« PreviousContinue »
in their cattle, in which Abraham is said to have been rich, for greater convenience metals were substituted for the commodity itself. It was natural for the representative sign to bear impressed the object which it represented; and thus accordingly the earliest coins were stamped with the figure of an ox or a sheep: for proof that they actually did thus impress them, we can again appeal to the high authority of scripture ; for there we are informed that Jacob bought a parcel of a field for an hundred pieces of money. The original Hebrew translated pieces of money, is kesitoth, which signifies lambs, with the figure of which the metal was doubtless stamped.
MAURICE's Indiun Antiquities, vol, vii. p. 470.
No. 26.-xxxvii. 34. Jacob rent his clothes.] This ceremony is very ancient, and is frequently mentioned in scripture. Levi (Rites and Ceremonies of the Jews, p. 174.) says, it was performed in the following manner: “they take a knife, and holding the blade downwards, do give the upper garment a cut on the right side, and then rend it an hand's breadth. This is done for the five following relations, brother, sister, son, or daughter, or wife; but for father or mother, the rent is on the left side, and in all the garments, as coat,
waista coat, &c.”
No. 27.--xl. 13. Within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head.] “The ancients, in keeping their reckonings or accounts of time, or their list of domestic officers or servants, made use of tables with holes bored in them, in which they put a sort of pegs, or nails with broad heads, exhibiting the particulars, either number or name, or whatever it was. These nails or pegs the Jews call heads, and the sockets of the heads they call bases. The meaning therefore of Pharaoh's lifting up his head is, that Pharaoh would take out the peg, which
, had the cup-bearer's name on the top of it, to read it, is e. would sit in judgment, and make examination into his accounts; for it seems very probable that both he and the baker had been either suspected or accused of having cheated the king, and that, when their accounts were examined and cast up, the one was acquitted, while the other was found guilty. And though Joseph uses the same expression in both cases, yet we may observe that, speaking to the baker, he adds, that Pharaoh shall lift up thine head from of thee, i. e. shall order thy name to be struck out of the list of his servants, by taking thy. peg out of the socket."
Bibliotheca Bibl. in locum, cited in STACKHOUSE's Hist. of the Bible, vol. i. p. 331,
No. 28.—xli. 40. Thou shalt be over my house, and according to thy word shall all my people be ruled.] The Easterns kiss what comes from the hand of a superior. The editor of the Ruins of Balbec observed, that the Arab governor of that city respectfully applied the firman of the grand seignior (which was presented to him) to his forehead when he and his fellow travellers first waited on him, and then kissed it, declaring himself the sultan's slave's slave (p. 4.). Is not this what Pharaoh refers to in these words: Thou shalt be over my house, und according unto thy word, or on account of thy word, shall all my pcople Kiss (for so it is in the original) only in the throne will I be greater than thou ; that is, I imagine, the orders of Joseph were to be received with the greatest respect by all, and kissed by the most illustrious of the princes of Egypt. HARMER, vol. ii. p. 48.
No. 29.-xlii. 15. By the life of Pharaoh.] Extraordinary as the kind of oath which Joseph made use of may appear to us, it still continues in the East. Mr. HANWAY says, the most sacred oath among the Per
sians is by the king's head;" (Trav. vol. i. p. 313.) and
i among other instances of it we read in the Travels of the Ambassadors, p. 204. " there were but sixty horses for ninety-four persons. The mehemander (or conductor) swore by the head of the king (which is the greatest oath amongst the Persians) that, he could not possibly find any more.” And Thevenot says (Trav. p. 97, part 2.) “his subjects never look upon him but with fear and trembling; and they have such respect for him, and pay so blind an obedience to all his orders, that how unjust soever his commands might be, they perform them, though against the law both of God and nature. Nay, if they swear by the king's head, their oath is more authentic, and of greater credit, than if they swore by all that is most sacred in heaven and upon earth."
No. 30.-- xliii. 29. God be gracious to thee, my son.] - This would have been called through all Europe, and in the living languages of this part of the world, the giving a person one's benediction; but it is a simple salutation in Asia, and it is there used instead of those offers and assurances of service which it is the custom to make use of in the West, in first addressing or taking leave of an acquaintance.” (Chardin.) This account explains the ground of the scripture's so often calling the salutations and farewells of the East by the term blessing.
HARMER, vol. ii.
No. 31.-xliii. 34. And he took and sent messes unto them from before him, but Benjamin's mess was five times as much as any of theirs.] The manner of eating amongst the ancients was not for all the company to eat out of one and the same dish, but for every one to have one or more dishes to himself. The whole of these dishes were set before the master of the feast, and he distributed to every one his portion. As Joseph, however, is here said to have had a table to himself, we may suppose
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?] 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 of gold and silver, together with some precious stones, that,
whereon were engraven certain characters: and, after
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 whoin 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. ever 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 Pàcheshputtee 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 be- . comes the purchased slave of the creditor.”
GENTOO Laws, p. 140.