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DOMESTIC CUSTOMS AND USAGES OF THE JEWS.
1. Forms of Salutation and Politeness.-Reverence to Superiors.-II. Mode of receiving Guests or Visitors.-III. Conversation and Bathing.-IV. Food and Entertainments.-V. Mode of Travelling.-VI. Hospitality a sacred Duty among the Jews.--Account of the Tessera Hospitales of the Greeks and Romans.
I. VARIOUS are the modes of address and politeness, which custom has established in different nations. The Orientals were very exact in the observances of outward decorum and we may collect from several passages in the Old and New Testament, that their salutations and expressions of regard on meeting each other were extremely tedious and tiresome, containing many minute inquiries concerning the person's welfare, and the welfare of his family and friends; and, when they parted, concluding with many reciprocal wishes of happiness and benediction on each other. The ordinary formulæ of salutation were-The Lord be with thee! -The Lord bless thee !—and Blessed be thou of the Lord! but the most common salutation was Peace (that is, may all manner of prosperity) be with thee! (Ruth ii. 4. Judg. xix. 20. 1 Sam. xxv. 6. 2 Sam. xx. 9. Psal. cxxix. 8.) In the latter ages of the Jewish polity, much time appears to have been spent in the rigid observance of these ceremonious forms, for which the modern inhabitants of the East continue to be remarkable. When our Lord, therefore, in his commission to the seventy, whom he despatched into the towns and villages of Judæa to publish the Gospel, strictly ordered them to salute no man by the way,2 (Luke x. 4.) he designed only by this prohibition that they should employ the utmost expedition; that they should suffer nothing to retard and impede them in their progress from one place to another; and should not lavish those precious moments, which ought to be devoted to the sacred and arduous duties of their office, in observing the irksome and unmeaning modes of ceremonious intercourse. Not that our Lord intended that his disciples should studiously violate all common civility and decency, and industriously offend against all the
1 "Serious and taciturn as the natives of the East usually are, they grow talkative when they meet an acquaintance, and salute him. This custom has come from Asia with the Arabs, and spread over the north coast of Africa. A modern traveller relates the reciprocal salutations with which those are received who return with the caravans. "People go a great way to meet them; as soon as they are perceived, the questioning and salutation begins, and continues with the repetition of the same phrases: How do you do? God be praised that you are come in peace! God give you peace! How fares it with you? The higher the rank of the person returning home, the longer does the salutation last." See Horneman's Journal. Stollberg's History of Religion, vol. iii. p. 183. Burder's Oriental Literature, vol. i. p. 436.
2 Salute no man by the way: C'est à dire, ne perdez point le tems en long discours, et en vaines cérémonies avec les passans. L'Enfant in loc.
rules of courteousness and decorum, since he commanded them upon their entrance into any house to salute it' (Matt. x. 12.), and observe the customary form of civility in wishing it peace (Luke x. 5.) or universal happiness. This injunction, to salute no one on the road, means only that they should urge their course with speed, and not suffer their attention to be diverted from the duties of their commission. There is a passage in the Old Testament parallel to this, and which beautifully illustrates it. Elisha, despatching his servant Gehazi to recover the son of the Shunamite, strictly enjoins him to make all the expedition possible, which is thus expressed: Gird up thy loins and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way. If thou meet any man, salute him not, and if any salute thee, answer him not again. (2 Kings iv. 29.)
In all countries these modes of address and politeness, though the terms are expressive of the profoundest respect and homage, yet through constant use and frequency of repetition soon degenerate into mere verbal forms and words of course, in which the heart has no share. They are a frivolous unmeaning formulary, perpetually uttered without the mind's ever annexing any idea to them. To these empty insignificant forms, which men mechanically repeat at meeting or taking leave of each other, there is a beautiful allusion in the following expression of our Lord in that consolatory discourse which he delivered to his apostles when he saw them dejected and disconsolate on his plainly assuring them that he would. soon leave them and go to the Father. My peace I leave with you: My peace I give unto you, Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. (John xiv. 27.) Since I must shortly be taken from you, I now bid you adieu, sincerely wishing you every happiness; not as the world giveth, give I unto you; not in the unmeaning ceremonial manner the world repeats this salutation: for my wishes of peace and happiness to you are sincere, and my blessing and benediction will derive upon you every substantial felicity. This sheds light and lustre upon one of the finest and most beautiful pieces of imagery which the genius and judgment of a writer ever created. In that well-written and truly sublime Epistle to the Hebrews, the author informs us with what warm anticipating hopes of the Messiah's future kingdom those great and good men, who adorned the annals of former ages, were animated. These all, says he, died in
