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OBSERVATION XII. When an Inferior is risited by a Superior, the
former makes him a Present at his Departure.
PEOPLE that go into the presence of the great, carry with them some gift to make way for them, or send it before them ; on the contrary, when a superior visits an inferior, it is expected that the inferior should make the visitor a present at his departure.
This is directly affirmed by Sir J. Chardin, in one of the notes of his MS. It is the custom of the East, he says, when one invites a superior, to make him a present after the repast, as it were in acknowledgment of his trouble ; frequently it is done before it-it being no augmentation of honour to come to the house of one that is an inferior. But they make no presents to equals, or those that are below themselves.
Sir John applies this custom in the East, to Jeroboam proposing to the Prophet, that prophesied against the altar at Bethel, to give him a reward if he would go with him, and refresh himself, 1 Kings xiii. 7.: And he thinks this would have been understood by the king, as treating the Prophet as a superior : “ Icy donc le roy vouloit traiter le prophete comme son superieur."
· The reward here mentioned seems to mean no more than a ycarly salary. Edit.
I am much obliged to this writer, for the very clear account he has given of this Eastern custom ; but I am somewhat apprehensive it is improperly applied to this passage of Scripture. I cannot easily suppose it was Jeroboam's intention to acknowledge the Prophet his superior. I should imagine nothing more was intended, by what we proposed to do, than what was done to Jeremiah by Nebuzar-adan the captain of Nebuchadnezzar's guard, when he gave that Prophet victuals and a reward, and let him go, Jer. xl. 5: and, I apprehend, no one imagines that commander designed to acknowledge the Jewish Prophet to be his superior.
If it is applicable to any sacred story, it seems to me to be that of Esau's coming to visit his brother, on which occasion Jacob presented him with a considerable number of cattle, telling him he saw his face, as though he had seen the face of God, Gen. xxxiii, 8. 10. •
Presents sometimes made to Princes to engage them
to lend their Assistance in Time of War.
I will not push my remarks on the presents of the East any farther here, excepting the making this single observation more, that the sending presents to princes to induce them to help the distressed, has been practised in these countries in late times, as well as in the days of Asa, of whom we read, that he took all the silter and the gold that were left in the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and delivered them into the hand of his servants : and king Asa sent them to Ben-hadad the son of Tabrimon, the son of Hezion king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, There is a league between me and thee, and between. my father and thy father : behold I have sent unto thee a present of silver and gold; come and break thy league with Baasha king of Israel,' that he may depart from me.'
To us it appears strange, that a present should be thought capable of inducing one prince to break with another, and engage himself in war; but as it was anciently thought sufficient, so we find in the Gesta Dei per Francos," that an Eastern nobleman, that had the custody of a castle called Hasarth, quarrelling with his master the prince of Aleppo, and finding himself obliged to seek for foreign aid, sent presents to Godfrey of Bouillon, to induce him to assist him.* What they were we are not told; but gold and silver, the things Asa sent Ben-hadad, were frequently sent in those
* 1 Kings xv. 18, 19.
u Tom. 1 p. 730. * Granting subsidies is exactly the same in the West as those presents were in the East; and productive of the same effects, i. e. “ they induce princes to break with each other, and engage in war !” EDIT.
times to the Croisade princes, and might probably be sent on this occasion to Godfrey.
But to proceed. Presents were frequently sent to the great, before those that sent them made their appearance: I have therefore considered them first: the forms of Eastern salutation follow
On the Eastern Method of Salutations.
A LEARNED, as well as an ingenious and lively commentator, supposes,' that the salutation our LORD refers to, Matt. v. 47, If ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? means embracing, though it is a different word, I would observe, that it is made use of in the Septuagint to express that action of endearment;' and which is made use of by an apochryphal writer : « whereas the word we translate salute is of a much more general nature: this I apprehend, arose from his being struck with the thought, that it could never be necessary to caution his disciples, not to restrain the civilities of a common salutation to those of their own religious party.
Juvenal, when he satirizes the Jews of the
apostolic age for their religious opinions, and represents them as unfriendly, and even mafevolent to other people ;t and when he mentions their refusing to show travellers the way, or to point out to them where they might find water. to drink when thirsty with journeying, takes no notice of their not saluting those of another nation ; yet there is reason to believe, from those words of Christ, that many of them at least would not, and that even a Jewish publican received no salutations from one of his own nation, excepting brother publicans.
Nor shall we wonder at this, or think it requisite to suppose the word we translate salute (Aonayouze) and which certainly, sometimes at least, signifies nothing more than making use of some friendly words upon meeting with people, must here signify something more particular, since we find some of the present inhabitants of the East seem to want this admonition of our LORD.
" When the Arabs salute one another,” according to Niebuhr, “it is generally in these terms: Salâ m aleikum, Peace be with you ; in speaking which words, they lay the right hand on the heart. The answer is Aleikum essalam, With you be peace. Aged people are inclined to add to these words, And the mercy and blessb Sat. 14. Non monstrare vias, &c.
· Ecclesiasticus xli. 20, strongly determines this : Be ashamed- of silence before them that salute thee..