.
To be deprived of burial was considered by the Jews one of the greatest dishonors that could be inflicted on a human being. In this, they but shared the common feeling of civilized man. We find a number of scriptural references to this sentiment. The Psalmist, lamenting the desolations he beheld, says, “Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth” (Psa. 141:7). Solomon speaks of it as a great disgrace that a man “have no burial” (Eccl. 6:3). The Lord said of Jehoiakim, “his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost” (Jer. 36:30). In the text the bodies are represented not only as unburied, but as further dishonored by being devoured by birds and beasts. This was one of the curses pronounced by Moses for disobedience to the Divine law (Deut. 28:26). It was a threat mutually exchanged between David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17:44-46). The prophet Jeremiah has several references to this dishonorable treatment of the bodies of the dead. See Jeremiah 7:33; 16:4; 19:7; 34:20.
In connection with this subject it may not be amiss to state that, on the other hand, the ancient Magi exposed the bodies of their dead, to be eaten by birds, as a matter of religious principle; their theory being that any other mode of disposing of a corpse would pollute at least one of the four so-called elements: earth, air, fire, and water. If living beings should devour the dead, this pollution would be prevented. At the present day the Guebers, or Fire-worshipers, the descendants of the ancient Persians, follow the same practice, and even have apparatus prepared for the purpose. “Round towers of considerable height, without either door or window, are constructed by the Guebers, having at the top a number of iron bars, which slope inwards. The towers are mounted by means of ladders, and the bodies are placed crossways upon the bars. The vultures and crows which hover about the towers soon strip the flesh from the bones, and these latter then fall through to the bottom. The Zendavesta contains particular directions for the construction of such towers, which are called dakhmas, or ‘towers of silence.’” (Rawlinson, Five Great Monarchies, vol. 2, p. 350, note 2).

444. The "Pit"

Psalm 88:4. I am counted with them that go down into the pit.
There are several Hebrew words which are rendered in our version by the word “pit.” The ordinary method of burial being in a grave dug in the earth, or hewn out of the rock, the phrase “go down into the pit” became synonymous with death and the grave. Solomon represents those who are trying to entice the innocent youth into ways of wickedness as saying, “Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit” (Prov. 1:12). Hezekiah on his song of thanksgiving for the recovery of his health, says, “For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth” (Isa. 38:18). In these two passages the parallel members of the sentence explain each other. The phrase referred to is of frequent occurrence in Scripture. See, for example, Job 17:16; 33:24; Psalm 28:1; 30:3; 143:7; Ezekiel 26:20; 28:8; 31:14; 32:18.

445. Bird Snares

Psalm 91:3. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler.
Several different words are used in the Hebrew to denote various snares which were employed in fowling. The word path, which is used in the text, denoted a spring, or trap-net, “in two parts, which, when set, were spread out upon the ground, and slightly fastened with a stick, (trap-stick;) so that as soon as a bird or beast touched the stick, the parts flew up and enclosed the bird in the net, or caught the foot of the animal (Job 18:9)” (Robinson's Gesenius). The word mokesh is also used to denote a snare of the same sort; though it is also sometimes used to signify a circle of nets for capturing beasts. See note on 2 Samuel 22:6 (#289).
Snares which were spread on the ground and caught the bird by the feet, or, loosing a spring, encircled it with a net, are often referred to by biblical writers as illustrative of the dangers which beset men. See Job 18:8-10, where several varieties seem to be named. The same is true of Psalm 140:5. See also Psalm 124:7; 141:9; 142:3; Proverbs 7:23; 22:5; Hosea 9:8; Amos 3:5.
For another mode of catching birds, see note on Hosea 7:12 (#598).

446. Green Oil

Psalm 92:10. I shall be anointed with fresh oil.
Literally, green oil. Some interpret this to mean oil newly made; others an oil made from green or unripe olives, like the beaten oil of the sanctuary. See note on Exodus 27:20 (#135). Roberts suggests that it means “cold drawn oil,” or that which is pressed from the nut without the process of boiling. He says: “The Orientals prefer this kind to all others for anointing themselves; it is considered the most precious, the most pure and efficacious. Nearly all their medicinal oils are thus extracted, and because they cannot gain so much by this method as by the boiling process oils so drawn are very dear. Hence their name for the article thus prepared is also patche, that is, ‘green oil’” (Oriental Illustrations, p. 339).

447. Trumpets

Psalm 98:6. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King.
1. Chatsotserah, “trumpet,” was a long, straight, and slender wind instrument, such as Moses was commanded to furnish for the service of the Israelites (Num. 10:2). Josephus gives this description of it: “In length it was little less than a cubit. It was composed of a narrow tube, somewhat thicker than a flute, but with so much breadth as was sufficient for admission of the breath of a man’s mouth; it ended in the form of a bell, like common trumpets” (Antiquities, book 3, chap. 12, § 6).
The chatsotserah was used for notifying the people of the different feasts, for signaling the change of camp, and for sounding alarms in time of war. See Numbers 10:1-10; Hosea 5:8. It was at first used in sacrificial rites only on special occasions, but in the time of David and Solomon its use for such purposes was very much extended.
It is impossible to give an accurate description of the shophar, here and in other passages rendered “cornet,” but often translated “trumPeter” Our translators render it “trumpet,” except when, as in the text, they are compelled to make a distinction between it and chatsotserah, which they invariably render “trumPeter” See 1 Chronicles 15:28; 2 Chronicles 15:14; Hosea 5:8. It is translated “trumpet” in Exodus 19:16; Leviticus 25:9; Job 39:25; Joel 2:1; Amos 2:2.
Authorities differ as to its shape, some supposing it to have been straight, while others contend that it was more or less bent like a horn. The latter opinion would seem the more probable from the fact that the “horn,” (keren,) in Joshua 6:5, is elsewhere throughout that chapter spoken of as a shophar, or “trumPeter” From its name, which means “bright,” or “clear,” the shophar is thought to have had a clear, shrill sound. It was used for announcing the beginning of the year of jubilee, and for other ceremonial purposes; for calling the attention of the people to important proclamations; for declaration of war; and for demonstrations of joy. See Leviticus 25:9; Judges 3:27; 1 Samuel 13:3; 2 Chronicles 15:14; Isaiah 12:3.

448. Calf Worship

Psalm 106:19-20. They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped the molten image. Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.
There is thought to be an allusion here to a custom which was practiced in Egypt in connection with the worship of the sacred calf, Apis. Godwyn says: “The party that repaired unto him tendered a bottle of hay or grass; which, if he received, then it betokened a good and happy event; if, otherwise, he refused it, then it did portend some evil to come” (Moses and Aaron, book 4, chapter 5).

