H. Clay (Henry Clay) Trumbull.

Studies in oriental social life and gleams from the East on the sacred page online

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STUDIES IN ORIENTAL SOCIAL LIFE ; And Gleams from the East on
the Sacred Page, i vol., large 8vo. Illustrated. $2.50.

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Studies in Oriental Social Life

I Studies in Oriental Social Life


Gleams from the East on the Sacred Page







Copyright, 1894,



The words of the Bible gain in clearness and
depth of meaning when read in the light of the
manners and customs of the lands of the Bible.
But there are now so many good books prof-
fered as helps in this direction, that a new book
must justify its right to a new place by showing
wherein it has advantages over works already

This volume is not, on the one hand, a mere
narrative of personal travel and observation ; nor
is it, on the other hand, a miscellaneous collec-
tion of Oriental illustrations of Bible truths. But
it is a classified treatment of certain phases of
Oriental life and methods of thought, vivified by
personal experiences in the East ; and herein it
has a distinctive character.

Its basis is a series of lectures on Oriental
Social Life, delivered before the Archaeological
Association of the University of Pennsylvania,

vi Preface.

and repeated, by invitation, before the Semitic
Club of Yale University. Added to these are
special studies on various topics, in the realm of
Oriental customs and traditions.

An aptitude of mind for Oriental methods of
thought and life, as well as a knowledge of the
ways of Orientals, is necessary to the fullest un-
derstanding of the spirit and letter of the Bible
text Only thus can an Occidental- see Bible
truths as an Oriental sees them. I shall be triad


if my way of seeing or of showing such things
helps others to share in the results of research
in this important field of fact and thought.

H. Clay Trumbull.


May 14.^ iSqj.



Advantage of studying Oriental social life. — Eastern life as it
was, shown in Eastern life as it is. — All sights and sounds
of ancient times still visible, or vibrant, in universal space.
— History written on the pages of the air. — Earth as seen
from the nearest fixed star. — Oriental history constantly
re-ena<fling in Oriental lands. — Unchangeableness of life
in the East


Viewing Eastern life through Eastern eyes. — Attractiveness of
love and lovers. — Relative importance of betrothal and
marriage in the East. — Responsibility of parents for be-
trothal of their children. — Dowry not purchase money. —
Love a result, not a cause, of marriage. — A wife a gift of God.
— How a son seeks a wife. — A betrothal scene in Upper
Egypt. — Mission of a " go-between." — Gifts to friends
of bride at betrothal. — Contracts of betrothal in ancient
Egypt and Assyria. — Marriages for money in the East
and in the West. — Marriages for political power. — Sacred-
ness and binding force of betrothals in the East. — Signifi-
cance of show of "capturing a bride." — Sentiment the
basis of survival of customs. — False reasoning of scien-


viii ' Contents.

tists. — Festivities at weddings. — Husband to leave his
parents for his wife. — Bridal presents. — Why a wife loads
herself with gifts. — Divorce customs. — Lady Burton's ob-
servations at a Damascus wedding. — Display of bride's
trousseau. — Bridal ornaments. — Significance of bracelet,
ring, crown, veil. — Wedding processions. — Wedding scene
at Castle Nakhl. — Joy of the "friend of the bridegroom."
— Unveiling of the bride. — Lessons of betrothals and wed-
dings in the East. — Power of romantic love in primitive
ages. — Legends of love in the East. — Honor accorded to
woman in earliest times. — Mission of Christianity . . .


Oriental estimate of hospitality. — Its significance and scope. —
Every stranger a lord while a guest. — Illustration of
Bed / wy hospitality near Jezreel. — Cost of saluting one by
the way. — A test of honor. — Testimony of Thomas Stevens.
— Testimony of J. L. Burckhardt. — Lot and his guests. —
Levite at Gibeah. — Strife for the right to entertain. — Con-
cealing suffering for comfort of guests. — Refusal to receive
remuneration. — Dr. Hilprecht and the shaykh of Zeta. —
Having one's satisfaction "heard." — Show of fulness. —
Volney's testimony. — Lady Anne Blunt and Ibn Rashid. —
" Given to hospitality." — Guest-chambers of the East. — A
shaykh's tenure of power. — Morier and Vambery on the
Toorkomans. — Allah Nazr weeping for joy over a guest. —
Khond fidelity to laws of hospitality. — A paradise for
tramps. — Sharp practice of Arabs. — Dr. Edward Robin-
son's guide a victim. — A survival in the "donation party." —
An experience at Dothan. — A tradition of Meccah. — Cove-
nanting in hospitality. — Drinking together. — Eating to-
gether. — Jesus atthewell of Jacob. — A lesson at Beersheba.
— |;i< ob and Laban. — Gibeonites and Israelites. — Illustra-
tions by Drs. Hamlin and Thomson, and Major Conder.
— Co 1 enanl oi salt, Sacredness of the right of asylum. —
Customs of the Druses. — A Turkish hotel-keeper. — Hospi-

