Page images

his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite” (Esth. iii. 10). The gift of the chain of gold has in all times, and in almost every country, been chosen as a mode of rewarding great public services, and as a badge of honour. Though nothing is positively stated in the text as to appendages to this chain, there is every likelihood that additions such as were worn by the chief judge of Egypt were attached to it. The commission given to Joseph implied that he was to be supreme in the administration of justice—" According unto thy word shall all my people be ruled” (ver. 40); “ Without thee shall no man lift up his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt” (ver. 44). “The judges in Egypt wore golden chains around their necks, to which was suspended a small figure of Thmè, the goddess of Truth, ornamented with jewels; being Thmè in her double capacity of Justice and Truth.” -(Gliddon.)

The vestures which formed part of the royal gift were of fine linen (shesh), rendered in the margin “silk.” The word occurs very frequently in Exodus. It was one of the articles which the children of Israel were to give as a freewill offering for the furnishing of the tabernacle (Exod. xxv. 4). It was to go to make the curtains of the tabernacle (xxvi. 1), the vail (ver. 31), the hanging for the door (ver. 36), for the court (xxvii. 9; xxxviii. 9); and the mitre, the bonnets, and the breeches of the priest were to be formed of shesh, or fine linen (xxxix. 28). In Esther it is rendered “marble” and also “blue” (i. 6). So in Song v. 15. The virtuous woman is described as “making herself coverings of tapestry," and as having “clothing of silk (shesh) and purple.” What fabric was this? Was it linen, or cotton, or silk ? See under Proverbs xxxi. 22. VOL. I.

3 P



HE famine was sore in Canaan. Tidings had reached
Jacob that abundant supplies might be obtained from
Egypt. The wise precaution and prudent forethought of
Joseph had not only saved the land of the Pharaohs, but
neighbouring countries likewise, from the horrors of great

ity. “Now, when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt” (ver. 1-3). Two wholly different words are employed by the Spirit of God in this passage for "corn.” Jacob said, I have heard that there is corn (shever);" “ Joseph's brethren went down to buy corn (bar).” The former word is also used in verses 1, 19, 26, and chapters xliii. 2; xliv. 2; and xlvii. 14. The latter, again, occurs in chapter xli. 35, 49; in this chapter at verse 25; and in xlv. 23. Shever may be regarded as a general term for what is to be made into victuals, and bar for the specific cereal which the sons of Jacob were to bring back in greatest abundance; most likely wheat. This is fully borne out by a review of the various passages in other portions of Scripture in which the words are to be met with. In the command touching the keeping of the Sabbath, prompted by the holy zeal of Nehemiah for the Lord's day, it is said—“If the people of the land bring ware or any victuals (shever) on the Sabbath day to sell, we would not buy it of them on the Sabbath” (x. 31). The same word is used by Amos when referring to a like state of things among the professing people of God themselves—“When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn (shever) ? and the Sabbath that we may set forth wheat (bar)?(Amos viii. 5, 6; also v. 11; Joel ii. 24; Job xxxix. 4; Jer. xxiii. 28.) In the passage last named the wheat is contrasted with the chaff, as an illustration of the marked difference between the imaginings of men and the faithful word of God—“What is the chaff to the wheat ?" It is clearly as wheat that it is again used in Proverbs xi. 26—“He that withholdeth corn (bar), the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.” In the beautiful description of the blessings and bounties with which God shall crown the renewed earth, the word evidently means wheat:

“ The pastures are clothed with flocks;

The valleys also are covered over with corn,
They shout for joy, they also sing."—(Ps. Ixv. 13.)

Among the characteristics of the fully realized kingdom of God in the last days, not only are righteousness and peace mentioned, but plenty also. Even in most unlikely situations there shall be abundance :

" There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains ;

The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon :
And they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.”—(Ps. Ixxii 16.)

Another word is used for corn in general, which may include different kinds of grain. This is dagan, which occurs in Gen. xxvii. 28, 37. See under Ps. iv. 7. Corn is named in Deut. xvi. 13, for the “floor" (goren) on which it was threshed. In Job xxiv. 6, it is to be understood in the sense of “ fodder” or “provender(belil); and in Job v. 26, the word used (gadish) points to grain still on the straw and put up in bundles. “Standing corn” (kamah) is, as well as grass still on the stalk, suggested in 2 Kings xix. 26. See remarks on each of these references.

Joseph gave provision in abundance to his brethren, and “they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence" (ver. 26). See for “ass” under Psalm civ. 11.


PT having been determined that the sons of Jacob should go a

second time to Egypt for corn, their father bade them “take of the best fruits of the land in their vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds” (ver. 11). See for “balm” and

"spices" under Gen. xxxvii. 25; for "honey" under 2 Kings xviii. 32; and for “myrrh" under Gen. xxxvii, 25, and Ps. xlv. 8.

Fruits, as we have seen above, mean products which had come to be held characteristic of the land, whether these were obtained from indigenous sources or from plants which had been originally brought from a distance. but had become naturalized. Among these products, "nuts” (botnim) and “almonds” (shaked) are mentioned.

Shaw long ago led the way to a true identification of these fruits. Guided by the resemblance of the Hebrew names to those current among the Arabs, he remarked—“What is rendered nuts (Cant. vi. 11) should have been specified, and called wall-nuts; the Hebrew ajouze (egoz) and the Arabic jeuz being the saine. Botnim also (Arab. Butm), which we render nuts, should be pistachio-nuts.”—(Travels, i. 266.) See also above, chap. xxx. 37.

The pistacia-nut-tree (Pistacia vera) belongs to the natural order of dicotyledonous trees Anacardiaceæ, or Terebinth family. The different species of this family yield either turpentine or some strong acrid juice. Two kinds are natives of Syria-namely, the turpentine tree (Pistacia terebinthus), already referred to (xii. xiii.), and the tree whose fruits are named “nuts” in this passage. Gum-mastic is yielded by another species found in the south of Europe, and in the islands of the Mediterranean (Pistacia lentiscus). The pistacia-nut-tree was introduced into Europe by Lucius Vitellius, prefect of Syria about A.D. 50, and it is still cultivated in the countries bordering on the sea. In the East it is met with from Syria to Central India. “Pistachio-nuts,” says Dr. Royle, "are much eaten by the natives of the countries where they are grown, and they form an article of commerce from Affghanistan to India. They are also exported from Syria to Europe. They might, therefore, well have formed a part of a present intended for Joseph.”

They are used either raw or as prepared by the confectioner. Bruised pistachio-nuts, honey, and fine wheaten flour, are frequently formed into a sweet cake. The pistacia-tree sometimes reaches the height of about thirty feet, but its usual height is from twelve to eighteen feet, and, except when laden with fruit, has a somewhat bush-like and insignificant appearance. Its leaves are ovate and pointed, placed in pairs

[merged small][graphic][merged small]

with a single leaf generally at the end of the leaf-stalk. The flowers are male and female, and are developed in short branches from the two years old wood.

The Hebrew word rendered “nuts” in Song vi. 11, differs from that used here, which see. “Almonds” were to be included in the present sent to Joseph. The common almond-tree, Hebrew shaked, is the Amygdalus communis of botanists. This tree is specially noticed under Eccles. xii. 5.

« PreviousContinue »