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in Asia. The intercourse among the various classes of mankind, which originate in the unequal distributions of creating wisdom, or providential arrangement, is regulated by laws, which, like those of the Medes and Persians, suffer almost no change from the lapse of time, or the fluctuation of human affairs. To these laws, which have extended their influence far beyond the limits of the east, the sacred writers make frequent allusions. No mark of esteem is more common through all the oriental regions, none more imperiously required by the rules of good breeding, than a present. When Mr. Maundrell and his party waited upon Ostan, the basha of Tripoli, he was obliged to send his present before him to secure a favourable reception. It is even reckoned uncivil in that country, to make a visit without an offering in the hand. The nobility, and officers of government, expect it as a kind of tribute due to their character and authority; and look upon themselves as affronted, and even defrauded, when this compliment is omitted. So common is the custom, that in familiar intercourse among persons of inferior station, they seldom neglect to bring a flower, an orange, a few dates or radishes, or some such token of respect, to the person whom they visit. In Egypt the custom is equally prevalent: the visits of that people, which are very frequent in the course of the year, are always preceded by presents of various kinds, according to their station and property. So essential to human and civil intercourse are presents considered in the east, that, says Mr. Bruce, “ whether it be dates or diamonds, they are so much a part of their manners, that without them an inferior will never be at peace in his own mind, or think that he has a hold of his superior for his favonr or pro

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tection." Sir John Chardin affirms, that “ the custom of making presents to the great, was universal in the east ; and that every thing is received even by the great lords of the country, fruit, pullets, a lamb. Every one gives what is most at hand, and has a relation to his profession ; and those who have no particnlar profession give money. As it is accounted an honour to receive presents of this sort, they receive them in public; and even choose to do it when they have most company.” “ Throughout the east," says Du Tott, “ gifts are always the mark of honour."b This custom is, perhaps, one of the most ancient in the world. Solomon evidently alludes to it in that proverb : “ A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men. We recognise it in the reply of Saul to his servant, when he proposed to consult the prophet Samuel about the object of their journey : “If we go, what shall we bring the man of God ? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is not a present to bring to the man of God. What have we?” Saul was inclined at first to offer the seer, who was at the same time the chief magistrate in Israel, a piece of bread, till he recollected it was all spent, and then agreed to present him with “ the fourth part of a shekel of silver," in value about a sixpence.d It could not then be their design, by of

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a Bruce's Trav. vol. i, p. 60.

• Harmer's Observ. vol. ii, p. 246, 296. Forbes's Orient. Mem. vol. ii, p. 13. Maundrell's Journey, &c. p. 26, 27. Pococke's Trav. vol. ii, p. 167. Du Tott's Mem. vol. i, p. 363. Buckingham's Trav. in Palestine, vol. i, p. 331, 358.

• Prov. xviii, 16. d Dr. Pococke presented to a Turkish Aga in Egypt two sequins, worth about a guinea, which the latter demanded as the condition of admitting the learned traveller again to his presence. Trav. vol. ii, p. 167.-_And Egmont and Heyman inform us, that the well of Joseph in the castle of Cairo is not to be seen without leave from the commandant; which having obtained, they, in return, presented him with a sequin. Vol. i, p. 119.

fering such a trifle, to purchase his services, but merely to shew him that customary mark of respect to which he was entitled. Nor were the prophets of the Lord a set of mercenary pretenders to the knowledge of future events, who sold their services to the anxious inquirer for a large reward. Had they refused to accept of such presents, they would have been guilty of transgressing an established rule of good manners, and of insulting the persons by whom they were offered. When Elisha refused, with an oath, to accept of the present which Naaman the Syrian urged him to receive, it was not because he thought it either unlawful or improper to receive a gift, for he did not hesitate to accept of presents from his own people ; nor was the prophet regardless of an established custom, which offended no precept of the divine law, or disposed to wound, without necessity, the feelings of the Syrian grandee ; but because he would not put it in the power of Naaman to say he had enriched the prophet of Jehovah; and by this act of self-denial, it is probable he was desirous of recommending the character and service of the true God to that illustrious stranger.

The presents made to the ancient prophets were not always of the same kind and value; an inhabitant of Baalshalisha “brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk."e The king of Israel sent a present by his wife to the prophet Ahijah, of ten loaves and cracknels, and a cruse of honey; which it appears from other statements, was not deemed unworthy of an eastern king. Some commentators are of opinion, that it was a present fit only for a peasant to make, and was designedly of so small value, to conceal the rank of the messenger. But this idea by no é 2 Kings iv, 42.

+ 1 Kings xiv,


means corresponds with the custom of the east; for D’Arvieux informs us, that when he waited on on Arabian emir, his mother and sister sent him a present of pastry, honey, fresh butter, with a bason of sweetmeats, which differs very little from the present of Jeroboam. It was certainly the wish of the king, that his wife should not be recognized by the aged prophet; but the present she carried, though not intended to discover her, was in the esmation of the orientals, not unbecoming her rank and condition.

These introductory presents were sometimes of great value. The king of Syria sent a gift by Naaman, of ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. At the birth of the Saviour, the wise men who came from the east to worship him, after the eustom of their country, opened their treasures, and presented unto him gifts; gold, ånd frankincense, and myrrh." Such

presents were commonly made to an eastern prince at his elevation to the throne; and plainly intended on that occasion, às án explicit acknowledgement of his kingly office. In a sublime description of his kingly government and extensive dominion, the following prediction, which then received its accomplishment, occurs : “ And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba. To these costly gifts and offerings, presents of dresses were frequently added. Joseph gave to each of his brethren a change of raiment, but he gave five changes to Benjamin; and from the familiar manner in which the historian mentions the fact, we have a right to conclude that it was a common incident. The servant of Elisha received from

& Voy. dans la Palest. p. 50. h Matt. ii, 11. j Psa. Ixxii, 15.

Forbes's Orient. Mem. vol. ii, p. ll. Orme's Hist. &c. vol. ii, p. 181.

Naaman the Syrian, of the presents intended for his master, two changes of raiment; and even Solomon accepted of such gifts from the kings and princes who visited his court.

The custom has descended to the present times; for according to D'Herbelot, Bokteri, an illustrious poet of Cufah, in the ninth century, had so many presents made him in the course of his life, that when he died, he was found possessed of an hundred complete suits of clothes, two hundred shirts, and five hundred turbans. This anecdote


how frequently presents of this kind are made to persons of consideration in the Levant; and at the same time furnishes a beautiful illustration of that passage in the book of Job, where the afflicted patriarch describes the treasures of the east, in his time, as consisting of clothes and money : “ Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay ; He may prepare it; but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.”

It is not uncommon in some places, to send with articles of provision, vessels of different kinds, for the use of their friends. When Dr. Perry visited the temple of Luxor, in Egypt, the cashif there, treated him and his party with many marks of civility and favour, sending them, in return for their presents, provisions of various kinds, and a sort of earthen vessels called bardacks, in which the orientals cool their water.m Basons and earthen vessels were, agreeably to this custom, presented to David and his company, by the people of Mahanaim ; although the destitute condition of the king and his followers, is sufficient to account for their attention and liberality. The loyalty and attach

* 2 Chron. ix, 24. Job xxvii, 16. m Trav. p. 356, 357.

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