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28 And the altar of burnt offering with 34 And the LORD said unto Moses, all his vessels, and the laver and his foot. Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and
29 And thou shalt sanctify them, that onycha, and galbanum ; these sweet spices they may be most holy: whatsoever toucheth with pure frankincense : of each shall there them shall be holy.
be a like weight: 30 And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his 35 And thou shalt make it a perfume, a sons, and consecrate them, that they may confection after the art of the apothecary, minister unto me in the priest's office. 15tempered together, pure and holy:
31 And thou shalt speak unto the chil- 36 And thou shalt beat some of it very dren of Israel, saying, This shall be an holy small, and put of it before the testimony in anointing oil unto me throughout your ge- the tabernacle of the congregation, where I nerations.
will meet with thee: it shall be unto you 32 Upon man's flesh shall it not be most holy. poured, neither shall ye make any other like 37 And as for the perfume which thou it, after the composition of it: it is holy, shalt make, ye shall not make to yourselves and it shall be holy unto you.
according to the composition thereof: it 33 Whosoever compoundeth any like it, shall be unto thee holy for the LORD. or whosoever putteth any of it upon a 38 Whosoever shall make like unto that, stranger, shall even be cut off from his to smell thereto, shall even be cut off from people.
Verse 1. “ An altar 10 burn incense upon.”—This altar of shittim wood covered with pure gold, whence it is sometimes distinguished as “the golden altar," was very small, being little more than half a yard square, but it was higher in proportion than the other altars, being twice as high as broad. Like the altar of burnt offerings it had “horns," with an ornamental rim (“ crown”), like the ark and table of shew-bread; it had also rings with staves by which it might be carried from place to place. The word rendered “top” in verse 2, has been variously understood: the Septuagint and Vulgate make it “a grate,” others suppose it was a vessel containing the fire upon the altar ; but as the word (22 gag) means in other places the flat roof of a house, we have little doubt that it here means merely the upper surface of the altar itself; and this reading best agrees with the context, the intention of which is to describe the whole altar as overlaid with gold. In verse 6, it is directed that the altar should be placed " before the vail,” that is, the vail separating the most holy from the holy place. The Rabbins understand that the table of shew-bread stood at the distance of two cubits and a half from the north wall of the holy place, and the eandlestick opposite to it at an equal distance from the south wall, the altar of incense being in the middle between them. Josephus seems to concur ; and from comparing these statements with the text, we consider that it stood equidistant from the table and candlestick, but nearer to the vail than either. It would seem from verses
8, as if only the high-priest were allowed to offer incense on this altar ; but this is not the only instance in which the functions allotted to Aaron imply those of the inferior priests. The high-priest certainly did perform this service on great occasions ; but it was ordinarily executed during his week by the priest in waiting and appointed to the office by lot. Every morning and evening he filled his censer with fire from the brazen altar, and introducing the incense, the composition of which is particularly deseribed at the end of the chapter, went into the holy place and set the censer upon the altar.
7. “ Burn thereon sweet incense.”—There is nothing more ancient on the subject of incense and perfume than what this chapter contains. Of incense there is no mention in the offerings and sacrifices of the patriarchs ; and it is equally true that in the early history of most religions we find no mention of incense. Theophrastus says, that anciently men offered no incense or odours to the gods, but only herbs, which they plucked and presented upon the altar as an offering taken from the earth. Ovid also, speaking of the times of Janus, describes the sacrifices as being then without incense and without blood. This is all however with a reference to eastern Europe; and aromatic offerings were known to the Arabians, Egyptians, and Hebrews long before those times which were ancient to the Greeks and Romans. These have always thought themselves bound to offer to God part of that which was most precious among themselves, and hence incense was probably offered almost as soon as known. As Arabia was famous for its aromatics, which Egypt never produced, there is nothing improbable in the idea of Calmet, who, in his comment on this chapter, thinks that the custom of offering perfumes on the altar commenced in Arabia. The Israelites were at this time in that country, and it is not impossible that the Arabians themselves may have taken the idea from the Hebrews, of whose customs they must have obtained some knowledge. Offerings of incense were, however, very anciently in use among the Egyptians ; but there is nothing to show whether the custom was in use among them at the period before us. We should rather think that it was, for the art of the perfumer,” according to which the incense was to be compounded, is not an art which any of the Israelites could have known, unless they had learnt it in Egypt. Plutarch says that the Egyptians offered incense to the sun--resin in the morning, myrrh at noon, and about sunset an aromatic compound which they called kypi. This statement is corroborated by the incense altars which appear in Egyptian paintings. .
