Thomas Harmer.

Observations on various passages of Scripture, placing them in a new light and ascertaining the meaning of several not determinable by the methods commonly made use of by the learned (Volume 3) online

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Online LibraryThomas HarmerObservations on various passages of Scripture, placing them in a new light and ascertaining the meaning of several not determinable by the methods commonly made use of by the learned (Volume 3) → online text (page 18 of 33)
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there, particularly from a most beautiful and transparent
fountain, a little above it, which breaks out at the further
end of the grotto, naturally hollowed out in the hard rock,
and which is overhung with small trees, where they made
a considerable stop to refresh themselves. The water


of this spring running by a channel into the cistern, and
;\fterward tnrning a mill whicli was just by the « istern,
and belonged to the monastery, and from thence flowed,
as it still does, into the torrent bed of that valley, from
whence David collected the five smooth stones,^ of which
one proved fatal to Goliah.

Here we see an hollow place, a srotto, in which the
God of nature had divided the rock for the passajre of the
water of a beautiful spring. It was a grotto in Lehi, in
which God, on this occasion made the water to gu!»h out,
and run in a stream into the adjoining country, where the
exhausted warrior stood.

What Doubdan says of that spring's continuing to flow
into the bed of the torrent in that valley to this day, at
which spring he took his first repast, gives a natural ex-
planation of what the writer of the book of Judges meant,
when he says. Wherefore he called the name thereof,
En-hakkore, which is in Lehi^ unto this day: that is,
which spring continued to flow from that grotto to the
day in which he wrote, in contradistinction from some
springs which had been known to have been stopped, by-
some of the many earthquakes which are so frequent
in that country, or by some other operation of Provi-

• Page 91, 93. Particuliereraer.t d'ane tres-belle et claire fontaine qui
est un pen pins haul, dans le foncis d'une grotte naturellement laillee dans
une dure roche, orntirasfee d'arbrisseaux ou lious demeurasnies assez long,
temps k nous retVaischir, &c.

t As has tinppened in Italy, according to Mr. Addison, in his beautiful
letter from that country :

♦* Sometimes, misguided l>y the tuneful throng,

I look for streams inimortaliz'd in song.

That, lost in silence and oblivion lie.

Dumb nre their Jonntnins, and their channels iJri/,

Yet run for ever by the Vinso's skill,

And in the smooth description murmur still,"

TtfL. IV. 28


The same day pursuing their journey, they came to
another fountain, adorned with freestone, and dignified by
being named the Fountain of the Apostles, where the
way parted, the left hand road leading them to Emraaus, |

which they visited : then turning back to the Fountain of i
the Apostles, they took the right hand road, which led
them to a village full of cattle and fowls, =^ by which the
inhabitants were greatly enriched, named Bedon ; from
whence they went to a town called 8t, Samuel, where that
Prophet is supposed to have been buried, anciently Rama
of Silo : from whence they proceeded to an excellent
fountain, called St. Sa^nueVs, hollowed out in the heart
of a mighty rock, shaded over by small trees, where they
stopped to dine, sitting on the grass, in the shade. In
taking his repast, he could not but admire the extreme
abstemiousness of the Armenian bishops and the Maron-
ite monk, who, though great entreaty was used, would eat
nothing but herbs, without salt, without oil, or vinegar,
together with bread, and drinking nothing but water, not
so much as a single drop of wine, excepting the Maron-
ite, who drank a little, and eat an egg, it being their

I adraif, that possibly all that the sacred writer meant
was, that God cleft an hollow place in the earth, con-
taining a hidden reservoir of water, and which continued
to flow, receiving fresh supplies from springs, after an
outlet was once made for the discbarge of its water ; but
the understanding the account as referring to an opening
of the earth or rock, in the further end of a cave or

* Which circumstance, was not often to be remarked in the ancient
Jewish villages, since little mention is made of fowls in the Old Testa-
ment. See vol iii. p. 145.

t P?>2;e 98 Passant uo pen plus outre, nous allasmes trouver une ex-
cellente fontaine que porte le mesmc nom, creusee dans le cceur d'une
puissaate roche, orabragee de petits arbrisseaux, ou nous nous arrestasmes
pour disner sur I'herbe, a la fraischeur, &c.


grotto, is throwing greater energy into the words: is very
amusing to the imagination ; and agrees with other in-
stances of that kind in this country, two of which Doub-
dan met with, in one day, in the neighbourhood of Je-




The Mohammedans not only consider themselves as
forbidden by their law to druik wine ; but their zeal is
sometimes so impetuous, as to prevent their Christian and
Jewish subjects absolutely from making it, and at other
times, of greater relaxation, to throw diflSculties in their
way, that they are not a little perplexing: it is owing to
this that we so seldom meet with any mention made now
of vineyards in the Holy Land ; and that those that we
have an account of, are so slovenly managed.

