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156 $ 146. TABLE AND METuod or sitting.
God, the king of the world, who hast produced this food, or this drink, (as the case may be,) from the earth or the vine,” Matt. 14:19. 15:36. 26: 27. Mark 14:22. 1 Cor. 10:30. 1 Tim.4:4, 5’ The Hebrews were not very particular about the position, which their guests occupied at table, at least not so much so as the Egyptians were anciently, Gen. 43: 32; still etiquette was not wholly neglected, 1 Sam.9:22. In the time of Christ, the arrogant Pharisees, who, imitating the example of the heathen philosophers, wished to secure the highest marks of distinction, sought of course the most honourable seat at the feasts, Luke 14:8.
§ 146. TABLE AND METHOD of SITTING.
The table in the East, is a piece of round leather, spread upon the floor, upon which is placed a sort of stool, called Tro. This supports nothing but a platter. The seat was the floor, spread with a mattress, carpet, or cushion, upon which those, who ate, sat with legs bent and crossed. They sat in a circle round the piece of leather with the right side towards the table, so that one might be said to lean upon the bosom of another. Neither knife, fork, nor spoon was used, but a cloth was spread round the circular leather, to prevent the mats from being soiled, which is the custom in the East to the present day. In the time of Christ the Persian custom prevailed of reclining at table. Three sat upon one mat or cushion, which was large enough to hold that number merely; hence the origin of the word agzurgazhuvos i.e. the master of the feast. The guests reclined upon the left side with their faces towards the table, so that the head of the second approached the breast of the first, and the head of the third approached the breast of the second. In this mode of reclining we see the propriety of the expressions, “leaning upon one’s bosom,” Luke 7: 36, 38. 16:22, 23. John 2:8. 13: 23. The middle mat or cushion, and the centre position on any given mat was the most honourable, and was the one coveted by the Pharisees, Luke 14: 8, 10. Anciently females were not admitted to the tables of the men, but had a table set in their own appropriate apartment, Esth. 1: 6,9. Babylon and Persia must, however, be looked upon as exceptions, where the ladies were not excluded from the festivals of the men, Dan. 5: 2; and if we may believe the testimony of
ancient authors, at Babylon they were not remarkable for their modesty on such occasions.
§ 147. Mode of EATING.
The food was conveyed from the dish to the mouth by the right hand; this custom still prevails in the East. There was no need of a knife and fork; the flesh hook or fork, mentioned 1 Sam. 2: 12, alon, having three prongs, belonged to the cooking apparatus, and not to the table, and was employed to take the flesh out of the pot. In ancient times a separate portion seems to have been assigned to each guest, and he was considered as much honoured, who received two or more portions, 1 Sam. 1:4, 5, 9:22– 24. At a more recent period, all the guests sitting or reclining at the table ate from a common dish. Drink was handed to each one of the guests, in the cups and bowls already described, and at a very ancient period in a separate cup to each one. A cup, therefore, is frequently used tropically for a man's lot or destiny, Ps. 11:6. 75: 8. Isa. 51: 22. Jer. 25: 15,27, 35: 5. 49: 12. Ezek. 23:31–34. Matt. 26: 39. The Egyptians, like the modern orientals, drank after supper. The servants standing by observed the nod of their master and obeyed it; hence the phrases, “to stand before or to walk before the master,” are the same as to serve him. These phrases are used tropically also in respect to God, Gen. 5:22, 24. 17: 1. 24:40. 1 Sam. 2: 35.
§ 148. ON FEASTs.
When men are prospered, they are disposed to indulge their joyful feelings in the company of jovial companions. Hence feasts are mentioned at an early period, Gen. 21:8. 29:22. 31: 27, 54, 40:20. In respect to the second tythes, which originated from the vow of Jacob, Gen. 28:22, and which were set apart not only as a sacrifice but a feast, Moses was very particular in his laws, Deut. 12:4–18. 14:22–29. 16:10, 11. 26:10, 11. He also enacted, that at the festival of the second sort of first fruits, [denominated by Michaelis the second first fruits,) servants and widows, orphans and Levites should be made free partakers, Deut. 16: 11–14. 12:12–18. Jesus alludes to this festival, which was de158 § 143. of FEASTs.
