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dwelt in that land. We remember how he and three of his friends refused to eat the rich food or drink the wine that was
apportioned to them by the
for the keleks hard to obtain
in the upper Tigris basin? 2. If you were to make your
home in this region tell in which part you would rather
live, and why. 3. Look on a map of the world
and tell the reason why for years Russia, Germany, and England tried to obtain control of this part of Asia. Who does control it at the present time?
Copyright by Underwood & Underwood,
IRRIGATING IN BABYLONIA
LIFE ON THE STEPPES OF MESOPOTAMIA
Even in the unfavorable conditions of some of the dry or semiarid regions of the world and on their margins, civilization often develops rapidly. This was true in Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and other regions in the Old World. In these regions man developed rapidly because irrigation was possible. Intensive cultivation made it easy to support a dense population, and close relationship made it necessary to have an organized government. As long as the people of a nation were willing to labor and submit to a strong government they could prosper, but if they became weakened by luxury, they fell prey to their stronger, warlike neighbors, as did Babylonia.
In this arid region of the Old World there exists what is probably the oldest form of social or political organization known to man-the village communities of the Bedouins. The first known villages and towns are those that sprang up in the valley oases of Mesopotamia and Egypt.
Most of the present sparse population of the once densely settled Mesopotamia is Arab and Kurd, with a mixture of Turk here and there. The Arabs are the most numerous, and we shall later hear of their life in village and town. In the present lesson we shall study the life of the Bedouin, as the Arab is called when he is a nomad. In his manner of living the Bedouin has changed very little since the time when Ishmael (whom many Bedouins claim as their ancestor) was cast out of the tent of his father Abraham (Gen. 21. 9-20).
THE STEPPES OF MESOPOTAMIA
Mesopotamia is largely a region of steppes, where conditions in the more remote parts have remained nearly unchanged for five thousand years.
Bible descriptions of steppe scenery.-Scattered phrases of Holy Scripture give us the earliest description of steppe scenery found in literature. The desire expressed in the twentythird psalm for “green pastures and still waters” represents the steppe dweller's ideal of comfort. He lives in a land where water is scarce, where man and beast often thirst and grass withers. The figure of the grass withering as the hot winds from the neighboring desert passes over the fields is a common one. “As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone” (Psa. 103. 15, 16).
A more cheerful comparison is found in the following: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly” (Isa. 35. 1, 2). This is a literal description of a spring landscape on the steppe, and reminds us of our trip down the Tigris and the millions of gay-colored flowers we saw. 1. Repeat the twenty-third psalm and form all the pictures that
you can of Oriental life as you are saying it. 2. Write down the mental picture that you made.
OCCUPATIONS OF THE PEOPLE
Grazing is the chief occupation of the people in this region, and they obtain their food and clothing largely from this industry.
The animals of the nomad. The animals found here are herbivorous, or grass-eating, and include many that have been domesticated, as sheep, goats, camels, asses, and horses. The people have become experts in the domesticating and raising of animals.
The wool of the sheep and camel is manufactured into heavy cloths for tents, and into the fine camel's-hair cloth for wearing
apparel. John the Baptist wore this raiment, for Saint Mark says, “John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins" (Mark 1. 6). In Bagdad we see great caravans of camels coming in from the desert loaded with bales
of wool. Hides are used in many ways. They are sewed together for tent coverings, clothing, or floor mats. All
the arid regions the inhabitants prepare skins to
be used as water bottles, the process being the
as in preparing them for the kelek. The Arabs like these carriers better than breakable utensils, as they have to move so often and must pack all their belongings each time.
The Arabs lead WEST ASIA FOR STORING WATER, OLIVE OIL,
nomadic life because AND EVEN CHEESE, AS WELL AS FOR MANY
they must have food
for their great herds. Horses prefer the longer grass, so as soon as they exhaust the supply in any locality, they are driven to new pastures. Oxen and camels take their place, and when the herbage is too short for them the sheep are driven in and eat until the pasture is indeed bare. Finally all must move.
After the herdsmen are all gone the tents are struck by the women, the goods are packed, and all follow the flocks. Chil