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BIBLICAL


551


BIBLICAL


Irrigation was practised to a certain extent in Pales- tine, though not carried to the same extent as in Assj-ria, Babj'lonia, and Egj-pt. The chief depend- ence for moisture was on the dew and the drenching rains of the rainy season. The climate of Palestine was, as a whole, favourable to agriculture, although in modem times the valleys and the plains have greatly deteriorated in fertility. The ground was ordinarily fertilized by the ashes of burnt straw and .stubble, the chaff left after threshing, and the direct applica- tion of dung. According to the Mosaic law, every tillable land should enjoy on each seventh year a .yabbath, or a rest. The year in question is called the Sabbatic Year, in which the field was not to be tilled. The object of this prescription was to heighten tlie natural fertility of the .soil. What grew spon- taneously in that year was to be not alone for the owner, but, on equal terms, for the poor, for strangers and for cattle. It is doubtful, however, whether this law was scrupulously observed in later Hebrew times. The most widely cultivated grains were wheat and barley, as well as spelt and millet. Of plants and vegetables the principal were grape-vines, olive-trees, nuts, apples, figs, pomegranates, beans, lentils, onions, melons, cucumbers, etc. The season for ploughing and cultivating the ground extended from October to March; that of gathering the crops from April or May to September. The plough was similar to our modern one. It was ordinarily drawn by two oxen, cows or asses, never, however, by an a.ss and an ox together. It was also forbidden under penalty of confiscation to sow the same field with two kinds of seeds. The beginning of the harvest was signalized by bringing a sheaf of new grain (pre- sumably barley) into the sanctuary and waving it before the Lord. The grain was generally cut with the sickle, and sometimes pulled up by the roots. Fields and fruit-orchards were not to be gleaned by their owners, as this privilege was given to the poor and strangers, as in the case of Ruth. The threshing and winnowing were performed in the open field, the first by means of cattle yoked together, the other by shovels and fans.

(7) Commerce. — The Hebrew people of olden times were not inclined towards commerce and did not indulge in it. This is probably due partly to the geographical position of Palestine and partly to its physical features. For although, geographically, Pal- estine would seem to have offered the most natural highway to connect the opulent commercial nations of Egv'pt, Syria, Phcenicia, Assyria, and Babylonia, nevertheless, it lacked a sea-coast. Hence the Lsraelites remained essentially agriculturists. The trade of the Israelites consisted chiefly in the mutual exchange of products among themselves. At the time of Davia and Solomon, caravans from Egj-pt, Arabia, and Syria were not infrequently sent to Palestine and vice versa. The ships which Solomon is said to have sent to remote lands were built and manned by the Phoenicians. But even this revival of commercial spirit among the Hebrews was short- lived, for it ended with the life of Solomon. Solomon's commercial activities have been also greatly mis- understood and exaggerated. A faint revival of the Solomonic commercial spirit was inaugurated by King Jehoshaphat, of whom we read that he made "ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Eziongeber" [I (D. V. Ill) Kings, xxii, 48]. During and after the Babylonian Captivity, the Hebrews were com- pelled by circumstances to resort to trade and com- merce, as they had come into constant contact with their Babylonian brethren and with the numerous Syro-Pha?nician and Arama-an tribes and colonies. The historian Josephas well summarizes this whole matter when, in his work against Apion, he says: "We neither inhabit a maritime country, nor do we


delight in merchandise, nor in such a mixture with other men as arises from it."

Previous to the Babylonian Captivity, coined money does not seem to have circulated among the Hebrews, although a few references in Isaiah and other prophets seem to indicate its existence. Silver and gold were bought and exchanged by weight and value. The talent, the shekel, the kesitah, and the maneh (mina) are late Hebrew terms and of Babylonian origin. After the Exile, and especially during the Persian, Greek, and Roman dominations, coined money became quite common in Palestine, such as the quadrant:, the assarion, the denarius, the drachma, the stater, the didrachma, etc.

During the time of the monarchy and afterwards, such trades and occupations as woodworking, metal- working, stoneworking, tanning, and weaving were thoroughly in evidence among the most industrious class of the Israelites, but the Chosen People cannot be said to have attained considerable skill and suc- cess in these directions.

(8) Science, arts, etc. — At no time can the Hebrews be said to have developed a liking for the study of history, astronomy, astrologj-, geometrj', arithmetic, grammar, and physical science in general. The Book of Job, Proverbs, and the many parables which Solomon is said to have written contain but meagre and popular notions, mostly drawTi from obser- vations of everyday life and happenings, while others are, to a great extent, due to the Babylonian in- fluence and civilization which, from verj' early times, and especially during and after the Captivity, seem to have invaded the entire literary and social life of the Hebrews. Hence the Hebrew astronomical system, their calendar, constellations, sacred num- bers, names of tlie months, solar and lunar months, etc., are of Babylonian origin. The Book of Job no less than the early chapters of Genesis show the traces of this same Babylonian influence.

As the Tell-c!-Amarna letters have conclusively shown, the art of WTiting must have been known in Canaan and among the ancient Hebrews as early as the Mosaic age, and even earlier. Whether, however, this art was utilized by them to any great extent, is another question. Hebrew literature is one of the most venerable and valuable literarj- productions of the ancient East; and, although in respect of quantity and variety far iniferior to that of the Assyro-Babylonians and Egj'ptians, never- theless, in loftiness of ideals, sublimity of thoughts, and standard of morals and ethics, it is infinitely superior to them.

The art of music, both vocal and instrumental, occupies a high position in the Bible. Previous to the time of David, the music of the Hebrews seems to have been of the simplest character, as direct efforts to cultivate music among them appear first in connexion with the schools of the prophets, founded by Samuel. Under David's direction not less than four thousand musicians, i. e. more than the tenth part of the tribe of Levi, praised the Lord with "instruments" in the service of the temple. A select body of two hundred and eighty-eight trained musicians led this chorus of voices, one person being placed as leader over a section consisting of twelve singers. Heman, Asaph, and Ethan were among the most famous of these leaders. Men and women were associated together in the choir. In later Hebrew times the art of music developed still further till it reached its acme under Hezekiah and Josiah. The Hebrew musical instruments were, like tho.sc of other nations of antiquity, chiefly of three kinds, viz: stringed instruments, wind in- struments, and such as were beaten or shaken to produce sound. To the first class belong the harp, the psaltery (also rendered "viol", "dulcimer", etc.), the sackbut (Lat. Sambuca). To the second belong