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OATHS IN JUDÆA-THE WHITE STONE.
16,) is often curiously exemplified by the Arabs, in their most common transactions. After wrangling a long time, with a vehemence and a pertinacity, which seem to shut out all hope of conciliation, they will, (if suffered by the traveller to take their own time,) suddenly come to terms: their chief, who has watched the furious debate, and in good part fomented it, marks the auspicious moment, clenches the question, gives the signal W’Allah, and at once all is settled ; every man proceeds to his post, whether it be loading or unloading animals, or setting off on a journey, &c. The man, who a minute before defied and insulted the traveller to his face, will then come smiling and fawning about him. It is best, on these occasions, not to contend; neither to rage, nor laugh with them. (Prov. xxix. 9.)—JOWETT's Researches in Syria, doc., p. 269, note.
THE WHITE STONE.
Rev. ii. 17. “ To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it.”
“In primitive times, when travelling was rendered difficult by the want of places of public entertainment, hospitality was exercised by private individuals to a very great extent. Persons who had partaken of this hospitality, and those who practised it, frequently contracted habits of regard and friendship for each other; and it became a well-established custom, both among the Greeks and Romans, to provide their guest with some particular mark, which was handed down from father to son, and insured hospitality and kind treatment wherever it was presented. This mark was usually a small stone or pebble, cut in half, and upon the halves of which the host and the
guest mutually inscribed their names, and then interchanged them with each other. The production of this stone was quite sufficient to insure friendship for themselves or their descendants, whenever they travelled again in the same direction; while it is evident, that these stones required to be privately kept, and the name written upon them carefully concealed, lest others should obtain the privileges, instead of him for whom they were intended. How natural, then, is the allusion to this custom in the words, ‘I will give to him to eat of the hidden manna ;' and having done so, having recognised him as my guest, my friend, I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it ; a pledge of my friendship, sacred, and inviolable, known only to himself.”—Rev. H. BLUNT's Lectures on Seven Churches of Asia.
Dr. Hammond says,--In popular judicatures, or elections in Greece, it was the custom to give the votes by stones. These where either white, or black ; the white was a token of absolution or approbation,--the black of condemnation or rejection. In the public games, also, these stones were used; the victor's reward being assigned to him by a white stone, whereon was inscribed his name, and the value of the prize.
So to him who shall be found in Christ, at his coming, washed in his blood, and clothed in his righteousness, having run the heavenly race, and fought the good fight of faith, and overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of his testimony, will Christ give a 'white stone' (in token of justification, acceptance, and approval); the name written thereon, and the excellence of the reward, being known only to him who receives it.
In chapter xix., the victory of Christ himself over the kingdoms of the earth is associated with the same idea of the white stone ; for he is first said to have 'many crowns' on his head (each a token of his victory
over some one kingdom), and then to have a name written that no man knew but himself ; i. e., a white stone, the token of his victory, and whereby he is to receive his reward, viz., to be “King of kings, and Lord of lords," (v. 16.) See Paraphrase and Annotations on the New Testament, pp. 876, 877.
WE conclude this volume in the words of Mr. Hardy: he remarks, while visiting the Arab tribes,“ We are carried back at once to the age of the earliest patriarchs. The forms we see present unto us the picture of these ancient fathers, with scarcely a single alteration. We may listen to their language, number their possessions, partake of their food, examine their dress, enter their tents, attend the ceremonies of their marriage festivals, and present ourselves before the prince, still all is the same. At the well they water their flocks; they sit at the door of the tent in the cool of the day; they take butter and milk, and the calf which they have dressed,' and set it before the stranger; they move onward to some distant place, and pitch their tent near richer pasturage ; and all the treasures they possess are in camels, kine, sheep, and goats ; menservants and women-servants; and changes of raiment. We may stand near one of their encampments, and as the aged men sit in dignity, or the young men and maidens drive past us their flocks, we are almost ready to ask if such an one be not Abraham, or Lot, or Jacob, or Job, or Bildad the Shuhite, or Rebekah, or Rachel, or the daughter of Jethro the Midianite; we seem to know them all.... The founder of the race might come to the earth, and he would recognize without effort his own people and his own land.”—HARDY's Notices of the Holy Land, pp. 16, 17.