« PreviousContinue »
| Jordan, where Shimei cursed and threw stones at David (2 Sam. xvi. 5).
denote the covering of the Tabernacle. Negroland and Central and Eastern Africa contain a number of ruminating animals of the great ante- BA'LAAM is supposed by some to mean lord lope family; which are known to the natives of the people; but by others destruction of the, under various names, such as pacasse, empacasse, people-an allusion to his supposed supernatural thacasse, facasse, and tachaitze, all more or less powers. The first mention of this remarkable varieties of the word tachash: they are of con- person is in Numbers xxii. 5, where we are insiderable size; often of slaty and purple grey formed that Balak 'sent messengers unto Balaam colours, and might be termed stag-goats and ox- the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river goats. Of these one or more occur in the hunt- of the land of the children of his people. Of ing-scenes on Egyptian monuments, and there- the numerous paradoxes which we find in this fore we may conclude that the skins were acces- strange mixture of a man,' as Bishop Newton sible in abundance, and may have been dressed terms him, not the least striking is that with the with the hair on for coverings of baggage, and practice of an art expressly forbidden to the for boots, such as we see worn by the human Israelites (Deut. xviii. 10), he united the knowfigures in the same processions. Thus we have ledge and worship of Jehovah, and was in the the greater number of the conditions of the ques-habit of receiving intimations of his will (Num. tion sufficiently realized to enable us to draw the xxii. 8). The inquiry naturally arises, by what inference that tachash refers to a ruminant of means did he become acquainted with the true the Aigocerine or Damaline groups, most likely religion? Dr. Hengstenberg suggests that he of an iron-grey or slaty-coloured species. was led to renounce idolatry by the reports that reached him of the miracles attending the Exodus; and that having experienced the deceptive nature of the soothsaying art, he hoped by becoming a worshipper of the God of the Hebrews, to acquire fresh power over nature, and a clearer insight into futurity. Yet the sacred narrative gives us no reason to suppose that he had any previous knowledge of the Israelites. In Num. xxii. 11, he merely repeats Balak's message, Behold there is a people come out of Egypt,' &c., without intimating that he had heard of the miracles wrought on their behalf. The allusion in Num. xxiii. 22 might be prompted by the Divine afflatus which he then felt.
BAG, a purse or pouch (Deut. xxv. 13; Job xiv. 17; 1 Sam. xvii. 40; Luke xii. 33). The money deposited in the treasuries of Eastern princes, or intended for large payments, or to be sent to a government as taxes or tribute, is collected in long narrow bags or purses, each containing a certain amount of money, and sealed with the official seal. As the money is counted for this purpose, and sealed with great care by officers properly appointed, the bag, or purse, passes current, as long as the seal remains unbroken, for the amount marked thereon. In the| receipt and payment of large sums, this is a great and important convenience in countries where the management of large transactions by paper is unknown, or where a currency is chiefly or wholly of silver: it saves the great trouble of counting or weighing loose money. This usage is so well established, that, at this day, in the Levant, a purse' is the very name for a certain amount of money (now five pounds sterling), and all large payments are stated in purses.' The antiquity of this custom is attested by the monu
And had he been actuated, in the first | instance, by motives of personal aggrandizement, it seems hardly probable that he would have been favoured with those divine communications with which his language in Num. xxii. 8 implies a familiarity. Since, in the case of Simon Magus, the offer to purchase the gift of God with money (Acts viii. 20) called forth an immediate and awful rebuke from the Apostles, would not Balaam's attempt to obtain a similar gift with a direct view to personal emolument and fame have met with a similar repulse? In the absence of more copious and precise information, may we not reasonably conjecture that Jacob's residence for twenty years in Mesopotamia contributed to maintain some just ideas of religion, though mingled with much superstition? To this source and the existing remains of Patriarchal religion, Balaam was probably indebted for that truth which he unhappily held in unrighteousness' (Rom. i. 18).
