« PreviousContinue »
by the Prophet Ezekiel, as performed near a door of the Temple, perhaps with a view to the custom of mourning near the door among the Syrians, as well as the Greeks: so Abraham's coming to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her, (Genesis xxiii. 2.) seems to mean his coming from his own tent, and seating himself on the ground near the door of her tent, where her corpse was placed, in order to perform those public solemn rites of mourning, which decency, as well as affection, led him to. А paper in the 5th volume of the Archæologia, relating to patriarchal customs, takes some notice of this circumstance, but without observing that it seems to be an early rite of mourning, which continuing among the Greeks, remains among their descendants to this very time.
When Dorcas, the good woman of Joppa, died, she indeed, after having been washed, was placed, we are told, in an upper room," consequently in a private and retired apartment; but it is to be remembered they did not suppose her irrecoverably gone, since they sent to St. Peter, under the hope that he might, as he afterwards actually did, raise her up to life. In such a state, it would not have agreed with their other management, to place her at the door of the house to bewail her death, who, they hoped, by a speedy resurrection, would appear in the land of the living. This placing her then in an upper chamber is no objection to : Chap. viii. 14.
. Acis is. 37.
the supposing the people of Syria placed their dead, for the bewailing them, near the doors of their houses, as the Grecians did, and now do
Perhaps the mourning of Israel at the door of each of their tents, in the Wilderness, which so much displeased Moses,' was bewailing their relations, as if actually dead, which they might apprehend would be the sure consequence of their waudering without any support but manna, but it is by no means a decisive proof.
Cutting off the II air in honour of the Dead.
The cutting off the hair in mourning for the dead, is an Eastern, as well as a Grecian custom ; and appears to have obtained in the East in the prophetic times, as well as in later ages.
That it was practised among the Arabs, in the seventh century, appears by a passage of d'Herbelot. Khaled ben Valid, ben Mogaïrah, who was one of the bravest of the Arabs in the time of Mohammed, and surnamed by him, (after Khaled liad embraced the new religion he introduced into the world,) the 'Sword of God, died under the khalifat of Omar, in the city of Emessa in Syria, and he adds, that there was not a female of the house of Mogaï
i Numb. xi. 10.
rah, (who was his grandfather) either matron or maiden, who caused not her hair to be cut off at his burial."
How the hair that was cut off was disposed of, does not appear in d'Herbelot. Among the ancient Greeks, it was sometimes laid upon the dead body; sometimes cast into the funeral pile; sometimes placed upon the grave.' Under this variation of management among
the Greeks, it would have been an agreeable additional circumstance to have been told, how the females of the house of Mogaïrah disposed of their hair.
We are equally ignorant of the manner in which the ancient Jews disposed of theirs, when they cut it off in bewailing the dead. But that they cut it off, upon such occasions, is evident from a passage of the Prophet Jeremiah, ch. xvi. 6. Both the great and the small shall die in this land : they shall not be buried, neither shall” men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themsclrcs bald for them.
The words do not seem determinately to mean, that those of the male sex only were wont to cut themselves, or make themselves bald for the dead; but that there should be no * Biblioth. Orient. p. 984.
Potter's Antiq. of Greece, book 4. ch. 5. in It should rather have been translated, Neither shall they lament for them. The word men is not in the original ; the verb is in the third person plural, with the masculine termination indeed, but as to what follows, it does not appear which sex it was that cut themselvos, or made them. selves bald, though both might, in general, lament.
cutting of the flesh made at all for them, no baldness, leaving it uncertain which sex had been wont to make use of these rights of mourning, who should then omit them. So the interlineary translation of Montanus understands the words.
Both practices seem to have been forbidden by the law of Moses ;" the soft and impressible temper of the female sex might, it may be imagined, engage them sooner to deviate from the precept, than the firmer disposition of the other. So here we see they were the females of the family of Mogaïrah that cut off their hair at the burial of Khaled: not a word of the men.
And accordingly we find, among the modern Mohammedans, the outward expressions at least of mourning are much stronger among the women than the men: the nearest male relations, Dr. Russell tells us,o describing their way of carrying a corpse to be buried, immediately follow it, “and the women close the procession with dreadful shricks, while the men all the way are singing prayers out of the Koran.—The women go to the tomb every Monday or Thursday, and carry some fle or green leaves to dress it with. They make a show of grief, often expostulating heavily with the dead person, 'Why he should leave them, when they had done every thing in their power
n Deut. xiv. l.
• Descript. of Aleppo, vol. i. p. 306. vol. ii: p. 56.
to make life agreeable to him !'p This however, by the men is looked upon as a kind of impiety; and, if over-heard, they are chid severely for it: and, I must say, the men generally set them a good example, in this respect, by a patient acquiescence in the loss of their nearest relations, and indeed shew a firm and steady fortitude under every kind of misfortune.”
Funeral Rites of the Jews in Barbary.
One of the rites of mourning for the dead, among the Jews of Barbary, mentioned by Dean Addison in his account of that people, seems to be a very odd one, yet is unquestionably a custom of very ancient date among them : what I mean is the muffling up the jaws, after the same manner as the lower part of the face of a corpse is bound up.
“They return from the grave,” says the Dean, "to the house of the deceased, where one, who as chief mourner receives them, with his jaws tied up with a linen cloth, after the same manner that they bind up the dead. And by this the mourner is said to testify that he was ready to die with his friend. And thus
p The native Irish mourn over their dead precisely in the same way. In the Cuonian, or Irish funeral cry, besides a full chorus of sighs and groans, frequent expostulations with the dead for having left his house, possessions, friends, &c. are intermixed. See an example in Obser. vation XI. Epit.