Contents. • ix

tality overriding desire for blood-avenging. — Murderer
entertained by son of his victim. — Arabs, Moors, and
Khonds alike in this. — Osman and Elfy Bey.— A primitive
virtue. — Irish traditions. — A religious basis for this senti-
ment. — "Guests of God." — Explanation of these customs.
— Avenging belongs to God. — Cities of refuge. — Jael and
Sisera. — Solomon and Joab. — Sodom destroyed for its
inhospi tality. — Destruction of Gibeah. — Naming one's
" dakheel." — Calling on the Lord. — Antiquity of this senti-
ment. — Egyptian "Book of the Dead." — Greek and
Roman customs. — " Sibylline Books." — American Indians.
— Jesus giving judgment on the outside "nations." —
Teachings of Muhammad. — Bible teachings. — Lessons
from the virtue of Oriental hospitality 73


A sound of wailing near Saqqarah. — A scene of mourning. —
Records of ancient Egypt. — Testimony of Herodotus. —
Description of the death-cry. — Hospitality paramount to
grief. — Calling on the dead. — Irish wakes. — Professional
mourners in the East. — Hired quartettes in the West. —
Genuine sorrow in conventional forms. — " Skilful in lamen-
tation." — Bottling tears. — Cutting one's flesh. — Tear-
cloths. — Speedy burials. — Funeral processions. — Funeral
feasts. — Funeral displays. — Persistency of these customs.
— Useless efforts to check them. — Forgiving the dead. —
Burial forbidden to the unworthy. — Supplies for the dead.
— Customs of Egyptians, of Chinese, of Hindoos, of Ameri-
can Indians. — Three days of grace for the spirit. — Lazarus
of Bethany. — Resurrection of Jesus. — Continuance of
mourning. — Mourning scene in Palestine. — Songs of grief.
— Periodic exhibits of grief. — Sincerity of mourners. —
Comparison of mourning ways in the East and the West.
— Mourning days in Eastern cemeteries. — Lessons from
Bethlehem and Ramah. — Tomb (if Shaykh Szaleh. —
Veneration for muqams in Palestine. — " Weeping for Tarn-


muz." — Chaldean, Egyptian, and Greek mourning. — Cry
of Isis to dead Osiris.- — Hope of immortality. — Silence of
Old Testament as to future life. — Reason for this. — Primi-
tive belief in life beyond the grave. — Temptation to poly-
theism. — Importance of present life. — Unique inspira-
tion of Old Testament writers. — Lessons from Oriental
social life 143


First glimpse of the East. — Harbor of Alexandria. — Babel and
Pandemonium. — Polyglot crowd. — From sea to shore. —
Picturesque confusion. — Kaleidoscopic variety. — People,
occupations, animal life, buildings, sounds, — novel and
Oriental. — Cry of the forerunner in crowded street. — Gaily
dressed " sai's." — Elijah before Ahab. — Warning by
Samuel. — Absalom's display. — Streets of Cairo. — Road to
Gheezeh. — Call to prepare the way. — Wretched roads in
the East. — Making roads ready for a coming ruler . . 209


The king's highway. — A royal road in Egypt. — Assyrian road-
makers. — Semiramis as a road-builder. — Darius and Alex-
ander. — Edom and Palestine. — Roman roads. — Talmudic
references to road-repairing. — Call of the prophet to make
ready for Messiah. — Preparing the way in Abyssinia. —
Penalty of failure. — Road-repairing in Lebanon. — Way of
the kingdom. — Religious "ways." — Taouism, Shintooism,
Booddhism, Sunnis. — "Ways" of evil. — Bible references
to " ways." — Jesus " the Way." — Christianity "the way " 219


