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 2) 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 2) → online text (page 1 of 33)
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Stem f ^e feifirari? of

(profeBBor ^amuef Otiffet

in (gtemori? of

3ubge ^dmuef (Bltffer QSrecftinribge

^amuef (^differ QSrecftinribge &ong

to f ^e £i6rart of

(princefon C^eofogicaf ^eminarj















Iinpellimur autem Natura, ut prodesse Telimus quatnplurimis iniprimisque docendo,

Itaque non facile est inveiiire, qui quod sciat ipse, non ti-adat alttri.

Cic. deFin. lib. iji.







Observation. Page.

XXVII. Of watermelons, and their great utility in the P^ast 9
xxviii. Curious observations on the dove's dung, mentioned

2 Kings vi. 25 - - - 13

XXIX. Wine and flo^yers frequent in Eastern entertainments 16

XXX. Burning of aromatics at their feasts - - IS

XXXI. Singular method of inviting persons to an entertainment,

in the East - - - 20

XXXI I. Entertainments made in the opep air in hot countries 21
xxxiii. In those out of door entertainments, any passenger is in-
vited to partake - - 27

XXXIV. Fishermen in the East frequently land to dress and eat

their fish on the seashore - - 28
XXXI V. Of their sitting on heaps of stones at their feasts 55
XXXV. Manner in which the Copts eat their victuftls 57
xxxvi. Method of cultivating rice in different parts of the East
Indies, to which frequent allusion is made in the Sa-
cred Writings - - 38
XXXVII. Strange method of eating among the Arabs 43
XXXV 1 11. Butter and honey used as a breakfast among the Arabs 47
XXXIX Honey not wholesome to Europeans in the East 52
XL. Flavour of honey peculiarly excellent, when just expressed

from the combs - - - ^^

XL I. Of their honey pots - - - 60

XLit. Different kinds of delicacies used in the East 61

XLiii. Potted flesh raaJe use of by travellers in the East 63

XLiv. Different kinds of game esteemed delicacies in the East 65

XL V. Shoulder of lamb a delicacy in the East - 66

XLvi. Fat lambs esteemed a delicacy in the East 68

xLvll. How strangers ai-e entertained in the East ibid


*^^^- Page.

XL VII I, Roasted and stewed meat, delicacies among the Arabs 73

acLix. Of their pottage in the East - - 76

L. Seldom use flesh meat, but live on milk, pulse, &c. 77

Li. Game sometimes used. Hunting of the Arabs 78

LI I. Inhabitants of the villages obliged to supply their grandees

M'hen on a journey, with provisions - 80

LIT I. Different methods of serving' up food at meals - 82

Liv. Manner of eating at courts - - 85
LV. Provisions sent from the tables of Eastern princes to the

poor, kc. - . - 87

7. VI. Women and men do not eat together in the East 88
Lvii. The Eastern people begia to eat very early in the morning 89
Lviii. Abstemiousness conducive to health - - 90
Lix. Mats used in the East instead of tables - - 91

LX. V'arious utensils used by the ancient Jews - 93

LXi. Women are still accustomed to draw water in the East 100

LXii. Water the principal beverage in the East 101

LXiii. Large supply of cattle at the tables of princes 102

1.x IV. Drinking vessels often mnde of gold in the East 107

LXV. Horns used as drinking vessels in the Ease 108

LXvi. Effects of wine upon some Eastern devotees IIQ

Lxvii. Ditferent kinds of wines in the East - - 111

^xvjii. Sweet wines much esteemed in the East - 117

I.XIX. The Easterns drink their wine before meat - 119

LXX. Libations of wine still made in the East - 120

Lxxi. Of their wine presses - . . 121

LXXii. The reason why wine is often poured from vessel to vessel 122

^xxiii. Snow put into the wine in order to cool it ibid

LXXiv. Vinegar and lemon juice used as drinks in the East 123

LXXV. Of lemons, oranges, and citrons - - 125

Lxxvi. Superior excellence of the pistachio nuts of Syria 130

LXXV 1 1. Kemarks on Ziba's present to David - - ibid

Lxxviii Of music in the EasUrn feasts - . I34

LXXiX. Different kinds of musical instruments used in the East 136

Lxxx. Of field and house music at Aleppo - - 139



I. Eastern travellers carry their provisions with them 14*
II. Carry also skins filled with water, for their refreshment on

theirjournies - - - - 142


Obs. Page.

