(סִŠ, saph, Eze 41:16, the sill or "threshold," as elsewhere usually rendered; מִשׁקוֹŠ, mashkoph', Eze 12:7, the lintel, as elsewhere rendered). In De 6:9, Moses enjoined upon the Israelites to write the divine commands upon the posts (מוּזוֹת, mezuzoth', invariably so rendered) of their doors, a practice which is understood literally by the modern Jews (Thomson, Land and Book, 1:141). It is at this day customary in Mohammedan Asia for extracts from the Koran, and moral sentences, to be wrought in stucco over doors and gates, and as ornamental scrolls to the interior of apartments. The elegant characters of the Arabian and Persian alphabets, and the good taste with which they are applied in running scrolls, the characters being usually white, raised on a blue ground, and intermixed with gilding, have a very pleasing effect, particularly in interior ornament. This custom must have been very ancient, for Moses here very evidently alludes to it. We understand the injunction not as imperative upon the Hebrews to write on their doors, but as enjoining them, if they did write at all, to write sentences of the law. He suggests this as a means of inculcating the law upon their children, whence it seems that he took it for granted that the children would be taught to read. "Among us," says Michaelis, "where, by the aid of printing, books are so abundantly multiplied, and may be put into the hands of every child, such measures would be quite superfluous; but if we would enter into the ideas of Moses, we must place ourselves in an age when the book of the law could only come into the hands of a few opulent people." The later Jews have exercised their usual ingenuity in misunderstanding this injunction. They conceive the observance to be imperative, and they act on it as follows: Their nezuzoth, or door-schedules, are slips of parchment, on which are written the passages De 6:4-9; De 11:13-20; these slips are rolled up, and on the outside is written the Hebrew word שדי, shaddai, or "the Almighty," one of the names appropriated to God. This roll they put into a reed or hollow cylinder of lead, in which a hole is cut for the word shaddai to appear, and the tube is then fastened to the door- post by a nail at each end. As the injunction is in the plural form, they conceive that a mezuzah should be placed on every door of a house. It is usually fixed to the right-hand door-post, and those Israelites who wish to be considered particularly devout usually touch or even kiss it as they pass. The Talmud ascribes great merit to having the mezuzah fixed on the door- post, and describes it as a preservative from sin. SEE MEZUZOTH.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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