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society. By their profession, they are liable to be in a constant state of uncleanness. After they have performed the functions of their office, they cannot enter the house of another, except on duty, until five days shall have elapsed from the time they were so engaged.
They are not allowed to dwell near to the houses of the other classes of society; their habitations (or rather those of their owners, for they are generally slaves) are always in some lonely or retired place; and though they are of such importance, they are shunned, except when needed.
That their profession, both among the Hebrews and the Egyptians, would make them unclean, there cannot be a doubt; and that they would in consequence be avoided, and to a certain extent despised, is most probable. But though they were thus unclean and degraded, they “feared” God, and He "dealt well with” them, and gave them establishments, and caused them to prosper and become respectable amongst those who had treated them as contemptible and unclean.
II. 5.— " The daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash
herself at the river, and her maidens walked along
by the river side.” All this is very natural. Wherever there is a river, or a tank, which is known to be free from alligators, there females go in companies to some retired place to bathe. There are so many ceremonies, and so many causes for defilement, amongst the Hindoos, that the duty has often to be attended to.
In the Scanda Purāna, the beautiful daughter of Mongaly is described as going to the river with her maidens to bathe.
9. “ Take this child away, and nurse it for me.” Thus the mother of Moses was made the nurse of her own child, the cruel order of Pharaoh was defeated, and a deliverer prepared for the people of God.
“ The god Chrishna, in his incarnation, was the son of VasuThevan. His uncle Kanchan said, “Should my brother ever have a male child, I will destroy it.' When Chrishna was born, the father gave him to a shepherdess, who tenderly nursed him. The uncle, in process of time, became acquainted with the fact, and tried in every possible way to accomplish his cruel object; and on one occasion, when he was pursuing him, they came near to the sea, which made a way for Chrishna to escape. He afterwards killed his uncle."
III. 2.-“ Appeared unto him in a flame of fire.” The god Siva is often described as assuming the appearance of fire. On one occasion he took the form of a fiery pillar, which was so high that the gods could not find its summit, and so deep that they could not discover its foundation,
5. — “ Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place
whereon thou standest is holy ground.” No heathen would presume to go on holy ground, or enter a temple, or any other sacred place, without first taking off his sandals. Even native Christians, on entering a church or chapel, generally do the same thing.
No respectable man would enter the house of another without having first taken off his sandals, which are generally left at the door, or taken inside by a servant.
VI. 9. -“ Anguish of spirit.” The Hebrew has, for
anguish, “shortness or straitness.” Of a man in deep distress it is said, “ Ah ! his mind is made strait, very narrow, pressed into a small compass.”
Thus did the Egyptians make strait the spirit of the children of Israel
VII. 1. — “ I have made thee a god to Pharaoh.” A man who is afraid to
of a king, or a governor, or a great man, will seek an interview with the
minister, or some principal character; and should he be much alarmed, it will be said, “ Fear not, friend ; I will make you as a god to the king.” “ What ! are you afraid of the collector ? fear not; you will be as a god to him.”
upstart was once much afraid of the great ones; but now he is like a god amongst them.”
66 Yes, yes;
VIII. 9. “ Moses said to Pharaoh, Glory over me;
when shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee
and thy houses ?” The Margin has, for “glory,” “honour," and for “over me," “ against me."
Pharaoh had besought Moses to pray that the Lord might take away the frogs, and Moses wished the king to have the honour or glory (in preference to himself) of appointing a time when he should thus pray to the Lord to take them away. This was not only complimentary to Pharaoh, but it would have a strong tendency to convince him that the Lord had heard the prayer of Moses, because he himself had appointed the time.
The Tamul translation has this, “Let the honour be to you (or over me) to appoint a time when I shall pray.”
20. “ Stand before Pharaoh.” How simple ! how beautiful! The king, according to custom, was in the morning to go to the water, and the
prophet of the Lord was to stand before him ; first, to attract his attention; and secondly, to deliver the message of Jehovah.
IX. 8. — “Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace,
and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven.”
• Which is made from the original; and the genius of the language is every way more suited to the Hebrew, than ours. And nearly all the Orientalisms in the marginal references of the English Bible are inserted in the text of the Tamul translation.
When the magicians pronounce an imprecation on an individual, a village, or a country, they take ashes of cows' dung (or from a common fire), and throw them in the air, saying to the objects of their displeasure, such a sickness, or such a curse, shall surely come upon you.
X. 2. “ Tell in the ears of thy son.” When advice, or information, or reproof, is given, it is said, “ It was told in his ears." “ Why should I go again? I have told it in his ears a thousand times; he will not hear."
11. — “ They were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.” Amongst natives of rank, when a person is very importunate or troublesome, when he presses for something which the former are not willing to grant, he is told to begone. Should he still persist, the servants are called, and the order is given, “ Drive that fellow out.” He is then seized by the neck, or taken by the hands, and dragged from the premises; he all the time screaming and bawling as if they were taking
Thus to be driven out is the greatest indignity which can be offered, and nothing but the most violent rage will induce a superior to have recourse to it.
" Stretch out thine hand toward heaven." When the magicians deliver their predictions, they stretch forth the right hand towards heaven, to show that they have power, and that God favours them. “ That there may be darkness even darkness which
may be felt." Margin, “That one may feel dark
ness.” The Tamul translation has this, “ darkness which causeth to feel ;” i. e. so dark that a man is obliged to feel for his way, and until he shall have so felt, he cannot proceed. Thus the darkness was so great, that their eyes were not of any use ; they were obliged to grope for their way.
22, 23.-“ And Moses stretched forth his hand toward
heaven, and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days: they saw not one another, neither rose any from his place for three days: but
all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Historians give us several reasons for the origin of the Jewish feast of lights, showing that they are unable to decide from what circumstance it was derived. One says,
One says, “the Jews lighted lamps in their synagogues, and at the doors of their houses, because the good fortune of restoring the temple to its ancient use appeared to the Jews as a new day;” or “ because this happiness befel them when least expected; and they looked on it as a new light;” or because, “when they were employed in cleansing the temple, after it had been profaned by the Greeks, they found there only one small phial of oil, sealed up by the high-priest, which would hardly suffice to keep in the lamps so much as one night, but God permitted that it should last several days, till they had time to make more ; in memory of which the Jews lighted up several lamps in their synagogues, and at the doors of their houses;” or to commemorate the death of Nebuchadonosor's cruel general, Holofernes, who was slain by Judith, 650 years before Christ. *
Now, where there is so much doubt amongst those who have the credit of being competent judges, may we not be allowed to think for ourselves ?
All the reasons assigned appear to be far too modern, because other nations of great antiquity have also a feast of lights; and it is fair to suppose that an institution so singular would have its origin in some single event, which took place at a very remote period, and that it was established to perpetuate the memory of that transaction.
The story of the small phial of oil lasting so many nights, carries with it too much of the obstrusive marvellous to merit
* See Josephus, Calmet, Leo of Modena, and Dr. A. Clarke.