Hello my spiritual friends,
It has been a while since I last corresponded with you. As we venture ever forward in time and make great strides in science, it is interesting to observe how very little in the ways of customs in which we both express our selves.
Below, all from the book of Genesis, one can readily see many ancient customs still practiced today.
All verses cited are from Genesis
19: 20. However, his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
1. Roberts says that the expression “from behind him”, seems to imply that she was following her husband, which to this day is the custom in India.
2. He also states that when men or women leave the house they never look back, as “it would be very unfortunate.” Should a man, on going to his work, leave anything which his wife knows he will require she will not call after him lest he turn or look back, but will either take the article her self or send it by another. If a palankeen came up behind any persons who are walking in the road they will not look behind to see it, but carefully step a little on one side until it has passed, when they will gratify their curiosity.
22: 3. Abraham rose up early ... and saddled his ass.
1 The habit of early rising is all but universal in Palestine. The climate makes this a necessity for the greater part of the year, the heat being so great that hard labor is oppressive a few hours after sunrise. At early dawn laborers go to their work and travelers start on their journeys. Scriptural references to this custom are numerous. (See, for instance, Gen. 19: 2- 21; 28: 18; Exod. 34, 4; Job 1: 5; Psa. 63: 1)
2 We are not to imagine by the term “saddle” any thing similar to what we refer to by that name. The ancient saddle was merely a piece cloth thrown over the back of the animal on which the rider sat. (See Matt, 11: 7) “No nation of antiquity knew the use of either saddles or stirrups.” (Goguet, Origin of Laws. Cited by Burder.) (note: The stirrup was developed among the “Huns” )
24: 4. You shall go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
The bridegroom does not make the choice of his bride; the parents negotiate this important business between themselves, and the young people are expected to acquiesce in the arrangement. In this instance Abraham sends a trusty servant hundreds of miles away to select for his son a wife whom he never saw. Hagar chose a wife for Ishmael. (See Gen. 21: 21) Isaac gave command to Jacob on this important subject. (See Gen. 28: 1) Judah selected a wife for Er. (See Gen. 38: 6) Young men who chose wives for themselves without parental mediation usually afflicted their parents in so doing. (See Gen.26: 35; 27:46) The sons, however, had sometimes the privilege of suggesting their personal preferences to their parents. Thus Shechem did, (see Gen. 34:4) and also Samson. (See Judges 14:2) (note: This is custom remains viable in small segments of India.)
24: 22. It came to pass, as the camels had done drinking that the man took a golden ear ring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold.
1. The “ear-ring” here spoken of (nezem) is more properly a nose-ring. The servant says, (verse 47,) “I put the ear-ring upon her face.” The present of a single earring would be strange; to put it on the face would be stranger still.
Nose-jewels are referred to in Prov. 11: 22, Isa. 3, 21, and Ezek. 16:12, where for “forehead” in the text the margin has “nose.” The nose-ring is generally of silver or gold, but sometimes of coral, mother-of-pearl, or even of horn, according: to the taste or means of the wearer. This curious ornament varies considerably in size and thickness. The metal rings art; usually from one inch to one inch and a half in diameter and sometimes are as largo as three inches. Beads, coral, or jewels, lire strung upon them. They are usually hung from the right nostril, though sometimes from the left, and occasionally they are suspended from the middle filament of the nose. In India, according to Roberts, the nose jewels are of different shapes, resembling a swan, a serpent, or a flower. Anderson saw them in Egypt, made of brass, but worn only by women of the lower class. Graham Fays that in Syria, as well as in Egypt, these ornaments are not worn among the respectable classes of society, but are found among the Africans and slaves; so that the fashion seems to have changed since Rebecca’s day, and since the time when Isaiah wrote.
2. The weight of the nose jewel given to Rebecca (a half shekel) was nearly a quarter of an ounce, troy.
3. Bracelets are almost universally worn by women in the East. They are sometimes made of gold, sometimes of mother-of-pearl, but usually of silver. The poorer women wear thorn made of plated steel, horn, brass, copper, and occasionally nothing but simple strings of beads. The arms are sometimes crowded with them from wrist to elbow. They are sometimes flat, but more frequently round or semicircular, and are often made hollow to give, by their bulk, the appearance of greater weight. Bracelets (tsemedim) arc also referred to in Num. 31: 50; Ezek. 16:11; 23: 42. The other passages in which “bracelets” occur have different words in the original, which will be explained under the several texts where they are used.
4. The weight of the bracelets presented to Rebecca (ten shekels) was over four and a half ounces. They are sometimes worn heavier than this, so as to seem more like manacles than bracelets.
24: 53. The servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebecca.
1. Rich and splendid apparel, especially such as was adorned with gold, was very general among Eastern nations from earliest times, and is still quite common. Reference is made to this in Ps. 45: 9, 13: “Upon your right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.” “Her clothing is of fashioned gold.”
2. These beautiful and costly bridal-presents are given to the intended bride by the expectant bridegroom for the purpose of binding the contract. (See note on Matt. 1:18)
A note, a new book ISBN# 978-1-936392-17-9, “Great Spiritual Works” by Jean Gerson, two of four treatises have never been readily made available to the English speaking audience.
Bro. Smith SGS