449. Offerings for the Dead

Psalm 106:28. They joined themselves also unto Baal-peor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.
Allusion is supposed to be made here to those sacrifices which were anciently offered by various nations to, or in honor of, the dead. Egyptian funeral tablets have representations of some of these feasts. The friends met together to eat the sacrifice or peace offering, which consisted of various articles—meat, bread, vegetables, and liquids. What was left by the mourners was eaten by the wild animals; hence, in the hieroglyphical inscriptions the jackal is styled “the devourer of what is set out for the dead.” The ancient Greeks had a similar custom. They met, after the funeral, at the house of the bereaved, and partook of an entertainment composed of a variety of animal and vegetable substances. The broken morsels which fell from the table were looked on as sacred to the departed souls, and could not be lawfully eaten. “These fragments were carried to the tomb, and there left for the ghost to feast upon; whence, to denote extreme poverty, it was usual to say that a person stole his meat from the graves” (Potter's Antiquities of Greece, vol. 2, p. 230).

450. Shriveled Bottles

Psalm 119:83. I am become like a bottle in the smoke.
Bottles made of skin (see note on Matt. 9:17) are often hung up in Oriental tents. Here the smoke from the tent fire can freely act upon them, since there is no chimney to carry it away. Skins of wine were sometimes hung in the smoke to give the wine a peculiar flavor. When skin bottles are long exposed to smoke, they become hard, shriveled, and unsightly. This is the foundation of the striking figure of the text.

451. Watchful Servants

Psalm 123:2. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.
Servants in the East are not always spoken to when orders are given by the master or mistress. The wishes of the latter are made known by signs; hence it becomes necessary for the servants to watch the hand of the master to ascertain when they are wanted and what is required of them. The clapping of the hands may bring them when in an adjacent room, and a silent motion of the hand may express the master’s wish. Servants are trained to watch for these signs and to obey them. This custom is doubtless the one alluded to in the text; and yet there is force in the suggestion of Harmer, that, in its special application here, the latter part of the verse must not be forgotten. He paraphrases the passage thus: “As a slave, ordered by a master or mistress to be chastised for a fault, turns his or her imploring eyes to that superior, till that motion of the hand appears which puts an end to the bitterness that is felt, so our eyes are put up to thee, our God, till thy hand shall give the signal for putting an end to our sorrows” (Observations, vol. 2, p. 430).

452. Grass on Housetops

Psalm 129:6. Let them be as the grass upon the housetops, which withereth afore it groweth up.
From the peculiar structure of the roofs of Eastern houses it can easily be seen how grass might there spring up and yet not have a flourishing growth. Dr. Robinson, speaking of the houses near Lebanon, says: “The flat roofs of the houses in this region are constructed by laying, first, large beams at intervals of several feet; then, rude joists; on which, again, are arranged small poles close together, or brush-wood; and upon this is spread earth or gravel rolled hard. This rolling is often repeated, especially after rain, for these roofs are apt to leak. For this purpose a roller of stone is kept ready for use on the roof of every house. Grass is often seen growing on these roofs” (Biblical Researches, vol. 3, p. 39).
The earth on the roof affords a starting place for the grass, but the frequent use of the roller and the trampling of feet give it but a poor chance for life. “It withereth afore it groweth up.” The same figure is also used in 2 Kings 19:26, and in Isaiah 37:27.
Travelers who have visited Persia tell us of houses the roofs of which are covered with green sod, from which the grass grows luxuriantly. Hay is said to be gathered from these roofs, and lambs are turned out on them to pasture. The same is reported of northern Gothic countries. The psalmist however, could not, as some think, have had such roofs in mind, even admitting that he ever saw them, since the application of the illustration pre-supposes grass, not of luxuriant growth, but short-lived.

453. Oil Used Medicinally

Psalm 141:5. Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.
Oil is used in the East not only for anointing, but also for medicinal purposes. There are some complaints in the head which are supposed to be specially relieved by the use of certain oils. Other kinds of oil, however, are said to produce delirium. The “excellent oil” in the text was the kind that cured. Roberts adds to this statement of the medicinal use of oils on the head the fact that in Judea “the crown of the head is the place selected for chastisement. Thus, owners of slaves, or husbands, or schoolmasters, beat the heads of the offenders with their knuckles.” The Hindus have figurative forms of speech very similar to the text: “Let a holy man smite my head! and what of that? it is an excellent oil.” “My master has been beating my head, but it has been good oil for me.”

454. Caryatides

Psalm 144:12. That our daughters may be as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.
It is thought by some that reference is made here to the Caryatides or columns representing female figures. These were common in Egyptian architecture, and their appearance was doubtless familiar to the Hebrews. The psalmist wishes the fair daughters of the land to be like “corner columns finely sculptured,” thus combining strength with beauty. He desires that they may be noted, not merely for loveliness, but for usefulness, holding up the social fabric, as pillars sustain a temple.

455. Organs

Psalm 150:4. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
The ugab was one of the most ancient instruments, its invention being ascribed to Jubal (Gen. 4:21). From Job 21:12 and Job 30:31 it appears to have been used on festive occasions. In the text it is spoken of as appropriate for use in the worship of God.
Various opinions have been expressed in reference to the character of this instrument. Winer, (Bib. Realty) and Leyrer (in Herzog’s Real-Encyklopadie) following some very old authorities, suppose the ugab to have resembled the bagpipe. They represent it as consisting of two pipes fastened in a leather bag, one above and the other below. Through the upper pipe, which had a mouth-piece, the bag was filled with air, while the lower pipe had holes which were played on with the fingers like a flute, the bag meanwhile rising and falling like a bellows, by means of pressure.
Most authorities, however, identify the ugab with the syrinx or “Pandean pipes,” which is undoubtedly a very ancient instrument, and is generally conceded to be the germ of the modern organ. Kitto says that the syrinx was the instrument which was meant by our translators when they used the word “organ”; thus relieving them from the charge of obscurity, that word having changed its meaning since their day.
The syrinx was used by the Arcadian and other Grecian shepherds, and was supposed by them to have been invented by Pan, their tutelary god, who was sometimes heard playing on it, as they imagined, on Mount Menelaus.
It was made of cane, reed, or hemlock. “In general, seven hollow stems of these plants were fitted together by means of wax, having been previously cut to the proper length, and adjusted so as to form an octave; but sometimes nine were admitted, giving an equal number of notes. Another refinement in the construction of this instrument, which, however, was rarely practiced, was to arrange the pipes in a curve so as to fit the form of the lip, instead of arranging them in a plane.”—Smith Dict. Greek and Roman Ant.
This instrument is still used in some parts of the East. The reeds are of unequal length, but of equal thickness, and vary in number from five to twenty-three. Specimens may be occasionally seen in European and American cities in the possession of itinerant street musicians.

