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Citrons also are well known to be extremely grateful to the taste, and must be infinitely more proper to be smelled to by those that are ready to faint, their peel being, according to the writers on the Materia Medica, exhilarating to the heart, as their juice cordial and refreshing. Stay me with flagons, with wine that is, according to the common explanation, which was given to those that were faint, 2 Sam. xvi. 2 ; Comfort me with apples, with citrons, which are so refreshing and exhilarating. Egmont and Heyman tell us of an Arabian who was in a great measure brought to himself, when overcome with wine, by the help of citrons and coffee ;. how far this may be capable of illustrating the ancient practice of relieving those that were near fainting, by the use of citrons, I leave to medical gentlemen to determine.
I do not however by all this pretend that I am here giving the world a new thought, when I suppose the citron is to be understood in these passages instead of the apple-tree. It has given me pleasure to find that the Chaldee paraphrast, on Cant. ii. 3, understood this word in the same way; but the distinctness, with which I have proposed these matters, and the illustration I have given of the particulars, may perhaps lay some little claim to that novelty which the reader will expect in these Observations..
I will only farther add, that to the manner of serving up these citrons in his court, Solomon seems to refer, when he says, A word fitly spoken is like this fruit served up in vessels of silver, curiously wrought : whether, as Maimonides supposes, wrought with open-work like baskets, or curiously chased, it nothing concerns us to determine. But it may not be improper to observe, that this magnificence was not, we have reason to suppose, very common at that time, since the fruit that was presented to d'Arvieux, by the grand emir of the Arabs, was brought in nothing better than a painted vessel of wood :: to an antique apparatus of vessels for fruit, perhaps of this painted wood-kind, Solomon opposes the magnificence of his court.
Sir John Chardin, in his MS. note on this passage of Solomon, understands the words as referring to a vessel adorned in a different manner from what I mentioned in the last paragraph. I ought not to deprive my reader of an opportunity of comparing his sentiments with what I have been proposing, and therefore I shall set down his supposition here. « They damaskeen the gold in Persia, and give it the colour of steel. They do the same to silver. So that without being engraved, it appears in figures, is more catching to the eye, and is very pleasing." Every thing curious in that age
Voy. dans la Pal. p. 11.
On damasquine l'or en Perse, et on luy donne une couleur d'acier; et a l'argent aussi ; en sorte que sans estre gravé il est figuré, ce qui eclate, et parait d'advantage, et est fort agreable.
made its way, we may believe, into the court of King Solomon ; but it may be questioned whether this art was then known, and if it were, whether so generally as to be alluded to in a writing designed for public instruction.
Superior Excellence of the Pistachio Nuts of Syria.
& J. CHARDIN supposes," as well as Dr. Shaw,' that pistachio-nuts constituted one part of Jacob's present to Joseph. ?
Adding, that the pistachios of Syria are the best in the world. A circumstance I do not remember to have met with elsewhere :' and as it serves to confirm these expositions of part of a passage, as Sir John observes, has very much embarrassed commentators, I thought in an observation worth preserving.
Remarks on Ziba's Present to David.
The marks of distinction of that fruit which Ziba presented unto David, in his flight from Absalom, with bread, raisins, and wine, are
In a MS. note on Gen. xliii. 11. P. 145.
But Galen has made the same observation ; for he says, that the pistachios of Aleppo are preferable to all others. EDIT.
not so many as those relating to the citron perhaps; they however deserve consideration.
Ziba met David, according to the sacred historian, (2 Sam. xvi. 1,) with a couple of asses, and upon them two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred branches of raisins, a hundred of summer fruits, and a bottle of wine. These summer-fruits the Septuagint supposes were dates (PoivixES) ; but the more common opinion is that they were figs, which it seems was that also of the Chaldee paraphrast. Grotius however supposes the original word signifies the fruits of trees in general.
I cannot adopt any of these opinions. If the notes of distinction are not numerous enough, or sufficiently clear, to determine with precision what the fruit was, I believe they are sufficient to satisfy us that these authors were mistaken. We may gather three things relating to them: that they were of some considerable size, since their quantity was estimated by tale; that they came before the bean-season was ended, for after this we find that the inhabitants of the country beyond Jordan sent to David, along with other provisions, quantities of beans, (2 Sam. xviii. 28) they being things, according to Dr. Shaw, that, after they are boiled and stewed with oil and garlick, corstitute the principal food, in the spring, of persons of all distinctions; and they were thought by Ziba a suitable refreshment to '8 See Dr. Shaw, p. 144. Vide Grotip Jer. al, 10. i P. 140.
those that were travelling in a wilderness, where it was to be supposed they would be thirsty as well as hungry.
Nothing then could be more unhappy, or more strongly mark out the inattention of the translators of the Septuagint, (for it cannot be imagined they were ignorant of these matters,) than the rendering this word (in this place) dates, which are neither produced in summer, nor suited to allay the heat of that season : Dr. Pococke observing that they are not ripe till November ; and that they are esteemed of an hot nature, Providence seeming to have designed them as they are warm food, to comfort the stomach, he thinks, during the cold season, in a country where it has not given wine,' for he is there speaking concerning Egypt.
They could not be figs, I think : for as Dr. Shaw observes in the general, that the spring is the time for beans, and Dr. Russell more particularly, that April and May are the months for this sort of pulse at Aleppo, after which they disappear; so the first of these authors informs us that the Boccore, or early fig, is not produced till June, and the fig properly so called, which they preserve and make up into cakes, rarely before August." He indeed elsewhere. observes, that now and then a few figs are ripe six weeks or more before the * Compare 2 Sam. xvii. 29. with 2 Sam. xvi. 2. 1 Trav. into the East, vol. i. p. 206, m P. 144.