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are sunk in the ground, which explains how the frogs got into them, Exod. viii. 3. Sometimes the oven is only an earthen pot sunk in the ground.
Perkins describes a more carefully constructed oven called Tannoor, used in Persia, which in cold weather is covered with a quilt or other covering, under which the family place their feet while they sleep in a circle round it. Thevenot describes the roasting or baking of meat in the ovens.
Harmer says, that the kneading-troughs are often wooden bowls or leather bags, as among the Israelites, Exod. xii. 34. Niebuhr describes these leathers as round and flat, used as tables, and, after eating, drawn up by cords and rings at the sides, like a bag or purse.
Leviticus xi. contains particular directions as to what sorts of animal food the Jews might eat, and what was forbidden them. Upon this a general remark may be made, that the sorts of food forbidden, are mostly such as are unwholesome and hard of digestion. Pork, for instance, is considered very unwholesome in those hot countries. Many sorts of food which may be eaten among us without harm, would be very dangerous there. In the year 1801, when the English attacked the French in Egypt, many of the troops died from want of care in this respect. The illness, of which the captain of one of the English frigates died, began from his persisting to eat eggs for breakfast
, though it was not safe for Europeans to do so in those countries. Cooling vegetables were, and still are, much used for food, as melons and cucumbers, Isa. i. 8. The Israelites in the wilderness longed for them, Numb. xi. 5.
But the laws respecting food were also to keep the Jews a separate people from those nations who fed upon what they were forbidden to eat, and to teach them temperance. Tertullian, one of the ancient fathers, who lived soon after the days of the apostle, says, " If the law takes away the use of some sorts of meat, and pronounces creatures to be unclean which before were held to be quite otherwise, let us consider that the design to accustom the Jews to temperance, and look upon it as a restraint laid upon gluttons, who hankered after the cucumbers and melons of Egypt, while they were eating the food of angels.” To think a great deal about eating or drinking is wicked, and every one must despise those who thus indulge themselves.
Lane describes the food of the modern Egyptians as chiefly bread, made with millet or maize, with new cheese, eggs, small salted fish, cucumbers and melons, a great variety of gourds, onions, leeks, chick peas, lupins, lentils, other vegetable substances and dates.
Many sorts of vegetable food are represented in the ancient sculptures of Egypt.
Salt was, and is, used to flavour food, though not so constantly as in Europe. But Park says, in the interior countries of Africa, salt is the greatest of luxuries ; children suck a piece of rock-salt as our children sugar. To say, man eats salt with his food, is saying he is a rich man. He adds, “the long use of vegetable food creates so painful a longing for salt, that no words can sufficiently describe it.” Job (vi. 6) asks,“ Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt ?” The eagerness of cattle for salt, shows that it is needed with vegetable food.
The coals mentioned in the Bible, were coals of wood, or charcoal. They also used thorns, and wood of all sorts, Psa. lviii. 9; Eccl. vii. 6. They collected the dung of cows, and other animals, Ezek. iv. 15; and dried it for the purpose, as is still the custom in the east, where wood is often very scarce. Paxton saw a woman thus collecting it from the oxen employed in a threshing floor. Grass also is mentioned, Matt. vi. 30; but usually the vine branches and other refuse, that was not serviceable in other ways, which explains our Lord's solemn warning, John xv. 6 : see also Ezek. xv. 6 ; Isa. xlvii. 14; Matt. iii. 12. These different sorts of fuel are spoken of in several places in the Bible. They are all such as burn away very quickly, so that the sudden manner in which destruction comes upon sinners, by the wrath of God against sin, is frequently explained by referring to them. The collecting of fuel is laborious and tedious, children are now often employed in it as of old, Lam. v. 13. Jowett describes one of four years old bending beneath its little burden.
WATER AND OTHER DRINK.
The usual drink among the Jews was water. There were numerous public wells and fountains, besides those belonging to private houses. It was by the side of one of the former that Jesus sat, John iv. 6, 7, while he discoursed
with the woman of Samaria. At that very well a woman who had come to draw water, lowered her pitcher into the well, and gave some to Rae Wilson. We read that Jesus was wearied, and sat thus on the well, like one wearied with a long journey on a very hot day. How this ought to affect us! He who was God, the Creator of all things, took upon him our nature, with all its infirmities, sin excepted, Heb. iv. 15, and endured all, that we might be saved from the punishment our sins deserve.
