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Syriac version. No mention is afterwards made of the crown as set upon the head of Mordecai, nor would Haman have dared to advise what by the laws of Persia could not be granted. But it was usual to put the crown royal on the head of a horse led in state; and this we are assured, is a custom in Persia, as it is with the Ethiopians to this day; from them it passed into Italy; for the horses which the Romans yoked in their triumphal chariots were adorned with crowns *.
The eastern princesses were treated with a respect proportioned to the homage which was given to their lords. An Arabian princess who made a visit to the wife of the great emir, when d'Arvieux resided in his camp, was mounted on a camel, covered with a carpet, and decked with flowers; twelve women marched in a row before her, holding the camel's halter with one hand, while they sung the praises of their mistress, and songs which expressed the joy and happiness of being in the service of such a beautiful and amiable lady. Those who marched first, and were at a greater distance from her person, came in their turn to the head of the camel, and took hold of the halter, which place, as being the post of honour, they quitted to others, when the princess had gone a few paces. In this order they marched to the tent where they alighted. They then sung altogether, the beauty, birth, and good qualities of this princess. This account illustrates a passage in the prophet Nahum, in which he describes the introduction of the queen of Nineveh, or that imperial city itself, under the figure of a queen to her conqueror : “And Huzzab shall be led away captive, she shall be brought up, and her maids shall lead her as with the voice of doves.” Here the prophet describes her as led by her maids with the voice of doves, that is, with the voice of mourning; their usual songs of joy, with which they were accustomed to lead her along, as the Arab women did their princess, being turned into lamentationst. The last emblem of power and authority among the kings * Gill in loc.
+ Harmer, vol. 2, p. 417.
and governors of the east which I shall mention, is the horn. The Indian soldier wears a horn of steel on the front of his helmet, directly over the forehead. In Abyssinia the headdress of the provincial governors, according to Mr Bruce, consists of a large broad fillet bound upon their forehead, and tied behind their head. In the middle of this rises a horn, or conical piece of silver, gilt, about four inches long, much in the shape of our common candle extinguishers. This is called kirn, a slight corruption of the Hebrew word keren, a horn, and is only worn in reviews or parades after victory. The crooked manner in which they hold the neck when this ornament is on their forehead, for fear it should fall forward, seems to agree with what the Psalmist calls speaking with a stiff neck: “ Lift not your horn on high ; speak not with a stiff neck;" for it perfectly shews the meaning of speaking in this attitude, when the horn is held exact like the horn of a unicorn *. An allusion is made to this custom in another passage: “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicornt. To raise the horn was to clothe one with authority, or to do him honour ; to lower it, cut it off, or take it away, to deprive one of power, or to treat him with disrespect. Such were the “horns of iron” which Zedekiah made for himself, when he presumed, in the name of Jehovah, to flatter his prince with the promise of victory over his enemies : “ Thus saith the Lord, with these" military insignia “shalt thou push the Syrians until thou hast consumed them 1." They were military ornaments, the symbols of strength, and courage, and power.
But while the orientals had their emblems of honour, and tokens of regard, they had also peculiar customs expressive of contempt or dislike; of which the first I shall mention is cutting off the beard. This is reckoned so great a mark of infamy among the Arabs, that many of them would prefer death to such a dishonour. They set the highest value upon this appurtenance of the male; for when they would express their
* Nah, ü, 7. * Psa. xcii. 10. # Calmet, vol. 3. 1 Kings xxii. 11.
value for a thing, they say it is worth more than his beard ; they even beg for the sake of it, “By your beard, by the life of your beard, do.” This shews, according to the oriental mode of thinking, the magnitude of the affront which Hanan offered to the ambassadors of David, when he took them and shaved off the one half of their beards *. It was still, in times comparatively modern, the greatest indignity that can be offered in Persia. Sha Abbas, king of that country, enraged that the emperor of Hindostan had inadvertently addressed him by a title far inferior to that of the great Shah-in-Shah, or king of kings, ordered the beards of the ambassadors to be shaved off, and sent them home to their master f. This ignominious treatment discovers also the propriety and force of the type of hair in the prophecies of Ezekiel ; where the inhabitants of Jerusalem are compared to the hair of his head and beard, to intimate that they had been as dear to God as the beard was to the Jews; yet for their wickedness they should be cut off and destroyed.
To send an open letter, was considered as a mark of great disrespect. A letter has its Hebrew name from the circumstance of its being rolled or folded together. The modern Arabs roll up their letters, and then flatten them to the breadth of an inch; and, instead of sealing them, paste up their ends. The Persians make up their letters in a roll about six inches long, a bit of paper is fastened round it with gum, and sealed with an impression of ink. In Turkey, letters are commonly sent to persons of distinction in a bag or purse ; to equals they are also enclosed, but to inferiors, or those who are held in contempt, they are sent open or unenclosed. This explains the reason of Nehemiah's observation : 66 Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me--- with an open letter in his hand 1.” In refusing him the mark of respect usually paid to persons of his station, and treating him contemptuously, by sending the letter without the customary appendages, when presented to persons of respectability, Sanballat offered him a deliberate insult. Had thisopen letter
of Maurice's Hist, of Hind. vol. 4. p. 476. Neh. vi. 5.
* 2 Sam. X. 4.
come from Geshem, who was an Arab, it might have passed unnoticed, but as it came from Sanballat, the governor had reason to expect the ceremony of enclosing it in a bag, since he was a person of distinction in the Persian court, and at that time governor of Judea.
The last mark of disrespect, which is by no means confined to the east, is to spit in the face of another. Chardin observes, that spitting before any one, or spitting upon the ground in speaking of any one's actions, is, through the east, an expression of extreme detestation. It is, therefore, prescribed by the law of Moses, as a mark of great disgrace to be fixed on the man who failed in his duty to the house of his brother * To such contemptuous treatment, it will be recollected, our blessed Redeemer submitted in the hall of the high priest, for the sake of his people. The practice has descended to modern times; for in the year 1744, when a rebel prisoner was brought before Nadir Shah's general, the soldiers were ordered to spit in his face; which proves that the savage conduct of the Jews corresponded with a custom which had been long established over all the east.
Deut. xxv, 9.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF SCRIPTURE FROM THE HONOURS SHEWN
TO THE DEAD.
The duties belonging to the dead, have been reckoned eminently sacred in every age, and among every people. The most barbarous nations have regarded the dust of their departed relatives as sacred and inviolable. In Greece, to refuse the manes of their departed friends any part of their accustomed regard, or to neglect any the least duty to which they were thought entitled, was deemed a greater crime than to violate the temples, and plunder the shrines of their gods. They preserved their memories with religious care and reverence; they went so far as to honour their remains with worship and adoration; at the grave of an enemy, they relinquished for ever their hatred and envy, and stigmatised a disposition to speak evil of the dead as cruel and inhuman. To prosecute revenge beyond the grave, was classed with the foulest actions of which any man could be guilty; no provocations, no affronts from the deceased while alive, or from their children after their death, were deemed sufficient to warrant so nefarious a deed. To disturb the ashes of the dead, fixed a stain on the character of the perpetrator, which no length of time, nor change of cir. cumstances, could remove *.
These sentiments, refined and directed by the dictates and influence of a purer faith, were deeply graven on the heart of a genuine Israelite. In mournful silence, he attended the dying bed of his friend or parent, to receive his last advice, and obtain his blessing. Persuaded that the souls of good men acquired a greater degree of vigour and elevation, as they drew near the end of their course, and were favoured with a clearer and more extensive prospect of things to come, he reckoned it
• Potter's Gr. Antiq. v. 2. p. 161.