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How they dispose of their Baggage on Journies,
illustrating Ezek. xii. 3—7.
When they travel to distant places, they are wont to send off their baggage to some place of rendezvous some time before they set out.
The account that an ingenious commentator, whose expositions are generally joined to Bishop Patrick's gives of a paragraph of the Prophet Ezekiel,” ought to be taken notice of here: it is, in a few words, this, “ that the Prophet was to get the goods together, to pack them up openly, and at noon-day, that all might see, and take notice of it; that he was to get forth at even, as men do that would go off by stealth : that he was to dig through the wall, to shew that Zedekiah should make his escape by the same means; that what the Prophet was commanded to carry out in the twilight, must be something different from the goods he removed in the day-time, and therefore must mean provision for his present subsistence; and that he was to cover his face, so as not to see the ground, as Zedekiah should do, that he might not be discovered.”
Sir John Chardin, on the contrary, supposes, there was nothing unusual, nothing very particular, in the two first of the above-mentioned
? Ch. xii. 3–7.
circumstances. His manuscript notes on this passage of Ezekiel are to the following purport. - This is as they do in the caravans : they carry out their baggage in the day-time, and the caravan loads in the evening, for in the morning it is too hot to set out on a journey for that day, and they cannot well see in the night. However, this depends on the length of their journies ; for when they are too short to take up a whole night, they load in the night, in order to arrive at their journey's end early in the morning, it being a greater inconvenience to arrive at an unknown place in the night, than to set out on a journey then. As to his digging through the wall, he says Ezekiel is speaking, without doubt, of the walls of the caravanseray. These walls, in the East, being mostly of earth, (mud or clay,) they may easily be bored through.”
I cannot, I own, entirely adopt either of these accounts ; Ezekiel's collecting together his goods, does not look like a person's flying in a hurry, and by stealth ; and consequently his going forth in the evening, in consequence of this preparation, cannot be construed as designed to signify a stealing away. These managements rather mark out the distance of the way they were going : going into captivity in a very far country. The going into captivity had not privacy attending it; and accordingly, the sending their goods to a common rendezvous beforehand, and setting out in an evening, are known to be Eastern usages.
On the other hand, I should not imagine it was the wall of a caravanseray, or of any place like a caravanseray, but the wall of the place where Ezekiel was, either of his own dwelling, or of the town in which he then resided : a management designed to mark out the flight of Zedekiah; as the two first circumstances were intended to shadow out the carrying Israel openly, and avowedly, into captivity.
Ezekiel was, I apprehend, to do two things -to imitate the going of the people into captivity, and the hurrying flight of the king: two very distinct things. The mournful, but composed collecting together all they had for a transmigration, and leading them perhaps on asses, being as remote as could be from the hurrying and secret management of one making a private breach in a wall, and going off precipitately, with a few of his most valuable effects on his shoulder, which were, I should think, what Ezekiel was to carry, when he squeezed through the aperture in the wall, not provisions.
Nor am I sure the Prophet's covering his face was designed for concealment : it might be to express Zedekiah's distress. David, it is certain, had his head covered when he fled from Absolom, at a time when he intended no concealment; and when Zedekiah Aed, it was in the night, and consequently such a concealment not wanted ; not to say, it would have
• 2 Sam. xv. 30. 2 Kings xxv. 41. Jer. lii. 7.
been embarrassing to him in his flight, not to be able to see the ground.
The Prophet mentions the digging through the wall, after mentioning his preparation for removing as into captivity ;. but it is necessary for us to suppose, these emblematical actions of the Prophet are ranged just as he performed them.
Sir John also applies this custom, of waiting some time at a general rendezvous before they set out, to Ezra's continuing three days at the river Ahava, Ezra viii. 15 : upon which he remarks, that they are wont to encamp after this manner four or five leagues from Bagdad, upon an arm of the Tigris, where the caravans always stay some days, to see whether they have got all things requisite for a long voyage, and whether nobody is left behind.
They relieve the Tedium of the Way on their Jour
nies by Music, Songs, Tales, &c.
They set out, at least in their longer journies, with music; for when the Prefetto of Egypt whose journal the late Bp. of Clogher published, was preparing for his journey, he complains of his being incommoded by the sons of his Eastern friends, who took leave in
• Dr. Russell, has made the same remark in his MS, notes to this work. EDIT.
this manner of their relations and acquaintance before their setting out.
This illustrates the complaint of Laban, Gen. xxxi. 27, Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me? and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret and with harp?
But the Prefetto takes no notice of a circumstance that frequently attends these travelling Eastern songs, though it illustrates another passage of Scripture, and that is the extemporaneousness of them. A guard of. Arab horsemen escorted the gentlemen that visited Palmyra in 1751; and when the business of the day was over, coffee and a pipe of tobacco was, the ingenious editor of those Ruins tells us, their highest luxury; and when they indulged in this, sitting in a circle, one of the company entertained the rest with a song or story, the subject love or war, and the composition sometimes extemporary. The extemporary devotional songs then mentioned by the Apostle, 1 Cor. xiv. 26, were by no means contrary to the turn of mind of the Eastern people. The songs of the Israelitish women, when they came to meet king Saul after the
slaughter of the Philistines by David, seem to - have been of the same kind, for they answered
one another, saying, Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
a P. 32. The extemporaneousness of the Eastern songs is very often mentioned in the Arabian Nights Entertain. ments.