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... OBSERVATION LIX.
Mats used in the East instead of Tables. The people of the East frequently place their dishes of food on mats, and I should imagine they did so in the days of Job.
That they place them on mats now, appears from d'Arvieux's account of the supper the inhabitants of a village in Palestine prepared for him, which, it seems, consisted of fried fish, eggs, rice, &c. placed upon a mat, or, as he expresses it, a round table made of straw stitched together.' · I have met with the same circumstance in other travellers. · Perhaps this custom is as ancient as the time of Job, and that there is a reference to it in those words, ch. xli. 20, Out of his nostrils goeth smoke as out of a dud and an agmon. Our translators render these two words, a seething-pot and a caldron;" but this last word every where else is translated a rush, or a bulrush, excepting Job xli. 2. where the English word is hook. No mortal can conceive, I apprehend, any relation between these things and a caldron, but there is a very plain one between a rush and a mat, which is defined, 'a texture of
Voy. dans la Pal. p. 29, and p. 128. m 12289 nib3 7170 kedud naphuach veagmon. Not “these two words,” for miss naphuuch is the term which they ren. der seething. This criticism of Mr. Harmer will not be found very satisfactory by most of our readers. Edit.
sedge, flags, or rushes. 'n Another kindred word, derived from the same root, signifies a pool, where such plants as the things that compose a mat grow.
I am inclined therefore to believe the word agmon signifies a mat, from which, covered with various dishes of hot food, a great steam ascended.
It is certainly much more natural to translate the word agmon by the word mat than caldron, and perhaps rather more natural than to understand the comparison, as some have done, of the mist that arises from low lands in general, which is by no means limited to pools of water, which the word is supposed to signify.
The word dud seems to have been translated, with as little probability, seething-pot, since it appears, from Jer. xxiv. 2. to signify a vessel proper for the putting figs in; and clay, according to Psalm lxxxi. 6. But what it precisely signifies may be very difficult to determine. I shall however have occasion to resume the consideration of the dud, under the next Observation.
Various Utensils used by the ancient Jews.
It may be difficult also, after all that can be. done, to make out the precise meaning of several of the terms used to denote the utensils
* Johnson's Dict.
of the ancient Jews, for preparing their food, &c.; but the affair has been rendered still more obscure, by our translatars varying so extremely in their translations of those terms; and though this matter may seem to be of little consequence, curiosity is always concerned in unravelling things of this kind, and sometimes it may be of a little importance, for the due understanding a passage.
Our translators sometimes use one English word, to translate several Hebrew terms, which seem to be made use of to denote vessels of a very different kind from each other. So the word cruse, which, according to Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary, signifies a small cup, is given us as a translation of three different Hebrew terms, of which not one seems to mean a small cup,o but one a pitcher, nos ; another a dish, orts; and a third, a honey-pot, pipa.
At other times, on the contrary, they translate one and the same Hebrew word by different English terms. So the word naby tzallachath, or nyby tzelochith, is translated cruse, 2 Kings ii. 20; dish, 2 Kings xxi. 13; pan, 2 Chron. xxv, 13: and in the two similar places of Proverbs, ch. xix. 24, and ch. xxvi. 15, bosom. It is used, that is, in distinct passages, but four times in the Scriptures, and a distinct English term is each time made use of. The
• The three following words are translated cup in our version: van gebeeå, 900 sapap, bia kus. Edit.
P In the two parallel places in Proverbs there is an ally. sion to the manner of eating among the Orientals. EDIT.
word should, I apprehend, have been translated dish invariably in all the four places.
Ours are, however, not the only translators guilty of this inattention ; those of the Septuagint version are as faulty ; but still it is the occasion of great confusion, and as it may be agreeable, to some readers at least, to endeavour to disembroil these things as far as we can, I would here set down such remarks as have occured to me, as I do not know any place in this work where they could be brought in with greater propriety.
The utensils of the Arabs then, who retain ancient usages more than any other nation, and who content themselves with the necessaries of life, are, according to authors, as follow : bowls, a pot, a kettle.' a small hand-mill, some pitchers, with goats’-hair sacks, trunks and hampers covered with skin, for the reinoving their goods, leather bottles,' dishes, with great jars for keeping their corn, according to Norden." .
It appears from Plaistead, describing his journey over a prodigious desert, where they were obliged to bring their conveniences into a very narrow compass, that two or three kinds of leather bottles are used in such a situation : one very large, for the reception of a great quantity of liquor, which he calls skins ; and smaller vessels of leather, which he calls bot
tles ; the smallest sort of all he distinguishes by the particular name of matarras.
Sephel Soo or saph ng is the Hebrew word, I should apprehend, for the first of these utensils, or bowls. I say sephel, or saph, because it appears to me not improbable, that not only the same utensil is meant in those places where these two words are found, but that the original design was to express a bowl by one word only, and not to make use of two in so scanty a language. As the Hebrew writings are now divided into words, sephel undoubtedly signifies an Arab bowl, for it expresses that utensil that Jael, who was of an Arab family, and lived in tents as they do, made use of, when she presented butter-milk to Sisera, Judges v. 25. It appears no where else, I think, but in Judges vi. 38, where it signifies a vessel proper for squeezing water into. But were we now to divide an ancient Hebrew copy of this book, written according to the ancient manner, without any division, even into words, I do not see why we may not form a word in these two places by the two first letters, writing the third letter (5 lamed) with the succeeding ones. Lamed, 5 according to Noldius, is used sometimes to give the construction of an adjective to the word to which it is prefixed, so poses sobga baâleel laarets, Ps. xii. 6, is a furnace of earth, or an earthen vessel proper for the purification of silver; in like manner, if, instead of writing s lamed with the word which
* P. 30.