456. Cymbals

Psalm 150:5. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
The ancient cymbals resembled those in use in our day, consisting of two circular concave plates of brass, or other metal, and producing a clanging sound by being struck against each other.
Two kinds are supposed to be mentioned in the text. The “loud cymbals” are thought to have corresponded to the castanets which are used by the Moors and Spaniards as an accompaniment to guitars and dances. Two of these small cymbals were held in each hand. The “high-sounding cymbals” are thought to have been the larger kind that we are accustomed to see in military bands. They were thus used in ancient times, and were also employed by the Hebrews in Divine worship as an accompaniment to the chorus of singers (1 Chron. 15:16; 25:6; 2 Chron. 5:13). Paul refers to this instrument in 1 Corinthians 13:1: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

457. External Applications

Proverbs 3:8. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Sir John Chardin supposes that allusion is here made to the custom, so prevalent in the East, of making external applications of oils, ointments, plasters, and frictions, especially on the stomach and abdomen. In addition to this the passage may obtain further illustration from a fact mentioned by Roberts. He says that in India “the navel is often spoken of as a criterion of prosperity”; and he gives several proverbial expressions which are frequently used to denote good fortune, in which a figure is brought out similar to that in the text.

458. Talking by Signs

Proverbs 6:13. He speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers.
Feet and fingers are frequently used in the East as a means of communicating ideas, especially when in the presence of those from whom it is intended to conceal the information imparted, and who might hear if words were uttered. Certain movements of hands and feet are understood to have a definite meaning, so that merchants have been known to bargain in the presence of others by sitting on the ground with a piece of cloth thrown over the lap, under which they arrange their terms by the movements of their fingers. In a similar way the Brahmins convey religious mysteries to their disciples, their hands being concealed in the folds of their robes. Thus they teach “with their fingers.” See also John 13:24.
Debauchees and dancing girls are in the habit of making gestures and movements with their feet. Some suppose Solomon to refer to these when he speaks of the “naughty person” as he does in the text. The practice was known among the ancient Romans and is described by classic authors.

459. Coverings of Tapestry

Proverbs 7:16. I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.
Eres, “bed,” is supposed by some writers to signify bedstead, and they think the text refers to a custom of hanging over the bedstead a canopy of richly woven stuff covering a frame. Others suppose the text to refer to the rich bed clothing which is found in the houses of wealthy Orientals. We are told by travelers of coverlets of green and crimson satin ornamented with gold embroidery, and presenting an appearance of great splendor; in fact, being more ornamental than useful, especially when it is considered that the large cushions which are used as pillows sometimes have embroidery upon them so thick as seriously to interfere with comfort when the head rests on it. “Coverings of tapestry” are also mentioned in Proverbs 31:22.

460. Mixed Wine

Proverbs 9:2. She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine, she hath also furnished her table.
Harmer supposes that by “mixed wine” is meant old wine that is drawn from jars where it becomes turbid and strong by being mingled with the lees. “Mixed wine” would then mean old or strong wine, and the announcement in the text that Wisdom “hath mingled her wine,” means that she has opened the wine for use, the feast being ready. Bishop Lowth also supposes mixed wine to be strong wine, but made so, not in the way suggested by Harmer, but by the admixture of foreign substances; affirming that, “whereas the Greeks and Latins by mixed wine always understood wine diluted and lowered with water, the Hebrews, on the contrary, generally mean by it wine made stronger and more inebriating by the addition of higher and more powerful ingredients, such as honey, spices, defrutnm, (or wine inspissated by boiling it down to two thirds or one half of the quantity,) myrrh, mandragora, opiates, and other strong drugs” (Commentary on Isaiah 1:22).
Kitto, on the other hand, gives it as his opinion that in most, if not all, cases where mixed wine is spoken of, wine mingled with water is meant; and he quotes Isaiah 1:22, as an illustration: “Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water.” But he forgets that the prophet is there speaking, not of wine as ordinarily drank at feasts, but of wine that is deteriorated in quality. Gesenius expresses it, “adulterated, spoiled by mixing water with it.” God’s people had become debased, they were like wine mixed with water. The other passages which speak of mixed wine most certainly seem to refer to a liquor that is strengthened, rather than weakened, by that with which it is mixed. See Psalm 75:8; Proverbs 23:30; Song of Solomon 8:2; Isaiah 5:22.

461. Striking Hands

Proverbs 11:21. Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.
Literally, “hand to hand.” Striking hands, or touching hands, is an Oriental mode of sealing a bargain, and is sometimes practiced even in this country. “Give us your hand on that” is a colloquial expression occasionally heard among an inferior class of traders. In the East the parties making a contract touch each other’s right hands, and then each raises his hand to his lips or forehead. Sometimes the hands are simply joined. The text, then, is expressive of a covenant. See also Ezra 10:19; Ezekiel 17:18. A morn solemn form of expressing faithfulness, amounting, indeed, to an oath, is seen in the uplifted hand. See note on Genesis 14:22 (#5) and also on Ezekiel 21:14 (#577).
Joining hands was frequently practiced as a mode of pledging security, and is thus referred to in Job 17:3; Proverbs 6:1; 17:18; 22:26.
For remarks on “giving the hand” as a pledge of submission, see note on Jeremiah 1:15 (#560).

462. Low Doorways

Proverbs 17:19. He that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction.
In the open country where the houses are exposed to the depredations of wandering Arabs the gates are made very low, so as to prevent the marauders from riding through the porch into the court. A high gate would be an invitation to enter. Even in cities the gates of houses are often made low and unattractive in appearance, affording no indication of the wealth which may be within, lest the cupidity of wicked rulers should be attracted. Travelers speak of house-gates as low as three feet from the ground. In Persia a lofty gate is one of the signs of royalty, which some of the subjects, in their vanity, imitate as far as they dare.
Anderson says: “The house in which I dwelt in Jerusalem had an arch, or gateway, a few yards from the door, which was so low that a person on horseback could not pass under it. It was evidently built for the sake of security” (Bible Light from Bible Lands, p. 329).
The meaning of the text undoubtedly is, He who has a high gate to his house invites the robber by a show of prosperity and by affording facility of entrance. He thus “seeketh destruction.”

