Page images
PDF
EPUB

treated after the same manner, except that all were perfumed and incensed. So then, if the sweet odours that were presented to Daniel, were used with the same intention that these modern odoriferous liquids and smoke are, it was dismissing the Prophet with great respect; and considering the quality of the person that ordered it, was an high honour done him, but of the civil kind, and without any thing like idolatry; and perhaps was no more than what the new dignity, to which Nebuchadnezzar had raised him, made proper.

But if the burning and sprinkling perfumes be so common in the East as a mere civil compliment, how came this notion of the idolatrous nature of Nebuchadnezzar's command to be so universal? How came Maundrell, who so happily explained the proposal of Saul's servant to his master, to take no notice of this remarkable circumstance? The last is only a proof, that the most ingenious travellers have taken little notice of the coincidence between the remaining original customs and passages of Scripture, except in very striking cases. And as to the first, writers seem to be sometimes strangely disposed to think many innocent usages of antiquity idolatrous. This the writers, from whence the Note Variorum on Curtius are taken, suppose the pomp with which Alexander the Great was received into that very city of Babylon, (where Daniel now was,) a few generations after, was idolatrous, and paid to him as a

God, without sufficient reason. The pomp, as described by Curtius, consisted in strewing flowers and garlands in the way, burning frankincense and other odours on each side of the places through which he passed, making him royal presents, and singing, and playing upon instruments before him. Freinshemius, who was one of these writers, supposes the singing before him was idolatrous: though we not only find in Hanway,' that a considerable number of singers used to precede Kouli-Khan, the late celebrated Persian monarch, where an idolatrous intention cannot be imagined: but that the like solemnity was in use among the Jews, where nothing of this kind is, or can be, supected, 2 Chron. xx. 21, 28; nay, though Curtius expressly says in this passage, that these singers were those that were wont to sing the praises of their kings. And even as to that burning frankincense and other odours, it appears to be no more than doing him great civil honours : for as it was customary for the Persians to burn odours before their princes, and in times of triumph and joy;' so Brissonius," (who is celebrated' for the accuracy of his observations on the customs of the Persians) affirmed, that he did not remember to have any where observed, that the Persians used incense in the worship of their gods. Nor have the passages • Lib. v. cap. 1.

1 Vol. i. p. 249, 251. & Vide Not. Var, in Q. Curtium, lib. v. cap. 1. p. 264,

Ubi supra. 3 Vide Not. Var, in Q. Curt. p. 41.

Savarok produces, it is certain, any force in them, to prove the contrary; the one being this very passage of Curtius, and the other a line from a poet who flourished near five hundred years after the birth of our Lord, and therefore no competent witness concerning the idolatrous rites of the ancient Persians.

The pouring out sweet odours on Daniel, which seems to be the import of the words, must, certainly, be less exceptionable than the burning odours before him. But if they were burnt before him, as it would not now in that country have the least idolatrous appearance ; as it would not have had that appearance among the ancient Persians, if it made, as Brissonius supposes, no part of the worship of their gods; as perfumes seem to have been used sometimes for mere civil purposes, in countries where they entered into the solemnities of religion, for Solomon says, ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, Prov xxvii. 9, and Moses, when he forbids the Israelites the making a perfume to smell to like that ordered by him to be burned in the sanctuary, supposes perfumes might be, or were sometimes, burnt for mere secular uses; why should this command of Nebuchadnezzar be imagined to be idolatrous ??

To finish this article, Nebuchadnezzar appears in all this matter to have considered

* P. 264.

! An honour of much the same kind seems to have ob. tained in the West, which Horace speaks of in one of his Satires, and which appears, by that passage, not to have been appropriated to such as the Romans dcified, as they Daniel merely as a Prophet: his words strongly express this, Your God is a God of Gods, v. 47; and had it been otherwise, a person so zealous as Daniel, who ran the risque of his life rather than neglect his homage unto his God, and had the courage to pray to him, in that dangerous situation, with his windows open towards Jerusalem, would undoubtedly like Paul and Barnabas have rejected these odours. To suppose after all this, that they were idolatrous, seems to me almost as perverse, as to imagine the burning sweet odours at the death of King Asa, 2 Chron. xvi. 14, was the solemnity of an apotheosis : but vehemently inclined as the Jews were to idolatry, the deifying their deceased kings does not appear to have been one of their transgressions.

OBSERVATION XXXIII.

Changing the Dress of a Person, a Token of

Ionour.

There was a honour of a different kind done to Daniel afterwards, the clothing him with scarlet, mentioned Dan. y. 16, 19. We have did their emperors; but to have been done to obscure ma. gistrates, acknowledged to be mere mortals.

- Insani ridentes præmia scribæ, Prætextam, & latum clavum, prunæque batillum.

Hor. Lib. i. Sat. v. I. 34, 36. We ridiculed the vanity of that foolish scrivener (Aufi. dius. Luscus) clothed with his Præterta, adorned with the Latus Clavus, and having a censer of burning coals carried before him.” EDIT,

no custom of this kind : persons receive favours of various sorts from princes, but the coming out from their presence in a different dress is not an honour in use among us, but it is still practised in the East.

Some doubt however may be made concerning the precise intention of this clothing him, whether it was the investing him with the dignity of the third ruler of the kingdom, by putting on him the dress belonging to that office; or whether it was a distinct honour: the modern customs of the East not determining this point, because caffctans (or robes,) are at this day put on people with both views. : So Norden, speaking of one of the Arab princes of Upper-Egypt, says, that he had received at Girge the caffetan of the Bey, which was the only mark of respect they paid there to the Turkish government, force deciding between the competitors who should have the dignity, and he that was sent to Girge being absolutely to be vested with the caffetan by the Bey. But then we find too that these caffetans are given merely as an honour, and not as an ensign of office. La Roque tells us, that he himself received it at Sidon, and three other attendants on the French consul, along with the consul himself, who upon a particular occasion waited on Ishmael the Basha of that place." Agreeably to which 'Thevenot tells us, he saw an ambassador from the Great Mogul

m Part ii. p. 96, 97. . Voy. de Syr. & du Mont Liban, Tom. I. p. 16, 16.

« PreviousContinue »