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rose-color. Her companions then arrayed her in a marriage robe of brilliant color, which fell in ample folds to her feet. The girdle and bracelets were more or less costly, according to the wealth of her parents. A flame-colored veil was surmounted by a crown, usually of gold; for this reason, a bride among the Hebrews was called the crowned. Before she left the bath, her friends from all quarters sent in their wedding gifts. The bridegroom was anointed and crowned in a similar manner, by the young men of his family. The bride, accompanied by her nurse, was conveyed in a litter from her father's house, followed by all her female friends and relations closely veiled. The procession was headed by seventy young priests bearing flambeaux of oil and pitch, and by a multitude of persons carrying the clothes, jewels, and furniture, which had been presented to the bride; each person carried but one thing. Next came the bridegroom and his friends, in their richest apparel. Then came the bride in her palanquin ; and servants . and children closed the train. When they arrived at the bridegroom's house, the bride anointed the door-posts with oil, and adorned them with woollen fillets. Then the maidens lifted her over the threshold, which formed the boundary between her single and married life. The nuptial train entered the courts, and the bride solemnly took possession of her apartments in the armon, where a feast was prepared for her and her female friends.
When all had partaken plentifully, both men and
women assembled in the inner court. The maidens led the bride, and the young men the bridegroom, to the parents, who placed the right hand of the wife within the right hand of her husband, and pronounced upon them the paternal blessing. “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, who didst create Adam and Eve 1 Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, who causeth Zion to rejoice in her children | Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, who makest the bride and the bridegroom to be glad together The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, be with you, and help you together, and give his blessing richly upon you ! Jehovah make the wife that comes into thy house like Rachel, and like Leah, who built up the house of Israel!” The marriage festivities continued seven days, during which time numerous gifts were exchanged between the newly married and their guests. When a man believed he had reason to be jealous of his wife, he could at any time compel her to submit to the public ordeal of drinking the water of jealousy. On such occasions, the wife was brought before the priests and elders, in the midst of a crowd of men, women, and children, who collected from curiosity. When the culprit stood in the presence of her judges, she was left alone, and if neither persuasion or sternness could extort from her a confession of guilt, they decreed that she should drink the water of jealousy, and take the oath of purgation. Being then led forth from the sanctuary, the priest, who was appointed for the purpose, threw her jewels, veil, and turban on the ground, dishevelled her braided hair, rent her garments from the top of the neck to the breast, and bound a strip of bark about her, in place of a girdle, saying, “Thou hast forsaken the manner of the daughters of Israel, who cover their heads, and hast followed the manners of the heathen, who go with their heads uncovered.” Then the men spat on the ground, and the women uttered cries of abhorrence. The husband gave the priest the “offering of jealousy, the tenth part of an ephah of barley-meal, with no oil or frankincense poured thereon.” Then the priest filled an earthen vessel with holy water from the laver beside the altar, and put into it dust from the floor of the tabernacle. With an elevated and solemn voice he said, “If thou art innocent, be thou free from the curse of this bitter water; but if thou art guilty, may Jehovah make thee a curse among thy people, and bring on thee all the curses written in his law.” If the woman answered, expressing her willingness to submit to the ordeal, the priest waved the “offering of jealousy” before Jehovah, and mixing the meal with salt, he burned it in the fire. Then the
curses of the law were written on a roll, and washed.
off in the vessel of water wherein dust. had been
mingled. The woman drank the water of cursing,
with her eyes lifted toward the holy of holies. If, after a long pause, she was perceived to be un
harmed, a shout of joy burst from the multitude,
and hallelujah resounded from the temple through
the streets of the city. Her parents and husband
congratulated her on this proof of innocence, her hair was braided anew, her jewels and veil restored, and she was conducted home in triumph. There was such a firm belief that any guilty person who drank the “water of cursing” would be immediately swollen with painful and loathsome disease, that few would have ventured to abide by the ordeal, unless they were conscious of innocence; and if any one had been sufficiently daring to run the supposed risk, the priests would not have been easily deceived by a bold woman, who tried to imitate the quiet fearlessness of virtue. By the Mosaic law, an unfaithful wife was stoned to death, and the partner of her guilt shared the same fate. Among the customs of Jewish women, it is mentioned that “the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite, four days in the year.” It is well known, from Scripture history, that Jephthah's daughter went out with timbrels and dances to meet her father, when he returned victorious over his enemies; and that she cheerfully consented to be sacrificed, in order to fulfil a vow he had made unto the Lord. It is not recorded what ceremonies were observed in commemoration of her death; but it was probably done after the manner in which they were accustomed to bewail women who died unmarried. The procession were clothed in mourning garments, with dishevelled hair, and ashes upon their heads, and as they moved, they wrung their hands and uttered loud . lamentations. It was not allowable to bathe, ol anoint, during the days appointed for mourning. Jew. ish widows mourned for their husbands at least for the space of ten months, and it was deemed extremely indecorous for them to marry again in that time. Children mourn a year for their parents. They do not put on black, but wear the same clothes they had on at the death of their father, however tattered and dirty they may be. Mourning for children, uncles, and aunts, lasts one month, during which period they do not cut their nails. When a husband returns from the funeral of his wife, he washes his hands, uncovers his feet, seats himself on the ground, and remains in the same posture, groaning and weeping, until the seventh day. The custom of hired mourners to weep at funerals, and excite others to tears, was common with the Jews, and other ancient nations. Jeremiah says, “Call for the mourning women, that they may come; and send for cunning women that they may come; and let them make haste, and take up a wailing for us, that our eyes may run down with tears, and our eyelids gush out with water.” Women while in captivity wore their hair shaven, and nails cut close, in token of grief. A new-born Hebrew infant was washed and rubbed with salt. When it was forty days old, the father offered a lamb of the first year and a turtle-dove, the first as a burnt-offering and the latter as a sin-offering for the mother. She prayed while the victims were