Page images

xii. 32; and the priests and Levites, being in a great measure provided for, had more time for study, and it was required of them : see Mal. ii. The Jews relate that the men of the tribe of Simeon were generally employed as schoolmasters. On this account, they were dispersed among the other tribes, which was prophesied respecting them by Jacob, Gen. xlix. 7.

There were also schools of the prophets, such as those which Samuel taught at Naioth. 1 Sam. xix. 19, 20; and at Bethel, where Elijah, and afterwards Elisha, gave instructions : but these were not so much for children, as for all persons, whatever their age might be, who desired to know Divine truths more fully than they could learn them in a general way.

From 2 Kings vi., it appears that they laboured, and partly maintained themselves.

In later times, the public teachers became more like our schoolmasters, though even then they rather resembled the professors and teachers in the universities. The scholars usually addressed their instructors by the title of Rabbi, which means great, or master. This was often applied to our Lord, and also the title of Rabboni, John xx. 16, which signifies, My great master. We are told that in the Jewish schools this title was only bestowed upon seven persons. Teachers were also sometimes called fathers, and their disciples were called sons, Matt. xii. 27 ; xxiii. 9. Paul speaks (Acts xxii. 3) of having been brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, alluding to the manner in which scholars sat at their master's feet. The disciples of the Pharisees, Matt. xxii. 15, who were sent, hoping that they might "entangle Jesus in his talk,” or hear him say some words that they could misrepresent, were scholars of that sort, and evidently must have been young men, not children.

[blocks in formation]
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

MARRIAGES in the east are celebrated with much pomp and ceremony, and very large expense is often incurred. The pasha of Egypt is said to have expended more than one hundred thousand pounds, in 1845, when marrying his daughter.

There are many allusions in the Bible to the ceremonies attending marriages. The union itself often is alluded to as illustrating the union of Christ, as our Lord and Saviour, with his church, his faithful people of every age and nation. The book called Solomon's Song, or Canticles, is wholly based on this. Under the form of a poem, or poems, illustrative of the marriage ceremony or marriage union, the union of the blessed Redeemer with believers, and the various changes in the spiritual state of the soul, may be plainly traced. The reader who refers to the Commentary published by the Religious Tract Society will trace these analogies; and, by the explanations there given, will be assisted to understand this remarkable book. This is the more necessary, for the good men who translated it, three hundred years ago, knew

very little about eastern customs, and therefore have, in some places, mistaken the original; and in others have not so plainly shown its meaning as they would have done if they had possessed the advantages now enjoyed from the accounts of travellers. See also Eph. v. 23, Rev. xxi. 2.

The most decided allusion to the marriage procession, however, was made by our Lord, to show the evil of being negligent in the concerns of the soul. It is in the parable of the Ten Virgins, Matt. xxv. 1-12. Ward describes a marriage at Serampore, where the bridegroom came from a distance : after waiting some hours, his arrival was announced at near midnight, in the very words of Scripture, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh ; go ye out to meet him.”

[graphic][merged small]

All the persons employed then lighted their lamps and ran to take their places in the procession. Some had lost their lights and were unprepared, but it was then too late to seek them: the procession moved forward, and after remaining a short time at the entrance, the bridegroom went into the house, the door of which was immediately shut and guarded.” Mr. Ward and others entreated for admission, but it was in vain ! In Luke xii. 35, 37, our Lord also spoke of the men watching for their lord's return from the wedding

The lights carried in bridal processions, called massals, or meshals, are formed of linen rags, forcibly pressed together, put in a vessel of copper, upon which oil is from time to time poured from a bottle : “the vessels with the lamps,” Matt. xxv. 4. Or sometimes, as here represented, they are frames of metal, at the end of a pole, and filled with small pieces of burning wood. Lane describes these as used in Egypt.

At these feasts the guests are sometimes supplied with robes more magnificent than their own, Matt. xxii. 12.

M'Cheyne speaks of a delay at a Jewish marriage, from the bridegroom having neglected to bring a bridal ornament, her friends refusing to let the ceremony go forward without it. He quotes Jer. xi. 32.

Others describe the palanquin in which the bridegroom is carried in India ; probably what is translated Solomon's chariot and bed, Cant. iii. 7, 9, was a sort of palanquin.

In many eastern countries the husband now pays a sum of money as a sort of purchase of his wife, as Hosea iii. 2. The contract is made through a confidential friend, or agent, as Abraham's steward, Gen. xxiv. 3. Grant describes these customs, especially among the Nestorians. Lane describes the negotiations in Egypt as very similar; but when the bride is of rank, her wedding-presents, jewels, slaves, and attire amount to a considerable value. Buckingham speaks of the money paid for a wife among the Arabs, as varying from fifty to a thousand piastres, according to their beauty and connexions. In China, lately, an Englishman was asked how much he had paid for his wife ? when he in joke replied, two thousand dol

but was soon reminded that he had done wrong to utter a falsehood, for he was offered five thousand and even seven thousand dollars for her. Let women in Europe be thankful they are not thus made articles of direct merchandise, though too often marriage is a mercenary bargain. Herschell, in his Sketch of the Jews, has described the ceremonies attending a Jewish marriage, and shows how they

[ocr errors]


1 as

illustrate Scripture. First, the betrothment, the solemn engagement formed some months beforehand, Matt. i. 18—20, often with much ceremony and presents, Cant. iii. 11. The night before the marriage ceremony was called the watchnight, in which the bridesmaids and others watched for the appearance of the bridegroom, as already described from Matt. xxv.

But they do not meet till the next day: the bride is then dressed in her most splendid attire, with much ceremony, Ps. xlv. 13–15; Is. xlix. 18, lxi. 10; Rev. xix. 7, 8; xxi. 2; and a veil placed over her head, a mark of subjection. A large canopy, supported on four posts, is erected in the garden, or, in towns, sometimes in the street. The bridegroom places himself under it, and the bride, closely veiled, is then led there. The Rabbi then reads the contract of marriage and gives an exhortation, and the bridegroom places a ring on the forefinger of the left hand of the bride. They then return to the house, and the marriage feast then follows, which is a very joyful scene, as described John ii., and to which many guests are invited: it lasted for several days, Matt. ix. 15.

Jowett describes the feasting as continuing for several days, as that of Sampson's marriage, Judg. xiv. 12. Hartley describes the Armenian brides as so closely veiled, that even now such deceptions as that practised on Jacob occur, Gen. xxix. 25, on one side or the other; sometimes there are interested attempts on both : such unions, it need not be said, are not agreeable to the injunction to marry only in the Lord. 1 Cor. vii. 40, 2 Cor. vi. 14.

The husband sometimes still gives personal services to the father, as Jacob did, Gen. xxix. 18, 30; and it is to be observed that the service in this case was after the marriage.

At weddings, a person was selected to be especially the friend or attendant of the bridegroom. This is alluded to, John iii. 29. He had many important duties to perform from the beginning of the contract; and after the marriage was the friend of both.

Our Lord reproved the divorces which were frequent among the Jews, either from the contracts being made for a limited time, Hosea iii. 3, a custom which Lane describes as still known in Egypt, or from the fickleness of the parties and their unkind feelings : this is reproved, Mal. ii. 14, 16; but still more forcibly by our Lord himself, who told them it was not so from the beginning.

In the east, the birth of a son has always been much

« PreviousContinue »