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years from his destruction, to his seventh incarnation as Rāmar,
From the time that Dagon fell on the threshold it became a sacred place, for, from that period, “ Neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the THRESHOLD of Dagon unto this day.”
The THRESHOLDS of the temples and the houses of the Hindoos are sacred to this day. The god Vāttu or Vāttuma, who is believed to be a son of Vishnoo's, is said to recline, and live in the threshold, changing his position every month. This god was said to have been produced by an illicit intercourse betwixt Vishnoo (when he was a dwarf) and a woman of the race of the Assurs. His offering consists of plantains, flowers, beetel leaves, areca nuts, saffron, and cocoa nuts. On the day the door-frame and threshold of a new house or temple are fixed, the Vāttuma Santhe is offered.
The Hindoos have a very solemn oath connected with the threshold of the temple. Is a man accused of a great crime? he goes to the temple, makes his prosrations, and then approaches the threshold; he pauses — then steps over it, declaring at the same time that he is not guilty of the crime laid to his charge. It is therefore very common to ask a person who denies anything that he is suspected to have done, “Will you step over the threshold of the temple ?”
The Lord, in his severe denunciations, by the prophet Zephaniah, against the Jews for their idolatry, says, “ In the same day also will I punish all those who LEAP on the THRESHOLD;" from which it appears that they also used thus to take an oath, or to perform some other heathenish ceremonies.
But the threshold is also sacred in private houses: it is not propitious for a person to remain on it, neither to eat, sneeze, yawn, nor spit whilst there. Should they do so, the people in the house will throw water upon them to prevent the evil.
I must not forget to notice the pointed observations of the prophet Ezekiel on the same subject. He beheld that “the
glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house.” In the preceding chapter the prophet gives a fearful description of the idolatry of Israel, and that the glory of the Lord had gone from the cherub, in contempt of their idolatry, or to indicate its nature, shows that he is gone to the threshold, and is about to depart from them. When the glory of God was about to return to the temple, the sin of Israel hindered it, and the prophet exhorted them to repentance, and the Lord reproved them for “setting their threshold by his thresholds." They have even defiled my holy name by their abominations." At length the judgments of the Lord were denounced against Moab, Ammon, and Assyria. For the prophet Zephaniah says, “ Nettles and salt-pits” shall be amongst them, that Nineveh shall be like a wilderness, that flocks shall be in the midst of her, and that 6 desolation shall be in the thresholds."
Considering the united opinion of many learned men as to the identity of Dagon and the Indian Vishnoo; looking also at the time when Dagon was destroyed before the ark (only one hundred and eighty years previous to his next incarnation of Rāmar); the humiliation of the deity in being broken to pieces on his own threshold; the consternation of the priests and people; their refraining thenceforward to tread on the threshold; the denunciations of the Lord against those “who leap on the threshold;" his great displeasure against those also who impiously had set their thresholds by his; the circumstance of the threshold being a SACRED place amongst the Hindoos; that a deity is believed to dwell in it; that a very solemn oath is taken by stepping over it: I am of opinion that all these allusions, ceremonies, and denunciations, have their origin in the falling of Dagon before the ark of the Lord on the threshold of his own temple.
XIX. 8. “ Until afternoon.” Hebrew, “ till the day
declined.” In this way also do our people speak, when the sun has passed the meridian; “I shall not go till the sun decline;” “I must not go till the declining time.”
XXI. 19.-—“On the east side.” The Hebrew has this,
“ toward the sun-rising.” Does a person ask the way to a place which lies towards the east, he will be told to go to the rising place, to the rising sky. If to the west, walk for the departed place, the gone down place.
Chap. I. verse 11.
“ Are there yet any more sons in
my womb ?”
So said Naorni to the widows of her sons who were following her. When a mother has lost her son, should his widow only come occasionally to see her, the mother will be displeased, and affect to be greatly surprised when she does
“Do I again see you ?” “ Is it possible ?” there any more sons in my womb ?” But the mother-in-law also uses this form of expression when she does not wish to see the widow.
17.-“ Where thou diest, will I die.” The dreadful practice of widows burning themselves on the funeral pile with the dead bodies of their husbands, has made the declaration of the text familiar to the native mind. Hence a wife, when her husband is sick, should he be in danger, will say, “ Ah ! if he die, I also will die; I will go with him; yes, my body, thou also shalt be a corpse.” A slave, also, to a good master, makes use of the same language.
Husbands sometimes boast of the affection of their wives, and compare them to the Eastern stork, which if it lose its mate in the night is said immediately to shriek and die.
III. 2. — “ Behold he winnoweth barley to-night in the
threshing-floor.” In these regions much of the agricultural labour is performed in the night. The sun is so hot, and so pernicious, that the farmers endeavour, as much as possible, to avoid its power. Hence numbers plough and irrigate their fields and gardens long after the sun has gone down, or before it rises in the morning. The wind is also generally stronger in the night, which might induce Boaz to prefer that season.
From the next two verses we learn that he took his supper there, and slept among the barley. Corn in the East is not kept in stacks, but after being reaped is, in a few days, thrashed on the spot. The thrashing-floor is a circle of about forty feet in diameter, and consists generally of clay, and cowdung, without wall or fence. Under these circumstances, it is necessary for some of the people to sleep near the corn, till all shall have been thrashed and taken home.
7. — “ She came softly, and uncovered his feet, and
laid her down.” Margin, to the fourth verse, “ lift
up the clothes that are on his feet.” All inferiors, all servants, sleep at the feet of their master. It is no uncommon thing for those who have a great favour to procure, to go to the house of the rich, and sleep with the head at his door, or in the verandah. Thus, when he arises in the morning he finds the suppliant at his door. Should a master wish to dismiss his servants, they often say, “ My lord, turn us not away; how many years have we slept at
your feet ?"
King Arechanan was once placed in great difficulty by his implacable enemy Tirriyothanan. The king, in his distress, resolved to lie down and sleep at the feet of Chrishna. The enemy also went for the same object, but slept at the head of the deity. In the morning when Chrishna awoke, he found the rivals in their different places, and each earnestly requesting his favour. After hearing both sides, the preference was given to Arechanan, because he had displayed the most humility, he having slept at the feet of the deity.
9. “I am Ruth, thine handmaid; spread therefore
thy skirt over thine handmaid." The prophet Ezekiel, in describing the Jewish church as an exposed infant, mentions the care of God in bringing her up with great tenderness, and then, at the proper time, marrying her; which is expressed in the same way as the