III. Carry also provender for their beasts - - 144

1 V. Their manner of making up their packages 148

V. Of their wells, and the method of drawing water from them 149

vl. How they dispose of their baggage on jouruies, illustrating

Fzek. xii. 3—7 - - - 150
vll. They relieve the tedium of the way on their journies by

music, songs, tales, &c. - - - 153
vlll. Their manner of travelling by camels, dromedaries, boats,

&c. - - - - 154
Ix. No mangers used in the East ; hair bags and stone troughs

answering the purpose - - - 158

X. Their caravans composed of people of different nations 159
xl. Different kinds of vehicles used in the caravans for persons

of distinction, the sick, he. - _ - 160

xll. Method of wearing their swords in travelling 163

xlll. Travellers on horseback attended by persons on foot ibid

xlv. Their method of travelling on foot - - 164

XV. Of their roads, enclosures, &c. - - - 165

xvl. Of their enclosures, fences, walls, &c. - 169

xvll. Of their woods in the Hoh Land - 171

xvlll. Dangerous chasms near Aleppo - - 172

xlx. Hospitalit) of the Arabs to travellers, explaining Luke xiv.

23, kc. and Jerem. xlix. 3 - - 173
XX. Provisions used in journeying, with a curious comment on

a petition of the Lord's prayer - - 175
xxl. Provisions often extorted from the poor inhabitants of the

country, by the officers of government 183
xxll. The times of journeying, pitching their tents, &c. 188
xxll I. Time of shutting their gates in the East - - 190
xxlv. Civility of the women to strarigers - - 193
XXV. Of caravansaries, and public imis in the East 194
xxvl. The great liberality of the Arabs to their fellow travellers 196
xxvl I. Curious criticisms on John iv< 6 - - 197
xxvlll. Water carried sometimes in skius, and sometimes in earth-
en jars - - - 202
xxlx. On the supposition that the Israelites marched out of Egypt,

in files of five in front - - -OS

"xxx. Manner observed by the Eastern caravans in their journies '205

xxxl. Caravans travel chiefly in the night - - 207
sxxll. In journeying, bells are sometimes appended both to horses

and camels - - " 208


Obs. Page,

xxxlll. Of the lights used for travelling by night - 211
xxxlv. The necessity of guides in travelling through the Eastern

deserts - - - 217
xxxT. Heaps of stones placed at certain distances, to point out the

•way in the deserts - - - 219

CHAP. vr.


1. Gifts presented to inferiors in the East - - 224

11. Particular kinds of presents made to superiors 227

111. The preceding subject continued - - 231

Iv. Presents made at the circumcision of children 232

V. Presents of meat and drink made to their great men 233

vl. Presents often very expensive in the K.ast, not only those

made to strangers, but to private persons 235

vll. Presents often considered as a tribute - - 237

ylll. Dresses often given to persons of distinction 238
Ix. Flowers and odoriferous herbs often given as a token of

friendship - - - 239
X. Presents, unless of considerable value are sometimes re-
jected - - - 240
xl. Horses commonly presented to grandees 242
\11. When an inferior is visited by a superior, the former

makes him a present at his departure 243
.vUl. Presents sometimes made to princes to engage them to

lend their assistance in time of war - - 244
xlv. On the Eastern method of salutations - - 245
XV. Particular kinds of salutations • - 250
xvl. Further considerations on the same subject - - 255
xvU. Salutation both by attitude and expression 256
xvlU. Sometimes the inferior mentions himself before the per-
son he intends to honor ... 257
xlx. Prostrations, and kissing the feet sometimes practised in

the East - - - - 258
XX. Kissing the hand and putting it on the head, tokens of

respect _ - _ . gCl

xxl. Kissing what is presented, a token of respect to superiors 262
^:xll. Intimate acquaintances kiss each other's hands, head, or

shoulders - - - 266

iixlll. Kissing the beard, a token of respect 267

xxlv. Beards held in high estimation in the East 268


Obs. Page.

