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large gates. Because of their great size, the unrestrained flight of its imagery. I such gates are opened only on special can just hear the Master say it. Jesus' occasions to admit chariots and cara- purpose was to state that it was exvans. Therefore, in order to give pedes- tremely difficult for them that trust in
‘ trians thoroughfare, a smaller opening riches to enter into the Kingdom of about the size of an ordinary door is God.' (Mark x: 24.) To this end he made in the centre of the great gate, chose the biggest animal and the smallnear to the ground. Now this smaller est opening known to his people and door through which a camel cannot compared the impossibility of a camel
a pass is the eye of the needle mentioned
passing through the eye of a needle in the Gospel.
with that of a man weighted down with I once heard a Sunday-school super- earthly things becoming one with God. intendent explain this passage to his scholars by saying that a camel could pass through this eye of a needle meaning the door - if he was not load- Perhaps the one phase of his speech ed. Therefore, and by analogy, if we which lays the Oriental open to the cast off our load of sin outside, we can charge of unveracity is his much sweareasily enter into the kingdom of heaven. ing. Of course this evil habit knows no
Were the camel and the gate left out, geographical boundaries and no racial this statement would be an excellent limits. However, probably because of fatherly admonition. There is perhaps their tendency to be profuse, intense, no gate in the celestial city large enough and positive in speech, the Orientals no to admit a man with a load of sin doubt have more than their legitimate strapped to his soul. However, the share of swearing. But it should be chief trouble with these explanations of kept in mind that in that part of the the 'eye-of-the-needle' passage is that world swearing is not looked upon with they are wholly untrue.
the same disapproval and contempt as This saying is current in the East, in America; swearing by the name of and in all probability it was a common the Deity has always been considered saying there long before the advent of the most sacred and solemn affirmation Christ. But I never knew that small of a statement. It is simply calling God door in a city or a castle gate to be to witness that what has been said is called the needle's eye; nor indeed the the sacred truth. Thus in the twentylarge gate to be called the needle. The first chapter of the book of Genesis name of that door, in the common Abimelech asks Abraham, "Now, therespeech of the country, is the 'plum,'and fore, swear unto me here by God that
, I am certain the scriptural passage thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor makes no reference to it whatever. with my son, nor with my son's son.'
The Koran makes use of this expres- 'And Abraham said, I will swear.' 1 sion in one of its purest classical Arabic In Syria this custom has undergone passages. The term employed here - no change since the days of Abraham. sum-el-khiat — can mean only the sew- Swearing is an integral element in Oriing instrument, and nothing else. ental speech. Instinctively the speaker
Nothing can show more clearly the turns his eyes and lifts his hands togenuine Oriental character of this New ward heaven and says, 'By Allah, what
, Testament passage and that of the I have said is right and true. YeshTeacher who uttered it, than the in- hedo-Allah (God witnesseth] to the tense positiveness of its thought and truth of my words.' In a similar man. VOL. 117 - N0. 4
ner, and as in a score of places in the word 'fear' does violence to the real Old Testament, the maker of a state meaning of the verse, which the Arabic ment is asked by his hearer to swear by version rescues by saying, 'And Jacob God as a solemn assurance that his swore by the heybit (benignity, or beaustatement is true and sincere. Of such tiful dignity) of his father.' He swore importance is this mode of speech to by that which he and others loved, Orientals that the Israelites thought of and not feared, in his father. Jehovah Himself as making such affir- But what must seem to Americans mations. In the twenty-second chap- utterly ridiculous is the Oriental habit ter of Genesis we have the words, ‘By of swearing by the moustache and the myself have I sworn, saith the Lord.' beard, which is, however, one phase of Further light is thrown on this point swearing by the head. To swear by by the explanation given to the verse one's moustache, or beard, means to just quoted in the sixth chapter of the pledge the integrity of one's manhood. Epistle to the Hebrews, where it is 'I swear by this,' is said solemnly by said, 'For when God made promise to a man with his hand upon his mousAbraham, because He could swear by tache. Swearing by the beard is supno greater, he swore by Himself.' posed to carry more weight because, as
I have no doubt that this thought of a rule, it is worn by the older men. To God swearing by Himself sprang from speak disrespectfully of one's mousthe custom of Oriental aristocrats of tache or beard, or to curse the beard of sealing a vow, or solemnly affirming a a person's father, is to invite serious statement, or an intention to do some trouble. daring deed, by saying, 'I swear by I remember distinctly how proud I
an oath which, whenever was in my youth to put my hand upon I heard it in my youth, filled me with my moustache, when it was yet not awe. Thus, also, in the sixty-second even large enough to be respectfully chapter of Isaiah we have the words, noticed, and swear by it as a man. I re“The Lord hath sworn by his right call also to what roars of laughter I hand, and by the arm of his strength.' would provoke my elders at such times,
Among the Mohammedans, swear- to my great dismay. ing 'by the most high God' and 'by the Here it may easily be seen that life of the Prophet' and ' by the exalted swearing in the Orient had so lost its Koran’ in affirmation of almost every original sacredness and become so vulstatement, is universal. The Christians
gar, even as far back as the time of swear by God, Christ, the Virgin, the Christ, that He deemed it necessary to Cross, the Saints, the repose of their give the unqualified command, “Swear dead, the Holy City, the Eucharist, not at all: neither by heaven, for it is Heaven, great holidays, and many God's throne, nor by the earth, for it is other names. A father swears by the his footstool: neither by Jerusalem, for life of a dear child, and sons of distin- it is the city of the great King. Neither guished fathers swear by them. 'By shalt thou swear by thy head, because the life of my father, I am telling the thou canst not make one hair white of truth,' is a very common expression. black. But let
black. But let your communication be The antiquity of this custom is made
yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is evident by the passage in the thirty- more than these cometh of evil.' This first chapter of Genesis and the fifty- was perhaps the most difficult comthird verse: ‘And Jacob swore by the mand to obey that Jesus ever gave to fear of his father Israel.' However, the his countrymen.
