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reward for the equity of his decisions, that every party that gained a cause should kiss his lips : no ! it should rather be, he shall kiss--the hem of his garment, or even the earth at his feet. The word cupit, (every man desires to kiss,) is indeed made use of in the Synopsis, perhaps to soften this impropriety; but if so; it is used in vain, for an inhabitant of the East would feel no inclination to kiss the lips of a righteous judge. St. John, who found emotions of veneration, which were something like those these people are here supposed to feel, was not prompted in the least to kiss the angel's lips; the effect they produced in him was prostration at the angel's feet. The fourth interpretation in the Synopsis, which is that of a Jewish rabbi, is one of the most childish conceits that can be easily imagined, namely, that the words of truth tally with each other as lip with lip. The third, that a judge who pronounces a right decision does a thing as grateful as if every word were a kiss ; is, as apparently strained. And as to the first, it is by no means agreeable to the dignified station of a judge, and of such an one Solomon appears to be speaking, that he that pronounces a just sentence shall be admitted, not merely to kiss the hand, but even the lips, that is, shall be admitted into the strictest friendship; unless it be understood of the king for whom he judges, which would be as degrading to the prince as the other to the judge, so neither is
it by any means conformable to the preceding words, which express the effects that just or unjust judgment should have on the people, ver. 23. These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect to persons in judgment, ver. 24. He that saith unto the wicked thou art righteous, (that is, he that absolveth the guilty,) him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him. ver. 25. But to them that rebuke him, ( that severely reprimand him,) shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon him. He that giveth a right answer then in the next verse (the 26th) is apparently the description of a judge, that pronounces right judgments on those causes that are brought before him to try; and this kissing, agreeably to all that precedes, must refer to the people, the nation, not to the king for whom he judges. The Septuagint interpretation is much more agreeable therefore than any of the four I have recited-Men shall kiss the righteous decrees of a just judge, according to the Eastern forms of expressing reverence.
I do not however know whether a more unexceptionable interpretation still may not be proposcd. The rescripts of authority are wont to be kissed whether they are believed to be just or not, except in cases where persons assume something of independance ; nay, the letters of people of figure are treated after this manner by persons over whom they have no authority, and who know not the contents of .
. A a 2.
them, merely because they are letters of people of figure ;' it is possible therefore these words may rather refer to another Eastern custom, which d’Arvieux gives an account of in his description of the Arabs of Mount Carmel, who, when they present any petition to their emir for a favour, offer their billets to hini with their right hands, after having first kissed the papers.? The Hebrew manner of expression is short, and proverbs have peculiar shortness: Every lip shall kiss, one maketh to return a right answer, that is, every one shall be ready to present the state of his case, kissing it as he delivers it, when there is a judge whose decisions are celebrated for their being equitable.* So another of these apophthegms of Solomon is delivered with something of the like turn of expression, A crown of glory the hoary head, in the way of righteousness it shall be found : that is, the hoary head is a crown. of glory, when it is found in the way of righteousness.
P So la Roque, in his Syrian travels, tells us, that as he and his companions drew near to Balbec, two Arab horse. men accosted them very roughly ; but on being told they had a let terfor the Scheikh of Balbec, which had been given them, by a Maronite Schcikh, with both of which Scheikhs these Arabs had a good understanding, they, after having looked at the letter, lifted it to their heads, and kissing it, civilly dismissed them. Tom. 1. p. 94, 95.
9 Voy, dans la Pal. p. 155.
rem necocheem. “He shall kiss the lips of him who returneth right words.” This I am afraid will not farour Mr. Ilarmer's interpretation. Enit.
Intim ate Acquaintances kiss each others Hands,
Head, or Shoulders.
They that are more intimately acquainted, or of equal age and dignity, says Dr. Shaw,' mutually kiss the hand, the head, or shoulder of each other.'
It is a rule with me not to repeat any of this learned author's observations on Scripture, as I suppose my curious readers acquainted with his book ; but as he has not applied this observation to any passage in the Bible, it cannot be amiss to remark, that those passages there, which speak of falling on the neck and kissing a person, seem to have a reference to this eastern way of kissing the shoulder in an embrace.'.
Kissing the Beard, a Token of Respect.
Dr. Shaw takes no notice of their taking hold of the beard in order to kiss, but Thevenot does,' saying, that among the Turks it is
· P. 237.
• Gen. xxxiii. 4. ch. xlv. : 14, 11. Acts xx. 17, Luke IV. 20.
tie: Part i. P. 30.
a great affront to take one by the beard, unless it be to kiss him, in which case they often do it.
Whether he means by kissing him, kissiog his beard, or not, I do not know; but Joab's taking Amasa by the beard to kiss him, 2 Sam. xx, 9, seems to be designed to express his taking his beard to kiss it; at least this is agreeable to the customs of those that now live in that country: for d'Arvieux, describing the assembling together of several of the petty Arab princes at an entertainment, tells us, that ~ All the emirs came just together a little time after, accompanied by their friends and attendants, and after the usual civilities, caresses, kissings of the beard, and of the hand, which every one gave and received according to his hand and dignity, they sat down upon mats."
He elsewhere * speaks of the women's kissing their husbands's beards, and children those of their fathers, and friends reciprocally saluting one another in this manner; but the doing it by their emirs more exactly answers this history of
• Voy. dans la Pal. par la Roque, p. 71.. * P. 144. 148.
✓ The wives in that country are held in such submission, that it is reasonable to think, their caresses are mingled with more humiliating marks of respect than kissing the beard : the Psalmist seems to suppose so, when he says, (Ps. xlv. 11.) So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy lord, and worship thou him. On which the manuscript I have so often quoted observes, that this alludes to the great respect and submission of women to. wards their husbands in these countries.