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No. 1100.-xxxi. 15. A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping : Rachel weeping for her children, refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.] From Le Bruyn's Voyage in Syria (p. 256.) we learn, that “the women go in companies, on certain days, out of the towns to the tombs of their relations, in order to weep there, and when they are arrived, they display very deep expressions of grief..
While I was at Ramah, I saw a very great company of these weeping women, who went out of the town. I followed them, and after having observed the place they visited, adjacent to their sepulchres, in order to make their usual lamentations, I seated myself on an elevated spot. They first went and placed themselves on the sepulchres, and wept there ; where, after having remained about half an hour, some of them rose up, and formed a ring, holding each other by the hands, as is done in some country-dances. Quickly two of them quitted the others, and placed themselves in the centre of the ring; where they made so much noise in screaming, and in clapping their hands, as, together with their various contortions, might have subjected them to the suspicion of madness. After that they returned, and seated themselves to weep again, till they gradually withdrew to their homes. The dresses they wore were such as they generally used, white, or any other colour; but when they rose up to form a circle together, they put on a black veil over the upper parts of their per
No. 1101.-xxxvi. 30. His dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.] The want of burial was considered as a great misfortune, and was therefore particularly dreaded. The Romans were of opinion that the soul had no rest unless the body were properly interred. So Virgil:
Hæc omnis, quam cernis, inops inhumataque turba est :
Æn. vi. 325.
The ghosts rejected are th' unhappy crew,
No. 1102.—xxxviii. 7. Now when Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, one of the king's eunuchs, who was in the king's house.] The possession of black eunuchs is not very common in the Levant; they are hardly any where to be found, except in the palaces of the sovereign or of the branches of the royal family. When the Baron Du. Tott's wife and mother-in-law were permitted to visit Asma Sultana, daughter of the emperor Achmet, and sister of the then reigning prince, he tells us, that " at the opening of the third gate of her palace several black eunuchs presented themselves, who, with each a white staff in his hand, preceded the visitors, leading them to a spacious apartment, called the chamber of strangers.” He adds, that to have such attendants is a piece of great state, as the richest people have not more than one or two of them.
HARMER, vol. iii. p. 327.
No. 1103.xli. 8. But ten men were found among them, that said unto Ishmael, slay us not, for we have treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, of oil, and of honey.] Shaw tells, us, (Trav. p. 139.) that in Barbary, when the grain is winnowed, they lodge it in mattamores, or subterraneous repositories ; two or three hundred of which are sometimes together, the smallest holding four hundred bushels. These are very common in other parts of the East, and are mentioned by Russell (p. 20.) as being in great numbers about Aleppo, which VOL. II.
makes travelling in the night there very dangerous, the entry into them being often left open when they are empty.
HARMER, vol. ii. p. 452.
17. To poure their libation it with
No. 1104. xliv. 17. To pour out drink-offerings.] When the ancient idolaters made their libations, they usually filled the cup entirely full, and crowned it with flowers. Servius on the first book of the Æneid says, antiqui coronabant pocula, et sic libabant, the ancients crowned their cups (with flowers) and then made libations. Thus Virgil, speaking of Anchises, says,
He adorned the great cup with a crown (of flowers)
and filled it with wine. See also Horace, B. iji. Od. · 13. 1. 2.
· No. 1105.-xlviii. 37. Upon all the hands shall be cuttings.] “ We find Arabs,” La Roque tells us from D’Arvieux, “ who have their arms scarred by the gashes of a knife, which they sometimes give themselves, to mark out to their mistresses what their rigor and the violence of love make them suffer.” From this extract we learn what particular part of the body received these cuttings. The Scripture frequently speaks of them in a more general manner. HARMER, vol. i. p. 516.
No. 1106. xlix. 3. Lament, and run to and fro by the hedges.] The places of burial in the East are without their cities, as well as their gardens, and consequently their going to them must often be by their garden walls, (not hedges). The ancient warriors of distinction, who were slain in battle, were carried to the sepulchres of their fathers; and the people often went to weep over the graves of those whom they would honour. These observations put together sufficiently account for this passage.
HARMER, vol. i. p. 464.
No. 1107.-xlix. 19. Behold, he shall come up like a. lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong.] The comparison used by the prophet in these words will be perfectly understood by the account which Mr. Maundrell gives of the river Jordan. “ After having descended,” says he, “ the outermost bank of Jordan, you go about a furlong upon a level strand, before you come to the immediate bank of the river. This second bank is so beset with bushes and trees, such as tamarisks, willows, oleanders, &c. that you can see no water till you have made your way through them. In this thicket anciently, and the same is reported of it at this day, several sorts of wild beasts were wont to harbour themselves, whose being washed out of the covert by the overflowings of the river gave occasion to that allusion, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan.” (Fourney from Aleppo to Jerusalem, p. 82.) Correspondent with this account, Ammianus Marcellinus (lib. 18. cap. 17.) tells us, that “ lions without number range through the reeds and shrubs of the rivers of Mesopotamia.”
No. 1108.-l. 15. Her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down. Though this could not be the case with foundations in general, it might be with those of Babylon : for Herodotus, who had himself been there, informs us (lib. i. c. 178.) that it was surrounded first by a deep and wide ditch full of water, and then by its stupendous walls, fifty royal cubits broad and two hundred high; that the earth thrown out of the ditch was made into bricks, with which they first lined both sides of the ditch, and then built the wall in the same manner. Supposing then that the scarp, or inner wall of the
ditch, served for a foundation to the wall of the city, it is very easy to conceive how such foundations, being built in a marshy soil, and continually exposed to the undermining power of the water in the ditch, and pressed by such a prodigious weight, might give way and fall.
PARKHURST, Heb. Lex. p. 48.
No. 1109.-li. 41. How is Sheshach taken!] It is conceived that Babylon is called Sheshach from one of her idols, and that the term is used by way of opprobrium. The idol Shach was worshipped there, and had a festival kept for five days together. It is said that during this festival Cyrus took Babylon. Athenaus speaks of this feast, (Deipnosophista, lib. xiv. cap. 17.) saying, Berosus in the first book of the Babylonish History relates, that on the sixteenth of the calends of September the feast Saicea was celebrated at Babylon for five days; during which time it was customary for masters to obey their servants; one of them, being master of the house, was clothed in a royal garment, and called Zoganez. See some curious particulars about Sheshach in Assembly's Annotations on Jer. xxv. 26.