Page images
PDF
EPUB

by it. The Prophet says, As keepers of a field are they against her round about, &c. ; on which he remarks, that was in the East pulse, roots, &c. grow in open and uninclosed fields, when they begin to be fit to gather, they place guards, if near a great road more, if distant fewer, who place themselves round about these grounds, as is practised in Arabia.”

He also, in a note on Mic. vii. 1, takes notice of the fondness of the Persians, and Turks, for their fruits as soon as they approach to ripeness; the Persians especially, who eat almonds, plumbs, melons, before they are ripe, the great dryness and the temperature of the air preventing flatulencies.

OBSERVATION XVI.

Of their Inclosures, Fences, Walls, &c.

ONE would have imagined, that in so warm a climate as Judea, and the neighbouring countries, these living fences would have been thought sufficient for their vineyards; but it seems stone walls are frequently used.

Thus Egmont or Heyman, describing the country about Saphet, a celebrated city of Galilee, tell us “the country round it is finely improved, the declivitys being covered with vines supported by low walls.”'

Vol. i. p. 39, 40-At Aleppo, Dr. R. says (MS. note) most of the vineyards are fenced with stone walls. In several places, a hedge would not grow well from lack of moisture. Edit.

The like management, it seems, obtained anciently: Prov. xxiv. 31, speaking of a stone wall about a vineyard : and walls being mentioned by Job, in connection, I think, with treading wine-presses, ch. xxiv. 11. Our translators indeed understood the passage otherwise, “ Which make oil within their walls, and tread their wine-presses, and suffer thirst." but it is extremely difficult to tell what greater hardship attended making oil within walls, than in the open air ; nor does any contrast appear between their labour as to this and what followed, as there does between treading winepresses, and suffering thirst, in the following part of the verse, and in that threatening of the Prophet Micah, Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but . thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine. Those words then of Job are mistranslated, and the version of Schultens to be adopted, inter pedamenta eorum meridiantur, (they work at mid-day among their rows of vines); or rather, more conformably to our translation, and to the preceding account of Egmont and Heyman, “they work at mid-day among their walls, they tread wine-presses, and suffer thirst.”

Buxtorf“ supposes this sense of the word nono shuroth is properly Chaldaic, because the Chaldee Paraphrast every where uses the term ne shur for the Hebrew word mon chomah (a wall ;) but if this should be admitted, it - Ch. vi. 15.

* Epit. Rad. Heb.

US

affords no argument against the book of Job being written by Moses, according to the common supposition, since he uses the like term in the same Chaldaic sense in the Pentateuch, Gen. xlix. 22.

Possibly the guarding against the depredations of jackalls, was one reason inducing them to build walls about their vineyards, since we are assured by Hasselquist,” “that these animals are very numerous in Palestine, especially during the vintage, often destroying whole vineyards, and fields of cucumbers. If it was, there was something extremely sarcastic in those words of Tobiah the Ammonite, Even that which they build, if a fox (a jackall] go up, he shall even break down their stone walls, Nehem. iv. 3.-if a jackall should set himself to force a way through, he should break down their stone wall, designed to defend their capital city, but not so strong as a common vineyard-wall: well might Nehemiah say, when he was told it, Hear, o our God, for we are despised : and turn their reproach upon their own head, ver. 4.

The insupportable heat of mid-day in these countries has been taken notice of in a preceding chapter ; to which might be added, in this place, the great augmentation of the heat to. those that are near walls, from the reflected rays of the sun, which is so great, that Dr. Russell tells us, that had not Providence wisely ordered it, that the westerly winds are the

• Page 127

most frequent in summer at Aleppo, the country would scarcely have been habitable, considering the intense heat of the sun's rays, and reflection from a bare rocky track of ground, and from the white stone walls of the houses.

And as Hasselquist observes, P that the wild beasts, particularly the jackalls, had their passages and habitations in the live fences near Joppa, it is quite natural to suppose this was one reason, at least, of raising stone-walls about their vineyards.

OBSERVATION XVII.

of their Woods in the Holy-Land.

That numbers of the Israelites had no wood growing on their own lands, for their burning, must be imagined from the openness of their country.

It is certain, the Eastern villages now have oftentimes little or none on their premises : so Russell says, ' that inconsiderable as the stream that runs at Aleppo, and the gardens about it, may appear, they, however, contain almost the only trees that are to be met with for twenty or thirty miles round, "for the villages are destitute of trees,” and most of them only sup· plied with what rain-water they can save in cisterns. D’Arvieux' gives us to understand, · P. 15. Vol. 1. p. 3 &c. and 343. P. o.

• Voy. dans la Pal. par la Roque, p. 193.

that several of the present villages of the Holy Land are in the same situation ; for, observing that the Arabs burn cow-dung in their encampments,' he adds, that all the villagers, who live in places where there is a scarcity of wood, take great care to provide themselves with sufficient quantities of this kind of fuel. This is a circumstance I have elsewhere taken notice

[ocr errors]

The Holy Land appears, by the last observation, to have been as little wooded anciently as at present ; nevertheless, the Israelites seem to have burnt wood very commonly, and without buying it too, from what the Prophet says, Lam. v. 4, We have drunken our water for money, our wood is sold to us. Had they been wont to buy their fuel, they would not have complained of it as such a hardship

The true account of it seems to be this: The woods of the land of Israel being from very ancient times common, the people of the villages, which, like those about Aleppo, had no trees growing in them, supplied themselves with fuel out of these wooded places, of which there were many anciently, and several that still remain. This liberty of taking wood in common, the Jews suppose to have been a constitution of Joshua, of which they give us ten ; the first, giving liberty to an Israelite to feed his flock in the woods of any tribe : the second, that it should be free to take wood in the fields any

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »