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No. 1279.-xviii. 13. But smote upon his breast.] This appears to have been a token of distress, and especially of penitent sorrow. We meet with frequent instances of it.
Smiting upon his breast, he began to chide his heart.
Effusas laniata comas, concussaque pectus
Lucan. 1. ii. 335.
With dishevelled hair, and smitten breast ; 'twas thus she spoke her grief.
No. 1280.- xix. 20. Laid up in a napkin.] The Greek word here used for a napkin is adopted by the Jews into their language, and is used for a veil, and for a linen cloth. The Jews had a custom which they called possession by a napkin or linen cloth, which is, that when they buy or sell any thing, they use a piece of cloth which they call sudar, the word used in this passage ; this the contractors lay hold of to ratify and confirm the bargain. Upon which custom, as connected with these words, Dr. Gill observes, that this man made no use of his sudar, or napkin, in buying or selling; he traded not at all; he wrapped up his money in it, and both lay useless.
No. 1281.-xxii. 25. They that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.] In this expression there is an allusion to the titles affected by monarchs and conquerors in those ages, amongst which benefactors, EUERGETEs, was one.
CAMPBELL's Translation of the Gospels, note.
No. 1282.-xxiii. 33. And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified him.] Calvary was made the place of suffering for Christ in conformity to common practice; as it was usual to crucify on high places and mountains. Lipsius de Cruce, l. iii. c. 13.
No. 1283.-xxiii. 54. And the sabbath drew on.] The sabbath began to shine. Vulg. “ As soon as the sun was gone down so far that it only shone on the tops of the mountains they lighted the lamps, because it was not lawful to light any fire on the sabbath-day; some think St. Luke's expression alludes to these lamps.” . LAMY's Apparatus Biblicus, p. 188.
No. 1284.xxiv. 50. And he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.] The form of blessing the people used by Aaron and his sons is recorded Numb. vi. 23—27. Though our Lord might not use the same form in blessing his disciples, yet in doing it he lifted up his hands, as they did. Maimonides says that the priests go up into the desk after they have finished the morning daily service, and lift up their hands above, over their heads ; except the high-priest, who does not lift up his hands above the plate of gold on his forehead; and one pronounces the blessings, word for word.”
GILL, in loc.
No. 1285.-ST. JOHN ii. 1.
There was a marriage in Cana.
The following circumstances, as connected with marriage, are too remarkable to be passed over unnoticed. “ Upon ordinary occasions it was usual to throw amongst the populace, as the procession moved along, money, sweetmeats, flowers, and other articles; which the people caught in cloths made for such occasions, stretched in a particular manner upon frames. With regard to the money however, there appears often to have been a mixture of economy, or rather of deception; which probably arose from the necessity of complying with a custom, that might be ill suited to the fortunes of some, and to the avarice of others : for we find that it was not uncommon to collect bad money, called kelb, at a low price, to throw away at nuptial processions.
The bride on the day of marriage was conducted with great ceremony by her friends to her husband's house : and immediately on her arrival she made him a variety of presents; especially of household-furniture, with a spear and a tent. There seems to be a curious similitude in some of these ceremonies to custom which prevailed among the old Germans, before they left their forests, as well as among the gothic nations, after they were established in their conquests. Tacitus observes that '. the German bridegrooms and brides made each other reciprocal presents, and particularly of arms and cattle. The gifts made to an eastern bride appear likewise to have been upon the same principle with the morgengabe, or morning gift, which it was common for the
European husbands in the early and middle ages to present to his wife on the morning after marriage.”
RICHARDSON's Dissert. on the East, p. 343.
No. 1286.-ii. 9. The ruler of the feast.] It was the custom amongst the ancients at feasts to choose a king or master, to order how much each guest should drink, whom all the company were obliged to obey. He was chosen by throwing dice, upon the sides of which were engraven or painted the images of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Apollo, Venus, and Diana. He who threw up Venus was made king, as Horace insinuates: Quem Venus dicet arbitrum bibendi, b. ii. od. 7. whom Venus shall appoint judge of drinking.
No. 1287.-iii. 10. Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?] There were several ceremonies to be performed by all who became Jewish proselytes. The first was a circumcision: the second was washing or baptism: and the third was-that of offering sacrifice. It was a common opinion among the Jews concerning those who had gone through all these ceremonies, that they ought to be looked upon as new-born infants : "Maimonides says it in express terms. "A Gentile who is become a proselyte, and a slave who is set at liberty, are both as it were new-born babes; which is the reason why those who before were their parents are now no longer so.” Hence it is evident that nothing could be more just than Christ's reproaching Nicodemus with his being a master in Israel, and yet being at the same time ignorant how a man could be born a second time. FLEURY's Hist. of Israelites, p. 201.
No. 1288.-vi. 11. And yesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples.] Gratitude to God for the common blessings of providence® is certainly the duty of those who enjoy them, and is very properly expressed by giving thanks on their reception. Such a practice we find to have prevailed both amongst heathens, Jews, and Christians. · That it prevailed amongst the heathens is certain from the following testimonies. Atheneus says, (Deipnosoph. lib. ii.) that in the famous regulation made by Amphictyon king of Athens with respect to the use of wine, both in sacrifices and at home, he required that the name of Jupiter the sustainer should be decently and reverently pronounced. The same writer (lib. iy. p. 149.) quotes Hermeias, an author extant in his time, who mentions a people in Egypt, inhabitants of the city of Naucratis, whose custom it was on certain occasions, after they had placed themselves in the usual posture of eating at the table, to rise again and kneel; the priest then chanted a grace according to a stated form amongst them, after which they joined in the meal in a solemn sacrificial manner. . It was also a religious usage amongst the ancient Greeks, and derived to them from yet older ages. Clement of Alexandria informs us, that when they met together to refresh themselves with the juice of the grape, they sung a piece of music, which they called a scholion. Livy (lib. 39.) speaks of it as a settled custom amongst the old Romans, that they offered sacrifice and prayer to the gods at their meals. But one of the fullest testimonies to our purpose is given by Quintilian, (Dedam. 301.) Adisti mensam, ad quam cum venire cæpimus, deos invocamus. We approached the table, and then invoked the gods.' ..
Trigantius a jesuit, in his narrative of the expedition of their missionaries into China, (b. i. p. 69.) says of the Chinese, that “ before they place themselves for partaking of an entertainment, the person who makes it sets a vessel, either of gold, or silver, or marble, or some such valuable material, in a charger full of wine,