463. The Lot

Proverbs 18:18. The lot causeth contentions to cease, and parteth between the mighty.
See also Proverbs 16:33.
The use of the lot, as a mode of settling disputed questions, is very ancient, and was practiced by most ancient nations. It was resorted to in reference to almost all the varied affairs of life. Magistrates and priests were appointed by it, and the land of conquered enemies was distributed by its means.
Among the Hebrews we find its use sanctioned by Divine authority. Thus the scape goat was selected by lot (Lev. 16:8). The inheritances of the tribes in the Land of Promise were determined in the same way (Num. 34:13; Josh. 14:2). The lot was used on various occasions subsequently. We cite a few instances. The men who attacked Gibeah were selected by lot (Judg. 20:9). In this manner Jonathan was detected as the violator of Saul’s command concerning fasting, in his fight with the Philistines (1 Sam. 14:41-42). In this way the positions of the porters in the temple were decided (1 Chron. 26:13). When the storm arose on board the ship where Jonah was the heathen sailors cast lots to determine who had brought them into trouble (Jonah 1:7).
In the New Testament we have allusions to the same practice. The Roman soldiers divided the garments of the Saviour by lot (Matt. 27:35; Mark 15:24). In this manner Matthias was chosen to fill the place of Judas (Acts 1:26).
We have no information given in Scripture concerning the mode by which lots were cast. Among the Latins, especially where several parties were concerned, “little counters of wood, or of some other light material, were put into a jar (called sitella) with so narrow a neck that only one could come out at a time. After the jar had been filled with water and the contents shaken, the lots were determined by the order in which the bits of wood, representing the several parties, came out with the water. In other cases they were put into a wide, open jar and the counters were drawn out by the hand. Sometimes, again, they were cast in the manner of dice” (Fairbairn, Imperial Bible Dictionary, s. v., Lot).
Roberts describes the mode by which property is divided by lot in India, as follows: “They draw on the ground the cardinal points, thus: They then write the names of the parties on separate leaves and mix them all together. A little child is then called, and told to take one leaf and place it on any point of the compass he pleases; this being done, the leaf is opened, and to the person whose name is found therein will be given the field or garden which is in that direction” (Oriental Illustrations, p. 231). He further states that the Hindus settle every disputed question by lot. They decide what physician they shall have, and what remedies, and even leave the selection of a wife to the same blind chance.

464. Dwelling on the House Top

Proverbs 21:9. It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.
See also Proverbs 25: 24.
It is customary to build on the flat roofs of Eastern houses arbors, or booths (called “tabernacles” in Matt. 17:4) for the purpose of resting from the heat of the day during the summer. They are also occupied as sleeping-chambers at night. Some suppose that Saul slept in a place of this sort, though he may have slept on the open roof. See 1 Samuel 9:25-26. These temporary structures serve an excellent purpose at the season of the year for which they are specially designed, but as a place in which to “dwell” permanently they are, of course, very undesirable. The rain and cold would soon drive the inhabitants from them. Yet in the estimation of the wise man, a cheerless spot like this is preferable as a place of residence to a large house with plenty of room and all conveniences, provided “a brawling woman” is in it!

465. Beautiful Work in Metal

Proverbs 25:13. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Maskiyoth, “pictures,” is supposed by some to convey the idea of carved work, rather than that of painted work, and hence they would refer it in this place to something that is made by the skill of the carver or the engraver, such as a salver of silver with chased work upon it, and having fruit of gold. Others think that silver baskets of filigree work are meant, the fruit contained in them being real and of a golden color, or else artificial, and made of gold. Either of these interpretations would be consistent with Eastern customs. Roberts suggests that, inasmuch as in verses 6 and mention is made of the manner in which one should approach a king, Solomon in this verse had before his mind the presents which are sometimes made to Oriental monarchs—golden ornaments in the shape of fruit, placed on highly polished silver salvers.

466. Snow Used in Summer

Proverbs 25:18. As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
It is evident that this cannot refer to the coming of winter weather in summer, since the application of the figure supposes something desirable, which certainly could not be said of a fall of snow in harvest time. The custom, so common in the East today, of cooling wines with snow or ice, was doubtless practiced in the time of Solomon. Mount Lebanon supplies a large country in its neighborhood from the inexhaustible stores of snow upon its top. The snow is mixed with the wine, thus making the latter more palatable; so a faithful messenger is a source of refreshment to “the soul of his masters.”

467. Hinges

Proverbs 26:14. As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.
The hinges of Eastern houses are not like ours, but consist of pivots inserted into sockets both above and below. In the Hauran there are still standing stone houses with stone slabs for doors, having pivots cut out of the same and turning in sockets prepared for them in the wall of the house.

468. The Number Seven

Proverbs 26:25. When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
The number seven is used frequently in Scripture, and expresses the idea of completeness or fullness. Thus the text represents the hypocrite as having a heart filled with abominations. This figurative use of the number seven obtains in some parts of the East at the present day. It is frequently employed to signify an indefinite number, but always a large number, and hence conveys the idea of sufficiency. The Scripture passages where the word “seven” is used are too numerous to be quoted here. They are scattered all through the Bible, especially in the prophetical books; the book of Revelation making most frequent symbolical use of the word.
The interesting question, Why the number seven should be regarded a perfect number? is one the discussion of which does not fall within the scope assigned to this work. Those who desire information on this subject, and also on the general question of the sacred numbers used in the Bible, may consult, in addition to the various Bible Dictionaries and Encyclopedias, Stuart on the Apocalypse, in his Introduction, § 7, “Numerosity of the Apocalypse,” vol. 1, p. 130 and in Excursus II, “On the Symbolical Use of Numbers in the Apocalypse,” vol. 2, p. 409. Dr. Whedon also has a very valuable and characteristic note on the same subject in his Commentary on the Gospels, vol. 2, p. 77.

469. Leaky Roofs

Proverbs 27:15. A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
See also Proverbs 19:13.
Reference is undoubtedly made here to the frequent leaks to which the flat roofs of Eastern houses are subject. Having merely a covering of earth, rolled smooth and hard (see note on Psa. 129:6, #452), a heavy rain will soon succeed in finding its way through, when the drops will fall into the room below, thus making it uncomfortable, if not actually uninhabitable. Travelers are frequently disturbed in this manner during violent storms, sometimes being obliged to change their quarters in the middle of the night.

470. Mortars

Proverbs 27:22. Though thou shouldest bray a fool in a mortar among wheat with a pestle, yet will not his foolishness depart from him.
Mortars, for cracking grain by pounding with a pestle, are often used in the East. They are made of metal, earthenware, wood, or stone, the last being the most common material. The pestle is usually about five feet long. Sometimes two pestles are used at the same time for one mortar, the two persons holding them striking alternate blows, like blacksmiths at an anvil. The ancient Israelites used the mortar for heating their manna (Num. 11:8).
There is no evidence that the Hebrews ever administered punishment literally in the way indicated in the text, but it has been done among other nations. Beating to death in a mortar is a State punishment which is sometimes inflicted in Turkey and in India.

