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people of God were accustomed to honour, in a particolar manner, the memory of those kings who had reigned over them with justice and clemency, they took care to stamp-some mark of posthumous disgrace upon those who had left the world under their disapprobation. The sepulchres of the Jewish kings were at Jerusalem ; where, in some appointed receptacle, the remains of their princes were deposited; and from the circumstance of these being the cemetery for successive rulers, it was said when one died and was buried there, that he was gathered to his fathers. But several instances occur in the history of the house of David, in which, on various accounts, they were denied the honour of being entombed with their ancestors, and were deposited in some other place in Jerusalem. To mark, perhaps, a greater degree of censure, they were taken to a small distance from Jerusalem, and laid in a private tomb. Uzziah, who had, by his presumptuous attempt to seize the office of the priesthood, which was reserved by an express law for the house of Aaron, provoked the wrath of heaven, and was punished for his temerity with a loathsome and incurable disease, “ was buried with his fathers in the field of the burial which belonged to the kings; for they said, He is a leper."* It was undoubtedly with a design to make a suitable impression on the mind of the reigning monarch, to guard him against the abuse of his power, and teach him respect for the feelings and sentiments of that people for whose benefit chiefly he was raised to the throne, that such a stigma was fixed upon the dust of his offending predecessors. He was, in this manner, restrained from evil, and excited to good, according as he was fearful of being execrated, or desirous of being honoured after his decease. This public mark of infamy was accordingly put on the conduct of Ahaz: 6 They buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem, but they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel.”+
The Egyptians had a custom, in some measure similar to this, only it extended to persons of every rànk and condition. As soon as a man died, he was ordered * 2 Chron. xxvi. 23.
† 2 Chron. xxviii. 27.
to be brought to trial; the public accuser was heard ; if he proved that the deceased had led a bad life, his memory was condemned, and he was deprived of the honours of sepulture. Thus were the Egyptians affected by laws which extended even beyond the grave, and every one, struck with the disgrace inflicted on the dead person, was afraid to reflect dishonour on his own memory and that of his family. But what was singular, the sovereign himself was not exempted from this public inquest when he died. The whole kingdom was interested in the lives and administration of their sovereigns, and as death terminated all their actions, it was then deemed for the welfare of the community that they should suffer an impartial scrutiny, by a public trial, as well as the meanest of their subjects. In consequence of this solemn investigation, some of them were not ranked among the honoured dead, and consequently were deprived of public burial. The custom was singular;
the effect must have been powerful and influential. The most haughty despot, who might trample on laws human and divine in his life, saw by this rigorous inquiry, that at death he also should be doomed to infamy and execration.* “ What degree of conformity," says Mr. Burder," there was between the practice of the Israelites and the Egyptians, and with whom the custom first originated, may be difficult to ascertain and decide; but the latter appears to be founded on the same principle as that of the former; and as it is more circumstantially detailed, affords us an agreeable explanation of a rite but slightly mentioned in the Scriptures."
* Franklin's Hist. of An. and Mod. Egypt.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE FROM THE ADMINISTRATION
OF JUSTICE IN PALESTINE AND THE EAST.
IN the east, the right of calling an offender to account is claimed either by the person who receives the injury, or his nearest relation; and the same person, with the permission or connivance of his people, sustains at once the character of party, judge, and executioner. In such a state of things we are not to be surprised if the exercise of justice be often precipitate and tumultuaту. The act of the Philistines, in burning the spouse of Samson and her father with fire, was entirely of this character; not the result of a regular sentence, but the summary vengeance of an incensed multitude. * In the law of Moses, the right of the private avenger was distinctly recognized; but to prevent the dreadful effects of sudden and personal vengeance, cities of refuge were appointed at convenient distances through the land of promise, to which the man-slayer might flee for safety, till he could be brought to a regular trial, before a court of justice.
