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Saturday, July 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14
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Bible Dictionaries

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary

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The custom of eating in the Eastern world, totally differed from our customs and manners. It was always in a reclining posture. And there was great attention paid to the company, even in their ordinary meals. The patriarchs ate by themselves. And when our fathers were in Egypt, we are told, that it was an abomination for the Egyptians to sit at meat with the Hebrews. (Genesis 43:32) It is our happiness that these distinctions are done away. Jesus received sinners, and ate with them. Well it is for us he did. (Luke 15:2) How blessedly the apostle speaks on the subject: "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Romans 14:17) It may not be unacceptable to the readers, for whom I particularly intend this Concordance, to set before them an account of the extraordinary attention the ancient Jews observed in their seasons of meals, to a scrupulous exactness. It may be more than gratifying as an history, for it may be profitable in beholding what was unimportant among them, while we gather improvement from what was becoming. The view of both may be useful. The Jews never sat down to the table until that they had first washed their hands. Hence, their surprise, at the freedom of Christ and his disciples on this occasion. (Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:2-4) When they have finished their repast, they wash again. None of the company begin to eat until that the governor or master of the feast hath broken bread, and craved a blessing. One of the fathers gives us the usual words of this blessing. The words were "Blessed be thou, O Lord, our God, the King of the world, for it is thou who produceth the bread of the earth." All present say, Amen. And the master of the table generally helps the guests, however numerous they may be. When they have eaten, he takes the vessel of wine in his right hand, saying as before "Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, the King of the world, who hast produced the fruit of the vine." The Amen is, as before, repeated. Then is generally repeated the twenty-third Psalm. There is always reserved a portion of bread after their meals, which is suffered to remain on the table. Was not this with an eye to Christ, the bread of life? (John 6:48) A cup is usually washed at the close of the entertainment, and is filled with wine, when the governor or master of the feast saith, elevating it to the view of the whole company, "Let us bless him, of whose benefits we have been partaking." The company answer, "Blessed be he who hath heaped his favours on us, and by his goodness hath now fed us." This is followed up with prayer, in which is generally expressed the Lord's goodness to Israel, beseeching him to pity Jerusalem and his temple, to restore the throne of David, and to send Elias and the Messiah, and to deliver them out of their long captivity: all answer Amen. A Psalm is again recited, and the cup of wine is given by the master of the table to every one. The table is then cleared, and the service finisheth. I have thought it worth rehearsing this custom of the ancient Jews, because it serves to shew how much devotion mingled even with their ordinary meals. I take shame and reproach to myself in the recollection, how such conduct puts to the blush modern Christians. At what table shall we go to find so much piety? They looked forward but to the Messiah to come. We profess to believe that he is come, and hath restored all things. Blessed Lord Jesus! How dost thou daily witness the graceless tables of thousands that call themselves after thee, Christians, but where not the vestige of the Christian is to be found.

Bibliography Information
Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Eating'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​pmd/​e/eating.html. London. 1828.
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