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will never fail to be read by the scholar; but it cannot be expected that the generality of christians can derive much benefit from that, which from its extent is almost inaccessible to many persons. must also be admitted that some of the subjects which are there discussed may be dispensed with, as not being of much importance. The style is sometimes prolix, and difficult of conception, and the arrangement is certainly capable of improvement. On the whole, the book would be more valuable if it were more select in its subjects and compressed in its language. This object long appeared so important, that I determined to execute an abridgment of these observations for my own private use; but upon further reflection, I was induced to undertake the compilation of a volume to include the substance of the best writers of this class. The production now offered to the public is the fruit of that resolution.
I have endeavoured to select from Mr. Harmer's Observations whatever appeared important and interesting. This has not indeed been done in the form of a regular abridgment; but after extracting such materials as appeared suitable, I have inserted them in those places, where, according to the passages prefixed to each of the articles, they ought to stand. This method I apprehend to be new, and not before attempted, but I hope will prove both agreeable and useful. As it is the avowed intention of each article to explain some passage, it is proper that it should be inserted at length, and in a manner so conspicuous as at once to attract the attention of the reader.
To the materials collected from Mr. Harmer, have been added some very important remarks from Shaw, Pococke, Russell, Bruce, and other eminent writers. It is admitted that many of these things have repeatedly passed through the press; but as the valuable observations which have been made by travellers and critics lie interspersed in separate and expensive publications, a compendious selection of them appeared very desirable, and is here accomplished.
But many of the following observations are original : they are not however particularly distinguished from the rest. I must here avail myself of an opportunity to acknowledge my obligations to Mr. Gillingwater, of Harleston in Norfolk, for the very liberal manner in which he favoured me with the use of his manuscript papers. They consist of additions to, and corrections of Mr. Harmer's Observations, and were communicated to that gentleman with a view to assist him in the farther prosecution of his work; but it was too late, as the fourth and last volume was then nearly completed at the press, and in a single instance only towards the close of it was any use made of these materials. From this col, lection I have made many extracts, and have enriched this volume with several new articles on subjects which had not before been discussed. In the progress of my work I have also derived very considerable assistance from many valuable books furnished by James Brown, Esq. of St. Albans, for which I acknowledge myself greatly obliged, and especially for his very careful correction of the manuscript before it went to the press.
That this work might be rendered acceptable to the scholar, and those who have inclination to consult the sources from whence the information it contains is drawn, the authorities in most instances have been very particularly inserted. It must however be observed, that one principal object in view was the advantage of christians in general. I have aimed to furnish the plain reader with a book to which he may refer for information, on such passages of scripture as appear obscure and difficult, at least those which are to be explained by the method here adopted. Two indexes, one of scriptures incidentally illustrated, and the other of subjects discussed, are subjoined: an appendage, which I conceive no book ought to be destitute of that is designed to be useful. A
very considerable claim to candour may be advanced in favour of this work. The number and difficulty of the subjects treated of-the compass of reading necessary to obtain materials to elucidate them—the singular felicity of avoiding undue prolixity or unsatisfactory conciseness—and the perplexity arising from the jarring opinions of learned men on many of these subjects, render it an arduous task for an individual to accomplish. Without presuming to suppose that I have always succeeded in ascertaining the true meaning of those difficult texts which are brought forward, I have done the best which I could to remove their obscurity, and to give them a consistent and intelligible meaning. Nec semper feriet quodcunque minabitur arcus. Many of the observations here advanced are indeed rather proposed to consideration, than offered to decide positively the meaning of those passages to which they are attached. The same diversity of sentiment which has influenced commentators and prevented an unanimity of judgment, may justly be supposed to induce some readers to form their opinion as variously.
SAMUEL BURDER. ST. ALBAN'S, JAN. 8, 1802.
AUTHOR'S ADVERTISEMENT TO THE SECOND EDITION.
The former edition of the first volume of this work was so favourably received, as to encourage the author to proceed in his labours. The same writers who supplied materials for that volume have been again examined, and much that is new selected from them. Other valuable authors have also been perused, and have afforded important assistance in composing the second volume. Considerable use has been made of the classical writers. The reader will find a great body of information condensed into a small compass, and applied to elucidate many obscure passages of Scripture. The author has only to add, that he hopes his readers will excuse tlie trouble of consulting the Work under two distinct arrangements, as, for the accommodation of the purchasers of the first volume, it was determined that in this new edition the second should be sold separately.
ST. ALBANS, JAN. 8, 1807.
· If the reader pleases to refer to the Author's “Advertisement to the Second Edition,” in the preceding page, he will find him tendering an apology for the manner in which the * Oriental Customs” were delivered to the public, and for the inconvenience to which the arrangement founded thereon unavoidably subjected the purchasers of the Work; and this only requires to be explained, in order to demonstrate the superiority of the present to all the editions that have preceded it.
Mr. Burder first issued from the press a single octavo volume, the materials of which related to subjects that were selected from almost every book in the Bible-extending from Genesis to Revelations. But while that edition was being disposed of, he had prepared a second volume from materials culled from the same ground; and this, instead of being incorporated with the contents of the former volume, was printed separately to accommodate the purchasers of the first. It, however, necessarily subjected those who purchased both volumes to the inconvenience of having to consult the Work under two distinct arrangements, or to go a second time over the same ground. In the present edition this inconvenience is entirely obviated, by incorporating the entire contents of both volumes under one and the same arrangement.
