Page images

buted to every one his portion. As Joseph, however, is here said to have had a table to himself, we may sup pose that he had a great variety of little dishes or plates set before him ; and as it was a custom for great men to honour those, who were in their favour, by sending such dishes to them as were first served up to themselves, Joseph shewed that token of respect to his brethren ; but to express a particular value for Benjamin, he sent him five dishes to their one, which disproportion could not but be marvellous and astonishing to them, if what Herodotus tells us, be true, that the distinction in this case, even to Egyptian kings themselves, in all public feasts and banquets, was no more than a double mess, lib. vi. chap 27." (Bibliotheca Bibl,)

STACKHOUSE'S Hist. of the Bible, vol. i. p. 338.

No. 32.-xliv. 1. Sacks.] There are two sorts of sacks taken notice of in the history of Joseph, which ought not to be confounded; one for the corn, the other for the baggage. There are no waggons almost through all Asia, as far as to the Indies, every thing is carried upon beasts of burthen, in sacks of wool, covered in the middle with leather, the better to make resistance to water. Sacks of this sort are called tambellit; they inclose in them their things done up in large parcels. It is of this kind of sacks we are to understand what is said here and all through this history, and not of their sacks in which they carry their corn. (Chardin.)

HARMER, vol. i. p. 429.

No. 33.-xliv. 5. Cup whereby he divineth 2] Julius Serenus tells us, that the method of divining by the cup, among the Abyssinians, Chaldees, and Egyptians, was to fill it first with water, then to throw into it their plates pf gold and silver, together with some precious stones,

whereon were engraven certain characters: and, after that, the persons who came to consult the oracle used certain forms of incantation, and so calling upon the devil, received their answers several ways; sometimes by articulate sounds, sometimes by the characters, which were in the cup, rising upon the surface of the water, and by this arrangement forming the answer ; and many times by the visible appearing of the persons themselves about whom the oracle was consulted. Cornelius Agrippa (de occult. Philos. 1. i. cap. 57.) tells us likewise, that the manner of some was to pour melted wax into the cup, wherein was water, which wax would range itself into order, and so form answers, according to the questions proposed.

SAURIN'S Diss. 38.

No. 34.-xlvii. 19. Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh.] From the Gentoo laws it appears that such a purchase as that made by Joseph was not an unusual thing. Particular provision is made in these institutes for the release of those who were thus brought into bondage. "Whoever having received his victuals from a person during the time of a famine, hath become his slave, upon giving to his provider whatever he received from him during the time of the famine, and also two head of cattle, may become free from his servitude, according to the ordination of Pacheshputtee Misr.-Approved." "Whoever having been given up as a pledge for money lent, performs service to the creditor, recovers his liberty whenever the debtor discharges the debt; if the debtor neglects to pay the creditor his money, and takes no thought of the person whom he left as a pledge, that person becomes the purchased slave of the creditor." GENTOO LAWS, p. 140.

No. 35.-1. 10. They mourned with a great and very sore lamentation.] This is exactly the genius of the people. of Asia, especially of the women. Their sentiments of joy or grief are properly transports, and their transports are ungoverned, excessive, and outrageous. When any one returns from a long journey, or dies, his family burst into cries that may be heard twenty doors off; and this is renewed at different times, and continues many days, according to the vigour of the passion. Especially are these cries long in the case of death, and frightful, for their mourning is right down despair, and an image of hell. I was lodged, in the year 1676, at Ispahan, near the royal square; the mistress of the next house to mine died at that time; the moment she expired, all the family, to the number of twenty-five or thirty people, set up such a furious cry, that I was quite startled, and was above two hours before I could recover myself. These cries continue a long time, then cease all at once; they begin again as suddenly, at day break, and in concert. It is this suddenness which is so terrifying, together with a greater shrillness and loudness than one would easily imagine. This enraged kind of mourning continued forty days, not equally violent, but with diminution from day to day. The longest and most violent acts were when they washed the body, when they perfumed it, when they carried it out to be interred, at making the inventory, and when they divided the effects. You are not to suppose that those, who were ready to split their throats with crying out, wept as much; the greatest part of them did not shed a single tear through the whole tragedy.

CHARDIN in Harmer, vol. ii. p. 136.

No. 36.-1.26. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old, and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.] When Joseph died he was not only

embalmed, but put into a coffin. This was an honour appropriated to persons of distinction, coffins not being ́universally used in Egypt. Maillet, speaking of the Egyptian repositories of the dead, having given an account of several niches that are found there, says, ❝ it must not be imagined, that the bodies deposited in these gloomy apartments were all enclosed in chests, and placed in niches; the greatest part were simply embalmed and swathed after that manner that every one hath some notion of; after which they laid them one by the side of another without any ceremony: some were even put into these tombs without any embalming at all, or such a slight one, that there remains nothing of them in the linen in which they were wrapped but the bones, and those half rotten. (Letter vii. p. 281.) Antique coffins of stone, and sycamore wood, are still to be seen in Egypt. It is said that some were formerly made of a kind of pasteboard, formed by folding and glewing cloth together a great number of times; these were curiously plastered and painted with hieroglyphics THEVENOT, part i. p. 137,



No. 37.-EXODUS, viii. 19.

Vessels of stone.

THE water of the Nile is very thick and muddy, and it is purified either by a paste made of almonds, or by filtrating it through pots of white earth; the possession of one of these pots is thought a great happiness. Thevenot, (part i. p. 245.) May not the meaning of this passage be, that the water of the Nile should not only look red and nauseous like blood in the river, but in their vessels too when taken up in small quantities, and that no method whatever of purifying it should be effectual? HARMER, vol. ii. p. 298.

No. 38. ix. 8. And the Lord said unto Moses and unto Aaron, take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, und let Moses sprinkle them towards the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh.] "It is said, that when this evil was to be brought upon the Egyptians, Aaron and Moses were ordered to take ashes of the furnace, and Moses was to scatter them up towards heaven, that they might be wafted over the face of the country. This mandate was very determinate, and to the last degree significant. The ashes were to be taken from that fiery furnace ; which in the scriptures was used as a type of the Israelites slavery, and of all the cruelty which they experienced in Egypt. The process has still a farther allusion to an idolatrous and cruel rite, which was common among the Egyptians, and to which it is opposed as a contrast. They had several cities styled Typhonian, such as Heliopolis, Idithyia, Abarei, and Busiris; in these, at particular seasons, they sacrificed men. The objects thus destined were persons of bright hair and a particular complexion, such as were seldom to be found

« PreviousContinue »