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MATTHEW ix. 9. “ And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom ; and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.”
In Persia, Mr. Morier met with “a station of Rabdars, or toll-gatherers, appointed to levy a toll upon caravans of merchants, and who, in general, exercise their office with so much brutality and extortion, as to be execrated by all travellers. The police of the highways is confided to them, and whenever any goods are stolen, they are meant to be the instrument of restitution ; but when they are put to the test, are found to be inefficient : none but a man in power can hope to recover what he has once lost. They afford but little protection to the road, their stations being placed at too wide intervals to be able to communicate quickly ; but they are generally perfectly acquainted with the state of the country, and are probably leagued with the thieves themselves, and can thus, if they choose, discover their haunts. Their insolence to travellers is unparalleled ;—the collections of the toll are farmed, consequently extortion ensues ; and as most of the rahdars receive no other emolument than what they can exact over and above the prescribed dues from the traveller, their insolence is accounted for, and a cause sufficiently powerful is given for their insolence on the one hand, and the detestation in which they are held on the other. · Bajgah' means the place of tribute :' it may also be rendered 'the receipt of custom ; and perhaps it was from a place like this that our Saviour called Matthew to follow him ; because Matthew appears, from the third verse of the tenth chapter, to have been a publican ; and publicans, who in the eleventh verse of the ninth chap
COURTS OF JUSTICE.
ter are classed with sinners, appear to have been held in the same odium as are the rahdars of Persia. It also explains why Matthew, who was seated at the receipt of custom, is afterwards called a publican; and shows that, in the choice of his disciples, our Saviour took them not only from the poorest and humblest class of men, but also from those who, from their particular situation in life, were hated by all ranks. Matthew, as a toll-gatherer, must, like the rahdars, have been a man known to all ranks of people, and detested on account of his profession. When he was seen having power against unclean spirits,' with power to 'heal all manner of sickness and disease,' and following one like our Saviour, his life, when compared with what he formerly was, must have been a constant miracle.
“The parable of the pharisee and publican (Luke xviii. 10–14) will be more clearly understood by what has been mentioned. Our Saviour, in bringing these two characters together, appears to have chosen them as making the strongest contrast between what, in the public estimation, were the extremes of excellence and villainy. The sect of the Pharisees was the most powerful among the Jews ; and, from what has been said of the rahdars, it may, perhaps, be explained why the pharisee should make 'extortioners' and the “unjust, almost synonymous terms with 'publicans ;' because we have seen, that from the peculiar office of the rahdar he is almost an extortioner by profession.”—MORIER's Second Journey through Persia, &c., pp. 69–71.
COURTS OF JUSTICE.
LUKE xvi. 5—8. “So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord ? And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. Then said he to another, And how much owest thou ? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.”
Our Lord here probably alluded to a custom which stiil prevails in the Asiatic countries, as is evident from
the following account taken from Captain Hadly's Hindoostan Dialogues. A person thus addresses the Captain. “ Your sirkar's deputy, whilst his master was gone to Calcutta, established a court of justice; having searched for a good many debtors, and their creditors, he learned the account of their bonds. He then made an agreement with them to get the bonds out of the bondsmen's hands for half the debt, if they would give him onefourth. Thus every debtor for one hundred rupees, having given fifty to the creditor, and twenty-five to this knave, got his bond for seventy-five rupees. Hav
EYE FOR EYE, TOOTH FOR TOOTH.
ing seized and flogged one hundred and twenty-five bond-holders, he has in this manner determined their loans, and he has done this business in your name.”. CAPTAIN HADLY's Hindoostan Dialogues.
EYE FOR EYE, TOOTH FOR TOOTH.
Exodus xxi. 24.
Mr. L., an English merchant, had some years ago an affray with some Moors, who insulted him as he was one day returning from shooting. In the course of the scuffle, which originated in Mr. L.'s dog attacking a donkey belonging to the party, the merchant accidentally knocked out two teeth from an old woman, who happened to be in the way. Complaint was immediately made to the governor of Mogadore, who was obliged to take the gentleman into custody, to protect him from the anger of the mob. He was eventually sent to the sultan who was then on the throne of Morocco, a prince unusually mild for a sovereign of Morocco. Such is the strictness with which the law on this head is observed, that he was sentenced to have two of his teeth taken out, which was accordingly done. As a mark of especial favour, he was allowed to choose which two teeth he would have condemned.—See Notes to BROOKE's Sketches in Spain and Morocco.
CURIOUS CUSTOM, ETC.
1 Kings iii. 24–27. “ And the king said, Bring me a sword...... Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spake the woman whose the living child was, .....and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it...... Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof."
Such a mode of decision as this which Solomon adopted was not unknown in the East.
Ariophanes, king of Thrace, being appointed to arbitrate between three young men, each claiming to be the son of the Cimmerians, discovered the real son by desiring each to shoot an arrow into the dead body of him they called their father, Two of the claimants obeyed without hesitation, but the third refused ; upon which the arbitrator judged him to be the genuine prince.— FISHER’s Historic Illustrations of the Bible.
ILLUSTRATION OF MATT. XII. 40.
“It is a common expression among the Greeks to say, such a thing happened three days ago, when they mean that a day only intervened. They include the two extreme days as if they had been complete,– a mode of speech which illustrates the words of our Lord—“The Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.'”–Narrative of a Mission of Enquiry to the Jews, pp. 341, 342.
OATHS IN JUDÆA.
MATTHEW y. 36. “Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.”
Mr. Jowett writes, that on one occasion, when leaving Jerusalem, his guide“ laid both hands upon his turban, to assure me, with their usual oath, Upon my head, that he would serve me faithfully. This is the commonest oath of the country, 'On my head.' Another most common oath with the Arabs is W’Allah ; an appeal to the Sacred Name. The remark, an oath for confirmation is an end of all strife (to men, Hebrews vi.