18. “ A laver of brass."—No particulars are given as to the form of this utensil. De Dieu believes that it was round, because the analogous Arabic word is used to denote vessels of that form. The word rendered “foot” has perplexed the commentators ; some, regarding the direction, that the foot should be of brass as well as the basin, as superfluous if the “ foot” does not mean something separate and distinct from the basin, translate the word by " cover;" but we
cannot assent to this. Our impression is, that the laver, whatever were its shape, stood upon another basin, more wide and shallow, as a cup on a saucer; and that the latter received, from cocks or spouts in the upper basin, the water which was allowed to escape when the priests washed themselves with the water which fell from the upper basin. If by the under basin we understand the * foot” of the text, the sense is clear. The text does not say that the priests were to wash themselves in the basin, but at it. In it they could not well wash their hands and feet if the laver was of any height. The Rabbins say the laver had several cocks, or “nipples," as they call them, from which the water was let out as wanted. There were several such spouts, but the number is differently stated. How the priests washed their hands and feet at the laver seems uncertain. That they did not wash in either the laver or its base seems clear, because then the water in which they washed would have been rendered impure by those who washed before or with them ; and as we know that Orientals do not like to wash in a basin, after our manner, in which the water with which we commence washing is clearer than that with which we finish, but at a falling stream, where each successive affusion is of clean water, we incline to think that the priests either washed themselves with the stream as it fell from the spouts into the base, or else received in proper vessels so much water as they needed for the occasion. The Orientals, in their washings, make use of a vessel with a long spout, and wash at the stream which issues from thence, the waste water being received in a basin which is placed underneath. This seems to us to illustrate the idea of the laver with its base, as well as the ablutions of the priests. The laver had thus its upper basin, from which the stream fell, and the under basin for receiving the waste water; or it is quite compatible with the same idea and practice to suppose that, to prevent too great an expenditure of water, they received a quantity in separate vessels, using it as described, and the base receiving the water which in washing fell from their hands and feet. This explanation, although it seems to us probable, is, necessarily, little more than conjectural. Our cut exhibits another view more in conformity with the usual interpretations.
The Jewish commentators say that any kind of water might be used for the laver ; but that the water was to be changed every day. They also state thať ablution before entering the tabernacle was in no case dispensed with. A man might be perfectly clean, might be quite free from any ceremonial impurity, and might even have washed his hands and feet before he left home, but still he could by no means enter the tabernacle without previous ablution at the laver.
23. “Myrrh.”—(See Gen. xliii. 11.) “ Cinnamon" (kinman).—The bark of the Laurus cinnamomum is well known among the articles of spicery. This species of laurel, or sweet bay, is a native of various parts of India, but especially of Ceylon, the ancient Taprobane. The leaves when young are red at the top. The fruit is about the size of a damson, and when ripe is of a black colour. The shrub varies from two to ten feet in height, and is spread into numerous branches. The bark, after being peeled off, requires no preparation save a short exposure to the sun to dry it.
