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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
the organ of sight. The Hebrews by a curious and bold metaphor call fountains eyes; and they also give the same name to colours: "And the eye," or colour, "of the manna was as the eye," or colour, "of bdellium,"
Numbers 11:7 . By an "evil eye" is meant, envy, jealousy, grudging, ill- judged parsimony; to turn the eyes on any one, is to regard him and his interests; to find grace in any one's eyes, Ruth 2:10 , is to win his friendship and good will. "The eyes of servants look unto the hands of their masters," Psalms 123:2 , to observe the least motion, and obey the least signal. "Their eyes were opened." Genesis 3:7 , they began to comprehend in a new manner. "The wise man's eyes are in his head,"
Ecclesiastes 2:14 , he does not act by chance. The eye of the soul, in a moral sense, is the intention, the desire. God threatens to set his eyes on the Israelites for evil, and not for good, Amos 9:4 . Nebuchadnezzar recommends to Nebuzaradan that he would "set his eyes" on Jeremiah, and permit him to go where he pleased, Jeremiah 39:12; Jeremiah 40:4 . Sometimes expressions of this kind are taken in a quite opposite sense: "Behold the eyes of the Lord are on the sinful kingdom; and I will destroy it," Amos 9:8 . To be eyes to the blind, or to serve them instead of eyes, is sufficiently intelligible, Job 29:15 . The Persians called those officers of the crown who had the care of the king's interests and the management of his finances, the king's eyes. Eye service is peculiar to slaves, who are governed by fear only; and is to be carefully guarded against by Christians, who ought to serve from a principle of duty and affection, Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:22 . The lust of the eyes, or the desire of the eyes, comprehends every thing that curiosity, vanity, &c, seek after; every thing that the eyes can present to men given up to their passions, 1 John 2:16 . "Cast ye away every man the abomination of his eyes," Ezekiel 20:7-8; let not the idols of the Egyptians seduce you. The height or elevation of the eyes is taken for pride, Sir_23:5 . St. Paul says that the Galatians would willingly have "plucked out their eyes" for him, Galatians 4:15; expressing the intensity of their zeal, affection, and devotion to him. The Hebrews call the apple of the eye the black daughter of the eye. To keep any thing as the apple of the eye, is to preserve it with particular care, Deuteronomy 32:10 : "He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye," Zechariah 2:8; attempts, to injure, me in the tenderest part, which men instinctively defend. The eye and its actions are occasionally transferred to God: "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth," Zechariah 4:10; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalms 11:4 . "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good," Proverbs 15:3 . "The Lord looked down from heaven,"
&c. We read, Matthew 6:22 , "The light," or lamp, "of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single," simple, clear, απλους , "thy whole body shall be full of light; but if thine eye be evil," distempered, diseased, "thy whole body shall be darkened." The direct allusion may hold to a lantern, or lamp, λυξνος ; if the glass of it be clear, the light will shine through it strongly; but if the glass be soiled, dirty, foul, but little light will pass through it: for if they had not glass lanterns, such as we use, they had others in the east made of thin linen, &c: these were very liable to receive spots, stains, and foulnesses, which impeded the passage of the rays of light from the luminary within. So, in the natural eye, if the cornea be single, and the humours clear, the light will act correctly; but if there be a film over the cornea, or a cataract, or a skin between any of the humours, the rays of light will never make any impression on the internal seat of sight, the retina. By analogy, therefore, if the mental eye, the judgment, be honest, virtuous, sincere, well-meaning, pious, it may be considered as enlightening and directing the whole of a person's actions; but if it be perverse, malign, biassed by undue prejudices, or drawn aside by improper views, it darkens the understanding, perverts the conduct, and suffers a man to be misled by his unwise and unruly passions.
