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No. 891.Xviii. 44. And he said, go up, say unto Ahab, prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.] That is, says Bp. Patrick, Elijah saw such abundance of rain coming as would cause floods, and render the way impassable, if Ahab did not make haste home: and accordingly, in a very short space of time that little cloud spread itself, and with a great thickness covered the face of the sky.
Thus the translator of an Arabian tale from an unpublished manuscript, in describing the journey of the caliph Vathek, informs us, that the caliph having travelled three days, on the fourth day the heavens looked angry, and a terrible tempest ensued; this tempest, says this writer, may be deemed somewhat the more violent, from a supposition that Mahomet interfered, which will appear the more probable, if the circumstance of its obliterating the road through which the camels passed be considered. It frequently happens that a sudden blast will arise in the vast deserts of the East, and sweep away in its eddies the last passenger, whose camel therefore in vain is sought by the wanderer that follows. (Hist of Caliph Vathek, p. 247.)
William of Tyre hath recorded one of a similar nature, that visited Baldwin in his expedition against Damascus. He, against whose will all projects are vain, suddenly overspread the sky with darkness, poured down such torrents of rain, and so entirely effaced the roads, that scarce any hope of escaping remained. These disasters were portended by a gloominess in the air, lowering clouds, irregular wind, increasing thunder, and incessant lightning. Gesta Dei per Francos, p. 849.
No. 892.-xix. 13. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle.] The Jews accounted it a token of reverence to have their feet bare
in public worship, and to have their heads covered. This was accordingly the practice not of the priests only, but of the people also; and the latter practice remains so to this day. Thus on the divine appearance to Moses in the bush, it is said, he hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God, Exod. iii. 6.; and on the extraordinary manifestation of the divine presence to Elijah, he wrapped his face in his mantle. On the same account perhaps the angels were represented in vision to Isaiah as covering their faces with their wings in the presence of Jehovah. Isaiah vi. 2.
The ancient Romans performed their sacred rites with a covering on their heads. Thus Virgil:
Spes est pacis, ait. Tum numina sancta precamur
Our way we bend
The Grecians on the contrary performed their sacred rites bare headed. St. Paul therefore writing to the Corinthians, who were Greeks, says, every man praying or prophesying with his head covered dishonoureth his head. I Cor. xi. 4.
No. 893.-xix. 18. All the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that hath not kissed hin.] Bowing the knee was an act of worship, and so was kissing the idol. This was done two ways : either by applying their mouth immediately to the image, or kissing their hand before the image, and then stretching it out, and as it were, throwing the kiss to it. · Salmasius says, that such kisses were called labrata oscula,
and from hence came the phrases oscula jacere, and basia jactare, and manu venerari, and manu salutare. Pliny also says, in adorando dextram ad osculum referimus, totum corpus circumagimus. When we worship, we kiss our hand, and turn about our whole body.
No. 894.--. 12. As he was drinking, he and the kings, in the pavilions.] The pavilions here spoken of were nothing more than mere booths or common tents, notwithstanding Benbadad and the kings were drinking in them. That great and even royal persons occasionally refreshed or indulged themselves in this manner, is clear from the following paragraph in Dr. Chandler's Travels in the Lesser Asia, p. 149. " While we were employed on the theatre of Miletus, the aga of Suki, son-in-law by marriage to Elez Oglu, crossed the plain towards us, attended by a considerable train of domestics and officers, their vests and turbans of various and lively colours, mounted on long-tailed horses, with showy trappings, and glittering furniture. turned, after hawking, to Miletus: and we went to visit him, with a present of coffee and sugar; but were told that two favourite birds had flown away, and that he was vexed and tired. A couch was prepared for him beneath a shed made against a cottage, and covered with green boughs to keep off the sun. He entered as we were standing by, and fell down on it to sleep, without taking any notice of us."
HARMER, vol. iii. p. 50.
No. 895.--xxi. 8. Seal.] Seals are of very ancient invention. Thus Judah left his seal with Tamar as a pledge. The ancient Hebrews wore their seals or signets in rings on their fingers, or in bracelets on their arms. Sealing rings, called annuli signatorii, sigil.
es, and chirographi, are said by profane authors to
have been invented by the Lacedæmonians, who not content to shut their chests, armouries, &c. with keys, added a seal also. Letters and contracts were sealed thus : first they were tied up with thread or a string, then the wax was applied to the knot, and the seal impressed upon it. Rings seem to have been used as seals in almost every country. Pliny, however, observes that seals were scarcely used at the time of the Trojan war; the method of shutting up letters was by curious knots, which invention was particularly honoured, as in the instance of the Gordian knot. We are also informed by Pliny, that in his time no seals were used but in the Roman empire: but at Rome testaments were null without the testator's seal and the seals of seven witnesses.
WILSON'S Archeol. Dict. art. Seal.
No. 896.-xxi. 27. And went softly.] Going softly seems to have, been one of the many expressions of mourning commonly used among the eastern nations. That it was in use among the Jews appears from the case of Ahab; and by mistake it has been confounded with walking barefoot. It seems to have been a very slow, solemn manner of walking, well adapted to the state of mourners labouring under great sorrow and dejection of mind.
No. 897.-xxii. 43. The high places.] Many of old worshipped upon hills and on the tops of high mountains; imagining that they thereby obtained a nearer communication with heaven. Strabo says that the Persians always performed their worship upon hills. Some nations, instead of an image, worshipped the hill as the deity. In Japan most of their temples are at this day upon eminences; and often upon the ascent of high mountains ; commanding fine views, with groves
and rivulets of clear water: for they say, that the gods are extremely delighted with such high and pleasant spots. (Kæmpfer's Japan, vol. ii. b. 5.) This practice in early time was almost universal; and every mountain was esteemed holy. The people who prosecuted this method of worship enjoyed a soothing infatuation, which flattered the gloom of superstition. The eminences to which they retired were lonely and silent; and seemed to be happily circumstanced for contemplation and prayer. They who frequented them were raised above the lower world ; and fancied that they were brought into the vicinity of the powers of the air, and of the deity who resided in the higher regions. But the chief excellence for which they were frequented was, that they were looked upon as the peculiar places where God delivered his oracles.
HOLWELL's Mythological Dict. p. 225.