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“ Well, Venāsi, what are you looking for?” -“I am looking for two sticks to prepare my rice.” fetch me irendu-taddi, two sticks, to make ready my curry.” 6 Alas! I cannot find two sticks to make the water hot." “My lord, I only ask for two mouthfuls of rice.” " Ah ! sir, if you will allow me to repeat two words in your ear I shall be satisfied." “Good, have you any thing more to say
?” — “ No, sir." “ Then I have not two words for that," (meaning, he does not object.) Any person who has been in the East, will recognise, in these quotations, a figure of speech he has heard a thousand times.
XVIII. 5. -" Go into the land unto all fountains of
water, and unto all brooks; peradventure we may
find grass to save the horses and mules alive.” It appears there had not been rain for three years and six months, which must have had a fatal effect on vegetation. What would England (situated in a temperate climate) be under such circumstances ? In droughts in the East, which have lasted from six to ten months, how often have we seen men like Obadiah, going along in marshy places, or by the sides of tanks, in search of grass for their cattle. See the poor fellow with a basket, made of the leaves of the palmirah, on his back, a little instrument (which works like a Dutch hoe) in his hand; he strolls from fountain to brook, and no sooner does he see a green patch of verdure, than he runs with eagerness to the spot. Perhaps he meets another in search of the same thing, when each declares he had the first view. They set to work, snarling at each other, and dealing out all kinds of abuse, till they have cleared the place of every green blade.
Wherever there is a stream or an artificial watercourse, there the eye is refreshed with delightful verdure; but look a few yards from the place, and you see the withered herbage, apparently gone beyond recovery; but which, in a few hours, would start into fresh life, if visited by showers. The effect of rain is like enchantment on the scene, and the English stranger is often reminded of the green fields of his own native land.
9. — “ What, have I sinned?” Obadiah asked this question of Elijah, when the prophet wished him to go and tell Ahab, his bitter enemy, “ Behold, Elijah is here.” Thus, a person requested to do any thing which implies danger or difficulty, asks, Enna-pollāppo-seythane? 6 What evil or sin have I done?” The question is also asked, when a man is visited with affliction, “ What evil has he done?”
10. — “He took an oath of the kingdom and nation
that they found thee not.” People in England would be astonished and appalled at the frequency and nature of the oaths of the heathen. A man's assertion or affirmation, in common conversation, is seldom believed. Thus, men may be heard in the streets, in the fields, or bazaars; and children, in the schools, or the play-grounds, say, “ Swear you will do this; now take an oath you have not done it.” Then they swear by the temple, or its lamp, by their parents, or children, and appeal to their deities for a confirmation of the assertion.
27. — “ And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked
them, and said, Cry aloud, for he is a god : either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.” The margin has, for “ talking,” “ medi
tateth,” and for “ pursuing,” hath a “pursuit.” This keen and ingenious sarcasm relates, I doubt not, to their god, as having been accustomed sometimes to sleep, to talk, to go on a journey, or join in the pursuit. That the Baal-peor of Assyria, and the Siva-lingam of India, are. the same, is certain. *
And is it not interesting to know that those things which are attributed to Baal are also attributed to Siva ? “ Either he is talking.” The margin has, for “talking,” meditateth. Dr. A. Clarke says, “ Perhaps the word should be interpreted as in the margin, he meditateth, he is in a profound reverie, he is making some godlike projects, he is considering how he may keep up his credit in the nation."
Siva was once absorbed in a profound meditation: to him the time appeared only as a moment, but to the world as ages.
Universal nature, for want of his attention, was about to expire. Women had ceased to bear, and all things were out of course. The gods and men became alarmed, and their enemies began to oppress them. All were afraid to disturb him in his meditations, till Cama, the god of love, agreed to stand before him : when Siva, being aroused from his reverie, sent fire from his frontal eye, which destroyed the intruder.
“ Or he is pursuing." Hebrew has this, “ hath a pursuit:" on which Dr. A. Clarke says, “ he may be taking his pleasure in hunting.”
Siva is described as taking great pleasure in the chase; and in the month of September, his image, and that of Pārvati, his wife, are taken from the temple, put into a keadagam or car, and carried on men's shoulders to enjoy the pleasures of the chase !
6 Or he is in a journey."
Siva is represented as taking long journeys, and sometimes for very discreditable purposes.
“ Peradventure he sleepeth.”
Siva often did this, especially when he took the form of a cooly; for, after he had performed his task, he fell asleep
* See on Deuteronomy iv. 16., and the introduction, on the identity of the gods of India and Assyria.
under the tree called the Konda Maram. Thus the prophet mentioned four things, in some of which their god was engaged, and, consequently, could not attend to their requests. But it was manifestly improper, if he were thus occupied, for them to disturb him: yet Elijah said, “ Cry aloud,” let him hear you; he is no doubt a god.
When a holy person before the temple or in any sacred place is meditating, no one will presume to disturb him: how, then, could they interrupt their deity ?
When engaged in pleasure, whether of the chase or any other amusement, no one dares to interfere with the great man; and yet Baal was to be called from his pleasures.
It is improper to interrupt those that are on a journey. They have an object in view, and that must first be accomplished.
No one will disturb a person when he is asleep - to them it seems to be almost a sin to awake a man from his slumbers. Where is your master ? “ Nittari,” asleep; and then you may walk off till another day. Yet, improper as it was to interfere with Baal in his engagements, the sarcastic prophet said, “ Cry aloud.” “ And they cried aloud, and cut themselves — with knives.” Here, also, the devotees may be seen cutting themselves with knives till the blood stream from their bodies, or suspended with hooks in their flesh from a pole, or with their tongue cut out, or practising other cruelties on themselves, for the expiation of their sins, or the glory of their gods.
41. — 6 For there is a sound of abundance of rain.” It is as common in the East to say there is the sound of rain, as it is in England to say there is an appearance of rain. Sometimes this refers to thunder, as the precursor ; and at other times to a blowing noise in the clouds, which indicates rain is at hand. In the vicinity of a hill or tall trees, the sound is the loudest; and it is worthy of notice, that Elijah was in the neighbourhood of Mount Carmel.
42. — “ He cast himself down upon the earth, and put
his face between his knees.", Who in the East has not seen the natives thus sitting on the earth, with their faces between their knees? Those engaged in deep meditation, in a long train of reasonings, when revolving the past or anticipating the future, when in great sorrow, or fatigue, as coolies after a journey, may be seen seated on the ground with the face between the knees. “ This morning as I passed the garden of Chinnan, I saw him on the ground with his face between his knees; I wonder what plans he was forming: it must have been something very important to cause him thus to meditate.”
6. Kandan is sick or in trouble, for he has got his face between his knees.” “ The man threatens to trouble you.”—“ He trouble me! I shall never put my face between my knees on his account.” “ Alas! poor woman, she must have a cruel husband, for she has always her face between her knees.”
Elijah went “ to the top of Carmel,” to meditate on the past and the future : there he was, after the display of God's majesty in the fire from heaven, in the destruction of the priests, and in the certain anticipation of rain, with “his face between his knees.”
46. “ The hand of the Lord was on Elijah, and he
girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab.” See the man who has to run a race or to take a journey; he girds up his loins with a long robe or shawl. Elijah, therefore, thus prepared himself to run before the chariot of the king.
Great persons have always men running BEFORE them, with an ensign of office in their hands. Elijah probably did this in consequence of the wonderful events that had taken place: fire having come from heaven, Baal's priests having been destroyed, the rain having descended, and the proud king his enemy having been reconciled, he ran before, as the priest of the Lord, to show from whom the blessings had come.