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14. - " As the cattle that goeth before me, and the
children be able to endure." Heb.“ According to the foot of the work — according to the foot of the
children." People having taken a journey, say, "We came to this place according to the walking of our feet.” “ It was done according to the foot of the children;" which means, they did not come in a palankeen, or any other vehicle, but on foot. From this it appears, that the females, and the children, performed their journey on foot, and that, according to their strength.
15. — “ Esau said, Let me now leave with thee some of
the folk that are with me.” As Esau had received valuable gifts from his brother, he wished to make some present in return; and having received cattle, it would not have looked well to have given the same kind of gift that he had received; he therefore offered some of his people (who were no doubt born in his house), as a kind of recompence for what he had received, and as a proof of his attachment.
XXXIV. 30. “ To make me to stink.” So said Jacob to Simeon and Levi. Of a man who has lost his honour, whose fame bas entirely gone, it is said, “ Ah! he has lost his smell — where is the sweet smell of former years?" “ Alas ! ” says an old man, “my smell is for ever gone."
XXXV. 2.-“ Be clean, and change your garments." The household of Jacob had strange gods among them, and he ordered them to put them away, and to make themselves clean, and to change their garments in token of their purity. When people have been to any unholy place, they always, on returning, wash their persons, and change their garments. No man can go to the temple, wearing a dirty cloth: he must either put it on clean, or go himself to a tank and wash it; or put on one which is quite new. Hence, near temples, men may be seen washing their clothes, in order to prepare themselves for some ceremony. (Exodus xix. 10.)
4. “ Gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were
in their hand, and all their ear-rings which were in
their ears.” This, no doubt, refers to the representation of their gods on their finger, and ear-rings which were worn, not merely as ornaments, but to guard them from their enemies.
The rings of the Hindoos have a figure of their gods, or some symbol of their power, engraved on them, for a similar purpose.
XXXVI. 6. — “ All the persons of his house.” The
Margin has, for persons, “ souls.” Has a man gone to a distant place, it is said, “ Viravan, , and all the souls of his house, have gone to the far country.' “ Have you heard that the old man and thirty souls have gone on a pilgrimage?” “ Sir, I can never get rich, because I have fifteen souls who daily look to me for their rice.”
XXXVII. 3.-" He made him a coat of
colours." The Margin has, instead of colours, “pieces ;” and it is probable the coat was patch-work of different
colours. For beautiful or favourite children, precisely the same thing is done at this day. Crimson, and purple, and other colours, are often tastefully sewed together. Sometimes the children of the Mahometans have their jackets embroided with gold and silk of various colours.
A child being clothed in a garment of many colours, it is believed that neither tongues nor evil spirits will injure him, because the attention is taken from the beauty of the person, to that of the garment. Children seldom wear them after they are eight years of age; though it must have been the custom amongst the ancients referred to in the Bible to wear them longer, as we read of Tamar having " a garment of divers colours upon her; for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled.”
People who are too poor to give a beautiful or favourite child a jacket of that description, put a black spot on its forehead, to defend it from evil.
55. — “ All his sons, and all his daughters, rose up to
comfort him." This might be a description of a similar event amongst the Orientals of this day. Has a father lost a son or a daughter; the children who remain will say, “ Father, it is true he is dead, but what can we do? We are still here - are we not your own children? We are men, fear not. Though the infant die, the family is not broken up. The child has gone to Siva's mount. Who knows what trouble it might have had; or what, it might have been to you?”
XXXVIII. 14. — “ Sat in an open place.” Heb. “ the
door of eyes, or of Enajim.” She sat near the “ door of eyes,” which, in our Tamul translation, is rendered, “ She sat near a spring of water : " alluding to the eyes from which the water bubbles.
28. - “ The midwife took and bound upon his hand a
scarlet thread.” In case of twins, where there are boys, the midwife takes a piece of thread, and ties round the right wrist of the firstborn.
XXXIX. 6. — “ He left all that he had in Joseph's
hand; and he knew not aught he had, save the
bread which he did eat.” All respectable men have a head servant called a Kanika
Pulli, i. e. an accountant, in whose hands they often place all they possess.
Such a man is more like a relation or a friend, than a servant; for, on all important subjects, he is regularly consulted, and his opinion will have great weight with the family.
When a native gentleman has such a servant, it is common to say of him, “ Ah! he has nothing — all is in the hand of his Kanika-Pulli.”—“Yes, yes, he is the treasure pot.” “He knows of nothing but the food he eats.”
XL. 20. — “ The third day, which was Pharaoh's birth
day, that he made a feast unto all his servants.” Birthdays are not celebrated here as in Egypt or in England. On that anniversary, people will not purchase any thing, will not transact any business of importance, nor go to a distant place. The king gave a feast unto his servants.
Great men give entertainment to their domestics on the first day of ploughing, when they all come together in their master's house, and have great enjoyment. His pleasure consists chiefly in hearing himself praised. The guests refer to feasts of former days, when the host was young, when he was shaved for the first time, when he put on the ear-rings, or when he was married. They talk over the events of those days, and refer to the exploits of their master. He listens with delight, and lives his youthful days again. Should there be any thing which his servants did worthy of being referred to, they, too, are reminded of it, and they feel themselves highly honoured by such attention.
27. - “ The seven empty ears.” The Hindoos often make comparisons by alluding to ears of corn, to fruits, and flowers. In the Scanda Purāna it is said, “ The empty ears resemble the false professions of love, with which painted harlots flatter their paramours; but the good ears resemble the true love of chaste women.”
XLI. 40. — “ According unto thy word, shall all my
people be ruled.” The Margin has, for ruled,
6 kiss.” In Psalm ii. 12. it is written, “ Kiss the son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way.” Bishop Patrick says on this, “ Kiss the son; that is, submit to him, and obey him.” Bishop Pococke says, “ The Egyptians, on taking any thing from the hand of a superior, or that is sent from him, kiss it; and, as the highest respect, put it to their foreheads.”
It is therefore probable that Pharaoh meant, that all should submit to Joseph, that all should obey him, and pay him reverence, and that only on the throne he himself would be greatest.
When a great man causes a gift to be handed to an inferior, the latter will take it, and put it on the right cheek, so as to cover the
then on the left; after which he will kiss it. This is done to show the great superiority of the donor, and that he on whom the gift is bestowed is his dependent, and greatly reverences him.
When a man of rank is angry with an inferior, the latter will be advised to go and kiss his feet; which he does by touching his feet with his hands, and then kissing them.
When the Mahometans meet each other after a long absence, the inferior will touch the hand of the superior, and then kiss it.
All, then, were to kiss Joseph, and acknowledge him as their ruler.*
42. — “ And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand,
upon Joseph's hand.” This practice is still common, but was much more so in former times. “ Aruchananan, a king, once became greatly enamoured with a princess called Alli, and desired to have her
Captain Basil Hall says of a man in Loo-Choo (China), to whom they had given some presents, “ He received them in both hands, and touching his head with the presents, made three low obeisances and retired.”