Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

VIII.

blood.

will not eat it. They say that Moses specifically forbade it in the precept, CHAPTER ** Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk,"1 which he repeated three several times, and with special emphasis. They further maintain that it is unnatural and barbarous to cook a poor kid in that from which it derives its life. This may have been one reason for the prohibition, many of the Mosaic precepts are evidently designed to cultivate gentle and humane feelings; but “ kid in his mother's milk” is a gross, unwholesome disli, calculated also to kindle up animal and ferocious passions; and on these accounts Moses may have forbidden it. Besides, it is even yet associated with immoderate feasting; and originally, I suspect, was connected with idolatrous sacrifices. A great deal of learning has been spent upon this passage by critics, to ascertain what the lawv-giver referred to; but after seeing the dish actually prepared, and hearing the very name given to it which Moses employs, we have the whole mystery explained. I have repeatedly tasted Lebn immú; and, when well prepared, it has a rich and agreeable flavour. But, though there is little of the Jew in me, yet I have some scruples about partaking of this forbidden food, just as I have in regard to any kind of dish cooked in blood. The reason assigned for the original prohibition continues in full force to this day: “But Eating flesh with the life thereof, the blood thereof, shall ye not cat." ? Nearly all sects of the East, Christian included, regard this reservation, in the grant to eat flesh, as strictly obligatory. The semi-barbarian Abyssinians, according to Bruce's famous story, it is true, violate the whole breadth of the precept when they cut out and devour flesh from the flanks of the living animal; and it is just possible that the command was aimed against some such brutal practice. However that may be, in this country, not only blood-puddings, but every preparation of loo for food, is held in utter abomination. And so, also, it is unlawful to eat animals, fowls, and birds, straugled or smothered, and cooked with the blood in them. And, in my feelings at least, the Orientals in this matter are right. Moses repeats the prohibition in these emphatic words: “Ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl, or of beast, in any of your dwellings.” 3 And again, in chap. xvii. 10–14, it is reaffirmed in the most absolute ternis, extended even to strangers, and made to include game taken in hunting. Accordingly, our hunters, when they shoot even a small bird, are careful to cut its throat, and “pour out the blood thereof." God himself declares, “ I will even set my face against-that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.”

In addition to the original reason of the prohibition, that the blood is the life, it is here added, “ I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls.” And let us not forget that the element which represents blood is still given to us in the Supper as the symbol of atonement. How often are we reminded that it is through the blood of atonement alone that we Atoning can receive pardon and reconciliation with God! And it seems rash, to say

blood.

| Exod. xxiii. 19, and xxxiv. 26; Deut. xiv. 21.

2 Gen. ix, 4.

3 Lev. vii. 26.

PART

I.

Esils.

the least, to venture needlessly upon the violation of a precept announced before the law was given, so often repeatel, surrounded with so many sanc tions, and suggestive of so much that should impress the heart with tenderest emotion and deepest reverence. And, finally, I believe that the apostolic council of Jerusalem solemnly reatiirms this prohibition, and with special reference to the Gentile church.! For once I am an Oriental, and while I would not hastily juukse him that cateth even blood, think they do better whe

refuse. Shear In your account of killiy you mentioned the larve tails of the sheep, which with large reminds me of an inquiry I have to make on this subject. Russell, in his

"History of Aleppo," says that these tails grow to a prodigious size-sometimes weighing fifty pounds; and that they reqnire to be supported and defended from injury by thin boarls, which have little wheels attached to them to facilitate transportation. Jy mother used to sing "little bo-peep'," when J. was a child, and of the sheep that “left their tails behind them?

'-a much more sensible custom than to drag them on little carriares “buehind them." But, seriously, what have you to say to this strange story? I have alreadly seen at least a thousand “tails” since landing in Beirût, and have examined them carefully, both on the living animal and when dressed for the market, and I must say that Mr. Russell's statement seems somewhat apocryphal. None that I have yet noticeul would weigh more than ten pouds

A traveller can commit no greater error than to jump to the conclusion, soon after he arrives in a country, that nothing is possible but what he has seen. As to the partienlar matter in band, Russell may have copied, not from observation, but from Ilero lotus. The “Father of Iristory," however, strikes off in a boller strain than the Aleppo chaplain deemed it safe to follow.