The word "cinnamon" in this place is of great interest and importance. It forms a most remarkable illustration of the great value which a single word sometimes bears as a clue in guiding our conclusions to results which otherwise might not be obtained, or not obtained with so much certainty and precision. Cinnamon, as we have just seen, is a native of Ceylon and India ; and the knowledge of this cannot fail to suggest the question, how this product of the far East found its way, thus early, to the neighbourhood of the Mediterranean. This and the other aromatics are here mentioned as precious and appropriate to religious uses, and yet the manner in which they are spoken of implies that they were neither very rare nor difficult to obtain. We are therefore perfectly warranted to assume, as a principle, that there existed a commercial intercourse with Ceylon or continental India, even at this early period. Then, by the agency of what people was this intercourse carried on After reading the note on Egyptian trade (Gen. xxxvii.), no one will suppose it was by the means of the Egyptians, who in other respects were favourably situated for being the agents of that intercourse. Nor is the probability greater that this trade was conducted by the Persians, of whose condition at this period we know nothing certain, except that they were never a commercial people, and that they abhorred the sea quite as much as did the Egyptians. The same remark, being applicable to the Indians themselves, precludes the supposition that they exported their own commodities to the shores of the Persian or Arabian gulfs. If therefore it were only from the want of any other imaginable agency, we should have some right to think that the Arabians have a probable claim to the honour of having opened the commerce with India. But we are not left to bare conjectures on the subject: we have a mass of very interesting evidence of various kinds to show that it was to the Arabians that, through a long series of ages, Western Asia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome, were intermediately indebted for the spices and other products
of India, which were in ancient times as much sought after as at present, although the source whence they were derived was scarcely known. Cinnamon in particular was much valued, and was the first spice sought after or procured in all Oriental voyages, whether ancient or modern. The Romans seemed to have obtained it in large quantities, and to have held it in the highest esteem ; and being known in times so very early as those to which the statement in our text refers, we may conclude that the Egyptians, who were great consumers of aromatics, required also a large supply. It is therefore useful to know from what source the ancients professed to have derived this product. All statements which they have left on the subject declare that cinnamon, with other aromatics furnished by the Arabians, were indeed thought to be Arabian products. That they thought the commercial cinnamon the produce of Arabia is a circumstance which does not at all weaken, but rather strengthens, the conclusions we have already stated, as it shows the certainty that the Arabians were the agents of the supply, and that the parties who received it having no knowledge, or only the faintest notions, of India, confounded its products, as supplied by the Arabians, with the indigenous products of Arabia, which were also objects of commerce. That they did this, we know from the fact of their attributing to that country products which, still more certainly than cinnamon, are not and never were produced there; but which the Arabians must have brought westward from India and conveyed to the various and successive entrepôts of Oriental commerce. The value of the text before us consists not in proving that the early trade with India was in the hands of the Arabians, which no one disputes, but that it was so in periods long anterior to any of which profane history makes mention. The earliest notices of the trade, director indirect, describe it as being conducted by the Arabians; and finding here that one of the products of that trade was extant in the west at the early period before us, we have a right to infer that the commerce existed even then. It would even be no improbable supposition that the products of India might be found among the spices which the Arabians, to whom Joseph was sold by his brethren, were conveying to Egypt. That instance at least proves that a spice trade was even then in the hands of the Arabians; and although it must be allowed that Arabia itself produced aromatics which were desirable objects of trade, it has always seemed to us doubtful whether they ever would have become such but in connexion with the profitable traffic in Indian spices, the value of which perhaps first induced the Arabians to attend to the culture of their own aromatics, which they were enabled to dispose of advantageously through the agencies by which they sent the products of India to the west. We apprehend, that although we are now able to identify as Oriental products many articles which Arabia itself was formerly celebrated for
producing, we still allow the exclusive reference of the ancients to Arabia as the spice-growing country, to have more than due weight on our minds in estimating the separate value of properly Arabian products. We withdraw, one after another, the more important of the products which anciently gave fame to Arabia, and which were the great objects of its trade; and do not then sufficiently advert to the greatly diminished importance of the native Arabian trade after such deductions. We might use this as an argument to show that if the Arabians had, at a very early period, a valuable trade in spices, they must at the same time have had a commercial intercourse with India.