signed for the poor, and which received its reward from God, in Luke 14: 13. The guests were invited by the servants, and were requested to come at a particular time, Matt. 22:4. Luke 14:7. The guests were anointed with precious oil, Ps. 23: 5.45: 7. Amos 6:6. Eccles. 9:8. Luke 7:37, 38. Anciently, (and the same is the custom now in Asia,) the persons invited, before their departure, were perfumed, especially upon the beard, as we may gather from Exod. 30: 37, 38. We are hardly at liberty to conclude, as some have done, from Isa. 28:1, and Wisdom, 2:7, that the Hebrews were sometimes crowned with flowers at their festivals in the manner of the Greeks. They appeared on such occasions in white robes. Ecclesiastes, 9:8. They gratified their taste by the exhibition of large quantities of provisions of the same kind, Gen. 18:6. 27: 9. Job 36:16; and also by a diversity in the kinds, Amos 6:4, 5. Est. 1: 5–3. Neh. 5:18. Flesh and wine were the principal articles; hence a feast is sometimes called the season of drinking, Firoz, Isa. 22. 13. As luxury increased, drinking on festival occasions was carried to great excess; it was continued from evening till morning. Such riotous meetings were called more recently in the Greek tongue wouot, and are deservedly condemned, Rom. 13:13. Gal. 5: 21. 1 Pet. 4:3. As the feasts were always held towards evening, the room or rooms, where they were held, were lighted up, and the fact, that in the climate of Palestine, the night, at least as it approached towards the morning, was cold, will afford a clew to the explanation of Matt. 8: 12. 22:13.25:30, &c. From feasts, jests, musick, and riddles were not excluded; feasts, therefore, were symbolick of a state of prosperity, and exclusion from them was symbolick of sorrow and misery, Prov. 9. 2. et seq. Amos 6: 4, 5. Isa. 5:12. 24; 7,9. Hence also the kingdom of the Messiah is represented under the image or symbol of a feast. This metaphorical representation was so common, and so well understood, that the ancient interpreters use the words, joy and rejoice, feast and feasting, as interchangeable terms, compare Ps. 68: 4. and Esther 9: 18, 19, with the Alexandrine version and Vulgate. In the New Testament, the word zaga or joy, is sometimes put for a feast, Matt. 25: 21, 23. As many of the Hebrew feasts were the remains of sacrifices, the guests were required to be pure or clean, to which a reference is made in various allegories and tropes, Ezek. 39:16, 20. Isa. 34: 4. Rev. 19: 17, 18.
§ 149. Hospitality of the orientals. 159
§ 149. Hospitality of THE ORIENTALs.
In the primitive ages of the world there were no publick inns, or taverns. In those days the voluntary exhibition of hospitality to one, who stood in need of it, was highly honourable. The glory of an openhearted and generous hospitality continued even aster publick inns were erected, and continues even to this day in the East, Job 22:7. 31: 17. Gen. 18: 3–9. 19:2–10. Exod. 2: 20. Jud. 19:2–10. Acts 16:15. 17: 7. 28: 7. Matt. 25: 35. Mark 9:41. Rom. 12:13. 1 Tim. 3: 2. 5: 10. Heb. 13: 2. Hence not only the Nomades or wandering shepherds hospitably receive among themselves strangers, but there are also persons in cities, who go about the streets and offer to each one, whom they meet, water freely, which is a great favour in the hot countries of the East; this liberality customarily meets with some little reward, Matt. 10:42. Mark 9:41. The high spirit of honour, that is characteristick of the orientals, is exhibited in a custom, which prevails to this day. If a man receive another, though he be a robber, into his house, if he eat with him even a crust of bread, he is bound to treat him as a friend, to defend him even at the hazard of his own life, unless he is willing to meet with the scorn and contempt of all his countrymen, Gen. 19:1–9. Jos. 2: 1–6. 9:19. Judg. 4: 17–22. An allusion is made to this custom in Ps. 41:9, 91: 1. 119:19. 2 Sam. 12. 3. Luke 7:34. John 13:18, comp. Iliad. VI. 210—231. The feet of the guests, as before observed, were washed; whence washing of feet also is used as a symbol of hospitality, Gen. 18; 4. John 13:5. 1 Tim, 5: 10.
CHAPTER X. ON THE STATE OF DOMESTICK SOCIETY.
§ 150. PRECAUTIONs AGAINST Fornication.
Both polygamy and fornication were condemned by that primeval institution, which, in order to secure the propagation of the species, joined in marriage one man and one woman, Gen. 1: 27, 28. The old and pious patriarchs religiously observed this institution. But before the time of Moses, morals had become very much corrupted, and not only the prostitution of females, but of boys, was very common among many nations, and even made a part of the divine worship ; as indeed may be inferred from the words, wip, a prostitute boy, and roup, the feminine of it, which properly and originally mean a person religiously set apart and consecrated to the flagitious vice in question. To prevent these evils, to which the Greek and Roman philosophers refused in progress of time to oppose any decided resistance, Moses made the following regulations. I. That among the Israelites no prostitute, neither male nor female, should be tolerated, and that if the daughter of a priest especially were guilty of whoredom, she should be stoned and her body burnt, Lev. 21:9; because these things, as Moses observes in Lev. 19:29. Deut. 23: 18, 19, were a great abomination in the sight of God. Further, for fear, that some priests of low and avaricious minds, should, in imitation of other nations, make crimes of this kind a part of the divine worship, he enacted, II. That the price of whoredom, though presented in return for a vow, should not be received at the sanctuary, Deut. 23: 19. This law it seems was sometimes violated in the times of the kings, 2 Kgs. 23: 6, 7. To stop the evil at the commencement, he enacted likewise, III. That the man, who had seduced a female, should marry her, and in case the father would not consent, should pay the customary dowry, viz, thirty shekels; in case violence had been of