But this, though in itself a manifest improvement, forms but a minor part of what is effected in the present instance. Any one who will give himself the trouble to examine the editions published in the author's life-time, will find a still greater objection arising from his rigid adherence to the order in which the books stand in our copies of the Holy Scriptures. For instance, let the reader pitch upon a particular subject first mentioned in the book of Genesis as the creation of the world, the sabbath, or the deluge, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he will find in Mr. Burder's editions something relating to these subjects, founded on a text in Genesis it may be, but the same topic is referred to by another of the inspired writers in a subsequent part of scripture, perhaps in one of the prophetical books, or in the New Testament; it may happen to be in both, and an additional illustration is there given of it: so that the reader has often to turn from passage to passage, and from volume to volume, before he is in possession of the whole of the illustration of any given subject which the work furnishes. But this great inconvenience is got rid of in the present edition, in which the reader will find that all the various illustrations that in the former editions lay dispersed throughout different books, are here brought into juxta-position, and reduced under one head, following each other consecutively. This is done by affixing an appropriate head or title to each of the topics illustrated, and thus the student finds the whole of what relates to any specific subject, of which any illustration is attempted, lying before him at one view. And as the whole of the subjects illustrated are arranged in alphabetical order in the Table of Contents, or Index, he has only to run an eye down the column till he find the subject wanted, and he is instantly referred to the page in which it commences.
Such are the improvements characterizing the present edition ; and the publisher persuades himself that they will be duly estimated by a discerning public, and obtain for it a decided preference over its competitors.
T. T. DEC. 15, 1838.
ABEL'S OFFERINĠ. Genesis iv. 4. Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock.] The universality of sacrificial rites will naturally produce an inquiry into the source from which such a custom, so inexplicable upon any principles of mere natural reason, could have been derived. And here we are involuntarily led to the first institution of this ordinance, which is so particularly recorded in scripture. When it pleased God to reveal his gracious purpose of redeeming lost mankind by the blood of the Messiah, it would doubtless be highly expedient to institute some visible sign, some external representation, by which the mysterious sacrifice of Mount Calvary might be prophetically exhibited to all the posterity of Adam. With this view, a pure and immaculate victim, the firstling of the flock, was carefully selected; and, after its blood had been shed, was solemnly appointed to blaze upon the altar of Jehovah. When the first typical sacrifice was offered up, fire miraculously descended from heaven, and consumed it; and when this primitive ordinance was renewed under the levitical priesthood, two circumstances are particularly worthy of observation—that the victim should be a firstling--and that the oblation should be made by the instrumentality of fire. It is remarkable that both these primitive customs have been faithfully preserved in the heathen world. The Canaanites caused their first-born to pass through the fire, with a view of appeasing the anger of their false deities; and one of the kings of Moab is said to have offered up his eldest son as a burnt-offering, when in danger from the superior prowess of the Edomites. 2 Kings iii. 27. Nor was the belief, that the gods were rendered propitious by this particular mode of sacrifice, confined to the nations which were more immediately contiguous to the territories of Israel. We learn from Homer, that a whole hecatomb of firstling lambs was no uncommon offering among his countrymen. (Iliad iv. ver. 202). And the ancient Goths, “having laid it down as a principle, that the effusion of the blood of animals appeased the anger of the gods, and that their justice turned aside upon the victims those strokes
which were destined for men” (Mallet's North Antiq. vol. i. chap. 7), soon proceeded to greater lengths, and adopted the horrid practice of devoting human victims. In honour of the mystical number three, a number deemed particularly dear to Heaven, every ninth month witnessed the groans and dying struggles of nine unfortunate victims. The fatal blow being struck, the lifeless bodies were consumed in the sacred fire, which was kept perpetually burning; while the blood, in singular conformity with the levitical ordinances, was sprinkled, partly upon the surrounding multitude, partly upon the trees of the hallowed grove, and partly upon the images of their idols. (Mallet's North. Antiq. vol. i. chap. 7). Even the remote inhabitants of America have retained similar customs, and for similar reasons. It is somewhere observed by Acosta, that in case of sickness, it is usual for a Peruvian to sacrifice his son to Virachoca, beseeching him to spare his life, and to be satisfied with the blood of his child. FABER's Hore Mosaica, vol. i. p. 88. .
ABLUTIONS FREQUENT AMONG THE JEWS. Matt. iii. 15. Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.] Previous both to anointing and clothing at the consecration of the Jewish high-priest, there was another ceremony, that of washing with water. This was common both to the high-priest and the other priests. Exod. xxix. 4. From hence some have explained these words of our Lord when he desired to be baptized by John; that being about to enter upon his priestly office, it became him to be baptized, or washed, according to the law, which he was subject to. JENNINGS's Jewish Ant. vol. i. p. 204.
Mark vii. 3. Except they wash their hands oft.] TUYUn vifwvtat, except they washed with their fist. Theophylact translates it, unless they washed up to their elbow, affirming that πυγμη
denotes the whole of the arm from the bending to the ends of the fingers. But this sense of the word is altogether unusual; for truyun properly is the hand, with the fingers contracted into the palm and made round. Theophylact's translation, however, exhibits the evangelist's meaning. For the Jews, when they washed, held up their hands, and contracting their fingers, received the water that was poured on them by their servants (who had it for a part of their office, 2 Kings iii. 11), till it ran down their arms, which they washed up to their elbows. MACKNIGHT's Harmony, vol.ii. p. 352. .
MARK vii. 5. But eat bread with unwashen hands.] Amongst the ridiculous superstitions of the Jews, it is curious to mark the rule which they established concerning eating with their hands, washed or not washed. Bread might not be eaten unless they had first washed their hands, but they were allowed to eat dry fruits with unwashen hands. This circumstance should be particularly noticed, as bread is emphatically mentioned by the Evangelist. See Wootton's Miscell. vol. i. p. 166.