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XIX. 18. — “ Have not bowed unto Baal, and every
mouth which hath not kissed him.” (Job xxxi. 27.
Hosea xiii. 2.) Things which have been sent to the temples to be presented to idols, are, when returned, kissed by the people. Should a priest give areca-nuts, beetel leaves, or cakes, which have been presented to the gods, the person receiving them kisses them. When a devotee has touched the feet of a priest, he kisses his hands.
19. “ Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was ploughing
with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with
the twelfth.” The natives use the ox for the plough and all other agricultural purposes.
It is no disgrace for a great man to follow the plough; and, generally speaking, the master is the first to commence the operations of the season. The first day is always settled by a soothsayer, or a book of fate. *
“ Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him." By this act Elisha was invested with the sacred office; but it is probable there would be other ceremonies, and a more pointed address and extended conversation than that recorded in the verse.
When a Brahmin is invested with the sacred office, both in the first, second, and third initiations, he is always covered with a yellow mantle, and in such a way as to prevent him from seeing any object. The sacred string also is put over his right shoulder (and worn like a soldier's belt), which indicates his office.
Elisha said, “Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.” And Elijah “ said unto him, go back again; for what have I done to thee ?” The answer of Elijah is certainly not very easy to be understood. The Hebrew has, instead of “go back again,” “go return;
many books of fate. I have translated one, called the Sakā-Thevan Sāsteram, which has been printed by the Royal Asiatic Society.
this makes good sense, especially when the conjunction is added, “ GO and RETURN." The Tamul version has it also in that way. The same translation has, instead of " for what have I done to thee ? ” “ what I have done to thee THINK;" literally, “ I to thee what have done, think.” I have called thee according to the Divine command; now thou askest to take leave of thy father and mother : take care thou art not led aside from thy calling ; “ go and return,” THINK on what I have done to thee.
XX. 10. 6 Ben-hadad sent unto him and said, The
gods do so unto me, and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people
that follow me.” It is an interesting fact, that this figure of speech, in reference to the dust not being sufficient to fill the hands of the numerous hosts of Ben-hadad, is in common use at this day. In the story called Asuvāmea-thaiya-kathi, it was said by the inhabitants of certain countries, who were expecting an invasion from a king who had already conquered the “ eight quarters,” — “ We had better at once give up our possessions: why attempt to resist such hosts ? the dust of the country will not be sufficient to furnish a handful for each of the soldiers. Ovvoru-pud-de-man-kānumo? i. e. for every one will there be a handful of dust?"
The people of the village of Sandarippi ask, “ Why do the inhabitants of Batticotta hate and despise us? If we all go against them, will their country afford a handful of earth for each of us?” *
Ben-hadad said, “ The gods do so unto me, and more also.” This form of imprecation or prayer is very common.
66 If I do not ruin that fellow, then the gods do so to me.” “ If I kill
* The people of the two large villages of Batticotta and Sandarippi often meet to play at rude games, when the latter are generally the conquerors, which has led to great animosity. Hence the proverb, “ Take up the stalk of a cocoa-nut leaf, and the Batticottians run;" and hence the saying respecting the handfuls of earth.
not that wretch, then may the gods kill me." If, therefore, the dust of Samaria be sufficient to fill the hands of each of my soldiers, then may my dominions be subject to the same fate.
23. — “ Their gods are gods of the hills, therefore
they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger
than they." The Hindoos have their gods of the hills, and also those of the lower places. Thus Siva, Vishnoo, and MurragaMurte are those of the high places; but Vyravar, Urruttera, and many demons, are the deities of the lower regions.
It was rather strange that this heathen king and his generals should come to the conclusion that their gods were those of the plains.
XXI. 2.-“ Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me
thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs. 3. Naboth said to Ahab, The Lord forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee."
(Ecc. ii. 5.) Our first parents had for their residence a beautiful garden, which may have had some influence upon their immediate descendants, in giving them a predilection for such situations. People in England will scarcely be able to appreciate the value which the Orientals place on a garden. The food of many of them consists of vegetables, roots, and fruits; their medicines, also, being indigenous, are most of them produced in their gardens. Here they have their fine fruit trees, and the constant shade; and here they have their wells and places for bathing. See the proprietor in his undress, walking around his little domain; his fence or wall is so high no one can overlook him : he strolls about to smoke his shroot, to pick up the fruit, and cull the flowers; he cares not for the world; his soul is satisfied with the scenes around him.
Ahab wished to have Naboth’s garden ; but how could he
part with “ the inheritance” of his fathers ?” There was scarcely a tree which had not some pleasing associations connected with it: one was planted by the hand of a beloved ancestor, another in memory of some great event *; the water he drank, and the fruit he ate, were from the same sources as those which refreshed his fathers. How then could he, in disobedience to God's command, and in violation of all those tender feelings, give up his garden to Ahab? To part with such a place is, to the people of the East, like parting with life itself.
4. — “ And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned
away his face, and would eat no bread.” Thus acted the puissant monarch, because he could not get Naboth's garden. See the creature in the shape of a man pouting his lip, and throwing himself on his bed, and refusing to eat food, because he could not gain his wishes. The domestics brought refreshment, but their lord would not take it; and, therefore, they went to queen Jezebel, to communicate the sorrowful intelligence; and she immediately went to his Majesty, and enquired, “ Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest not bread ?” and he told his mournful story. How often do we see full-grown men acting in a similar way, when disappointed in their wishes: go near them, and they avert their faces; offer them food, they will not eat; and, generally speaking, their friends are so weak as, at any expense, to gratify their wishes.
8. “ So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed
them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the
elders and to the nobles." At this day, in the East, not a female in ten thousand is acquainted with the art of writing; and I think it probable that Ahab's affectionate queen did not write the letters with her own
* On the day a child is born, parents often cause a number of fruit trees to be planted.
hand, but that she caused it to be done by others. It is not unlikely that the state of female education, in modern times, is precisely the same as that of antiquity; for I do not recollect any female in the Scriptures, excepting Jezebel, who is mentioned as being concerned in the writing of letters. That talented Hindoo female, Aviyār, has left wonderful memorials of her cultivated mind; and I doubt not, when female education shall become general in the East, from them will be furnished many an Aviyār, to bless and adorn the future age.*
10. — “ Set two men, sons of Belial, before him, to bear
witness against him.” Ask any Judge, any gentleman in the civil service of India, whether men may not be had in any village to swear any thing for the fraction of a shilling ? Jezebel would not find it difficult to procure agents to swear away the life of Naboth the Jezreelite.
“ When Ahab heard those words he rent
his clothes — and went softly." See the man who goes into the presence of a superior: he takes off his sandals, and walks SOFTLY — he has a timid air, and you cannot hear his foot tread on the ground. When a dutiful son goes to his father, or a devotee into the presence of a sacred personage, he walks in the same way. Has a proud boasting man been humbled, the people say, « Aha! aha! he can now walk mitha-vāka, i. e. softly." “ What! the proud Muttoo walk softly; whoever expected that ?”
XXII. 16. — “I adjure thee that thou tell me." In England, this solemn appeal is never made but in cases of extremity; but in the East, the most trifling circumstance will induce a person to say, Unni-āni-uddukerain, “ By thy oath ;” or, “ I impose it upon
For a short account of that distinguished female, see Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, No. I. page 140.