« PreviousContinue »
muffled the mourner goes for seven days; during which time the rest of his friends come twice cvery twenty-four hours to pray with him.”
As the mourning for seven days was a custom of remote antiquity; so it should seem was this muffling the mouth in their mourning for the dead. Thus Ezekiel, when his wife died, and he was commanded to abstain from the usual forms of mourning, was not to cover his lips : Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men, Ezek. xxiy 17."
The present mode among the Jews of Barbary certainly explains what is meant by covering the lips, or the mouth, in Ezekiel, whether the interpretation put upon the practice by the Dean, be right, or not—its being designed as a testimony, that the party so muffled up was ready to die with his friend.
The same rite was to be made use of by the leper, when pronounced such by the Jewish priest, Lev. xiii. 45. And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. It is no wonder he was to be muffled
up corpse, for he was unclean as a corpse, and was considered as a person. half dead. So when Aaron interceded for his sister Miriam, who was
· P. 218, 219. See also ver. 22, 23.
struck with the leprosy, he said, Let her not be as one dead ; of whom the flesh is half consumed, when he cometh out of his mother's womb."
Whether this mode of mourning was dropped in the country where the Septuagint Interpreters of the Old Testainent lived, or not, may be uncertain; but they have dropped this circumstance of Jewish mourning out of their translation : making the clause signify, not the covering the lips of the mourner, but the mourner's being comforted by the lips of others.
Going with the Head and Feet bare, a Mode of hoe
nouring the Dead.
Addison's account of the modern mourning of the Jews of Barbary, mentions another point of resemblance, between their mourning in late times, and that practised in the days of Ezekiel.
In Barbary, “ the relations of the deceased, • Numb. xii. 12. It was extremely natural to express the putrefaction of the body, smitten with the leprosy, rather by the corruption that had taken place in a still. born child, dead a considerable time; than by that of a corpse kept long unburied, or visited after having laid long in the earth: for the first they must frequently have seen ; but as to the two last, they buried immediately, and for fear of defilement, according to their law, would not easily be induced to take up a body that had been buried any time,
for seven days after the interment, stir not abroad; or if by some extraordinary occasion they are forced to go out of doors, it is without shoes ; which is a token with them, that they have lost a dear friend."
The reader will recollect, when the Prophet Ezekiel was commanded to abstain from the rites of mourning, he was ordered to put his shoes on his feet.
It is supposed by Ezekiel, that they went bare-headed, as well as with bare feet, in their mourning, but the Dean has said nothing upon that head in his account; I would however take a little notice of it, as it seems that the custom of the country in which the Prophet resided, in the time of the captivity, differed from that of the country where the Seventy Interpreters dwelt. For the Prophet, according to our translation, was to bind that tire of his head upon him, which they wore in common, or in times of prosperity and consolation; whereas the Seventy explain the order as signifying he should wear, as usual, the hair of his head pleasingly adjusted, without any other covering of the head. The custom of their country too seems to have differed from that of Job's, for he shaved his head, when he mourned the loss of his children," the consummation, as he might then apprehend, of his afflictions; whereas the Seventy Interpre
+ P. 218.
" Job i. 20. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and wore shipped.
ters supposed in mourning they wore their hair only in a rough entangled state, Oux komu τριχωμα σε συμπεπλεγμενον επι σε, Ezek. Χxiv. Ι7, that is, Thy hair shall not be plaited on thee.
Turbans are now, though with some variety in their forms," worn very generally in the East. When that mode began it may be difficult precisely to say, but they seem to have been in use as early as the days of Ezekiel, in some of the Eastern countries, and the putting on the tire of his head, means, I should suppose, putting on his turban, instead of going bare-headed like a mourner.
To sum up the whole of what I have been saying upon this subject, in few words : In the age and country of Job, they seem in common to have worn simply their hair without any other covering on their heads; and when they mourned to have shaved it off. The Greeks did the
In the age and country in which Ezekiel lived, when he received this order, the head seems to have been always shaved, but covered in times of ease and satisfaction with a turban, or something of that kind ; which was taken off in times of mourning, and the head left as bare as that of Job. In the age and country in which the Seventy Interpreters lived, it should seem, that the head was not shaved at all, but the hair made in a more ornamental and pleasing manner in common ; and left to grow at length, uncombed, and in a very disordered state, in a time of mourning.
* They all are formed of a cap of different shapes and colours, worn on the crown of the head, surrounded at the edge with a long narrow strip of silk or linen of different colours, and artfully wrapped about in different forms of convolution, according to the different nations, religions, professions, offices, and classes in life, to which the wearers respectively belong.
Answerable to this, if these interpreters lived in Egypt, I have somewhere read, though I cannot now point out the passage, that the skull of a Persian could be distinguished from that of an Egyptian, in a generation or two after the time of the Prophet Ezekiel, by their different thicknesses, or degrees of hardness, arising from one nation's going bare-headed, and the other with a thick covering on the head. So thick indeed, that Sir John Chardin informs us, in the French edition of his travels, that a modern Persian turban weighs twelve or sixteen pounds. The lightest half as much.
This is one circumstance out of many, which shows the great freedom of that translation, which, however, has this advantage attending it, that it gives us an account of some circumstances, relating to the ancient Egyptians, which might else have been lost; and also sometimes determines the meaning of a Hebrew expression, which otherwise would have been very dubious.
The whole of the divine order on this occasion to Ezekiel seems to be this: Thou shalt not cry out with the same vehement noises as are usual among the mourners of thy country ;'
y Tome 2, p. 51: He explains in this same page what occasions their being so heavy.
2 As was done by the ancient people that saw the foun. dations of the second tempie laid, and recollected the splen. dor of the first, Ezra iii. 12.