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when the water of their favorite river, even in pots and jars, was turned into blood, so that “ they loathed it,” Exod. vii. 17-19. It must also have made the waters of Marah taste very unpleasant to the Israelites, Exod. xv. 23.
The Jews had some other sorts of drink as well as wine ; the strong drink, Levit. x. 9. Jud. xiii. 4. and in other places, means any fermented liquor, whether prepared from corn, or dates, or grapes, or any thing else. The value and use of wine and similar liquors, as a me. dicine or cordial, is spoken of in many texts, Jud. ix. 13. Psa. civ. 15. &c.; but the evil consequences of drunken. ness and excess are frequently still more strongly noticed, Proy. xxiii. 29, 32. Is. v. 11. 22. Rom. xiii. 13. Gal. v. 19. and what is most impressive, we find instances re. corded which show the evil consequences of “ following wine and strong drink.” Thus we read of Noah, so that we are not left in any doubt on this subject.
There were some among the Jews who abstained from wine and strong drink, probably from being aware of the danger of indulging therein. This also appears to have been the reason why the Rechabites, who were strangers in the land of Judea, did the same, Jer. xxxv. 6-9. Their descendants exist a separate people at the present day. We may, from hence, gather a use. ful lesson, not only to avoid this evil, but also to keep a strict watch upon ourselves, and to abstain from all things which would lead us to sin. Bet let us beware how we resist sin in our own strength; let us remember the awful fall of the apostle Peter, and look continually to the Saviour for fresh supplies of grace and strength,
THERE were no inns like ours for travellers in Judea and the neighboring nations, so that people were obliged to carry every thing they wanted with them, and to wait upon themselves, or upon each other. For this reason, as well as to protect each other, they usually travelled in companies. They did so when they went up to Jerusa. lem at the great festivals directed, Exod. xxiii. 17. It was in one of these companies that Joseph and Mary were returning home, when they missed Jesus, Luke ii. 42–44. The Psalms, called the Psalms of Degrees, Psalm cxx. to cxxxiv. are supposed to have been sung by the de. vout Jews, while travelling to Jerusalem, on these occasions. When on their journies, their clothes would be tucked up, or their loins girded," they usually carried staves in their hands, Numb. xxi. 18. Matt. x. 10.
Although there are no inns like ours, there are some places called caravansaras, in which travellers could rest themselves and find shelter for their cattle. They are large buildings, consisting of a court yard with small rooms around it. These are quite empty, and the travellers take possession of them, paying a sum of
In the very
money to the keeper of the caravansara. early times, however, as when Jacob's son returned from Egypt, the inns mentioned, Gen. xliii. 21. probably were only places which, on account of some trees and water, were used by travellers as halting places. Christ was born in one of the carovansaras at Bethlehem, and as all the rooms were full, his parents were obliged to take shelter in a cattle shed. See the drawings on p. 51.
But, in general, travellers, wherever they went, were received by the inhabitants with great kindness. Thus Abraham and Lot received the angels, supposing them
to have been travellers. St. Paul refers to their receiv. ing angels without knowing it at first, Heb. xiii. 2. to encourage christians to be kind to strangers. Our Lord himself commends this, Matt. xxv. 41-45. and the first christians, in general, were very attentive to practise it.. St. Peter requires it, 1 Pet. iv. 9. and St. Paul does the same, 1 Tim. iii. 2. Tit. i. 8. and in other passages.
Most of the travelling mentioned in the Bible was on foot. The journies of our Lord and of his apostles all appear to have been so made. The taking up carriages, Acts xxi. 15. means taking up the luggage or baggage, not getting into coaches or what we call carriages.
The chariots mentioned in the Bible were little if at all
better than carts. The nobility even of our own land had no better wheel conveyances three hundred years ago. The chariot in which the eunuch rode, Acts viii. 28. was something like this.
We often read of the camel in scripture, particularly in the book of Genesis. It is the most useful animal for travelling in the east through the sandy deserts, as it can go for a long time without water, and its feet are particularly adapted for those countries. The women usually travel in a sort of basket or cradle ; Rebekah and her damsels no doubt did so, Gen. xxiv. 61, 65. The camel in the east is expressively called “the ship of the desert."
Asses were used by persons of rank, Judg. v. 10. x. 4. xii. 14. also for travelling, Josh. ix. 4. 1 Kings xiii. 23. 2 Kings iv. 24. 2 Sam. xvi. 2. 1 Sam. xxv. 20. And my readers will recollect that our blessed Lord him. self rode upon an ass, in his triumphal entry into Jerusa. lem. The patriarchs had no horses. Egypt was famous for them, but there were few or none in Judea. Their ruler was forbidden to procure them, Deut. xvii. 16. This prohibition was to prevent them from trusting in their own strength as a nation, and to hinder them from having commerce with Egypt, whence Solomon procured his horses, 1 Kings x. 23. 2 Chron. ix, 28. The Arabs now are famous for their horses, which are remarkably swift.
The ancient Greeks were very attentive to strangers, as we find from Homer, and several other old writers; and any instance of unkindness or injury done to a stranger, was considered a very great crime. We find several cases of this sort mentioned in the Bible, and the attention paid to strangers among the Arabs is strongly proved by many instances.
Captains Irby and Mangles relate, that, on two occa. sions, they arrived at Arab camps very late. They halted before a tent, but found the owner and his family, having arranged their carpets, &c. had retired to rest for the night. It was surprising, they say, to see the good humor with which all rose again and kindled a fire, the wife kneading the dough and preparing supper, while the Arabs accompanied as guides and made no apology though the nights were bitter cold, but took all as a matter of course.
Christians, in the first ages, seldom travelled without letters from some persons well known to the brethren, and they were sure of a kind reception wherever they went. Calmet thinks that the second and third epistles of St. John were letters of this sort.
When a person had once been received as a guest, he was always expected to call again whenever he came that way, and those who received him would also call on him, if they visited his country. Their children con. tinued to do the same, and they used to provide themselves with some token, as a proof of this friendship. It was usually a piece of lead or stone, which was divided in half, one piece was kept by each family, and produced when any of them visited the other. Sometimes the name was written upon it.
This custom seems to be alluded to in that beautiful passage, Rev. ii. 17. where it is said, “ To him that overcometh will I give a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it.” The words