« PreviousContinue »
Curious Criticism on Psalm cxxiii. 2.
When Bishop Patrick supposes the words of the Psalmist, Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress : so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us, as signifying, We submit ourselves to this severe punishment, as poor slaves do to the stroke of their offended master or mistress-resolving to bear it patiently, till thou our Lord, who dost inflict it, wilt be pleased, &c. he does not seem to have formed conceptions lofty enough of the state assumed by superiors in the East, and especially by princes, when he supposes the great King of kings punishing Israel with his own hands.
On the other hand, Sir J. Chardin's MS. note on the place does not give us a complete view of the thought of the Psalmist. He tells us, “ It is taken from a custom made use of amongst all the great in the East, especially in Asia Minor, I mean the Turks; there, every order is given by a sign of the hands. From hence the mutes of the Seraglio. The same obtains in the Persian court.” This is the same with the first of the four explanations that are given us in Pool's Synopsis : but did the Psalmist mean to represent the Israelites as saying, they would attentively observe all the orders God should give them, and set themselves to obey them, till the affliction they groaned under should be removed ? Was their attention then to cease ?
y Psal. cxxii. 2.
The true explanation, I apprehend, is this: As a slave, ordered by a master or mistress to be chastised for a fault, turns his or her imploring eyes to that superior, till that motion of the hand appears that puts an end to the bitterness that is felt; so our eyes are put up to thee, our God, till thy hand shall give the signal for putting an end to our sorrows: for our enemies, O Lord! we are sensible, are only executing thy orders, and chastening us according to thy pleasure.
Remarkable Condescension sometimes shewn by the
NOTWITHSTANDING there is so much distance kept up between superiors and inferiors in these countries, and such solemnity and awfulness in their behaviour, which my reader must often have remarked, yet we find them, in some cases, more condescending than the great among us.
The polite editor of the Ruins of Balbec takes notice of the gentleness and humanity
with which the great, in the Levant, temper the insolence of power to the stranger under their roof, with a sort of admiration ;? but he is not explicit enough for my purpose, nor are those softenings only in the case of strangers. Dr. Pococke is more ample, and speaks of the admission of their poor to their tables. So in his account of a great entertainment, made by the governor of an Egyptian village for the cashif,“ with whom he travelled, he says, the custom was for every one when he had done eating, to get up, wash his hands, and take a draught of water; and so in a continual succession, till the poor came in, and eat up all; for that the Arabs never set by any thing that is brought to table, so that when they kill a sheep, they dress it all, call in their neighbours, and the poor, and finish every thing. That author afterwards mentions what is still more surprising: for in giving an account of the diet of the Eastern people, p. 182, &c. 'he informs us, that an Arab prince will often dine in the street before his door, and call to all that pass, even beggars, in the usual expression of Bismillah, that is, in the name of God; who coine and sit down, and when they have done, retire with the usual form of returning thanks.
The picture then which our Lord exhibits, Luke xiv, of a king's making a great feast, and, when the guests refused to come, sending
- P. 4.
for the poor, the maimed, the blind, is not so unlike life, as perhaps we have been ready to imagine.
Females often express their Joy by clapping their
The present female way of expressing joy in the East, by gently applying one of their hands to their mouths, seems to have obtained in the times of remote antiquity, and to be meant in several places of Scripture.
What their present custom is, appears in the following passage of Pitts, describing the joy with which the leaders of their sacred caravans are received, in the several towns of Barbary through which they pass : “ This emir Hagge, into whatsoever town he comes, is received with a great deal of joy, because he is going about so religious a work; and it is, who can have the favour and honour of kissing bis hand, or but his garment! He goes attended in much pomp, with flags, kettle-drums, &c. and loud acclamations do, as it were, rend the skies; nay, the very women get upon the tops of the houses to view the parade, or fine show, where they keep striking their four fingers on their lips, as fast as they can, making a joyful noise
c St. Luke does not mention the quality of him ' that made the feast; but St. Matthew, in what is supposed to be his account of the same parable, calls him a king, chap. xxii. 2.
put St. Matthew the quality of him
che his account
all the while, which sounds somewhat like yow, yow, yow, hundreds of times."d Other's have given us nearly the same account.
This seems to me to be referred to in some passages of Scripture; and that the sacred writers suppose two different methods of expressing joy by a quick motion of the hand, which is lost in our translation : for I suppose the clapping of the hands in the plural, is a very distinct thing from the clapping the hand in the singular, though our translators have confounded them together.
The striking one hand against the other with some smartness, which we mean by the term clapping of the hands, might, and I believe did, obtain anciently, as an expression of joy; not unfrequently, if not always, of the malige nant kind: so the Prophet Jeremiah says of Jerusalem, when it was destroyed, All that pass by, clap their hands at thee; they hiss and wag their head at the daughter of Jerusalem, say. ing, Is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth ? Lam. ii. 15. In like manner Job, after describing the sudden destruction of the wicked, says, Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place, Job xxvii. 23.
But other words, which our version translates clapping the hands, signify the applying only one hand somewhere, with softness, as a testimony, in common, of a joy of a more
• Account of the religion and Manners of the Mohammea dans, 4th ed. p. 86.