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No. 719.-xvii. 32. Whatsoever passeth under the rod.] This expresses the manner of the tithing, which according to the Jews was thus performed. The cattle were all brought into a sheep-cote, in which there was but one gate, and that so narrow as to suffer only one to come out at a time. The dams being placed without, and the gate opened, the young ones were invited by their bleating to press out to them. As they passed by, one by one, a man who stood at the gate with a rod coloured with ochre told them in order; and when the tenth came out, whether it were male or female, sound or not, he marked it with his rod, and said, Let this be holy in the name of the tenth. Bochart thinks that Moses does not here speak of the rod of the tithes, but of the shepherd's crook; for the flock passed under his rod as often as he numbered them, which was particularly done every evening, PATRICK, in loc,
No. 720.-NUMBERS i. 49.
Thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi.
From this example the heathen learned to exempt all those who ministered to their gods from all other services, especially from war. Strabo notes (Geograph, lib. ix.) this custom to have been as old as Homer's time ; for in all his catalogue there is no mention of any ship that went against Troy from Alalcomenon, because that city was sacred to Minerva. Cesar (lib. vi.) also observes, that the ancient Druids were exempt from war and from tribute.
No. 721.-v. 17. And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel.] Similar to this ordeal by the water of jealousy is the practice of some of the Africans, among whom Mr. Park travelled. He says, that “ at Baniferile, one of our slatees (slave merchants) returning to his native town, as soon as he had seated himself on a mat by the threshold of his door, a young woman, his intended bride, brought a little water in a calabash, and kneeling down before him, desired him to wash his hands; when he had done this, the girl, with a tear of joy sparkling in her eyes, drank the water; this being considered as the greatest proof she could give him of her fidelity and attachment.” Travels, p. 347. .
“ At Koolkorro my landlord brought out his writingboard or walha, that I might write him a saphie, to protect him from wicked men. I wrote the board full, from top to bottom,. on both sides : and my landlord, to be certain of having the whole force of the charm, washed the writing from the board into a calabash with a little water; and having said a few prayers over it, drank this powerful draught; after which, lest a single
word should escape, he licked the board until it was quite dry.” Travels, p. 236.
No. 722.-vi. 5. And shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.] The Egyptians used to let their hair grow in honour of their gods, particularly of Apollo, Bacchus, and Minerva. This superstitious practice indeed grew to such a height, that they consecrated it to rivers, in which they thought there was some divinity. In other instances they cut it off, and hung it upon trees, or laid it up in their temples, there to be preserved. At Athens there was a certain day appointed in one of their feasts, in which the hair of their children was cut off, and sacrificed to Diana. And according to Hesychius, before they performed this act, they brought a measure of wine, which they offered to Hercules, and then all who were present drank of it. This circumstance, if not an imitation, is a remarkable coincidence with the drink-offering mentioned ver. 17. Some writers have asserted that the laws of the Hebrew Nazarites were given to prevent an idolatrous adoption of Egyptian customs: but it seems much more probable that these usages are posterior to the time of Moses, and that they are borrowed from his institutions. See Patrick, in loc.
No. 723.--vi. 18. And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace-offerings.] It was probably from this custom of the Jewish Nazarites, that the Gentiles learned the practice of consecrating their hair to their gods. Lucian represents this as a very common custom, and that he had himself complied with it. Suetonius relates an instance of it in his life of Nero,
informing us, that he cut off his first beard, put it into a golden box set with jewels, and consecrated it to Jupiter Capitolinus.
No. 724.—vi. 24. The Lord bless thee, and keep thee.] The high priest was accustomed annually to bless the people when assembled together. “ During this ceremony he not only three times pronounced the eternal benediction, and each different time in a different accent, but, in the elevation of his hands, extended the three middle fingers of his right hand in so conspicuous a manner as to exhibit a manifest emblem of the three Hypostases; to whom the triple benediction, and repetition of the word Jehovah in a varied tone of voice, evidently pointed. I am credibly informed that at this day, on certain high festivals and solemnities, this form of blessing the people is still adhered to by the Jewish priests, but is attempted to be explained by them, as if allusive to the three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; an explanation, of which it may be doubted whether it savour more of impiety or absurdity.” Maurice's Ind. Ant. vol. iv. p. 209.
Captain Innys, of Madras, has asserted that the Mohammedan priests also at present use the same form: this is a strong collateral circumstance; for, since it is notorious that Mohammed was indebted for a considerable part of his theological knowledge to the secret instructions of a Jew, he probably learned from that Jew the symbol ; and it was frequently practised in the Arabian mosques so early as the seventh century.
No. 725.--vii. 17. And for a sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five lambs of the first year.] Mr. Selden observes (de Synedriis, lib. iii. cap. 14. num. 3.) that the Greeks dedicated their altars, temples, and statues with sumptuous sacrifices; and
that the Romans did the same, with feasting, plays, and public largesses. This custom he supposes to have been derived from the Jews, who provided the numerous sacrifices mentioned in this verse, because the priests, the princes, and as many of the people as were invited, had a share of them, and feasted before the Lord with great rejoicing.
No. 726.-vii. 87. All the oxen for the burnt-offering were twelve bullocks.] Whether there were any prayers offered for a gracious acceptance of the sacrifices which should be hereafter made upon this altar, we are not told, but the sacrifices themselves were in the nature of supplications; and it is likely they that offered them made their humble petitions with them. And so the Gentiles always did at the dedication of their temples or altars: an instance of which is observed from Gruter by Fort. Scacchus, and by Selden in these words. Hanc tibi aram, Jupiter opt. max. dico dedicoqué, uti sis volens propitius mihi collegisque meis, &c. which is a dedication of an altar to Jupiter, with a prayer that he would be gracious to him that dedicated it, and to his friends and neighbours. The like dedication there is of a temple to Priapus near Padua, with this prayer, that he would constantly guard their fields, &c.
PATRICK, in loc.
No. 727;-viii. 16. Instead of the first-born of all the children of Israel have I taken them unto me.] The heathens annexed the same ideas of substitution to the victims which they devoted to their gods. We find a singular instance of it in Ovid. Certain birds, which *fed upon the flesh of children, and sacked their blood, were coming down upon the young Procas, and just seizing him as their prey. The nymph Crane imme. diately sacrificed a "pig, and holding in her hands the entrails of that victim, exclaims,