Of the other characteristics of Orien- draw the benediction of heaven upon tal speech, I wish to speak briefly of them, and to secure for them justifithree before I bring this article to a cation at the hands of the righteous close.
judge. Honest seekers after spiritual The first is the juvenile habit of im- gifts should not be averse to imitating ploring ‘in season and out of season' this Oriental trait. They should never when asking a favor. To try to exert be afraid to come to their Father again ‘undue' influence, virtually to beg in and again for his gracious blessing, or most persuasive tones, is an Oriental refrain from 'storming the gates of habit which to an American must seem heaven with prayer.' unendurable. One of the most striking The second characteristic of Oriental examples of this characteristic is the speech is its intimacy and unreserve. parable of the unrighteous judge, in Mere implications which are so comthe eighteenth chapter of Luke. "There mon to reserved and guarded speech was in a city a judge, which feared not leave a void in the Oriental heart. It is God, neither regarded man: and there because of this that the Orientals have was a widow in that city, and she came always craved 'signs and wonders,' and unto him saying, Avenge me (the ori- interpreted natural phenomena in ginal is 'do me justice') of mine adver- terms of direct miraculous communisary. And he would not for a while: cations from God to convince them but afterward he said within himself, that He cared for them. Although GidThough I fear not God, nor regard eon was speaking with Jehovah Himself, man, yet because this widow troubleth who promised to help him to save his me, I will avenge her, lest by her contin- kinsmen from the Midianites, he asked ual coming she weary me.'
for a more tangible, more definite sign. Here is a case by no means a rare We are told in the sixth chapter of exception in that country — where a Judges, thirty-sixth verse: 'Gideon judge rendered a verdict against his said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel own best judgment in sheer self-de by my hand, as thou hast spoken, befense. And I must say that, knowing hold I will put a fleece of wool on the such Oriental tendencies as I do, es- threshing-floor; if there be dew on the pecially as manifested by widows, I am fleece only, and it be dry upon the in deep sympathy with the judge. ground, then shall I know that thou
Yet it was this very persistence wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou petitioning the Father of all men which hast spoken. And it was so.' But Gidgave mankind the lofty psalms and eon, still unsatisfied, speaks again in tender prayers of our scriptures. It was childlike simplicity and intimacy: ‘Let this persistent filial pleading and im- not thine anger be kindled against me, ploring which made Israel turn again and I will speak but this once: let me and again to the 'God of righteousness' make trial, I pray thee, but this once and say, 'We have sinned,' and ask for with the fleece; let it now be dry only a deeper revealing of his ways to them. upon the fleece, and upon all the ground Job's cry, ‘Though He slay me, yet let there be dew. And God did so that will I trust in Him,' may not be the night.' proper language of modern etiquette, It is not at all uncommon for old and but it certainly is the language of reli- tried friends in Syria to give and ask for gion. In the very parable just quoted, affectionate assurances, that they do
. Jesus recommends to his disciples the love one another. Such expressions are insistence of the widow as a means to the wine of life. Especially when new confidences are exchanged or great of sentiment and conviction, and not favors asked, a man turns with guileless of highly differentiated and specialized eyes to his trusted friend and saysthought. When you say to him, 'I "Now you love me; I say you love me, think this object is beautiful,' if he does don't you?' 'My soul, my eyes,' an- not think it is so, he says, 'No, it is not swers the other, ‘you know what is in beautiful.' Although he is expressing my heart toward you; you know and his own individual opinion, he does not the Creator knows!' Then the request take the trouble to make that perfectly is made.
