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CH. II.--FURNITURE—Mode OF SITTING.
The walls of the rooms in houses of the higher ranks sometimes were covered and adorned with hangings of cloth, silk, or leather, of various sorts and colors. The ceilings were often ornamented with carving and paint. ing, or gilding, which is alluded to Jer. xxii. 14. Haggai i. 4. At the present day the walls are in general merely white-washed. The floors were generally of tiles or plaster ; but as chairs are seldom or never used in the east, they were covered with carpets. They are so at the present day, and the people sit cross-legged, or recline at length upon them, as p. 15. Along the walls were placed mattresses or couches to recline upon,
and pillows or bol. sters, which are mentioned Amos vi. 4. Ezek. xiii. 18. One end of the room was raised higher than the rest, here the bed was placed; this may explain 2 Kings i. 4. Ps. cxxxii. 3. also what is said of Hezekiah, 2 Kings xx. 2. and of Ahab, 1 Kings xxi. 4. They both
to have turned their faces from their attendants, and towards the wall, though from very different motives; one that his earnest prayers might not be observed, the other to con. ceal his disappointment.
The furniture of houses in the east always was, and in general still is, very simple, and consists of but few articles. Chairs were not used ; they usually sat on mats or skins ; these also served for bedding, while a part of their clothes was used for a covering. This explains why a man was to return his neighbor's garment before night, see Deut. xxiv. 12. Exod. xxii. 26. The bedding of the paralytic, Matt. ix. 6. probably was only such as is just described. The rich had carpets, couches, and sofas, on which they sat, and lay, and slept. These couches were often very splendid, and the frames ornamented. In the latter times of the Jewish nation, they laid or reclined on couches while taking their meals, their heads towards the table, and their feet in a contrary direction, as represented p. 16. These particulars explain Amos vi. 4. Luke vii. 36. 38, and John xiii. 23, and other passages.
The other articles of furniture were but few in num. ber. The furniture of the prophet's chamber prepared for him by the Shunammite, 2 Kings iv. 10. probably was more than usual; and we read it was only a bed or couch upon the floor, a table, a stool, and a candlestick. Pots, pans, and dishes of earthenware or metal, with a few chests and boxes, supplied the place of many articles with which our houses are crowded. A very necessary article was the hand-mill, but this was only two flat stones. These will be mentioned in another place. The kneading-troughs, described Exod. xii. 34, and even those used in the East in the present day, were small wooden bowls, or leathern bags. There were many sorts of earthenware vessels of different shapes and sizes, from the smallest size to the large ones mentioned John ii. 6. When Dr. Clark was at Cana, in Galilee, a few years since, he saw several large stone water-pots, like those just mentioned, containing from eighteen to twenty-seven gallons each. The following is a sketch of one.
Cups and vessels of gold or silver, to drink out of, were used by kings and princes, 2 Chron. ix. 20. Gen. xliv. 2. &c. but the Jews of old, like the modern Arabs, kept their water, wine, milk, and other liquors, in bottles, or rather bags, made of skins, which could be patched and mended when old; such were the bottles of the Gibeonites, Josh. ix. 4. This is an important circumstance for my young readers to remember, as it explains the allusion of our Lord, Matt. ix. 17. Mark ii. 22. Luke v. 37. 38, which texts have often been objected to by ignorant infi. dels, who think that every thing in former times and other countries must resemble what they daily see at home.
If the new wine fermented after it was put into the leather bottle, it is evident an old worn skin would be more like. ly to burst than one which was new and strong. This was the sort of bottle opened by Jael, Judg. iv. 19.
Sometimes these bottles are made of the entire skin of a kid or other animal, but more frequently they are square bags made of large pieces of leather, which will hold several gallons of any liquid ; so that Abigail's two bottles, (or skins of wine,) 1 Sam. xxv. 18. were not out of proportion to the rest of her present, as two glass bottles of the present day would have been. The Psalmist, when describing himself as wasted with affliction and trouble, compares himself to a bottle in the smoke. Psa. cxix. 83. A leathern bottle if hung in the smoke for a length of time would become shrivelled and dried up.
This picture represents the smaller skin-bottles for liquors.