[graphic][merged small]

“In Arabia," says he,“ there are two kinds of sheep. One of them is remarkable for an enormous length of tail, extending to three cubits, if not more.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

VIII.

If they were permitted to trail them along the ground, they would certainly 11l- CHAPTER cerate from friction. But the shepherds of the country are skilful enough to make little carriages, upon which they secure the tails of the sheep.” Thalia, 113.

As to the “boards” and the “ carriages,” I choose to say nothing, except that the thing is not absolutely impossible. But I have been to Aleppo repeatedly, and have inquired into this matter on the spot, yet could never hear of such an apparatus ; nor have I found any sheep that needed, or would have known how to use such a locomotive. The rest of Mr Russell's account is sufficiently accurate, and quite credible. These tails (or, as the Bible more correctly calls them, the rump) of ordinary sheep in the market do not weigh The more than ten or fifteen pounds-about your own estimate; but when the “ rump." sheep are well fattened, they grow to an enormous size. I have seen many in Lebanon so heavy that the owners could not carry them without difficulty,--yet I never saw any that would weigh quite fifty pounds. Such a tail, however, is within the limits of possibility. The cooks use this mass of fat instead of Arab butter, and many prefer it, as it is fresh and sweet, while the other is often rancid. No doubt this is the “rump” so often mentioned in the Levitical sacrifices, which was to be taken off hard by the back-bone. It is, in fact, not properly a tail, but a mass of marrow-like fat, which spreads over the whole rump of the sheep, and down the caudal extremity until near the end, which, as Russell says, turns back upon it in a kind of appendix.

Salîm led me through an entire street of shoe-shops this morning. Is the Rams red leather which the shoemakers use the rams' skins dyed red,” which formed skins dyed one of the three covers of the tabernacle ?

No doubt; and there is a definiteness in the wame rams' skins which is worth noticing. From time out of mind the southern part of Syria and Palestine has been supplied with mutton from the great plains and deserts on the north, east, and south, and the shepherds do not ordinarily bring the females to market. The vast flocks which annually come from Armenia and Northern Syria are nearly all males. The leather, therefore, is literally rams' skins dyed red. It is pleasant to meet such perfect accuracy in the most incidental allusions and minute details of the Mosaic record.

Yes, it is indeed satisfactory to find everything about this home of the Bible just as it should be; and the testimony seems all the stronger when the incident is so minute as to exclude the very possibility of design. IIere is another illustration of the same kind. Your boy has just let down a basket Basket let through the window by the wall, to get oranges from this garden outside the down from city.So Paul tells the Corinthians, at the close of that long list of perils and persecutions which he had encountered, that he was let down through a window, in a basket, by the wall, when Aretas, the governor of Damascus, kept the city with a garrison, desirous to apprehend him.4

red.

window in wall.

į Exoil. xxix. 22; Lev. iii. 9, and vii. 3, and ix 19 Acts ix. 25.

2 Exod. xxv. 5. 4.2 Cor. xi. 33.

3

PART

1.

1 ܕ ܕ

Writing

חסון

walls.

Certainly the illustration is entirely to the point, and there are seventeen windows of our house on the wall of the city, from any one of which we also could easily escape, as Paul diil, if the governor of Sidon should watch the gates of the city to apprehend us.

In our visit to the consul to-day, lid you notice the writing over the door and all round the room!

I did; and it reminded me of the recommendation to the people of Israel: “ These words which I command thee this day, thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”] I was delighted to meet with this very ancient custom.

