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And after us, distressed,
Should fame be dumb,
Thy very tomb
But it is not merely as an object of private and domestic utility that needlework is referred to in the Bible. It was applied early to the service of the Tabernacle, and the directions concerning it are very clear and specific; but before this time, and most probably as early as the time of Abraham, rich and valuable raiment of needlework was accounted of as part of the bond fide property of a wealthy man. When the patriarch's steward sought Rebekah for the wife of Isaac, he " brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment" This "raiment" consisted, in all likelihood, of garments embroidered with gold, the handiwork, it may be, of the female slaves of the patriarch; such garments being in very great esteem from the earliest ages, and being then, as now, a component portion of those presents or offerings without which one personage hardly thought of approaching another.
Fashion in those days was not quite the chameleon-hued creature that she is at present; nor were the fabrics on which her fancy was displayed quite so light and airy: their gold was gold—not silk covered with gilded silver; and consequently the raiment of those days, in-wrought with slips of gold beaten thin and cut into spangles or strips, and sewed on in various patterns, sometimes intermingled with precious stones, would carry its own intrinsic value with it.
This "raiment' descended from father to son, as a chased goblet and a massy wrought urn does now; and was naturally and necessarily inventoried as a portion of the property. The practice of making presents of garments is still quite usual amongst the eastern nations; and to such an excess was it carried with regard to those who, from their calling or any other circumstance, were in public favour, that, so late as the ninth century, Bokteri, an illustrious poet of Cufah, had so many presents made him, that at his death he was found possessed of a hundred complete suits of clothes, two hundred shirts, and five hundred turbans.
Horace, speaking of Lucullus (who had pillaged Asia, and first introduced Asiatic* refinements among the Romans), says that, some persons having waited on him to request the loan of a hundred suits out of his wardrobe for the Roman stage, he exclaimed—" A hundred suits! how is it possible for me to furnish such a number? However, I will look over them and send you what I have."—After some time he writes a note and tells them he had five thousand, to the whole or part of which they were welcome.
In all the eastern world formerly, and to a great extent now, the arraying a person in a rich dress is considered a very high compliment, and it was one of the ancient modes of investing with the highest degree of subordinate power. Thus was Joseph arrayed by Pharaoh, and Mordecai by Ahasuerus
* Persia had great wardrobes, where there were always many hundred habits, sorted, ready for presents, and the intendant of the wardrobe sent them to those persons for whom they were designed by the sovereign; more than forty tailors were always employed in this service. In Turkey they do not attend so much to the richness as to the number of the dresses, giving more or fewer according to the dignity of the persons to whom they are presented, or the marks of favour the prince would confer on his guests.
We all remember what important effects are produced by splendid robes in "The Tale of the Wonderful Lamp," and in many other of those fascinating tales (which are allowed to be rigidly correct in the delineations of eastern life). They were doubtless esteemed the richest part of the spoil after a battle, as we find the mother of Sisera apportioning them as his share, and reiterating her delighted anticipations of the "raiment of needlework" which should be his: "a prey of divers colours, of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil."
Job has many allusions to raiment as an essential part of" treasures" in the East; and our Saviour refers to the same when he desires his hearers not to lay up for themselves "treasures" on earth, where moth and rust corrupt. St. James even more explicitly: "Go to now, ye rich men; weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your gold and silver is cankered, and your Garments are moth-eaten.
The first notice we have of gold-wire or thread being used in embroidery is in Exodus, in the directions given for the embroidery of the priests' garments: from this it appears that the metal was still used alone, being beaten fine and then rounded. This art the Hebrews probably learnt from the Egyptians, by whom it was carried to such an astonishing degree of nicety, that they could either weave it in or work it on their finest linen. And doubtless the productions of the Hebrews now must have equalled the most costly and intricate of those of Egypt. This the adornments of the Tabernacle testify.
NEEDLEWORK OF THE TABERNACLE.
"The cedars wave on Lebanon,
Gorgeous and magnificent must have been the spectacle presented by that ancient multitude of Israel, as they tabernacled in the wilderness of Sinai. These steril solitudes are now seldom trodden by the foot of man, and the adventurous traveller who toils up their rugged steeps can scarce picture to himself a host sojourning there, so wild, so barren is the place, so fearful are the precipices, so dismal the ravines. On the spot where "Moses talked with God" the grey and mouldering remnants of a convent attest the religious veneration and zeal of some of whom these ruins are the only memorial; and near them is a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin, while religious hands have crowned even the summit of the steep ascent by "a house of prayer ;'* and at the foot of the sister peak, Horeb, is an ancient Greek convent, founded by the Emperor Justinian 1400 years ago, which is occupied still by some harmless recluses, the monotony of whose lives is only broken by the few and far be