1 And when ye come into an house, salute it.
2 And into whatsoever house you enter, say, Peace be to this house! Peace, in the Jewish idiom, denotes happiness.
3 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you: Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. The words of the philosopher are an excellent and striking paraphrase on this passage of Scripture. Ορατε γαρ ότι ειρηνην μεγάλην ὁ Καισαρ. κ. λ. You see what a great and extensive peace the Emperor can give the world; since there are now no wars, no battles, no association of robbers or of pirates, but one may in safety, at any time of the year, travel or sail from east to west. But can the Emperor give us peace from a fever, from shipwreck, from fire, from an earthquake, or from thunder? Can he from love? He cannot! from sorrow? No! from envy? No! from none of these things! The principles only of philosophy promise and are able to secure us peace from all these evils. Arriani Dissert. Epist. lib. iii. p. 411. edit. Upton. 1741.
faith, they closed their eyes upon the world, but they closed them in the transporting assurance that God would accomplish his promises. They had the firmest persuasion that the Messiah would bless the world. By faith they antedated these happy times, and placed themselves, in idea, in the midst of all their fancied blessedness. They hailed this most auspicious period: saluted it, as one salutes a friend whose person we recognise, at a distance. These all died in faith, died in the firm persuasion that God would accomplish these magnificent promises, though they themselves had not enjoyed them, but only had seen them afar off: God had only blessed them with a remote prospect of them. They were therefore persuaded of them, they had the strongest conviction of their reality-they embraced them-with transport saluted' them at a distance, confessing that they were but strangers and pilgrims upon earth, but were all travelling towards a CITY which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God!
Respect was shown to persons on meeting, by the salutation of Peace be with you! and laying the right hand upon the bosom : but if the person addressed was of the highest rank, they bowed to the earth. Thus Jacob bowed to the ground seven times until he came near to his brother Esau. (Gen. xxxiii. 3.) Sometimes they kissed the hem of the person's garment, and even the dust on which he had to tread. (Zech. viii. 23. Luke viii. 44. Acts x. 26. Psal. Ixxii. 9.) Sometimes persons out of humility turned aside from the way, as if they were unworthy to salute those whom they met : and it has been supposed that our Saviour's words on sending out the seventy disciples may be referred to this custom. (Luke x. 4.) Near relations and intimate acquaintances kissed each other's hands, head, neck, beard (which on such occasions only could be touched without affront), or shoulders. (Gen. xxxiii. 4. xlv. 14. 2 Sam. xx. 9. Luke xv. 20. Acts xx. 17.) Whenever the common people approached their prince, or any person of superior rank, it was customary for them to prostrate themselves before them. In particular, this homage was universally paid to the monarchs of Persia by those who were admitted into their presence ;-a homage, in which some of the Greek commanders, possessed of a truly liberal and manly spirit, peremptorily refused to gratify them. In imitation of these proud sovereigns, Alexander the Great exacted a similar prostration. This mode of address obtained also among the Jews. When honoured with admittance to their sovereign, or introduced to illustrious personages, they fell down at their feet, and continued in this servile posture till they were raised. There occur many instances of this
1 Agracauevo. The word always used in salutations. See Romans xvi. passim. 2 Vereor ne civitati meæ sit opprobrio, si quum ex ea sim profectus, quæ cæteris gentibus imperare consuevarit, potius barbarorum quam illius more fungar! C. Nepos. Conon. p. 153. The Athenians punished a person with death for submitting to this slavish prostration. Athenienses autem Timagoram inter officium salutationis Darium regem more gentis illius adulatum, capitali supplicio affecerunt; unius civis humilibus blanditiis totius urbis sua decus Persicæ dominationi summissum graviter ferentes. Valerius Maximus, lib. vi. cap. 3. p. 561. Torrenii, Leida, . 1726.
custom in the New Testament. The wise men who came from the East, when they saw the child Jesus with his mother Mary, fell down and worshipped him. Great numbers of those who approached our Saviour, fell down at his feet. We read of several of the common people who prostrated themselves before him and worshipped him. Cornelius, at his first interview with Peter, when he met him, fell down before him and worshipped him, and remained in this submissive attitude till Peter took him up; saying, Stand up; I also am a man. In the Old Testament we read that Esther fell down at the feet of Ahasuerus. These prostrations among the eastern people appear to us to the last degree unmanly and slavish ; but it seems that the inhabitants of the oriental countries have always used more illiberal and humiliating forms of address and homage than ever obtained in Europe.