Moses probably did not originate, but, as in many other cases, merely availed himself of the custom, in order to keep the precepts of the Lord ever before the cores and in the hearts of the people. Imeel, it is certain that the Egyptians observed a similar practice from the most remote antiquity. But, whatever may be its origin, it has been perpetuated down to the present day, and among all classes in this country. The Musiems are particularly fond of it. They never setupid gate, cover a fountain, build a bridge, or erect a house, without writing on it choice sentences from the Koran, or from their best poets. Christians also do the same. The consul, as you saw, has adorned his best room with a multitude of extracts from the Psalms, written in large characters, very much involveil, which is considered particularly ornamental, and is, besides, id constant puzzle to exercise the skill of the visitor. Indeed, very few can decipher these intricate mazes of Arabic caligraphy. This custom is certainly not objectionable in itself, and may be useful at all times, but it was more appropriate when books were few, and only within the reach of the learned and the wealthy. Like every other good practice, however, it could be, and was, carly perverted into a burtfu superstition. These sentences were and are inscribed as charms to keep off evil spirits, and to afford protection against disease and other calamitius. The Salve is true of the customs

referred to in the Sth vorse: “Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, Frontlets, and they shall be us frontiets between thine eyes.” These signs and frontlets,

of every kind, whether engraved on signets, written on parchments and enclosed in silver cases, or simply tattooed on the hands, the forehead between the eyes, or on other parts of the holy, are universally regarded as charms possessing talismanie virtues. The Moslems, Nusairîeh, and Bedawîn Arabs attach great importance to them, and never venture abroad without them. But Moses certainly did not, in any case, countenance superstition, and probably intended by these precepts to appropriate to a valuable purpose customis he could not eradicate, and ornaments which he could not induce the people to lay aside. We learn from Ilerodotus, and other ancient writers, that the people throughout all these countries were universally attached to sucli superstitions.

i Deut. si. 3, and xi. 20.

[blocks in formation]

VII.

gates of cities

The Jews have always observed this precept, I suppose, but not always in CHAPTER the same way. In the times of their national prosperity, when they could act out their religion without fear of enemies, they literally engraved the “laws of Parchthe Lord” on their gates and door-posts. But for generations, no one knows ments on how many, they have been in the habit of writing certain of these laws on small rolls of parchment, which they enclose in some sort of case, and insert into a niche made in the post, or in the plaster upon it. Even in cities like Safet and Tiberias, where the Jews are the majority, they still do the same; and, although the parchments are not absolutely hidden, yet they are so adjusted that it was not until after many years' residence in this country that I was aware of their existence, or knew where to find them. This parchment is called medzuzah, and the passages written are generally Deuteronomy vi. 4-9, and xi. 13–30. The ceremonies accompanying the operation are different in different places, sometimes puerile, always superstitions.

Come to the kiosk, and tell me what is going forward in the street.

That is a funeral procession, which, like most other things purely Oriental, 1 funera l. is without order—a confused medley of men and boys, in all sorts of costuine, rolling on somehow or other toward the cemetery. The only thing solemn about it is the low, sad monotone in which they chant that eternal truth, “ La illah illa Allah--no god but God ;” accompanied by that necessary lie, as Gibbon calls it, “W' Muhammedhū russûl Allah-and Mohammed is the prophet of God.” This, and nothing else, is their funeral dirge, and they repeat Wailing. it over and over until they reach the grave.

See how those women toss their arms, swing handkerchiefs, and scream, and shriek at the top of their voices! Those are the relatives, I suppose ?

Yes, and they go before to the grave ; for it is not customary for women and men to walk together on such occasions.

But what are they about now? They have formed a circle, like a bull-ring at a country fight, and there are two or three men inside, as if they were the combatants.

Wait a moment, and you will see what it all means. Now they begin. A zikr. These two men in the centre are the choristers, and are singing one of their hymns. The whole performance is called a zikr.

How they shake their heads, and twist and jerk their bodies ! and what do they repeat with such emphasis and solemnity?

This is but the commencement; the storm will burst out by degrees. They say nothing but “ Ya-Allah! Ya-Allah!” 1 beginning, as you see, very slowly. It will soon come-is coming faster and louder ; as they grow warm, their motions become wild and frantic; the chant runs into a horrid, deep growl, like wild beasts, in which it is impossible to distinguish any words-merely Allah, Allah, Allah," which they drive through their throats at a most perilous rate. This they will continue until, from sheer exhaustion, they break down.

10 Gud! O God!

« PreviousContinue »