Meaning of " father " in the East.— Every group a " family."
— A possessor, inventor, or pioneer. — " Father of a sauce-
pan." — Sons and daughters of a " father." — Shaykh, sen-

Contents. xi

ior, senator, elder, alderman. — Rising up before the hoary
head. — Young shaykhs of Arab tribes. — Advantages of a
patriarchal beard. — Legal fictions. — Government an en-
larged family circle. — First table of the Law. — Divine son-
ship of kings. — Teachings of ancient Egypt. — Reverence
for parents in the East. — Refusing cigarettes in a father's
presence. — Lifelong honor to a mother. — Stability of
government based on filial reverence — A "command-
ment with promise." — Lessons from China. — God's repre-
sentative 237


Praying on the corners of streets. — A fruit-seller in Alexandria.
— A dragoman at the wells of Moses. — Thinking to be
heard of men. — An 'Azazimeh shaykh at Beersheba. —
Using vain repetitions. — Howling darweeshes at Cairo. —
Priests of Baal. — Booddhist prayer formula. — Praying
cylinders. — Oriental forms of prayer. — Ancient Egyptian
ritual. — Rabbinical directions for prayers. — Learning how
to pray. — Making ready to pray. — Ablutions and posi-
tions. — Praying toward a holy place. — Niches of direction.
Jerusalem or Meccah. — Wailing-place of the Jews. — Mosk
on the Mount of Olives. — Morning call to prayer. — Larger
privilege of Christians 255


Possibilities of food in the wilderness. — Supposed changes in
the desert of Sinai. — Contrast of the desert with Palestine.
— Limited requirements of the Bed'ween. — An ordinary
day's supply of food. — Value of parched corn and sugar.
— Likeness of this to manna. — Dependants of the Con-
vent of St. Catharine. — Living on dromedaries' milk. —
Fed with crumbs. — Rarity of animal food. — Broiled quails.
— Fasting and gorging. — A good appetite as a gift of God.

xii Contents.

— Caravan possibilities in the desert. — Food brought from
afar. — Sowing and reaping in the wadies. — Reasonable-
ness of the Bible miracles 277


Reproduction of Bible pictures in the East of to-day. — Scenes
of suffering in Egypt. — Contrast between Egypt and the
desert. — Halt and maimed and blind and diseased in
Palestine. — Lepers at the gate of Nablus. — Blind men at
Jericho. — Approach to Constantinople. — Healing looked
for from the hakeem. — Testimony of travelers. — Arab at
Wady Gharandel. — Following a Philadelphia dentist. —
Asking for a new leg. — Sight better than bread. — Calls
for healing at Castle Nakhl. — Napoleon at Jaffa. — Prince
of Wales at Lebanon. — Reason for the healing miracles
of Jesus. — Medical missionaries. — Testimony of Mrs.
Isabella Bird Bishop. — Testimony of Sir William Muir. —
Dr. Allen in Korea. — Bible promises 295


Gold and silver among the Israelites. — Golden calf. — Taber-
nacle treasures. — Borrowing from the Egyptians. — Coins
and ornaments worn by Oriental women. — A wife's per-
sonal possessions. — Protection in case of divorce. — A
camel-driver's loss of gold. — Gideon's spoil from the Midi-
anites. — A specimen woman of the desert. — Riches of
Arab shaykhs. — Bakhsheesh in the East. — Fig paste and
a silk handkerchief for the governor. — Added coin for
Shaykh Moosa. — A representative dragoman. — Dr. Hil-
precht and his muleteer. — Egyptian bakhsheesh to the
departing Hebrews 319


Prominence of pilgrimages in the East. — Importance of the
Meccah llajj in Egypt. — Track of the Hajj on the desert.
— 1']] rimages to Jerusalem. — Footprint of Jesus on the

Contents. xiii

Mount of Olives. — Going northward in Holy Week. —
Pilgrims journeying by night.— Antiquity of pilgrimages.
— Testimony of Herodotus.— Figurative meaning of pil-
grimage. — Abraham, Jacob, and David. — Spiritual mean-
ing of Hajj. — " Songs of the Goings Up."— Feast of taber-
nacles.— Symbolism of the three feasts of the Hebrews. —
Strangers and pilgrims.— Pilgrimage circuits.— Circuits at
Jericho.— Circuits at Jerusalem.— Circuits in the syna-
gogues. — Circuits in Christian churches. Circuits in
India. — Circuits at Meccah. — Booddhist circumambula-
tions. — Local pilgrimages in Morocco. — Survivals in the
Hebrides.— Survivals in America. — Survivals in children's
games. — The lesson of the pilgrimage 333


