Billeder på siden






1. Agriculture of the Jews.--II. Manures known and used by them. -III. Their mode of ploughing, sowing, and reaping.--IV. Different ways of threshing out Corn.-V. Vineyards, and the Culture of the Vine and Olive.-Gardens.

1. JUDEA was eminently an agricultural country; and all the Mosaic statutes were admirably calculated to encourage agriculture as the chief foundation of national prosperity, and also to preserve the Jews detached from the surrounding idolatrous nations. After they had acquired possession of the promised land, the Jews applied themselves wholly to agriculture and the tending of cattle, following the example of their ancestors, the patriarchs, who (like the Arabs, Bedouins, Turcomans, and numerous tribes of eastern Asia,) were generally husbandmen and shepherds, and whose chief riches consisted in cattle, slaves, and the fruits of the earth. Adam brought up his two sons to husbandry, Cain to the tilling of the ground, and Abel to the feeding of sheep. (Gen. iv. 2.) Jabal was a grazier of cattle, of whom it is said, that he was the father of such as dwell in tents, (ver. 20.), that is, he travelled with his cattle from place to place, and for that end invented the use of tents, which he carried with him for shelter. Abraham and Lot must have had vast herds of cattle, when they were obliged to separate because the land could not contain them (Gen. xiii. 6.); and strifes between the different villagers and herdsmen of Syria still exist, as well as in the days of those patriarchs.1 Jacob also must have had a great number, since he could afford a present to his brother Esau of five hundred and eighty head of cattle. (Gen. xxxii. 13-17.) It was their great flocks of cattle which

1 Richardson's Travels along the Mediterranean, vol. ii. p. 196.

2 The following description of the removal of an Arab horde will afford the reader a lively idea of the primitive manners of the patriarchs. "It was entertaining enough to see the horde of Arabs decamp, as nothing could be more regular. First went the sheep and goatherds, each with their flocks in divisions, according as the chief of each family directed; then followed the camels and asses, loaded with the tents, furniture, and kitchen utensils; these were followed by the old men, women, boys, and girls, on foot. The children that cannot walk are carried on the backs of the young women, or the boys and girls; and the smallest of the lambs and kids are carried under the arms of the children. To each tent belong many dogs, among which are some greyhounds; some tents have from ten to fourteen dogs, and from twenty to thirty men, women and children, belonging to it. The procession is closed by the chief of the tribe, whom they call Emir and Father 57


made them in those primitive times put such a price upon wells. These were possessions of inestimable value in a country where it seldom rained, and where there were but few rivers or brooks, and therefore it is no wonder that we read of so many contests about them.

In succeeding ages we find, that the greatest and wealthiest men did not disdain to follow husbandry, however mean that occupation is now accounted.1 Moses, the great lawgiver of the Israelites, was a shepherd. Shamgar was taken from the herd to be a judge in Israel, and Gideon from his threshing floor (Judg. vi. 11.), as were Jair and Jephthah from the keeping of sheep. When Saul received the news of the danger to which the city of Jabesh-gilead was exposed, he was coming after the herd out of the field, notwithstanding lie was a king. (1 Sam. xi. 5.) And king David, from feeding the ewes great with young, was brought to feed Jacob his people and Israel his inheritance. (Psal. lxxviii. 71.) King Uzziah is said to be a lover of husbandry (2 Chron. xxvi. 10.); and some of the prophets were called from that employment to the prophetic dignity, as Elisha was from the plough (1 Kings xix. 19.), and Amos from being a herdsman. But the tending of the flocks was not confined to the men :2 in the primitive ages, rich and noble women were accustomed to keep sheep, and to draw water, as well as those of inferior quality. Thus, Rebecca, the daughter of Bethuel, Abraham's brother, carried a pitcher, and drew water (Gen. xxiv. 15. 19.), as the women of Palestine still generally do; Rachel, the daughter of Laban, kept her father's sheep (Gen. xxix. 9.); and Zipporah, with her six sisters, had the care of their father Jethro's flocks, who was a prince or

(emir means prince), mounted on the very best horse, and surrounded by the heads of each family, all on horses, with many servants on foot. Between each family is a division or space of one hundred yards, or more when they migrate; and such great regularity is observed, that neither camels, asses, sheep, nor dogs, mix, but each keeps to the division to which it belongs, without the least trouble. They had been here eight days, and were going four hours' journey to the northwest, to another spring of water. This tribe consisted of about eight hundred and fifty men, women, and children. Their flocks of sheep and goats were about five thousand, besides a great number of camels, horses, and asses. Horses and greyhounds they breed and train up for sale: they neither kill nor sell their ewe lambs. At set times a chapter in the Koran is read by the chief of each family, either in or near each tent, the whole family being gathered round, and very attentive." Parsons's Travels from Aleppo to Bagdad, pp. 109, 110. London, 1808. 4to.

