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Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
In the eastern world so much was implied by this action of the kiss, that we lose many beauties of the Holy Scriptures for want of our knowledge of their customs and manners concerning it. There were the kiss of love, the kiss of reverence, the kiss of adoration and homage, the kiss of peace and reconciliation, the kiss of holy joy and delight; and, on the other hand, we read of the kiss of idolatry, the kiss of hypocrisy, of deceit, of the traitor, and the like.
It may not be amiss, for the better apprehension of the subject, to look over the Scripture a little for particular instances of this ceremony, that we may remark the diversity. I need not particularize the kisses of natural affection, so common in the word of God, between near and dear relations; for those are well understood, and require no illustration. Such, I mean, as the tender kiss of Isaac with Jacob, when receiving his son's venison, Genesis 27:26. Joseph kissing his brethren, Genesis 45:14-15. Jonathan with David, 1 Samuel 20:41 and numberless other instances of the like nature. But the kisses spoken of in Scripture implying different significations, it may not be improper to be somewhat more particular in defining. Thus the kiss of reverence or adoration, whether in religious veneration of JEHOVAH, or whether used in idolatrous worship, was meant to convey every thing that was dutiful, obedient, and affectionate. Thus the direction given in the second Psalm to kiss the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, evidently conveys the acknowledgment due to his person and government, with the most cordial acceptation of him in his glorious mediatorial character as the Christ of God. (Psalms 2:12) On the other hand, the prophet represents the worshippers of Baal as commanding this service, in token of absolute submission to this idolatrous worship as expressed in this single act of kissing. "Let the men that sacrifice (say they) kiss the calves." (Hosea 13:2)
Besides the actions of kissing to imply the most complete adoration, we find among the orientals the act of kissing the hand, together with the corresponding action of bending the knee, smiting on the thigh, and the like, intended as expressive altogether of the most implicit subjection and reverence. (See Isaiah 45:23; Jeremiah 31:19) Thus we find Pharaoh giving commands concerning the homage to be paid Joseph. "Thou shalt be over my house, (said Pharaoh) and according to thy word shall all my people be ruled." In the margin it is, be armed or kiss: that is, shall all my people kiss thy word, thy command. (Genesis 41:40) So Job, "If I (said Job) beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand, this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge, for I should have denied the God that is above." (Job 31:26-28) A similar passage we meet with in 1 Kings 19:18 where the Lord, in telling his servant the prophet Elijah, that the idolaters in Israel, many as they were, did not yet come up to the fears of his mind, saith, "Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him." Both which passages are to the same amount, that the kiss was a token of the most perfect adoration.
We may notice the usage of the kiss also in token of peace and friendship, and of the greatest cordiality subsisting between persons joining in the same sentiments of and religious communion. Hence Paul directs the churches to this amount, when he saith, "Salute one another with an holy kiss." (Romans 16:16) "Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss." (1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14)
This was supposed (however treachery lurked under the garb), to have been the case when Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him. (see 2 Samuel 20:9) And yet more, in an infinitely greater degree, when Judas hailed Christ with the awful salutation, "Joy to thee Rabbi, (for so hail means) and kissed him?" (Matthew 26:49) In the former instance, Joab took Amasa by the beard, we are told, which was an action betokening the highest regard of affection: for as the beard was always considered the chief honour and ornament of a man, so to touch it or kiss it was considered the highest proof of respect. On the contrary, to shave it, or to do any thing to it reproachfully, was counted the highest token of contempt. In the eastern world, many would have preferred death to the loss of the beard: and hence when David changed his behaviour before Achish, king of Gath, and feigned himself mad, and scrabbled on the doors of the gate, and "let his spittle Pall down upon his beard," (see 1 Samuel 21:13) Achish considered this disgrace done to his beard as the most confirmed proof of his madness, for no man in his right senses, he concluded, would have done so. For if by accident only, in walking the streets, one touched another's beard, nothing could atone for the injury and affront but by kissing it, to show the utmost respect. So tenacious were the orientals on these points.
I have not yet mentioned the kisses of grace in spiritual tokens, and yet these form by much the most interesting part of the subject. Hence the spouse in the Canticles, speaking of her soul's desire for the coming and manifestation of Christ in the flesh, with all the blessings connected with that manifestation, sums up her very ardent request in that comprehensive expression, "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for his love is better than wine." (Song of Song of Solomon 1:2) And as those kisses of Jesus are meant to imply every thing in Christ, and with Christ, Jesus in his person, and Jesus in his fulness, suitableness, and all-sufficiency, so on our part the kiss of grace implies every thing that can denote love, adoration, faith, dependance, homage, subjection, and praise. Poor Mary at the feet of Jesus meant to express all these and more, when she washed his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head, when she kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. (See Luke 7:38) In these kisses she expressed all that a broken heart could testify of her soul's hope, love, faith, contrition, sorrow, and the like. It was in effect saying, I cast myself on thee, as a poor, perishing, dying sinner, and venture all on thy blood and righteousness!
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Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Kiss'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/pmd/k/kiss.html. London. 1828.