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CHRIST'S TEACHINGS FROM GOD--GNATS.
mountains of chaff which have gathered there for ages, and he would hurl the thunderbolts of his wrath against a thousand hypocritical deceivers of mankind. Oh how radical, profound, and far-reaching are the simplest laws of Christ, and how prodigious the revolution they contemplate and require! “Swear not at all.” Why, the whole Arab race must quit talking altogether. They can not say simply Yea, yea, nay, nay.
"Lie not one to another.” Impossible! every thing within, without, and about you is a lie. “Do to others as ye would that they should do to you.” This precept seems to want a not somewhere or other. “Salute no man by the way." Absurdl we must manufacture compliments as fast as possible, and utter them with grace and gravity to friend and foe alike. But why multiply any farther comparisons and contrasts? The subject is inexhaustible, and enough has been said or hinted to prove that Jesus did not borrow the lessons he taught. They are not from man, of man, nor by man, but they are of God.
Shut to the tent door, and put the candle outside, or we shall be overwhelmed by a deluge of gnats. This is one of the plagues of this filthy city. Once, when encamped on this very spot, they came in such incredible swarms as literally to cover up and extinguish the candle. In five minutes their dead carcasses accumulated on the top so as to put it out. It seemed to me at the time that Tiberias might be rendered absolutely uninhabitable by this insignificant, almost invisible enemy. Has it never occurred to
that the writers of the Bible were very indifferent to those sources of annoyance which travelers now dwell upon with such vehement and pathetic lamentation? Gnats, for example, are only mentioned once, and then not as an annoyance, but to introduce and give point to a severe rebuke upon pharisaical scrupulosity: Ye blind guides, which strain at (or out) a gnat and swallow a camel. And certainly no comparison could better express the absurdity and hypocrisy of their conduct. As another instance of this indifference to small annoy
Matt, xxiii. 24.
1 can not but think just now of the flea. These most troublesome creatures are only mentioned by David in his complaint to Saul: After whom dost thou pursue—after a dead dog, after a flea ? For the King of Israel is come out to seek a flea, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains,
True; but the reference is very emphatic. There are at this moment myriads of men, women, and children chasing these nimble creatures through all the mysteries and hidingplaces of their manifold garments. Still, it is remarkable that such an omnipresent source of vexation should not be more frequently mentioned, and the more so, as in this matter the Bible differs entirely from all Oriental writings. The Arabs, in their poetry, fables, stories, and general literature, not only mention the flea, but with every possible term of dislike and malediction. The Bedawîn, though filthy to a proverb, and patient, ad nauseam, of other vermin, have the greatest dread of the flea, and whenever they appear in their camp they break up and remove to another. Indeed, it is quite in the power of fleas to compel an evacuation. I have seen places where Arabs had been encamped literally swarming with them, as though the very dust had turned to fleas. One could not stand a moment on such a spot without having his legs quite black with them; and, beyond a doubt, if a person were bound and left there, he would soon be worried to death. An Arab proverb informs us that the king of the fleas holds his court in Tiberias. It is fortunate that etiquette does not oblige us to frequent it.
I was somewhat startled to find myself this morning in close proximity to a more formidable species of vermin than either gnats or fleas. While seated on a dilapidated sepulchre, an immense centipede crawled out cautiously, and made directly for my hand, which I quickly gave, and with it a smart stone, to add emphasis to the salutation. Are these ugly creatures really dangerous ?
I am surprised to find them stirring so early in the spring, though Tiberias is hot enough for them or for any thing
11 Sam. xxiv. 14, and xxvi. 20.
else. The bite of the centipede is not fatal, but is said to be extremely painful, and very slow to heal. The Arabs say that it strikes its fore claws into the flesh, and there they break off and remain, thus rendering the wound more troublesome. I never saw a person bitten by them, but their mere appearance makes one's flesh creep. While the locusts were passing through Abeîh, they started up a very large centipede near my house, and I was greatly amused with its behavior. As the living stream rolled over it without cessation for a moment, it became perfectly furious; bit on the right hand and the left, writhed, and squirmed, and floundered in impotent wrath, and was finally worried to death. During this extraordinary battle its look was almost satanic.
How sweetly the day draws to a close around this warm and delightful lake! and there come the droves of cattle and donkeys down from the green hills where they pasture! I have seen no place where there are so many, or at least where they are brought home together, and in such crowds. Last night the thought struck me as they were entering the gate, and away I hurried after them, to see whether these Tiberian donkeys were as wise as those Isaiah mentions. True to life, no sooner had we got within the walls, than the drove began to disperse. Every ox knew perfectly well his owner, his house, and the way to it, nor did he get bewildered for a moment in the mazes of these narrow and crooked alleys. As for the asses, they walked straight to the door, and up to their master's “crib,” without turning to bid good-night to their companions of the field. I followed one company clear into their habitation, and saw each take his appropriate manger, and begin his evening meal of dry tibn. Isaiah says in all this they were wiser than their owners, who neither knew nor considered, but forsook the Lord, and provoked the Holy One of Israel. These "* cribs” of Isaiah are, I suppose, the “mangers” of the New Testament, in one of which the infant Redeemer was laid ? It is so understood by the Arabs, so translated in their
Isa. i. 3, 4. VOL. II.-E