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CHAP. I. verse 12.-" They mourned and wept and fasted until
even, for Saul and for Jonathan his son.” Thus did David, and those who were with him, weep and fast until the evening, because the “mighty were fallen,” and because " the weapons of war” had “perished.”
When a father or mother “falls on the ground,” the children have stated periods when they weep and fast in memory of their dead. On the day of the full moon, those who have lost their mothers fast until the sun come to the meridian, and in the evening they take milk and fruit. For a father, the sons fast on the new moon in the same way as for the mother.*
II. 5.-“ Blessed be ye of the Lord, that ye have
shewed this kindness unto your lord, even unto
Saul, and have buried him.” The bodies of Saul and his sons were BURNT by the men of Jabesh-gilead. Two of the thirty-two charities of the Hindoos are, to burn the bodies of those whose relations cannot do it, and to pay for the beating of the tom-toms to the place of burning. It is therefore considered a work of great merit to perform the funeral rites for a respectable stranger, or for those whose relations are not able to meet the expenses. Hence may be seen the funerals of those who have lived in poverty, or who have seen better days, conducted with great pomp, because the reward is great to him who advances the money, and because he receives great praise from the people. *
* Fasts are exceedingly numerous amongst the Hindoos, and they often keep them with great rigour: numbers abstain three days every month. On the first, they do not eat till three o'clock P. m.; on the second, at night; and on the third, not till the evening: some also watch during the whole of the last night. The Mahometans make a great merit of fasting (as they term it) forty days and forty nights : many of them take only just sufficient to sustain life. Thus, in the beginning, a man will be well looking; but, in the end, little better than a skeleton.
III. 14.—“Deliver me my wife Michal, which I es
poused.” (Matt. i. 18.) Girls are espoused at the age of six and ten years of age, though they are not generally married till they are twelve or thirteen. Before they are fully betrothed, the register of their birth is examined, and the astrologer casts the nativity; and should the planets under which the parties are born occupy friendly mansions, the espousals will soon be finished : if, however, they are in opposing houses, nothing will induce the parties to agree.
After the espousals, should the young man die, it will be very difficult to procure her another suitor, because it will be feared there is something unfortunate about her, and that he who espouses her again may meet a similar fate.
IV. 5.-—“Came about the heat of the day to the house
of Ishbosheth, who lay on a bed at noon. It is exceedingly common for people to recline on their couches in the heat of the day. Hence, often, when you call on a person at that time, the answer is, “ The master is asleep.”+
Ráma Swamy, once a rich merchant, died in extreme poverty; but his funeral rites were conducted with great splendour at the expense of an individual.
+ Captain Basil Hall speaks of the inhabitants of South America having the same custom. The old Romish missionåries in China used to take their siesta with a metal ball in the hand, which was allowed to project over the couch; beneath was a brass dish, so that as soon as the individual was asleep the fingers naturally relaxed their grasp, and let the ball fall, and the noise made awoke him from his slumbers.
V. 1.- “ We are thy bone and thy flesh.” A child, in addressing his father or mother, or those of the same caste, often asks, “ Am I not your blood ? Am I not
your eyes ?”*
XII. 4.—“Took the poor man's lamb.” This alludes to Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, who was taken by David from her husband. In speaking of a similar occurrence, the Hindoos say, “Ah! that bull has taken
away the poor man's cow.” The injured man says, “My cow has gone to the jungle.” When the child is weaned, the father says, “My cow has ceased to give milk.” A husband
says of a good-tempered wife, “My cow has not any horns.” Of a virago it is said, “ Ah ! she has large horns.”
XIII. 6.—“ Amnon lay down, and made himself sick.” The Asiatics are certainly the most expert creatures I have seen in feigning themselves sick. Thus, those who wish to get off work, or any duty, complain they have a pain here, and another there : they affect to pant for breath, roll their eyes, as if in agony; and, should you touch them, they shriek out, as if you were killing them.
The sepoys, and those who are servants in the Government offices, give great trouble to their superiors by ever and anon complaining they are sick; and it requires great discernment to find out whether they are so, or are merely affecting it. Their general object is either to attend a marriage or some religious festival.
17.- “He called his servant that ministered unto him.” Eastern masters do not keep their servants at the distance usual in England. The affairs of the family, the news of the day, and the little incidents of life, are mutually discussed, as by equals. The difference betwixt them, in reference to property, is sometimes not great; the master has, perhaps, his small family estate, or some business which produces a little profit, and the servant is content with his rice, and a scanty cloth for his loins.
* The observation of the Indian chief, when his children were all destroyed, is not a little affecting:—“Not a drop of Logan's blood flows in the veins of any human creature."
No native who can afford it is without his servant, and many who can scarcely procure food for themselves, talk very largely about their domestics. See my lord seated in his verandah, chewing his beetel, and cogitating his plans: hear him at every interval say to his attendant, “What think you of that ?" « Shall I succeed?” 66 You must assist me; I know you have great sense: let this prosper,
shall have rings for your ears, and a turban for your head. Good: pour water on me.” They go to the well, and the servant bales about a hogshead of water on his master's head. They go to the house, and then the command is, “ Rub my joints and limbs.” “ Ah ! bring my rice and curry.” That finished, “ Bring water to wash my mouth ; pour it on my hands : a shroot and fire bring ; fetch my sandals, my turban, umbrella, and beetel-box. Let us depart.” Then may be seen the master stepping out with a lordly air, and the domestic at his heels, giving advice, or listening to his master's tales.
39.—“The soul of king David longed to go forth unto
Absalom." The Hebrew has, for longed, “was con
sumed.” A person labouring under an intense desire for the possession of an object, says, “My soul is consumed for it,” meaning, that his spirit is wasting away by the intensity of his wishes. “ My life is burning away through fear.” spirit is consuming for his safety.”
XIV. 2.—“ Put on now mourning apparel.” It is a curious fact, that the Hindoos do not put on what is called mourning at the death of their friends. The relations take off their ear-rings and other ornaments, and neglect the dressing of their hair. A woman, on the death of her husband, takes off the thāli (equivalent to the marriage ring) from her neck; and formerly she used to shave her head; but in all other respects she dresses as before.
Those who are sick, as they suppose, “under the influence of Saturn,” generally wear something black, or have marks of that colour on their clothes, as they believe the indisposition is in this way removed.
7.- “They shall quench my coal which is left, and shall
not leave to my husband neither name, nor remain
der, upon the earth.” So said the woman of Tekoah, who went with a fictitious story to David, in order to induce him to recall Absalom. She affected to be a widow, and said that one of her sons had killed the other, and that now the family demanded his life as an atonement for that of his brother; and she said, that if they succeeded they would QUENCH her coal. But the life is sometimes called the light, as in chap. xxi. 17., which in the margin is translated “candle, or lamp.” Both the comparisons include the idea of fire.*
Children in Ceylon are not called coals, but SPARKS. It is said of a man who has a large family, “ He has plenty of porrekal, i. e. sparks." Those who are favoured with fine children are said to have large sparks. Of those whose children are all dead, “ Alas! their sparks are all quenched.” To a person who is injuring an only child it is said, “Ah! leave him alone, he is the only spark.”
17.-" For as an angel of God, so is my lord the king." Thus did the woman of Tekoah compliment David, and thus did Mephibosheth address him, when he had been slan
Formerly, and even now, it is not uncommon for travellers to have to purchase their fire before they can cook their victuals. Hence it is common, when neighbours ask for a light in the morning, to be answered, by way of pleasantry, “ You want fire-well, where is your money ?"