XXV. Kissing the hand, a token of reverence 269

xxvl. Dismounting, a token of respect - - SrO

xxvl 1. Christians in Egypt obliged to alight, when a Turk passes by 271

xxvl 11. Different postures indicating respect - - 273

xxlx. Stating a person on a cushion, a token of respect ibid

XXX. Silting in the corner, a token of superiority 274

xxxl. Different kinds of perfumes used at the close of friendly

visits - - - - - 281

xxxll. The subject further illustrated from Dan. ii. 46 283

xxxlll. Changing the dress of a person, a token of honor 293

xxxlv. Presents of garments often made even to the great 295

XXXV. Party coloured garments esteemed a mark of honor 296

xxxvl Eastern warriors often magnificently clothed - 297

xxxvll. Sometimes a prince gives his own garment as a token of

the highest respect - - - 298

sxxvl 1 1 Criminals not permitted to look on the person of the king 300

xxxlx Other curious methods of doing persons honor

XL. Riding on horseback, the privilege only of highly privileged
persons - . - -
xLl. Honors conferred on those who have got the Koran by heart
xLll. Watering the ground to lay the dust, before a superior
XLlll. Singular method of honoring an Arabian princess 310
XlIv. Honors paid to Nadir Shah - - - 312
xLV. The Easterns often change their garments in token of re-
spect - - - - - 31;i
xLvt. New clothes used in times of rejoicing - - 314
XLvll. The dress of brides often changed during the marriage

solemiity - - " " ^^"'

SLvlU. Curious criticism on Psalm cxxiii. 2 - - SIS
xLlx. Remarkable condescension sometimes shown by the East-

ern nobles

L. Females often express their joy by clapping their hands 320

Ll. Dancing and music used in doing persons honor 323

lU. Some account of the ancient Eastern dances

Llll. Description of a Maronite wedding

Llv. Different methods of expressing their joy - 326

Lv. Music and singing used in honoring superiors

Lvl. A spear in the hand or a standard carried before x person,

are marks of honor
T.vU. Letters sent to superiors are made up in a peculiar and
costly style - - -







Obs. Page.

Lvlll. Bracelets sometimes ensigns of royalty - - 336

Llx, Numerous lights, curiouslj' disposed, used in doing persons

honor - - . . 337

Lx. Chains on the necks of caraels, &c. marks of distinction and

grandeur - - . 338

Lxl. Umbrellas used for the san»e purposes - - 339

Lxll. Feathers used as ornaments in the East - - 341

Lxlll. Persons not possessing the regal dignJty, sometimes honor-
ed by permission to sit on a throne - - 346
Lxlv. Shields carried before persons, a mark of honor 348
Lxv. Rich dresses and costly furs used in doing honor to persons

of distinction . _ - 349

Lxvl. Red shoes and girdles, supposed to have been marks of dig-
nity in ancient times - - - 351
LXvll. Different articles of dress used among the ancients 355
Lxvlll. The same Subject continued - - 361
Lxlx Eunuchs attendant on the great - - S63
Lxx. A curious illustration of Ezek. xliv. 2, 3 - - 364
Lxxl. Giving the hand to a person, a token of subjection 3Q9
Lxxll. Curious illustration of Ezek. xxvii. 12, 16 - 366
ixxlll. High raised seats, places of honor - - 370
ixxlv. Of the use of carpets in devotion, and of sackcloth in

mourning - - - - 578

Lxxv. The manner in which the sabbath is honored among the

modern Greeks - - - 376

Lxxvl. Of stretching out their hands in prayer - 378

Lxxvll. Prostration at the threshold, one mode of honoring per-
sons in the East - - 579
Lxxvlll. Fine handkerchiefs, embroidered cloth and pieces of curi-
ous needlework, given as tokens of respect 10 persons
in the East - - 382
Lxxxlx. A curious illustration of the history of Joseph 384
Lxxx. Pecuniary rewards tokei.s of honor in the Fast 38S
i.xxxl. Various methods of honoring persons, something similar to
those in the East, anciently practised in European
kingdoms - - - 390
Lxxxll. Giving and receiving presents, pledges of mutual friend-
ship ..... 395
Lxxxlll. Presents made and received, essentially necessary to civil

intercourse in the East - - - 395







Melons, which are now so common, and at 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 intro-
duced into the Holy Land since the time Moses sent
Joshua, and the other spies, from the Wilderness of
Pirai, to examine, and bring back an account of its pro-
ductions; as writers tell us many other useful plants
have been imported from other places into that country,
or at least ils neighbourhood.^

