In the Hebrew, the word for shut is tuach – as meaning to smear, daub or overlay, such as with lime.
From Gesenius: "Tuach means to besmear, as to plaster – with the idea of permanently closing the eyes in a way that makes it impossible for them to be open. Sealing the eyes may or may not have been a means of causing permanent blindness."
In the ancient world, blinding was a common practice that took different forms.
1. Prisoners of war often had their eyes put out by gouging, cutting, stabbing, or branding. A blinded soldier became incapable of fighting or escape.
2. Criminals found guilty of certain crimes were punished by blinding.
The following account tells of Prince Khusrau, son of the Great Mogul Salim Nuruddin Mogul Jahangir (September 20, 1569 – November 8, 1627) with whom the Edward Terry and Sir Thomas Roe had spoken. (Edward Terry was the chaplain to the English Ambassador, Sir Thomas Roe):
“The son, having been cast into prison for staging a rebellion against his father, had his eyes sealed up by having something put before (over) them. After three years, the sealing substance was removed that he might with freedom enjoy the light, though not his liberty. After much effort by the physicians vision was eventually restored to one eye.” ("A Relation of Sir Thomas Roe's Voyage into the East Indies”. Published by J. Macock; London. 1665.)
More often, shutting up or sealing the eyes was done to cure sick eyes.
Pliny the Great wrote extensively on medial cures, which included Egyptian and Roman eye salves that contained such ingredients as kohl, bees wax, honey, olive oil, liver and leek juice (among others).
From Pliny the Great: "The mixtures, in their final form, were slathered or painted onto the sick or infected eyes and allowed to remain overnight or several days."
And: "Hieracium" is the name given to eye-salve, which is essentially composed of the following ingredients: four ounces of salammoniac, two of Cyprian verdigris, the same quantity of the kind of copperas which is call chalcanthum, one ounce of misy and six of saffron. All these substances being pounded together with Thassian vinegar and made up into pills*. It is an excellent remedy for incipient glaucoma and cataract, as also for films upon the eyes, eruptions, albugo and disease of the eyelids. ("The Natural History of Pliny", Vol. 6, Ch.27; Transcribed, London (1857).
Occasionally, eyes were sealed for ceremonial reasons.
From Dr. Alex Russell, M.D: (At a Jewish wedding in Aleppo) “The bride is seated in an open arm-chair, in the middle of the open Divan, or Alcove, with three enormous painted wax tapers burning before her. She is covered with a red gauze veil, through which her face and dress are plainly enough discernible. She is richly dressed in Venetian silks, and besides the usual jewels of gold, she is adorned with precious stones and a profusion of pearls. One of the solemnities of the wedding was to fasten the eyelids together with a gum, and the bridegroom is the person) to be the one who opens the bride’s eyes at the appointed time." ("Ritual Blinding ", Natural History of Aleppo, P.132. Published 1756)
In the Bible, Shut the Eyes is an ancient idiom that figuratively means deliberate mental blindness –to make a conscious choice not to see what is.
In this chapter of Isaiah, God is admonishing Israel against making idols and giving adoration to gods other than Himself. In this particular text, those who fashioned and worshiped idols are spoken of as self-blinded by choice; that in spite of all the evidence to the contrary that God is the one and only supreme god, these folks have sealed themselves into total darkness. And because they have made conscious choice to be spiritually blind, God condemns them to remain in their state of ignorance.
This same idea can be found in Jeremiah. 5:21. “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not."
*It has been suggest that perhaps this salve was put into pill (dry) form so as to preserve it or make it easier to store until needed; and then, before it was administered to the eye, an excipient was added to it to put it into salve form.
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