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one of the tokens of a populous and thriving country; “ Moreover, I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of millstones and the light of a candle, and their whole land shall be a desolation.”* The morning shall no more be cheered with the joyful sound of the mill, nor the shadows of evening by the light of a candle; the morning shall be silent, and the evening dark and melancholy, where desolation reigns.
The custom of daily grinding their corn for the family, shews the propriety of the law: “ No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge, for he taketh a man's life to pledge;" because if be take either the upper or the nether millstone, he deprives bim of his daily provision, which cannot be prepared without them, and, by consequence, exposes bim and all his house to utter destruction. That complete and perpetual desolation which, by the just allotment of heaven, is ere long to overtake the mystical Babylon, is clearly signified by the same precept: “ The sound of the millstone shall be lieard no more at all in thee.”+ The means of subsistence being entirely destroyed, no human creature shall ever occupy the ruined habitations
In the book of Judges, the sacred historian alludes, with characteristic accuracy, to several circumstances implied in that custom, where he describes the fall of Abimelech. A woman of Thebez, driven to desperation by his furious attack on the tower, started up from the mill at which she was grinding, seized the upper millstone, (ambo) and rushing to the top of the gate, cast it on his head, and fractured his skull. This was the feat of a woman, for the mill is worked only by females: it was not a piece of a millstone, but the rider, the distinguishing name of the upper millstone, which literalļy rides upon the other, and is a piece or division of the mill: it was a stone of two feet broad," and therefore fully sufficient, when thrown from such a height, to produce the effect mentioned in the narrative.
| Rev. xviii. 22.
* Jer. xxv. 10,
It displays also the vindictive contempt which sug, gested the punishment of Samson, the captive ruler of Israel. The Philistines, with barbarous contumely, compelled him to perform the meanest service of a female slave: they sent him to grind in the prison,* but not for himself alone; this, although extremely mortifying to the hero, had been more tolerable; they made him grinder for the prison, while the vilest malefactor was permitted to look on and join in the cruel mockery of his tormentors. Samson, the ruler and avenger of Israel, labours, as Isaiah foretold the virgin daughter of Babylon should labour : “Come down, and sit in the dust, ( virgin, daughter of Babylon; there is no throne, (no seat for thee) O daughter of the Chaldeans-Take the millstones and grind meal," but not with the wonted song- Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness,”+ there to conceal thy vexation and disgrace.
The females engaged in this operation, endeavoured to beguile the lingering hours of toilsome exertion with a song. We learn from an expression of Aristophanes, preserved by Athenæus, that the Grecian maidens ac. companied the sound of the millstones with their voices, των πτισσεσων αλλη τις ωθη. . This circumstance imparts an additional beauty and force to the description of the prophet: The light of a candle was no more to be seen in the evening; the sound of the millstones, the indieation of plenty; and the song of the grinders, the natural expression of joy and happiness, were no more to be heard at the dawn. The grinding of corn at so early an hour, throws light on a passage of considerable ob. scurity: 66 And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baapah, went and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ishbosheth, who lay on a bed at noon; and they came thither into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat, and they smote him under the fifth rib; and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped."! It is still a custom in the east, according to Dr. Perry, to allow their soldiers a certain quantity of corn, with other articles of provi. sions, together with some pay: and as it was the cus.
Judg. xvi. 21. t Isa. xlvii. 1. See Taylor's Calmet, vol. 3. + 2 Sam. iv. 7.
tom also to carry their corn to the mill at break of day, these two captains very naturally went to the palace the day before, to fetch wheat, in order to distribute it to the soldiers, that it might be sent to the mill at the accustomed hour in the morning. The princes of the east, in those days, as the history of David shews, lounged in their divan, or reposed on their couch, till the cool of the evening began to advance. Rechab and Baanah therefore, came in the heat of the day, when they knew that Ishbosheth their master would be resting on his bed; and as it was necessary, for the reason just given, to have the corn the day before it was needed, their coming at that time, though it might be a little earlier than usual, created no suspicion, and attracted no notice.*
In the cities and villages of Barbary, where public ovens are established, the bread is usually leavened ; but among the Bedoweens and Kabyles, as soon as the dough is kneaded, it is made into thin cakes, either to be baked immediately upon the coals, or else in a sballow earthen vessel like a frying pan, called Tajen. Such were the unleavened cakes, which we so frequently read of in Scripture, and those also which Sarah made quickly upon the hearth.† These last are about an inch thick ; and being commonly prepared in woody countries, are used all along the shores of the Black sea, from the Palus-Mæotis to the Caspian, in Chaldea and in Mesopotamia, except in towns. A fire is made in the middle of the room; and when the bread is ready for baking, a corner of the hearth is swept, the bread is laid upon it, and covered with ashes and embers ; in a quarter of an hour they turn it. Sometimes they use small convex plates of iron; wbich are most common in Persia, and among the nomadic tribes, as being the easiest way of baking, and done with the least expense; for the bread is extremely thin, and soon prepared. The oven is used in every part of Asia; it is made in the ground, four or five feet deep, and three in diameter, well plastered with mortar. When it is hot, they place the bread (which is commonly long, and not Harmer s Obs, vol. 1. p. 433.