I was struck with the following account of Monsieur
Doubdan. Having visited Emmaus, mentioned Luke
xxiv. 13, and returning to Jerusalem, iu his way thither,
he, at about four miles distance from thence, was shown
the sepulchres of the judges of Israel, He goes on,
" These sepulchres are in a great field planted with vines,
which in all this country trail on the ground, very indif-
ferently cultivated. There one sees great and mighty
rocks which rise out of the ground, among which there
is one, near the wayside, in which is a porch cut out with
the chisel, about two toises long, seven or eight feet in
breadth, and the same in height. Out of this porch you
enter, with a light you are obliged to carry, through a
small door embellished with many flowers and morisco-


work, cut out of the same rock, into a large room," &,e.
going on to describe the^e ancient sepulchres.^

This is a very unfavourable account of the vineyards of
that country in later times, this slovenly mode of culti-
vation being supposed to be universal there. It might
not be so however anciently. Some, indeed, might be
left to trail in this manner on the ground, under which
the Benjamites might be very well concealed, when they
surprised the virgins of Shiloh ;f but those passages of
Scripture, that speak o{ sittitig for pleasure under their
vines, suppose, very evidently, that some of them rose to
a considerable height, whether by climbing up trees,
twisting themselves about treillages, or being supported
merely by slakes.

Doubdan mentions nothing of the vinedressers singing
when he travelled through these vineyards: but as the
Eastern people are wont to sing in their employments,
so St. Jerom supposed those that pruned the vines near
Beihit hem, where he lived, were wont to sing in his time
when pruning them;J so the Prophet Isaiah distinguishes
between the softer singing of those that pruned, and the
more noisy mirth of the time of vintage, Isaiah xvi. 10.
Gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful
field : and in the vineyards shall be no sins^ing, neither
shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no
wine in their presses ; / have made their vintage shout'
ingr to cease,

* Page 98, 99. f Judges xxi. 20, 21.

% Quocunque te verteris, arator stivam tenens, alleluia decantat. Su-
dans messor psalinis se avocat, et curva attondens vitem falce vinitory ali-
quid Davidicuni canit. Hac sunt in hac provincia carmina. Ep. ad Mar-
eellatn. torn. i. p. 127.




The memorials of the dead, that are now found in
Judea, are of different kinds ; it seems it was so an-

When Doubdan set out to visit the remarkable places
of the valley of Jehoshaphat, one of the first things he
mentions, was a small place planted with trees, and enclos-
ed with walls, which was the sepulchre of a Moor.^ He
was afterward conducted to a rock, above ground, which
was wrought by the chissel into the form of a little
building, with a spire of considerable height, which it
seems is an addition to the rock : this too is supposed to
be an ancient sepulchre, and the antiquarians of that
country assign it to Absalom. f Another sepulchre, hewn
in like manner out of an insulated rock, but not with a
pyramidal top, is shown as that of Zechariah the son of
Barachiah.J Between the accounts of these two memo-
rials of the dead, he gives us a description of the burial
place of the modern Jews, in which are common graves,
like our's, covered with one, two, or three stones, badly
polished, and without ornament.

Here we see three different kinds of memorials for the
departed : trees, buildings, or what resemble them, and
flat grave stones.

A like difference appears to have obtained anciently:
Jacob raised a building, or pillar, as it is called in our
translation, over the grave of Rachel ;|1 it was an oak that

* Page 102. t Page 112. i Page 113.

