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John leaned his head upon his bosom, John xiii. 25, at the last supper. His feet were not placed like ours when we sit, but as he reclined they were easily touched, or wiped, by any one coming behind him. See the representations of reclining at table, p. 13. Modern travellers in Judæa have noticed, that while persons are at dinner others frequently enter the room, sit down behind the guests, and converse with them, as the woman mentioned, Luke vii. 38.
The eastern attendants are accustomed to wait with much respect, looking for mere signs, often scarcely perceived by a guest. This illustrates the eyes of servants looking to the hand of their master, Psa. cxxiii. 2, and shows how we should look unto our Lord. M'Cheyne describes the servants who brought pipes and coffee, as "watching the slightest motion" of the hands of the guests. Jowett and Lane describe the wives and females of the family, attending till the master has done his meal, beforethey partake. Thus Sarah, Gen. xviii. 9, and Martha, John xii. 2.
The following custom, observed by the modern Jews after the practice of their forefathers, strongly reminds us of what passed at the last supper. Before they sit down, they wash their hands very carefully, like the Pharisees of old, Mark vii. 3; they say that it is necessary to do so. A blessing is then asked. The master, or chief person, takes a loaf, and breaking it, says, "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who producest bread out of the earth." The guests answer, "Amen," and the bread is distributed to them. He then takes the vessel which holds the wine, in his right hand, and says, "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the world, who hast created the fruit of the vine." The 23rd Psalm is then repeated. When the meal is finished, the master takes a piece of bread which has been left on purpose, and filling a glass or cup with wine, says, "Let us bless Him of whose benefits we have partaken :" the company reply, "Blessed be He who has heaped his favours on us, and has now fed us on his goodness." The master then repeats a prayer, thanking God for his many benefits granted to Israel, entreating him to have pity upon Jerusalem and the temple, to restore the throne of David, to send Elias and the Messiah, and to deliver them from their low state. The guests all answer, "Amen," and repeat Psalm xxxiv. 9, 10 then each guest drinks a little of the wine that is left, from the table.
These customs are appointed to be observed by the modern Jews, as well as those of old; but, like asking a blessing among those who are called Christians, it is too often forgotten. An author well observes, "A graceless meal cannot be expected to prove a wholesome meal."
It is still usual among eastern nations to break their bread into small pieces, and dip them into such dishes as contain liquids. The Israelites used to do so. Boaz told Ruth to dip her morsel in the vinegar, Ruth ii. 14. By giving one of these sops to Judas, our Lord pointed him out as the person who would betray him, Matt. xxvi. 23; John xiii. 26.
Jowett allowed his European prejudices to influence him, and was annoyed by seeing Arab fingers in the dish, and still more when his host, on finding a dainty morsel, applied it to his mouth. He rightly says, "This was true Syrian courtesy and hospitality; and had I been sufficiently well bred, my mouth would have opened to receive it." He notices the tearing the cake of bread and sopping up the fluid and vegetables in the dish.
The invitations to a feast, are mentioned in Scripture, as illustrating the invitations to accept the gospel gladtidings, Luke xiv. 17. It is customary in the east to send messengers to say the feast is ready; and when the entertainment is over, to call all that pass, in the name of God, to come and partake, Luke xiv. 13. Morier and others describe this; and the invitations having been previously given and accepted, it would be rude to send an excuse then this explains Luke xiv. 16-24. At these feasts there is still much ceremony about taking places, Luke xiv. 7-11. Morier saw the governor of Kashan, arriving late, had taken a low seat, but was requested to come up higher.
THERE were no inns like those of Europe for travellers in Judæa and the neighbouring nations, so that the people were obliged to carry everything they wanted with them, and to wait upon themselves, or upon each other. For this reason, as well as to protect each other, they usually travelled in companies. They did so when they went up to Jerusalem at the great festivals, directed Exod. xxiii. 17. Psa. lxxxiv. 6, 7, is descriptive of this custom. Joseph and Mary were returning home in one of these companies, when they missed Jesus, Luke ii. 42-44. The Psalms, called the Psalms of Degrees, Psa. cxx. to cxxxiv., are supposed to have been sung by the devout Jews, while travelling to Jerusalem, on these occasions. Thus they travel in large bodies as caravans for trade, or on the pilgrimage to Mecca, in some respects like the Israelites on their march from Egypt; and like them, at first setting out, they are in haste and some confusion, Exod. xii. 33-39.
