« PreviousContinue »
to sabbath school teachers and pupils, and indeed to all who wish to understand the meaning of many customs and facts referred to in the Bible.
To explain the nature and origin of these customs and facts, with a view to illustrate the scriptures, is the design of this little volume, and containing as it does numerous engravings, intended to present to the eye a picture of what is described in the text, I entirely mistake, if it does not prove to be a highly valuable addition to the great number of interesting and useful publications designed for the benefit of the rising generation.
J. HAWES. Hartford, March 12th, 1833.
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS
AND OTHER NATIONS MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE.
The manners and customs of the Jews and other na. tions mentioned in the Bible, differed very much from those of Europe at the present time. On this account it is not easy for an English reader to understand some passages or texts of scripture. Many things which we read in the Bible, seem very strange to those who do not know the manner in which people in the east lived in former times. Nor do we find out the beauty and impor. tance of many texts unless we know what is alluded to in them. We may suppose what incorrect accounts New Zealanders, or Hottentots, give of the manners and cus toms of England when they return home, and how little they understand about many of the most useful or best things in our country. Those of my young readers who know the difference between living in large towns, and living quite in the country, are aware that a person who knows only one of them, does not at first understand, or properly value many things he sees in the other. It is something like this with respect to those who read the Bible, without knowing any thing about the manners and customs of the Jews and other people mentioned in it, only the difference is a great deal more than in the in. stances just noticed. A person who knows nothing about
ancient manners and customs, will form many ignorant opinions, and pass by many things without notice, which particularly deserve attention.
Now we learn about these manners and customs from two sources. 1. From the ancient writers of other na. tions who have described the customs of former times. Their works contain many passages which confirm the accounts given in the Bible, and nothing which really contradicts them, when carefully examined. Learned men have clearly proved this in many large volumes which they have written upon the subject, so that if my young readers ever should hear any ignorant or wicked people say, that other ancient books contradict the Bible, they may be assured that it is false, as they will find when they grow older and can examine for themselves. Nor should we forget, that a great part of the Old Testament was written many
other book now in existence. 2. Much, also, may be learned from modern travellers who have visited the places mentioned in the Bible, and other countries of the east. counts are of the greatest use, as the customs of those lands have changed very little ; people live there now very much in the same manner as they did in the times about which we read in the Bible, which were from three to six thousand years ago.
These things enable us in some degree to enter into the feelings with which the Jews of old read the scriptures; they are fully described in several books, which cost much money, and are very scarce, so that it would be impossible for most of my young readers ever to get them, much less to read them. For this reason smaller books have been written upon these subjects.
This book is one of them, and I hope that my young readers, after perusing it, will be the better able to under. stand many passages they read in the Bible; and also that they will be more anxious to read the scriptures, for the Bible shows us the only way to be happy in this world, and in the life to come. And I would particular. ly recommend all my readers to examine the various texts referred to.
CHAPTER 1.--ANCIENT HABITATIONS-TENTS AND
WHEN Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise they must have wanted some place to live in. Of course they did not find houses ready built; they would probably for a time take shelter in a cave. We read, however, very early of Cain building a city, Gen. iv. 17. The houses, no doubt, were different from ours, but they would be improved by degrees. We read also of tents : Jabal, the son of Lamech, is thought to have invented them. He is called “the father of such as dwell in tents," as you may read, Gen. iv. 20.
All these dwellings were destroyed by the flood.
After the earth was dried, and Noah came out of the ark, he seerns, for some time at least, to have lived in a tent. Gen. ix. 21. This sort of dwelling would be the easiest to make. Even now, tents are very common in the east. But it was not long before men began again to build houses and cities, Gen. xi. 4, 5. We know, also, from other histories, that people often lived in caves. They sometimes hollowed out rooms in the cliffs and rocks, as may be seen at Sneinton near Nottingham, and in other places, even in England. Many of these caves and places still remain in Egypt and the east. Some of them are very large, and have had many rooms.
In general, however, people lived either in tents or houses.
The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, lived in tents while in the land of Canaan, as we read in the book of Genesis. They are also spoken of Heb. xi. 9. as “dwelling in tabernacles," that is, tents. They had more than one tent, probably a considerable number, and the women lived separate, as is now the custom among the rich Arabs. Thus we read of Rebekah having Sarah's tent, Gen. xxiv. 67. Rachel, Leah, and Jacob's tents also were separate, Gen. xxxi. 33.
The tents were generally put up under the shade of large trees. Abraham's tent was under a tree in the plains of Mamre, Gen. xviii. 4. and Deborah the prophetess dwelt under a palm-tree in Mount Ephraim, Judg. iv. 5. In the east the people like to have trees near their dwellings, both for shade and shelter. From 1 Kings iv, 25. we may conclude this was usual in the land of Judea, even when they lived in houses. The trees generally planted for this purpose were the vine and fig-tree, which would grow up against the walls and over the roofs, as they now do about our cottages. These trees supplied grapes and figs, which were used for food, and the branches of the vine that did not bear fruit, served for fuel to burn. This is referred to by Christ, John xv. 6. when he describes himself as the Vine, and his people the fruitful branches; and those who did not love him as the withered branches, which were cast into the fire. The tents of the Arabs now are black, or of a very dark color, as we read in the Bible that the tents of Kedar were in former times, Sol. Song i. 5. The master of the family is often seen sitting in the door of the tent in the heat of the day, as is described Gen. xviii. 1. The tents are of all sorts, varying in size and shape according to the means of the owner, from a coarse cloth of goat's hair thrownover a few sticks, much worse than the gipsy tents in England,