471. Butter Making

Proverbs 30:33. Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.
There is but little in the Eastern mode of preparing butter that is similar to our churning. The milk is put into a bag or bottle, made of the skin of a goat or of a buffalo, and is agitated in various ways until the butter, such as it is, comes. See note on Genesis 18:8 (#13). Sometimes the skin containing the milk is shaken to and fro, or beaten with sticks. Sometimes it is placed on the ground and trodden upon. Thus Job says, “I washed my steps with butter” (Job 29:6). Again, it is pressed or squeezed with the hands, so that the contents become agitated and gradually coagulate. This last method is probably referred to in the text. There is a beauty in the original which does not appear in our English version. The word mits is thrice repeated, but is translated by three different terms: “churning,” “wringing,” “forcing.” It literally means “pressing” or “squeezing,” just as the skin bag is pressed or squeezed for the production of butter. The nose treated in a similar manner will bleed, and wrath which is thus “ pressed “ will result in strife.

472. White Garments

Ecclesiastes 9:8. Let thy garments be always white.
In the warm countries of the East white clothing is more frequently and generally worn than with us. This allusion to white garments is a beautiful figurative exhortation to perpetual purity of character, and one that would be readily appreciated by the Oriental mind. “May God blacken his face” is a common imprecation in the East. Mohammed is often called “He of the white face.” In the Bible there are a number of references to white garments as typical of purity. In Daniel 7:9, the Deity is represented as clad in a “garment white as snow.” When Jesus was transfigured “his raiment was white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). The angels appeared in white robes when the disciples visited the tomb of their risen Lord (Matt. 28:3; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4; John 20:12), and also when he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:10). The redeemed are to be clothed in white (Rev. 7:13; Rev. 19:14).

473. Bread on the Waters

Ecclesiastes 11:1. Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Many interpreters are of the opinion that there is here an allusion to the manner of sowing rice in Egypt, that is, by scattering it broadcast in the mud, or upon the overflowing waters of the Nile. Others, however, dispute this, claiming that there is no evidence of the cultivation of rice having been introduced into Egypt as early as the days of Solomon. These commentators consider the expression merely figurative without being based on any actual custom.

474. Tents

Song of Solomon 1:5. I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
Tents were among the early habitations of man, though not the earliest, since they were not introduced until the time of Jabal, who was in the seventh generation from Adam. See Genesis 4:20. The first tents were doubtless made of skins, though afterward when the process of weaving became known they were made, as they are at this day, of cloth of camels’ hair, or of goats’ hair, spun by the women. The latter is the material most commonly used by the Arabs, and since the goats are usually black, or a very dark brown, the tents exhibit the same appearance. It was thus in the days of Solomon with the tents made by the descendants of the Ishmaelitish Kedar. These tents individually are not very beautiful objects, but when arranged in the form of a circular encampment, with the cattle enclosed by the circle of tents, and the sheikh’s tent in the center, they present a picturesque appearance. Balaam was impressed with the beauty of such a scene when he beheld the vast encampment of the Israelites, and exclaimed, “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!” (Num. 24:5).
The Arab tents are of various sizes, according to the number of the family or the wealth of the proprietor. The number of poles to a tent varies from one to nine. Some tents are circular in shape, some square, and others oblong. The covering is spread over the poles, which are fastened in the ground. The edges of the cover have leather loops, to which are attached the cords of the tent, which are sometimes stretched out tight and fastened to the ground by means of iron or wooden pins, or else are fastened to upright posts, on which a curtain is hung around the tent, forming the walls, which can be removed at pleasure without disturbing the rest of the tent. Other cords reach from the top of the tent to the ground, where they are fastened with pins, thus steadying the whole structure. It was one of these pins which Jael drove into the head of Sisera (Judg. 4:21).
The tent erected, and its cords stretched out, are often figuratively alluded to in the Bible. Thus Isaiah represents God as the one “that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in” (Isa. 40:22). He also says, in speaking of the glorious prosperity of the Church and the need of enlargement, “Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes” (Isa. 54:2). See also Isaiah 33:20.
It is a work of some effort to pitch a tent properly, especially a large one, requiring the united efforts of willing hands. Hence the pathetic language of Jeremiah in mourning over the desolations of God’s people: “My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken: my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains” (Jer. 10:20).
The large tents have nine poles, placed in three rows, covering sometimes a space twenty to twenty-five feet long, ten feet wide, and eight to ten-feet high in the middle, with the sides sloping. Such tents often have a curtain hung on the middle row of poles, dividing the tent into two parts, one for the men, and the other for the women. See notes on Genesis 18:10 (#14); 24:67 (#90). The poles which thus uphold the tent and divide it into sections are further made useful by having hooks driven into them from which are suspended clothes, baskets, saddles, weapons, and various other articles of daily use.
These tents are rapidly struck and removed from place to place, so that the eye which today rests on a large encampment active with life may tomorrow behold nothing but a wilderness. Thus Isaiah says, “Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent” (Isa. 38:12). The facility with which tents are taken down, and the frailty of their material, are beautifully alluded to by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:1. See also 2 Peter 1:13, 14.
Tents of cotton, linen, or silk are used for traveling or for holiday purposes, are of all colors, and are sometimes very magnificent. Stories which would be incredible if not from good authorities, are told of the splendor of state tents which have been reared by Oriental monarchs. Silver, gold, precious stones, silk, velvet, camels’ hair cloth, and brocades, have combined to make these structures at once costly and splendid. The state tents of Tamerlane are said to have had poles of silver inlaid with gold, curtains of velvet, and ropes of silk. Nadir Shah had a state tent the outside of which was of fine scarlet broadcloth, and the lining of violet-colored satin. On this lining were embroideries in pearls, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, amethysts, and other precious stones, representing birds, beasts, trees, and flowers.
No description is given us of Solomon’s state tents; indeed, some suppose that the “curtains” mentioned in the text refer to some of the splendid hangings of his palace. The unity of the passage, however, suggests the idea of tents, and it is not at all improbable that Solomon, the luxurious monarch who spared no expense to gratify his taste, had tents of magnificence commensurate with his royal grandeur. The King of Babylon had a royal pavilion though no description is given of it (Jer. 43:10).

475. Shepherds' Nooning

Song of Solomon 1:7. Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon.
During the heat of the day the shepherds are in the habit of leading their flocks to some cool and shady spot, where they recline and rest until the shadows lengthen. The sheep sleep, or chew the cud, while the shepherds pass the time in some light employment, such as plaiting mats, or in musing or storytelling.

