Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed and yielded up the ghost" (Gen. xlix. 33). The bed was used as well for sitting as for lying down, as in the following instances : “Israel strengthened himself and sat upon the bed :" (Gen. xlviii. 2); “ He arose from the earth, and sat upon the bed” (1 Sam. xxviii. 23).

The sleeping accommodation in Eastern countries is still of the simplest kind.

“ The time for taking our repose was now come, and we were conducted into another large room, in the middle of which was a kind of bed, without bedstead or curtains. Though the coverlet and pillows exceeded in magnificence the richness of the sofa, which likewise ornamented the apartment, I foresaw that I could expect but little rest on this bed, and had the curiosity to examine its make in a more particular manner. Fifteen mattresses of quilted cotton, about three inches thick, placed one upon another, formed the groundwork, and were covered by a sheet of Indian linen, sewed on the last mattress. A coverlet of green satin, adorned with gold embroidered in embossed work, was in like manner fastened to the sheets; the ends of which, turned in, were sewed down alternately. Two large pillows of crimson satin, covered with the like embroidery, in which there was no want of gold or spangles, rested on two cushions of the sofa, brought near to serve for a back, and intended to support our heads. The taking of the pillows entirely away would have been a good resource, if we had had any bolster; and the expedient of turning the other side upwards having only served to show they were embroidered in the same manner on the bottom, we at last determined to lay our handkerchiefs over them, which, however, did not prevent our being very sensible of the embossed ornaments underneath.” — BARON DU TOTT. See CALMET.

“On the morning after my arrival at Bombay, I got

[blocks in formation]

up with the first blush of the dawn, and hastily drawing on my clothes, proceeded along greedily in search of adventures. I had not gone far before I saw native sleeping on a mat spread in the little verandah extending along the front of his house, which was made of basket-work plastered over with mud. wrapped up in a long web of white linen, or white cotton cloth, called, I think, his cummerbund, or waistcloth. As soon as the first rays of the sun peeped into his rude sleeping chamber, he arose, took up his bed, and went into his house.' I saw immediately an ex

He was

[graphic][merged small]

planation of this expression, which, with slight variations, occurs frequently in the Bible, in connection with several of the most striking and impressive of Christ's miracles, particularly with that of the man sick of the palsy. My friend, the Hindoo, got on his

62

TURNING TO THE WALL.

feet, cast the long folds of his wrapper over his shoulder, stooped down, and having rolled up his mat, which was all the bed he required, he walked into the house with it, and then proceeded to the nearest tank to perform his morning ablutions.” – CAPT. BASIL Hall's Fragments of Voyages and Travels, iii. 26, 27.

“We had now to retire to rest; and it was not to a bed, raised from the ground, with bed-posts, and canopy, &c. Both had to lie on the floor. From a large receptacle in the room, two thick cotton quilts were taken out; one of which was folded double, to serve as a mattress, and the other, as a covering, with large flat pillows for our heads. We found it very comfortable though so different to what we had been accustomed. How forcibly the words came to our minds, "Take up thy bed and walk !'”Bible in Palestine, p. 40.

We may infer that the bed was placed by the side of the wall; for we read that “Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord” (2 Kings xx. 2). The following passage from Shaw's work illustrates the above expressions :-“ At one end of each chamber there is a little gallery, raised three, four, or five feet above the floor, with a balustrade in the front of it, with a few steps leading up to it. Here they place their beds, a situation frequently alluded to in the Holy Scriptures, which may likewise illustrate the circumstance of Hezekiah's turning his face, when he prayed, towards the wall, i. e., from his attendants, that the fervency of his devotion might be the less taken notice of. The like is related of Ahab, who probably turned his face towards the wall in order to conceal from his attendants the anguish he was in for his late disappointment.”Barbary, i. 378.

The use of the chair was probably borrowed from Egypt: whether chairs were common, is uncertain ; but, as there can be no doubt that the early Hebrews sat at their meals, it is highly probable that they had

[blocks in formation]

them, for to sit on the floor, though possible, and even still practised in Egypt, was inconvenient. The passages that imply the custom of sitting, are as follows :(Joseph's brethren)“ sat before him” (Gen. xliii. 33); “We sat by the flesh-pots, and did eat” (Ex. xvi. 3); “ The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Ex. xxxii. 6); “ They sat down and did eat and drink together" (Judges xix. 6); “ The king sat him down to eat meat” (1 Sam. xx. 24). The only passage where the chair is mentioned by name, is in 2 Kings iv. 10, quoted in page 59 : but the article is frequently represented in the Egyptian monuments, and was evidently in common use in that country. We are told by Wilkinson, that :-“The house of a wealthy person was always furnished with chairs. Stools and low seats were also used, the seat being only from eight to fourteen inches high, and of wood, or interlaced with thongs : these, however, may be considered equivalent to our rush-bottomed chairs, and probably belonged to persons of humble means; and many of the fauteuils were of the most elegant form; they were made of ebony and other rare woods, inlaid with ivory, and very similar to some now used in Europe. The legs were mostly in imitation of those of an animal; and lions' heads, or the entire body, formed the arms of large fauteuils, as in the throne of Solomon (1 Kings x. 19). Some again had folding legs, like our camp stools.”—Ancient Egyptians, i. 59.

In course of time the divan, now so common in the East, superseded the use of the chair. It was probably introduced from Assyria ; the earliest notice of it is in Amos iii. 12, where he threatens that “the children of Israel shall be taken out that dwell in Samaria, in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch” (or, as the latter words more properly mean, in the damask coverlets of a couch). The same prophet (vi. 4) also describes the people, as those “ that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves

upon

their

64

SITTING ON THE GROUND.

couches.” In the banqueting hall of Ahasuerus, the couches were yet more magnificent; “the beds were of gold and silver” (Esther i. 6). These notices show that the couches of the Hebrews, as well as those of the Persians, were of great magnificence. In the New Testament the couch is seldom noticed ; it appears, however, among the ordinary articles of furniture, which the Pharisees scrupulously washed (Mark vii. 4, margin).

The same luxury still prevails in certain parts of the East :-“Along the sides of the wall or floor, a range of narrow beds or mattresses is often placed upon these carpets; and for their further ease and convenience, several velvet or damask bolsters are placed upon these carpets or mattresses, indulgences that seem to be alluded to by the 'stretching themselves upon couches, and by the sewing of pillows to arm-holes." "--Shaw's Barbary, i. 377, 378.

“I have beheld princes and nobles reclining and lolling on soft carpets, under the shade of their broad canvas awning stretched above the windows, on a hot summer's day, supported by soft cushions and pillows under their armpits.

-PERKINS's Residence in Persia, &c., p. 154.

The modern Orientals neither sit nor yet recline, as a general rule, but squat on the floor or on the bare ground, with their legs tucked under them. This practice was not wholly unknown in ancient times, but it appears to have been confined to persons in humble circumstances. Thus Isaiah, when predicting the humiliation of Babylon, says:

-66 Come down and sit in the dust, 0 virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground : there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans : for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate ;” and, on the other hand, when predicting the exaltation of Jerusalem :- “ Shake thyself from the dust; arise and sit down (i. e. on a seat or throne), O Jerusalem " (Is. xlvii. 1; lii. 2). Alluding to these

« PreviousContinue »