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"The ring hath caught the Lady's eye; she views it close and near; Then might you hear her shriek aloud, 'The Moringer is here!' Then might you see her start from seat, while tears in torrents fell; But whether 'twas from joy or woe, the ladies best can tell."
To the present day, an important ceremony at the coronation of a sovereign of Great Britain, is the investiture of the sovereign per annulum, or "by the ring." The ring is placed on the fourth finger of the sovereign's right hand, by the Archbishop of Canterbury; and it is called "The Wedding Ring of England," as it symbolizes the covenant union of the sovereign and his people. A similar practice prevails at the coronation of European sovereigns generally. It also runs back to the days of the early Roman emperors, and of Alexander the Great.1
That a ring, or a circlet, worn around a thumb, or a finger, or an arm, in token of an endless covenant between its giver and receiver, has been looked upon, in all ages, as the symbol of an inter-union of the lives thereby brought together, is unmistakable; whether the covenanting life-blood be drawn for such intercommingling, directly from the member so encircled, or not. The very covenant itself, or its binding force, has been sometimes thought to depend on the circlet representing it; as if the life which was pledged passed into the token of its pledging. Thus Lord
1 See Finger Ring Lore, pp. 177–197.
THE KING AND HIS GOD.
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.
THE RITE IN ANCIENT EGYPT.
her husband; the necklace was restored to her, and she lived again.1 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." And a Sanskrit word for "saffron " is also a word for "blood."3
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.
8. THE RITE AND ITS TOKEN IN EGYPT.
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.
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," 1)—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." 66 '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.