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Jerusalem. The patriarchs had no horses. Egypt was famous for them, but there were none or very few in Judæa. The Jewish ruler was forbidden to procure them, Deut. xvii. 16. This prohibition was to prevent the Jews from trust
ing in their own strength as a nation, and to hinder their commerce with Egypt, whence Solomon procured his horses, 1 Kings x. 28; 2 Chron. ix. 28. The Arabs now are famous for their horses, which are remarkably swift.
The ancient Greeks were very attentive to strangers, as we find from Homer, and several other old writers; any instance of unkindness or injury done to a stranger was considered a very great crime. Several cases of this sort are mentioned in the Bible; and the attention paid to strangers among the Arabs is strongly proved by many instances stated by modern travellers.
Captains Irby and Mangles relate, that, on two occasions, they arrived at Arab camps very late. They halted before a tent, but found the owner and his family, having arranged their carpets, had retired to rest for the night. It was surprising, they say, to see the good humour with which all rose again, and kindled a fire, the wife kneading the dough, and preparing supper; while the Arabs, who accompanied as guides, made no apology, though the nights were bitter cold, but received all as a matter of course.
Robinson relates an amusing instance of the regard for hospitality proving disadvantageous. His Arab guides pur
chased a kid for supper, and proceeded to kill and dress it, on pitching their tent at night; but they were followed by the Bedouins who had sold it, and who thus became their guests; it was necessary to give them the chief portion, and those who had bought and paid for the kid, had only the fragments! Stephens describes one of his Arab guides being recognised by a woman, who, on account of this her friend, led them to her tent, where they were hospitably received by her husband. The tent, though near their road, was so placed as to be concealed from view, probably to escape the notice of travellers.
Eastern travellers often have noticed, that to eat with a stranger, is promising him security and protection. Niebuhr therefore recommends to secure the friendship of a guide by a meal as soon as possible. The expression, Psalm xli. 9, shows the stress also laid on this in former times.
Shaw describes an Arab as usually, when the meal was prepared, going to a rising ground, calling aloud upon all to come and partake of it, though no one was within hearing. See Prov. ix. 3. Job speaks of eating alone as a wrong act, Job xxxi. 17.
Christians, in the first ages, seldom travelled without letters from some persons well known to the brethren,' and they were sure of a kind reception wherever they went. Calmet thinks that the second and third Epistles of St. John were letters of this sort. When a person had once been received as a guest, he was expected to call again whenever he came the same way; those who received him would also call on him, if they visited his country. Their children continued to do the same; and they provided themselves with some token, as a proof of this friendship. It was usually a piece of lead or stone, divided in half, one piece was kept by each family, and produced when any of them visited the other. Sometimes a name was written upon it. This custom seems to be alluded to in that beautiful passage, Rev. ii. 17, where it is said, "To him that overcometh will I give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." The words translated "a white stone," may be considered as describing one of these tokens; the meaning of the passage appears to be, that the faithful should have a mark or token given them, by which they should hereafter be acknowledged by Christ as his friends, and
received into his favour. The "new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it," refers to that new spirit which is put into the heart of those who are united to the Saviour, by a new and living faith, and which the world knoweth not.
The possessors of these tokens kept them with much care, as likely to be of great service in any future time of need. Surely that inestimable gift, our salvation, is a token whereby Christ's followers are known at the present day; and they shall be known by it at the great day of his appearing.
As in former times, sandals were very often the only covering on the feet, it will easily be supposed that travellers would feel very uncomfortable from mud and dust, after walking any distance; so it was always the custom, when a guest arrived, that the servants should take off his sandals, and wash his feet, Gen. xviii. 4; xix. 2; xxiv. 32; Luke vii. 44. This was in general done by the lowest servants; it was a mark of great humility on the part of the master of a family if he did it himself, as well as a great honour to the person whose feet he washed. This may explain what John the Baptist said, Luke iii. 16. It shows us still more the love of Christ to his disciples; he rose from supper, laid aside his upper garment, tied a towel round him, and pouring water into a basin, washed his disciples' feet, John xiii. 4, 5. It may explain why the apostle Peter was so unwilling to let his master do this for him.
