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When boys have been punished at school, they run home with their hands on the same place. Parents are much displeased and alarmed, when they see their children with their hands in that position; because they look upon it not merely as a sign of grief, but as an emblem of bad fortune. Thus of those who had trusted in Egypt and Assyria, it was said, “ Thou shalt be ashamed” of them : and they were to go forth with their hands on their head, in token of their degradation and misery.
IV. 17. — “ As keepers of a field are they against her
round about." Fields in the East have not fences to keep off cattle and other marauders, but only low embankments; hence, were there not keepers, they would be exposed to all kinds of depredations. These men wander about the ridges, or spend their time in plaiting baskets or pouches for areka nuts and betel leaf; or tend a few sheep. At night they sleep in a small stall, about six feet by four, which stands on four legs, and is thatched with leaves. The whole affair is so
The whole affair is so light, that it can be removed in its COMPLETE state to
other part, by two men; or be taken to pieces in a few minutes, and removed and put together, by ONE man.
The frail fabric illustrates the “ lodge in a garden of cucumbers.”
30. — “ And when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do?
Though thou clothest thyself with crimson, though thou deckest thee with ornaments of gold, though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair; thy lovers will despise thee; they will seek thy life.” The Hebrew has,
instead of face, “ eyes.” This is a minute description of an Eastern courtesan. In Ezekiel xxiii. 40., similar language is used : “For whom thou didst wash thyself, paintedst thine eyes, and deckedst thyself with ornaments, and satest upon a stately bed.” Jezebel also “ painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.” She was the patroness of a most impure system, and the term “ whoredoms," as applied to her, may be safely used in the most obvious sense. The females alluded to adorn themselves with those ornaments which have been described in the 3d chapter of Isaiah ; and having bathed, they rub their bodies with saffron, to make themselves fair ; and then put on their CRIMSON robes. One kind of paint with which they tint their eyelids is made of a nut called kaduki, which is first burned to a powder, then mixed with castor oil; after which it is set on fire, and that which drops from it is the paint referred to. Another kind is made of the juice of limes, indigo, and saffron. In these allusions we see again the hateful and loathsome state of Jerusalem.
31.-" For I have heard a voice as of a woman in
travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth
forth her first child." In cases of great difficulty or sorrow, the above figure is often used.
V. 8.—“ They were as fed horses in the morning:
every one neighed after his neighbour's wife.” The same term is used in the East to denote a similar thing. It is said, “ Listen to that evil man, he is always neighing." “ O that wicked one, he is like the horse in his phrensy;" “ The men of that family are all neighers.” Heathenism is ever true to itself; impurity is its inseparable companion.
VI. 24. 66 Our hands wax feeble.” When a person is hungry, or weary, or when he hears bad news, it is said, “ His hands have become weak.” “ His hands have turned cold."
VIII. 7.— Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her
appointed times — but my people know not.” Should a husband be fond of roving from his house, and remaining in other places, his wife says, “ The storks know their time and place, but my husband does not know.” the rain neither the Koku nor other birds will depart from their nestlings: but my husband is always leaving us." "Ah! my wicked son! would that he, as the stork, knew his appointed time and place !”
“ The harvest is past, the summer is ended.” Has a man lost a good situation, it is said, “ His harvest is past.” Is a person amassing much money, it is said, “ He is gathering in his harvest.”
IX. 1. - "Oh! that my head were waters, and mine
eyes a fountain of tears." The margin has, instead of “Oh! that my head were waters,” “ who will
give my head.” The marginal reading intimates the head was exhausted, the fountain was dry. People in prospect of great misery, ask, “ Have we waters in our heads for that grief?” “That my sorrows may not dry up, these eyes are always weeping."
2.-“ Oh! that I had in the wilderness a lodging-place
of wayfaring men.” People in the East, on their journeys to other towns or countries, are obliged to travel through the most lonely wilds. Hence the native sovereigns, or opulent men, erect what are called rest-houses, or choultries, where the travellers or pilgrims reside for the night. It is in the wilderness where the devotees and ascetics live retired from men: there, either for life, or for a short period, they perform their austerities, and live in cynical contempt of man.
When a father is angry with his family, he often exclaims, “If I had but a shade in the wilderness, then should I be happy: I will become a pilgrim, and leave you." Nor is this mere empty declamation to alarm his family; for numbers in every town and village thus leave their homes, and are never heard of more.
There are, however, many who remain absent for a few months or years, and then return. Under these circumstances, it is no wonder, when a father or husband threatens his family he will retire to the kātu, i. e. wilderness, that they become greatly alarmed. But men who have been reduced in their circumstances become so mortified, that they also retire from their homes, and wander about all their future lives as pilgrims. “ Alas! alas ! I will retire to the jungle, and live with wild beasts," says the broken-hearted widow.
“ Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Some boundless contiguity of shade."
26. — “ Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children
of Ammon and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” The margin renders, “in the utmost corners,” “ cut off into corners," OR, “having the corners of their hair
polled.” Dr. Boothroyd, “ Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon and Moab, and all those who cut SHORT THE HAIR.” See also the marginal reading on chap. xxv. 23., “ Having the corners of the hair polled ;” and on chap. xlix. 32., “ That have the corners of their hair polled.” Who were those idolaters, against whom the denunciations were made, for polling their heads in honour of false gods ? Those of Egypt, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Dedan, Tema, Buz, and JUDAH! It is the custom of the heathen of the vast regions of India, China, and Ceylon, to shave round the head, leaving only a tuft on the crown. The Chinese allow the tuft to grow into a long tail, which hangs down the back.* “ The children of AMMON.” It is a striking fact that there is a cruel goddess in India called Ammon, to whom, in some births, human sacrifices were offered. Hence many temples at this day go by her name. How appalling to find the wretched Jews so often associated with the heathen; by their practices they were “uncircumcised in the heart," and fit objects for the wrath of Jehovah. (See on Levit. xix. 27.)
XI. 12. — “ Then shall the cities of Judah, and inha
bitants of Jerusalem, go and cry unto the gods
unto whom they offer incense.” In the temple of Siva incense is offered to the lingam six times in twenty-four hours. In other temples the number of times varies.
XII. 2. — “ Thou hast planted them, yea, they have
taken root : they grow; yea, they bring forth fruit : thou art near in their mouth, and far from their
reins." Does a man who has been elevated in society by another cease to respect his patron; it is said, “ Ah, my lord, the tree which you planted has taken root:- in his mouth you are near; but in his heart you are afar off.”
9.- “ Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird.”
The margin has it, instead of " speckled bird,” “ or
having talons.” Dr. Boothroyd, “ Ravenous birds.” The context confirms this rendering, and also the marginal reading, “talons.” Considering the NUMEROUS birds of prey in the East, it is no wonder that there are so many allusions in the Scriptures to
* Herodotus informs us, that the Arabs shave or cut their hair round in this way; and that the Macians, a people of Libya, cut their hair round, so as to leave a tuft on the top of the head. — See Rev. T. Hartwell Horne's Introduction, vol. i. p. 362.