clear: if an object is not beautiful to One of the noblest and tenderest pas- him, it is not beautiful. sages in the New Testament, a passage From an intellectual and social standwhose spirit has fed the strength of the point, this mode of speech may be conChristian missionaries throughout the sidered a serious defect. So do children ages, is that portion of the twenty-first express themselves. But it should be chapter of St. John's Gospel where kept in mind that the Oriental mind is Jesus speaks to Peter in this intimate that of the prophet and the seer, and Syrian fashion. How sweet and nat- not of the scientist and the philosopher. ural it sounds to a son of the East! It is the mind which has proven the 'So when they had dined, Jesus saith most suitable transmissive agency of to Simon Peter, Simon son of Jonas, divine revelation. lovest thou me?' How characteristic When the seer beholds a vision of also is Peter's answer, ‘Yea, Lord; the things that are eternal, he cannot thou knowest that I love thee.' Then speak of it as a supposition or a guess, came the precious request, 'Feed my or transmit it with intellectual caution lambs.' Three times did the affection- and timidity. "Thus saith the Lord.' ate Master knock at the door of Peter's “The word of the Lord came unto heart, till the poor impetuous disciple me saying, Son of man, prophesy.' cried, 'Lord, thou knowest all things; When we speak of the deepest realities thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus of life, we do not beset our utterances saith unto him, Feed my sheep.' with qualifying phrases. True love,
The third characteristic of Oriental deep sorrow, a real vision of spiritual speech is its unqualified positiveness. things transcend all speculative speech; Outside the small circles of European- they press with irresistible might for ized Syrians, such qualifying phrases direct and authoritative expression. as ‘in my opinion,’ ‘so it seems to me,' This seeming weakness in Oriental 'as I see it,' and the like, are almost speech and in the Bible is in reality treentirely absent from Oriental speech. mendous spiritual strength. Through Such expressions, also, are rarely used our sacred scriptures we hear the voiin the Bible, and then only in the New ces of those great Oriental prophets who Testament, in which Greek influence spoke as they saw and felt; as seers, plays no small part. Thus in the sev- and not as logicians. And it was indeed enth chapter of his second Epistle to most fortunate for the world that the the Corinthians, Paul, in giving his Bible was written in an age of instincopinion on marriage said, 'I suppose, tive listening to the divine Voice, and therefore, that this is good for the pres- in a country whose juvenile mode of ent distress,' and so forth. I am not speech protected the 'rugged maxims' aware that this form of speech is used of the scriptures from the weakening anywhere in the entire Old Testament influences of an over-strained intellec
. The language of the Oriental is that tualism.
BY E. NELSON FELL
On the tenth of November, 1907, we important question of the pominka struggled in the face of a furious bou- which would follow his death. ran (blizzard) across the open space
As in Ireland a funeral is made the which separated our house from the occasion of elaborate ceremonies and office. The air was full of icy particles, feasting, so, in Kirghiz land, the cuswhich cut your face and made you tom is that a notable man, before he wonder whether you would succeed in dies, makes all the necessary disposireaching your goal or not. When we tions for a great festival, to be held reached the office, Rucker did not al- six months or a year after his death, low us time to take off our coats, but to which all his friends and the whole burst out with the question,
countryside shall be invited. In this 'Have you heard that Sultan Hacen way, not only does the dying man proAkaev is dead?'
vide in a worthy way for the dignity "No! when did he die?'
and honor of his family, but he also 'Yesterday, in his winter quarters carries with him, beyond the grave, the on the Topor, about forty miles from tradition and law of Kirghiz hospitalhere.'
ity. It is indeed a wonderful law; chief'How did you hear?'
ly wonderful because it is universally ‘By Kirghiz telegraph.'
obeyed. To the guest within the aool The dissemination of news by na- nothing can be denied, no matter what tives, who possess no mechanical ap- the previous relations between guest pliances, is a phenomenon noted by all and host may have been. The duty of travelers in remote regions. Whether hospitality prevails over all other senin Africa, where travel is on foot, or in timents. Most laws and customs are Asia, where it is on horseback, the news sometimes broken, but this law is never of every event is passed from mouth to violated, not even in death. mouth and from village to village, with As is natural, the greater the wealth a rapidity and certainty which is little of the deceased, the greater the extent short of marvelous. Within twenty- of the festivities. The pominka of Sulfour hours of the sultan's death, it is tan Hacen Akaev would be, no doubt, probable that every living person with- on an unusually large scale. in a circle of five hundred miles had The week beginning May first was heard of it.
the time set for the festival; and, for The death of so rich a man as Sultan months beforehand, little else was talkHacen Akaev was an event of consider- ed of among the Kirghiz. We, also, able importance in Kirghiz life. In ad- were planning to attend in state, and dition to the important question of the Rucker was especially interested in the distribution of his vast flocks and herds, preparations; for his particular work and the readjustment of the social or- threw him into rather closer relations, ganization of his aool or village, was the than the rest of us, with the Kirghiz.