Melons, according to Sir J. Chardin, are the most ex-
cellent fruU that they have in Persia ;t and he tells us
the season for eating them holds four months. J Dr.
Shaw observed that musk and watermelons began to be
gathered the latter end of June in Barbar>,|| consequent-
ly a month or more before either pomegranates the
common kind of fig, or the grape, begin to ripen. But if

* iee Dr, Shaw, p. 341. f Voy . de M. Chardin, tome ii, p. >8-

TOL. II. 2


they hold four months, or about half so long only, they
must have been found in the time of the first ripe grapes,^
when Ihe spies were sent out. Agreeably to this, Dr.
Richard Chandler mentions figs,^ melons, such as are pe-
culiar to hot climates, (1 suppose he means waterDielons)
and grapes, in large and rich clusters, fresh from the vine-
yard, 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.f

"Doubtless," says Dr. Shaw, "the watermelon, or
(tngnra, or }nstac}xa^ or dillah, as they call it here, is
providentially calculated for the southern countries, as
it affords a cool, refreshing juice, assuages thirst, mitigate*
feverish disorders, and compensates thereby, in no small
degree, for the excessive heats, not so much of these as
of the more southern districts," J

Surelvj 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
Ascra. This, he observed, was still more extiaordinary.
They were carried by a man on foot, in baskets, one in
in a basket, being very large, which baskets were hanged

* Vo: tlie grape, according to Shaw, begins to ripen in Barbary toward
^he cn<l of July, p. 146.

tVol.ii.p. 12. tP. Ul.


un 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 eigh!
leagues a day with their load.

The way of carrying the cluster of grapes, from the
valley of Eschol, 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 that coun-
try, though they do now in plenty, and are so much
valued as to be distinctly mentioned, when other fruits
are not taken notice of.

It may even, possibly, be doubted whether they then
commonly grew in Egypt, notwithstanding that, accord-
ing to our translation, the Israelites, in the Wilderness,
regretted the want of them there : We remember the fish
which we did eat in Egi/pt freely, the cucumbers, and
the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and thegarlick,
Numb. xi. 5. I have elsewhere shown that the justness
of our version may be questioned, as to some other things
mentioned here ; and perhaps the second of the words
used to describe the vegetables they longed after has
been mistranslated.

It is true, they are now in great numbers, and in great
variety, in Egypt : but some of them, we are positively
assured, have been introduced into that country, from
other places, and some of them not very many ages back.
Perhaps none of the more delicious of the melon kind
were aboriginal^ or introduced so early as the time of
Moses. The Septuagint, which is known to be an Egypt-
ian translation, supposed fruit of the melon kind was meant
by the Hebrew word,t which appears no where else in
the Old Testament: but it is to be remembered, that
great improvements might have been, and doubtless ac-
tually were made, in the introducing foreign plants into

* Numb. xiii. 23. f DTItO^J^ abtachaem, for Ihey translate it nejrofat?


Egypt, between the tiuie of Moses and that of Ptolemj
Pliiladelphus. All, perhaps, that can be certainly said
about it is, that if these watermelons were common in
Egypt, in the time the children of Israel sojourned there,
it can be no wonder that they longed for them in those
sultry deserts; and that as improvements went \ery
slowly on in those very early times, they might not have
been introduced into the land of Canaan, when the spies
took a survey of it. Had they found it there, they
would no doubf, have brought a specimen of this fruit to
JVIoses and Israel in the Wilderness. Nor would it have
been unmenlioned, in those passages that speak of the
fertility of the country promised to the patriarchs.

