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entertainment, but are placed at once upon the table, or rather floor. A tray containing a variety of dishes is placed between every two, or at most three guests, from which they help themselves, without attending in any degree, to the party at the next tray.
Another peculiarity here meets us. Joseph's brethren "sat before him." The usual custom of the ancients was to eat in a reclining position: but not so among the Egyptians. They had couches for sleeping; but sat at their meals. Sometimes they sat upon a stool or chair. We subjoin a cut from Wilkinson; and Rosellini furnishes a painting of similar character, in which the guests summoned to a feast are represented as occupying each a chair.
Indeed, among all the relics of domestic life yet found in Egypt, none are more striking or beautiful than their chairs. In variety of form and gracefulness of outline, they are not surpassed by any similar article of moder n construction.
Benjamin's mess, we read, was "five times so much as any of theirs." The quantity of food placed before any guest, was the usual mode of expressing the approbation in which he was held by the host. Five or six different dishes or bowls for a guest, afford evidence of a liberal hospitality; but in Persia, now, when the guest is a person of consideration, other dishes are introduced, until at last there may be fifteen or more upon the same tray. Herodotus tells us that in the public banquets in Egypt, twice as much was placed before the king as before any one else. If a double quantity was a king's measure, Benjamin was here very greatly honored.
13. Joseph sent for his father.
Here "wagons" are introduced to our notice as vehicles for conveying his father and household. The original word, in the Hebrew, may fairly be rendered "wagons." With some small exception, it may be said, that wheel-carriages are not now employed in Western Asia, or Africa; but the ancient Egyptians used them, and they were also used in what is now Turkey in Asia. The warchariot was very common in Egypt. But the monuments show also, a species of lightcovered cart or wagon, which it is supposed were not of Egyptian origin, but taken from some nomade people who fled before them in war. With these, probably, Joseph was furnished. They seem not to have been used by the inhabitants of Palestine, and yet to have been known to them as a convenience resorted to in Egypt; for when Jacob saw those which Joseph sent, he knew, at once, that they must have come from Egypt; and they furnished to him confirmation of the story of his sons.