On the narrative contained in Numbers xxii. 22-35 a difference of opinion has long existed, even among those who fully admit its authenticity. The advocates for a literal interpretation urge, that in a historical work and a narrative bearing the same character, it would be unnatural to regard any of the occurrences as taking place in vision, unless expressly so stated;-that it would be difficult to determine where the vision begins, and where it ends;-that Jehovah's opening the mouth of the ass' (Num. xxii. 28) must have been an external act; and, finally, that Peter's language is decidedly in favour of the literal sense:-The dumb ass, speaking with a man's voice, reproved the madness of the Pro
ments of Egypt, in which the ambassadors of distant nations are represented as bringing their tributes in sealed bags of money to Thothmes III.; and we see the same bags deposited intact in the royal treasury. When coined money was not used, the seal must have been considered a voucher not only for the amount, but for the purity of the metal. The money collected in the Temple, in the time of Joash, seems to have been made up into bags of equal value after this fashion; which were probably delivered, sealed, to those who paid the workmen (2 Kings xii. 10; comp. also 2 Kings v. 23; Tobit ix. 5; xi. 16). BAHU'RIM, a place not far from Jerusalem, beyond the Mount of Olives, on the road to the
phet' (2 Peter ii. 16). Those who conceive that the speaking of the ass and the appearance of the Angel occurred in vision to Balaam insist upon the fact that dreams and visions were the ordinary methods by which God made himself known to the Prophets (Num. xii. 6); they remark that Balaam, in the introduction to his third and fourth prophecies (xxiv. 3, 4, 15), speaks of himself as the man who had his eyes shut (v. Lam. iii. 8), and who, on falling down in prophetic exstasy, had his eyes opened;-that he expressed no surprise on hearing the ass speak; and that neither his servants nor the Moabitish princes who accompanied him appear to have been cognizant of any supernatural appearance.
BALADAN. [MERODACH-BALADAN.] BA'LAK (emptier, spoiler), son of Zippor, and king of the Moabites (Num. xxii. 2, 4), who was so terrified at the approach of the victorious army of the Israelites, who in their passage through the desert had encamped near the confines of his territory, that he applied to Balaam, who was then reputed to possess great influence with the higher spirits, to curse them. From Judg. xiv. 25, it is clear that Balak was so certain of the fulfilment of Balaam's blessing, blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee' (Num. xxiv. 9), that he never afterwards made the least military attempt to oppose the Israelites (comp. Mic. vi. 5; Rev. ii. 14).
BALANCE. [WEIGHING.] BALDNESS may be artificial or natural. Artificial baldness, caused by cutting or shaving off the hair of the head, a custom among all the ancient and Eastern nations, in token of mourn ing for the death of a near relative (Jer. xvi. 6; Amos viii. 10; Micah i. 16), Moses forbade to the Israelites (Deut. xiv. 1), probably for the very reason of its being a heathen custom; for a leading object of his policy was to remove the Jews as far as possible from the ways and customs of the surrounding nations. Natural baldness was always treated among the Israelites with contempt (Lev. xiii. 40, &c.), and a bald man was not unfrequently exposed to the ridicule of the mob (2 Kings ii. 23; Isa. iii. 17)· perhaps from the suspicion of being under some leprous taint. The public prejudice thus entertained against a bald-headed man was perhaps the main reason why he was declared unfit for the priestly office (Lev. xxi. 20).
BALM. This substance is mentioned in Gen. xxxviii. 25; xliii. 11; Jer. viii. 22; xli. 8; xlvi. 11; Ezek. xxvii. 17, as a medicinal aromatic. It is shown in the following article that this balm could not have been the product of the so called balsam-tree, or balm of Gilead tree; and the product actually denoted by the word is in fact unknown.
bably was, introduced at a very early period. That it has long disappeared from thence is evident from the testimony of all travellers in Palestine. That it was a southern plant we may believe from its being cultivated in the warm southern valley of Jericho, and that it was introduced into that locality we have the testimony of Josephus, who says that it was brought thither by the Queen of Sheba.
The balsam-tree, or balm of Gilead tree, as it is also very generally called, is not a native of that region, nor indeed does it appear ever to have been cultivated there. The true balsam, we have seen, was cultivated near Jericho, and at a later age in Egypt. From that country it has been traced to Arabia.
The balsam-tree, having been described by various travellers, is now pretty well known. It forms a middle-sized tree, with spreading branches and a smooth ash-coloured bark, but which is no doubt rough in the older parts. The ultimate branches are short, and thorn-like, with small very short abortive branchlets, bearing at their extremities the leaves and flowers. The fruit is pointed, fleshy, with a viscid pulp.
