« PreviousContinue »
· OBSERVATION XX.
Provisions used in journeying, with a curious Com.
ment on a Petition of the Lord's Prayer.
The hospitality of the East towards travellers has been greatly celebrated, and it has been represented as their favourite virtue ; but it appears sometimes, however, a mark of subjection, and not voluntary, and in such cases therefore not much a ground of praise.
Dr. Shaw takes notice of this circumstance, in the preface to his Travels in Barbary, but has not applied it to the elucidation of any passage of the Scriptures, and therefore it may be introduced among these papers.
“ In this country, (says the Doctor, speaking of Barbary,) the Arabs and other inhabitants are obliged, either by long custom ; by the particular tenure of their lands ; or from fear and compulsion, to give the spahees, and their company, the moqunah, as they call it ; which is such a sufficient quantity of provisions for ourselves, together with straw and barley for our mules and horses. Besides a bowl of milk, and a basket of figs, raisins, or dates, which, upon our arrival, were presented to us, to stay our appetites, the master of the tent, where we lodged, fetched us from his flock (according to the number of our company) a kid or a goat, a lamb or a sheep ; half of which was immediately seethed by his wife, and served up with cuscasooe; the rest was made kab-ab, i. e. cut into pieces (misuras is the term, Hom. II. A, ver. 465) and roasted; which we reserved for our breakfast or dinner the next day.”
In the next page of this preface, the Doctor says, “When we were entertained in a courteous manner, (for the Arabs will sometimes supply us with nothing till it is extorted by force) the author used to give the master of the tent a knise, a couple of flints, or a small quantity of English gunpowder,” &c. And observes afterwards, that to prevent such parties from living at free charges upon them, the Arabs take care to pitch in woods, valleys, or places the least conspicuous, and that in consequence they found it difficult oftentimes to find them.
The Arabs, who are strangers, permitted to feed their flocks and herds in that country, are not, it seems, the only people of those countries that are obliged to accommodate the Turks, who have conquered those districts, when they travel, and also the company they bring with them; but it is unwillingly, no virtue, but the effect of fear, and exacted as a mark of submission, due from the conquered to those that have conquered them.
This management appears to be very ancient, and to be referred to in the Septuagint translation of Prov. xv. 17, and not improbably in P. 12.
the original Hebrew itself, and for that reason I have taken notice of it here; though that passage is, I think, understood commonly, if not always, by moderns, of entertainments made by one's own countrymen and apparent friends, but who are really enemies, to some of their guests, or at least disposed to quarrel. But the Septuagint understands it, and it seems more truly, of the forced accommodating of travellers, which Arabs and conquered people were anciently obliged to submit to, as they still are.
The words of the Septuagint may be seen below," and they amount to this, “ better is a repast given to us on the road as strangers, consisting merely of herbs, with friendliness and goodwill; rather than the setting before us a delicacy, and particularly the flesh of a calf, with hatred."
It was not unusual then, in the age and country of these ancient Greek translators, for travellers to eat at the expence of those that were not pleased with entertaining them ; and who sometimes would not do it, at least in the manner the traveller liked, without brawlings, and a kind of force, which could not but produce hatred. So that, as it is now practised in Barbary hy the Turks, it was formerly in like manner practised in Egypt, towards the Arabs that probably might then feed their flocks there, as they certainly do now, and towards .8 See Bishop Patrick upon the place.
A Κρείσσων ΞΕΝΙΣΜΟΣ μετα λαχανων προς φιλιαν και χαριν, η παραθεσις μοσχων μετα εχθρας.
the natural Egyptians, over whom the Ptolemies, with their Greek companions, might tyrannize, as the Turks do at this time over the people of Barbary.
It is possible this turn might then first be given to this proverb of Solomon; but it is most natural to suppose this was the original meaning of it, since the Hebrew word aruchah, signifies provision for a journey, as Jer. xl. 5, where persons carried their food with them; and may as well signify the food that was wont to be given them, by those to whom they applied in journeying, when they travelled in inhabited countries, where they thought they had reason to expect they should be supplied, at free cost, with necessaries in their journeying. It is indeed made use of even to express a quantity of provisions sufficient for one day, like that given to travellers, though allowed from day to day to those that were not travelling, but statedly treated after this manner; for it is used to express the daily allowances granted by Evilmerodach, king of Babylon, to Jehoiachin, the Jewish royal captive, both by the Prophet Jeremiah and the Prophet that wrote the history of the Jewish Kings.
But can it be supposed that such forced hospitality, it may be asked, came under the notice of Solomon; or at least was requisite to be mentioned by him in his instructions given the Jewish people? I would answer, many people resided at that time in his kingdom,
i 2 Kings xxv. 30. Jer. lii. 34.
who, we have reason to' think, were on much the same footing with the conquered inhabitants of Barbary, of whom we read, 2 Chron. ii. 17, 18, where they are called strangers, and were employed in works of hard labour, from which the Israelites were free. Now such might be under the like Eastern obligation to entertain those they lived under, in their travelling up and down; as also might the people of the adjoining countries, who are said to have been under the dominion of king Solomon. And as some might be courteous and submissive, others might be rugged, and refuse to kill a kid or a lamb for them, and endeavour to put off these undesired guests with meaner diet. .
Nor would it bave been a maxim unworthy of the care of Solomon, to instil into the minds of the Jewish people not to insist too harshly on these Eastern usages, with respect to the strangers that lived among them, or the conquered about them, from motives of tenderness for the honour of the Jewish religion, as well as those of true policy.-Content yourselves with the refreshment derived from a repast of herbs, if they are only offered you; rather than strive to force them to give you a more honourable entertainment: for better is a repast on herbs with a good will and friendliness, than a feast on a fatted calf, wrung from them by severity and violence. It is indeed universally truc, that a mean
* 1 Kings ir. 24.