תמונות בעמוד

66 and

request of Ruth: “ I spread my skirt over thee" thou becamest mine."

Dr. A. Clarke says, “ Even to the present day, when a Jew marries a woman, he throws the skirt or end of his talith over her, to signify that he has taken her under his protection.”

I have been delighted, at the marriage ceremonies of the Hindoos, to see amongst them the same interesting custom. The bride is seated on a throne, surrounded by matrons, having on her veil, her gayest robes, and most valuable jewels. After the thāli has been tied round her neck, the bridegroom approaches her with a silken skirt (purchased by himself), and folds it round her several times over the rest of her clothes. *

A common way of saying, he has married her, is," he has given her the koori," has spread the skirt over her. There are, however, those who throw a long robe over the shoulders of the bride, instead of putting on the skirt.

An angry husband sometimes says to his wife, “ Give me back my skirt,” meaning, he wishes to have the marriage compact dissolved. So the mother in law, should the daughter not treat her respectfully, says, “ My son gave this woman the koori skirt, and has made her respectable, but she neglects me.”

The request of Ruth, therefore, amounted to nothing more than that Boaz should marry her.

IV. 1. — “ Then went Boaz up to the gate, and sat him

down there ; and behold the kinsman of whom Boaz spake, came by: unto whom he said, Ho, such a

one! turn aside, sit down here.” (Gen. xxiii. 10.) The word gate is often used in Scripture, to denote the place of public assemblies where justice is administered. This definition of the word gate in its first sense, agrees exactly with the usages of the Hindoos. People, therefore,

This part of the ceremony often produces powerful emotions on all present. The parents, on both sides, then give their benedictions.

who understand it literally, as meaning always a gate fixed in the walls of the city, do not comprehend its meaning. At the entrance of every town or village, there is a public building, called a rest house*, where travellers remain, and where people assemble to hear the news, or talk over the affairs of the place. There may be seen many a Boaz asking for the advice of his relations and friends, and many an Abraham as he sat “at the gate of his city,” bargaining “for the field,” and “the cave of Machpelah,” in which to bury his beloved Sarah.

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7. 6 Now this was the manner in former time in

Israel, concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for to confirm all things: a man plucked off his shoe, and gave it to his neighbour: and this was a testimony in Israel.” Verse 8. “Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, buy it for thee So he

drew off his shoe.” The simple object, therefore, in taking off the shoe was to confirm the bargain : it was the testimony or memorial of the compact.

In Deuteronomy it is mentioned that the brother of a deceased husband shall marry the widow, but should he refuse, then the widow is to “ go up to the gate unto the elders and say, My husband's brother refuseth to raise

up unto his brother a name in Israel ; he will not perform the duty of my husband's brother.” Then the elders were to call the man, and if he persisted in his refusal, the woman was to come forward “ and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face; was to answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house.” From that time the man was disgraced, and whenever his person or establishment was spoken of, it was contemptuously called “ the house of him that hath his shoe loosed."

To be spit at in the face is the most degrading ceremony a • In general, a building without walls, the roof being supported on pillars.

And as

man can submit to. This was done by the widow to her husband's brother, and she CONFIRMED his ignominy by taking off his shoe. But this taking off the shoe (as we shall hereafter see) may also allude to the DEATH of her husband, whose SHOES were taken off and of no further use to him. she said when she had taken off the shoe from her husband's brother's foot, “thus shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother's house,” may mean, he also shall soon follow his brother, and have his shoes taken off his feet in death.

When Rāmar had to go to reside in the desert for fourteen years, his brother Parathan was very unwilling for him to go; and tried, in every possible way, to dissuade bim from his purpose. But Rāmar persisted in his resolution, having fully made up his mind to take his departure. When the brother, seeing that his entreaties were in vain, said, “ Since you are determined to go, promise me faithfully to return." Then Rāmar, having made the promise, gave his shoes to Pārathan as a CONFIRMATION of his vow. Does a priest, a father, or a respectable friend resolve to go

pilgrimage to some distant country; some one will perhaps say, “ Ah ! he will never return, he intends to remain in those holy places.” Should he deny it, then they say, “ Give us your shoes as a witness of your promise,” and having done so, never will he break it.*

Sir Frederick Henniker says, in reference to the difficulty he had in persuading some people to descend into the crocodile mummy pits, in consequence of some men having lost their lives there, —“ Our guides, as if preparing for certain death, took leave of their children; the father took the turban from his own head and put it on that of his son; or put him in his place by giving him his shoes!! 'a dead man's shoes.” I doubt not these shoes were a pledge of their return, or to be kept as a memorial of their death.

Tyerman and Bennet say of the termagants, in Benares, “ If domestic or other business call off one of the combatants before the affair is duly settled, she coolly thrusts her shoe under her basket, and leaves both on the spot to signify that she is not satisfied.” – Vol. ii. 331. I should say, as a pledge that she will return.

An affectionate widow never parts with her late husband's SHOES : they are placed near to her when she sleeps, she kisses and puts her head upon them, and nearly every time after BATHING, she goes to look at them. These, therefore, are the “ TESTIMONY,” the melancholy CONFIRMATION of her husband's death.


Chap. I. verse 6.- .“ The Lord had shut up her womb." The same form of speech is used to denote a similar state. It is, however, principally applied to those who have ceased to bear children.


12.-—" She continued praying before the Lord.” Hannah, the wife of Elkanah, was steril, but she had an intense desire to be the mother of a man child," and she went to the “temple of the Lord” to vow, if he would give her one, that she would “ give him unto the Lord all the days of his life — there shall no razor come upon his head.”

How often do we witness a similar scene. See the afflicted wife prostrate in the dust before the temple of her god : she earnestly entreats the deity to give unto her a “male child.” “Ah! then will my husband love me—then will my neighbours cease to reproach me - Ah! my god, a male child, a male child — he shall be called by thy name—and sacred shall be his hair." *

II. 5.— “ They that were full have hired out themselves

for bread.”

* When mothers lose their children also (by death), they go before the temple, and make their vows and prayers to the gods in the same way. Not long ago, when walking near a temple (which was partly concealed from my view by its sacred shrubs and flowers), I heard the plaintive voice of some one in distress; I softly approached the spot, and saw a female on the ground: her long hair was dishevelled, and her person covered with dust: near to her was an infant asleep on the ground. Not wishing to disturb her, I paused, when a man of the village came near; I pointed to her, and enquired, why is she in sorrow? — He replied, “ Ah, sir, that poor woman has lost all her children except the one you see, and she fears that will be taken also; and therefore, in her distress, she has come before the gods to pour out her complaint, and make her solemn vows.”


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