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women swim like fish. Their clothing is only a blue shirt, which but indifferently conceals the pudency of the women; the men gird it round them, for convenience, while they labour; the children always go naked, and I have seen girls, eighteen years old, still children in that respect.9
I suppose with Grotius, in his commentary on this book, that it is not necessary to understand the first member of this verse exclusively of kings, since their nobles also wore purple; but I am inclined to think the crowns this writer speaks of do not mean garlands of flowers, worn in times of festivity, since the poorest might, if they pleased, do the same thing, and those that were inferior to kings had crowns (or coronets) of gold sent them, as well as purple in those times, and among the rest, some of the great men of the Jewish nation at that time, as appears by one of the books entitled Maccabees."
But the most splendid dress is certainly opposed in these words to the meanest ; and it will be pleasing to recollect here, that the author was a Jew, who wrote in Egypt, where linen dyed blue is universally, or almost universally, worn by the common people.
Tom. iv, p. 74.
1 Macc. x. 20.
Eunuchs attendant on the Great.
THE possession of black eunuchs is not very common in the Levant, and they are hardly any where to be found except in the palaces of the sovereign, or of the branches of the royal family. In some points, in this in particular, the ancient Jewish kings carried their magnificence as high as the modern princes of Asia: for we find Ebed-melech, who appears to have been a black eunuch,' served in the court of Zedekiah, the last of the kings of Judah, preceding the captivity of that people in Babylon.
'The similarity of taste in being attended by eunuchs, in setting a peculiar estimation on those of a black complexion, and the supposed magnificence of having such attendants, is ra ther remarkable.
When the Baron de Tott's wife and motherin-law were admitted to make a visit to Asma Sultana, daughter of the emperor Achmet, and sister of the then reigning prince, he tells us, that at the opening of the third gate of her palace, several black eunuchs presented themselves, who, with each a white staff in his hand, preceded the visitors, leading them to a spacious apartment, called the chamber of strangers. Jer. xiii. 23.
* Jer. xxxviii. 7, 10, 12. ch. xxxix. 16.
At the close of the account of this visit, he informs us, that "these beings are in Turkey only an article of luxury, and scarcely met with, but in the seraglio of the Grand Seignior, and those of the Sultanas. The pride of some grandees has indeed gone so far as to make use of them, but with moderation, and the richest among them have not more than one or two black eunuchs at most . . . . . The manners of these are always harsh and brutal, and offended nature seems continually to express her anger at the injury she has received."'"
The very humane disposition Ebed-melech expressed towards the Prophet Jeremiah, when thrown into a dungeon where he was ready to perish, seems to entitle him to the honour of being an exception to this unamiable character, but which may be, very possibly, most agreeable to their tyrannizing masters.
A curious Illustration of Ezek. xliv. 2, 3.
AMONG other instances of the extreme distance, and profound awe, with which Eastern majesty is treated, one that is mentioned by Sir John Chardin, in his account of Persia, appears very strange to us; yet may afford a lively comment on a passage of the Prophet Ezekiel.
"Memoirs, part 1, p. 71, &c.
Sir John tells us, "It is a common custom in Persia, that when a great man has built a palace, he treats the king and his grandees in it for several days. Then the great gate of it is open but when these festivities are over, they shut it up never more to be opened." He adds, "I have heard that the same thing is practised in Japan."
It seems surprising to us, that great and magnificent houses within should have only small entrances into them, which no one would suppose would lead into such beautiful edifices: but such, he observes, is the common custom there making no magnificent entrance into their houses at all; or if they do, shutting them up after a little time, and making use of some small entrance near the great one, or it may be, in some very different part of the building.
This account, however, may serve as a comment on the passage of Ezekiel, Then said the LORD unto me, This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it, because the LORD GOD of Israel hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. It is for the prince, Ch. xliv. 2, 3.
Not so however for the prince himself, as that he should pass through that gate; he was only to stand, or to sit in the entrance of it, while other persons, if they worshipped at that gate, were to keep at a more awful distance, ch. xlvi. 1-12. But this indulgence was only on festival days-sabbaths and new moons. * Tom. iii. p. 69.
Giving the Hand to a Person, a Token of Subjection.
DEEP as the reverence is with which the Orientals treat their princes, yet in some cases, a mode of treatment occurs that we are surprised at, as seeming to us of the West, too near an approach to that familiarity that takes place among equals: the taking a new elected prince by the hand, in token of acknowledging his princely character, may probably appear to us in this light.
D'Herbelot, in explaining an Eastern term,' which, he tells us, signifies the election or auguration of a khalif, the supreme head of the Momammedans, both in civil and ecclesiastical matters, tells us, that " this ceremony consisted in stretching forth a person's hand, and taking that of him that they acknowledged for khalif. This was a sort of performing homage, and swearing fealty to him." He adds, that "Khondemir (a celebrated historian) speaking of the election of Othman, the third khalif after Mohammed, says, that Ali alone did not present his hand to him, and that upon that occasion Abdurahman, who had by compromise made the election, said to him, 'O Ali! he who violates his word is the first person that is injured by so doing;' upon hearing of which P. 204, art. Biat.