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condemned to death and stoned. Deut. xxi. 19. The same law was in force at Athens.
FLEURY's Hist. of the Israelites, p. 140.
No. 937.-v. 11. Also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.] The hundredth part was an usury at this time exacted in those countries, as afterwards among the Romans: this was the hundredth part of what was lent every month, so that every year they paid the eighth part of the principal. Salmasius however observes, that in the eastern countries, there never were any
laws to determine what interest should be taken for money lent for a day, or a week, or a month, or a year, (for there were all these sorts of usury,) but every one was left to demand what he pleased; and according to what was agreed they paid for what was borrowed. Patrick, in loc,
“ Nothing is more destructive to Syria than the shameful and excessive usury customary in that country. When the peasants are in want of money to purchase grain, cattle, &c. they can find none but by mortgaging the whole or part of their future crop greatly under its value. The danger of letting money appear closes the hands of all by whom it is possessed; and if it be parted with, it must be from the hope of a rapid and exorbitant gain: the most moderate interest is twelve per cent: the usual rate is twenty, and it frequently rises as high even as thirty.” Volney's Trav. vol. ii. p. 410. See also Jer. xv. 10.
No. 938.-v. 15. Even their servants bare rule over the people.] By these words it is evident that some oppressive practices are referred to. They probably relate to the forcible taking away of provisions from the people by the servants of former governors. In these countries this was no uncommon thing: many instances of
it might easily be produced: the one which follows may however suffice. After the jealousy of the poor oppressed Greeks lest they should be pillaged, or more heavily loaded with demands by the Turks, had prevented their voluntarily supplying the Baron Du Tott for his money, Ali Aga undertook the business, and upon the Moldavian's pretending not to understand the Turkish language, he knocked him down with his fist, and kept kicking him while he was rising; which brought him to complain in good Turkish of his beating him so, when he knew very well they were poor people, who were often in want of necessaries, and whose princes scarcely left them the air they breathed. Pshaw! thou art joking, friend,” was the reply of Ali Aga, “ thou art in want of nothing, except of being basted a little oftener. But all in good time. Proceed we to business. I must instantly have two sheep, a dozen of fowls, a dozen of pigeons, fifty pounds of bread, four oques (a Turkish weight of about forty-two ounces) of butter, with salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemons, wine, salad, and good oil of olives, all in great plenty.” With tears the Moldavian replied, I have already told you that we are poor creatures, without so much as bread to eat; where must we get cinnamon? The whip was taken from under his habit, and the Moldavian beaten till he could bear it no longer, but was forced to fly, finding Ali Aga inexorable, and that these provisions must be produced. A quarter of an hour was not expired, within which time Ali Aga required these things, before they were all brought. (Memoirs, vol. i. part 2. p. 10.)
No. 939.—x. 34. The wood-offering.] Concerning this offering Maimonides says, “what is the wood-offering? there was a time fixed for families to go out into the forests, and bring in wood of disposition (to be laid in order upon the altar:) and the day when it came to
the turn of a family to bring the wood, they offered up a free-will burnt-offering, which they called a woodoffering, and it was to them a good day (or festival): and they were forbidden to mourn, fast, or do any on it.” Josephus speaks of a feast called EvoPopi, when it was custoinary for all to bring wood to the altar, to keep the sacred fire, that it might not go out.
De Bello Jud. I. ii. c. 17. $ 6.
No. 940.-xii. 24. And the chief of the Levites; Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and give thanks according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward.] “ Though we are rather at a loss for information respecting the usual manner and ceremony of chanting the Hebrew poems; and though the subject of this (the Jews) sacred music in general is involved in doubt and obscurity, thus far at least is evident from many examples, that the sacred hymns were alternately sung by opposite choirs; and that the one choir usually performed the hymn itself, while the other sung a particular distich, which was regularly interposed at stated intervals, either of the nature of the proasm or epode of the Greeks. Exod. xv. 20, 21. Ezra iii. 11. 1 Sam. xviii. 7. and many of the Psalms."
Lowth's Lect. on Heb. Poetry, vol. ii. p. 25.
No. 941.-ESTHER i. 4.
When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and
the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even a hundred and fourscore days.
SOME persons apprehend that he was thus long in making preparation for this splendid entertainment, which did not last many days. But this custom is still continued of keeping an annual festival an hundred and eighty days, according to Dr. Fryer (lett. v. p. 348.) who lived lately in this country, and gives an account of it in his travels. And Cheus, a Chinese emperor, used frequently to make a feast which lasted one hundred and twenty days.
No. 942.-i. 11. To bring Vashti the queen before the king.] The Persians on festival occasions used to produce their women in public. To this purpose Herodotus relates a story of seven Persians being sent to Amyntas a Grecian prince, who received them hospitably, and gave them a splendid entertainment. When, after the entertainment, they began to drink, one of the Persians thus addressed Amyntas: “ Prince of Macedonia, it is a custom with us Persians, whenever we have a public entertainment, to introduce our concubines and young wives.” On this principle Ahasuerus gave command to bring his queen Vashti into the public assembly
No. 943.-ii. 11. And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women's house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her.] The harams in the East were guarded with extreme vigilance. Chardin
(Travels, p. 332.) informs us, that it is a crime for any person whatever to be enquiring what passes within those walls; that it is very difficult to be informed of the transactions in those habitations; and that a man may walk a hundred days, one after another, by the house where the women are, and yet know no more what is done therein than at the farther end of Tartary. This sufficiently explains the reason of Mordecai's conduct.
No. 944.-ii. 19. The king's gate.] “ The public place for doing business among the Greeks and Romans was the market place or exchange, because they were all merchants. In our ancestors' time the vassals of each lord met in the court of his castle, and hence comes the expression, the courts of princes. As princes live more retired in the East, affairs are transacted at the gate of their seraglio: and this custom of making one's court at the palace gate has been practised ever since the times of the ancient kings of Persia."
FLEURY's Hist. of the Israelites, p. 147.
No. 945.-iii. 7. In the first month, (that is, the month Nisan) in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast pur, that is, the lot, before Haman, from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.] It was customary in the East, by casting lots into an urn, to enquire what days would be fortunate, and what not, to undertake any business in. According to this superstitious practice, Haman endeavoured to find out what time in the year was most favourable to the Jews, and what most unlucky. First he enquired' what month was most unfortunate, and found the month Adar, which was the last month in the year, answerable to our February. There was no festival during this month,