This species is now considered to be identical with the Amyris opobalsamum of Forskal, found by him in Arabia, in the neighbourhood of the caravanserai of Oude, not far from Has, and the wounded bark of which yields opobalsamum, or balsam of Mecca. It is as highly esteemed by all Orientals in the present day as it was by the civilized nations of antiquity. Another species was discovered by Forskal, and called by him Amyris Käfal. It is a tree with reddish-coloured wood, and with branches rather spinous. The younger leaflets are described as being villous and acute, the old ones smooth, often obtuse; the berry compressed, with an elevated ridge on each side, the apex forming a black prominent point. The wood he describes as forming an article
BALSAM-TREE. The balsam-tree was one of the most celebrated and highly esteemed among the ancients. It is supposed to be referred to under the Hebrew names BASAM and BAAL-SHEMEN, translated spices,' in Exod. xxxv. 28; 1 Kings x. 10; Soi. Song, v. 1, 13. It would appear, however, from ancient authors that the plant yielding balsam was never very common in Palestine-in fact, that it was confined to one locality, where it was found only as a plant in cultivation, though it may have been, and pro- |
custom of furnishing each of the company with a magnificent habit of a light and showy colour, and richly embroidered, to be worn during the festivity (Eccles. ix. 8; Rev. iii. 4, 5). The loose and flowing style of this gorgeous mantle made it equally suitable for all; and it is almost incredible what a variety of such sumptuous garments the wardrobes of some great men could supply to equip a numerous party. In a large company, even of respectable persons, some might appear in a plainer and humbler garb than accorded with the taste of the entertainer; and where this arose from necessity or limited means, would have been harsh and unreasonable in the extreme to attach blame, or to command the instant and ignominious expulsion of the guest from the banquet-room. But where a well-appointed and sumptuous wardrobe was opened for the use of every guest,-to refuse the gay and splendid costume which the munificence of the host provided, and to persist in appearing in one's own habiliments, implied a contempt both for the master of the house and his entertainment, which could not fail to provoke resentment and our Lord therefore spoke in accordance with a wellknown custom of his country, when, in the parable of the marriage of the king's son, he describes the stern displeasure of the king on discovering one of the guests without a wedding-garment, and his instant command to thrust him out (Matt. xxii. 11). At private banquets the master of the house of course presided, and did the honours of the occasion; but in large and mixed companies it was anciently customary to elect a governor of the feast (John ii. 8; see also Ecclus. xxxii. 1), who should not merely perform the office of chairman, in preserving order and decorum, but take upon himself the general management of the festivities. As this office was considered a post of great responsibility and delicacy, as well as honour, the choice which among the Greeks and Romans was left to the decision of dice, was more wisely made by the Jews to fall upon him who was known to be possessed of the requisite qualities-a ready wit and convivial turn, and at the same time firmness of character and habits of temperance. The guests were scrupulously arranged according to their respective ranks. This was done either by the host or governor, who, in the case of a family, placed them according to seniority (Gen. xliii. 33), and in the case of others, assigned the most honourable a place near his own person; or it was done by the party themselves, on their successive arrivals, and after re-surveying the company, taking up the position which it appeared fittest for each according to their respective claims to occupy. It might be expected that among the Orientals, by whom the laws of etiquette in these matters are strictly observed, many absurd and ludicrous contests for precedence must take place, from the arrogance of some and the determined perseverance of others to wedge themselves into the seat they deem themselves entitled to. Accordingly Mo rier informs us, that, in Persia, it is easy to observe by the countenances of those present, wher any one has taken a higher place than he ought. On one occasion,' he adds, when an assembly was nearly full, the governor of Kashau, a ma of humble mien, came in, and had seated himself at the lowest place, when the host, after having
samum, or juice of the balsam, is generally de-
BANQUETS. Festive meetings among the Jews were held only towards the close of the day, as it was not till business was over that the Jews freely indulged in the pleasures of the table; and although in the days of Christ these meals were, after the Roman fashion, called suppers, they corresponded exactly to the dinners of modern times, the hour fixed for them varying from five to six o'clock P.M., or sometimes later.
On occasions of ceremony the company were invited a considerable time previous to the celebration of the feast; and on the day and at the hour appointed, an express by one or more servants, according to the number and distance of the expected guests, was despatched to announce that the preparations were completed, and that their presence was looked for immediately (Matt. xxii. 8; Luke xiv. 17). This custom obtains in the East at the present day; and the second invitation, which is sent to none but such as have been already invited, and have declared their acceptance, is always verbal, and is delivered by the messenger in his master's name, and frequently in the very language of Scripture.
