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the situation occupied by Leah and Rachel, in their journey with Jacob. From other sources we derive the same information. In the history of the caliph Vathek, it is said, that the black eunuchs were the inseparable attendants of the ladies, the rear was consequently their post. In the argument to the poem of Amriolkais, it is related that one day when her tribe had struck their tents, and were changing their station, the women, as usual, came behind the rest with the servants and baggage, in carriages fixed on the backs of camels. See also Gen. xxiv. 61.
No. 638.-xxxiii. 4. And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.] Such persons as are intimately acquainted, or of equal age and dignity, mutually kiss the hand, the head, or the shoulder of each other. Shaw's Trav. p. 237. This passage and Gen. xlv. 14. Luke xv. 20. Acts xx. 37. Seem to have a reference to the eastern way of kissing the shoulder in an embrace. Harmer, vol. ii. p. 53.
No. 639.—xxxiv. 12. Ask me never so much dowry.] It was usual for the bridegrooın to give to his bride, or her father, a dowry or portion of money or goods, as a kind of purchase of her person. It was the custom of the Greeks and other ancient nations. (Potter's Greek Ant. b. iv. c. 11.) And is to this day the practice in several Eastern countries. (Complete System of Geog. vol. ii. p. 19. 305.)
The modern Arabs who live under tents purchase their wives. De la Roque says, that “properly speaking, a young man that would marry must purchase his wife: and fathers among the Arabs are never more happy than when they have many daughters. This is the principal part of the riches of a house. Accordingly, when a young man would treat with a person whose daughter he is inclined to marry, he says to him, Will you give me your daughter for fifty sheep; for six camels; or for a dozen cows? If he be not rich enough to make such offers, he will propose the giving her to him for a mare, or a young colt; considering in the offer the merit of the young woman, the rank of her family, and the circumstances of him that desires to marry her. When they are agreed on both sides, the contract is drawn up by him that acts as cadi or judge among these Arabs.
Voy. dans la Pal. p. 222.)
No. 640.-xxxiv. 27. The sons of Jacob camé upon the slain and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.] “In the east, as well as in Europe, the relations of the principals in a quarrel, seem to have been bound by honour and custom to espouse their party, and to revenge their death; one of the highest reproaches with which one Arabian could upbraid another, being an accusation of having left the blood of his friend unrevenged.” RICHARDSON's Dissert, on Eastern Nations, p. 214. It was on this principle that the sons of Jacob acted towards Shechem, for his conduct towards their sister.
No. 641.-xxxv. 4. Ear-rings.] « Some of the eastern ear-rings are small, and go so close to the ear as that there is no vacuity between them: others are so large that you may put the forefinger between, and adorned with a ruby and a pearl on each side of them, strung on the ring. The women wear ear-rings and pendants of divers sorts: and I have seen some, the diameter of whose round was four fingers, and almost two fingers thick, made of several kinds of metals, wood, and horn, according to the quality of people. There is nothing more disagreeable to the eyes of those that are unaccustomed to the sight; for these pendants by their weight widen so extremely the hole of the ear, that one might put in two fingers, and stretch it more than one that never saw it would imagine. I have seen some of these ear-rings with figures upon them, and strange characters, which I believe may be talismans or charms, or perhaps nothing but the amusement of old women. The Indians say they are preservatives against enchantments. Perhaps the ear-rings of Jacob's family were of this kind." Chardin M. S. HARMER, vol. ii. p. 393.
No. 642.-xli. 5, 47. And behold seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk.--And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.] In Barbary, one stalk of wheat, or barley, will sometimes bear two ears: : whilst each of these ears will as often shoot out into a number of less ones: thereby affording a most plentiful increase. May not these large prolific ears, when seven are said to come up upon one stalk, explain what is further mentioned of the seven fruitful years in Egypt, that is, that the earth brought forth by handfuls?
This latter passage may, indeed, mean, that the earth brought forth handfuls of stalks from single grains, and not handfuls of ears from single stalks, agreeably to the following passage from Dr. Shaw. “ In Barbary it is common to see one grain produce ten or fifteen stalks. Even some grains of the murwaany wheat, which I brought with me to Oxford, and sowed in the physic garden, threw out each of them fifty. But Muzeratty, one of the late kaleefas, or viceroys, of the province of Tlemsan, brought once with him to Algiers a root that yielded fourscore: telling us, that the prince of the western pilgrims sent once to the bashaw of Cairo, one that yielded six score. Pliny mentions some that bore three or four hundred.”
No. 643.--xli. 42.
And arrayed him
in vestures of
fine linen.] To be arrayed in a rich dress, and to ride in great pomp and ceremony, were the ancient modes of investing with the highest degree of subordinate power in Egypt; and with a small variation still remains so, The history of the revolt of Ali Bey (p. 43.) informs us, that on the election of a new sheik bellet, the pasha who approves of him invests him with a valuable fur, treats him with sherbet, and when the sheik bellet departs, the pasha presents him with a horse richly caparisoned.
HARMER, vol. iii. p. 308.
No. 644.-xlii. 15. By the life of Pharaoh.] Most authors take this for an oath, the original of which is well explained by Mr. Selden, (in his Titles of Honour, p. 45.) where he observes, that the names of gods being given to kings very early, from the excellence of their heroic virtue, which made them anciently great benefactors to mankind; thence arose the custom of swearing by them: which Aben Ezra saith, continued in his time, (about 1170) when Egypt was governed by caliphs. If any man swore by the king's head, and were found to have sworn falsely, he was punished capitally. See more on this subject in Oriental Customs, No. 29.
No. 645.—xliii. 34. And they drank.] After they had dined, plenty of wine was brought in, for every one to drink as much as they pleased. Such is the custom of the Abyssinians to this day : they do not drink or talk at dinner, but after the meat is taken away: as Ludolphus assures us from Telezius. This he also supposes to have been the ancient custom among other nations, particularly the Romans: for which he alleges the words of Virgil:
Postquam prima quies epulis, mensæque remota, -
A different custom however prevailed in Persia ; where the time for drinking wine was at the beginning, not at the close of the entertainment. See Oriental Customs, No. 143.
No. 646.-xliv. 5. Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth?] When Norden was at Derri in the farthest part of Egypt, in a very dangerous situation, from which he and his company endeavoured to extricate themselves by exerting great spirit, a spiteful and powerful Arab in a threatening way told one of their people, whom they had sent to him, that he knew what sort of people they were, that he had consulted his cup,and had found by it that they were those of whom one of their prophets had said, that Franks would come in disguise, and passing every where, examine the state of the country, and afterwards bring over a great number of other Franks, conquer the country, and exterminate all. (Trav. vol. ii. p. 150.) It was precisely the same thing that Joseph meant when he talked of divining by his cup.
HARMER, vol. ii. p. 475.
No. 647.-xlv. 22. To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment.] Presents of garments appear to have been common amongst all ranks of people in the East. The passage now cited is an instance in point. See also 2 Chron. ix. 24. This custom is still preserved. De la Motraye furnishes us with some particular information on this subject. “ The visier entered at another door, and their excellencies rose to salute him after their manner, which was returned by a little inclining of his head : after which he sat down on the corner of his sofa, which is the most honourable place: then his chancellor, his kiahia, and the chiaouz bashaw came and stood before him, till coffee was brought in :