"Eastern modes of salutation are not unfrequently so prolonged as to become wearisome and a positive waste of time. The profusely polite Arab asks so many questions after your health, your happiness, your welfare, your house, and other things, that a person ignorant of the habits of the country would imagine there must be some secret ailment or mysterious sorrow oppressing you, which you wished to conceal, so as to spare the feelings of a dear, sympathizing friend, but which he, in the depth of his anxiety, would desire to hear of. I have often listened to these prolonged salutations in the house, the street, and the highway, and not unfrequently I have experienced their tedious monotony, and I have bitterly lamented useless waste of time" (Porter, Through Samaria, etc.). The work on which the disciples were sent forth was one of urgency, which left no time for empty compliments and prolonged greetings ( Luke 10:4 ).
And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love SALUTATIONS in the marketplaces, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation. ( Mark 12:38-40 )
Salutations may be classed under the two heads of conversational and epistolary. The salutation at meeting consisted in early times of various expressions of blessing, such as "God be gracious unto thee," ( Genesis 43:29 ) "The Lord be with you;" "The Lord bless thee." ( Ruth 2:4 ) Hence the term "bless" received the secondary sense of "salute." The salutation at parting consisted originally of a simple blessing, ( Genesis 24:60 ) but in later times the form "Go in peace," or rather "Farewell" ( 1 Samuel 1:17 ) was common. In modern times the ordinary mode of address current in the East resembles the Hebrew Es-selam aleykum , "Peace be on you," and the term "salam," peace, has been introduced into our own language to describe the Oriental salutation. In epistolary salutations the writer placed-his own name first, and then that of the person whom he sainted. A form of prayer for spiritual mercies was also used. The concluding salutation consisted generally of the term "I salute," accompanied by a prayer for peace or grace. [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
A greeting which might be given in person, orally (Luke 1:29,41,44), or in writing, usually at the close of a letter (1 Corinthians 16:21; Colossians 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; compare use of chairein, "greeting," "joy" in James 1:1). The Pharisaic Jews loved salutations in public places (Matthew 23:7; Mark 12:38, the King James Version "greeting," the Revised Version (British and American) "salutation"; Luke 11:43; 20:46). Often these salutations were very elaborate, involving much time in prostrations, embracings, etc. When Jesus therefore sent out the Seventy, He forbade salutation by the way (Luke 10:4), though He ordinarily encouraged proper civilities of this sort (Matthew 5:47; 10:12).
Edward Bagby Pollard
These files are public domain.