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Joab and Amasa, and in this stooping posture he could much better see to direct the blow, than if he had only held his beard, and raised himself to kiss his face.
Beards held in high Estimation in the East.
The indignity, on the other hand, offered to David's ambassadors by Hanun, might perhaps be better illustrated by what the same author tells us of the present usages of the inhabitants of this country, than by those examples that Bishop Patrick has brought from more distant nations, and in particular from the Indians, and the Germans.
It is a greater mark of infamy; he assures us, among the Arabs that he visited, to cut off any one's beard, than whipping and branding with the flower-de-luce among the French. Many people in that country, he tells us, would prefer death to this kind of punishment.
And as they would think it a grievous punishment to lose it, so they carry things so far, to beg for the sake of it: “by your beard, by the life of your beard do.” In like manner some of their benedictions are, “God preserve your blessed beard : Gop pour his blessings on your · beard.” And when they would express their
6 Mos enim est Orientalibus, tam Græcis quam aliis na. tionibus, barbas totâ curâ & omni solicitudine nutrire; pro summoque probo & majori quæ unquam irrogari possit ignomia reputare, si vel unus pilus quocunque sibi de casu barba cum injuria detrahatur, says William of Tyre, an Eastern archbishop, Gesta Dei. p. 802.
value for any thing, they say, “It is worth more than his beard."
I never had so clear an apprehension, I must confess, as after I have read these accounts, of the intended energy of that thought of Ezekiel, where the inhabitants of Jerusalem are compared to the hair of the Prophet's head and beard. That passage seems to signify, that though the inhabitants of Jerusalem had been dear to God as the hair of an Eastern beard to its owner, yet that they should be taken away and consumed, one part by pestilence and famine, another part by the sword, and the third by the calamities of an exile.
Niebuhro has given us an account of a modern Arab prince's treating a Persian envoy, in the same manner as Hanun treated the beards of David's ambassadors, which brought a powerful Persian army upon him, in 1765; but it seems, he was a very brutal prince, and bore a most detestable character.
a Ch. 7.
The Mohammedans have a very great respect for their beards, and think it criminal to shave: conversing one day with a Turk who was playing with his beard, I asked him, “ Why do you not cut off your beard as we (Europeans) do ?" To which he replied, with great emotion, Cut off my beard !Why should I ?--God forbid !" Edit. Ezek. v. .
c P. 275.
Kissing the Hand, a Token of Rererence.
OUR Lord reproaches the Pharisee who invited him to eat bread, Luke vii. that he had given him no kiss, whereas the person he had been censuring in his heart had not ceased kissing his feet from her entrance into the house. It is visible, by the contrast our Lord here supposes, between the woman's kisses and the compliment he had reason to expect from the Pharisee, that he did not look for his kissing his feet, but for some other salutation : but what? not the kisses of equality most certainly, but rather that kissing the hand, which marks out reverence, the reverence that is customarily paid in the East to those of a sacred character, and which, contrary to the rules of decorum, he had omitted.
So Norden tells us, that a Copti priest, whom they carried in their barque from the neighbourhood of Cairo a considerable way up the Nile, carried it pretty high, insomuch that
d This may be thought not very well to agree with a preceding Observation, in which kissing the hand is sup. posed to be a compliment that passes between equals : but it is to be remembered, there these kisses were supposed to be mutually given, and such an exchange marks out equality; here the person rercrenced is described as receive ing a kiss on his hand, but not as returning it. This is a considerable difference.
- Part ii, p. 35, 36.
he dared to tell them, more than once, that he could not take them for Christians, since not one of their company had offered to kiss his hands: whereas the Copti ran every day in crowds round him, to shew their respect by such marks of submission.
And at Saphet in Galilee, where the Jews have a sort of university, Dr. Pococke saw the inferior rabbies complimenting the chief on the day of Pentecost, who was very decently habited in white satin, by coming with great reverence and kissing his hand.'
Dismounting, a Token of Respect.
The alighting of those that ride is considered in the East as an expression of deep respect; so Dr. Pococke tells us, that they are wont to descend from their asses in Egypt, when they come near some tombs there, and that Christians and Jews are obliged to submit to this.
So Hasselquist tells Linnæus, in one of his letters to him, that Christians were obliged to alight from their asses in Egypt, when they met with commanders of the soldiers there." This he complains of as a bitter indignity ;
Vol. ii. p. 76. & Vol. 1. p. 35. P. 425.
but they that received the compliment, without doubt, required it as a most pleasing piece of respect..
Achsah's and Abigail's alighting i were without doubt then intended as expressions of reverence: but is it to be imagined, that Naaman's alighting from his chariot, when Gehazi ran after him, arose from the same principle? If it did, there was a mighty change in this haughty Syrian after his cure.
That he should pay such a reverence to a servant of the Prophet must appear very surprising, yet we can hardly think the historian would have mentioned this circumstance so very distinctly in any other view.
Rebecca's alighting from the camel on which she rode, when Isaac came to meet her,, is by no means any proof that the considering this as an expression of reverence, is a modern thing in the East ; it, on the contrary, strongly reminds one of d’Arvieux's account, of a bride's throwing herself at the feet of the bridegroom when solemnly presented to him, which obtains among the Arabs.' i Jud. i. 14. 1 Sam. xxv. 23. * 2 Kings 1.21. "Voy. dans la Pal. p. 225.