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13. — “ Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights,
a great and a small.” The prophet Micah also
speaks of “ the bag of deceitful weights.” As in former times, so now, much of the business in the East is transacted by travelling merchants. Hence all kinds of spices, and other articles, are taken from one village to another by the Moors, who are, in those regions, what the Jews are in the West. The pedlar comes to your door, and vociferates the names of his wares; and, so soon as he catches your eye, begins to exbibit his very cheap, and valuable articles. Have you agreed as to the price, he then produces the Bay of “divers weights,” and after fumbling some time in it, he draws forth the weight by which he has to sell ; but, should he have to purchase any thing of you, he will select a heavier weight. The man who is not cheated by this trader, and his “bag of divers weights,” must be blessed with more keenness than most of his fellows. *
XXVI. 8. — “ With a mighty hand and with an out
stretched arm.” (Deut. iv. 34.) When a man stretches out his arm, it shows that he is not afraid, and the action says to all who are with him, “Be not afraid.” People in the East, for the sake of social intercourse, and mutual defence from wild beasts, and other dangers, always travel in companies. These parties have always a head man, who has either assumed that office, or who has been elected, on account of his courage or size. He is the first to cross a river, to rush into a thicket, or face the foe. He goes before the party with a fearless step and aspect. Should a wild beast start from his lair, he immediately stretches forth his arm, in an angle of about forty-five degrees,
Government has done a great deal to put a stop to these impositions ; but in former times, under the native governments, we may easily imagine what would be the state of the case.
and thus giving his fingers and head a shake, says, with astonishing confidence, to all around him, “ Fear not.” It is common to hear travellers in the evening, after their journey, in talking over the dangers of the day, say, “Ah! when I saw the tiger, how much I was afraid ! but so soon as Kanden stretched out his arm, I was filled with courage.”
In a native vessel at sea, should the passengers become afraid, the captain (or some other person) stretches forth his arm which says to all, “ Pia-padātha, Fear not.” Thus, in their distress, should no one do this, they say, “Alas ! alas ! no one stretches forth his arm.”
But this motion, also, is equivalent to a solemn promise; and in almost every bazaar or market, traders may be seen stretching forth the arm, to show they will abide by the bargain. A friend saying to another, “ Believe not that fellow, his promises may be written in water ;” the reply will be, “ He will not deceive, because he gave the a-pi-attam.”* Thus did the Lord Jehovah cheer and guide his people Israel from the land of their captivity, through the sea, and the wilderness, to the land of promise. (See on Gen. xiv. 22.)
XXVII. 15. — “Graven or molten image.” The images of the Hindoos are generally made of copper or stone, but some are of silver or gold. It is not easy to find out the difference betwixt the graven and molten image, except the first mean that which has been produced by the chisel from stone, and the second that which has been cast in a mould by the action of fire. These images, however, have all of them to be graven, or filed, before they are consecrated.t
* From a, the negative (as in Greek), piam, fear, and attam, the hand; i.e. the hand without doubt or fear.
+ Images made of stone are never taken out in procession. That of the lingam is generally made of black granite.
17. — “Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's
landmark.” (Job xxiv. 2.) Fields in the East have not fences or hedges, as in England, but a ridge, a stone, or a post; and, consequently, it is not very difficult to encroach on the property of another. Should a man not be very careful, his neighbour will take away a little every year, and keep pushing his ridge into the other's ground. Disputes of the most serious nature often occur on this account, and call for the greatest diligence and activity of the authorities.
An injured man repeats to his aggressor the proverb, “ The serpent shall bite him, who steps over the ridge,” i.e. he who goes beyond the landmark.
XXVIII. 3. - “ Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and
blessed shalt thou be in the field.” Benedictions similar to these are pronounced by a father, or a priest, on a youthful couple, or when a man is about to enter on a new employment. “ Thy fields shall give thee rice, and thy gardens fruits. Thy house shall be established, and thy trade shall prosper.”
4. — “ Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the
fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy
sheep.” The word pallam, which signifies fruit, has always a prefix, to show what kind of fruit is meant; thus, munthera-pallam signifies grape-fruit; mūm-pallam, mango-fruit; väli-pallam, plantain-fruit.
Children are also called fruit, having only the prefix pulli, child, which at once shows what kind is meant. A father playing with his children, says, “ Ah ! what kind of fruit is so pleasant as pulli-pallam (child-fruit) ?” A mother lamenting the death of her infant, exclaims, “ Alas! alas ! my wombfruit is gone; my child-fruit is torn from me.”
The riddle, “ The fruit without a kernel, what fruit is that?” refers to the fruit of the womb. Brahmins, in blessing their followers, say, “ The blessings of children are yours.” The Sanyāsi, in giving a female the holy ashes, says aloud, “ You will bring forth a male child.”
When a youth pays reverence to the priest by touching his feet, the words of the verse are often literally pronounced over him.
5. — “ Blessed shall be thy basket, and thy store.” Heb.
“ dough or kneading trough." Eastern farmers have large baskets made of palmirah leaves, or other materials, for the purpose of keeping their grain : they will contain from one hundred to one hundred and fifty parrahs. These baskets, then, were to be blessed ; they were not to be injured by animals, nor robbed by man. But corn is also kept in a store which is made of sticks and clay, in a circular form. This little building is always elevated, to keep the grain from the damp, and is situated near to the house. When beggars have been relieved, they often say,
66 Ah! may the place where you make ready your food ever be blessed.” - May the rice-pot ever prosper."
Thus, that which corresponds with the “kneading trough ” of the Hebrews, has also its benediction.
6. — « Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and
blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.” This blessing is especially pronounced on those who live by travelling with their wares, or on those who go to sea. An aged man says to a person who is taking leave of him, “In departing, blessings will go with you; and in returning they will accompany you."
13. 66 The Lord shall make thee the head, and not
the tail.” The prophet Isaiah (chap. ix. 14.) says, “ The Lord will cut off from Israel head and tail :" meaning, no doubt, those who were high, and those who were low.
It is amusing to hear men of rank in the East speak of their dependants as tails. Has a servant not obeyed his master, the former asks, “ Who are you? are you the head or tail ? ” Should a person begin to partake of food before those of high caste, it is asked, “What! is the tail to begin to wag before the head ?”
A husband, when angry with his wife, enquires, “ What are you? are you the head or the tail ?”
27.-“ Smite thee with the itch." This is a complaint which is far more common, and more formidable, than in England. Those who live on bad food, or reside in the vicinity of a swamp, are the most subject to it. See the poor object with a small piece of cloth round his loins, a staff in his hand, his body “from the sole of his foot unto his crown ” literally covered with sores, an imploring piteous look, a weak tremulous voice, and bowing to the earth to excite your charity.
30.-" Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall
lie with her; thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein ; thou shalt plant a vineyard, and
shalt not gather the grapes thereof.” All these terrible denunciations (except the last) are in common use amongst the Hindoos. The youth who is betrothed to a young female, considers her as his wife ; and should another gain possession of her, the offence will be unpardonable. It is one of the curses in common use to say, “ Thy wife shall another take away.” “ Your wife ! chee, chee."
Thy gardens, thy fields, thy house, will soon become as charcoal.”