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raneous artificial sorrow is thereby redeemed from half its hollow-heartedness and hypocrisy. There may yet be occasions, in the politer circles of European society, when such a machinery for manufacturing tears will be a great convenience.
On the whole, I do not think that the modern customs of mourning are more extravagant, even in Syria, than the ancient.
We find allusions in old authors to the custom of collecting the tears of the mourners and preserving them in bottles. Thus David prays, Put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? These lachrymatories are still found in great numbers on opening ancient tombs. A sepulchre lately discovered in one of the gardens of our city had scores of them in it. They are made of thin glass, or How long do these seasons of mourning continue?
more generally of simple pottery, often not even baked or glazed, with a slender body, a broad bottom, and a funnel-shaped top. They have nothing in them but dust at present. If the friends were expected to contribute their share of tears for these bottles, they would very much need cunning women to cause their eyelids
to gush out with water. These forms of ostentatious sorrow have ever been offensive to sensible people. Thus Tacitus says, " At my funeral let no tokens of sorrow be seen, no pompous mockery of woe. Crown me with chaplets, strew flowers on my grave, and let my friends erect no vain memorial to tell where my remains are lodged."
1 Psalm lvi, 8.
There is no absolute law on the subject, and the duration and intensity of grief varies. The most bitter lamentations are for young men, and for fathers of families. These are sometimes very extravagant and greatly prolonged. That tent under our windows covers the grave of a young man, and, as you see, they are there every day, although he has been buried for several weeks. There are, however, certain days on which the regular business of mourning is renewed. A curious and rather pretty custom is very commonly practiced by the Moslems, connected, however, with superstitious notions in regard to the state of the departed. On the eve preceding any great festival, the relatives, generally the women, go to the graves and fill small holes, left purposely at the head and foot of the tomb, with fresh myrtle bushes, and sometimes palm branches, which are watered daily to keep them green. Some do this every Thursday evening, because Friday is their sacred day. You had better read what Lane says on this subject at your leisure,
for it would now be tedious to describe all their funeral customs, and equally useless. There is one, however, to which our Saviour alludes, that of whitewashing the sepulchres, which should not pass unnoticed. I have been in places where this is repeated very often. The graves are kept clean and white as snow, a very striking emblem of those painted hypocrites, the Pharisees, beautiful without, but full of dead men's bones, and all uncleanness within. So
ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.?
Is there any thing in modern usage which explains Deut. xxvi. 14: I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away aught thereof for any unclean use, nor given aught thereof for the dead?
Yes, this passage is made sufficiently plain by an acquaintance with modern funeral customs. What you have just read is part of that protestation which the devout Jew was required to make at the close of the third year, “which is the
1 Matt. xxiii. 27, 28.
year of tithing." He was to come before the Lord and say, I have brought away the hallowed things out of my house, and also have given them unto the Levite and unto the stranger, to the fatherless and to the widow, according to all thy commandments. I have not eaten thereof in my ing, neither have I taken away aught thereof for any unclean use, nor given aught thereof for the dead. This was the strongest possible protestation that he had dealt faithfully in the matter of tithing and consecrated things, and in charities to the poor. He had not allowed himself to divert any thing to other uses, not even by the most pressing and unforeseen emergencies. It is here assumed, or rather implied, that times of mourning "for the dead” were expensive, and also that the stern law of custom obliged the bereaved to defray those expenses, however onerous. The same thing lies at the basis of that excuse for not following our Saviour, Suffer me first to go and bury my father: a duty which must take precedence of all others. Such it was among most ancient nations, and such is the public sentiment at this day. Moreover, funerals are now ruinously expensive. Crowds of relatives, friends, and acquaintances assemble on these occasions. The largest gatherings ever seen on Lebanon - are on these occasions. For all these guests refreshments must be provided, and not a few from a distance tarry all night, and must be entertained. Then these gatherings and feasts for the dead are repeated at stated times for forty days. The priests also, and religious functionaries of all sects, must be rewarded for their attendance at the time, and for their subsequent prayers and good offices in behalf of the dead. A young friend of mine, whose father lately died, informs me that the ecclesiastics are demanding of him twenty thousand piastres for these subsequent services. In short, many families are reduced to poverty by funerals, and it must have been substantially so in remote ages, for the customs were very similar. The temptation, therefore, to devote a part of the tithes, hallowed things, and charities, to defray these enormous, unforeseen, and providential expenses, would be very urgent, and he who stood faithful at such times might be safely trusted on all other occasions. Hence the protestation covers the strongest case that could be selected. The words, "nor given aught thereof for the dead," are explained by a curious custom still observed with great care. On certain days after the funeral, large quantities of corn and other food are cooked in a particular manner, and sent to all the friends, however numerous, in the name of the dead. I have had many such presents, but my dislike of the practice, or something else, renders these dishes peculiarly disgusting to me.