II Gen. XXXV. 20. Whatever kind of erection the original word might
signify, that which is shown for it at this time is a building, but it might
have been a single stone, though not a tree. Doubdan's account of w hat
is now supposed to be her tomb, is, that it is a large dome of masonry, with-
out any ornament, supported by four large square pillars, which form the
same number of arches, and that underneath h a tomb of the same mate-


kept up the remembrance of that place, wljere the same
Jacob buried Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, aa we are told
in the same chapter."^ The tree under which the men
of Jabesh buried the bones of king Saul, was selected,
being designed, I should suppose, for the same purpose
of keeping the exact place of his interment in remem-

Probably some mark of distinction was set about these
ancient sepulchral trees, as a wall was built round those
that formed a memorial for the Moor in the valley of Je-
faoshaphat, perhaps something of stonework : either three
or four single stones pitched round it ; or a greater^ura-
ber forming a closer kind of fence. Such obtained among
the Greeks of former times, according to Homer in his
twentythird Iliad :f

" Yon aged trunk, a cubit from the ground ;
Of some one stately oak the last remain.
Or hardy fir unperish'd with the rain,
Enclos'd with stones, conspicuous from afar,
^And round, a circle for the wheeling car.
Some tomb perhaps of old the dead to grace," &:c.

The mention of Rebecca's nurse leads me to set down
a passage in Monsieur Savary's Letters on Egypt, which
an inquisitive and ingenious friend communicated to me
very lately, in which Savary, speaking of the Egyptian
women, and their manner of nursing their children, says,
"When circumstances compel them to have recourse to
a nurse, she is not looked upon as a stranger. She be-
comes part of the family, and passes the rest of her life in
the midst of the children she has suckled. She is hon-
ored and cherished like a second mother."

rials, stone and mortar, made in the fashion of a great old chest, with a
roundish lid. The workmansliip very coarse. Tiie whole surrounded
with a low wall, in whif.h enclosure he observed two other small tombs, of
the same shape with the great one. Page 128, 129

* Ver. 8. t Ver. 32r, 528,


So the Syrian nurse continued until her death with
Rebecca, and was buried with great solemnity of mourn-
ing : since that oak was from that time distinguished by
the name of the Oak of Weeping.=^



The Epistle to the Hebrews describes some of the an-
cient suiFerers for piety and virtue, as driven out from
the society of their countrymen, and wandering about,
hke miserable outcasts, in deserts and mountains, with no
better vestments than sheepskins and goatskins ;f refer-
ring, probably, to some in the beginning of the opposition
made by the Maccabee family, to the attempts of the
Syrian princes to force the Jewish people to abandon the
religion of their forefathers, and unite with the heathens
in their idolatrous customs. J It may be acceptable to the
reader to learn, that there are numbers of such miserable
outcasts from common society, in that very country, to
this day : not indeed on a religious account, for they are
all Mohammedans ; but frooj national prejudices, and dis<>
tinclions arising from that source.

Doubdan frequently met with such in his peregrina-
tions in that country. He sometimes calls them Moors,
by which, I apprehend, is meant the descendants from

* The mourning for Jacob, the head of the family, was kept in remem-
brance in much the same way, occasioning Atari's tlireshingfloor to be de-
nominated Mel JUizruim^ the mourning ot the Egyptians. Gen i. 10, 11.

t Ch xi. ?)7y 38. They ivandered about in sheepskins, and goatskins,
being desiitvtff uffiicttd, tormented ; of -u-hom the world ivas not -worthy ••
they luiindered in deserts, and in mountaina, and in dens and caves of
th? earth.

i 1 Moccah ii. 2R, 29, 30. It appears by a clause in the last of those
verses, thfit the} had their eattl.- with them, from whence their miserable
clothing seems to have been derived.


the old natives of that country, who inhabifec! it before
the Turks, a branch of the Taitar-, overran these parts
of Asia. Some of the Arabs Le met with are not de-
scribed as in more elegant circumstances : these are anoth-
er Eastern nation, who are attached to the living in tents,
and will by no means be induced to dwell in more fixed
habitations, and commonly dwell in deserts, and very
retired places.

Upon leaving Jerusalem, in order to embark at Joppa,
they halted some little time on a short plain, not far from
the Holy City, to give time to the caravan to assemble,
with which they were to travel : while waiting there, he
says, " we saw six Bedouins pass along," he means these
wandering Arabs, " who had no other clothing than a
sheepskin on their shoulders, and a rag about their loins,
emaciated and burnt up with the heat, of a horrible as-
pect, their eyes fiery, and each with a great club. These
people are Arabs, and the greatest robbers in all the