It was also customary in those times, whenever a popular harangue was about to be delivered, and the people stood convened, for the orator, before he entered on his discourse, to stretch forth his hand towards the multitude as a token of respect to his audience, and to engage their candid attention. Frequent instances of this polite address of an orator to the assembled multitude occur in the classics. In like manner we read that St. Paul, before he commenced his public apology to the multitude, bespoke their respect and candour by beckoning with his hand to them. Paul said, "I am a man who am a Jew of Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and I beseech thee suffer me to speak unto the people. And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs and beckoned with his hand unto the people." Thus also in the account of the tumult which happened at Ephesus, when the whole city was filled with confusion, some clamouring one thing, some another, and the mob which Demetrius had raised were instigated to the last excesses of violence and fury, though, as is usual in mobs, the majority of them, as the sacred historian tells us, knew not what it was that had brought them together; in the midst of this confused scene we read that the Jews pushed forward and placed one Alexander on an eminence. He being exalted above the crowd, intended in a formal harangue to exculpate the Jews from any concern in the present disturbance. Accordingly he beckoned to them with his hand-making use of this respectful customary address to insure their favourable regard, before he delivered his designed apology. But this specious and popular artifice, it seems, did not avail the orator, for the moment the mob understood he was a Jew, they pierced the air with their confused cries, repeating, for two hours together, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians!"
From time immemorial it has also been the universal custom in the East to send presents one to another. No one waits upon an
1 Qui ubi in castra Romana et prætorium pervenerunt, more adulantium, accepto, credo, ritu ex ea regione ex quà oriundi erant, procubuerunt. Conveniens oratio tam humili adulationi. Livius. lib. xxx. cap. 16. tom. 3. p. 130. edit. Ruddiman.
eastern prince, or any person of distinction, without a present. This is a token of respect which is never dispensed with. How mean and inconsiderable soever the gift, the intention of the giver is accepted. Plutarch informs us that a peasant happening to fall in the way of Artaxerxes the Persian monarch, in one of his excursions, having nothing to present to his sovereign, according to the oriental custom, the countryman immediately ran to an adjacent stream, filled both his hands, and offered it to his prince. The monarch, says the philosopher, smiled and graciously received it, highly pleased with the good dispositions this action manifested. All books of modern travels into the East, Sandys, Thevenot, Maundrell, Shaw, Pococke, Norden, Hasselquist, Light, Clarke, Morier, Ouseley, and others, abound with numberless examples of this universally prevalent custom of waiting upon great men with presents-unaccompanied with which, should a stranger presume to enter their houses, it would be deemed the last outrage and violation of politeness and respect. It was, therefore, agreeably to this oriental practice which obtains in all these countries to this day, that the wise men, when they entered the house to which the star had directed them, and saw the child and his mother, after they had prostrated themselves before him, and paid him the profoundest homage, as the evangelist informs us, opened their treasures, and testified their sense of the dignity of his person, by respectfully making him rich presents, consisting of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
II. When any person visited another, he stood at the gate and knocked, or called aloud, until the person on whom he called admitted him. (2 Kings v. 9-12. Acts x. 17. xii. 13. 16.) If the visitor was a person of extraordinary dignity, it was customary to send persons of rank, who were followed by others of still greater rank, to meet him, and to do him honour. Thus Balak sent princes more and more honourable to meet Balaam (Numb. xxii. 15.), and the same custom obtains to this day in Persia.3 Visitors were always received and dismissed with great respect. On their arrival water was brought to wash their feet and hands (Gen. xviii. 4. xix. 2.), after which the guests were anointed with oil. David alludes to this in Psal. xxiii. 5. The same practice obtained in our Saviour's time. Thus we find Mary Magdalene approaching him at an entertainment, and, as a mark of the highest respect and honour she could confer, breaking an alabaster vase full of the richest perfume and pouring it on his head. Our Lord's vindication to Simon, of
1 Plutarch's Morals, vol. i. p. 299. edit. Gr. Stephani.
2 The common present now made to the great in these countries is a horse: an ass might formerly answer the same purpose, and to this Moses probably alludes in Numb. xvi. 15. as well as Samuel (1 Sam. xii. 3.), particularly, as asses were then deemed no dishonourable beasts for the saddle. See Burder's Oriental Literature, vol. i. p. 243.
3 Moricr's Second Journey, p. 129.
4 It is worthy of remark that Otto of Roses, which is the finest perfume imported from the East at this time, is contained in pots or vases, with covers so firmly luted to the top, that it requires force and breaking to separate them, before the perfume can be poured out. Does not this explain the action of Mary Magdalene?