476. Jewels Necklaces

Song of Solomon 1:10. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
1. Eastern women sometimes have a cord of gold around their head at the forehead, on which are strung precious stones of various sorts, which hang down over the cheeks of the fair wearers. Thus their “cheeks are comely with rows of jewels.”
2. Neck chains were made of gold or other metal, or else consisted of strings of pearls, corals, and precious stones. They were sometimes made of gold-pieces shaped like a half-moon. Such are referred to in Isaiah 3:18: “round tires like the moon.” See also note on Judges 8 :21 (#231). These necklaces hung low down upon the breast, and were worn both by men and women. See Proverbs 1:9; 3:3. This was the custom among the Egyptians as well as the Hebrews; Joseph had a gold chain put around his neck by Pharaoh (Gen. 41:42). The Medes, Persians, Babylonians, and other ancient nations, followed the same custom. See Daniel 5:7,16,29. Neck chains are also referred to in Song of Solomon 4:9; Ezekiel 16:11.

477. Use of Raisins

Song of Solomon 2:5. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples.
Ashishoth, “flagons,” is conceded by the best authorities to mean, not drinking vessels, but cakes of pressed raisins, such as are often used in the East, by travelers, for refreshment. The word also occurs in 2 Samuel 6:19; 1 Chronicles 16:3; and Hosea 3:1. In the last passage anabim, which is rendered “wine,” should be translated “grapes,” as it is in the margin. Instead of “flagons of wine,” we should then read “cakes of grapes.” Some think there is a reference in that passage to the custom of offering such cakes in sacrifice to heathen deities.

478. The Royal Litter

Song of Solomon 3:9,10. King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple.
Appiryon, “chariot,” is a litter, or palanquin, a vehicle of very ancient use, and still common in the East. The same conveyance is referred to in the word tsab in Numbers 7:3 and Isaiah 66:20. In the former passage it is translated “wagon,” in the latter “litter.” The palanquin is made of a light framework of wood, and is covered with cloth, having a lattice door or window at each side. Two strong poles are fastened to it, which in India are borne on the shoulders of men, but in Western Asia are harnessed to mules, horses, or camels, one of the animals being at each end. Occasionally four beasts are employed, two at each end, and sometimes a litter is so contrived as to be fastened to the back of a single camel. Engraving number 11, p. 40, has a representation of a camel litter.
Litters are often of great magnificence, especially if they belong to royalty. The woodwork is richly carved, and ornamented with gold, and silver, and precious stones. The canopy is of silk, satin, or brocade, and ornamented with jewels. These conveyances are ordinarily shaped like a couch, and are so made that the traveler can lie down at full length if desired.

479. City Watchmen

Song of Solomon 5:7. The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
There were not only watchmen stationed on the walls to guard against the approach of enemies (see note on 2 Samuel 18:26, #283), but there were others whose duty it was to patrol the streets of the city and preserve order. See Psalm 127:1; Song of Solomon 3:3. There are such in Oriental cities today, and they challenge all persons found abroad after certain hours of the night, arresting those that are not able to give a good account of themselves, and sometimes subjecting them to rough treatment.

480. Treatment of Wounds

Isaiah 1: 6. They have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
The Hebrews had but little knowledge of surgery, less than the Egyptians. They seldom used inward remedies, but trusted mainly to outward applications. See note on Proverbs 3:8 (#457). The text illustrates the treatment of wounds; they were “closed,” that is, the lips of the wound were pressed together and bound, that cohesion of the parts might be effected. “There was, and is, no sewing up of wounds in the East; and hence the edges, healing without being perfectly united, make the scar of a wound more conspicuous and disfiguring than with us. The only attempt to produce cohesion is by ‘binding up’ the wound, after the edges have been as far as possible ‘closed’ by simple pressure” (Kitto, Daily Bible Illus., vol. 6, 25).

481. Lodge in a Garden

Isaiah 1:8. The daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers.
As the fields were not always provided with fences it became necessary to have persons to watch them, especially while the fruit was ripening, in order to keep of all depredators, whether man, beast, or bird. These “keepers of a field” are referred to in Jeremiah 4:17, and they are still to be seen in the East. During the ripening season they watch day and night and through all sorts of weather, and hence need some protection from excessive heat, dew, or storm. This protection is found in temporary huts, which are made of closely twined branches and leaves, or of pieces or matting thrown over a rude framework of poles. There is an allusion to such a frail structure in Job 27:18 and also in Isaiah 24:20. When the crop is gathered and the field forsaken the deserted lodge soon leans and falls, and the whole scene is one of utter loneliness. It was such a picture of desolation to which the prophet compares “the daughter of Zion.”

482. Plowshares

Isaiah 2:4. They shall beat their swords into plowshares.
See also Joel 3:10, and Micah 4:3. in the passage in Joel the expression is reversed: “Beat your plowshares into swords.” Commentators are divided as to the meaning of ittim, variously rendering it “plowshares,” “spades,” “hoes,” “mattocks.” The word refers to instruments for stirring up the soil in some way, and, so far as concerns capability of conversion to swords, these may as well have been plowshares as anything else. The plowshare was a small piece of iron, which somewhat resembled a short sword, and might easily have been beaten into one, and with equal facility a sword could have been changed into a plowshare.

483. Dancing Girls Anklets

Isaiah 3:16. Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet.
1. Roberts finds in this and in the following verses an accurate description of the Hindu dancing-girls who are trained for service in idolatrous temples. “When these females dance they stretch forth their necks, and hold them awry, as if their heads were about to fall off their shoulders.” “As the votaries glide along they roll their eyes, (which are painted,) and cast wanton glances on those around.” Oriental Illustrations, p. 386.
2. Some suppose the “mincing” refers to a tripping step in the dance; others think that the reference is to slender golden chains reaching from one ankle to another, and compelling them to take short and rapid steps. See note on verse 20 (#486).
3. The “tinkling with their feet” may have been made simply by the striking of anklets one upon another, or by bells or other small ornaments attached to the anklets. These anklets were of gold, silver, or iron, according to the taste or means of the wearer, and are still worn by Oriental women. They are sometimes quite heavy, and special pains are taken to strike them together, in order to make a jingle. When they are hollow, as is often the case, the sharp sound is increased. In Egypt and in India some of the anklets have small round bells attached to them, and these bells sometimes have little pebbles in them, which strike like tiny clappers. Leyrer (Herzog's Real. Ency., vol. 7, p. 731) suggests that it may have been in some such way that the wife of Jeroboam announced her presence, “when Abijah heard the sound of her feet, as she came in at the door” (1 Kings 14:6).

484. Cauls Tires

Isaiah 3:18. Their cauls and their round tires like the moon.
1. What is meant by shebisim, “cauls,” is not certain. The marginal reading is “net-works,” and many writers suppose that nets for the hair are meant. These were anciently worn, as is evident from the Egyptian and Assyrian monuments, and from specimens which have found their way to museums. Others think that reference is made here to the mode of dressing the hair, arranging it into tresses, and attaching to it golden ornaments and small coins, or so braiding it as to resemble checker-work. A German author, Schroeder, conjectures that shebisim were small metallic ornaments resembling the sun, and he would associate them with the moon-ornaments mentioned in the same verse. This interpretation is accepted by Fuerst and others, but rejected by authorities equally good.
2. Saharonim, “round tires like the moon,” were metallic moon-shaped ornaments hung around the neck. Similar ornaments were sometimes hung about the necks of camels. See note on Judges 8:21 (#231).

