Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah." It is not easy to conceive an image more striking than this; the remains of two small twigs burning with violence at one end, as appears by the steaming of the other, are soon reduced to ashes; so shall the kingdoms of Syria and Israel sink into ruin, and disappear.

The scarcity of fuel in the east obliges the inhabitants to use, by turns, every kind of combustible matter. The withered stalks of herbs and flowers, the tendrils of the vine, the small branches of myrtle, rosemary, and other plants, are all used in heating their ovens and bagnios. We can easily recognize this practice in these words of our Lord: "Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith." The grass of the field in this passage, evidently includes the lilies of which our Lord had just been speaking; and by consequence herbs in general; and in this extensive sense the word xoglos is not unfrequently taken. These beautiful productions of nature, so richly arrayed, and so exquisitely perfumed, that the splendour even of Solomon is not to be compared with theirs, shall soon wither and decay, and be used as fuel to heat the oven and the bagnio. Has God so adorned these flowers and plants of the field, which retain their beauty and vigour but for a

S

9 Isa. vii, 4. Harmer's Obs. vol. i, p. 461. Russel's Hist. of Aleppo, vol. i, p. 38. Russel's Hist. of Aleppo, vol. i, p. 38.

Matth. vi, 28-30.

Few days, and are then applied to some of the meanest purposes of life; and will he not much more clothe you that are the disciples of his own Son, that are capable of immortality, and destined to the enjoyment of eternal happiness ?"

To compensate in some measure for the scarcity of fuel, the orientals endeavour to consume as little as possible in preparing their victuals. For this purpose they make a hole in their dwellings, about a foot and a half deep, in which they put their earthen pots, with the meat in them, closed up, about the half above the middle; three-fourth parts they lay about with stones, and the fourth part is left open, through which they fling in their dried dung, and any other combustible substances they can procure, which burn immediately, and produce so great a heat, that the pot becomes as hot as if it stood over a strong fire of coals; so that they boil their meat with greater expedition and much less fuel, than it can be done upon the hearth. As the people of Israel, in the wilderness, must have been reduced to the necessity of sparing their fuel as much as any other oriental nation, the preceding statement may be considered as a simple, but satisfactory comment, on the charge given by Moses on the law: "And every thing, whereupon any part of their carcase falleth, shall be unclean, whether it be oven, or ranges for pots, they shall be broken down; for they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you." One commentator supposes the word translated ranges for pots, signifies an earthen pot to boil meat in, with a lid; another provides it with feet; but such vessels come under the direction of the

[ocr errors]

"Harmer's Observ. vol. i, p. 462.

w Lev. xi, 35.

V

Rauwolff's Trav. p. 192.

thirty-third verse, which requires them, when they have been polluted, to be broken: while the ranges for pots were, like altars, houses, or walls of cities, to be broken down. This perfectly agrees with Rauwolff's description of the eastern apparatus for boiling a pot, three parts of which were laid or built about with stones: this little building the law of Moses required to be broken down when it happened to become ceremonially unclean.

The hole in which the pot is set, has an aperture on one side, for the purpose of receiving the fuel, which seems to be what Jeremiah calls the face of the pot: "I see," said the prophet, "a pot, and the face thereof is towards the north ;"* intimating that the fuel to heat iț was to be brought from that quarter. This emblematical prediction was fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar, whose dominions lay to the north of Palestine, led his armies against Jerusalem, and overturned the thrones of the house of David.y

The descendants of Shem, in the line of Abraham, using the liberty granted after the deluge to the second father of the human race, to eat the flesh "of every moving thing that liveth," from the beginning subjected the sheep and the ox to the knife; but they seem for many successive ages to have spared, on all ordinary occasions, the young of the flock, and of the herd. So late as the days of Amos," to eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall," was considered as the conduct of a very degenerate race, the mark of a luxurious appetite, and a proper object of inspired reproof. This sentiment seems to have been very general in the cast; for * Amos vi, 5, 6.

* Jer. i, 13.

y Harmer's Observ. vol. i, p. 465.

in Homer, the aged king of Troy reproached his sons, because they feasted on young lambs and kids." The patriarch Abraham, therefore, yielded to the ardour of eastern hospitality, mingled with love and veneration for the unknown visitants, when he fetched from the herd a calf, tender and good, and dressed it whole for their entertainment. And when the father, in the parable, received in safety his long-lost son, he expressed the joy of his heart by killing for him the fatted calf; which was so uncommon, that it is the only circumstance mentioned in the report of the servant, and resented by the elder son of the family." The hospitality of the wealthiest Jews seldom provided more delicate viands than the flesh of sheep, and oxen, and fat cattle; in this manner, Adonijah entertained his friends when he aspired to the crown; and Abigail endeavoured to avert the vengeance of David, by a present of "two hundred loaves, and two bot tles of wine, and five sheep ready dressed, and five measures of parched corn, and an hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs."

"b

Among the delicacies at an eastern meal, a prominent place is assigned to honey. The sacred writers often allude to butter and honey, in their glowing descriptions of the prosperity which rewarded the faithful adherence of their people to the service of God, or the happiness which should distinguish the reign of Messiah. We have a striking example in the prophecies of Isaiah, in which he foretels the ruin of Syria, and the kingdom of the ten tribes, and the speedy deliverance of Judah from their oppression : Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and hoa Luke xv, 23, 27, 30.

66

Il. lib. xxiv, 1. 262.

b 1 Sam. xxv, 18.

[ocr errors]

ney shall he eat, that he may know (rather, when he shall know) to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before this child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings." Thus, in the sixteenth verse, the prophet assigns a plain reason why the child should eat butter and honey, the food of plentiful times, when he should be capable of distinguishing between good and evil, because the country of the two kings, who now distressed Judah, was before then to be laid waste; and that highly favoured kingdom, rescued from the grasp of her ene mies, should recover her wonted prosperity. Butter and honey are also mentioned in the book of Joshua, as the enjoyments of a state of plenty: "The Lord sware unto their fathers, that he would give us a land flowing with milk and honey." These articles of provision, therefore, naturally denote the plenty which the people of Judea were to possess on the return of peace. In a subsequent verse, they express an abundance arising from the thinness of the population; but that they denote abundance in consequence of the destruction of their enemies is evident, because otherwise, this deliverance is not mentioned; and that a deliverance was intended in these words, is plain, from calling the child which should be born, Immanuel, God with us. It is also proved by the charge which was previously given to the prophet, to announce that deliverance, which he does from the third to the seventh verse; and to his declaration in this manner, the prophecy must undoubtedly be conformable. In the same way Jarchi interprets the passage: That infant shall eat butter and honey, because our land shall be full of all good. The heathen poets also consider these articles as Isa. vii, 15.

« ElőzőTovább »