He describes some of the Moors in the neighbourhood
of Bethlehem, who live in the village where the shep-
herds dwelt to w^hom the angel of the Lord appeared,
according to the tradition of the country, in much the
same manner. He says, " it is a poor hamlet, of twenty
or twentyfive hovels." That he was informed " its in-
habitants are some of the poorest and most miserable peo-
ple of the country. That they saw some who looked
like true savages, almost entirely naked, sunburnt, black
as a coal, and shining with the grease and oil with which
they rub themselves, horrid in their countenances, wilh a
surly voice, with which they keep mumbling, and terrify
those that are not accustomed to meet them. More es-
pecially when, upon their going to visit a certain place to
which their devotion led them, they saw four poor miser-
able Mooi:s running to them across the fields, huge,
frightful creatures, all of them naked and sunburnt, two

• Page 438.


armed wi(h bows and arrows, the olher two with cudgels,
threatening to use thetn with severity, if ihey did not
give them money."*

The same scenery is exhibited in other places, and
represents, I imagine, excepting the violence, an accurate
picture of those poor persecuted Hebrews, who wandered
about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute of many
of the coi'jforts of life, emacialed, tormented with the
burning heat of the sun, and afllicted with many othtr
bitternesses in that wild and rough stale.



Learned men seem to have given themselves uneasiness,
Te* y unnecessarily, about the cara\ an to which Joseph was
Sold, which company of people are sometimes called Ish-
maelites, somefimei* Midianiles :f had the account been giv-
en us by two different writers, and one had said Jo«eph was
sold to some Ishniaf liies, and the oilier to 8on;e Midianiles,
it might have been said there was a contradiction between
them ; but as one and I he sanie writer, in Ihe sanie para-
graph, and even in the same verse makes use of these
two different names, it is apparent that ihey were to hioi
indifferent. I would add, that probably those that in Ihe
age in which this book was wiiften, travelled over tlie
deserts, to or tbiough Judea, wiih cameN, were called, ia
a loose and general way, ]-linfaeli?es, and that when they
came up with the sons of Jacob, they were found of that
particular tribe callt-d Midianiles.

I am very sensible that, according to the book of Gen-
esii, Midian was a son of Abraham by Kelurah, Gen.

• Pa%e 145, 146.

t Gen. xxxvii. Three tiraes ihey are called Ishmaelites, ver. 20, 2",
28; and once Midiuuites, ?er. 28.

VOL. IV, 29


XXV. 2, consequently his descendants were not Ishmael-
ites ; but as the several tribes of the Ishuiaelites, and those
descended from Keturah, all dwelt in the East country,^
that is in Arabia Petraea or Deserta, they might, by the
time this book was written, come to be considered as one
body of people, under the common name of Ishmaelites,
as the several tribes of Israel came afterward to be de-
nominated Jews, though the tribe of Judah was but one
out of twelve or thirteen different tribes that descended
from Jacob.f

It is certain that, according to d'Herbelot, the Arab»
of later times have considered themselves as Ishmaelites,
Voy. art. Ismaelioun, and call Ishmael the father of their
nation, art. Ismael, fills d' Abraham, though there are
many tribes of the Arabs who are not Ishmaelites properly
speaking, being descended from Joctan the son of Heber,
according to d'Herbelot. The Oriental writers, by a
mistake indeed, suppose Midian was the grandson of
Abraham by his son Ishmael, instead of being his son by
Keturah, but a very easy one, as all the Arab tribes ac-
knowledge Ishmael as their father, though many of them
are not descended from him.

D'Herbelot further informs us, that the Mussulmans
suppose that the Arabs that travel about with their mer-
chandise took different roads, according to the different
seasons: Gaza, in the confines between Sj'ria and Egypt,
being their mart in summer tin)e, on account of the fresh-
ness of the air to be enjoyed in Syria; whereas they went
to the southern parts of Arabia, or Yemen, in winter, the
heat being excessive there, in the opposite part of the
year. This, according to them, was an old establishment
among them, Haschem, the grandfather of Mohammed,
dying at Gaza, in one of these summer commercial jour-

* Ch. XXV. 6.
t So Holland, in our time, often means all the seven confederated prov-
inces, though, strictly speaking, it is the name only of one of them.
^ Art. Gazza*


If this account may be depended on, Joseph was sold
to the Midianites some time in the summer ;'^ and these
Ishmaelites are not to be understood to have personally
conveyed him into Egypt, but stopping at Gaza, to dis-
pose of him there to Egyptian merchants. This last
might not be exactly the case; but would not, however,
I apprehend, be inconsistent wilh the sacred history, un-
derstood in that lax and popular manner in which we may
believe it was designed to be considered.



