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The way in which a great man was to pafs was sometimes swept, sometimes strewed with flowers, sometimes watered, and might, possibly, sometimes be moistened with waters of an odoriferous kind; but was it ever moistened with melted butter? The feet were sometimes anointed with oil, in which odoriferous substances had been infused', but was butter ever applied to them ?
May we not rather suppose there is a reference, in these words of Job, to the treading skins of cream under their feet, when they had very large quantities which they wanted to churn ?
When a small quantity of grapes are to be squeezed, it may be done commodiously enough by the hand : after this manner Pharaoh's butler supposed he squeezed out new wine into the royal cup, Gen. xl. 11. This indeed was only a visionary scene, but it is to be supposed to be a natural one. So when there was a quantity of cream, such as a poor Arab may be supposed to be possessed of, it was put into a skin, suspended in his tent, and the whole process conducted by the females belonging to it; but when the number of a man's milch-cattle was large, it became requisite to put the cream into a number of skins, on which he might tread, and by that means produce a large quantity of butter. This seems to me no improbable account,
'Luke 7. 37, 38, 46,
and by no means an unnatural explanation of the phrase, I washed my steps with butter.
Greece is indeed considerably distant from the land of Uz; and the age in which Job lived far removed from our times : but as a skin, which Dr. Chandler saw used in Greece, is still the churning-vessel used by the Arabs of the Holy-Land, as well as of Barbary, and consequently, as the customs of the Arabs so little vary, the use of a skin for churning, though used in our times too, is to be understood to be very ancient; and the same reasons that might induce the more opulent Greeks to tread their cream, rather than to confine themselves to the motion the Arabs generally use, might make the richer inhabitants of the more Eastern countries do the like, and consequently Job, who abounded in cattle.
The expression, it must be allowed, is highly figurative, but not more so than what may be supposed to suit Oriental poetry.
The word washing, when used poétically, certainly is not confined to the cleansing the feet by some purifying fluid, for the dipping the feet in human blood shed in war, which, according to the Mosaic law, was a most defiling thing, is in a Jewish poetic writer styled, notwithstanding, a washing the feet, Ps. lviii. 10. The plunging the feet then into cream, or butter, may, without question, be equally called washing the feet in butter, and walking in it washing the steps.. But it may be said, there is a wide dif
ference in the two cases : in walking round and round upon a number of skins filled with cream, which, after a time, in part becomes butter, the feet comes not into contact with either, whereas the Psalmist speaks of dipping the naked foot into the blood of the flain. · In answer to this, not to say that it is by no means certain, that David thought particularly of the foot being bare, when dipped in the blood of the wicked ; and that, on the contrary, the feet and legs of warriors of that ancient time were covered, sometimes with defensative armour of brass': Jonah, in á prayer, or divine hymn, faith, “ The waters
assed me about even to the soul : the co depth closed me round about, the weeds "s were wrapt about my head.” Now the weeds of the sea came not into contact with his head, when in the belly of the fish. Job then might as well, in the glowing language of Eastern poetry, be said to wash his feet in butter, as Jonah say, that the weeds were wrapped about his head : though no contact in either case.
Before I finish this article, I beg leave to touch on another passage of this ancient poem, which the management that obtains in these countries may serve to illustrate : “ He shall « not see the rivers,” says Zophar, “ the “ floods, the brooks of honey and butter."
We, in these cooler countries, have no great notion of butter being described as so extremely liquid; it appears among us in a more solid form. But as the plentiful flowing of honey, when pressed from the comb, may be compared, in strong language, to a little river, as it runs into the vessels in which it is to be kept ; so, as they manage matters, butter is equally fluid, and may be described after the same way: so Dr. Shaw, after giving an account of making butter in a skin, says, “ A great quantity of butter is 66 made in several places of these kingdoms'; “ which, after it is boiled with salt, (in order
to precipitate the hairs and other nastinesses “ occafioned in the churning,) they put into “ jars, and preserve it for ule. Freíh butter s foon grows four and rancid ?.” Other authors give a like account.
Streams of butter then, poured, when clarified, into jars in which it is preserved, might as naturally be compared to rivers, as streams of honey flowing, upon pressure, into other jars, in which that other great article of Eastern diet was wont to be kept, for after-useThe wicked man mall not see the rivulets, much less the rivers, lefs still the torrents of honey and butter which the upright man may hope to enjoy : for such seems to be the gradation, and it is so expressed in the interlineary Latin translation of Pagnin, revised by Montanus.
• Thofe of Barbary.
? P. 169.
Unluckily the beauty of the climax is loft in our translation. Instead of continuing to rise, it sinks in the close-ending with brooks, after having mentioned rivers and torrents. The Vulgate uses only two of the words, rivulets and torrents, and by thus ranging them doth not destroy the energy of the gradation, though it makes it less complete.
Dr. Chandler tells us', that some dried figs, which he purchafed, (in his travels in the Lefser Asia,) were strung like beads, and that he found them' extremely good as well as cheap: is it not probable then, that those collections of figs, which the Scriptures mention, were strings of this dried fruit, rather than cakes or lumps, as our translators render the original word * ? - Dried figs, when closely packed, will certainly adhere together, and may be called cakes or lumps of figs, as is visible to every one that has visited our English shops where they are sold ; and from thence our translators seem to have derived their ideas. But it doth not follow from thence, that they appear in the like form in the countries where they are
· P. 215.
? A marginal note of the Bishops' Bible is, “Or poundes. So many figges as cleave togea6 ther like a cake, are called a cake," VoL, III. N ,