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the fatherless, and for the widow." The latter is marked by the prophet Isaiah : “ Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree; two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel.”g It occurs again in a denunciation of divine judgments by the same prophet : “ When thus it shall be in the midst of the land among the people, there shall be as the shaking of an olive tree, and as the gleaning grapes when the vintage is done.” ” The conjecture of Harmer on these quotations, in which the shaking of the olive tree is connected with the gleaning of grapes, is not improbable, “ that the shaking of the olive tree does not indicate an improvement made in after times on the original mode of gathering them; or different methods of procedure by different people in the same age and country, who possessed olive yards; but rather expressed the difference between the gathering of the main crop by the owners, and the way in which the poor collected the few olive berries that were left, and which, by the law of Moses, they were permitted to take.” 1
The custom of beating the olive with long poles to make the fruit fall, is still followed in some parts of Italy. This foolish method, besides hurting the plant, and spoiling many branches that would bear the year following, makes the ripe and unripe fruit fall indiscriminately, and bruises a great deal of both kinds, by which they become rancid in the heaps, and give an ill-flavoured oil. Such is the statement of the abbot Fortis, in his account of Dalmatia;k we are not then to wonder, that in the time of Moses,
when the art of cultivation was in so simple and unimproved a state, beating should have been the common way of gathering olives by the owners, who were disposed to leave, we may suppose, as few as possible, and were forbidden by their law to go over the branches a second time. But shaking them appears to have been sufficient, when they had hung till they were fully ripe ; and was therefore practised by the poor, or by strangers, who were either not provided with such long poles as the owners possessed, or did not find them necessary. Indeed it is not improbable, that the owners were well aware of the injury done to the olive trees by beating, although they practised it, because it was the most effectual way of gathering the fruit with which they were acquainted ; and might therefore prohibit the poor and the stranger to collect the gleanings in that manner : they were on that account, reduced to the necessity of shaking the olive berries from the tree, how ineffectual soeyer might be the method, or remain without them. The main crop then, seems to have been taken from the olive by beating, and the gleanings uniformly by shaking. Under this conviction, Dr. Lowth has, with great judgment, translated the sixth verse of the seventeenth chapter of Isaiah : A gleaning shall be left in it, as in the shaking of the olive tree.k
In peaceful times, the press in which the grapes and olives were trodden, was constructed in the vineyard : but in time of war and danger, it was removed into the nearest city. This precaution the restored captives were reduced to take for their safety, at the time they were visited by Nehemiah. In a state of great weakness themselves, without an efficient government or means of defence, they were exposed to the hostile machinations of numerous and powerful enemies. For this reason, many of the Jews brought their grapes from the vineyards, and trod them in Jerusalem, the only place of safety which the desolated country afforded. “In those days,” said Nehemiah,“ saw I in Judah, some treading wine-presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves and lading asses; and also wine grapes and figs, and all manner of burthens which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day." Had these wine-presses been at a distance from Jerusalem, Nehemiah, who so strictly observed the precept of resting on that day, would not have seen the violation of which he complains. · Our translators, in Mr. Harmer's opinioni, seem to have been guilty of an oversight in the interpretation of this verse, which plainly supposes, that sheaves of corn were brought into Jerusalem at the very time men were treading the wine-presses. This, he observes, is a strange anachronism, since the harvest there was finished in or before the third month, and the vintage was not till the seventh.
* See Harmer's Observ. vol. iii, p. 273. Chandler's Trav. p. 126.
But it may be replied in favour of our translators, that by Mr. Harmer's own admission, they have at present a species of corn in the east which is not ripe till the end of summer; which made Rauwolf say, it was the time of harvest when he arrived at Joppa, on the thirteenth of September. But if they have such a species of corn now, it is more than probable they had it then; for the customs and management of the orientals, suffer almost no alteration from the lapse of time, and change of circumstances. If this be admitted, the difficulty vanishes; and there is nothing incongruous or absurd in supposing, that Nehemiah might see his countrymen bringing this late grain in sheaves from the field, to tread it out in the city, for fear of their numerous and malicious foes, who might have set upon them, had they not taken this precaution, as the Arabs frequently do on the present inhabitants, and seized the heaps on the barn floor. Mr. Harmer translates the Hebrew term, parcels of grapes ; but as the word signifies a heap of any thing, it may with equal propriety be rendered parcels or sheaves of corn, especially as grapes are mentioned afterwards. It is true, our author makes them dried grapes, but for the word dried, he has no authority from the original text; there is no good reason, therefore, to find fault with our translators in this instance.
m Neh. xii, 15.
In the gardens around Aleppo, commodious villas are built for the use of the inhabitants, to which they retire during the oppressive heats of summer. Here, amid the wild and almost impervious thickets of pomegranate, and other fruit-bearing trees, the languid native, and exhausted traveller, find a delightful retreat from the scorching beams of the sun. A similar custom of retiring into the country, and taking shelter in the gardens at that season, appears to have been followed in Palestine in ages very remote ; for in the Song of Solomon this invitation from the church to her Redeemer occurs: “ Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field ; let us lodge in the villages ; let us go up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth; there will I give thee my loves.” In another passage she says to her companions : * Russels Hist. of Aleppo, vol. i, p. 50. • Song vii, 11, 12.
« My beloved has gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies ;"p. and in another, she addresses her beloved in these appropriate terms : “ Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice.”
The exquisite pleasure which an oriental feels, while he reclines under the deep shade of the pomegranate, the apple, and other fruitful trees in the Syrian gardens, which, uniting their branches over his head, defend him from the glowing firmament, is well described by Russel. « Revived by the freshning breeze, the purling of the brooks, and the verdure of the groves, his ear will catch the melody of the nightingale, delightful, beyond what is heard in England ; with conscious gratitude to heaven, he will recline on the simple mat, and bless the hospitable shelter. Beyond the limits of the gardens hardly a vestige of verdure remains ; the fields are turned into a parched and naked waste.” One almost feels the scorching beam, and sickens under its irresistible force, in perusing the description of nature's bard:
66 'Tis raging noon, and vertical the sun
p Song vi, 2.
9 In Persia, Mr. Martyn found the heat of the external air quite intolerable. In spite of every precaution, the moisture of the body being soon quite exhausted, he grew restless, and thought he should have lost his senses, and concluded, that though he might hold out a day or two, death was inevitable. Memoir of the Life of the Rev. Henry Martyn, p. 357.