1 Honourable as the occupation of a shepherd was among the Hebrews, it was an abomination to the Egyptians (Gen. xlvi. 34.) at the time when Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.-From the fragments of the antient historian Manetho, preserved in Josephus and Africanus, it appears, that that country had been invaded by a colony of Nomades or Shepherds, descended from Cush, who established themselves there, and had a succession of kings. After many wars between them and the Egyptians, in which some of their principal cities were burnt and great cruelties were committed, they were compelled to evacuate the country; but not till they had been in possession of it for a period of nine hundred years, This alone was sufficient to render shepherds odious to the Egyptians: but they were still more obnoxious, because they killed and ate those animals, particularly the sheep and the ox, which were accounted most sacred among them. See Bryant's Analysis of Antient Mythology, vol. vi. pp. 193-211. 8vo. edit.

2 From Hector's address to his horses, it appears that his wife, Andromache, though a princess, did not think it beneath her dignity to feed those animals her. self.

Iliad. viii. 185-189.

(which in those times was an honour scarcely inferior) a priest of Midian. (Exod. ii. 16.)

The fixing of every one's inheritance in the family to which it had been appropriated in the first division of Canaan, was doubtless one great reason, which made the Jews chiefly follow husbandry and improve their estates: for though an inheritance might have been alienated for a time, it returned always in the year of jubilee. Their being prohibited also to take any interest from their brethren for the use of money, and the strict injunctions laid upon them by Jehovah, with respect to their dealings and commerce with foreigners, deprived them so much of the ordinary advantages thence arising, that they were in a manner obliged to procure their living from the fruits and produce of the earth, the improvement of which constituted their chief care.

II. Although the Scriptures do not furnish us with any details respecting the state of agriculture in Judæa, yet we may collect from various passages many interesting hints that will enable us to form a tolerably correct idea of the high state of its cultivation. From the parable of the vineyard let forth to husbandmen (Matt. xxi. 33, 34.) we learn that rents of land were paid by a part of the produce; .a mode of payment formerly practised by the Romans,' which antiently obtained in this country,2 and which is still practised by the Italians.3

The soil of Palestine is very fruitful, if the dews, and vernal and autumnal rains are not withheld but the Hebrews notwithstanding the richness of the soil, endeavoured to increase its fertility in various ways. With the use of manures, the Jews were unquestionably acquainted. Dove's dung (2 Kings vi. 25.) appears to have been very highly valued by the Jews, as to this day it is by the Persians.4 Salt, either by itself, or mixed in the dunghill in order to promote putrefaction, is specially mentioned as one article of manure (Matt. v. 13. Luke xiv. 34, 35.): and as the river Jordan annually overflowed its banks, the mud deposited when its waters subsided, must have served as a valuable irrigation and top-dressing, particularly to the pasture lands. It is probable that, after the waters had thus subsided, seed was sown on the wet soft ground; in allusion to which Solomon says, Cast thy bread (corn or seed)

1 See Plin. Epist. lib. ix. Ep. 37. Horat. Epist. lib. i. Ep. 14. 42.

2 The Boldon Book, a survey of the state of the bishopric of Durham made in 1183, shows what proportion of the rent was paid in cows, sheep, pigs, fowls, eggs, &c., the remainder being made up chiefly by manual labour.

3 See Blunt's Vestiges of Antient Manners and Customs, in Modern Italy, p. 220. London, 1823, 8vo.


4" The dung of pigeons is the dearest manure that the Persians use and as they apply it almost entirely for the rearing of melons, it is probable, on that account, that the melons of Ispahan are so much finer than those of other cities. The revenue of a pigeon-house is about an hundred tomauns per annum; and the great value of this dung, which rears a fruit that is indispensable to the existence of the natives, during the great heats of summer, will probably throw some light upon that passage in Scripture, where, in the famine of Samaria, the fourth part of a cab of dove's dung was sold for five pieces of silver. 2 Kings vi. 25." Morier's Second Journey through Persia, p. 141. See also Sir R. K. Porter's Travels in Persia, vol. i. p. 451.

upon the waters: for thou shalt find it again, with increase, after many days. (Eccles. xi. 1.) And Isaiah, promising a time of peace and plenty, says-Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, and send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass. (Isa. xxxii. 20.)

