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As then there are so many sorts of honey, as there are three distinct Hebrew words transJated honey-comb, and as that language is so little copious, it must surely be more natural to suppose those three terms signify different things, than one and the same. But what? is a difficult question.
The rob of grapes, of which, Shaw tells us
from Hebron alone to Egypt, is, probably, unconcerned in this enquiry. It is readily allowed, that it is now consumed in great quantities; and that its name, dibs, is nearly the same with the Hebrew word debash, which signifies honey, a circumstance which the Doctor also mentions. Other authors alsof speak of this part of the Eastern diet very frequently, and sometimes nearly under the same name.' Yet I very much question its being known in the time of Moses ; for the writers of antiquity, of whom some have mentioned the honey of dates, and of reeds, have, so far as I know, been altogether silent about it. Perhaps it would never have been thought of, had wine been allowed there in common, as it was anciently. But, however, that it was unknown in the time of Moses, is, I should think, sufficiently plain, from his precepts concerning the Nazarites. They were forbid the use of every thing produced by the vine : moist grapes, raisins, wine, vinegar, are distinctly mentioned, but not a
* Dr. Russell, in his Hist. of Aleppo, calls it dibbs, and speaks of it as commonly used at Aleppo for food; Olearius mentions it in his account of Persia ; and Bp. Pococke in his first vol. concerning Egypt, under the name of becmes.
word about the honey of grapes ;' and though the law does not content itself with forbidding wine and vinegar, but expressly forbids the drinking any liquor of grapes, there is an absolute silence about eating its inspissated juice, though it is now one of the chief things made from the vine. And as it seems not to have been in use in the days of Moses, it was, for any thing that appears to the contrary, equally unknown in all the times of the Old Testament. · The carrying down Joseph a present of the best things of the land, a little balm, and a little dibs, (Gen. xliii. 11.) is mentioned by Dr. Shaw as a proof that the rob of grapes was in use very anciently, for honey, properly so called, could not be so great a rarity there, he thinks, as dibs must be, from the want of vineyards in Egypt. But I do not know that Jacob, in choosing that present, fixed on thing's that were most uncommon in Egypt, but those that were thought in Canaan valuable things, and proper for a present to great men. Take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, are the precise words of the Patriarch : now it appears from the paper in the Miscellanea Curiosa, the honey of bees, especially one sort of it, is at this day given as a present to persons of the greatest note; and it appears from 1 Kings xiv. 3, that it was thought a proper present anciently. But setting this consideration aside, as to the greater rarity of the honey of grapes in Egypt, it is impossible to determine which was most plenti
ful in that country, in those times: It is certain it is naturally the produce of woody countries, and Egypt is not, and, we have reason to believe from its marshy situation, never was a wellwooded country; if then, art had not interposed in the days of Jacob to make hives for the bees, and they had honey only from hollow trees, the honey of bees might be as great a rarity in Egypt as the honey of grapes, (for they had some vineyards there soon after, or at least a number of vines, Ps. cv. 33,) supposing with the Doctor this inspissated juice was then in use, which does not appear to be the fact. This sort of honey then ought to be out of the question.
The honey of the palm-tree, or of dates, appears to be more ancient : for Josephus tells us ' it was copiously produced about Jericho, and inferior, though not much, to common honey, which was also plentiful there. The much older writer too of the second book of Chronicles, is commonly understood by interpreters, to mean this honey of dates, ch. xxxi. 5, which gives an account of the first fruits of the increase of the field. This relation of Josephus concerning this sort of honey differs from that given us by Dr. Shaw,' according to whom, it has more luscious sweetness than proper honey, and is so esteemed as to be made use of by persons of better fashion upon a mariage, at the birth or circumcision of a child, or any other feast or good-day. The manner also in which * De Bello Jud. lib. 4 cap. 8. Ed. Ilar.
this kind of honey is procured, according to his account, seems to be different from that of the country and age of Josephus," which difference may be the cause that the one reckons it better, and the other worse, than the honey of bees ; but be that as it will, Josephus must be supposed to give the most authentic account of the Jewish palm-tree honey, and of the esteem it had in that country.
As to the honey of recds, or, in other terms, sugar, it is now produced in Egypt; and the green reeds, or canes, are in high esteem there, according to Dr. Pococke, who assures us, the people of that country eat great quantities of them, and esteem it a great dessert: he adds, that they frequently eat their bread, broken into small pieces, and put into a sort of syrup made of the cane; and that, besides some coarse loaf-sugar, and some sugar-candy, they make some very fine sugar, wliich they send to Constantinople to the Grand Seignor, and make it only for that purpose. The Croisade writers, in like manner, speak of these reeds, under the name of calamelli, or canamellæ, as growing in those times near Tyre, and other places in Syria. From these, the Archbishop of Tyre tells us, sugar is produced, a most precious thing for human use, and very necessary for
• The people of Barbary, according to Dr. Shaw, cut off the top of the tree, and receive the sap in a sort of bason they have scooped in the top of the trunk ; but Josephus seems to suppose this honey was got by pressure.
• Vol. 1. p. 183—204.
the health of men; as another of those authors remarks, that it is looked upon by the natives of that country as a delicacy, and appears to the taste to exceed the honey-comb in sweetness and healthfulness, adding, that some suppose it was the sort of honey that Jonathan, the son of Saul, found, and tasted of. No one, I believe, will be ready to adopt that last sentiment: the canamellæ grow not in woods; nor would it have been so natural, if they had, for him to have made use of the rod in his hand, for the taking some of their juice. They might, however, be known to David and to Solomon, or what was produced from them : not that we are to imagine, that they grew in the time of those princes in Judea, or in Egypt, or in Syria; it does not appear they did so in the time of our LORD. Some moderns, it has been said, suppose those of that time had no knowledge at all of sugar; but it has been shown, on the contrary, that several of them were acquainted with it:d but at the same time, it sufficiently appears, by the imperfect accounts of those very authors, that the plant did not at that time grow in so near and well-known a country as either Egypt, Syria, or Judea. Dioscorides, the Cilician, who lived a little time after the death of our Lord, in a passage cited by Dr. Shaw himself, expressly mentions sugar as a thing he was acquainted with, but as a production of India and Arabia the Happy: supposing,
d Voy, le Dictionnaire des Drogues, par Mons. Lemery, Art. Saccharum.