The Arabians by whom this trade was carried on were certainly not the Bedquin Arabs, whose habits are wholly averse to commerce, but those of more settled character inhabiting the coast : perhaps we should say, in the early periods, the aboriginal Arabs of Kahtan as distinguished from the sons of Ishmael. The inode of their intercourse with India must have been either by land caravans through Persia and Karamania, or by water, across the Indian Ocean—which method was prior to the other we do not know, or whether both methods did not co-exist. The Arabian caravan in Genesis would seem to indicate a land-journey from Persia, for if the goods came by sea from India, they would no doubt have been taken to Egypt by the way of the Red Sea, and Gilead and Dothan were so much out of their way in a land-journey to Egypt if they had come from Arabia, that we seem obliged to consider them as coming from the east. It is however certain that the Arabians had an early traffic by sea. Dr. Vincent observes —" That the Arabians were the first navigators of the Indian Ocean, and the first carriers of Indian produce, is evident from all history, as far as history goes back; and antecedent to history, from analogy, from necessity, and from local situation.”—“The Arabians have a sea-coast round three sides of their vast peninsula ; they had no prejudice against navigation, either from habits or religion. There is no history which treats of them, which does not notice them as pirates or merchants by sea, as robbers or traders by land. We can scarcely touch upon them accidentally in an author, without finding that they were the carriers of the Indian Ocean. Sabea, Hadramaut, and Oman were the residence of navigators in all ages, from the time that history begins to speak of them; and there is reason to imagine that they were equally so, before the historians acquired a knowledge of them, as they have since continued down to the present age.”
There are indeed facts in the early inferential history of the intercourse with India, which render it certain that the Arabians had crossed the Gulf of Persia, and, doubtless with the aid of the monsoons, reached the coasts of India, long before these regions were known even by name to the nations of the west. The advantageous monopoly of the trade with India was enjoyed much longer by the Arabs than it has been by any other nation, and to this source we may no doubt chiefly attribute the glowing descriptions which the ancient writers give of the wealth and prosperity of Arabia Felix, The ancient capitals of Egypt, first Thebes and then Memphis, owed much of their wealth and splendour to the part which the Egyptians had in the benefits of this commerce. They received there the products of India and Arabia, and, conveying them down the Nile, consigned them to the Phænicians, Grecks, and others, whose vessels crowded the harbours. The Egyptians themselves exported nothing. The Greeks, who obtained the dominion of that country, were more sensible of the importance of maritime commerce. They founded Alexandria, and made it, what it long continued, the great emporium of oriental trade. They engrossed the lucrative business of supplying Europe with its products, more directly than this had been done by the native Egyptians. They were even sensible of the importance of the direct trade with India, and made some attempts to supersede the Arabians therein, or at least to take a share in the advantages. But in this they failed, and ultimately found that to them it would be more profitable to purchase the much desired products in the Arabian ports, than to fetch them on their own account. Things remained much the same while the Romans were lords of Egypt and Western Asia ; and in after-times the Arabians still continued to take the lead in the trade with India, and probably, from their peculiar advantages, would have done so to this day, had not the discovery of the passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope broken up the old channels of trading intercourse, and effected a great change in the whole commercial system of the world. In the later books of the Old Testament there will be found frequent references to the articles of Arabian traffic, all of which the present note will in some degree contribute to illustrate. (See Vincent's · Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients; Robertson's · Disquisition concerning India ;' Heeren's Commerce, &c. of India, and of Egypt;' Reynier's Egypte;' Marshall on “Cinnamon as an Article of Commerce, in ‘Annals of Philosophy,' vol. x., &c.)
“ Calamus.”—Literally, sweet cane or reed. It has been customary for a long time to consider the Acorus calamus as the sweet reed of Scripture, inasmuch as its root has an aromatic smell. But the short description of Dioscorides, who professes to have written the greater part of his work is autores, as an eye-witness, does not agree with the Acorus calumus. We rather apprehend that it was a species of Cyperus, since the account of the last mentioned writer seems to suggest the inference, and we know that several members of that genus have odoriferous roots, and are used as perfumes by the natives of the regions in which they grow. The people of India scent their hair with the roots of the Cyperus perferus; and the Sandwich islanders employ another to impart a sweet smell to their garments, but it is so powerful as to be insupportable to those who are not accustomed to it.
24. “ Cassia” (kidda, Heb.—which is otherwise written kitzia, whence came the Greek xH0012, and the Latin cassia). The Laurus cassia is a shrub which so nearly resembles the Laurus cinnamomum that some have regarded it merely as a variety. The bark resembles in property the cinnamon, except in the presence of a mucilage, which does not exist in the latter.
