Images de page



Bacon says: "It is supposed [to be] a help to the continuance of love, to wear a ring or bracelet of the person beloved;" and he suggests that "a trial should be made by two persons, of the effect of compact and agreement; that a ring should be put on for each other's sake, to try whether, if one should break his promise the other would have any feeling of it in his absence." In other words, that the test should be made, to see whether the inter-union of lives symbolized by the covenant-token be a reality. On this idea it is, that many persons are unwilling to remove the wedding-ring from the finger, while the compact holds.2

It is not improbable, indeed, that the armlets, or bracelets, which were found on the arms of Oriental kings, and of Oriental divinities as well, were intended to indicate, or to symbolize, the personal inter-union claimed to exist between those kings and divinities. Thus an armlet worn by Thotmes III. is preserved in the museum at Leyden. It bears the cartouche of the King, having on it his sacred name, with its reference to his inter-union with his god. It was much the same in Nineveh.3 Lane says, that upon the seal ring commonly worn by the modern Egyptian "is engraved the wearer's name," and that this name “is usually ac1 Cited in Jones's Credulities Past and Present, p. 204 f. 2See Appendix.

3 See Wilkinson's Anc. Egypt., II., 340–343; Layard's Nineveh and its Remains, II., 250, 358; also 2 Sam. I: 10.

companied by the words 'His servant' (signifying 'the servant, or worshiper of God'), and often by other words expressive of the person's trust in God."1


As the token of the blood-covenant is sometimes fastened about the arm, and sometimes about the neck; so the encircling necklace, as well as the encircling armlet, is sometimes counted the symbol of a covenant of very life. This is peculiarly the case in India; where the bracelet-brotherhood has been shown to be an apparent equivalent of the blood-brotherhood. Among the folk-lore stories of India, it is a common thing to hear of a necklace which holds the soul of the That necklace removed, the wearer dies. That necklace restored, the wearer lives again. "Sodewa Bai was born with a golden necklace about her neck, concerning which also her parents consulted astrologers, who said, 'This is no common child; the necklace of gold about her neck contains your daughter's soul; let it therefore be guarded with the utmost care; for if it were taken off, and worn by another person, she would die.'" On that necklace of life, the story hangs. The necklace was stolen by a servant, and Sodewa Bai died. Being placed in a canopied tomb, she revived, night by night, when the servant laid off the stolen necklace which contained the soul of Sodewa Bai. The loss was at last discovered by

1 Modern Egyptians, I., 39.



her husband; the necklace was restored to her, and she lived again. And this is but one story of many.

In the Brahman marriage ceremony the bridegroom receives his bride by binding a covenanting necklace about her neck. "A small ornament of gold, called tahly, which is the sign of their being actually in the state of marriage, is fastened by a short string dyed yellow with saffron."2 And a Sanskrit word for "saffron " is also a word for "blood."

The importance of this symbolism of the token of the blood-covenant, in its bearing on the root-idea of an inter-union of natures by an inter-commingling of blood, will be more clearly shown by and by.


Going back, now, to the world's most ancient records, in the monuments of Egypt, we find evidence of the existence of the covenant of blood in those early days. Even then it seems to have been a custom to covenant by tasting the blood from another's arm; and this inter-transference of blood was supposed to carry an inter-commingling, or an inter-merging, of natures. So far was this symbolic thought carried, that the ancient Egyptians spoke of the departed spirit as having entered into the nature, and, indeed, 1 Frere's Old Deccan Days, pp. 225-245.

2 Dubois' Des. of Man. and Cust. of India, Part II., chap. 7.

3 See p. 194, infra.

into the very being, of the gods, by the rite of tasting blood from the divine arm.

"The Book of the Dead," as it is commonly called, or "The Book of the Going Forth into Day," (" The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," )-is a group, or series, of ancient Egyptian writings, representing the state and the needs and the progress of the soul after death. A copy of this Funereal Ritual, as it is sometimes called, "more or less complete, according to the fortune of the deceased, was deposited in the case of every mummy."3 "As the Book of the Dead is the most ancient, so it is undoubtedly the most important, of the sacred books of the Egyptians; "4 it is, in fact," according to Egyptian notions, essentially an inspired work; "5 hence its contents have an exceptional dogmatic value. In this Book of the Dead, there are several obvious references to the rite of bloodcovenanting. Some of these are in a chapter of the Ritual which was found transcribed in a coffin of the

1 Prov. 4: 18.

2 See Lepsius's Todtenbuch; Bunsen's Egypt's Place in Universal History, V., 125-133; Renouf's The Religion of Ancient Egypt, pp. 179-208.

3 See Lenormant and Chevallier's Ancient History of the East, I., 308.

4 Renouf's The Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 208.

5 Bunsen's Egypt's Place, V., 133.



Eleventh Dynasty; thus carrying it back to a period prior to the days of Abraham.1

"Give me your arm; I am made as ye," says the departed soul, speaking to the gods.2 Then, in explanation of this statement, the pre-historic gloss of the Ritual goes on to say: "The blood is that which proceeds from the member of the Sun, after he goes along cutting himself;" the covenant blood which unites the soul and the god is drawn from the flesh of 2 Ibid., V., 174 f.

1 See Egypt's Place, V., 127.

3 This is the rendering of Birch. Ebers has looked for an explanation of this gloss in the rite of circumcision (Egypten u. d. Bücher Mose's, p. 284 f.); but the primary reference to the "arm" of the god, and to the union secured through the interflowing blood, point to the blood-covenant as the employed figure of speech; although circumcision, as will be seen presently, was likewise a symbol of the blood-covenant -for one's self and for one's seed. Brugsch also sees a similar meaning to that suggested by Ebers in this reference to the blood. His rendering of the original text is: "Reach me your hands. I have become that which ye are" (Religion u. Mythol. d. alt. Ægypt., I., 219). Le Page Renouf, looking for the symbolisms of material nature in all these statements, would find here "the crimson of a sunset " in the "blood which flows from the Sun-god Rã, as he hastens to his suicide" (Trans. of Soc. of Bib. Arch., Vol. VIII., Part 2, p. 211). This, however, does not conflict with the spiritual symbolism of oneness of nature through oneness of blood. And no one of these last three suggested meanings accounts for the oneness with the gods through blood which the deceased claims, unless the symbolism of blood-covenanting be recognized in the terminology. That symbolism being recognized, the precise source of the flowing blood becomes a minor matter.

« PrécédentContinuer »