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servants, however, were treated very differently from the poor slaves of modern times. They were treated kindly, as servants of the family; even better, in many respects, than hired servants.
Jacob had a vast number of cattle; this appears from many passages in the Bible. To persons having large flocks and herds, wells and springs of water were very valuable; see Gen. xxi. 25; xxvi. 15; Judg. i. 15; for rivers and brooks
are not plentiful in the east. This has been already fully noticed. It seldom rains there, except during one part of the year. In the greater part of Egypt rain never falls, and the fertility of the soil depends upon its being overflowed by the Nile.
Adam brought up Cain to cultivate or till the ground, and Abel to feed sheep, Gen. iv. 2; in the same chapter, ver. 20, we read that Jabal was the father of such as have cattle, and of those who dwelt in tents. In those countries, the people dwell in tents at the present day, as stated already. Thus, when their cattle have eaten up all the pasture in one place, they easily remove to some other.
The manner in which the Arabs travel on these occasions, reminds of the way in which Jacob journeyed, Gen. xxxii. Parsons thus describes it:-“ First went the shepherds and goatherds, with the sheep and goats, in regular flocks. Then followed the camels and asses, with the tents and furniture. Next came the old men and the women, with the boys and girls on foot. The little children were carried by the women, and the elder children carried the lambs and kids. Last of all came the masters of the families. Between each family there was a space
of a hundred yards or more, so that they did not mix or get confused with each other.”
Even after the times of the patriarchs, the greatest men among the Jews continued to be shepherds or husbandmen. Moses left the court of Pharaoh, and became a shepherd. He was keeping the flock of his father-in-law when God first appeared to him in the bush, Exod. iii. 1, 2. Several of the judges and kings had followed these employments. Shamgar appears to have been a herdsman, Judg. iii. 31; and Gideon was threshing wheat when the angel appeared to him, Judg. vi. 11. Saul continued to attend a herd of cattle after he was appointed king, 1 Sam. xi. 5. David was a shepherd. Psalm xxiii. evidently was written by a person well acquainted with a shepherd's life; a good shepherd he was, for he risked his life for his sheep, 1 Sam. xvii. 34, 35. This should remind of the best Shepherd, even CHRIST, John x. 14. And how infinitely great is his love for his sheep, as his true followers are called, for he actually laid down his life for them: even while they were yet sinners, and therefore at enmity with him, Christ died for them, Rom. v. 6–8. Let it be remembered that in the east the shepherds always go before their sheep, which follow them. They also have names for every sheep, and the sheep answer by coming when called, John x. 3, 4.
King Uzziah was fond of husbandry, 2 Chron. xxvi. 10; Mesha, king of Moab, was a sheepmaster, 2 Kings iii. 4. Several of the prophets were employed in agriculture; as Elisha, 1 Kings xix. 19; Amos was a herdsman, ch. i.; and others.
Horses were forbidden to be kept in the land of Canaan, Deut. xvii. 16; asses and oxen were therefore used for all purposes of agriculture.
It is an encouragement to those who are employed as shepherds, or in farming, to be diligent and faithful in their service, that kings, and prophets, and rulers, have followed the same employment. The women, even of high rank, attended to the flocks and herds. Rebecca drew water for the camels, Gen. xxiv. 20. Rachel kept her father's flocks, Gen. xxix. 9; and Zipporah, with her sisters, who were daughters of the prince, or chief priest, of Midian, Exod. ii. 16, did the same. A traveller, who lately visited the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai, says, that the women of the Arab tribes, who inhabit that part of the country, look after the flocks, which in other parts are left to servants or slaves.
When the Israelites first settled in the land of Canaan, each family had a portion of land, which could not be parted with for longer than a few years, for it returned to the family in the year of jubilee. They were forbidden to take interest for money from their brethren, Lev. xxv. 10, 36, 37. These, with other laws, made them less able to live by trade, so that they attended more to the produce of the earth, and to their flocks and herds.
CULTIVATION OF THE LAND. Many particulars respecting the manner in which the Jews cultivated the land are not mentioned in the Scriptures. They used to manure the ground; and some persons have supposed that the dove's dung, mentioned 2 Kings vi. 25, is a proof of this, as it is still much used in Persia. Others
and appear to be more correct, that the word means the seed of a plant which is called by that name : it is supposed to be the same with that we call the “ Star of Bethlehem,” which is found in many gardens in our country, but which grew much larger and more plentifully in Judæa. Salt also was used, Matt. v. 13; Luke xiv. 34, 35.
The river Jordan overflowed its banks every year: see Josh. iii. 15; 1 Chron. xii. 15. The mud left by the flood, not only made the fields on its banks very fertile, but was also used on other lands. When the waters diminished, seed was sown on the wet ground, and trampled in by the feet of cattle. This is the method still used in Egypt, and many parts of India, particularly with respect to rice; it is alluded to, Eccl. xi. 1 ; Isa. xxxii. 20.
A great part of the labour in the cultivation of the land was the watering of it; this was, and still is, very necessary in eastern countries, where no rain falls during several months in the year. For this purpose the water is raised, by various machines and different contrivances, from the rivers and streams, to cisterns in the upper parts of the gardens, or fields. When the rows of plants require watering, some of the water is let out of the cisterns; it runs in streams, while the gardener stands ready, and from time to time stops the rills by turning the earth against them with his foot, opening a new channel with his spade. This is alluded to in the first Psalm, as the rivers of water mentioned there mean these little streams, rather than large rivers. The cisterns are alluded to in 2 Chron. xxvi. 10. See the marginal reading; the word translated wells, means also cisterns.
The method of watering by the foot was practised in the land of Judæa, but was still more necessary in Egypt, where it so seldom rains, that this is described as the principal difference between that land and Judæa : see Deut. xi. 10, 11, “ The land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: but the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of bills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” In the greater part of the land of Egypt, rain
never fell, which made the storm, mentioned Exod. ix. 22–32, so much the more grievous. The river Nile every year overflows all the land on its banks, for several hundred miles, which renders it exceedingly fertile.
Watering with the foot may also mean raising water by machines turned with the foot, something like a treadmill; that method is used in the east, particularly in China; but it more likely means what has been just described. The expression of Balaam, Numb. xxiv. 7, “He shall pour the water out of his buckets,” is understood by some persons to refer to machines in which water was raised by a number of buckets: it points out the future flourishing state of Israel.
A solemn curse was denounced against man after the fall, Gen. iii. 17—19, “ Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life ; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread :" that is, by hard labour shalt thou procure it. We see this curse fulfilled to the present day; the ground, if left to itself, everywhere brings forth