A lovely spot.— Plain of the Cornfields.— Highway of the
rulers.— Valley of Shechem.— Historic associations.— Jesus
and the woman of Samaria.— Work in the grain-fields —
Covenant in drinking. — Saladeen and Prince Arnald —
Omar and Hormozan— Lesson from sowing and reaping.
— Truth taught in former days. — Christianity and outside
religions. — Words of Whittier. — Spirit of Christ in his
missionary followers 355


Jerusalem and the passover sacrifice.— Samaritan sacrifice at
Gerizim. — A mongrel people.— A visit to Gerizim on the
passover evening. — Preparations for the sacrifice. — High-
priest and assistants. — Worshipers. — Solemn service.—
Slaying of the lambs.— Marking with the blood.— Mutual
rejoicings.— The children's share.— Spitting and roasting
the lambs. — A guest of the high-priest.— A taste of bitter
herbs.— Midnight cry.— Uncovering of the oven.— I'
over feast. — A storm.— After the storm.— "A shadow of
the things to come " 37 1

xiv Contents.


Old Testament pi(flures. — The wilderness. — Varying titles. —
Experiences of Hagar, Moses, Elijah. — Jesus and his
temptations. — Paul and his training. — Three typical lands.
— Lessons of Arabia. — Variety and grandeur in the desert.
— Impressive silence. — Loneliness. — God's region. — Man's
littleness. — Man's dependence. — Man's needs. — Tokens
of God's love. — Stars, flowers, springs of water. — "Guests
of God." — Fitness of the camel to the region. — Lessons
for our pilgrimage 387

Topical Index 411

Scriptural Index




Pyramids of Gheezeh, from East of the Nile i

" Forty centuries look down upon you."

Tomb of Rachel, with Bethlehem in the Distance . .... 6
Rich with memories of Rachel, of Ruth, of David, and of Jesus.

Egyptian Bride Starting for the Bridegroom's Home .... 7
" The voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, . . . and the voice of
the bride."

Taj Mahal at Agra 7-

" One majesty of whiteness the Taj of Agra stands
Like no work of human builder, but a care of angel hands."

Black Tents of Bed / \veen, in Northern Africa 73

" God's guests " in the desert welcome all whom God sends.

Well of Beersheba i-P

" If thine enemy . . . thirst, give him to drink."

" Pyramid of Degrees," at Saqqarah M3

Shadowing the dead of old, and the mourners of to-d.iv.

Mourners at a Grave in Bethany -08

" She goeth unto the grave to weep there."


xvi List of Illustrations.


Place of Muhammad Alee, in Alexandria 209

" Toward the East, and toward the glorious land."

Sa'i's, an Egyptian Forerunner 218

" Your sons . . . shall run before his chariots."

Traveled Way in the Wilderness of Sinai 219

" Cast up, cast up the highway ; gather out the stones."

*' Appian Way," the " Queen of Roads " 236

"All roads lead to Rome."

Syrian Village Shaykh 237

"The hoary head is a crown of glory,
If it be found in the way of righteousness."

Old Beggar by the Wayside 254

" Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face
of the old man."

Postures in Prayers 255

" He stood, and kneeled down upon his knees, . . . and spread
forth his hands towards heaven."

Mosk on the Mount of Olives 276

" Every night he went out, and lodged in the mount that is
called the mount of Olives."

Women Grinding with Hand-mill, in Palestine 277

"There shall be two women grinding together."

Little Bread maker, in Egypt 294

"She took flour, and kneaded it, and did bake unleavened
1 hi ad thi ■

List of Illustrations. xvii

Group of Lepers near Nablus 2 95

" These lepers came to the outermost part of the camp."

Blind Leading the Blind, in Judea 3 l8

" Can the blind guide the blind? shall they not both fall into a pit? "

Abyssinian Women, with Ornaments and Strings of Coins . .319
"Jewels of gold, ankle-chains, and bracelets, signet-rings, ear-
rings, and armlets."

