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"Millet."-The millet is the Panicum miliaceum of Linnæus, and is a kind of grass, which has a most extensive cultivation for the sake of its nutritive seeds. Panicum is from panis, "bread," and shows in what estimation it was held by the ancients. There is also another species which is called Panicum Italicum and Setaria. It is an annual, in the warmer parts of Europe, and produces a seed that is smaller than the foregoing species. The original word, in the present instance, is IT dochan, and may very possibly have been the dhourra, or holcus sorghum, of which we have given a representation under Gen. xli., and which is now so extensively cultivated and used in Palestine, Syria, Arabia. Egypt, Nubia, &c.; being in some of these countries the principal food of the lower classes. It is sometimes called thegreater millet," though belonging to a different genus. All these grasses have large spreading clusters of flowers at the top of the stem, and present a curious appearance to the eye that has been accustomed to regard wheat as the staff of life. In Egypt three harvests of the dhourra are obtained in one year; in other places, two or one only, according to circumstances. The stalks grow very high. In the countries south of Egypt, the same species that is there cultivated often rises to the height of from sixteen to twenty feet. In those countries wheat is scarcely known; and dhourra forms the principal product of the ground, and the chief food of man and beast. Besides being made into bread, much of it is also consumed in the form of pap, seasoned with salt; and sometimes the grains are boiled and eaten like rice. The poorer inhabitants of Arabia have little other food than the dhourra bread, which, from its coarseness, is seldom much liked by Europeans, till necessity accustoms them to it. The usual way of preparing it in Arabia is by kneading it with camel's milk, oil, butter, or grease. Niebuhr says he could not eat of it at first, and that he should have preferred to it the worst bread he had ever eaten in Europe. But the people of the country, being used to it, prefer it to barley, which they think too light.
Notwithstanding its present extensive use, it might be and has been questioned whether the dhourra was so early cultivated in the south-west of Asia as the time of Ezekiel. On this subject we have however no doubt. The dhourra does still also bear the Scriptural name of dochan or dokhen. Wilkinson, in his enumeration of the products of ancient Egypt, as evinced by paintings and seeds preserved in the ancient tombs, mentions dhourra, wheat, beans, lentiles-all of which are mentioned in this verse. In another place, after having spoken of wheat, he says, "Another species of grain, with a single round head, was plucked up by the roots, but formed, in the Thebaid at least, a much smaller proportion of the cultivated produce of the country. Its height far exceeds the wheat, near which they represent it growing; and its general appearance cannot better answer to any of the order of gramina than to the sorghum, or Egyptian dhourra." He adds, in a note, that of the fifteen species of holcus, five at least appear to be natives of Egypt; and that there seem also to be two unnoticed varieties. In another place, Mr. Wilkinson expresses his full conviction that the Holcus sorghum was grown in Egypt.
15. "Cow's dung for man's dung."-The command, in the first instance, to use dung. implies that the siege should be of such duration that the supply of firewood in the town would be exhausted, and being precluded from having more from the country, the inhabitants must necessarily resort to dung to prepare such miserable food as remained to them. In such cases, and in all cases where wood is scarce, animal dung, and especially cow's dung, is much employed in the East. But the command to use human dung intimates, further, that not only was the wood exhausted, but that no animal dung could be obtained, probably because all the animals in the town had been killed for food, or had perished for want of nourishment. Thus, as cow dung is a common resource in the East, the command to use that at first would not have conveyed that intimation of distress which is involved in the other direction.
There is sufficient intimation that the Hebrews sometimes employed animal dung for fuel; but this could not generally have been the case in a country so tolerably well wooded as Palestine appears to have been. But in some regions of Western Asia where wood is scarce, it forms the common fuel; and as the supply of this is often inadequate to the occasions of the people, great anxiety is exhibited in collecting a sufficient quantity, and in regulating the consumption. In winter we have seen it used in the best rooms of some of the most respectable houses in towns of northern Persia; and while travelling through the same country, and some parts of Media and Armenia, when we formed our camp near the villages, all the children who were old enough would come out with baskets and wait long and patiently to receive all the animal dung that occurred, to secure which there was often much rushing, contention, and violence among the numerous claimants for its possession. Cow dung is considered much preferable to any other; but all animal dung is considered valuable. When collected it is made into cakes, which are stuck against the sunny side of the houses, giving them a curious and rather unsightly appearance. When it is quite dry and falls off, it is stored away in heaps for future use. It is much used for baking, being considered preferable to any other fuel for that purpose, as it is by the villagers in Devonshire. In the East, they either heat with it the portable oven, or iron plate, or else lay their cakes upon the fire of dung. A very common resource, in the want of a plate or oven, is to form the dough into balls, which are placed either among live coals or into a fire of camel's dung, and covered over till penetrated by the heat. The ashes are then removed and the bread eaten hot, with much enjoyment by the natives; but it sometimes contracts a flavour and appearance which is not pleasant to Europeans. It seems very probable that it was such cakes or balls, baked in immediate contact with the fire, which the prophet intended to provide, and which made him the more abhor the idea of employing human dung for the purpose.