At the small entrance door a servant was stationed to receive the tablets or cards of those who were expected; and as curiosity usually collected a crowd of troublesome spectators, anxious to press forward into the scene of gaiety, the gate was opened only so far as was necessary for the admission of a single person at a time, who, on presenting his invitation ticket, was conducted through a long and narrow passage into the ceiving-room; and then, after the whole company were assembled, the master of the house shut the door with his own hands-a signal to the servant to allow himself to be prevailed on neither by noise nor by importunities, however loud and long continued, to admit the bystanders. To this custom there is a manifest reference in Luke xiii. 24, and Matt. xxv. 10.
One of the first marks of courtesy shown to the guests, after saluting the host, was the refreshment of water and fragrant oil or perfumes; and hence we find our Lord complaining of Simon's omission of these customary civilities (Luke vii. 44; see also Mark vii. 4) [ANOINTING]. But a far higher, though necessarily less frequent attention paid to their friends by the great, was the
testified his particular
merous expressions oftentions to him by nu-| frequently employed in sprinkling the head and
hand to an upper seat, which he desired him to
It would be difficult within a short compass to describe the form and arrangements of the table, as the entertainments spoken of in Scripture were not all conducted in a uniform style. In ancient Egypt, as in Persia, the tables were ranged along the sides of the room, and the guests were placed with their faces towards the walls. Persons of high official station were honoured with a table apart for themselves at the head of the room; and in these particulars every reader of the Bible will trace an exact correspondence to the arrangements of Joseph's entertainment to his brethren. According to Lightfoot, the tables of the Jews were either wholly uncovered, or two-thirds were spread with a cloth, while the remaining third was left bare for the dishes and vegetables. In the days of our Lord the prevailing form was the triclinium, the mode of reclining at which is described elsewhere [ACCUBATION]. This effeminate practice was not introduced until near the close of the Old Testament history, for the ancient Israelites sat round a low table, crosslegged, like the Orientals of the present day.
The convenience of knives and forks being unknown in the East, or, where known, being a modern innovation, the hand is the only instrument used in conveying food to the mouth, and the common practice, their food being chiefly prepared in a liquid form, is to dip their thin wafer-like bread into the dish, and folding it between their thumb and two fingers, enclose a portion of the contents. to see several hands plunged into one dish at It is not uncommon the same time. merous, the two persons near or opposite are But where the party is nucommonly joined in one dish; and accordingly, at the last Passover, Judas, being close to his master, was pointed out as the traitor by being designated as the person dipping his hand with Jesus in the dish.' The Apostle John, whose advantageous situation enabled him to hear the minutest parts of the conversation, has recorded the fact of our Lord, in reply to the question Who is it? answering it by giving a sop to Judas when he had dipped' (John xiii. 26); and this leads us to mention it as not the least among the peculiarities of Oriental manners, that a host often dips his hand into a dish, and lifting a handful of what he considers a dainty, offers the sop to one of his friends. In earlier ages, a double or a more liberal portion, or a choice piece of cookery, was the form in which a landlord showed his respect for the individual he delighted to honour (Gen. xliii. 34; 1 Sam. i. 4; x. 23; Prov. xxxi. 15). In the course of the entertainment servants are
which, probably to counteract the effects of too
besmeared with grease during the process of eat-
quently give public entertainments to the poor.
sary, as the heat of the climate would spoil the meats long before they could be consumed by the members of his own household. But many of the great, from benevolence or ostentation, are in the habit of proclaiming set days for giving feasts to the poor; and then, at the time appointed, may be seen crowds of the blind, the halt, and the mairied bending their steps to the scene of entertainment. This species of charity claims a venerable antiquity. Our Lord recommended his wealthy hearers to practise it rather than spend their fortunes, as they did, on luxurious living (Luke xiv. 12); and as such invitations to the poor are of necessity given by public proclamation, and female messengers are employed to publish them, it is probably to the same venerable practice that Solomon alludes in Prov. ix. 3.