2. The orientals, in some cases, deprive the criminal of the light of day, by sealing up his eyes. A son of the Great Mogul was actually suffering this punishment when Sir Thomas Roe visited the court of Delhi. The hapless youth was cast into prison, and deprived of the light by some adhesive plaster put upon his eyes, for the space of three years; after which the seal was taken away, that he might with freedom enjoy the light; but he was still detained in prison. Other princes have been treated in a different manner, to prevent them from conspiring against the reigning monarch, or meddling with affairs of state: they have been compelled to swallow opium and other stupifying drugs, to weaken or benumb their faculties, and render them unfit for business. Influenced by such absurd and cruel policy, Shah Abbas, the celebrated Persian monarch, who died in 1629, ordered a certain quantity of opium to be given every day to his grandson, who was to be his successor, to stupify him, and prevent him from disturbing his government. Such are probably the circumstances alluded to by the prophet: "They have not known nor understood; for he hath shut their eyes that they cannot see; and their hearts that they cannot understand," Isaiah 44:18 . The verb טוח , rendered in our version, to shut, signifies "to overlay," "to cover over the surface;" thus, the king of Israel prepared three thousand talents of gold, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the temple, 1 Chronicles 29:4 . But it generally signifies to overspread, or daub over, as with mortar or plaster, of which Parkhurst quotes a number of examples; a sense which entirely corresponds with the manner in which the eyes of a criminal are sealed up in some parts of the east. The practice of sealing up the eyes, and stupifying a criminal with drugs, seems to have been contemplated by the same prophet in another passage of his book: "Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed."
3. Deprivation of sight was a very common punishment in the east. It was at first the practice to sear the eyes with a hot iron; but a discovery that this was not effectual, led to the cruel method of taking them out altogether with a sharp-pointed instrument. The objects of this barbarity were usually persons who aspired to the throne, or who were considered likely to make such an attempt. It was also inflicted on chieftains, whom it was desirable to deprive of power without putting them to death. For this reason the hapless Zedekiah was punished with the loss of sight, because he had rebelled against the king of Babylon, and endeavoured to recover the independence of his throne: "Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death," Jeremiah 52:11 .
4. Females used to paint their eyes. The substance used for this purpose is called in Chaldee כהל , cohol; by the LXX, στιβι . Thus we read of Jezebel, 2 Kings 9:30 , that, understanding that Jehu was to enter Samaria, she decked herself for his reception, and (as in the original Hebrew) "put her eyes in paint." This was in conformity to a custom which prevailed in the earliest ages. As large black eyes were thought the finest, the women, to increase their lustre, and to make them appear larger, tinged the corner of their eyelids with the impalpable powder of antimony or of black lead. This was supposed also to give the eyes a brilliancy and humidity, which rendered them either sparkling or languishing, as suited the various passions. The method of performing this among the women in the eastern countries at the present day, as described by Russel, is by a cylindrical piece of silver or ivory, about two inches long, made very smooth, and about the size of a common probe; this is wet with water, and then dipped into a powder finely levigated, made from what appears to be a rich lead ore, and applied to the eye; the lids are closed upon it while it is drawn through between them. This blacks the inside, and leaves a narrow black rim all round the edge. That this was the method practised by the Hebrew women, we infer from Isaiah 3:22 , where the prophet, in his enumeration of the articles which composed the toilets of the delicate and luxurious daughters of Zion, mentions "the wimples and the crisping pins," or bodkins for painting the eyes. The satirist Juvenal describes the same practice:—
Ille supercilium madida fuligine tinctum Obliqua producit acu, pingitque trementes Atollens oculos.
"These with a tiring pin their eyebrows dye Till the full arch gives lustre to the eye." GIFFORD.
This custom is referred to by Jeremiah 4:30 :—
"Though thou clothest thyself in scarlet, Though thou adornest thyself with ornaments of gold,
Though thou distendest thine eyes with paint, In vain shalt thou set forth thy beauty; Thy paramours have rejected thee."
And Ezekiel, describing the irregularities of the Jewish nation, under the idea of a debauched woman, says, כהלת עיניכּ? , "Thou didst dress thine eyes with cohol;" which the Septuagint render, ‘Εστιβιζου τους
οφθαλμους σου , "Thou didst dress thine eyes with stibium," Ezekiel 23:40 .
5. The passage, Psalms 123:2 , derives a striking illustration from the customs of the east. The servants or slaves in eastern countries attend their masters or mistresses with the profoundest respect. Maundrell observes, that the servants in Turkey stand round their master and his guests in deep silence and perfect order, watching every motion. Pococke says, that at a visit in Egypt every thing is done with the greatest decency and the most profound silence, the slaves or servants standing at the bottom of the room, with their hands joined before them, watching with the utmost attention every motion of their master, who commands them by signs. De la Motraye says, that the eastern ladies are waited on even at the least wink of the eye, or motion of the fingers, and that in a manner not perceptible to strangers.
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Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Eye'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/e/eye.html. 1831-2.