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husband, after long absence, kisses or smells the forehead, the eyes, the right and left cheeks, and the bosom, of his wife.
17. — " Lade
beasts." Nearly all the merchandise, which goes by land, is carried by beasts of burden; and, no doubt, will continue to be so till regular roads are constructed. Hence may be seen hundreds of bullocks, or camels, carrying rice, salt, spices, and other wares, traversing the forests and deserts to distant countries. Some of the buffalos carry immense burdens, and though they only make little progress, yet they are patient and regular in
Bells are tied round the necks of some of the animals, the sound of which produces a pleasing effect on the feelings of a traveller, who now knows that he is not far from some of his fellows. The sound of the bells also keeps the cattle together, and frightens off the wild beasts.
XLVI. 4. — “ Joseph shall put his hands upon thine
eyes." A father, at the point of death, is always very desirous that his wife, children, and grandchildren should be with him. Should there be one at a distance, he will be immediately sent for, and until he arrive the father will mourn and complain, “ My son, will you not come? I cannot die without you.” When he arrives, he will take the hands of his son, and kiss them, and place them on his eyes, his face, and mouth, and say, “ Now I die.”
6. — “ All his seed.” In this way descendants are spoken of. Has a man been deceived by another, he will be asked, “ How could you trust him ? did you not know him to be bad (reethe) seed.” “ That fellow is of the seed of fiends." “ The reason you see such good things in that youth is, that he is of good seed.”
“ The old man and his seed have all left this village many years ago.'
34. — “ Every shepherd is an abomination unto the
Egyptians.” The office of a shepherd in India is only filled by people of very low caste, and no man of respectability will attend to such a duty. Hence, to be called a shepherd is a term of reproach.
XLVII. 26. • Made it a law over the land of Egypt
unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth
Land owners in the East do not often cultivate their own grounds; they employ a man called the Vārakude, who finds the manure, implements, and labour, and has for his reward a fifth (sometimes a fourth) of the produce. Should, however, the lands require to be irrigated, the owner pays for that.
The land of the priests did not become the property of Pharaoh: neither is it customary in the East for the land of the priests to contribute any thing towards the state.
XLVIII. 16. — “ And let them grow into a multitude
in the midst of the earth.” The Hebrew has, for a “ multitude in the midst of the earth,” “ As fishes
do increase.” When vast numbers of people congregate together, they are compared to the shoals of a small fish called the Airikili. All who live on fish, also, are believed to have a numerous progeny; and, so far as my observation goes, amongst the fishermen of the East the opinion is correct.
XLIX. 3. — “ Thou art my first-born, my might, and
the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dig
nity, and the excellency of power.” It is generally believed that the first-born son is the strongest, and he is always placed over his brethen. To him the others must give great honour, and they must not sit in his presence without his permission, and then only behind him. When the younger visits the elder, he goes with great respect, and the conversation is soon closed. Should there be any thing of a particular nature, on which he desires the sentiments of his elder brother, he sends a friend to converse with him. The younger brother will not enter the door at the same time with the elder ; he must always follow. Should they be invited to a marriage, care will be taken that the oldest shall go in the first. The younger will never approach him with his wooden sandals on, he must take them off. He will not speak to the wife of the elder, except on some special occasion.
When the father thinks his end is approaching, he calls his children, and, addressing himself to the elder, says, “ My strength, my glory, my all is in thee."
From this may be gained an idea of the importance which was attached to the “birth-right.”
10.- « From between his feet." This figure is used in poetry and riddles. Veeramāran, says he, came from between the feet.
12. “ His teeth white with milk." To say a man has abundance of milk, amounts to the same as to say, he has great riches, because it at once shows that he possesses numerous herds. Milk is greatly valued in the East, because it is believed to be very cooling and strengthening. It is often taken with fruit, and in the hot season is made into tire or curds. Few presents are more acceptable amongst the natives than milk. It is also valued because it comes from the cow, which is a sacred animal; and they would as soon think of killing a child, as this their “ mother !” who gives them milk.
It is said of a man who has abundance of this article, “ His mouth smells of milk."
22. — “ Joseph is a fruitful boughi, even a fruitful bough
by a well, whose branches run over the wall.” (See on Isaiah xiv. 19.)
All this falls very naturally on an Eastern ear. Joseph was the fruitful bough of Jacob, and being planted near a well, his leaf would not wither, and he would bring forth his fruit in his season.
Great delight is taken in all kinds of creepers, which bear edible fruits, and the natives allow them to run over the walls and roofs of their houses.
The term “ branches" in the verse is in the margin rendered “ daughters ;” and it is an interesting fact (and one which will throw light on some other passages), that the same term is used here to denote the same thing. “ That man has only one Chede, i.e. branch, daughter.” “ The youngest Chede (branch) ) has got married this day.” 66 Where are your
branches ?” “ They are all married.” “ What a young branch to be in this state ! — how soon it has given fruit!” When a mother has had a large family, “ That branch has borne plenty of fruit.” A husband will say to his wife, who is steril, “ Of what use is a branch which bears not fruit?” The figure is much used in poetry.
24. 6 The arms of his hands were made strong
From thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel.” Of a strong man it is common to say, " Ah! look at the hands of his arms." “ How powerful are the hands of his shoulders !"
To call a person a stone, in the East, signifies that he has been sent or thrown at some one, to do him an injury. A king once asked a messenger, who had been sent to him by his wife, “ What! are you the stone which my wife has thrown at me ?” “ Whose stone are you?” asks a man who has received an injury from an unknown hand. What fellow has thrown a large stone at me?”
Jacob speaks of Joseph as being able to fight his enemies; mention is made of his bow being in strength, and of the arms of his hands being made strong by “the mighty God of Jacob.” He was then able to be the shepherd.
Shepherds in the East carry their sling and stones, to drive off the wild beasts, and other animals; also to correct any of the cattle which are troublesome.
And who was this “ Shepherd, the stone of Israel, who was thrown at his enemies?” was it not the Messiah, “ the good Shepherd,” the stone hurled at our enemies, death and hell ? From Him are all the blessings “ unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills."
25. — “ Blessings of the womb." A heathen once stood up before me, and pronounced many blessings on me: amongst the rest, that of the verse was particularly noticed.
3 and 4. Reuben unstable as water. 5. Simeon and
Levi. 9. Judah - couched as a lion. 13. Zebulon shall dwell at the haven of the sea. 14. Issachar is a strong ass, couching down between two burdens. 16. Dan shall judge his people. A serpent by the way that biteth the horse heels. 19. Gad a troop. 20. Asher shall be fat — shall yield royal dainties. 21. Naphtali a hind let loose. 22. Joseph a fruitful bough. 27. Benjamin shall ravin as
Some suppose that the patriarch, in the dispositions attributed to his twelve sons, had a reference to the nature of the animals or things represented in the twelve signs of the zodiac.
It is not, however, reasonable to suppose that their propensities or dispositions would in all particulars agree with those of the creatures represented in these signs; though there might be a general resemblance, sufficient to induce Jacob, who had the same number of children, to make the allusions.
The patriarch is believed to have lived in the year of the world 2315, and there cannot be a doubt that the signs of the zodiac were invented by the Babylonians long before that period.