It may be amusing to subjoin Maillet's account of this
kind of fruit, in its present state in Egypt. =^ "Among
the different kinds of vegetables, which are of importance
to supply the want of life, or to render it more agreeable,
he tells us, is the melons, which, without dispute, is there
one of the most salutary and common among them. All
the species that they have in Europe, and in the seaports
of the Mediterranean, are to be found in Egypt. Besides
Ihem, there is one, whose substance is green and very de-
licious. It grows round like a bowl, and is commonly of
an admirable taste. There are also watermelons, ex-
tremely good. But above all the rest, at Cairo and its
neighbourhood, they boast of a species of melons, pointed
at each end and swelling out in the middle, which the
people of the country call abdelarins. This is an Ara-
bian word, which signifies the slave of sweetness. In fact,
these melons are not to be eaten without sugar, as being
insipid without it. Macrisi says, this last kind was for-
merly transported hither, by a man whose name they bear.
They give it to the sick, to whom they refuse all other
kinds of fruit. The rind is very beautifully wrought; its
figure very singular ; as well as the manner of ripening it,
which is by applying a red hot iron to one of its extremi-

* Let. 0, p. n, 13.


lies. The people of the country eat it green as well as
ripe, and m the same manner as we eat apples. These
melons, of a foreign extraction, continue 1 wo whole months,
and grow no where else in Egjpt. They say the same
species is found in Cyprus. ""^


TIONED 2 KINGS vi. 25.

The royal city of Samaria was so severely distressed,
when a certain king of Syria besieged it, that we are told
an ass^s head then sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and
the fourth part of a cab of dove* s dung for five pieces :\
thiii last article has been thoughl to be so unfit for food,
that it has been very commonly imagined, I think, that a
species of pulse was meant by that term ;J nevertheless,
I cannot but think it much the most probable, that proper
doves dung was meant by the prophetic historian, since,

* *' The Arabians," according to Hasselquist, Voyages p. 255, *' call th«
ivaiermelon, b a. tech, a word evidently derived from the Hebrew XM21
katach, whence the plural OTICDN ubtachuem. It is cultivated, h«
observes, in Kgypt on the banks of the Nile, in the rich clayey earth
-which subsides during the inundation. This serves the Eg} ptians for meat,
drink, and physic. !t is eaten in abundance during the season, even by the
richer sort of people; but the common people, on whom Providence has
bestowed nothing but poverty and patience, scarcely eat any thing but
these ; and account this the best time of the year, as they are obliged to
put up with worse fare at other times. As this fruit also serves these poor
creatures for drink, they have less occasion for water than if they were to
live on more substantial food." It is no wonder therefore that the Israel-
ites, who in heart forsook their God, should have murmured for lack of
these in the burning, parched Wilderness. Watermelons also form a part
of the provisions essentially necessary to the comfort and health of the mil-
itary in their encampments in the hot Eastern countries ; Mr. Jackson, in
his Journeg overland from Indian soon after having fallen in with a Turk-
ish encampment on the river Tigris, not far from Bagdad, met several ^i-
riiffes laden with refreshments for the Turkish army ; the car^o of one of
them consisting entirely of -watermelons. P. 85. Edit.

f 2 Kings vi. 25. \ Boehart has taken a great deal of pains to support

this notion, thoagh by no means with equal success.


tboiigh it can hardly be imagined, it was bought direclij
for food, it might be bought for the purpose of more
speedily raising a supply of certain esculent vegetables,
and in greater quantities, which must have been a matter
of great consequence to the Israelites, shut up so straitly
in Samaria.

Had the kali of the Scriptures been meant, how came
it to pass that the common word was not made use of? Jo-
sephus and the Septuagint suppose that proper doves dung
was meant, and the following considerations may make
their sentiment appear far from improbable.

All allow that melons are a most refreshing food, in
those hot countries. And Chardin says, "melons are
served up at the tables of the luxurious almost all the
year; but the proper season lasts four months, at which
time they are eaten by the common people. They hard-
ly eat any thin^^ but melons and cucumbers at that time."
He adds, " that during these four melon months, they are
brought in such quantities to Ispahan, that he believed
more were eaten in that city in one day, than in all France
in a month."*

On the other hand, he tells us, in another volume, that
they have a mullitude of dovehouses in Persia, which they
keep up more for their dung than any thing else. This
being the substance with which they manure their melon
t)eds, and which makes them so good and so large.f

Now if melons were half so much in request in those
daysj in Judea, as they are now in Persia, it might be
natural enough to express the great scarcily of provisions
there, by observing an ass's bead, which, according te
their law was an unclean animal, sold for fourscore pieces
of silver ; and a small quantity of that dung that was most
useful to quicken vegetation, as well as to increase those

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 2) → online text (page 1 of 33)