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Christians in Egypt obliged to alight, when a Turk
It is undoubtedly true, that the alighting from a beast on which one is riding, is, and was anciently, a mark of great respect. The case however of Achsah I believe is to be differently understood. Of these matters some account ought here to be given.
We met a Turk, says Dr. Richard Chandler in his Asiatic Travels," "a person of distinction, as appeared from his turban. He was on horse
back with a single attendant. Our janizary ' and Armenians respectfully alighted, and made
him a profound obeisance, the former kissing the rim of his garment.”
So Niebuhr tells us, that at Kahira (Grand Cairo) “ the Jews and Christians who, it may be, alighted at first through fear or respect, when a Mohammedan with a great train on horseback met them, are now obliged to pay this compliment to above thirty of the principal people of that city. When these appear in public, they always cause a domestic to go before to give notice to the Jews and Greeks, and even the Europeans that they meet with, to get off their asses as soon as possible, and they are
m P. 200.
qualified on occasion to force them with a great club, which they always carry in their hands."
The fact is certain, but, probably, is not applicable to the case of Achsah.. Our translators suppose that like Abigail she alighted from her ass, when she preferred her request to Caleb her father, begging for the addition of some springs of water to her portion; but it is quite a different word, never used but in reciting her story, excepting once in the book of Judges, where it is used to express Jael's fastening one of the pins of her tent in the ground, after having driven it through Sisera's temples."
The word then seems to signify her continuing upon the ass standing still, as if fastened to the ground. This would naturally occasion Caleb to enquire into the reason of this stop in the marriage-procession, and brought on an expla- ' nation, which terminated in her obtaining what she desired.
Both the Septuagint and the Vulgar Latin suppose she continued sitting on her ass, the first suppose she cried to her father for this favour ;P the second that she sighed : 9 but the original mentions neither, nor do either appear
" Description de l'Arabie, p. 39.
• The original word is ngy isanach, and is found Jos. xv. 18. and iv. 21. Buxtorf translates it by infigi, desilire, to be infixed or stuck into leap off. In the case of Achsah Jud. 1. 14, Montanus renders enn byr navni vattitsnach meal achamor: Et defixit se desuper asino. And she un. fastened herself from her ass. The particle Syr meal, suffi. ciently shews, she got off or alighted. Edit.
P-Elonosy FX TO Orov. Cum suspirasset sedens in asino.
necessary. The mere stopping in so solemn a cavalcade as this, which seems to have been the conveying her with pomp to Othniel's house, as his bride, must have been sufficient to occasion the enquiry.
AFTER the ceremonies of reception, it is natural to consider those postures of longer continuance by which state or inferiority are expressed, for neither the one nor the other are forgotton through the whole visit, in the East.
Dr. Pococke, in his first volume,' has given us the figure of a person half sitting and half kneeling, that is, kneeling so as to rest the most muscular part of his body on bis heels: this he observes is the manner in which inferior persons sit at this day before great men; and that it is considered as a very humble posture. Agreeably to this he informs us, in his second volume,' that the attendants of the English consul, when he waited on the Caia of the Pasha of Tripoli, sat in this manner, resting behind on their hams. Mr. Drummond gives a similar account."
In this manner, I suppose, it was that David sat before the LORD, when he went into the sanctuary to bless him for his promise concern"P. 213.
· Vol. 1, p. 213, vol. 2. p. 102. P. 102.
: P. 190.
ing his family. Abarbanel, and some Christian expositors,* seem to be perplexed about the word sitting before the LORD ; but sitting, after this manner, was expressive of the greatest humiliation, and therefore no improper posture for one that appeared before the ark of God.
Dr. Delaney, in his Life of king David, has given us this thought; I therefore only cite these passages of Bishop Pococke farther to illustrate, and confirm it.
Seating a Person on a Cushion, a Token of Respect.
SITTING on a cushion, is, on the contrary, an expression of honour, and the preparing a seat for a person of distinction seems to mean, laying things of this kind, on a place where such an one is to sit.
It is the custom of Asia, Sir J. Chardin informs us in his MS. for persons in common not to go into the shops of that country, which are mostly small, but there are wooden seats, on the outside, where people sit down, and if it happens to be a man of quality, they lay a cushion there.” He also informs us, “that people of quality cause carpets and cushions to be carried every where, that they like, in order to repose themselves upon them more agreeably.”
* See Patrick on 1 Sam. vii. 28.
When Job speaks of his preparing his seat; ch. xxix. 7. it is extremely natural to understand him of his sending his servants, to lay a cushion and a carpet on one of the public seats there, or something of that sort, as Sir John supposes ; but I do not imagine a seat in the street, means a seat by a shop. Job is speaking evidently of his sittivg there as a ruler among his people.
Eli's seat by the way-side,' was a seat adorned, we may believe, after the same manner. He did not sit in a manner unbecoming so dignified a personage.
Silling in the Corner, a Token of Superiority.
Sitting in the corner is, more particularly, a stately attitude, and expressive of superiority.
So Dr. Pococke tells us in the last cited place, that at that visit which the English consul. made to the Pasha of Tripoli, the Pasha haying on the garment of ceremony, gave the welcome as he passed, and sat down cross-legged in the corner to the right, having a cushion on each side, and one over them, behind him. In like manner he tells us in his first volume, that when he was, introduced to the Scheikh of Furshout, he found him sitting in the corner of his
1 Sam. iv. 13.