1 Under the type of hair, 5 is shewed the judgment of Jerusalem for their rebellion, 12 by famine, sword, and dispersion.
AND thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber's razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair.
2 Thou shalt burn with fire a third part
in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take
third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them.
3 Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy 'skirts.
4 Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in
1 Heb. wings.
and with all thine abominations, therefore will I also diminish thee; neither shall mine eye spare, neither will I have any pity.
12 A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee: and I will scatter a third part into all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.
13 Thus shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comforted: and they shall know that I the LORD have spoken it in my zeal, when I have accomplished my fury in them.
14 Moreover I will make thee waste, and a reproach among the nations that are round about thee, in the sight of all that pass by.
15 So it shall be a 'reproach and a taunt, an instruction and an astonishment unto the nations that are round about thee, when I shall execute judgments in thee in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I the LORD have spoken it.
16 When I shall send upon them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you: and I will increase the famine upon you, and will break your 'staff of bread:
17 So will I send upon you famine and 'evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the LORD have spoken it.
4 Deut. 28. 37.
Lam. 4. 10. Baruch 2. 3.
* Chap 7.4, 9. 6 Levit. 26. 22.
Verse 1. "A sharp knife...a barber's razor."-The word rendered "a sharp knife," is a general one denoting a sword, a knife, and other cutting instruments. Newcome has, "a sharp tool," Boothroyd, "a sharp instrument ;" and some of the ancient versions understand a sword to be intended, and that the second clause does not define it to be a barber's razor, but describes it as sharper than a barber's razor. The supposition that a sword is denoted does certainly give force to the passage with reference to the final object of the symbolical action. We have, however, as a general illustration, introduced representations of the three forms of cutting instruments, other than swords (for which see Num. xxxi.), which most frequently occur in Egyptian paintings and sculptures.
The word rendered "razor," taar) is of more limited application to a sharp knife or a razor for shaving. As
the Jews allowed their beards to grow, and did not habitually shave their heads like the modern Orientals, there could have been little occasion among them for the use of the razor. Perhaps the allusion in Isa. vii. 20, to "a razor that is hired," suggests that the suitable implements were so uncommon as to be hired from the persons who possessed them, on those occasions of mourning when it was usual to shave the head; or. as possibly, that there were professional barbers, little as their services were generally required-the employment of the hired barber, being perhaps involved in the hiring of the razor. The operation of shaving the head was probably performed much in the same manner as is now usual in the East, and a representation of which has been given under Jer. xvi. 6. The facility with which this operation is performed by the Oriental barbers, and the soothing sensation which is experienced by the patient, have been described by most travellers whose experience enabled them to do so. The operator rubs the head gently and comfortably with his hand, moistened with water. This he does a considerable time; and then applies the razor, shaving from the top of the head downward. The instrument is generally rude, and not remarkably sharp, as compared with our own; but in consequence of the previous handling of the head, the hair is removed with such extreme ease that the process is scarcely felt, or felt only as an agreeable sensation, by the person subject to it, and who is not roused by it from the gentlest slumber into which he may have been soothed by the preceding part of the operation.
1 Chap. 36. 1.
3 And say, Ye mountains of Israel. hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I. even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.
4 And your altars shall be desolate, and your 'images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols.
Or, sun-images, and so verse 6.
5 And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.
6 In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.
7 And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
8¶Yet will I leave a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries.
9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations. Chap. 21. 17.
3 Heb. give.
10 And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.
11 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Smite with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot, and say, Alas for all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence.
12 He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them.
13 Then shall ye know that I am the LORD, when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, in all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer sweet savour to all their idols.
14 So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, 'more desolate than the wilderness toward Diblath, in all their habitations: and they shall know that I am the LORD. 5 Or, desolate from the wilderness.
GROUP OF ALTARE.
, d, Babylonian; b, Egyptian; c, c, Persian; d, d, Grecian; e, e, Roman,
Verse 11. "Smile with thine hand, and stamp with thy foot.”—This was probably to smite the thigh with the hand, which we know to have been an action of grief (Jer. xxxi. 19; Ezek. xxi. 12). Stamping with the foot is not elsewhere mentioned as an expression of feeling; but it probably denoted indignation. Grief with indignation are the feelings obvious to the occasion, and which the text indeed expresses.
13. "Altars."―The altars of the idolaters are frequently alluded to in Scripture; and the Hebrews are here and elsewhere severely rebuked for erecting similar altars. Doubtless the Divine indignation is to be referred primarily to he idolatrous worship to which these borrowed altars were consecrated; but it is also to be remembered that the altars were in themselves unlawful, the materials, the situation, and even the form of the Lord's own altar having been specially defined, and all others being interdicted. We have therefore thought it might form an instructive illustration to assemble in one engraving, representations of the most prevalent forms which the altars bore among different ancient nations-the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans-as furnishing probable examples of those which were at different times adopted by the Jews. A Syrian altar has been given under 2 Kings xvi. ; and of that we shall perhaps soon have occasion to speak more particularly. Leaving the representations we now supply to furnish their own information, a few particulars on the general subject may tend to illustrate some of the passages of Scripture which describe the use and abuse of altars.
