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CHAP. I. verse 13.-“Ye said also, Behold, what a weari
ness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of Hosts.” The margin has, instead of “ and ye have snuffed at it,” “ or whereas ye might have
blown it away." The marginal reading is, I doubt not, the best. The Jews had complained of the “ WEARI NESs” of their duties: they were tired of making offerings, and those they did offer,
polluted,” or “ lame,” or “blind;" whereas, instead of those duties being burdensome, they were so LIGHT, that they might have blown them away. Does a person complain of his numerous labours or duties, another will ask, “ What are they? why, a breath will blow them away.” “ Alas ! I have many things to attend to."_" Fie on you for talking so; if you blow on them they will go."
II. 3. — 6 I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung
upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn
feasts.” In the 11th verse of this chapter, allusion is again made to the heathenism of Judah: they had “ married the daughter of a strange god.” “ Dung upon your faces.” What can this refer to ? Probably to the custom of the IDOLATERS, of spreading the ashes of cow-DUNG on their faces, and to the marginal reference of Deut. xxix. 17. — “ Dungy gods,” on which see the remarks.
III. 14. - “ Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and
what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts ?” The margin for “mournfully,”
has, “ in black.” Here we have another instance of the base ingratitude of the people : “ It is vain to serve God.” “ In black.” “ My friend, why has your face become so black ?” sorrow, my sorrow; therefore my face is full of blackness." “ Yes, my sorrows are chased away, like dew before the sun, and my face no longer gathers blackness.”
66 Alas ! my
CHAP. II. verse 11. They saw the young child with
Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures,
they presented unto him gifts.” The birth of a son is always a time of great festivity in the East; hence the relations come together, to congratulate the happy parents, and to present their gifts to the little stranger. Some bring the silver anklets; others, the bracelets, or ear-rings, or silver cord for the loins. Others, how.ever, take gold, and a variety of needful articles. The wise men did not make presents, as a matter of charity, but to show their affection and respect. When the infant son of a king is shown, the people make their obeisance to him.
III. 11. — “ Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear.” A respectable man never goes out without his servant or attendant; thus, he has always some one to talk with, and to do any thing he may require. When the ground is smooth, or where there is soft grass to walk on, the sandals are taken off, and the servant carries them in his hand. The devoted, the humble John, did not consider himself worthy to bear the sandals of his divine Master.
V. 2. — “ He opened his mouth, and taught them,
saying.” Some have made impertinent observations respecting this mode of expression; he opened his mouth. When the Hindoos speak of a king, or a priest, or the gods, as giving instructions or commands, they use the same form of speech.
But the word which is used to denote the opening of a door,
of any thing which requires to be unfolded, is never applied to the opening of the mouth of a beautiful or dignified speaker. For of that action in him, they say, his mouth mallara-kurrathu, i. e. blossomed; the flower unfolded itself: and there were its fair tints, and promised fruits. So the Redeemer opened his mouth, and taught them, saying.
29. — “ And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out,” This metaphor is in common use at this day; hence people say of any thing which is valuable, “ It is like my valluthakan," i. e. right eye! “ Yes, yes, that child is the right eye of his father.” “I can never give up that lady; she is my right eye.” “ That fellow forsake his sins ? never; they are his right eye.” “True, true; I will pull out my right eye."
VI. 3. — “ Let not thy left hand know what thy right
hand doeth.” The right hand always dispenses gifts, because “it is more honourable than the other;" the left hand, therefore, was to be unacquainted with the charities of the other, i. e. there was to be no ostentation; to be perfect secrecy. The Hindoos say of things which are not to be revealed, “ The left ear is not to hear that which went into the right, nor the right to be acquainted with that which was heard by the left."
5. “ When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the
hypocrites are; for they love to pray, standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets,
that they may be seen of men.” False religion has ever been fond of show; hence its devotees have assumed a greater appearance of sanctity to make up the deficiency of real worth. Perhaps few systems are so replete with the show of religion as Hindooism. Its votaries may be seen in every street with uplifted hands, or bespattered bodies; there they are standing before every temple, making their prostrations or repeating their prayers. Nor are the Mahometans, with all their boasting, a whit the better. See them, when the sun is going down, spreading their garments on the ground, on which they are about to kneel, and say their prayers. They bow down to the earth, and touch it with their forehead; and then arise, putting their hands above their heads, with the fingers pointing to the clouds; and now they bring them lower, in a supplicating position, and all the time keep muttering their prayers ; again they kneel, and again touch the earth with their forehead, and all this, without paying any apparent attention to those who pass that way.
26. “ Behold the fowls of the air : for they sow not,
neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet
your heavenly Father feedeth them.” Does a person who has lost his situation complain, from a fear of the future ; it is said to him, by way of comfort, “ Look at the birds and beasts, have they any situations? Do they sow or reap? Who sustains the frog in the stone? or the germ in the egg? or the fætus in the womb? or the worm which the wasp encloses in its house of clay ? Does not the Lord support all these ? and will he not help you ?”
27. — “ Which of you by taking thought, can add one
cubit to his stature ?” This form of speech is sometimes used to humble those of high pretensions; thus, a man of low caste, who has become rich, and who assumes authority over his better born, though poor neighbours, will be asked, “ What! has your money made you a cubit higher ?” i. e. in the scale of being. Is a man ambitious of rising in society; a person who wishes to annoy him, puts his finger on his elbow, and, showing that part to the tip of the middle finger, asks, “ Friend, will you