It also teaches two things:-1. If Christ, who is " over all, God blessed for ever," performed this mean and humble, though kind action to his disciples, how ready we ought to be, to do what is kind to each other!-2. If our Lord was so mindful of his disciples, as to do this act of kindness to them, which was in itself of so little importance, how sure we may be that those who love him now will not be forgotten in any of the events of their lives! The needing to wash the feet after all the rest, John xiii. 10, is explained by Malcolm, who saw some men after bathing, come up from the river or tank, and then just before entering the house, rinse their feet, dirtied by coming up from the bath.
Martyn remarked the degree of abasement expressed in the act of washing the feet. This further illustrates 1 Tim. v. 10, and the reluctance again to go forth into the mire, when the feet are washed, Sol. Song. v. 3.
The importance of guides in travelling need not to be dwelt upon; even when miraculously directed as to their main course while wandering in the wilderness, it was desirable for the Israelites to have the guidance of Hobab about the lesser difficulties of the way, and for directing their encampment, Numb. x. 31. Even now travellers in the east often place a stone upon another, in some conspicuous place, with a sort of prayer for their safe journey. Morier witnessed this, and it reminded him of Jacob's prayer and vow, Gen. xxviii. 18–22.
Travellers in the deserts often speak of the appearance of waters at a distance, where there is nothing but the hot sand. This is alluded to "as the waters that fail," or "be not sure," Jer. xv. 18. A modern traveller thus describes it. "I perceived a dark strip on the horizon, and asked my companion. He looked, and presently answered that water had all at once appeared there; that he saw the motion of the waves, and tall palms bending up and down over them, as if tossed by a strong wind." They gallopped towards it. "On a spot where the bare sands spread out for hundreds of miles, where there is neither tree nor shrub, nor a trace of water, there suddenly appeared before us groups of tall trees girding the running stream, on whose waves we saw the sun-beams dancing. Hills clad in pleasant green, rose before us, and vanished; small houses, and towns with high walls and ramparts, were visible among the trees. Far as we rode in the direction, we never came any nearer to it, the whole seemed to recoil with our advance. Never had I seen any landscape so vivid as this seeming one, never water so bright, or trees so softly green, so tall, so stately. We could well conceive how the despairing wanderer, who, with burning eyes, thinks he gazes on water and human dwellings, will struggle onwards to his last gasp to reach them." Such is the optical deception called the mirage.
The roads in the east are usually merely tracks; there are some exceptions: causeways raised over difficult places, and roads made level and plain when a king or great man is travelling. Thus Isaiah xl. 3-5; lxii. 10. Way-marks are common, as Jer. xxxi. 21.
CATTLE AND AGRICULTURE.
THE Jews were mostly employed in agriculture or cultivating the ground, and in tending cattle. Before the flood, we read of Cain and Abel, that the first was a tiller of the ground, and the latter a keeper of sheep, Gen. iv. 2. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, lived in this manner, chiefly attending to their flocks and herds, as many of the tribes among the Arabs do at the present day, only sowing the ground occasionally. The laws given to Moses encouraged agriculture; but nothing about trade and commerce with foreign nations is mentioned for many hundred years after the children of Israel were settled in the promised land. riches consisted chiefly in cattle and slaves, or servants, who were employed in tending the flocks and herds, and in cultivating the ground, to raise a sufficient supply of the fruits of the earth, Gen. xxvi. 12. Abraham and Lot had such large herds of cattle, that they were obliged to separate to find pasture for them, Gen. xiii. 6. In Gen. xiv. 14, it is stated that Abraham armed three hundred and eighteen of his servants, or slaves, when he hastened to rescue Lot from those who had led him away captive. These slaves, or