Altars were doubtless the first constructions which men devoted to the service of God. They found it inconvenient to lay their offerings upon the ground, and at first therefore sought natural heaps or elevations for the purpose, and in mountainous countries the tops of the hills were favourite situations. But in plain countries where such elevations could not easily be found, it was obvious to form them by art. Of this it seems to us singularly illustrative that in Persia, which is a very mountainous country, the natives long continued to burn their sacred fires upon the mountains, without altars, whereas in Egypt, which is a level valley, altars were so anciently in use that their origin is commonly ascribed to that country. The altars were at first simple heaps of unhewn stones or earth. But by degrees, when men became idolaters, and associated the power and presence of the object worshipped with the altar at which it was honoured, this patriarchal simplicity was relinquished. To this however Moses restricted the Israelites (Exod. xx. 24 and the note), and his injunction sufficiently intimates that the change had already taken place. Great diversity then arose in the materials, forms, and ornaments of altars. Every nation seems to have had a great variety of altars, although in each one general form appears to have been more common than any other even when the details differed greatly. This was not so much owing to difference of taste as to the plurality of idols; some forms, ornaments, and materials being considered more proper to particular gods. Hence, even among the heathen, some altars remained of the most simple character. We are told, for instance, that the altar of Jupiter Olympus was nothing but a heap of ashes. There was scarcely any practicable material of which altars were not made. Some were hewn from single large blocks of stone, others were formed of squared stones, and many of precious marbles; some were of brick, others of metal-brass, and even gold-being probably overlaid with the metal like the Hebrew brazen altar and the golden altar of incense: others again are said to have been of wood, even in Greece; but these were not common, neither do those appear to have been so which are described as having been built with the horns of animals curiously interlaced. Moses mentions the "horns of the altars," but in a different sense, meaning only the salient angles of its platform. The shapes of altars were almost infinitely varied, as well as their dimensions; but the leading forms and proportions will be seen by the figures in our engraving. We may observe however that, to the best of our recollection, no native Oriental antiquities exhibit the round form which appears in one of our Grecian specimens, though they were probably brought into use by the Greeks of Asia. Altars were generally about three feet high; but some were lower, and some higher, those dedicated to the celestial gods being the highest. The fire-altars of Persia were not intended for sacrifice, but for the sacred fire to burn thereon; hence perhaps, as the priests had little service to perform at them, they were often made of a height and size which would not have been convenient in an altar for sacrifice. Those grand altars which our engravings exhibit, are cut out of the solid substance of a projecting mass of rock, and stand upon a rocky platform twelve or fourteen feet above the level ground. They grow narrow from the base upward, as do many of the most ancient altars, so that, although the base is a square of four feet six inches, the top is ten inches less. A fire-altar, smaller and somewhat different in form, may be seen under Job xxxi. Some ancient altars were solid, others were hollow; and most of them had at the top an enclosing ledge to confine the fire and offerings: there was also sometimes a hollow sunk in the platform, and a hole pierced in the side to receive and discharge the libations and the blood of victims. Some of these particulars, of arrangements for convenience, may suggest ideas as to the altars of the tabernacle and temple. There were properly three kinds of altars-that on which the victims were consumed by firethat on which unbloody offerings only were made-and that on which incense only was consumed. The Hebrews had two of these the altar of burnt offerings, and the altar of incense; and the table of shewbread in some respects answered to the second. The tabernacle altars were portable, and the pagans also had portable altars, which were sometimes of stone, being formed of squared blocks which might be taken asunder and joined together at pleasure. There were also small private altars in almost every house, for the offerings to the household gods. To this there seems some allusion in Scripture, where certainly we read of altars upon the tops of houses. Altars were not by any means confined to temples: they abounded everywhere in and around idolatrous towns-in the fields-the highways-the streets (particularly the cross streets), and in every public place. But upon the hill tops, in groves, and under conspicuous trees, were chosen situations for altars; and how grievously the Hebrews were addicted to the erection of unholy altars in such places, the present verse and a great number of other passages abundantly show. We shall only add that the altars were usually inscribed with the name or symbols of the god to whom they were dedicated. Many of the altars were otherwise plain; but others had their sides ornamented with sculptures of gods and genii, or with festal figures of dancers and players on musical instruments. To prevent such things, probably, the use of iron tools was forbidden to those who constructed the Hebrew altars. When a particular deity was to be honoured, it was also usual to deck the altar with boughs and garlands, formed of such plants as were deemed most acceptable to the idol. (See Acts xiv. 13.)
"Did offer sweet savour to all their idols."—It was a very common act of worship, in all countries, to offer incense to all descriptions of idols. We have already spoken of incense and incense offerings under Exod. xxx.; and as a suitable illustration of the present text which mentions the offering of incense to idols, we here introduce an engraving representing the emperor Trajan offering incense to Diana. It is copied from a bas-relief upon the arch of Constantine, many of the sculptures on which were taken from that of Trajan. This illustration is the more appropriate as Diana answered to that "queen of heaven" (the moon), for burning incense to whom the apostate Hebrews are severely reproached by the prophets.