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Different Articles of Dress used among the Ancients.
It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, precisely to determine the meaning of those three words in Dan. iii. 21, which are translated in our version, coats, hosen, and hats; but the words seem to me, in general, to point out those badges of honour that were upon these three Jewish heroes, not any parts of their common dress; and if so understood, greater light will be thrown into that part of the story, than will otherwise appear there.'
The words certainly may as well be understood to mean they were thrown with such things about them into the fire, as well as with their common garments; as that they were cast into that terrible fiery furnace, with this part of their common dress, that other, a third thing, and, in one word, all their garments. Why this enumeration of particulars, according to this latter supposition? Would it not have been as well, in that case, to have said at once, they were thrown into the fire with their clothes on?
The Old English term hosen, which is used to translate the second of these words, was designed by our translators, there is reason to believe, to express drawers, trowsers, or breeches, not stockings, for that was the common
f See the note on these three Chaldee words at the conelusion of this observation. EDIT,
meaning of the word in the time in which that version was made, and the word has been so understood by other translators; not to remark, that the Eastern people in common, appear not to have used stockings. But is it not strange, that it should be remarked by the historian that they were committed to the flames with their breeches on? Would it not have been extremely strange if it had been otherwise? If they had been divested of their upper garments before they had been thrown into the furnace, certainly such a part of their dress as this would have been left upon them. Decency required it.
In the three other places of holy writ in which the word appears," it is translated hammer, and evidently signifies some such instrument; but it is very difficult to conceive, how the same word came to, be made use of to express such very dissimilar things as a hammer, and a pair of breeches.
There will be much the same difficulty, in making out the connexion, if we should suppose this second word means the covering they wore on their heads, as the Septuagint and vulgar Latin translations seem to have done.
Nothing in short can be more indecisive than the translations that have been given of these words. But considering that these three Jews had been set over the province of Babylon, by King Nebuchadnezzar, at the request of Daniel their countryman; that this was a time of
Particularly by Arias Montanus.
Is. xli. 7. Jer. xxiii. 29, ch. 1. 23.
great solemnity, when it was to be supposed all officers of state were to appear in their proper habiliments; that Shadrach and his two companions were present or this occasion; I have thought nothing can be more natural, than the supposing these three words signify three particular things, superadded to the garments worn by the people of that country in private stations.
Impressed with this idea, I consulted the plates Sir John Chardin has given us, of the carvings that are found in the ruins of Persepolis, which are supposed to have been erected about the time of the Prophet Daniel, in which that eminent traveller has given us a delineation of an ancient Persian sacred procession. Among other figures, I observed one man that had a hammer, or mallet, or some such instrument, in each hand. A variety of other instruments appear in the hands of other persons, of which it must be difficult to give a satisfactory ac count. But the hammers in so ancient a monument; erected in that country; and carried in a sacred procession there, very much struck
Numbers of these figures wore, according to the ancient simplicity, no covering whatever on their heads, but that which Nature gave them; but others had different kinds of coverings on their heads: but not one resembling our hats,
Niebuhr, Descript. de l'Arabie, p. 57, gives an account of many of the Arabs wearing only a cord about their
nor the modern Eastern turban; consequently, so far as this ancient monument will be admitted to afford some illustration of that grand assembly, which was convened to consecrate the image of gold, set up by Nebuchadnezzar in the plain of Dura, if one of the three words should signify an artificial covering of the head, as has been commonly supposed, though some understand the second of the words, and others the third, to have that meaning, so little are the learned agreed in determining the signification of these words; I say, supposing one of them should signify a covering of the head, the word hat in our translation is not proper ; nor even the word turban, which is put into the margin, that from an apprehension that the name of a modern Eastern coiffure would be more proper here, than one known only in these more western parts of the world.
Antiquity will not, however, determine, with precision, what the shape of that ancient covering of the head was, that these three Jews wore, if it is allowed, that it probably is to be found in this ancient monument, since there are no fewer than four or five different sorts of them, that appear in this delineation of an ancient sacred procession, though not one that resembles a hat or a turban. It cannot therefore from hence be told, which Shadrach and his companions wore upon this occasion. Different ranks of people probably wore different coiffures, as differently made turbans are now worn in the East, in different countries, and
even by people of different ranks in the same country.
All the five sorts, however, or at least almost all of them, may be called in our language caps, which perhaps may be a more proper word, to be used in translating this passage, than either hat or turban.
Many of these figures have a short sort of cloak hanging over their shoulders, something like one of those ancient vestments put on the shoulders of our English kings, in the day of their coronation. Perhaps something of this kind is what is meant by the first of these three words, which our English version renders coats; but which the more modest translators of the Septuagint would not venture to put a Greek word for, but gave the original word, or what they took for the original word, in Greek letters. The like modesty appears in the interlineary version of Montanus.
The vulgar Latin, Symmachus, and a Greek scholiast, whose words are given by Lambert Bos in his edition of the Septuagint, suppose that the first of these three words signifies breeches, or something of that kind; but the reason I before mentioned prevents an acquiescence in such an interpretation, and it only serves to shew how unable they were to determine the sense of the words.
The supposing they were ensigns of dignity, or office, in general, appears to be the most natural account that can be given: the command, it seems, was, that they should not only