Pitts says,f the Algerines never take either appren-
tices or hired servants, but " such as have occasion for
servants, buy slaves, J and bring them up to their house-
hold work, as our servant maids are here in England ; who,
as soon as they have done up all their work in the house,
are usually allowed the liberty to go abroad and visit their
courrtrymen, commonly bearing each a child with them ;
and if the child be a boy, it rides on the slave's shoul-
ders. H

Was the custom anciently the reverse of this ? So it
might be imagined from Is. xlix. 22 : They shall bring
thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried

* Which appears to have been the fact from other considerations : the
feeding the flock at such a distance from home ; and the dryness of the
pit into v.'hich they kt him down.

t Gen. xii. 10. + Page 68.

II Sir John Chardin observes, in his MS. note on Gen. xxix. 24, that
none but very poor people marry a daughter, in the East, without giving
her a female slave for a chambermaid ; there being no hired servants there,
as in Europe. He says much the same in another note on Tobit x. 10,
Agreeably to this we find Laban. upon marrying his daughter, gave each
of them a female slave. So Solomon supposes they were extremely poor
that had not a servant, Prov. xii 9. An attention to this circumstance is
requisite to enter into the strength of that passage.


upon their shoulders. Nevertheless, I am persuaded
this in not true; but if they anciently made a difference
in the manner of carrying children, as the Algerines seem
to do now, the same custom obtained also then. Nor do
these words of Isaiah contradict this. The Algerine
manner of carrying the boys, may be well enough ex-
pressed by " they shall bring thy sons in their bosom,'' as
the word is translated in the margin, their legs hanging
down in their bosoms ; and if the Prophet designed to
represent their daughters as carried in the way children
usually are with us, he might express himself in the man-
ner he does, children so carried often looking over the
shoulder, and leaning their arms upon it.

This observation of Pitts will enable us to form a judg-
ment of Vitringa's comment on this passage, who in gen-
eral is a very accurate writer. " Not," says he, " that
they were carried properly on the shoulders, which would
be very incommoding to the person carrying, and to those
that were carried : but they are said to be carried on the
shoulders, because they are supported by the arms which
hang from the sl'oulders, in which also their strength lies.'*
It is evident, from the practice at Algiers, that the pos-
ture in question is not so incommoding to a slave in the
Levant^ as this explanation would suppose it to be."^



These slaves, according to Pitts, f do the work of maid
servants. The labour, enjoined the Gibeonites, was also
what females were wont to perform, and do to this day.

* Dr. Russell asserts, vol i. p. 441, that the children who are able to
support theraselves, are usually carried astride on the shoulder ; but in
Infancy they are carried in the arms, or awkwardly on one haunch. Edit.

t Page 54.


Shaw mentions,^ the going out of the women in the
evening to fetch water, as still the custom of the Arabs of
Barbary; and cites Gen. xxiv. 11, to prove it was the
custom anciently; to which he might have added I Sara.
ix. 1 1, John iv. 7. The author of the Piratical States of
Barbarj assures us also, that thej cut the fuel. "The
care of the cattle," speaking of the Arabs of the kingdom
of Algiers, <* belongs to the women and children ; they
also provide food for their family, cut fuel, fetch water,
and, when their domestic affairs allow them, tend their silk
worms. "f D'Arvieux, in like manner, represents the
daughters of the Turcomen of Palestina, as fetching wood
as well as water J

As the women of these countries cut fuel now as well aa
fetch water, we may believe they did so formerly, and that
they are both equally ancient customs. This supposition
is confirmed very much by Jer. vii. 11, and Lam. v. 1.3
which speak of the children's fetching wood : The young

The bitterness then of the doom of the Gibeonites, does
not seem to have consisted in the laboriousness of the ser-
vice enjoined them, which had been commonly undersiood
to be the case ; for it was usual for the women and child-
ren to perform what was required of the Gibeonites; but
its degrading them from the characteristic employment of
men, that of bearing arms, and condemning them, and their
posterity for ever, to the employment of females. The
not receiving them as allies was bitter ; the disarming them
who had been warriors, and condemning them to the em-
ployment of females, was worse ; but the extending this

Online LibraryThomas HarmerObservations on various passages of Scripture, placing them in a new light and ascertaining the meaning of several not determinable by the methods commonly made use of by the learned (Volume 3) → online text (page 18 of 33)