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LXXXII. Presents made and received, essentially
DIVERS PASSAGES OF HOLY SCRIPTURE.
RELATING TO THEIR DIET, &c.
Continued from the preceding Volume.
Of Water Melons, and their great Utility in the East.
ELONS, which are now so common, and at M the same time in the highest esteem in the East, are contemporary with grapes, with pomegranates, and with figs; one would be inclined then to imagine that they have been introduced into the Holy Land since the time Moses sent Joshua, and the other spies, from the Wilderness of Paran, to examine, and bring back an account of its productions; as writers tell us many other useful plants have been imported from other places into that country, or at least its neighbourhood."
Melons, according to Sir J. Chardin, are the most excellent fruit that they have in Persia ;*
See Dr. Shaw, p. 341.
b Voy. de M. Chardin, tome 2, p. 18.
and he tells us the season for eating them holds four months. Dr. Shaw observed that musk and water-melons began to be gathered the latter end of June in Barbary, consequently a month or more before either promegranates, the common kind of fig, or the grape, begin to ripen. But if they hold four months, or about half so long only, they must have been found in the time of the first ripe grapes, when the spies were sent out. Agreeably to this, Dr. Richard Chandler mentions figs, melons, such as are peculiar to hot climates. (I suppose he means water-melons,) and grapes, in large and rich clusters, fresh from the vineyard, were served up to him in Asia Minor, at the close of a repast at noon, in the month of August.
They certainly now grow in the Holy Land. It is the fruit which Egmont and Heyman selected from all the rest that they found growing on Mount Carmel, as the subject of panegyric, being in themselves so excellent, and so much cultivated there."
Doubtless," says Dr. Shaw, "the watermelon, or angura, or pistacha, or dillah, as they call it here, is providentially calculated for the southern countries, as it affords a cool refreshing juice, assuages thirst, mitigates feverish disorders, and compensates thereby, in
d P. 141.
For the grape, according to Shaw, begins to ripen in Barbary towards the end of July, p. 146.
f Vol. ii. p. 12.
no small degree, for the excessive heats, not so much of these as of the more southern districts."
Surely, if they had then grown in that country, the spies would have carried a sample of this refreshing fruit to the camp of Israel in Paran, as easy to be conveyed thither as any of those they brought to Moses In fact, melons are now carried to very distant places. The best melons, according to Sir John Chardin, grow in Corassan, near the Little Tartary. They bring them to Ispahan for the king, and to make presents of. They are not spoiled in the carrying, though they are brought above thirty days' journey. He adds, that he had eaten, at Surat in the Indies, melons that had been sent from Agra. This, he observed, was still more extraordinary. There were carried by a man on foot, in baskets, one in a basket, being very large, which baskets were hanged on a pole, one at each end, the pole being laid on one of his shoulders, from whence, for ease, he shifted it to the other from time to time. These people go seven or eight leagues a day with their load.
The way of carrying the cluster of grapes, from the valley of Eshcol, did not much differ." It would have been easy to have carried some of the melons after this Persian manner, or in a basket between two, or as they did the uncured figs and pomegranates: their carrying none seems to show they then did not grow in
h Numb. xiii. 23.