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send presents before-hand, proportionate to their rank, and the number of their attendants.”
When they consulted a Prophet then, the Eastern modes required a present ; and they might think it was right rather to present him with eatables than other things, because it frequently happened that they were detained there some time, waiting the answer of God, during which time hospitality would require the Prophet to ask them to take some repast with him. And as the Prophet would naturally treat them with some regard to their quality, they doubtless did then, as the Egyptians do now, proportion their presents to their avowed rank and number of attendants. The present of Jeroboam's wife was that of a woman in affluent circumstances, though it by no means determined her to be a princess. That made to the Prophet Samuel, was the present of a person that expected to be treated like a man in low life ; how great then must be his surprise, first to be treated with distinguished honour in a large company, and then to be anointed king over Israel !
But though this seems to have been the original ground, of presenting common eatables to persons who were visited at their own houses, I would by no means be understood to affirm they have always kept to this, and presented eatables when they expected to stay with them and take some repast, and other things when they did not. Accuracy is not to be expected in such matters : the observation however naturally accounts for the rise of this sort of presents.
In other cases, the presents that anciently were, and of late have been wont to be made to personages eminent for study and piety, were large sums of money, " or vestments : so the present that a Syrian nobleman would have made to an Israelitish Prophet, with whom he did not expect to stay any time, or indeed to enter his house, Behold, I thought he will certainly come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his Gon, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper, consisted of ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. It is needless to mention the pecuniary gratifications that have been given to men of learning in the East in later times; but as to vestments, d'Herbeloto tells us, that Bokhteri, an illustrious poet of Cufah in the ninth century, had so many presents made him in the course of his life, that at his death he was found possessed of an hundred complete suits of
m Sums of money are presented also to others, by princes and great personages. So Sir John Chardin observes, in his MS. on occasion of Joseph's being said to have given Benjamin three hundred pieces of silver, Gen. xlv. 22, that - the kings of Asia almost always make presents of this kind to ambassadors, and to other strangers of consi. deration who have brought them presents. So the khalif Mahadi, according to d'Herbelot, gave an Arab that had entertained him in the desert, a vest, and a purse of silver. a 2 Kings v. 11.
• P. 208. 209. VOL II.
clothes, two hundred shirts, and five hundred turbans. An indisputable proof of the frequency with which presents of this kind are made in the Levant to men of study: and at the same time a fine illustration of Job's description of the treasures of the East in his days, consisting of raiment as well as silver, Job xxvii. 16, 17.
The preceding Subject continued.
They not only make presents of provisions, but of other things which they imagine may be acceptable, and in particular of conveniences
P So Sir J. Chardin tells us in his note here, “that it is customary through all the East to gather together an im. mense collection of furniture and clothes, for their fashions never alter. They heap them up in wardrobes, as they heap up mud for mortar in building. This is the ground of this metaphor.”
I have some doubt however, I must confess, of the just. ness of this account of the ground of this image. If it means any thing more than what is mentioned Zech. ix. 3, which I much question, I should say that possibly, as the word translated dust signifies plastering, and that rendered clay, mortar, the heaping up silver like plastering may point out the piling up silver, against the walls of their apart. ments, as if they had been plastered with silver ; and the preparing raiment as mortar may possibly refer to the walls covered with bitumen, or mortar of a dark colour, vest. ments being heaped up from the bottom to the top of these repositories of theirs. But the more simple interpretation, I first pointed out, seems much preferable. Harm.
Indeed any interpretation is preferable to this far-fetched one, EDIT.
for the making their eating and drinking more agreeable.
So when Dr. Perry travelled in Egypt, and visited the temple at Luxor, he says, “We were entertained by the cashif here with great marks of civility and favour; he sent us, in return of our presents, several sheep, a good quantity of eggs, bardacks,” &c. These bardacks he had described a little before, in speaking of a town called Keene: “ Its chief manufactory,” he there tells us, “is in bardacks, to cool and refresh their water in, by means of which it drinks very cool and pleasant in the hottest seasons of the year. They make an inconceivable quantity of these, which they distribute to Cairo, and all other parts of Egypt They send them down in great floats, consisting of many thousands, lashed together in such a manner as to bear the weight of several people upon them. We purchased a good many of them for the fancy, at so inconsiderable a price as twenty pence an hundred; and are really surprised how they could make them for it.”
Here we see earthen vessels presented to the Doctor, and those of a very cheap kind, along with provisions, and this apparently because they are of great use in that country for cooling their water. Perhaps we shall be less surprised after reading this, at the basons and earthen vessels presented to David at Mahanaim,
· P. 356, 347. 'P. 339, 340.
by some of the great men of that part of the country, along with sheep, flour, honey, &c. 2 Sam. xvii. 28, 29.
Presents made at the Circumcision of Children.
But though nothing is more customary in the Levant than the giving and receiving of presents, and persons of the most exalted characters for dignity, virtue, or piety, make in common no difficulty of receiving them, there are some instances however of those that have refused them.
So Mons. Maillet tells us, that at the circumcision of their children they are commonly wont to receive presents ;“ nevertheless he tells us, that Ishmael, who was bashaw of Egypt while he resided there, and whose only son was circumcised whilst he was in that high office, refused to accept any presents on that occasion, (though every one, according to his respective rank and quality, was prepared to make him a present, according to the Turkish custom, and though Ishmael's expences were extremely great,) the French Consul's excepted, which he had the politeness to receive, telling the interpreters that he had determined not to accept of any presents, but that he could not
· Let. 11, p. 136.