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them in derisiont. Psalm cxv. 5, 7. They were of brass, and are said to have had inscriptions upon them. They were set up in a recess of the fort. Though in scorn called the blind and the lame, yet they were so surely entrusted with the keeping of the place, that if they did not hold it out, the Jebusites said, they should not come into the house: that is, they would never again commit the safety of the fort to such palladia as these.
No. 852.-vi. 14. And David daneed before the Lord with all his might.] Upon this circumstance the Jews have grounded a ridiculous custom. In the evening of the day on which they drew water out of the pool of Siloam, those who were esteemed the wise men of Israel, the elders of the Sanhedrim, the rulers of the synagogues, and the doctors of the schools, met in the court of the temple. All the temple music played, and the old men danced, while the women in the balconies round the court and the men on the ground were spectators. All the sport was to see these venerable fathers of the nation skip and dance, clap their hands and sing; and they who played the fool most egregiously acquitted themselves with most honour. In this manner they spent the greater part of the night, till at length two priests sounded a retreat with trumpets. This mad festivity was repeated every evening, except on the evening before the sabbath, which fell in this festival, and on the evening before the last and great day of the feast.
JENNINGS's Jewish Antiq. vol. ii. p. 235.
No. 853.-viii. 2. Casting them down to the ground.] The opinion of the learned authors of the Universal History, (Anc. Hist. vol. ii. p. 135. note 5.) is, that David caused them to fall down flat, or prostrate on the
ground. Le Clerc also says, that it seems to have been the manner of the eastern kings towards those they conquered, especially those that had incurred their displeasure, to command their captives to lie down on the ground, and then to put to death such a part of them as were measured by a line. Both Dr. Chandler (Life of David, vol. ii. p. 157, note) and Bp. Patrick (Comment. in loc.) are of opinion, that there is no evidence to prove the existence of such a practice amongst the Hebrews,
No. 854.-xi. 4. And David sent messengers, and took her.] The kings of Israel appear to have taken their wives with very great ease.
This is quite consistent with the account given in general of the manner in which eastern princes form matrimonial alliances. “ The king, in his marriage, uses no other ceremony than this: he sends an azagi to the house where the lady lives, where the officer announces to her, it is the king's pleasure that she should remove instantly to the palace. She then dresses herself in the best manner, and immediately obeys. Thenceforward he assigns her an apartment in the palace, and gives her a house elsewhere in any part she chooses. Then when he makes her iteghe, it seems to be the nearest resemblance to marriage ; for whether in the court or the camp, he orders one of the judges to pronounce in his presence, that he, the king, has chosen his handmaid, naming her, for his queen : upon which the crown is put on her head, but she is not anointed.” Bruce's Travels, vol. iii. p. 87.
No. 355.-xii. 20. Then David arose from the earth, and washed and anointed himself, and changed his apparel.] During the time that David continued to mourn, it may be presumed from these words, that he
was negligent of his apparel, and that it was not changed. This was also the custom of the Persians. They mourned forty days: and for a relation or a friend, it was denoted by a total negligence of dress, without any regard to the colour: during the forty days they affected not to shave, and refused to change their clothes.
Goldsmith's Geography, p. 220.
No. 856.-xii. 23. But now he is dead wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again?] Maimonides says that the Jews did not lament infants, who died before they were thirty days old; but carried them in their arms to the grave, with one woman and two men to attend them, without saying the usual prayers over them, or the consolations for mourners. But if an infant were above thirty days old when it died, they carried it out on a small bier, and stood over it in order, and said both the prayers and consolations. If it were a year old, then it was carried out upon a bed. This custom Gierus thinks that David followed, in making no mourning for his child when it was dead. Bp. Patrick however doubts whether the practice were so ancient as to have prevailed in his reign.
No. 857.-xiii, 19. And Tamar put ashes on her head.] This was a general practice with the people of the East, in token of the extremity of sorrow, and was common both to the Hebrews and the Greeks. Job ij. 12, They rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads towards heaven. Ezek. xxvii. 30, And shall cast up dust upon their heads. Homer affords some instances of the same kind, as it respects the Greeks. Thus of Laertes he says:
Deep from his soul he sigh'd, and sorr'wing spread
Odyss. xxiv. 369, Pope.
And of Achilles :
His purple garments, and his golden hairs,
Let men lament and implore ever so much, or pour ever so much dust upon their heads, God will not grant what ought not to be granted.
Maximus Tyrius, Diss. xxx. p. 366.
No. 858. xiv. 17. As an angel of God so is my lord the king, to discern good and bad.] Chardin relates a circumstance concerning some commercial transactions which he had with the king of Persia, in which he expressed himself dissatisfied with the valuation which the king had put upon a rich trinket, in answer to which the grand master replied, “Know that the kings of Persia have a general and full knowledge of matters, as sure as it is extensive; and that equally in the greatest and smallest things there is nothing more just and sure than what they pronounce.", The knowledge of this prince, according to this great officer of state, was like that of an angel of God.
HARMER, vol. ii. p. 287.
No. 859.-iv. 26. He weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight.] In those days hair was accounted a great ornament, and the longer it was, the more it was esteemed. In after ages art was used to make it grow, and grow thick. They also anointed their hair with fragrant oils, of myrrh, and cinnamon; and then powdered it with dust of gold: all which made it very ponderous. Josephus informs us that such ostentation was in use amongst the Jews: for speaking of the guard which attended Solomon with long Aowing hair about their shoulders, he says, that they scattered in their hair every day little particles of gold, which made their hair shine and sparkle by the reflection
of the rays of the sun upon it. These circumstances may in some measure account for the great weight of Absalom's hair.
PATRICK, in loc.
No. 860.-XV. 30. And had his head covered.] Covering the head was used by persons in great distress, or when they were loaded with disgrace and infamy, Esther vi. 12. 2 Sam. xix. 4. Ezek. xii. 6. Thus Darius, when he was informed by Tyriotes the eunuch that his queen was dead, and that she had suffered no violence from Alexander, covered his head, and wept a long while, and then throwing off the garment that covered him, gave the gods thanks for Alexander's moderation and justice. (Curtius, l. iv. c. 10. § 33.) So also, when the same prince was in the power of Bessus, who soon after murdered him, he took his leave of Artabazus with his head covered. Id. I. v. c. 12. $ 8.
CHANDLER's Life of David, vol. ii. p. 304.
xv. 30. And he went barefoot.] This was an indication of great distress: for in ancient times the shoes of great and wealthy persons were made of very rich materials, and ornamented with jewels, gold, and silver. When any great calamity befel them, either public or private, they not only stripped themselves of these ornaments, but of their very shoes, and walked barefoot. In this manner prisoners taken in war were forced to walk, both for punishment and disgrace. See Bynaus de Calceis Hebræor. I. ii. c. 5. and Guier de Luct. c. 15.
No. 862.- xv. 32. And earth upon his head.) One method whereby submission was formerly expressed was by presenting earth to a conqueror. Hence we find it related of Darius, that being weary of a tedious and fatiguing pursuit, he sent a herald to the king of the Scythians, whose name was Indathyrsus, with this mes.