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The oriental banquet, in consequence of the intense heat, is often spread upon the verdant turf, beneath the shade of a tree, where the streaming rivulet supplies the company with wholesome water, and excites a gentle breeze to cool their burning temples. The vine and the fig, it appears from the faithful page of inspiration, are preferred on such joyous occasions: "In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine and under the fig-tree." To fountains, or rivers, says Dr. Chandler, the Turks and the Greeks frequently repair for refreshment, especially the latter on their festivals, when whole families are seen sitting on the grass, and enjoying their early or evening repast, beneath the trees by the side of a rill.. And we are assured by the same author, that in such grateful retreats they often give public entertainments. He visited an assembly of Greeks, who, after celebrating a religious festival, were sitting under half tents, with store of melons and grapes, besides lambs and sheep to be killed, wine in gourds and skins, and other necessary provisions. Such appears to have been the feast which Adonijah gave his friends at Enrogel. It was held near a well or fountain of water, and there" he slew sheep, and oxen, and fat cattle, and invited his brethren" and the principal people of the kingdom. Enrogel was not chosen for secrecy, for it was in the vicinity of the royal city, but for the beauty of the surrounding scenery. It was not a magnificent cold collation; the animals on which they feasted were, on the contrary, killed and dressed on the spot for this princely re
past. In Hindostan feasts are
and gardens, where a variety of
given in the open halls strangers are admitted,
and much familiarity is allowed. This easily accounts for a circumstance in the history of Christ which is attended with considerable difficulty; the penitent Mary coming into the apartment and anointing his feet with the oint ment, and wiping them with the hairs of her head. This familiarity is not only common, but far from being deemed either disrespectful or displeasing."
More effectually to screen the company from the burning sun-beam, a large canopy was spread upon lofty pil lars, and attached by cords of various colours: "Some of these awnings," says Forbes, "belonging to the In dian Emperors, were very costly, and distinguished by various names. That which belonged to the emperor Ak→ ber was of such magnitude as to contain ten thousand persons; and the erecting of it employed one thousand men for a week with the help of machines; one of these awn ings, without any ornaments, cost ten thousand rupees.”i Similar to these were the splendid hangings under which Ahasuerus the king of Persia entertained his court. They "were white, green, and blue, fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble.”k
On these joyous occasions, any person that happens to pass by, is invited to join the company, and share in their enjoyments. The beauty of the scene tends to elevate and open their hearts, and to produce kind and generous affections, which prompt them to welcome the weary tra veller to their society. To such invitations, the prophet seems to refer: "In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, iForbes's Orient. Mem. vol. iii, p. 183, 190. * Esth. i, 5, 6..
j Ibid. p. 191, 192.
shall ye call every man his neighbour, under the vine and under the fig-tree.” Ye shall invite your neighbours, and the traveller that happens to pass by, to the pleasures of your retirement, and to share, under the shade of the vine and the fig tree, the exuberant bounties of heaven. As the words of the prophet evidently refer to a state of high prosperity which the chosen people were to enjoy, they cannot naturally be understood to mean a call for relief, to those who were sitting at their repast under the shade of the trees, but an invitation to those that passed by to share in their comforts.
Many of the Arabs, and other eastern people, use no spoon in eating their victuals; they dip their hands into the milk, which is placed before them in a wooden bowl, and lift it to their mouth in their palm. Le Bruin ob served five or six Arabs eating milk together, on the side of the Nile, as he was going up that river to Cairo ;! and D'Arvieux says they eat their pottage in the same way. Is it not reasonable to suppose, says Harmer, that the same usage obtained anciently among the Jews; and that Solomon refers to it when he says, " A slothful man hides his hand in the dish, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again ?" Our translators render it the bosom; but the word, every where signifiés a pot or dish. The meaning, therefore, according to Harmer is, "the slothful man having lifted up his hand full of milk or pottage to his mouth, will not do it a second time; no, though it be actually dipped into the milk or pottage, he he will not submit to the fatigue of lifting it again from thence to his mouth."n
* Zech. iii, 10.
But as it is rather a caricature
to represent the sluggard as so excessively indolent or lazy, that he will rather let his hand lie in the dish amỏng the milk or pottage, than lift it to his mouth a second time, the explanation of Dr. Russel is to be preferred: "The Arabs, in eating, do not thrust their whole hand into the dish, but only their thumb and two first fingers, with which they take up the morsel, and that in a moderate quantity at a time. I take, therefore, the sense to be, that the slothful man, instead of taking up a moderate mouthful, thrusts his hand into the pillaw, or such like, and takes a handful at a time, in order to avoid the trouble of returning frequently to the dish." According to this view, the slothful man endeavours by one effort to save himself the trouble of continued exertion. It seems to have been adopted by the Arabs, as much for the sake of dispatch as from necessity; for D'Arvieux says, a man would eat upon very unequal terms with a spoon, among those that instead of them use the palms of their hands. This mode of drinking was used by three hundred men of Gideon's army: "And the number of them that lapped, putting their hands to their mouth, were three hundred men; but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water." Three hundred men, immediately on their coming to the water, drank of it in the quickest manner they could, by lifting it in their palms, and lapping it like a dog, that they might be ready, without delay, to follow their leader to the battle: the rest took up water in pitchers, or some kind of vessel, and bending down upon their heels and knees, or with their knees placed upright before them, either of which might be called bowing their knees to drink, they handed these Harmer's Obs. vol. ii, p. 50, Dr. Clarke's note. P Judg. vii, 6.
drinking vessels slowly from one to another, as at an ordinary meal; an act which procured their dismission. The Hottentot manner of drinking water from a pool, or stream, seems exactly to coincide with the mode adopted by the three hundred, and gives a very clear idea of it: They throw it up with their right hand into their mouth, seldom bringing the hand nearer than the distance of a foot from the mouth, and so quickly, that however thirsty, they are soon satisfied. Mr. Campbell, who had an opportunity of seeing this operation, when travelling among that people, frequently tried to imitate it, but without
The oriental feast has been, from time immemorial, enlivened with music and dancing. In Turkey it is still concluded with coffee and perfumes, and a dance by the female slaves. In the heroic ages, dancing was reckoned an amusement so becoming persons of honour and wisdom, that the Grecian poets give Apollo the title of the dancer, from his fondness of this diversion; and represent the su preme Jupiter himself, as by no means reluctant to display his agility in this way.
Μεσσοισιν δ ̓ ὠρχειτο πατηρ ανδρώντε Θεωντε.
At Rome, the custom was quite different, for there, to use the words of Cicero, Nemo fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit, &c. "No man dances unless he is either drunk or mad, either in private, or at a modest and decent entertainment; dancing is the very last effect of luxury and wantonness." Even in Greece, where dancing was numbered among the liberal sciences, wanton and
Campbell's Trav. p. 112.
* Lady M. W. Montagu's Letters, vol. i, p. 212.
• Potter's Grecian Antiq. vol. ii, p. 400, 401. Forbes's Orient. Mem. vol. i, p. 81. D'Arvieux Voy. dans la Palest. p. 249.