Imatges de pÓgina

mixed. After a few minutes they are taken out and dried in the sun; the head, feet, and wings are then torn off; the bodies are cleansed from the salt and perfectly dried, after which process whole sacks are filled with them by the Bedawîn. They are sometimes eaten boiled in butter, and they often contribute materials for a breakfast when spread over unleavened bread mixed with butter." Thus far Burckhardt. Locusts are not eaten in Syria by any but the Bedawîn on the extreme frontiers, and it is always spoken of as a very inferior article of food, and regarded by most with disgust and loathing-tolerated only by the very poorest people. John the Baptist, however, was of this class, either from necessity or election. He also dwelt in the desert, where such food was and is still used, and therefore the text states the simple truth. His ordinary "meat" was dried locusts; probably fried in butter and mixed with honey, as is still frequently done. This honey, too, was the article made by bees, and not dibs from grapes, nor dates from the palm, nor any thing else which ingenious commentators have invented. Wild honey is still gathered in large quantities from trees in the wilderness, and from rocks in the wadies, just where the Baptist sojourned, and where he came preaching the baptism of repentance.

Nor did John transgress the law of Moses by thus eating locusts. Disgusting and nauseous as this food appears to us, the Hebrews in the wilderness-probably in Egypt also

-were accustomed to use it, and in Levit. xi. 22 it is declared to be clean in all its varieties, one of which is wrongly called beetle in our translation. No people ever eat any of the beetle tribe so far as I can discover, and there can be no reasonable doubt but that salam, rendered beetle, and khargal, grasshopper, are both varieties of the locust.

Here is Mejdel, seated on the southern margin of Gennesaret. It is a wretched hamlet of a dozen low huts huddled into one, and the whole ready to tumble into a dismal heap of black basaltic rubbish. This is the city of Mary Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and it seems to be in very significant keeping with the only incident that

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has given it a history. Evil spirits of some sort must possess the inhabitants, for they are about the worst specimen. in the country; and yet they dwell on the shore of this silvery lake, and cultivate this plain of Gennesaret, which Josephus calls the "ambition of nature."


And so it well may be called, to judge from this large expanse of luxuriant barley and wheat. The whole plain is one waving field of grain, without hedge, ditch, or fence of any kind to break the even continuity.

Turn westward here, along the base of the mountain, and in half an hour we shall enter the great gorge of Wady Hamâm. Let me call your attention to these "tares" which are growing among the barley. The grain is just in the proper stage of development to illustrate the parable. In those parts where the grain has headed out, they have done the same, and there a child can not mistake them for wheat or barley; but where both are less developed, the closest scrutiny will often fail to detect them. I can not do it at all with any confidence. Even the farmers, who in this country generally weed their fields, do not attempt to separate the one from the other. They would not only mistake good grain for them, but very commonly the roots of the two are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them without plucking up both. Both, therefore, must be left to grow together until the time of harvest.1

Matt. xiii. 29, 30.


The common Arabic name for the tare is zowan, and this, I presume, is the root of the Greek name zizanion. The tare abounds all over the East, and is a great nuisance to the farmer. It resembles the American cheat, but the head does not droop like cheat, nor does it branch out like oats. The grain, also, is smaller, and is arranged along the upper part of the stalk, which stands perfectly erect. The taste is bitter, and when eaten separately, or even when diffused in ordinary bread, it causes dizziness, and often acts as a violent emetic. Barn-door fowls also become dizzy from eating it. In short, it is a strong soporific poison, and must be carefully winnowed, and picked out of the wheat, grain by grain, before grinding, or the flour is not healthy. Of course the farmers are very anxious to exterminate it, but this is nearly impossible. Indeed, grain-growers in this country believe that in very wet seasons, and in marshy ground, the wheat itself turns to tares. I have made diligent inquiries on this point, and find this to be their fixed opinion. Nor is this a modern notion, or one confined to the ignorant. It is as old, at least, as the time of our Saviour, and is met with both in heathen writers and in the expositions of the early fathers. Still, I am not at all prepared to admit its truth. If it could be proved, as these old authors assert, that zizanion is merely a degenerated wheat or barley, it would be reasonable to allow that such degeneration might occur in a soil and season adapted to cause it, but I do not believe the fundamental fact in the question. Zowan differs so essentially from wheat, that it will take the very strongest evidence to establish their original identity. Besides, it does not accord with the general law of degeneracy that it is completed at once, and by a single process. Such changes are gradual, and require successive production and reproduction, each adding to the gradual deterioration, before such a radical change can be effected. The farmers, however, stoutly maintain that they "sow good seed in their fields," and in clean ground, and yet that the whole is turned to tares in consequence of extraordinary rains during winter-that is, that perfect wheat is changed to perfect tares by one single

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