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· actually dried, and laid up among their other
Fores, for their own consumption.
Two circumstances seem to shew that these ideas are not exact. In the first place, they seem to be spoken of as parcels of nearly the same size: Abigail carried to David two hundred cakes of figs, i Sam. xxv. 18. What notion can a reader form of the quantity of figs, if the accidental lumps of adhering figs were meant ? Some lumps are ten times, it may be, larger than others, when they are taken out of the vefsel in which they have been packed, and strongly squeezed together. A more determinate notion seems to have been intended to be conveyed by that term. So also when a lump of figs was ordered to be applied to Hezekiah's boil, 2 Kings xx. 7.
A second thing is, that when a part of such a parcel is spoken of, a word is used which signifies' cutting : but cutting can by no means be necessary to divide a lump of our figs into parts. Nothing is more easily divided. But a string of figs might require cutting.
The Doctor has said nothing of the number of figs usually put on one string, or of the weight of one of these strings. It should seem they were but finall, since Abigail carried David twice as many strings of figs as dried bunches of grapes, i Sam. xxv. 18.
* Pelach.' I Sam. 30. 12.
Future travellers, perhaps, may ascertain these points with so much precision as may satisfy the curious.
I must however farther add, that I have somewhere met with an account, though I cannot cite the passage, that some of the people of those countries press their dried figs into vessels of a determinate size, which must enable them to make their lumps of figs equal to each other, and of a well-known bigness. But even in this case it cannot be neceflary to part them by cutting.
Melons, which are now so common, and at the same time in the highest esteem in the East, are contemporary with grapes, with pomegranates, and with figs; one would be inclined then to imagine, that they have been introduced into the Holy-Land since the time Moses sent Joshua, and the other spies, from the wilderness of Paran, to examine, and bring back an account of it's productions ; as writers tell us many other useful plants have been imported from other places into that country, or at least it's neighbourhood'.
Melons, according to Sir John Chardin, are the most excellent fruit that they have in Persia”; and he tells us the season for eating
See Dr. Shaw, p. 341. Voy. de M. Chardin, tome 2, p. 18. N2
them holds four months'. Dr. Shaw observed that musk and water-melons began to be gathered the latter end of June in Barbary’, consequently a month or more before either pomegranates, the common kind of fig, or the grape, begin to ripen. But if they hold four months, or about half so long only, they must have been found in the time of the first ripe grapes , when the spies were sent out. Agreeable to this, Dr. Richard Chandler mentions figs, melons, such as are peculiar to hot climates, (I suppose he means water-melons,) and grapes, in large and rich clusters, fresh from the vineyard, were ferved up to him in Asia Minor, at the close of a repast at noon, in the month of August.
They certainly now grow in the Holy-Land. It is the fruit which Egmont and Heyman selected from all the rest that they found growing on Mount Carmel, as the subject of panegyric, being in themselves so excellent, and so much cultivated there *.
“ Doubtless,” says Dr. Shaw, “ the wa“ ter-melon, or angura, or pistacha, or dil“ lah, as they call it here, is providentially “ calculated for the southern countries, as it “ affords a cool refreshing juice, assuages thirst, “ mitigates feverish disorders, and compen“ sates thereby, in no small degree, for the
'P. 19. 2 P. 141. 3 For the grape, according to Shaw, begins to ripen in Barbary towards the end of July, p. 146. ^ Vol. 2, p. 12.
“ excessive heats, not so much of these as of " the more southern districts'.”
Surely, if they had then grown in that country, the spies would have carried a fample of this refreshing fruit to the camp of Ifrael in Paran! as eafy to be conveyed thither as any of those they brought to Moses. In fact melons are now carried to very distant places. The best melons, according to Sir John Chardin, grow in Corasson, near the Little Tartary. ... They bring them to Ispahan for the king, and to make presents of. They are not spoiled in the carrying, though they are brought above thirty days journey. He adds, that he had eaten, at Surat in the Indies, melons that had been fent from Agra. This, he observed, was still more extraordinary. They were carried by a man on foot, in baskets, one in a basket, being very large, which baskets were hanged on a pole, one at each end, the pole being laid on one of his shoulders, from whence, for eafe, be shifted it to the other from time to time. These people go feven or eight leagues a day with their load.
The way of carrying the cluster of grapes, from the valley of Ethcol, did not much differ?: It would have been as easy to have carried some of the melons after this Persian manner, or in a basket between two, or as they did the uncured figs and pomegranates : their carrying none seems to show they then
! P. 141,
9 Numb. 13. 23.
did not grow in that country, though they do now in plenty, and are so much valued as to be distinctly mentioned, when other fruits are taken no notice of.
It may even, possibly, be doubted whether they then commonly grew in Ægypt, notwithstanding that, according to our translation, the Ifraelites, in the Wilderness, regretted the want of them there : “ We re
member the fish which we did eat in • Ægypt freely, the cucumbers, and the me" lons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the “ garlick,” Numb. xi. 5. I have elsewhere shown that the justness of our version may be questioned, as to some other things mentioned here'; and perhaps the second of the words used to describe the vegetables they longed after has been mis-translated.
It is true, they are now in great numbers, and in great variety, in Ægypt : but some of them, we are positively assured, have been introduced into that country, from other places, and soine of them not very many ages back. Perhaps none of the more delicious of the melon-kind were aboriginal, or introduced so early as the time of Moses. The Septuagint, which is known to be an Ægyptian translation, supposed fruit of the melon-kind was meant by the Hebrew word”, which appears no where else in the Old Testament:
Obsery. vol. 2, ch. 9, obf. 14. 3 For they translate it liemovesa