In almost every part of Asia, those who demand justice against a criminal throw dust upon him, signifying that he deserves to lose his life, and be cast into the grave; and that this is the true interpretation of the action, is evident from an imprecation in common use among the Turks and Persians, Be covered with earth; Earth be upon thy head. We have two remarkable instances of casting dust recorded in Scripture; the first is that of Shimei, who gave vent to his secret hostility to David when he fled before his rebellious son, by throwing stones at him, and casting dust.f It was an ancient custom, in those warm and arid countries, to lay the dust before a person of distinction, and particularly before kings and princes, by sprinkling the ground with water. To throw dust into the air while a person • Judg. xv. 6.
+ 2 Sam. xvi. 13.
was passing, was therefore an act of great disrespect; to do so before a sovereign prince, an indecent outrage. But it is clear from the explanation of the custom, that Shimei meant more than disrespect and outrage to an afflicted king, wbose subject he was; he intended to signify by that action, that David was unfit to live, and that the time was at last arrived to offer him a sacrifice to the ambition and vengeance of the house of Saul. This view of his conduct is confirmed by the behaviour of the Jews to the apostle Paul, when they seized him in the temple, and had nearly succeeded in putting him to death ; they cried out, “ away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live; and as they cried out and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, the chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle.”* A great similarity appears between the conduct of the Jews on this occasion, and the behaviour of the peasants in Persia, when they go to court to complain of the governors, whose oppressions they can no longer endure. 66 They carry their complaints against their governors by companies, consisting of several hundreds, and sometimes of a thou. sand; they repair to that gate of the palace nearest to which their prince is most likely to be, where they set themselves to make the most horrid cries, tearing their garments, and throwing dust into the air, at the same time demanding justice. The king upon hearing these cries, sends to know the occasion of them; the people deliver their complaints in writing, upon which be lets them know that he will commit the cognizance of the affair to such an one as he names; in consequence of this, justice is usually obtained.”+
Those who were summoned before the courts of justice were said to be apogenie apeper on os agion, because they were cited to appear, by posting up their names in some public place; and the judgment of the court was published or declared in writing. Such persons, the Romans called proscriptos or proscribed, that is, whose names were posted up in writing, in some public place, as persons doomed to die, with a reward offered to any
* Acts xxii, 23, + Chardin's Trav. Burder 1. ob. 503.
that should kill them. These are the terms which the apostle Jude applies to the ungodly, who had crept unawares into the church; they were before of old, #goger opeusvoi, ordained to this condemnation; persons, who must not only give an account of their crimes to God, but are proscribed or destined to the punishment which they deserve. In Persia, malefactors were not allowed to look on the king; this was the reason that as soon as Haman was considered a criminal they covered his face. From Pococke, we find the custom still continues; for speaking of the artifice by which an Egyptian bey was taken off, he says, “ A man being brought before him, like a malefactor just taken, with his hands behind him as if tied, and a napkin put over his head, as malefactors commonly have, when he came into bis presence suddenly shot him dead."*
It was the custom among the Jews for the judge to sit on a trial, and those who were judged to stand, especially while the court were examining the witnesses. The station of the accused was in an eminent place in the court, that the people might see them, and hear what was alleged against them, and the proofs of it, together with the defence made by the criminals. This explains the reason of the remark, by the evangelist Matthew, concerning the posture of our Lord at his trial; “ Jesus stood before the governor;" and that, in a mock trial, many ages before the birth of Christ, in which some attention was also paid to public forms, Naboth was set on high among the people. The accusers and the witnesses also stood, unless they were allowed to sit by the indulgence of the judges, when they stated the accusation, or gave their testimony. To this custom of the accusers rising from their seats, when called by the court to read the indictment, our Lord alludes, in his answer to the scribes and Pharisees, who expressed a wish to see him perform some miracle: “ The queen
of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it.” According to this rule, which seems to have been invariably observed, the Jews who accused the apostle Paul, at the bar of Festus the
* Harmer's Obs. vol. 2. p. 403. t 1 Kings xxi. 9. Mattb. xii. 42.