f Gen. xviii. 6.
thicker than a finger) against the sides; it is baked in a moment. Ovens, Chardin apprehends, were not used in Canaan in the patriarchal age; all the bread of that time was baked upon a plate, or under the ashes; and he supposes, what is nearly self-evident, that the cakes which Sarah baked on the hearth, were of the last sort, and that the shew-bread was of the same kind. The Arabs about mount Carmel use a great stone pitcher, in which they kindle a fire ; and when it is heated, they mix meal and water, which they apply with the hollow of their hands to the outside of the pitcher; and this extremely soft paste, spreading itself, is baked in an instant. The heat of the pitcher having dried up all the moisture, the bread comes off as thin as our wafers ; and the operation is so speedily performed, that in a very little time a sufficient quantity is made. But their best sort of bread they bake, either by heating an oven, or a large pitcher half full of little smooth shining flints, upon which they lay the dough, spread out in the form of a thin broad cake. Sometimes they use a shallow earthen vessel, resembling a frying-pan, which seems to be the pan mentioned by Moses, in which the meatoffering was baked.* This vessel, Dr. Shaw informs us, serves both for baking and frying; for the bagreah of the people of Barbary, differs not much from our pancakes, only, instead of rubbing the pan in which they fry them with butter, they rub it with soap to make them like a honey comb. If these accounts of the Arab stone pitcher, the pan, and the iron hearth or copper plate, be attended to, it will not be difficult to understand the laws of Moses in the second chapter of Leviticus; they will be found to answer perfectly well to the description which he gives us of the different ways of preparing the meat-offerings. The precepts of Moses evidently bear a particular relation to the methods of preparing bread, used by those who live in tents, although they were sufficient for the direction of his people after their settlement in Canaan; and his mentioning cakes of bread baked in the oven, and wafers that were baked on the outside of these pitchers, in the fourth
* Lev.ii. 5.
verse, with bread baked on a plate, and in a pan, in the fifth and seventh verses, inclines Mr. Harmer to think, the people of Israel prepared their meat-offerings in their tents, which they afterwards presented at the national altar, rather than in the court of the tabernacle.
These pitchers, which the modern Arabs use for baking cakes of bread within them, and wafers on their outside, are not the only portable ovens in the east. Jerome, in his Commentary on Lamentations, describes an eastern oven as a round vessel of brass, wbose sides are blackened by the surrounding fire. Such, it is probable, were the ovens mentioned by Moses, and used in the east, long before the age in which he flourished.
Mr. Jackson, in his Journey over land from India, gives an account of an eastern oven, equally instructive and amusing, as it confirms the statements of ancient travellers, and shews the surprising expertness of the Arabian women in baking their bread. “They have a small place built with clay, between two and three feet high, having a hole at the bottom for the convenience of drawing out the ashes, something similar to a lime kiln. The oven (which he thinks the most proper name for this place,) is usually about fifteen inches wide at top, and gradually widening to the bottom. It is heated with wood; and when sufficiently hot, and perfectly clear from the smoke, having nothing but clear embers at the bottom, which continue to reflect great heat, they prepare the dough in a large bowl, and mould the cakes to the desired size on a board, or stone, placed near the oven. After they have kneaded the cake to a proper consistence, they pat it a little, then toss it about with great dexterity in one hand, till it is as thin as they choose to make it. They then wet one side of it with water, at the same time wetting the hand and arm with which they put it into the oven. The side of the cake adheres fast to the side of the oven, till it is sufficiently baked, when, if not paid proper attention to, it would fall down among the embers. If they were not exceedingly quick at this work, the heat of the oven would burn their arms; but they perform it with such an amazing dexterity, that