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chiefly looked at in conferring royal honours; it was natural then for their kings to ride in chariots, as their great warriors at that time in common did ; which royal chariots were without doubt most highly ornamented. In the most magnificent of all that Pharoah had, but one, Joseph, was made to ride. But when chariots were laid aside in war, their princes laid aside the use of them by degrees, and betook themselves to horses, as upon the whole most agreeable, and they endeavoured to transfer the pomp of their chariots to them, and richly indeed they do adorn them.
Red Shoes and Girdles, supposed to have been Marks
of Dignity in ancient Times.
The complaint that David made of Joab to his son Solomon not long before his death, and which was evidently intended, in general, severely to condemn his conduct, does not appear to me to have been properly illustrated by commentators, at least by none of those whose explanations are given us in Pool's Synopsis.
The murdering Abner and Amasa was highly criminal :. and the more so as done with treachery and even hypocrisy: but was it any addition to the heinousness of the offence, that some of their blood happened to be sprinkled on his shoes and his girdle, as they seem to suppose ? would he not have been equally criminal had not a single drop reached him, but all had either fallen on the earth, or stained the raiment of some by-stander.
I am inclined to think, the true sense of this part of the complaint against Joab is that he maintained himself in the generalship of the army, at the expence of shedding the blood of these two eminent and innocent personages.
To make this out, two preliminary remarks are requisite. The first, that that which is procured at the expence of any man's blood, is spoken of in the strong language of the Old Testament as that person's blood; yea, even if the person lost not his life actually, but only ran a great risk of doing so. The second, that a thing is frequently spoken of as if it were blood, on the account of its being of the colour of blood, or having some other resemblance of it.
The 2 Sam. xxiii. 16, 17, is a proof of the first position, as Joel ii. 31, is of the second, In Samuel we read, that the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD. And he said, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? Therefore he would not drink it.-As to Joel, he says, The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, (into the colour of blood, as it is often seen when darkened in an eclipse,) before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.
After these preliminaries, if we only suppose the general of Israel was wont to wear red shoes, and a girdle of that colour, it was natural for an Eastern imagination to speak of them as tinged with blood ; especially when those habiliments were obtained, or continued to be a man's proper dress, by the means of shedding of blood.
Shoes of red leather, I think, are represented by the Prophet Ezekiel, as worn by a female richly arrayed; and skins dyed of that colour were known and in use in the time of Moses: it is then by no means an improbable supposition that such red shoes might be worn by Joab, if it was only as a rich part of dress. It might be more, and express his being one of the
Fzek. xvi. 10. • Exod. xxv. 5, ch. xxvi. 14, ch. xxxv. 7, &c. These two, ram-skins dyed red and badgers-skins, seem to be spoken of as the most precious kinds of leather then used, or commonly known at least. Probably both dyed of the same colour; but if not, if shocs were made of the one for splendor, they might equally of the other. A very learned and ingenious gentleman has made a remark on a passage of a preceding volume, which has some relation to what I am now mentioning, and therefore may here be taken notice of; and that is, that if the dying the tails and the hair of the foreheads of buffaloes red be thought to be ornamental, yet how could the black goat's-hair curtains of the taber. nacle, under the red ram-skins improve the appearance, when no longer seen at all? I would answer, certainly they could not, if not seen at all, but according to their notions they might, if a border of black appeared under the red, in the same manner as white under the black in funeral palls.
higher officers of David's army.
But if not, if red shoes were only a piece of magnificence common to great people of that time, the red shoes of Joab were continued to him through his shedding the blood of Abner and Amasa ; if either of them had lived, he would have been dismissed from his generalship, and the habit of affliction, perhaps of poverty, would have succeeded the pomp of red shoes, and a crimson girdle.
I do not know that people were forbidden in the days of David to wear red shoes, that supa position is by no means necessary; but it is certain that all the subjects of the modern Turkish empire may not wear just what coloured shoes they please; and the Baron de Tott tells us, that Sultan Mustapha made regulations of this kind the first object of the exertions of his authority, punishing with great violence and barbarity those Greeks, Armenians, and Jews, who were found clothed in the colours forbidden those three nations. He adds, “An unfortunate Christian mendicant, who wore an old pair of yellow slippers, just given him by a Turk in charity, was stopt by the Grand Seignior ; and this excuse could not save his life. Every day produced some horror."d It seems, according to a note on this passage by the Baron, that the Turks only are allowed to wear slippers of yellow leather,
But though the Turks in civil life wear yellow slippers, their janissaries, the principal
Tom. i. p, 195, 126.
order of their soldiers, are obliged to wear red shoes, which with great blue breeches, and a peculiar kind of bonnet, are the distinguishing, parts of their dress, according to the same traveller. Their clothes are of what colour they please.
After this we may perhaps more clearly comprehend the meaning of David, when we read those words of instruction he gave to Solomon, whose reign was to be peaceful, and consequently could little want the military talents of Joab: Thou knowest also, what Joab the son of Zeruiah did to me, and what he did to the two captains of the host of Israel, unto Abner the son of Ner, and unto Amasa the son of Jether, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace, and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his loins, and upon his shoes that were on his feet, 1 Kings ii. 5, I say upon rather than in, and would remark, that it is precisely the same particle as is joined with the word girdle in the Hebrew, and which our translators themselves render there, upon.
I cannot but express my dissent from the forced con. struction put on the transaction here referred to. David certainly meant no more than merely to state, that the murder was not committed at his instigation, but by the hand of Joab himself, and even while he was expressing friendship for and embracing Amasa; and therefore much stress is laid upon this word, whom he slew, and shed the blood of war in peace. For the sacred historian observes, that Joab took Amasa by the beard to kiss him, and smote him in the fifth rib, and shed out his bowels to the ground, 2 Sam. xx. 9. 10. Does not every unbiassed reader see (the attitudes of the persons being considered) that the blood must first spring out on Joab's girdle, and then be sprinkled upon his shoes? Epit.