BAPTISM. A conviction of the holiness of God excites in man the notion that he cannot possibly come into any amicable relation with him before he is cleansed of sin, which separates him from God. This sentiment found a very widely extended symbolic expression in the lustrations which formed an essential part of the ceremonial creeds of the ancient nations. In the language of the prophets, cleansing with water is used as an emblem of the purification of the heart, which in the Messianic age is to glorify the soul in her innermost recesses, and to embrace the whole of the theocratic nation (Ezek. xxxvi. 25, sq.; Zech. xiii. 1). Such declarations gave rise to or nourished the expectation that the advent of the Messiah would manifest itself by a preparatory lustration, by which Elijah or some other great prophet would pave the way for him. This supposition lies evidently at the bottom of the questions which the Jews put to John the Baptist (John i. 25: comp. Matt. and Luke, iii. 7), whether he was the Messiah, or Elijah, or some other prophet? and if not, why he undertook to baptize? Thus we can completely clear up the historical derivation of the rite, as used by John and Christ, from the general and natural symbol of baptism, from the Jewish custom in particular, and from the expectation of a Messianic consecration. Dans, Ziegler, and others have, nevertheless, supposed it to be derived from the Jewish ceremonial of baptizing proselytes; and Wetstein has traced that rite up to a date earlier than Christianity. But this opinion is not at all tenable: for, as an act which strictly gives validity to the admission of a proselyte, and is no mere accompaniment to his admission, baptism certainly is not alluded to in the New Testament; while, as to the passages quoted in proof from the classical (profane) writers of that period, they are all open to the most fundamental objections. Nor is the utter silence of Josephus and Philo on the subject, notwithstanding their various opportunities of touching on it, a less weighty argument against this view. It is true that mention is made in the Talmud of that regulation as already existing in the first century A.D.; but such statements belong only to the traditions of the Gemara, and require careful investigation before they can serve as proper authority. This Jewish rite was probably originally only a purifying ceremony; and it was raised to the character of an initiating and indispensable rite coordinate with that of sacrifice and circumcision,
only after the destruction of the Temple, when sacrifices had ceased, and the circumcision of proselytes had, by reason of public edicts, become more and more impracticable.
BAPTISM OF JOHN. It was the principal object of John the Baptist to combat the prevailing opinion, that the performance of external ceremonies was sufficient to secure participation in the kingdom of God and his promises; he required repentance, therefore, as a preparation for the approaching kingdom of the Messiah. That he may possibly have baptized heathens also, seems to follow from his censuring the Pharisees for confiding in their descent from Abraham, while they had no share in his spirit: yet it should not be overlooked that this remark was drawn from him by the course of the argument (Matt. iii. 8, 9; Luke iii. 7, 8). We must, on the whole, assume that John considered the existing Judaism as a stepping-stone by which the Gentiles were to arrive at the kingdom of God in its Messianic form. The general point of view from which John contemplated the Messiah and his kingdom was that of the Old Testament, though closely bordering on Christianity. He regards, it is true, an alteration in the mind and spirit as an indispensable condition for partaking in the kingdom of the Messiah; still he looked for its establishment by means of conflict and external force, with which the Messiah was to be endowed; and he expected in him a Judge and Avenger, who was to set up outward and visible distinctions. It is, therefore, by no means a matter of indifference whether baptism be administered in the name of that Christ who floated before the mind of John, or of the suffering and glorified One, such as the apostles knew him; and whether it was considered a preparation for a political, or a consecration into a spiritual theocracy. John was so far from this latter view, so far from contemplating a purely spiritual development of the kingdom of God, that he even began subsequently to entertain doubts concerning Christ (Matt. xi. 2). John's baptism had not the character of an immediate, but merely of a preparatory consecration for the glorified theo. cracy (John i. 31). The Apostles, therefore, found it necessary to re-baptize the disciples of John, who had still adhered to the notions of their master on that head (Acts xix.). To this apostolic judgment Tertullian appeals, and in his opinion coincide the most eminent teachers of the ancient church, both of the East and the West.
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS BY JOHN (Matt. iii. 13, sq.; Mark i. 9, sq.; Luke iii. 21, sq.; comp. John i. 19, sq.; the latter passage refers to a time after the baptism, and describes, ver. 32, the incidental facts attending it).-The baptism of Jesus, as the first act of his public career, is one of the most important events recorded in evangelical history: great difficulty is also involved in reconciling the various accounts given by the Evangelists of that transaction, and the several points connected with it. To question the fact itself, not even the negative criticism of Dr. Strauss has dared. This is, however, all that has been conceded by that criticism, viz., the mere and bare fact that Christ was baptized by John,' while all the circumstances of the event are placed in the region of mythology or fiction.