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smaller when there are fewer persons; at the same time they serve up the provisions, beginning with the bread. In Turkey all eat together, and many out of one dish ; and I apprehend the Turks do not consider it as forbidden and unlawful to eat with people of a different religion, &c.; but it is otherwise in Persia, in Arabia, and in the Indies; all the people of these countries abhor one another so much, (except the Christians,) that they would think themselves defiled, and made impure, by being touched by people of a different faith, or by eating out of the same dish. It is for this reason, I am of opinion, that they are wont to serve up every one's food by itself. A carver parts each dish (which, he observes in the margin, is set before the master of the house, or the principal guest, or in the middle of the hall,) into as many portions, put into different plates, as there are people to eat, which are placed before them. There are some houses where they place several plates in large salvers, either round, long, or square, and they set one of these before each person, or before two or three persons, according to the magnificence of each house. The great men of the state are always by themselves, (and with greater profusion, their part of each kind of provision being always double, treble, or a larger proportion of each kind of meat,) in the feasts that are made for them. We now shall be better able to conceive of the order of the feast Joseph made for his brethren: when it is said in
the 33d verse, that they set before him, it signifies that Joseph sat at the upper end of the hall, his brethren at the lower end, and the Egyptians by the sides. As for Benjamin's mess, being five times as much as any of his brethren’s, which is mentioned in the 34th verse, it may be understood to mean that he had five times as much of every thing as they; or that the vessel in which he was served was five times larger : but the first notion agrees best with the customs and managements of the East.
Manner of eating at Courts.
The eating at courts is of two kinds; the one public and solemn, the other private : might not the intention of those passages, that
speak of a right to eat at a royal table, be to * point out a right to a seat there when the repast was public and solemn ?
Sir John Chardin understood it after this manner. So when dying king David directed his son Solomon, to shew kindness to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite, and to let them be of those that should eat at his table, he tells us in a note in his MS, that this was to be understood of the majilis, not of the daily and or
• This word occurs several times in his coronation of Solyman III, and is explained as signifying an assembly of lords, or a public feast. • The original Arabic word misto majlis, signifies an assembly, convention, conference, council. It is the com.
dinary repast there. Now at these majilis, he observes, many persons have a right to a seat, others have a right there from special grace, and extraordinarily. In this passage we are to understand their receiving a right to attend at those times.
He understands 2 King's xxv. 28. 29. after the same manner, as signifying Evil-Merodach's placing Jehoiakim at the majilis before other princes. Thus in his coronation of Solyman III. he describes a young captive Tartar prince, as admitted by the king of Persia to his majilis, p. 116.
This notion seems to be confirmed by David's not being expected at the table of Saul till the day of the new moon, and his being looked for then, I Sam. xx. 25.
To which I would add, that understanding things after this manner removes embarrassments from what is said concerning Mephibosheth, in 2 Sam, ix. Though he was to eat all public times at the king's table, yet he would want the produce of his lands for food at other times. It was very proper also for David to mention to Ziba the circumstance of his being to eat at all public times, as one of his own sons, at the royal table, that Ziba might understand it would be requisite for him to bring the produce of the lands to Jerusalem ; and that in such quantities too, as to support Mephibosheth in a manner answerable to the mon term both in Persian and Arabic by which such meeto ings as those above, are expressed. Edit.
dignity of one that attended at public times at court. Thou shalt bring in the fruits that thy master's son may have food to eat; and (for that, I apprehend, is the particle our translators should have made use of, not but) Mephibosheth, thy master's son, shall eat bread always at my table. 2 Sam. ix. 10. Thus, along with his admission to the royal assemblies, considerable pensions were assigned the young Tartar prince for his maintenance, by the king of Persia, according to Sir J. Chardin.
Provisions sent from the Tables of Eastern Princes to
the Poor, &c.
The Eastern princes, and the Eastern people, not only invite their friends to feasts, but it is their custom to send a portion of the banquet to those that carnot well come to it, especially their relations, and those in a state of mourning.
This is the account the MS. C. gives us, in a note on a passage of the Apocrypha, 1 Esdr. ix. 51. It is equally applicable to Neh. viii. 10, 12, and Esth. ix. 19. 22. This sending of portions to those for whom nothing was prepared has been understood, by those commentators I have consulted, to mean the poor ; sending for portions however to one another, is expressly distinguished in Esth. ix. 22. from gifts to the poor. There would not have
been the shadow of a difficulty in this, had the historian been speaking of a private feast, but he is describing a national festival, where every one was supposed to be equally concerned : those then for whom nothing was prepared, it should seem, means those that were in a state of mourning. Mourning for private calamities being here supposed to take place of rejoicing for public concerns.
But it is not only to those that are in a state of mourning that provisions are sometimes sent; others are honoured by princes in the same manner, who could not conveniently attend to the royal table, or to whom it was supposed not to be convenient.
So when the grand emir found it incommoded Monsieur d'Arvieux to eat with him, he complaisantly desired him to take his own time for eating, and sent him what he liked, from his kitchen, and at the time he chose. And thus, when king David would needs suppose, for secret reasons, too well known to himself, that it would be inconvenient for Uriah to continue at the royal palace; and therefore dismissed him to his own house ; there followed him a mess of meat from the king. 2 Sam. xi. 8, 10.
e Voy, dans la Pal. p. 20, 21.