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them.] The Jews in general rose very early in the morning. Hence in their style, to rise early signifies to do a thing sedulously, and with a good will : thus it is frequently said, that God rose up early to send the prophets to his people, and exhort them to repentance.
Jer. vii. 13. xi. 7. xxxv. 14. It is a consequence of · country labour. The Greeks and Romans followed the same custom : they rose very early, and worked till night; they bathed, supped, and went to bed in good time.
FLEURY's Hist. of Israelites, p. 49.
No. 931.- EZRA vi. 11.
And let his house be made a dunghill for this.
Thus the Romans pulled down the houses of very wicked men, for their greater disgrace: of this we have instances in Sp. Cassius and Ovidius Pollio. See also Dan. ii. 5. and iii. 29.
No. 932.--vi. 15. The month Adar.] This was the name, after the Babylonish captivity, of the twelfth month, nearly answering to our February 0. S. and perhaps so called from the richness or exuberance of the earth in plants and flowers at that season in the warm eastern countries. “As February, advances, the fields, which were partly green before, now, by the springing up of the latter grain, become entirely covered with an agreeable verdure: and though the trees continue in their leafless state till the end of this month or the beginning of March, yet the almond, when latest, being in blossom before the middle of February, and quickly succeeded by the apricot, peach, &c. gives the gardens an agreeable appearance. The spring now becomes extremely pleasant.” See Russell's Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, p. 13, 30. Hasselquist's Travels, p. 27.
N. 933.-viii. 27. Precious as gold.] Yellow or shining brass, marg. Sir 7. Chardin, MS. note, has mentioned a mixed metal used in the East, and highly esteemed there, which might probably be of as ancient an origin as the time of Ezra. He says, “ I have heard some Dutch gentlemen speak of a metal in the island of Sumatra and among the Macassars, much more esteemed than gold, which royal personages alone
might wear. It is a mixture, if I remember right, of gold and steel, or of copper and steel. Calmbac is this metal, composed of gold and copper; it in colour nearly resembles the pale carnation rose, has a very fine grain, and the polish extremely lively., Gold is not of so lively and brilliant a colour." . HARMER, vol. ii. p. 490.,
· No. 934. ix. 3. And plucked off the hair of my head.] In ordinary sorrrows they only neglected their hair, and let it hang down scattered in a careless manner, the practice mentioned in these words was used in bitter lamentations; and that also amongst the heathens. Thus Homer, speaking of Ulysses and his companions bewailing the death of Elpenor, says,
'Ecouevo. S ivlococe gów tiraovlo Te quites.
Odyss. X. 15. They sitting down there howled and plucked off their hairs.
No. 935.NEHEMIAH i. 8.
And the king granted me according to the good hand of
my God upon me.
The hand is sometimes taken in an ill sense for inflicting punishments. Ruth. i. 13. Jer. xv. 17. and sometimes in a good sense, for we extend favours to men with the hand. Thus Drusius explains Psalm lxxxviii. 5. cut off from thy hand, that is, fallen from thy. grace and favour. Pindar (Olymp. 10.) thus uses the hand of God, for his help and aid, Otrouu maraud, by the hand of God: which the scholiast interprets, by the powa er and help of God. Thus Nehemiah is here to be understood.
No. 936.–V. 5. We bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants.] As to the paternal power of the Hebrews, the law gave them leave to sell their daughters, Exod. xxi. 7. but the sale was a sort of marriage, as it was with the Romans. Fathers sold their children to their creditors, Isaiah 1. 1. and in the time of Nehemiah the poor proposed to sell their children for something to live upon ; and others bewailed themselves that they had not wherewith to redeem their children that were already in slavery. They had the power of life and death over their children, Prov. xix. 18. But they had not so much liberty' as the Romans, to make use of this severe priviledge without the knowledge of the magistrate. The law of God only permitted the father and mother, after they had tried all sorts of correction at home, to declare to the elders of the city that their son was stubborn and rebellious; and upon their complaint he was
condemned to death and stoned. Deut. xxi. 19. The same law was in force at Athens.
FLEURY's Hists of the Israelites, p. 140.
í No. 937.v. 11. Also the hundredth part of the mom ney, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.] The hundredth part was an usury at this time exacted in those countries, as afterwards among the Romans : this was the hundredth part of what was lent every month, so that every year they paid the eighth part of the principal. Salmasius however observes, that in the eastern countries, there never were any laws to determine what interest should be taken for money lent for a day, or a week, or a month, or a year, (for there were all these sorts of usury,) but every one was left to demand what he pleased; and according to what was agreed they paid for what was borrowed. Patrick, in loc.
“Nothing is more destructive to Syria than the shameful and excessive usury customary in that country. When the peasants are in want of money to purchase grain, cattle, &c. they can find none but by mortgaging the whole or part of their future crop greatly under its value. The danger of letting money appear closes the hands of all by whom it is possessed; and if it be parted with, it must be from the hope of a rapid and exhorbitant gain : the most moderate interest is twelve per cent. the usual rate is twenty, and it frequently rises as high even as thirty.” Volney's Trav. vol. ii. p. 410. See also Jer. xv. 10.
No. 938.-V. 15. Even their servants bare rule over the people.] By these words it is evident that some oppressive practices are referred to. They probably relate to the forcible taking away of provisions from the people by the servants of former governors. In these countries this was no uncommon thing: many instances of it