In Egypt, such vegetable productions, as require more moisture than that which is produced by the inundation of the Nile, are refreshed by water drawn out of the river, and afterwards deposited in capacious cisterns. When, therefore, their various sorts of pulse, melons, sugar-canes, &c. all of which are commonly ploughed in rills, require to be refreshed, they strike out the plugs which are fixed in the bottom of the cisterns; whence the water, gushing out, is conducted from one rill to another by the gardener, who is always ready, as occasion requires, to stop and divert the torrent, by turning the earth against it by his foot, and at the same time. opening, with his mattock, a new trench to receive it. This mode of imparting moisture and nourishment to a land, rarely, if ever, refreshed with rain, is often alluded to in the Scriptures, where it is made the distinguishing quality between Egypt and the land of Canaan. For the land, says Moses, whither thou goest in to posssess it, is not as the land of Egypt from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot as a garden of herbs: but the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven. (Deut. xi. 10, 11.) This method of irrigation is alluded to in Psal. i. 3., where the good man is, compared to a fruitful tree, planted by the rivers of water (PALGEY-MaYim), that is, the streams or divisions of the waters, meaning those which are turned on and off, as above mentioned, by the cultivator.2

III. In the first ages of the world, men were chiefly employed in digging and throwing up the earth with their own hands, but Noah advanced the art of husbandry (Gen. ix. 20.), and contrived fitter instruments for ploughing than were known before. This patriarch is called a man of the ground, but in our translation, a husbandman, on account of his improvements in agriculture, and his inventions for making the earth more tractable and fruitful. It was a curse upon the earth after the fall, that it should bring forth thorns and thistles: these obstructions were to be removed, which required much labour, and the ground was to be corrected by ploughing.

The earliest mention, made in the Old Testament of a plough, is in Deut. xxii. 10. where the Israelites are prohibited from ploughing with an ox and an ass together; a plain intimation, that it had been customary with the idolatrous nations of the East to do so. The plough appears to have been furnished with a share and coulter, probably not very unlike those which are now in use. (1 Sam. xiii. 20, 21. Isa. iv. 4. Joel iii. 10. Mich. iv. 3.) The intelligent traveller, Maundrell, in his Journey from Jerusalem

1 Dr. Shaw's Travels in Barbary, &c. vol. ii. pp. 266, 267.

2 Dr. A. Clarke on Psal. i. 3. See also Burder's Oriental Literature, vol. ii. p. 1.

to Aleppo, relates, that when he was near Jerusalem, he came to a certain place, where (says he) "the country people were every where at plough in the fields, in order to sow cotton: it was observable, that in ploughing, they used goads of an extraordinary size; upon measuring of several, I found them to be about eight feet long, and, at the bigger end, six inches in circumference. They were armed at the lesser end with a sharp prickle, for driving of the oxen, and at the other end, with a small spade, or paddle of iron, strong and massy, for cleansing the plough from the clay that incumbers it in working. May we not from hence conjecture, that it was with such a goad as one of these, that Shamgar made that prodigious slaughter related of him? I am confident that whoever should see one of these instruments, would judge it to be a weapon, not less fit, perhaps fitter, than a sword for such an execution: goads of this sort I saw always used hereabouts, and also in Syria; and the reason is, because the same single person both drives the oxen, and also holds and manages the plough; which makes it necessary to use such a goad as is above described, to avoid the incumbrance of two instruments."


The method of managing the ground, and preparing it for the seed, was much the same with the practice of the present times; for Jeremiah speaks of ploughing up the fallow ground (Jerem. iv. 3.), and Isaiah of harrowing or breaking up the clods (Isa. xxviii. 24.); but Moses, for wise reasons doubtless, gave a positive injunction, that they should not sow their fields with mingled seed.

The kinds of grain sowed by the Jews were fitches, cummin, wheat, barley, and rice (Isa. xxviii. 25.); there were three months between their sowing, and their first reaping, and four months to their full harvest; their barley harvest was at the passover, and their wheat harvest at the Pentecost. The reapers made use of sickles, and according to the present custom they filled their hands with the corn, and those that bound up the sheaves their bosom: there was a person set over the reapers (Ruth ii. 5.) to see that they did their work, that they had provision proper for them, and to pay them their wages: the Chaldees call him Rab, the master, the ruler, or governor of the reapers. Women were employed in reaping as well as the men, and such was the piety of antient times, that those who came into the field, saluted their labourers at work in this form, the Lord be with you! to which they answered, the Lord bless thee! (Ruth ii. 4.) The reapers were usually entertained above the rank of common servants, though in the time of Boaz we find nothing provided for them but bread and parched corn; and their sauce was vinegar (a kind of weak wine), which doubtless was very cooling in those hot countries. (Ruth ii. 14.) The poor were allowed the liberty of gleaning, though the land-owners were not bound to admit them immediately into the field as soon as the reapers had cut down

1 Maundrell's Travels, p. 110. In January, 1816, Mr. Buckingham observed similar goads in use, at Ras-el-Hin, in the vicinity of the modern town of Sour, which stands on the site of antient Tyre. Travels in Palestine, p. 57.

« ForrigeFortsæt »