25. “ Apothecary:"-More properly perfumer.” The holy oils and ointments were probably prepared by some one of the priests who had properly qualified himself. Mr. Roberts informs us that, in the Hindoo temples, there is a man whose chief business it is to distil sweet waters from flowers, and to extract oil from wood, flowers, and other substances. That our version has rendered the word by “ apothecary” would sufficiently indicate that the business of a perfumer was not distinguished from that of an apothecary in the time of the translators. This we know from other Thus Shakspeare, who lived not long before,
“An ounce of civet, good apothecary,
To sweeten mine imagination.” “ An holy anointing oil."--A remark on the practice of consecration by anointing will be found in a note to Levit. viii. At present we only direct attention to the fact that the prohibitions in verse 32,—“Upon man's flesh shall it not be poured, neither shall ye make any other like it,”—clearly enough intimates that the Israelites were even thus early in the habit of applying fragrant oils to their persons. As we learn, from Levit. viii., that this holy oil was poured upon Aaron's head, we may correspondingly infer that the Israelites were in the habit of employing oils for the same purpose. Indeed, we read continually of oils and ointments being used among the Hebrews for anointing their hair, heads, and beards. At their festivals they sometimes anointed the whole body, but often only the head and the feet. Dead bodies were also anointed, to retard corruption and prevent offensive smells. For such purposes perfumed oils or ointments were employed. We nowhere read of odoriferous waters, which are now so generally used in the East ; but
it is not improbable that they were in use, at least in times subsequent to those before us, and may perhaps be considered as comprehended under the general name of “perfumes.” The Jews certainly perfumed their clothes, and for this purpose oils and ointments would have been less convenient than fragrant waters. There is no difficulty in conceiving that they might have the art of making fragrant waters by decoction or infusion ; but if the art of distillation were, as is generally supposed, unknown to the nations of antiquity, they could not have had those distilled waters which are now so conspicuous in the perfumery of the East. These, however, have not exploded such oils and ointments as the Hebrews appear to have used. With this they rub their heads and beards, while the distilled waters are more generally employed for sprinkling the clothes or beard. The common oils are made by steeping the petals of the flower in some inodorous oil; the art of extracting the essential oil of the flower (as in making atlar of roses) is not much practised, and does not appear to have been known to the Hebrews. This is designed as a general remark: the particular applications of perfumes will be noticed as they occur. With regard to the sacred oil in the text, the Rabbins say that no more of it was ever made than the quantity which was prepared under the immediate direction of Moses, as in the text. Being used with economy, they say that it served to anoint every successive high-priest till the time of the captivity, when it was all spent. Hence the pontiffs, from Aaron to the captivity, are called “highpriests anointed;" whereas those subsequent, being installed by investiture in the sacred robes, were described as * initiated in their habits.” This account does not seem very probable. Moses only interdicts the preparation of this oil for private use ; and from the precise manner in which the ingredients are specified, it seems to have been his intention that the original supply should, from time to time, be renewed. The fathers of the Christian church believe that the high-priests continued to be anointed until the coming of the great Anointed One-the Christ,
34. “Stacle" (nataph)—finest kind of myrrh: for which see Gen. xliii.
" Onycha” (shecheleth, Heb.)— The only' hint about the onycha that we can find is in the Arabic version, where we meet with ladana, suggesting that gum-ladanum was the drug in question. It is the produce of the Cistus ladaniferus, being a secretion from the leaves, which is swept off by the beard of the browzing goats, from whence it is collected. The shrub is a native of the Levant, the isles of the Mediterranean, and Arabia.
“Galbanum” (chelbena, Heb.)—Galbanum is a gum-resin, which comes to us from Turkey, in softish, pliant, and pale-coloured masses. It is the produce of a species of bubon, though not perhaps of the B. galbanum. The bubon belongs to the umbelliferous family of plants, of which the hemlock and parsley may serve as examples.
" Frankincense" (lebonah, Heb.) The frankincense is produced by the Boswellia serrata, a very fine tree belonging to the family of the turpentine bearing trees. It is a native of India. The frankincense, or olibanum, is a gum-resin of a brownish colour ; which, when laid upon burniug coals or a hot iron, sends forth a very fragrant vapour. Frankincense also grows in Arabia, but it is of a description incomparably inferior to that of India.