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that were faint-hearted were first sent away; then all the rest, excepting three hundred men of peculiar alacrity and dispatch, the most proper for the business for which they were designed, but visibly unequal to the task of opposing the Midianites and without some miraculous interposition of GOD-absolutely unequal.
Butter and Honey used as a Breakfast among the Arabs.
It is surprising that so celebrated an author as Alting should imagine these words of the Prophet, butter and honey shall he eat, &c. are expressive of a state of poverty; yet Vitringa, in his commentary on them, assures us this is his sentiment.
The Old Testament so often speaks of honey and milk as emblems of plenty, and the connexion between butter and milk is so obvious, that few, I believe, have embraced his opinion, It will not however be amiss, to cite a passage or two from d'Arvieux's account of his journey to the Grand Emirs camp, to establish this point, especially as it will give occasion to other reflections.
D'Arvieux being in the camp of that Arab prince, who lived in much splendor, and treated
* Is. vii. 15.
him with great regard, was entertained, he tells us, the first morning of his being there, with little loaves, honey, new-churned butter, and loaves of cream, more delicate than any he ever saw, together with coffee. Agreeably to this, he assures us in another place, that one of the principal things with which the Arabs regale themselves at breakfast is cream, or new butter, mingled with honey; a mixture, he observes, which seems odd, but which experience proves not to be bad.
According to him then, butter and honey is an exquisite breakfast among the Arabs, and presented by princes to those they would honour with great distinction; consequently nothing is more unhappy than the thought of Alting.
Every one's eating butter and honey, (of the poor people that should be left in the land,) mentioned Is. vii. 22, is by no means contrary to this account of d'Arvieux; it apparently signifies the plenty in which those should live there that survived the desolation of that country, and continued in it when laid open and become common. The Prophet expressly says, the eating of butter was to be the consequence of abundance of milk.
A delicacy in use in France, which the English translator expresses by cheese-cakes, though I have been assured they are different things.
I suspect this, says Dr. Russell (MS. note) to be kaymak. EDIT.
The account that is given of the diet of John the Baptist may be thought a much stronger objection. He lived on locusts and wild honey, and his way of life is represented, by our LORD, as the very reverse of those who dwell in kings' courts, nay, as very different from his own; consequently honey and locusts must be thought to have been then reckoned very coarse sorts of food, whatever honey may now be among the Arabs. But the force sof this difficulty lies in taking for granted, what is not to be admitted, that the management of John was like the affected rigor and pompous abstinence of some superstitious hermits; whereas the account we have of him only expresses great simplicity-that he contented himself with what nature offered him in those retreats. This, to those that expected the Messiah's should be an earthly kingdom, and those that were concerned in introducing it, great men after the manner of this world, might well be pointed out by our LORD as a thing extremely observable.
There is a passage in Rauwolff that greatly illustrates this explanation, in which, speaking of his passing through the Arabian deserts, he says, "We were necessitated to be contented with some slight food or other, and make a shift with curds, cheese, fruits, honey, &c. and to take any of these, with bread, for a
f I suspect, says Dr. Russell, (MS. note) that the curds here, mean leban dried. EDIT.
good entertainment. The honey in these parts is very good, and of a whitish colour, whereof they take in their caravans and navigations, great leather bottles full along with them'; this they bring you in small cups, and put a little butter to it, and so you eat it with biscuits. By this dish, I often remember St. John the Baptist, the forerunner of our LORD, how he also did eat honey in the deserts, together with other food. Besides this, when we had a mind to feast ourselves, some ran, as soon as our master had landed at night, to fetch some wood, and others in the mean time made a hole in the ground on the shore, in the nature of a furnace, to boil our meat. So every company dressed accordingly what they had a mind to, or what they had laid up in store; some boiled rice, others ground corn, &c. And when they had a mind to eat new bread, instead, or for want of biscuits, they made a paste of flour and water," &c. Rauwolff speaks of honey, fruits, curds, and cheese, as sorts of food that they were obliged to make a shift with, and he opposes them to those eatables on which they sometimes feasted, but certainly not because these things were in themselves coarse and mortifying; for he tells us, the honey was very good, and elsewhere speaks of the bringing some of these things to the Eastern tables, as delicacies at the close of their entertainments: but he considers them when alone as being a slight sort of food, and which people are not
Cheese and fruits.
wont to be pleased with without something of amore solid kind. Such doubtless, was the character of the Baptist's abstemiousness, nót pompous, affected, and brutal, like that of the hermits of superstition, (who more resemble Nebuchadnezzar in his 'distraction, than the forerunner of our LORD);.but perfectly natural, as living among the people of the Wilderness, contenting himself therefore with anway of life sparing as theirs, and perhaps more visibly dependent on what Providence presented than even they, instead of living in abundance and profusion, after the manner of those that dwelt in kings' palaces, or eating bread and meat, and drinking wine as our LORD did. '
This explanation will, at the same time, remove a difficulty, that might otherwise arise from what modern authors have told us, of the agreeableness of the taste of locusts, and their being frequently used for food in the East: Dr. Shaw observing, that when they are sprinkled with salt, and fried, they are not unlike, in taste, to our fresh-water cray-fish ; Russell saying, the Arabs salt them up, · and eat them as a delicacy.
Even this clothing of hair is mentioned by Rauwolff as in common use in those deserts; and he says, that he himself, in his travels among that people, put on a frock of this kind.'
P. 123 and 156. These garments however were made of the hair of goats and asses, whereas the clothing of