« AnteriorContinuar »
its name, sack cloth from the use commonly made of it. It is reasonable to conclude that they had something finer for ordinary wear. xxxvii. 34.
The form of their clothing is not less uncertain, than the material of which it was made. There must have been something peculiar in the widow's garments before alluded to. That females wore veils, under certain circumstances, we know. That the garment of Joseph, left in the hands of his mistress was a loose robe, easily parted with, is a plain inference from the circumstances of the case. The shoelachet, once mentioned, would imply the use of shoes, but the frequent washing of the feet, mentioned in the book, makes it evident that the shoes, worn in those days, were but an imperfect protection. Necessity would suggest the propriety of a change of garments; and hence we read of such in several places. xxxviii. 14; xxiv. 65; xxxiv. 14; xxxix. 12, 15; xiv. 23; xli. 14; xlv. 22.
131. The Hebrews were not insensible to the claims of beauty; and they sought to add the use of ornaments to their natural charms. The signet staff and bracelet of Judah, are well known as associated with his personal degradation. Ear-rings and bracelets were given to Rebekah; so also were "jewels of silver and jewels of gold." Other "precious things" were given to her mother and brother, which may have been ornaments, or they may have been things of more substantial value. xxxviii. 18, 25; xxiv. 30, 53.
Fine linen, worn in Egypt, was for beauty, as well as for comfort, no doubt. The ring of Pharaoh, given to Joseph as a badge of his authority, was as much an ornament, as a mark of distinction. The gold neck-chain has the same significance. It must be added, however, that the refinements and luxuries of Egypt, must not be referred to the shepherds of Canaan. It is well to mark the difference in the two countries, as we read the sacred narrative. xli. 42.
As the Egyptians and Hebrews, however, had the same period of history," according to the Mosaic account, it may not be easy to account for the difference. It is perhaps to be attributed mainly to the exceeding fruitfulness of Egypt, and the greater perma nency of the people. A married life is more favorable to simplicity and integrity, than it is to social cultiva tion and refinement.
132. Jabal was the father of such as dwell in tents and have cattle. From the earliest time, therefore, the keeping of flocks and herds was a prominent occupation; and this occupation did not admit of permanent dwellings. The shepherds, therefore, dwelt in tents, which they carried from place to place, as occasion required. And even when they remained in the same locality several years, as they sometimes did, they did not, on that account, relinquish their tents to adopt more permanent habitations. In the cities of Canaan, (which were inconsiderable villages) the people lived in houses, which, by the references to them, are plainly distinguished from the tents of the country. The references to Lot's house in Sodom, are a plain illustration of what is here stated. The strife between him and the men of Sodom, at the door of his house, shows that it was comparatively a permanent and substantial structure. The city itself seems to have been surrounded by a wall, as an allusion to the gate of the city plainly shows. iv. 20; xix. 6, 10. It would seem that men and women, not excepting husbands and wives, occupied separate tents. xxiv. 67; xxxi. 33. It is obvious that the structures of Egypt, the prison, the house of Pharaoh, the house of Potiphar and of Joseph, were more spacious and substantial than any alluded to in Palestine.
SECTION VI.-DOMESTIC UTENSILS.
133. The knife that Abraham took with him, with the wood for a burnt offering, was not originally intended for any such purpose as he then had in view. It would be safe to regard it as one of the domestic utensils of those days. The instrument, with which, on the same occasion, he "clave the wood for a burnt offering," may be reckoned as another; though its existence is learned only by implication. The pitcher that was used to draw water, was another domestic utensil, and probably combined the advantages both of a bucket and a pitcher, and was more like the former than the latter. The bottle and its use, are indicated by the provision that Abraham made for Hagar, as he sent her away from his house. Carrying it on the shoulder would lead us to infer that it was quite different in form from the bottles of our day; and the art required in making our bottles was not known in those ancient times. xxii. 6; xxiv. 14.
134. Out-door utensils, as well as in-door, were no doubt much more numerous than the allusions would lead us to infer; but what they were, except so far as they are mentioned or implied, we do not assume to say. For hunting they made use of the bow and quiver. For carrying their grain they had sacks. They had watering troughs, out of which their cattle could drink. They sheared their sheep, and of course they had some instrument to do it with. Seeing a ladder in a vision, would imply its existence as a reality. They cut their grain, and must have had something to cut it with, and some mode of threshing and cleaning it. The cup of the butler in Egypt, and the basket of the baker, belong to the refinements of that country, and may have no representatives in the grazing districts of Canaan. xxvii. 3; xlii. 25; xxiv. 20; xxxviii. 12; xxviii. 12; xxxvii. 7 ; xl. 11, 16.
135. We have mentioned some implements that are known to have existed by implication, as well as those expressly named. Many more may be noticed. Having tents and houses, the Hebrews must have had some implements for constructing them. Milking their kine and their goats, they must have had some vessel for containing the milk. Building the gates of cities, would require some mechanical tools to work with.
But here I may correct a popular error. Some writers make Sodom (a city often referred to,) to have been a city of great magnificence, with mighty works of art, and surrounded by imposing walls of stone. Some have pretended that relics of lofty temples, and other magnificent structures, have been found in the vicinity of the Dead Sea, that once belonged to the doomed city, and are now the monuments of the divine wrath that occasioned its overthrow. It is hardly necessary to say that such a representation betrays vast ignorance of the times in which Sodom was destroyed, and is contradicted by all the facts mentioned in Genesis having any bearing on this subject.
136. Man was originally intended for cultivating the earth. This was one object of his creation. Hence in all ages past, and in all ages to come, this has been, and must be, his principal dependence for physical support. When Adam was placed in the garden of Eden, he was instructed to keep it and dress it. And when he was sent forth from the garden, he was to gain his bread by tilling the ground. Cain is mentioned as a tiller of the ground. Of Noah it is said, "This same shall comfort us concerning our work, and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed." It is plain, therefore, that, from Adam to Noah, tillage had been,
as it must of necessity be, a principal occupation. When the flood was over, a gracious promise was given to the world, that seed time and harvest should not cease till the end of time, a farther evidence that tillage was to be as perpetual as the world. i. 28; ii. 15; iii. 23; iv. 2; v. 29; viii. 22.
137. The first instance of tillage after the flood was that of Noah, who planted a vineyard and drank of the wine thereof. The next is that of Isaac, who sowed the ground in the land of the Philistines, and received an hundred fold that year. The allusion to the "wheat harvest" shows that this was one of the occupations of the patriarchs, in the time of Jacob. Joseph's dream, in which he supposes himself to be binding sheaves in the field, is of the same import. The threshing floor of Atad implies the same occupa tion and the mode of making it available. The grain produced in Egypt by which the people were supported during seven years of famine, is a proof not only that agriculture was one of the occupations of that people, but that the country was one of uncommon fruitfulness, as it has always been from that day to this. ix. 21; xxvi. 12; xxx. 14; xxxvii. 7; l.
138. The patriarchs not only occupied themselves with the cultivation of the ground, but with the keeping of flocks and herds. Abel was a keeper of sheep. Jabal was the father of such as dwell in tents and have cattle. Tents and cattle are here associated, because they were in fact inseparable. He who had the one dwelt in the other. As water was not abundant in that country, the digging of wells requiring a good deal of labor, became a matter of necessity; and these being a valuable possession, were not unfrequently the occasion of strife among the herdsmen. The herdsmen of Abram and Lot strove. Through envy the Philistines stopped up the wells that were dug in the days of Abram; and when Isaac was in