A custom prevails among the Bedawîn Arabs, and especially those around the Hûleh, which illustrates this whole subject. When one of their number dies, they immediately bring his best ox or buffalo, and slaughter it near to the body of the deceased. They then cook it all for a great feast, with burghûl, rice, and whatever else good to eat they may possess. The whole tribe, and neighbors also, assemble for the funeral, and go direct from the grave to this sacrificial feast. The vast piles of provisions quickly disappear, for the Bedawîn dispatch their dinners with a rapidity that would astound a table d'hôte at a Western railway station. However, every one must partake at least of a morsel. It is a duty to the departed, and must be eaten in behalf of the dead. Even strangers passing along are constrained to come and taste of the feast. My friends of Hasbeiya inform me that this custom is so binding that it must be observed, though it consume every item of property and of provisions the man possessed, and leave the wife and children to starve. It is the feast of the dead. That the Jewish tithe-payer, when pressed even by such a stringent call as this, had left untouched the tenths which were devoted to God, was the very best proof that could be demanded or produced that he had acted honestly in this matter.
I have been sauntering through the cemeteries of Sidon. Every sect, I perceive, has its separate grave-yard. That of the Moslems, under these pretty China-trees, is the largest and most striking. Both they and the Christians seem to have a disposition to place the foot of the grave toward the
east. Those of the Jews all turn toward Jerusalem, but the Metwalies bury as it happens, and appear to take very little care of their graves. As a general fact, I suppose the ancients expended far more upon their tombs than the mod
Are there no old sepulchres about Sidon? Countless numbers. All those eastern hills are full of them. They are of all sizes, and the internal arrangements are very various. Most of them consist of a square or oblong room, perpendicular to the sides of which the niches for the bodies extend six or seven feet into the rock. I have counted sixteen of these in a single room; but we need not suppose that they were all hewn at the same time, or even in the same age. A family selected a cave, if one could be found, which they trimmed and squared, and cut in it as many niches as they expected to need. Their posterity would hew new ones as occasion required; and when the original room was full, they cut out another behind, or at the side of it, and thus went on enlarging from generation to generation, as long as the family existed.
This was done, as I understand the matter, in the cave of Machpelah, which Abraham purchased for a family buryingplace. Jacob, when about to die in Egypt, made Joseph swear to bury him: In my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now Jacob could only dig a grave for himself in the cave of Machpelah by cutting out a separate niche. Abraham made one for Sarah, and another was prepared for himself. Isaac prepared one for himself and Rebekah, and there Jacob says he buried Leah.?
In some sepulchral rooms there are double tiers of niches, one above the other. This appears to have been a favorite plan with the northern Phoenicians, as you find them not far from Tortosa, Gebile, Ladakîyeh, and Seleucia. The entire system of rooms, niches, and passages may be comprehended at once by an inspection of the plan of the Tombs of the Judges near Jerusalem, which I borrow from Mr. Williams's valuable work on the Holy City. The entrance 1 Gen. 1. 5.
2 Gen. xlix. 31.