Bed'wy Woman, Carrying Dried Vines for Fuel 332

" They had golden nose-rings, because they were Ishmaelites."

Starting of the Mahmal, or Sacred Canopy, from Cairo, for

Meccah 333

" We will go three days' journey into the wilderness."

Pilgrim Climbing up the Mountain of Moses at Sinai . . .354
" And Moses went up into the mount."

Jacob's Well, with Mount Gerizim on the Left 355

" Jacob's well was there. Jesus, . . . being wearied with his
journey, sat . . . by the well."

Oriental Plowman 37°

" One soweth, and another reapeth."

Nablus, the Site of Ancient Shechem 371

" Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem.
. . . And there builded he an altar unto the Lord."

Yakob Haroon, High-priest of the Samaritans, with the Samari-
tan Pentateuch 3§6

" jews have no dealings with Samaritans.''

xviii • List of Illustrations.


Outlook on the Desert of Arabia , 387

"A desert land, ... in the waste howling wilderness."

Wady Fayran, with " Five-Peaked Serbal " in the Distance

" He brought them to the border of his sanctuary,
To this mountain-land which his right hand had purchased."


These illustrations are reproductions in "half-tone " from pho-
tographs by Sebah of Constantinople ; Bonfils of Beyroot ; Bergheim
of Jerusalem; Lekegian of Cairo, Sommer of Naples, Good of
Winchfield, Hants, England ; the British Ordnance Survey of the
Peninsula of Sinai ; Pancoast of Philadelphia, and others. Those
at pages 276, 294, 295, 333, 354, are from the valuable collection of
Edward L. Wilson of New York, who has kindly given his consent
to this use of his copyright pictures.


The prime advantage of a study of Oriental
social life is that the past is there found repro-
duced in the present as reflecting the ancient
history of our race. The Oriental social life of
to-day is the Oriental social life of former days.
There, that which is, is that which has been ; and
that which is and has been in the cradle-place of
humanity is that which has put its impress upon
humanity everywhere. The study of the Oriental
present is, in fact, a study of the universal past,
and therefore it is a study for all and for always.

One of the most impressive thoughts that ever
held the human mind is in the suggestion that,
in accordance with the immutable laws of light

Studies in Oriental Social Life.

and motion, every scene in human history is now,
in a sense, visible at some point in the vast uni-
verse of nature, and every sound that ever broke
the silence of the air is now vibrating somewhere
within the limits of that universe ; so that all the
historic and all the unhistoric past is actually an
ever-present reality, — if only the point of view
and the eye and the ear be suited to the observa-
tion of that which is.

It is not a thoughtless visionary, but a careful
observer of the laws which govern matter, who
says: "The pulsations of the air, once set in
motion by the human voice, cease not to exist
with the sounds to which they gave rise. Strong
and audible as they may be in the immediate
neighborhood of the speaker, and at the imme-
diate moment of utterance, their quickly attenu-
ated force soon becomes inaudible to human ears. "
. . . But these aerial pulses, unseen by the keen-
est eye, unheard by the acutest ear, unperceived
by human senses, are yet demonstrated to exist
by human reason ; and, in some few and limited
instances, by calling to our aid the most refined
and comprehensive instrument of human thought,
their courses are traced and their intensities are

The Past in the Present.

measured. . . . Thus considered, . . . the air itself
is one vast library, on whose pages are forever
written all that man has ever said or woman
whispered. There, in their mutable but unerring
characters, mixed with the earliest as well as with
the latest sighs of mortality, stand forever re-
corded vows unredeemed, promises unfulfilled,
perpetuating in the united movements of each
particle the testimony of man's changeful will."

"Let us," says another thinker, "imagine an
observer, with infinite powers of vision, in a star
of the twelfth magnitude. He would see the
earth at this moment as it existed at the time of
Abraham. Let us, moreover, imagine him moved
forwards in the direction of our earth with such
speed that in a short time (say, in an hour) he
comes within the distance of a hundred millions
of miles, being then as near to us as the sun is,
whence the earth is seen as it was eight minutes
before ; let us imagine all this, quite apart from
any claims of possibility or reality, and then we
have indubitably the following result, — that be-

Online LibraryH. Clay (Henry Clay) TrumbullStudies in oriental social life and gleams from the East on the sacred page → online text (page 1 of 24)