485. Jewelry and Vials

Isaiah 3:19. The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers.
1. Netiphoth, “chains,” were properly pendents, or ear-drops. See note on Genesis 35:4 (#66).
2. Sheroth, “bracelets,” were probably bracelets made of gold wire, and wreathed or woven.
3. Realoth, “mufflers,” were thin nails. The Hebrew name was given to them because of their tremulous or fluttering motion.

486. Sundry Articles, Useful and Ornamental

Isaiah 3:20. The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the ear-rings.
1. The “bonnets” of the Oriental women, it is hardly necessary to say, bear no resemblance to the articles known by that name among us. They resemble the turbaned head-dresses of the men, but are less bulky and of finer materials. A cap is put on the head around which are wound rich handkerchiefs or shawls, folded high and flat. Gold and silver ornaments and jewels are added according to the taste of the wearer. The original word peer conveys the idea of ornament, and is rendered beauty” in Isaiah 61:3; “ornaments” in Isaiah 61:10 and “tire” in Ezekiel 24:17,23. Saalschutz supposes the peer to have been a metallic crown of filigree work, fastened around the cap.
2. “The ornaments of the legs” (tseadoth) were probably step-chains, that is, “short chains which Oriental females wore attached to the ankle-band of each foot, so as to compel them to take short and mincing steps, to walk mincingly” (Gesenius).
3. Kishshurim, “headband,” are supposed by some critics to denote fillets for the hair. Others, however, interpret them to mean girdles. The same word is rendered “attire” in Jeremiah 2:32.
4. Battey-hannephesh, “tablets,” is literally “houses of breath.” The margin has, “houses of the soul.” There is thought by some to be a reference here to boxes or bottles which were filled with perfume, and fastened to the necklace or the girdle. Chardin mentions having seen the women in Persia with small golden boxes of filigree work, which were filled with a black mixture of musk and amber.
Roberts, however, disputes this interpretation, and thinks these “houses of the soul” find their counterpart in certain ornaments which are worn by Hindu women, and made of silver or gold, and richly adorned with precious stones. He says: “The dancing-girls, the wives of the pandarams, and many other women, wear an ornament resembling a house, and sometimes a temple, which contains an image corresponding with the φαλλος of tile Greeks and the Priapus of the Romans” (Oriental Illustrations, p. 388).
5. Lechashim, “ear-rings,” are thought to have been charms or amulets made of gold, silver, or precious stones, perhaps in the shape of serpents, or with serpents engraved on them. They may have been used as ear-rings also. See note on Genesis 35:4 (#66).

487. Apparel

Isaiah 3:22. The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins.
1. Machelatsoth “changeable suits of apparel,” were costly garments of any kind which were used only on festival occasions, and put off when at home. The same word is rendered “change of raiment” in Zechariah 3:4.
2. Maataphoth, “mantles,” are supposed by some to have been cloaks or mantles of ample folds, which were worn outside of the other garments; while others think that they were a fashionable sort of upper tunic.
3. Mitpachoth, “wimples,” were wide upper garments, the distinction between which and maataphoth is not clear, unless the latter explanation above given is correct. The word is rendered “veil” in Ruth 3:15, where see the note (#246).
4. Charitin, “crisping-pins,” are now thought by the best authorities to have had nothing to do with the hair, as our translators supposed, but to have been richly ornamented purses of gold or embroidered work, long and round in form, perhaps like an inverted cone, and suspended from the girdle. We have the idea more correctly expressed in 2 Kings 5:23, where the same word is translated “bags.”

488. Various Articles of Attire

Isaiah 3:23. The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the wails.
1. Gilyonim, “glasses,” are probably the small metallic mirrors wherewith Oriental women adorn their persons. See note on Exodus 38:8 (#139). The Septuagint, however, and a number of eminent commentators, understand the word to mean “transparent garments,” referring to the garments of thin gauze or other material so delicately made as to reveal the form of the wearer. Such were the celebrated (loan garments of classic writers, and dresses of this sort are still used in the East, often richly ornamented with gold spangles.
2. Sedinim, “fine linen,” is mentioned in Judges 14:12-13, as a part of the gift which Samson offered to any who would guess his riddle. In our version the word is there rendered “sheets.” It also occurs in Proverbs 31:24, in Solomon’s description of “a virtuous woman.” The sedinim were inner garments or tunics.
3. Tseniphoth, “hoods,” were coverings for the head, the difference between which and the peerim, or bonnets,”of verse 20 it is not easy now to determine. The etymology of the two words would suggest that the tseniphoth were simply the turbaned wrappers which were wound around the heads, while the peerim were the same, with rich ornaments attached. Some writers, however, suppose the tseniphoth to have been merely ribbons for binding the hair or fastening the tiara. The word in the singular is rendered” diadem “ in Job 29:14 and Isaiah 62:3.
4. Redidim, “veils,” differed somewhat from the realoth, “mufflers,” of verse 19. Kitto supposes the “radid to have been a kind of head veil which ladies wear at home, and which, not being intended for concealment of the features, rests upon the head and falls down over the back. It is of very light texture, being usually a long strip of muslin embroidered with threads of colored silk and gold, forming altogether one of the most graceful articles in the female attire of the East” (Daily Bible Illustrations, vol. 6, p. 53).

489. Hair Dressing Girdle

Isaiah 3:24. Instead of well set hair baldness, and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth.
1. The women of the East have always paid special attention to dressing the hair. Folds, braids, and tresses in every variety are a source of pride.
See note on 1 Peter 3:3 (#886). On the other hand, baldness is considered a great calamity and is made an occasion for contempt. See note on 2 Kings 2:23 (#328). Thus the change from “well-set hair” to “baldness” would be regarded as a serious misfortune.
2. Pethigil, “stomacher,” is supposed by some to have been a girdle, made of beautiful and costly materials and richly embroidered. Others, from the etymology of the word, and from the contrast between the “stomacher” and the “girding of sackcloth,” suppose it to have been a wide loose flowing mantle characteristic of luxury and wantonness.

