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It was usual to kiss in saluting: and instead of uncovering, as we do, out of respect, they pulled off their shoes when they went into sacred places, as the eastern nations do to this day. Uncovering the head was a sign of mourning."
We see examples of their compliments in those of Ruth, Abigail, the woman of Tekoah," whom Joab employed to get Absalom recalled, and Judith. All these are examples of women, who are generally more complaisant than men. They liked to speak in parables and ingenious riddles. Their language was modest and chaste, but in a different way from ours. They said the water of the feet, for urine; and to cover the feet, for easing nature; because in that action they covered themselves with their mantle, after they had dug a hole in the ground. They said the thigh, when they meant the parts which modesty forbids to name. In other respects they have expressions that seem very harsh to us ; as when they speak of conception and the birth of children, of women that are fruitful or barren ; and make no scruple of naming some infirmities of both sexes which we make use of circumlocution to express.
All these differences proceed only from distance of time and place. Most of the words, which are
The Easterns sometimes kiss the beard of the person they wish to honour: at other times they kiss the ground before him. " Ruth ji. 10, 13.
1 Sam. XXV.
23, 41. • 2 Sam. xiv. 4, 9, 17.
• Judith x. 23. Deut. xxiii. 13.
now immodest according to the present use of our language, were not so formerly, because they conveyed other idens' ; and the eastern people, especially the Mohammedans, are ridiculously nice about certain indecencies that have no influence upon the manners, whilst they give themselves great liberty in the most infamous pleasures. The Scripture speaks more plainly than we should do of conjugal affairs, because there was not one Israelite that renounced marriage, and they that wrote were grave and commonly old men."
As for prudence, good or bad conduct, address, complaisance, artifice, and court intrigues, the history of Saul and David furnishes us with as many examples of them as any other with which I am acquainted.
* The Mohammedans affect a sort of delicacy in speaking of matrimonial connections, and subjects of this nature; yet their language, I mean the Arabic, has a greater number of impure and obscene terms than any other language under the sun : the proportion of these terms is so great, when compared to the whole language, that one is almost led to conclude that they are a people of the most impure mind, and that their land is as a country of brothels.
THEIR easy and quiet life, added to the beauty of the country, inclined them to amusements ; but such as were rational, and easy to be procured. They had scarcely any but music and conviviality. Their feasts, as I have before observed, were made of plain meat, which they had out of their own stock: and their music cost them still less, since most people knew how to sing and play upon some instrument. Old Barzillai names only these two pleasures, when he was too far advanced in
years to relish life. The author of Ecclesiasticus compares a concert of music in a banquet of wine to a signet of carbuncle set in gold. So Ulysses frankly owned to the Phæacians, that he knew no greater happiness than a feast accompanied with music. We see the same pleasures mentioned in those passages of Scripture, where the prophets reproached those that abused them: but they added excess of wine, crowns and flowers, and perfumes, as we see the Greeks and Romans did.
2 Sam. xix. 35.
* Ecclus. xxxii. 5, 6. · Odyss. lib. viii. The amusements or pleasures of the Phæa. cians are, by their king Alcinous, summed up in the following lines :
Αιει δ' ημιν δαις τε φιλη, κιθαρις τε, χοροι τε,
Odyss. viii. ver. 24.
We have a catalogue of the perfumes which the Hebrews made use of in the Song of Solomon, and many other places of Scripture ; but especially in the law, where it prescribes the composition of two sorts that were to be offered to God; the one wet, and the other dry. The drugs there named for making them are the most odoriferous that were known, before musk and ambergrise were found out.
They loved eating in gardens under arbours and shady places ; for it is natural in hot countries to seek coolness and fresh air. So when the Scripture describes a time of prosperity, it says that every one ate and drank under his own vine and under his own fig-tree, which fruit-trees have the broadest leaves.
Their employment in country labour did not allow of their feasting or following their diversions every day, as most of the rich do now; but it served to make them relish them better. They had therefore stated times of rejoicing ; sabbathdays, and all other feasts taken notice of in the law, weddings, dividing the spoil after victory, sheep
Ibid. xxviii. 3.
4 Amos vi. 4,
6. Isaiah v. 11, 12 • Exod. XXX. 23, &c.
i Kings iv. 4, 5. Mic. iv. 4.
Zech, ii. 10.
shearing, harvest and vintage, in each particular estate, where the neighbours came together to assist each other. It is well known that the feasts of Bacchus and Ceres had their rise among the Greeks from such rejoicings; and we still see some footsteps of it among the country people. The Israelites had no profane shews. They were contented with the ceremonies of religion, and the pomp of sacrifices; which must needs have been very great, since the temple was the most magnificent building in the whole country, and there were thirty-two-thousand Levites appointed for its service.
I do not perceive that they had either gaming or hunting, which are reckoned with us among the highest diversions. As to gaming, it seems as if they were entirely ignorant of it, since we do not so much as once find the name of it in the whole Scripture. Not but the people of Lydia had already invented games, if what is said of them be true.' But to this day the Arabians, and some other eastern nations, play at no games of hazard; at least if they observe their law. As to hunting, either beasts or birds, it was not unknown to the
5 Isaiah ix. 3. Ibid. xvi. 9, 10.
In the feast usually made at the conclusion of harvest, and bringing home the corn.
* Herodotus says, Clio, p. 45. that “the Lydians invented the plays of dice, tennis, tables, &c. (EEEU PEOrval on wv TOTE και των κυλων, και των αεραγαλων, κα της σφαιρης) to divert and amuse them in a time of great scarcity :" but the account is accompanied with such circumstances as sender it incredible.