Although there are no inns like ours in the east, there are places called caravanserais, in which travellers rest
themselves, and find shelter for their cattle. These are large buildings, consisting of a court-yard, with small rooms around it. They are without furniture, and the travellers take possession of them, on paying a sum of money to the keeper of the caravanserai. Sometimes there are small shops for the sale of food and other necessaries. In the very early times, as when Jacob's sons returned from Egypt, the inns mentioned, Gen. xliii. 21, were only places which, on account of some trees and water, were used by travellers for halting places. Christ was born in one of the caravanserais, at Bethlehem; and, as all the rooms were full, his parents were obliged to take shelter in a cattle shed, or stable, Luke ii. 7.
Some travellers apply the term caravanserai to these places on the roadside or open country, while such buildings in towns are called khans. Where neither exist, frequently one or more of the inhabitants are accustomed to receive travellers. Arundel describes the objects and scenes, witnessed by travellers when resting at a khan, or the more private house called menzil, as suggesting many of the illustrations introduced by our Lord in his discourses while travelling, such as the camel-driver using his needle, Mark x. 25. The entertainment provided for the traveller used to be supplied by the neighbours in turn, or by those who offered; but travelling has now become so frequent, that Europeans commonly make payment, or send to buy the food on their arrival. In the remote villages, such an offer is still considered an insult. In the towns, payment is expected; but the Bedouins are not yet used to it.
Many of the caravanserais have been built as acts of charity; some have been very beautiful structures, but often are neglected and going to ruin.
In general, travellers, wherever they went, were received by the inhabitants with great kindness. Thus Abraham and Lot received the angels, supposing them to have been travellers, Gen. xviii. and xix. And Gideon, Judg. vi. 11-19. St. Paul refers to their receiving angels without knowing it at first, Heb. xiii. 2, to encourage Christians to be kind to strangers. Our Lord himself commends this, Matt. xxv. 35; and the first Christians were very attentive to practise it. St. Peter requires it, 1 Pet. iv. 9: and St. Paul does the same, 1 Tim. iii. 2; Tit. i. 8; and in other passages.
Most of the travelling mentioned in the Bible was on foot. The journeys of our Lord and of his apostles all
appear to have been so made. The taking up carriages, Acts xxi. 15, means taking up their luggage or baggage, not getting into coaches, or what we call carriages.
When on journeys, their clothes would be tucked up, or "their loins girded." They usually carried staves in their hands, Numb. xxi. 18; Matt. x. 10.; often a second lest one should break.
In travelling they wore sandals to protect their feet, the necessity for these being strong for travellers in the desert is shown by the expression, "shoes of iron and brass," Deut. xxxiii. 25; this text also denotes God's care for his people. The Bedouins carry small pincers to draw out the thorns from their feet. Burkhardt describes an Arab as borrowing a pair of sandals belonging to his friend which he knew were hidden under a date-bush: he impressed his foot upon the sand close by, that his friend might know who had taken them, his foot being turned so as to show the direction in which he was going to travel.
The chariots mentioned in the Bible, were little, if at all better than carts. The nobility, even of our own land, had no better wheel conveyances three hundred years ago. The chariot in which the eunuch rode, Acts viii. 28, was probably something of this sort.
Wheel carriages are almost unknown in the east; persons are carried in a palanquin, or litter, by men, or placed on poles, which are slung to the backs of camels or mules. Females often ride short distances on asses, driven by a servant on foot, as the Shunammite, 2 Kings iv. 24.
The camel is often mentioned in Scripture, particularly in the book of Genesis. It is the most useful animal for travelling in the east through the sandy deserts, as it can go for a long time without water, and its feet are particularly adapted for those countries. The women usually travel in
a sort of basket or cradle: Rebekah and her damsels no doubt did so, Gen. xxiv. 61, 65. The camel in the east is expressively called "the ship of the desert."
When travelling as messengers they often use dromedaries, which are swifter than horses, and can be trained to proceed more than a hundred miles a day. Job speaks of the swiftness of a post, ix. 25.
Asses were used by persons of rank, Judg. v. 10; x. 4; xii. 14; also for travelling, Josh. ix. 4; 1 Kings xiii. 23; 2 Kings iv. 24; 2 Sam xvi. 2; 1 Sam. xxv. 20. Our Lord himself rode upon an ass, in his triumphal entry into