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owner and all his family. Straw and provender were given to them—that is, tibn—and some kind of pulse or grain. Water to wash the feet of the wearied travellers was of course provided. So, also, the mode of negotiating the marriage contract, the presenting of gifts, etc., are all in perfect accordance with modern usages. The parents manage the whole affair; often, however, with the advice of the eldest son and heir, as Laban was in this case. If the father be dead, the eldest son takes his place, and assumes his authority in the disposal of his sisters. Presents are absolutely essential in betrothals. They are given with much ceremony before witnesses, and the articles presented are described in a written document, so that, if the match be broken off, the bridegroom can obtain them back again, or their value, and something more; as a compensation for the injury.
Finally, the behavior of Rebekah, when about to meet Isaac, was such as modern etiquette requires. It is customary for both men and women, when an emeer or great personage is approaching, to alight some time before he comes up with them. Women frequently refuse to ride in the presence of men, and when a company of them are to pass through a town, they often dismount and walk. It was, no doubt, a point of etiquette for Rebekah to stop, descend from her camel, and cover herself with a veil in the presence of her future husband. In a word, this Biblical narrative is so natural to one familiar with the East, that the entire scene seems to be an affair in which he has himself been but recently an actor.
We learn from the history of David that "the men of Judah came" here, and anointed him “king over the house of Judah," and that he reigned “ in Hebron seven years and six months,” and they were probably the happiest in his eventful career. From the top of the lofty hill above the city he must have often looked with emotions of deepest thankfulness eastwards and southwards over the scenes of his exile life, when, houseless and homeless,
He fled for life, and scarce by flight did save it.
Poet as he was, he would inevitably give expression to those emotions in his lyrical compositions; and here we find, I suppose,
2 Sam. ii. 4, II.
THE EIGHTEENTH PSALM.-SYMBOLS OF JEHOVAH.
the subjective basis of many beautiful ideas and expressive similitudes in his devout psalms.
It is probable that he composed some of them with the distinct object of commemorating those events. The historic notice prefixed to the eighteenth Psalm implies that it was intended thus to bring to remembrance his many deliverances from enemies and dangers. It is entitled “A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: and he said, I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” In this joyful and thankful strain he continues throughout the whole fifty verses of this magnificent lyric.
This Psalm could scarcely have been written before David's residence and reign in Hebron, for not till then had he been delivered from all his enemies, and especially from Saul. He could recall many a rugged ravine and high rock where the Lord had delivered him in his utmost need. What more natural than that he should call the Lord his rock, his fortress, his high tower, his horn of salvation, as he does once and again, and repeats it half a dozen times in loving remembrance in a single verse? Beyond most countries this southern part of Palestine abounds in such places of refuge. The traveller finds the remains of ancient towers on many a crag and mountain-top, and they necessarily imply times of misrule and lawless violence when they were needed. In such an age it was that David, fleeing for dear life from the mad jealousy of Saul, found safety and rest in them; and his devout spirit led him to recognize in these natural fortresses the watchful care of Him who was greater than rock and high tower. These were to him expressive symbols of God himself--that God in whom he trusted in every hour of peril. It is in no way surprising, therefore, to hear him sing so often and so sweetly of God, his rock, his high tower, his horn of salvation. The Christian Church has most appropriately transferred these terms and titles of Jehovah into her devotional hymnology and
1 Psa. xviii. 1, 2.
spiritual literature. Toplady, it would seem, has beautifully blended several of them in his familiar hymn,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Such names and titles of God were naturally suggested to the Hebrew poets and people by their condition and experience in this southern part of Palestine, where they were perpetually environed by vigilant and cruel enemies. Every man had to be a soldier, armed at all points, and always on his guard—a condition in itself providential and eminently symbolical. We could safely predict that the spiritual language of a people thus situated would abound in figures and phrases derived from such surroundings; and just as certain would have been their total absence had the Hebrews dwelt in some peaceful paradise, where no enemies lurked and war was unknown.
The phrase "horn of salvation” is a singular epithet to apply to Jehovah, especially in immediate association with rocks and high towers.