490. Sitting on the Ground

Isaiah 3:26. Her gates shall lament and mourn; and she being desolate shall sit upon the ground.
Sitting on the ground was a posture which denoted deep distress. When Job’s friends came to sympathize with him, “they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13). When the Jews were in captivity, it is said, “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion” (Psa. 137:1). Jeremiah also alludes to the same custom in Lamentations 2:10; 3:28. The same idea is represented in a more intensified form in the expressions, “wallow thyself in ashes” (Jer. 6:26) and “roll thyself in the dust” (Mic. 1:10).
Most of the Roman coins which were struck in commemoration of the capture of Jerusalem have on one side the figure of a woman sitting on the ground, usually, though not in every instance, under the shade of a palm tree. The figure is generally represented with one hand to the head, which rests upon it inclining forward, and the other hanging over the knee, thus presenting a picture of great grief. In one instance, however, the hands are tied behind the back. These coins were issued during the reigns of Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian, some of them being struck in Judea, and come in Rome. They are of gold, silver, and brass, and give an apt illustration of the custom referred to in the text. Representations and descriptions of all these coins may be found in Madden's History of Jewish Coinage, etc., chap. 8.

491. Attention Called

Isaiah 5:26. He will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly.
Some commentators have supposed an allusion here, and in Isaiah 7:18, to the custom of calling bees from their hives to the fields and back again by means of a hiss or whistle. Others, however, deny that any such custom existed, and claim that the allusion is to another custom prevalent in the East: that of calling the attention of any one in the street by a significant hiss. In the prophecy of Zechariah the Lord says concerning the children of Ephraim, “I will hiss for them, and gather them” (Zech. 10:8). Here there is doubtless a reference to the same custom of calling attention by a hiss.

492. Butter and Honey

Isaiah 7:15. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.
See also verse 22. Honey is frequently mixed with various forms of milk preparations and used upon bread. The Arabs in traveling often take leathern bottles full of honey for this purpose. It is considered very palatable, especially by the children. The context shows that the reference in the text is made particularly to the days of childhood. The fourteenth verse refers to the birth of a son, and the sixteenth to his early infancy. It is of this child that it is said, “Butter and honey shall he eat.”
There may be in the mixture of these two substances a propriety founded on physiological facts. Wood, in speaking of the Musquaw, or American Black Bear, after giving an account of its method of obtaining the wild honey which is found in hollow trees, adds: “The hunters, who are equally fond of honey, find that if it is eaten in too great plenty it produces very unpleasant symptoms, which may be counteracted by mixing it with the oil which they extract from the fat of the bear” (Illustrated Natural History, vol.1, p. 397). We find in Proverbs 25:16,27, allusion to the disagreeable consequences of eating too much honey, and it is possible that experience had proved the oily nature of the butter a corrective of the honey.
Butter is mentioned in connection with honey in 2 Samuel 17:29; Job 20:17; Song of Solomon 4:11. Honey and oil are named together in Deuteronomy 32:13.

493. The Mattock

Isaiah 7:25. On all hills that shall be digged with the mattock.
This instrument was probably similar to our grub-ax, and was made of either wood or iron. It was used in mountainous places, where a plow could not be easily handled, for turning up the soil. This fact is referred to in the text.

494. Baldness a Sign of Mourning

Isaiah 15:2. On all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off.
To make the head bald, or to shave or pluck the beard, was a sign of mourning among the Hebrews and many other nations. See also Ezra 9:3; Job 1:20; Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 7:29; 16:6; 41:5; 47:5; 48:37; Micah 1:16.

495. Singing at Work

Isaiah 16:10. Gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting; the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage shouting to cease.
It was a common custom among the Egyptians to sing at their work. The Hebrews did the same, and were especially jubilant at the time of grape gathering. They plucked off the grapes with acclamations of joy, and carried them to the wine-press. There they alleviated the labor of treading the grapes by singing, accompanied with musical instruments and joyous shouts. Some authorities interpret hedad, shouting,” as an exclamation used by the grape treaders as they jumped up and down. Allusions are made to the joyful character of the work of vintage in Judges 9:27; Jeremiah 25:30; 48:33.

496. Papyrus Boats

Isaiah 18:2. That sendeth embassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters.
The papyrus was used on the Nile for making boats. Sometimes bundles of the plant were rudely bound together in the form of a raft or boat; at other times the leaves were plaited, basket-fashion, and coated with bitumen and tar. See note on Exodus 2:3 (#103). Similar boats are used on the Euphrates and Tigris. They are circular in shape, and are sometimes covered with leather instead of bitumen.
Another style of vessel is also used on the Nile. The leaves of the papyrus or the palm are placed as a floor upon rafts made of earthen jars which are tied together by the handles. These jars are made in Upper Egypt, and are thus floated down stream by the potters, who sell their ware and walk back to their homes.
On the Euphrates and Tigris the floats are made of inflated skins covered with a flooring of leaves and branches made into wicker work, and having a raised bulwark of the same. These singular vessels are called kelleks, and are of various sizes, from the little family boat resting on three or four skins, to the great raft, forty feet or more in length, and of proportionate width. The latter sort float on several hundred skins, and bear an assorted cargo of merchandise besides passengers. When the cargo has reached its destination the woodwork is sold for fuel, and the skins are taken back by land to be reformed into another vessel. Boats of this description have been used from early historic times, and are referred to by Herodotus and other ancient authors.

497. Egyptian Fishing

Isaiah 19:8. The fishers also shall mourn, and all they that cast angle into the brooks shall lament, and they that spread nets upon the waters shall languish.
Reference is made in this “burden of Egypt” (see verse 1) to the Egyptian fisheries. The Egyptians consumed enormous quantities of fish, which they obtained from the teeming waters of the Nile, and of the canals which irrigated the land. So important was the traffic in fish that at one time, the royal profits from Lake Maeris alone amounted to a talent of silver a day, or about $350,000 a year. Large quantities of fish were salted; and sometimes the fish were simply dried in the sun. Two methods of Egyptian fishing are mentioned in the text.
1. Chakkah, “angle,” is rendered “hook” in Job 41:1. Angling was a favorite pastime with all ranks of the Egyptians. Their hooks were of bronze, and were baited with ground bait. Sometimes a short pole was used, and sometimes the fisherman held the line in his hand.
2. Mikmoreth, “nets,” was a drag-net, and is so rendered in Habakkuk 1:15-16. It was of a lengthened form, having floats along one edge and weights along the other, with a rope at each end. It corresponded to our seine, and was sometimes cast by hand, the men wading out with it and dragging it back to the shore, bringing the fish with it. At other times a boat was used, the net being cast overboard as the boat was rowed along. The monuments give a number of illustrations of fishing by nets, as well as with the hook, though it is said that net-fishing is now unknown in Egypt.

498. Shields Oiled

Isaiah 21:5. Prepare the table, watch in the watch tower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.
Shields were made of bull-hide, of two or more thicknesses, stretched over a frame of wood, and sometimes strengthened with metallic rims, and ornamented in various places by pieces of metal. An occasional rubbing with oil was necessary to prevent the leather from becoming dry and cracked, and to keep the metallic port