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The eastern princesses were treated with a respect proportioned to the homage which was given to their lords. An Arabian princess who made a visit to the wife of the great emir, when D'Arvieux resided in his camp, was mounted on a camel, covered with a carpet, and decked with flowers; twelve women marched in a row before her, holding the camel's halter with one hand, while they sung the praises of their mistress, and songs which expressed the joy and happiness of being in the service of such a beautiful and amiable lady. Those who marched first, and were at a greater distance from her person, came in their turn to the head of the camel, and took hold of the halter, which place, as being the post of honour, they quitted to others, when the princess had gone a few paces. In this order they marched to the tent where they alighted. They then sung altogether, the beauty, birth, and good qualities of this princess. This account illustrates a passage in the prophet Nahum, in which he describes the introduction of the queen of Nineveh, or that imperial city itself, under the figure of a queen to her conqueror: "And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves." Here the prophet describes her as led by her maids with the voice of doves, that is, with the voice of mourning; their usual songs of joy, with which they were accustomed to lead her along, as the Arab women did their princess, being turned into lamentations.*
The last emblem of power and authority among the kings and governors of the east which I shall mention, is the horn. This is worn over all the east, and is the symbol of strength and power. It adorns the heads of all Harmer's Obs. vol. ii, p. 417. D'Arvieux Voy. dans la Pal. p. 249.
princely personages in oriental mythology. Large horns, representing the glory of deity, are planted on the heads of their idols, or placed in their hands. To this last circumstance the prophet seems to refer: " He had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power." If this symbol was, according to the custom of the east, a crescent of the size of the moon when six days old, it was a very striking emblem of the rising power and expanding glory of Israel."
The Indian soldier wears a horn of steel on the front of his helmet, directly over the forehead. In Abyssinia the head-dress of the provincial governors, according to Mr. Bruce, consists of a large broad fillet bound upon their forehead, and tied behind their head. In the middle of this rises a horn, or conical piece of silver, gilt, about four inches long, much in the shape of our common candle extinguishers. This is called kirn, a slight corruption of the Hebrew word keren, a horn, and is only worn in reviews or parades after victory. The crooked manner in which they hold the neck when this ornament is on their forehead, for fear it should fall forward, seems to agree with what the Psalmist calls speaking with a stiff neck: "Lift not your horn on high; speak not with a stiff neck;" for it perfectly shews the meaning of speaking
y Habak. iii, 4. Maurice's Indian Antiq. vol. ii, p. 353; vol. iii, p. 25, 54, 210; vol. iv, p. 232, 384; vol. vi, p. 108, 109, 135, 161, 190, 191.
"Perhaps," says Dr. Brown in his Antiquities of the Jews, "a remnant of this ancient practice is to be found still in the neighbourhood of Lebanon; for Captain Light, anno 1814, saw the females of the Maronites and Druzes wearing on their heads a tin or silver conical tube, about twelve inches long, and twice the size of a common post-horn, over which was thrown a white piece of linen that completely enveloped the body. The horn of the emir's wife was of gold, enriched with precious stones." Vol. ii, p. 364. See p. 43 of this Volume. a Trav, vol. iv, p. 407.
of a unicorn.a
in this attitude, when the horn is held exact like the horn An allusion is made to this custom in another passage: "But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn."b To raise the horn was to clothe one with authority, or to do him honour; to lower it, cut it off, or take it away, to deprive one of power, or to treat him with disrespect. Such were the "horns of iron" which Zedekiah made for himself, when he presumed, in the name of Jehovah, to flatter his prince with the promise of victory over his enemies: "Thus saith the Lord, with these" military insignia "shalt thou push the Syrians until thou hast consumed them." They were military ornaments, the symbols of strength, and courage and power.
But while the orientals had their emblems of honour, and tokens of regard, they had also peculiar customs expressive of contempt or dislike; of which the first I shall mention is cutting off the beard. Even to talk disrespectfully of a Persian's beard, is the greatest insult that can be offered to him, and an attempt to touch it would probably be followed by the instant death of the offender. Cutting off the beard is reckoned so great a mark of infamy among the Arabs, that many of them would prefer death to such a dishonour. They set the highest value upon this appurtenance of the male; for when they would express their value for a thing, they say it is worth more than his beard; they even beg for the sake of it, "By your beard, by the life of your beard, do." This shews, according to the oriental mode of thinking, the magnitude
a Nah. ii, 7.
b Psa. xcii, 10.
c Calmet, vol. iii. 1 Kings xxii, 11.
Kinnier's Geographical Memoir of the Persian Empire, p. 24.
of the affront which Hanan offered to the ambassadors of David, when he took them and shaved off the one half of their beards. It was still, in times comparatively modern, the greatest indignity that can be offered in Persia. Sha Abbas, king of that country, enraged that the emperor of Hindostan had inadvertently addressed him by a title far inferior to that of the great Shah-in-Shah, or king of kings, ordered the beards of the ambassadors to be shaved off, and sent them home to their master. This ignominious treatment discovers also the propriety and force of the type of hair in the prophecies of Ezekiel; where the inhabitants of Jerusalem are compared to the hair of his head and beard, to intimate that they had been as dear to God as the beard was to the Jews; yet for their wickedness they should be cut off and destroyed.
To send an open letter, was considered as a mark of great disrespect. A letter has its Hebrew name from the circumstance of its being rolled or folded together. The modern Arabs roll up their letters, and then flatten them to the breadth of an inch; and, instead of sealing them, paste up their ends. The Persians make up their letters in a roll about six inches long, a bit of paper is fastened round it with gum, and sealed with an impression of ink. In Turkey, letters are commonly sent to persons of distinction in a bag or purse; to equals they are also enclosed, but to inferiors, or those who are held in contempt, they are sent open or unenclosed. This explains the reason of Nehemiah's observation: "Then sent San
* 2 Sam. x, 4.
f Niebuhr's Trav. p. 275.
* Maurice's Hist. of Hindostan, vol. iv, p. 476.
h Norden's Trav. vol. ii, p. 8, 71, 109. Lady M. W. Montagu's Lett. vol. i, p. 136. D'Arvieux Voy. dans la Palest. p. 58.
ballat his servant unto me with an open letter in his hand." In refusing him the mark of respect usually paid to persons of his station, and treating him contemptuously, by sending the letter without the customary appendages, when presented to persons of respectability, Sanballat ofered him a deliberate insult. Had this open letter come from Geshem, who was an Arab, it might have passed unnoticed, but as it came from Sanballat, the governor had reason to expect the ceremony of enclosing it in a bag, since he was a person of distinction in the Persian court, and at that time governor of Judea.
One of the most significant expressions of strong dis approbation was the shaking of the lap. When the Jews opposed the apostle Paul and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, "Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean." This action is still a common mark of reprobation in Turkey.*
The last mark of disrespect, which is by no means confined to the east, is to spit in the face of another. Chardin observes, that spitting before any one, or spitting upon the ground in speaking of any one's actions, is, through the east, an expression of extreme detestation. It is, therefore, prescribed by the law of Moses, as a mark of great disgrace to be fixed on the man who failed in his duty to the house of his brother.1 To such contemptuous treatment, it will be recollected, our blessed Redeemer submitted in the hall of the high priest, for the sake of his people. The practice has descended to modern times; for in the year 1744, when a rebel prisoner was brought
I Neh. vi, 5.
J Acts xviii, 6; also Neh. v, 13.
* Morier's Trav. vol. i, p. 123.