The importance and value of wells of water in the east are very great. In the days of the patriarchs there were contests between Abraham and Abimelech, and between Isaac and the Philistines for wells, Gen. xxi. 25; xxvi. 18. Moses found protection from Jethro, on account of the assistance he rendered to his daughters, when some shepherds attempted to drive them away,
possess themselves of the water they had drawn, Exod. ii. 16, 17. The woman of Samaria seems to have thought the possession of a well a proof of Jacob's greatness and power, John iv. 12. Caleb's daughter, Judg. i. 14, 15, considered her father's gift of land as not complete without springs of water.
Belzoni describes his arriving at a well at midnight, where he found two women with a flock which they drove hastily away, but were prevailed to return, and remain till daylight. The noise of archers in the places of drawing water, is alluded to by Deborah, Judg. v. 11. Irby and Mangles found a party of Arabs at a well, levying contributions from all
passers. In England, there is little idea of the value of water in those hot and dry countries ; but the want of it is very severely felt there. The wells are often secured, as in Haran, Gen, xxix. 2,3; Psa. xlii. 1 ; so are the springs or sources of choice streams, S. Song, iv. 12. Rachel probably had the command over the well, for it was not opened till she came. David, when expressing in the strongest manner his desire for the Lord, referred to this. When he was in the wilderness of Judah, he longed for the water from the well of Bethlehem, which he used to drink, 1 Chron. xi. 17. His soul feeling a strong desire for the presence of the Lord, he also thus expresses himself: “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is," Psa. lxiii. 1.
The gift of a cup of cold water in Christ's name is not to
be forgotten, Mark ix. 41. Lane describes the water-carriers in Egypt as often paid to distribute water. frequently is, “Oh, may God compensate me.” It is thus offered in India from charitable motives.
Our Lord, referring to the manner in which water had been alluded to in many parts of the Old Testament, spoke of himself to the woman, as able to give that water which would cause those who drink it never
to thirst again, John iv. 14. If my readers thirst for this living water, they may remember Christ's own declaration : "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink,” John vii. 37. Of course, he did not there refer to common water : the influences of the Holy Spirit, and the fulness of grace in Christ are meant. These blessings we need as much as the Jews did ; they are offered to us as freely; and yet, strange to say, there are many who will not quench their thirst, but prefer to go on in sin, till, at length, it consumes them.
This well, at Cana of Galilee, is an overflowing well, supplying living or running water, Gen. xxvi. 19; Jer. ii. 13.
The drawing water is a laborious duty in the east, and is still performed by females, particularly the younger, Gen. xxvi. 11 ; 1 Sam. ix. 11. The skins and pitchers have been already described. Burkhardt describes the women as having to fetch water from a distance of half an hour to the encampments of the Arabs. Robinson saw the women thus bringing bottles or skins of water from the fountains near Jerusalem. Perkins describes the girls as sometimes jostling each other till the pitcher was broken at the fountain, Eccl. xii. 6. Hall says, he never could see a woman in India sitting by a well, resting her arm upon her waterpot, without thinking of the woman of Samaria.
In Smyrna, is a fountain with a bowl chained, Eccl. xii. 6, sometimes this may be seen in Europe. The deep wells and cisterns often had wheels to draw up the skins or jars of water. Mc Cheyne describes one worked by a camel at Khanounes. The well of Joseph at Cairo is so called from a Sultan, not from the son of Jacob, it has a broad path-way down to the water. The reservoirs of water in India, have steps to them.
Much more might be said about water. The reader should refer to Isa, xii. 3 ; xliv. 3; Jer. ii. 13; Zech. xiii. 1; xiv. 8; and other passages
. Also, remember the distress the Israelites in the wilderness were in for water, and how God was pleased to supply them by a miracle, which the apostle Paul declares refers to Christ : see Exod. xvii. 6; Numb. xx. 11; 1 Cor. x. 4.
In Egypt, the inhabitants were chiefly supplied with water from the river Nile, which travellers say is most excellent ; so that, when the Egyptians are in foreign countries, they continually speak of the pleasure they shall have when they return home, and drink again the water of the Nile. How great then must have been the plague with which they were afflicted, when the water of their favourite river, even in pots and jars, was turned into blood, so that 'they loathed it !" Exod. vii. 17. This recollection must also have made the waters of Marah taste very unpleasant, Exod. xv. 23.
The Jews had some other sorts of drink as well as water and wine : the strong drink, Lev. x. 9; Judg. xiii. 4, and in other places, means any fermented liquor, whether prepared from corn, or dates, or grapes, or anything else. The robb, or syrup from grapes, is called dipse, and is much used in Syria, this is included under the name of honey in the Bible, probably in Gen. xliii. 11. The term “any honey," Lev. ii. 11, seems to include this syrup of grapes or dates,