« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
is certainly the duty of those who enjoy them; and is very properly expressed by giving thanks on their reception. Such a practice we find to have prevailed both amongst heathens, Jews, and Christians.
That it prevailed amongst the heathens is certain from the following testimonies. Atheneus says, (Deipnosoph. lib. ii.) that in the famous regulation made by Amphictyon king of Athens with respect to the use of wine, both in sacrifices and at home, he required that the name of Jupiter the sustainer should be decently and reverently pronounced. The same writer (lib. iv. p. 149.) quotes Hermeias, an author extant in bis time, who mentions a people in Egypt, inhabitants of the city of Naucratis, whose custom it was on certain occasions, after they had placed themselves in the usual posture of eating at the table, to rise again and kneel; the priest then chanted a grace according to a stated form amongst them, after which they joined in the meal in a solemn sacrificial manner. It was also a religious usage amongst the ancient Greeks, and derived to them from yet older ages.
Clement of Alexandria informs us, that when they met together to refresh themselves with the juice of the grape, they sung a piece of music, which they called a scholion. Livy (lib. 39.) speaks of it as a settled custom amongst the old Romans, that they offered sacrifice and prayer to the gods at their meals. But one of the fullest testimonies to our purpose is given by Quintilian, (Dedam. 301.) Adisti mensam, ad quam cum venire cæpimus, deos invocamus. We approached the table, and then invoked the gods.
Trigantius a jesuit, in his narrative of the expedition of their missionaries into China, (b.i.p.69..) says of the Chinese, that “ before they place themselves for partaking of an entertainment, the person who makes it sets a vessel, either of gold, or silver, or marble, or some such valuable material, in a charger full of wine,
which he holds with both his hands, and then makes a low bow to the person of chief quality or character at the table. Then from the hall or dining-room he goes into the porch or entry, where he again makes a very low bow, and, turning his face to the south, pours out this wine upon the ground as a thankful oblation to the Lord of heaven. After this, repeating his reverential obeisance, he returns into the hall.”
As to the sentiments and behaviour of the Jews on this point, Josephus, detailing the customs of the Essenes, says, that the priest begs a blessing before they presume to take any nourishment; and it is looked upon as a great sin to take or taste before. And when the meal is over, the priest prays again; and the company with him bless and praise God, as their preserver, and the donor of their life and nourishment. From the Hebrew ritual it appears, that the Jews had their hymns and psalms of thanksgiving not only after eating their passover, but on a variety of other occasions, at and after meals, and even between their several courses and dishes; as when the best of their wine was brought upon the table, or the fruit of the garden.
The practice of the Jews is farther discovered by the sonduct of Christ. After eating the passover, himself and the disciples sung an hymn, Matt. xxvi. 30, Learned men have thought this hymn to have been some stated form in use among the Jews. Others say it was part of the book of Psalms. However that be, the Jews are said to have their zemiroth, verses or songs of thanksgiving, to this day. We may also observe that when Christ supped with the two disciples at Emmaus, he took bread and blessed it, Luke xxiv. 30.
The primitive Christians appear universally to have observed this custom. We read that St. Paul when he had spoken took bread, and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all, and when he had broken it, began to
eat. Acts xxvii. 35. In the days immediately following the apostles, we trace this practice in the writings of the fathers, particularly in the Clementine constitutions, in Chrysostom, and Origen.
No. 1289.--viii. 20. These words spake Jesus in the treasury.] In the court of the women in the temple there was placed one chest, or more; the Jews say eleven, for receiving the voluntary contributions of the people towards defraying the charges of public worship; such as providing the public sacrifices, wood for the altar, salt, and other necessaries. That part of the area where these chests were placed was the γαζοφυλακιον, Όr treasury. Mark xii. 41. Perhaps the whole court, or at least the piazza on one side, with the chambers over it, in which the sacred stores were kept, was from hence called by the same name.
JENNINGS's Jewish Ant: vol. 2. p. 43.
No. 1290.-viii. 36. If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.] By some commentators it has been supposed, that Christ alludes to the mode of adoption called udeAQoJEGLU, (see Oriental Customs, No 473.) but Dr. Gill refers it rather to a custom among the Romans of a son's making free, after his father's death, such as were born slaves in his house. Perhaps there may be also some reference to such sort of persons among the Jews as were partly servants and partly free; such as were servants to two partners, and were made free by one of them; or who had paid half the price of redemption, but left the other half due: of a person in such circumstances it is said, he may not eat of his master's lamb at the passover.
No. 1291.-viii. 57. Thou art not yet fifty years old.) The age of fifty is often spoken of by the Jews, and much
observed: at the age of fifty they say a man is fit to give counsel; hence the Levites were dismissed from service at that age, it being more proper for them then to give advice than to bear burthens. A methurgeman, or an interpreter in a congregation, was not chosen under fifty years of age: and if a man died before he was fifty, this was called the death of cutting off; a violent death, a death inflicted by God as a punishment.
GILL, in loc.
No. 1292.-ix. 6. He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle.] This was done, observes Mr. Wootton, (Miscell. Disc. vol. ii. p. 103.) to shew his divine authority in using means to human reason the most improper, and that too on the sabbath, directly in opposition to a rule established by the Jews, which, though good and just in itself, was superstitious and cruel when applied to the case of healing on the sabbath-day, Maimonides says, that it was particularly forbidden to put fasting spittle upon or into the eyes of a blind man on the sabbath-day. The Jews were not the only persons who superstitiously used spittle. It was considered by the Greeks as a charm against fascination. Theocritus makes Damætas thus express himself :
Ως μη βασκανθω δε, τρις επτυσα εις εμον κολπον. Idyl. vi. The Romans had also the same opinion of it. On the day when an infant was named, (which for girls was the eighth, for boys the ninth, after birth) the grandmother or aunt, moving round in a circle, rubbed with her middle finger the child's forehead with spittle, which was hence called lustralis saliva.
No. 1293.-8. 1. He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber] The sheepfold was an
inclosure sometimes in the manner of a building, and made of stone, or fenced with reeds. In it was a large door, at which the shepherd went in and out, when he led in or brought out the sheep. At tithing, which was done in the sheepfold, they made a little door, so that two lambs could not come out together. To this inclosure there is an allusion in these words.
No. 1294.-x. 3. Calleth his own sheep by name.] “ This is an allusion to the customs of Judæa, where shepherds had names for their sheep, which answered to them as dogs and horses do with us, following to the pasture ground, and wherever their shepherds thought fit to lead them."
MACKNIGHT's Harmony, vol. ii. p. 455.
No. 1295.--X. 4. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.] Polybius, in the beginning of his twelfth book, tells us, that the flocks in the island of Cyrnon, upon the landing of any strangers in order to lay hold of them, immediately run away: but that when the shepherd, upon observing the attempt, stoutly blows his horn, they immediately scamper towards it. Nor, says he, is it at all wonderful that they should be thus compliant with the sound, since in Italy the keepers of świne do not observe the custom of Greece in following their herd, but going before them to some distance, they sound their horn, and the herd immediately follow them, flocking to the sound. And so accustomed are they to their own horn, as to excite no little astonishment at the first hearing of it.
BULKLEY's Notes on the Bible.
No. 1296.--xi. 9. Are there not twelve hours in the day?] The division of time with the Jews was purely