If left to our own ingenuity to discover the natural basis for this divine title, the connection in which it is used in the eighteenth Psalm would lead one to find it in the conical hills which form a conspicuous feature in the scenery of Southern Palestine. Such hills are even now called horns by the natives of the country, as, for example, Kůrun Hattîn—the horns of Hattîn—the Mount of Beatitudes, where King David's greater Son proclaimed the divine law of his eternal kingdom ; and many of them bear a sufficiently close resemblance to the thick, short horns of Bashan's famous bulls to justify the comparison, especially when they are crowned with lofty watch-towers. Nor is the analogy between these hill-horns and the protecting providence of God at all irreverent. God is the true horn of salvation, ever ready to give warning at the approach of danger, as the watchman on the high tower, and afford instant protection from it by opening wide the portals, and admitting to the place of safety within the fortress.
May not the title horn of salvation have been suggested by the raised corners of ancient altars? Temples, and more especially the
CITIES OF REFUGE.-THE AVENGER OF BLOOD.
altars, were regarded as sanctuaries which might not be violated; and the greatest criminal, if he could but lay hold of the horns of the altar, was safe, at least for the time. There are many striking examples of this fact in Biblical history.
True; nor need the remark be limited to the Hebrews, since such sanctuaries were common in most heathen countries. To the devout Hebrew, however, Jehovah was the sole reliable refuge; and these external objects were only significant symbols, pointing to him. Among the Hebrews temples and altars were not the only things which symbolized this attribute of the divine character. The “cities of refuge” taught the same truth in the most striking and emphatic manner.
This reminds me of the fact that Hebron was one of those cities in ancient times. Has it anything of that character at present, or do the modern Orientals still observe the command, “Appoint out for you cities of refuge?"
There are occasions when a place of safety " from the avenger of blood” is greatly needed, not only in this neighborhood but in other parts of the country. The gates of many cities in this land have time and again been sought with eagerness, “that the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither." In lawless times such cities of refuge would be of avail even to the hapless traveller beset by thieves or robbers. This was forcibly brought home to my personal consciousness when passing through Northern Palestine many years ago. We were traversing the long plain of el Můkhna, south of Nâblus, the site of another of those cities of refuge, when a party of Bedawîn made their appearance in swift pursuit of us. It was, therefore, with a feeling of intense relief that we reached the opening between Gerizim and Ebal, and fled on to the gate of Nâblus. Our party presented a striking resemblance to the spectacle of the “man-slayer" Aying to that same city from the sword of the avenger, in hot pursuit behind him. Nor has our experience been the sole instance in modern times when the gate of Nâblus has afforded the only available refuge from the spear and the sword of lawless Arabs who infest that neighborhood.
The purpose for which cities of refuge were established was a · Josh. xx. 2, 7.
? Josh. xx. 3.
humane one, both “for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them." Moses found the law of revenge—the lex talionis—so deeply rooted in the feelings and habits of the people that it was impossible to eradicate it altogether. He could only check its execution, and mitigate the horrors of such a cruel and barbarous social law. Comparing the accounts of its institution in Deuteronomy iv. 41-43, and xix. 1-10, with Numbers xxxv. 9–29, it is evident that there was no intention to screen a real murderer from being put to death, but merely to secure a fair judicial investigation-a result accomplished nowadays by the common prison. If convicted of murder, the guilty person must have been handed over to the avenger of blood, who was himself to be the executioner. This was probably the best thing that could be done in that age, and under the circumstances, though it had a tendency to cherish a blood-thirsty, vindictive spirit amongst the people.
It seems to me that but scant justice was accorded to the innocent by this institution. Even after he was acquitted of all blame, he was to be strictly confined within the area of the walls of the city of refuge; and if he ventured outside of it, the avenger might lawfully slay him, though he had not committed any crime what
Some of the specifications as to the innocent shedder of blood are very surprising, and imply a savage ferocity in the people which we can scarcely comprehend. In the nineteenth chapter of Deuteronomy we read that “whoso killeth his neighbor ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past; as when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbor to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbor, that he die ; he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live.” The utmost favor secured to this perfectly innocent person was to be shut up in the city of refuge, if he could but get there, with the certainty that, if he ventured beyond the gate, the avenger might slay him at once. Cruel and unjust as was this custom, it has prevailed substantially amongst many tribes in these Oriental lands from remote ages down 1 Josh. xx. 9.
? Deut. xix. 4, 5.