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Scripture Expressions Derived from Customs

IT was an ancient ceremony of the Jews, which yet is religiously observed amongst them, to tear their cloaths in mourning and affliction. Some Orientals still practise this custom, when any thing uncommonly distressful happens. The Jews make use of much ceremony on this occasion—Sometimes, they tear from the top to the bottom; and sometimes, from the bottom to the top. The rent must be of a particular length. When it is done for the loss of parents, it is never sewed; for the loss of other persons, it is sewed at the end of thirty days. This piece of religious mummery, if it is of no other value, will at least serve to explain a passage, in which Solomon, in his Proverbs, says, that—“There is a time to rend, and a time to sew.” Which means, there is a time for affliction, and a time for consolation. Many of the Scripture phrases, that appear unintelligible, are founded on Jewish customs.

Mr. Bruce, in his Travels, observed in a cavalcade, the head-dress of the governors of provinces. A large broad fillet was bound upon their forehead, and tied behind their head. In the middle of this was a HORN, or a conical piece of silver, gilt, much in the shape of our candle extinguishers. This is called Kirn, or Horn, and is only worn in reviews, or public rejoicings for victory. This custom, borrowed from the Hebrews, our Traveller conceives, will explain the several allusions made to it in Scripture. “I said unto fools, deal not foolishly; and to the wicked, lift not up the HORN—Lift not up your HORN on high; speak not with a stiff neck—But my HORN shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn—And the HORN of the righteous shall be exalted with honour,” And thus in many other places throughout the Psalms.