Devotional Readings, M'Cheyne Bible Reading Notes

Numbers 11:5 – cucumbers,… and the worship of garlick:

I’ve never liked Cucumbers. Perhaps it comes from my Dad who used to say they gave him gas. But the taste never agreed with me either. Though I have learned to eat a small portion when wrapped in a Sushi Roll. It’s also strange I actually do love them as Kosher Dill Pickles. And though I love Garlic, I have not yet found it useful as an object of worship, but perhaps the Gilroy Garlic Festival might approach that practice. It may not be worship but their mission statement does end with this purpose:

…through a quality celebration of Garlic.

Anyway the reading last Friday strangely had the only two verse in the Bible mentioning Cucumbers.

Num 11:5  We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:

Isa 1:8  And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

Let’s see what olds John Gill says about them (btw this is probably more than you want to know.)

As a lodge in a garden of cucumbers: the Targum adds here also,

“after they have gathered them out of it.”

A lodge in a garden of cucumbers was built up for the gardener to watch in at night, that nobody came and stole away the cucumbers, and this was also a lonely place; but when the cucumbers were gathered, the gardener left his lodge entirely; and such a forsaken place would Jerusalem be at the time of its destruction; see Luk 19:43.

Luke 19:43   (KJV)

43  For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,

the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic; in the Hebrew language, the word for “cucumbers” has the signification of hardness, because they are hard of digestion In the Talmud (y) they are so called, because they are as harmful to the body as swords;

though it is said in the same, that Antoninus always had them at his table; and Suetonius (z) and Pliny (a) say, that they were in great esteem with the emperors Augustus and Tiberias; though some think what they call cucumbers were melons.

We are told (b), that the Egyptian cucumbers are very different from our European ones, which in the eastern countries serve only to feed hogs with, and not men; but the Egyptian cucumber, called “chate”, differs from the common one in size, colour, and softness; and not only its leaves, but its fruit, are different from ours, being sweeter to the taste, and of more easy digestion, and reckoned to be very wholesome to the bodies of men:

and so their “melons” are different from ours, which they call “abdellavi”, to distinguish them from others called “chajar”, which are of little use for food, and not pleasant, and more insipid, and of a softer pulp (c):

as for the “leeks, onions, and garlic”, that these were commonly and in great plenty eaten of by the Egyptians appears from the vast sums of money spent upon the men that worked in building one of the pyramids, in radishes, onions, and garlic only, which Herodotus (d), Diodorus Siculus (e), and Pliny (f) make mention of.

Indeed, in later times these were worshipped as gods, and not suffered to be eaten, as Pliny (g) and Juvenal (h) inform us; but there is little reason to believe that this kind of idolatry obtained so early as the time of Israel’s being in Egypt; though some have thought that these were cheaper because of that, and so the Israelites could more easily come at them; but if that had been the case, it is more reasonable to believe that the Egyptians would not have allowed them to have eat of them at all: however, these are still in great plenty, and much used in Egypt to this day, as Vansleb (i) relates, who says, for desserts they have fruits, as onions, dried dates, rotten olives, melons, or cucumbers, or pompions, or such like fruits as are in season: thus carnal men prefer their sensual lusts and pleasures, and self-righteous men their righteousness, to Christ, the heavenly manna, his grace and righteousness.

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