Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

No. 190.-cxxxv. 7. He maketh lightnings for the rain.] Russell (p. 154.) says, that at Aleppo a night seldom passes without lightning in the north-west quarter, but not attended, with thunder.. When it appears in the west or south-west points, it is a sure sign of the approaching rain; this lightning is often followed by thunder. Thus God maketh the lightnings for the rain; and when he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and as these refreshing showers are preceded by squalls of wind, he bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. Jer. li. 16. HARMER, vol. i. p. 67.

No. 191.-cxli. 7. Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth.] Whether this expression was designed to be understood literally or figuratively, Mr. BRUCE relates a circumstance which shews that it might be literally verified. "At five o'clock we left Garigana, our journey being still to the eastward of north, and at a quarter past six in the evening arrived at the village of that name, whose inhabitants had all perished with hunger the year before, their wretched bones being all unburied, and scattered upon the surface of the ground where the village formerly stood. We encamped among the bones of the dead; no space could be found free from them." (Travels, vol. iv. p. 349.) To the Jews such a spectacle must have been very dreadful, as the want of burial was esteemed one of the greatest calamities which could befal them.

No. 192.-cxlvii. 16, 17. Who can stand before his cold?] The winters in the East are very cold and severe at least in some places, and in some particular years; Jacobus de Vitriaco (Gesta Dei per Francos, p. 1130.) saw the cold prove deadly to man and beast. How forcible the exclamation of the Psalmist appears from this repre

sentation! It is said also, that he giveth snow like wool. To illustrate this remark, Chardin says, "that towards the Black Sea, in Iberia and Armenia, the snow falls in flakes as big as walnuts, but not being either hard or very compact, it does no other hurt than presently covering a person." HARMER, Vol. i. p. 16.

No. 193.-PROVERBS iii. 8.

It shall be health to thy navel.

MEDICINES in the East are chiefly applied externally, and in particular to the stomach and belly. This comparison, Chardin says, is drawn from the plasters, ointments, oils, and frictions, which are made use of in the East upon the belly and stomach in most maladies; they being ignorant in the villages, of the art of making decoctions and potions, and the proper doses of such things. HARMER, vol. ii. p. 488.

No. 194.-ix. 3. She hath sent forth her maidens.] Hasselquist observed a custom in Egypt, which he imagines to be very ancient. He saw a number of women, who went about inviting people to a banquet. They were about ten or twelve in number, covered with black veils, as is usual in that country. They were preceded by four eunuchs; after them, and on the side, were Moors with their usual walking-staves. As they were walking, they all joined in making a noise, which he was told signified their joy, but which he could not find resembled a pleasing song. This passage of Solomon seems to allude to this practice; for wisdom is said to have sent forth her maidens, and to cry upon the high places of the city. HARMER, vol. iii. p. 193.

[ocr errors]

No. 195. xi. 21. Though hand join in hand.] To join hands was anciently, and still continues in the East, a solemn method of taking an oath, and making an engagement. This circumstance is probably alluded to in these words of Solomon; its present existence is clearly ascertained by what Mr. BRUCE (Trav. vol. i. p. 199.) relates: "I was so enraged at the traiterous

4

part which Hassan had acted, that, at parting, I could not help saying to Ibrahim, now, shekh, I have done every thing you have desired, without ever expecting fee or reward; the only thing I now ask you, and it is probably the last, is, that you avenge me upon this Hassan, who is every day in your power. Upon this he gave me his hand, saying, he shall not die in his bed, or I shall never see old age." (See also 2 Kings 10-15.)

[ocr errors]

No. 196.-xi. 22. A jewel of gold in a swine's snout.] This proverb is manifestly an allusion to the custom of wearing nose jewels, or rings set with jewels, hanging from the nostrils, as ear rings from the ears, by holes bored to receive them. This fashion, however strange it may appear to us, was formerly, and is still, common in many parts of the East, among women of all ranks. Paul Lucas, speaking of a village, or clan of wandering people, a little on this side of the Euphrates, says, "The women, almost all of them, travel on foot; I saw none handsome among them. They have almost all of them the nose bored, and wear in it a great ring, which makes them still more deformed." (2d Voyage du Levant, tom. i. art. 24.) But in regard to this custom, better authority cannot be produced than that of Pietro della Valle, in the account which he gives of Signora Maani Gioerida, his own wife. The description of her dress, as to the ornamental parts of it, with which he introduces the mention of this particular, will give us some notion of the taste of the eastern ladies for finery. "The orna

ments of gold, and of jewels, for the head, for the neck, for the arms, for the legs, and for the feet, (for they wear rings even on their toes) are indeed, unlike those of the Turks, carried to great excess, but not of great value: as turquoises, small rubies, emeralds, carbuncles, garnets, pearls, and the like. My spouse dresses herself with all of them according to their fashion, with excep

tion however of certain ugly rings of very large size, set with jewels, which, in truth very absurdly, it is the custom to wear fastened to one of their nostrils, like buffaloes an ancient custom however in the East, which, as we find in the holy scriptures, prevailed among the Hebrew ladies, even in the time of Solomon. These nose rings in complaisance to me she has left off; but I have not yet been able to prevail with her cousin and her sisters to do the same. So fond are they of an old custom, be it ever so absurd, who have been long habituated to it." (VIAGGI, Tom. i. Lett. 17.) To this account may be subjoined the observation made by Chardin, as cited in Harmer (vol. ii. p. 390.) “ It is the custom in almost all the East for the women to wear rings in their noses, in the left nostril, which is bored low down in the middle. These rings are of gold, and have commonly two pearls and one ruby between, placed in the ring. I never saw a girl or young woman in Arabia, or in all Persia, who did not wear a ring after this manner in ker nostril."

Vide Вp. LowтH's note on Isaiah iii. 20.

No. 197.-xv. 19. The way of the slothful man is an hedge of thorns.] Hasselquist says, (p. 111.) that he saw the plantain tree, the vine, the peach, and the mulberry tree, all four made use of in Egypt to hedge about a garden: now these are all unarmed plants. This consideration throws a great energy into the words of SoloThe way of the slothful man is an hedge of thorns. It appears as difficult to him, not only as breaking through an hedge, but even through a thorn fence : and also into that threatning of God to Israel, Behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns. Hosea ii. 6.

mon.

No. 198.-xvi. 11. A just weight and balance are the LORD's, all the weights of the bag are his work.] The

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »