And they laid [themselves] down upon clothes laid to pledge by
That is, the clothes they took in pledge of poor people, which they should have restored before sun setting, ( Exodus 22:26 Exodus 22:27 ) ; these they spread by every altar, of which they had many erected to their idols, and on these as on carpets they slept by them, as was usual with the Gentiles; who not only in common used to lie and sleep on garments, or carpets, or skins spread on the floor F19, but upon such in the temples of their idols, in order to obtain good dreams; so in the temple of Amphiaraus in Greece, after purgations and sacrifices to him, and to the gods whose names were engraven on the same altar, they slew a ram, and spread the skin, on which they laid themselves down, and had dreams, the signification and events of which they presently interpreted F20; and Jerom says F21, they used to spread the skins of the sacrifices, and lie upon them, that they might by dreams know things to come, which custom in the temple of Aesculapius continued to his times; and this custom might be imitated by the Jews; and so they are described by such, "who sleep in the temples of idols", in the Vulgate Latin version of ( Isaiah 65:4 ) ; (See Gill on Isaiah 65:4); but very false it is what Strabo F23 says, that the Jews were taught this custom by Moses; telling them that such as lived soberly and righteously ought to sleep in the temple, where they might expect good dreams for themselves and others, as good gifts and signs from God, which others might not expect: or else the sense is, they laid themselves down on these clothes, and feasted on them; it being their custom at meals not to sit upright, but to recline on couches; or as the manner of the Turks and other eastern nations to sit on carpets; and it was also the custom of the Heathens to feast in their temples, and by their altars, in honour of their gods. So Herodotus relates F24, that at a festival of June with the Argives, the mother of Cleobis and Biton prayed the goddess, whom they had drawn to the temple, oxen not being ready, that she would give to them what was best for men; after which prayer, it is said, they sacrificed and "feasted"; and the young men falling asleep in the temple, never rose more, but finished this life: the deity judging it better for a man to die than to live; and this custom of feasting in idols' temples obtained, in the times of the apostles, as appears from ( 1 Corinthians 8:10 ) ; and which was now observed by the Israelites, with this aggravation of their sin, that they laid themselves on the garments of the poor they had taken for a pawn, when they were performing their idolatrous rites; which must be very provoking to God: and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god:
either wine which used to be given to condemned malefactors to cheer and refresh them; which custom among the Jews was founded on ( Proverbs 31:6 Proverbs 31:7 ) ; (See Gill on Proverbs 31:6); (See Gill on Proverbs 31:7); The manner was to put a grain of frankincense into a cup of wine, which they gave to the malefactor just as he was going to be executed, that his mind might be disturbed and become insensible; and which was usually the free gift of honourable women, out of compassion to the sufferer; and if they did it not, it was provided at the expense of the public F25; but this seems to be done rather to intoxicate and stupefy them, that they might not feel their pain and misery, than to cheer; and is thought to be the potion which was offered to Christ, and he refused, ( Mark 15:23 ) ; but whether such a custom obtained in the times of the prophet is a question; nor does it seem very likely that these men would choose such sort of wine; wherefore rather wine bought with the money they received by the fines and amercements of those they unjustly condemned is intended. The Targum renders it the wine of rapine; and this they were not content to drink only in their own houses, but drank it at their festivals in the temples of their idols, such as were built for the calves of Dan and Bethel, and other idols.
F19 Vid. Gloss in Aristophan. Plutum, p. 55. & Nubes, p. 125.
F20 Pausanias, Attica, sive l. 1. p. 65. Vid. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 6. c. 2.
F21 Comment. in Isa. lxv. 4.
F23 Geograph. l. 16. p. 523.
F24 Clio, sive l. 1. c. 31.
F25 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 10. fol. 198. 4. Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 13. sect. 2, 3.