Adonis Diaries

As of the Bible: Customs in the Near East Levant, part 2.

Posted on: March 16, 2009

As of the Bible: Customs in the Levant, part 2.  (March 15, 2009)

Note: I intend to post a series of articles on the theme: “Customs and traditions in the Near East”. All these customs and traditions of the Land in the Levant were practiced thousands of years before Judaism came to be.  The Jewish religion adopted the customs of the land and wrote in the same style of imagery, maxims, and aphorism.

Jesus warned Peter that he would repudiate him three times before the second crow of the cock

There is a custom in the Levant when guest hear the second crow of the cock to prepare to start leaving.  The host has invariably to retort “You guys are mistaken, this is the first crow”. You may search Google for how many times a cock crows per day but in the Levant we maintain that cocks crow at sun down, midnight and at dawn.

Jesus said about the surprise visit of sudden death: “Stay awake; you don’t know when the Master of the house will show up; in the evening, at midnight or the last crow of the cock“. 

The oriental Christian communities used the nights to pray and watch for the second coming of “Son of God” (Preparing for the next coming)

On the same theme of sudden death Jesus recount another aphorism of the land “Two of you are grinding wheat in a quern (hand mill), one is taken away and the other saved”. 

It was the custom for two women friends to undertake the boring task of grinding wheat grain in two circular stone querns. a  A strong woman could do it alone but it is more fun to pass the time when two are chatting away.  Thus, you can never know when your closest friend will die.  Nowadays, in remote areas, the hand mill or “jaroush” is used to convert wheat grains into crushed wheat which is a staple ingredient to many traditional dishes like “tabouli”, “kebeh, and countless varieties.

Revelations abound in the Bible to the prophets, Elizabeth, Marie, and many times to Joseph who obeyed and executed the orders promptly. 

Revelations are common phenomenon in the Levant.  A family would pay visits to shrines dedicated to a saint for fertility or for kinds of handicaps; the family would stay at the shrine praying and fasting as many nights as necessary until a revelation related to their wishes descends. 

The families visit shrines confident that their “demands” would be exhausted.

When babies are born they are wrapped like mummies. First the baby is washed with lukewarm water and their bodies rubbed with salt and then scented before a square piece of cloth join their arms by the side of the body and the legs stretched. 

An unwanted baby or when someone is cursed the maxim says “You were not rubbed with salt when you were born

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March 2009

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