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making use of as many hands in it as might be, conformably to the modern ritual of the Eastern courts. But what I chiefly take notice of it for, is to illustrate the account that is given us of Benhadad's present to the Prophet Elisha, which consisted of forty camels' burthen of the good things of Damascus. This 'Syrian prince without doubt sent Elisha a present answerable to his magnificence : but can it be imagined that it was the full loading of forty camels, and at the same time wholly consisting of provisions, such as bread and wine, fruit and fowl, as a Jewish rabbi supposed, if I understand Bishop Patrick right ?..
: A gentleman, I remember, once shewed me a prodigious tooth in his possession, which apparently had belonged to one of the monsters of the deep, but was found by one of his ancestors among the treasures of a Roman Catholic who was fond of relics, wrapped up in silk, besides two or three outer covers of paper, on one of which was written, A tooth of the holy Saint Paul. “Don't you think,” said the humourous possessor, turning himself to the company with this curiosity, “that Saint Paul had a fine set of grinders?” One would imagine these commentators must have supposed the Prophet Elisha's were full as large, to be able to make use of forty camel-loads of provisions, equi* 2 Kings, viii. 9 In his Com. on the place.
valent to twenty thousand pound weight at least, during his stay at Damascus.
The true light in which we are doubtless to consider this passage is, that the various things that were sent to Elisha for a present were carried for state on a number of camels, and that no fewer than forty were employed in the cavalcade ; not that they carried each a full loading. And it is probable that besides eatables, and wine of Helbon, some of their valuable manufactures of white wool were contained in the present; they were as properly the good things of Damascus, as the produce of their enchanting gardens.
Presents often considered as a Tribute.
That present that the children of Israel sent to Eglon king of Moab, which I mentioned under the last Observation, was a kind of tribute, or an acknowledgment of inferiority and subjection ; and the presents that are sent
See Russell, Vol.ii.p. 166, who tells us there, that the Arab camel carries one hundred Rotoloes, or five hundred pounds weight, according to which forty camel-loads are equal to twenty thousand pounds ; but the Turkmans camel's com. mon load is one hundred and sixty Rotoloes, or eight han. dred pounds weight. If we suppose these camels of Damascus were only of the Arab breed, twenty thousand pounds weight was their proper loading.
Ezek xxvii, 18.
to powerful princes, by other kings, are frequently looked upon in this light by those that receive them.
Sir J. Chardin has remarked, that presents are viewed in this light, in such cases, not only in Turkey, but almost through all the Levant; and he very justly applies the thought to Ps. Ixxii. 10. Those presents were evidently of that kind--the following verse puts it out of all doubt; but the haughty Asiatic princes oftentimes put that construction on presents that were not sent with any such intention. As they do so now, they probably did so anciently : to which some less powerful or distressed princes might the more willingly submit, as there was something equivocal in these marks of attention paid to potent princes,
Dresses often given to Persons of Distinction.
MAILLET, in that passage I quoted in the last article but one, speaks diminutively of the cobcal, or wooden sandals of the ladies, which are carried in their nuptial processions with the rest; though, according to his own account, they are not wholly without ornaments. Shoes perhaps of this kind are referred to by the Prophet Amos, chap, ii. 6, where shoes have been commonly, and it appears from
hence with justness, understood to mean something of a trifling value.
The Turkish officers, and also their wives," says Rauwolff speaking of Tripoli on the coast of Syria, “go very richly cloathed with rich flowered silks, artificially made and mixed of several colours. But these cloaths are commonly given them by those that have causes depending before them, (for they do not love to part with their own money,) to promote their cause, and to be favourable to them.”
I think I see here, a picture of the corruption of the Jewish judges that Amos complains of: silver made them pervert the judgment of the righteous; nay, so mean a piece of finery as a pair of wooden sandals for their wives would make them condemn the innocent poor, who could not afford to make them a present of equal value.
Amos viii, 6, is, I suppose, to be understood in the same light : the rich defrauding the poor, knowing that if those poor complained, they could carry their point against them for a little silver, if not for a pair of cobcal.
• P. 38:
Flowers and odoriferous Herbs often given as a Token
-. But mean as the present of a pair of cobcal may seem, presents of still less value are frequently made in these countries. “ In familiar visits, amongst inferior people, you shall seldom have them come without bringing a flower, or an orange, or some other such token of their respect to the person visited,” says Maundrell.' Bishop Pococke confirms this, when speaking of his drawing near an encampment of the Arabs that attended him, in their way to Mount Sinai, he says, “ Here one of them, who had a difference with one of the company, as he was in his own country, came and brought him a flower, as a present, which being accepted of, was a sign that all was made up."
These trifling presents however are not confined to the meanest of the people, for Egmont or Heyman tells us," that on their leaving Scala Nuova, some Greeks brought them flowers and odoriferous herbs as tokens of their friendship. In what a strong point of light, as to their veneration for our LORD, does this place the present the Eastern Magi made him : in the circumstances in which they found him, a flower, an orange, (or a citron) or any such trifle, had
Sec Obs. i. p. 269. & Vol. i. p. 140. + Vol. i. p. 125.