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from each other ; in a small room, which was often found by the side of these fortified gates, the door of which opened into the passage between them, sat the king, waiting in fearful susperse, the issue of the contest, for it cannot be supposed he sat in the passage itself, which had been at once unbecoming his dignity, and incommodious to the passengers entering or leaving the city. We find a watchman stationed on the top of this tower, to which he went up by a staircase from the passage, which, like the roof of their dwelling houses, was flat, for the pur. pose
of descrying at a distance, those that were approaching the place, or repelling the attacks of an enemy. The observations made by the watchman were not communicated by him immediately to the king, but by the intervention of a warder at the outer gate of the tower; and it appears, that a private staircase led from the lower room in which the king was sitting, to the upper room over the gateway ; for by that communication he retired to give full vent to his sorrow. The only circumstance involved in any doubt, is in what part of this building he sat, (for it is evident he continued in some part of the gate), when he returned his thanks to the army, for their exertions in his favour; or in the language of the historian,“ spake to the hearts of his servants,” and received their congratulations. It is somewhat uncertain, whether he gave audience to his people in the upper room, where he lamented in strains so affecting, the death of Absalom, or in the little chamber between the two gates, where he waited the arrival of the messengers, or in some other part of the building. The ancient custom of sitting in the gate on solemn occasions, rather favours the opinion, that David went down from the apartment above the gate, to the chamber in the side of the passage. This custom, which may be traced to the remotest antiquity, is still observed in the east; for when Pococke returned from viewing the town of ancient Byblus, the sheik and the elders were sitting in the gate of the city, after the manner of their ancestors.
The fortified cities in Canaan, as in some other countries,
were commonly strengthened with a citadel, to which the inhabitants fled when they found it impossible to defend the place. The whole inhabitants of Thebes, unable to resist the repeated and furious assaults of Abimelech, retired into one of these towers, and bid defiance to his rage : “ But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat
up to the top of the tower.” The extraordinary strength of this tower, and the various means of defence which were accumu. lated within its narrow walls, may be inferred from the violence of Abimelech's attack, and its fatal issue: “ And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower, to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a piece of a milstone upon Abimelech's head, and all to break his skull *.” The city of Shechem had a tower of the same kind, into which the people retired, when the same usurper took it and sowed it with salt t. These strong towers which were built within a fortified city, were commonly placed on an eminence, to which they ascended by a flight of steps. Such was the situation of the city of David, a strong tower, upon a high eminence at Jerusalem; and the manner of entrance, as described by the sacred writer: “ But the gate of the fountain repaired Shallum, unto the stairs that go
down from the city of David I." It is extremely probable, that Ramoth Gilead, a frontier town belonging to the ten tribes, and in the time of Jehu, in their possession, was strengthened by one of these inner towers, built on an eminence, with an approach of this nature. If this conjecture be well founded, it throws light upon a very obscure passage, where the manner in which Jehu was proclaimed king of Israel, is described S. His associates were no sooner informed that the prophet had anointed him king over the ten tribes, than “ they hasted and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king.”
Judg. ix: 51. + Verse 46. Neh. iii, 15. § 2 Kings is.
Hence, the stairs were not those within the tower, by which they ascended to the top; but those by which they ascended the hill, or rising ground on which the tower stood; the top of the stair will then mean the landing place in the area before the door of the tower, and by consequence the most public place in the whole city. As it was the custom of those days to inaugurate and proclaim their kings in the most public places, no spot can be imagined more proper for such a ceremony, than the top of the steps, that is, the most elevated part of the hill, upon which stood the castle of Ramoth Gilead, in the court of which, numbers of people might be assembled, waiting the result of a council of war which was sitting at the time, deliberating on the best method of defending the city against the Syrians, in the absence of their sovereign.
Some of these towers, or citadels, were connected with idola. try, having a temple within them, or some apartment devoted to the worship of heathen gods; or, perhaps the whole structure was committed to the patronage and protection of the tutelar deity of the place; or, it might be used as a safe depository, where they laid up the votive offerings made to the idol. The strong hold in the tower of Shechem certainly had some relation to Baal Berith ; for it is stated by the historian, " When all the men of the tower of Shechem heard that (the city was taken) they entered into an hold of the house of the god Berith.”
In the writings of Jeremiah and Amos, a distinction is made between winter and summer houses. Russel thinks they may refer to different apartments in the same house; but if the customs of Barbary resemble those of Palestine in this respect, it is better to understand them of different houses. The hills and valleys round about Algiers, according to Dr Shaw, are all over beautified with gardens and country seats, whither the inhabitants of better fashion retire during the heat of the summer season. They are little white houses, shaded with a variety of fruitful trees and evergreens, which, besides the shade and re
tirement, afford a gay and delightful prospect toward the sea. The gardens are all of them well stocked with melons, fruit and pot herbs of all kinds ; and (what is chiefly regarded in these hot climates) each of them enjoys a great command of
This account furnishes an easy exposition of a passage in the prophecies of Amos: “ I will smite the winter house,” the palaces of the great in fortified towns, “ with the summer house," the small houses of pleasure, used in the summer, to which
foe can have access; “ and the houses of ivory shall perish; and the great houses shall have an end, saith the Lord *," those that are distinguished by their amplitude and richness, built as they are in their strongest places, yet all of them shall perish like their country seats, by the irresistible stroke of almighty power.
To mitigate the burning rays of a vertical sun, the orientals endeavour to shade their dwellings with the branches and foliage of a spreading tree. When Sir Thomas Row went ambassador to Delhi, he found the dwellings of the inhabitants encircled with tall trees, under whose broad and deep shadow, they enjoyed a degree of coolness unknown to those in more exposed situations. In some places, their cities had the appearance of being situate in the midst of a forest, whose irregular plantations, reared by the hand of nature, seem to retain almost all their native wildness. The houses in Egypt are sheltered in the same manner; every village is shaded by a small wood of palm trees; and in · Barbary, the country seats are screened from the sun, by a variety of fruitful trees and evergreenst. From several hints in Scripture it appears, that the same custom of pitching their tents, or building their houses under the shade of a tree, prevailed in Palestine from the earliest times. Deborah the prophetess had her dwelling under the palm tree, between Ramah and Bethel ; and Jericho was called the city of palm trees, because it was encircled with extensive plantations of that species ; while per* Am, ü. 19.
+ See d'Tott and Dr Shaw.
haps every vacant spot within the walls, as in many cities of Hindostan, was crowded, and every street and alley lined, with that beautiful and valuable tree. But the frequent use of the expression, to dwell every man under his vine and under his fig tree, seems to intimate, that these species of trees were most commonly preferred by the people of Israel, for shading their dwellings. We may discover, perhaps, a reason for this preference, in the peculiar circumstances of that people. The whole surface of Canaan, which was not very extensive, was, by the command of God, surveyed and divided into small inheritances, the produce of which could do little more than furnish to each family a frugal supply of necessaries. It therefore became an object of great importance, to multiply and increase the means of subsistence as much as possible; to suffer no waste ground, but to make every corner put forth to the utmost its productive powers. For this reason, the chosen people, formed, by that wise and gracious arrangement, to permanent habits of frugality and diligence, raised their habitations under the shade of the palm tree, or when the nature of the soil was more favourable to the cultivation of the vine and the fig, beneath their covert, where they found at once a delightful shelter and a delicious repast.
The dress of oriental nations, to which the inspired writers often allude, has undergone almost no change from the earliest times. Their stuffs were fabricated of various materials; but wool was generally used in their finer fabrics; and the hair of goats, camels, and even of horses, was manufactured for coarser