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of the death and resurrection of the LORD appeared with great splendor, and the figure of the cross shone on the top of Mount Olivet, these miserable people mourned over the ruins of their temple, and though their cheeks were covered with tears, their arms black and blue, and their hair all in disorder, the soldiers demanded money of them for the liberty of protracting their lamentations a little longer."
What this ancient writer meant, by that circumstance of their arms being bruised in that time of mourning, is explained by a passage of his commentary on Jeremiah," to this purpose : He ordered mourning women to be called, who are wont to lament with a doleful tone of voice," beating their arms with their hand, and so to excite the people to weep. This custom, he observes, continued in Judea to his time, that women with dishevelled bair, open bosoms, and a particular tone of voice, excited tears in all that were present.
The commentators on Ezekiel seem unanimiously to suppose, that Ezekiel's looking to Jerusalem was with a threatening countenance, and his arm bare to express the exertions of the besieging army; but in the preceding directions given him how to behave himself, he uncontrovertibly was to represent not the state of the besieging army, but of the distressed Jews
* This may serve to explain some part of the counsel John the Baptist gave the soldiers of his time, when they consulted him, Luke iii. 14.
I Comm. in Sophonium, cap. 1, ver. 14.
• Ezek. iv. 7,
in the city, who would be forced to eat polluted food, and to want even a sufficiency of that; and I think it cannot be imagined that he should be represented, in one and the same paragraph, as personating two such different and even opposite characters.
Warriors often buried with their Armour.
The burying warriors with their arms, seems also to have been a method sometimes made use of, to do them honour.
Ezekiel refers apparently to such a practice, when he says, They shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell with their weapons of war : and they have laid their swords under their heads. ch. xxxii. 27.
Grotius upon this occasion cites 1 Macc. xiii. 22, not very happily, for the Prophet is speaking of burying their arms, particularly their swords with warriors ; and the apocryphal historian is describing carvings, on pillars, set over the graves of such.
Sir J. Chardin's MS. note is, “in Mingrelia they all sleep with their swords under their heads, and their other arms by their sides; and they bury them in the same manner, their arms being placed in the same position.” This is all he says; and when we think of the little connexion between Mingrelia and a Jewish Prophet, we read the remark with some coolness. But things greatly alter, when we come to reflect, that it has been supposed by many learned men, and in particular by the extremely celebrated Bochart, that Meshech and Tubal, of whom Ezekiel is here speaking, mean Mingrelia, and the country thereabouts : this greatly excites curiosity, and makes strong impressions on the mind.
In the first place, it cannot but be remarked, íhat Ezekiel is speaking of the burial of several nations in this chapter, Egypt, Ashur, Elam, Edom, &c.; but no mention is made of interring weapons of war in any of the paragraphs, that only excepted which speaks of Meshech and Tubal, which nations are joined together by the Prophet. The burying warriors then with their weapons of war, seems to have had some distinguishing relation to Meshech and Tubal, or Mingrelia and the adjoining country.
Secondly, The modern management there seems to be derived from the customs of the very ancient inhabitants of that country: and we are not to suppose, on the contrary, that the Prophet intends here to distinguish Meshech and Tubal from the other nations of antiquity, by this circumstance, that those other nations were buried with their weapons of war, whereas Meshech and Tubal were buried without thiem: since the inhabitants of Mingrelia are thus buried now : since customs hold a long time in the East; since we see nothing of this martial pomp in the interments of the modern inhabitants of the other countries named here ; nor any accounts of their burying them in this form there anciently, in any of the sacred writings.
When the Prophet says, ver. 27, They shall not lie with the mighty that are fallen of the uncircumcised, which are gone down to hell, (or the grave,) with their weapons of war, and they have laid their swords under their heads, they must be the Egyptians he is here speaking of; or he must mean that the Mingrelian warriors that were cut off with the sword were, as totally vanquished, buried by their enemies, and without the usual martial solemnities with which the people of that country were wont to have their dead interred.
It cannot well be understood in the first sense, because the Prophet, all along, describes the Egyptians as being to lie with the rest of the uncircumcised in the grave; it most probably is therefore to be understood in the second.”
P This perhaps may be more easily admitted, if it is con. sidered, that the original words, translated," and they have laid their swords under their heads, but,” &c. are, “ and they have given their swords under their heads, and their iniquities,” &c. which may be understood of their swords not being placed under their heads, but taken away by their conquerors.
Burying Persons within the Walls of Cities, a
Toker of Respect.
The burying of persons in their cities is also an Eastern manner of doing them honour. They are in common buried without the walls of their towns, as is apparent, from many places of the Old and New Testament, the ancient Jews also were thus buried; but sometimes they bury in their cities, when they do a person a distinguished honour.
Each side of the road,” says the author of the history of the Piratical States of Barbary,' “ without the gate, is crowded with sepulchres. Those of the Pasha and the Deys are built near the gate of Babalonet. They are between ten and twelve feet high, very curiously whitewashed, and built in the form of a dome, Hali Dey, as a very eminent mark of distinction, was buried in an inclosed tomb within the city. For forty days successively his tomb was decorated with flowers, and surrounded with people, offering up prayers to God for his soul. This Dey was accounted a saint, and a particular favourite of heaven, because he died a natural death ; a happiness of which there are few instances since the establishment of the Deys in Algiers.”
7 P. 163.