Have been common from the earliest times as tokens of affection, honor, or respect. The dues to a king were often rendered in this form, 1Sa 10:27; Isa 36:16; and men of high position were approached with presents, Ge 43:11; Jg 6:18; 1Sa 9:7; 1Ki 14:3. Kings made gifts of garments to those they wished to honor, Ge 45:22-23; 1Sa 18:4; and of treasures to other princes, out of esteem or of fear, 2Ki 16:8; 18:14; 2Ch 9:9,12. Conquerors scattered gifts from their triumphal cars, and special privileges in token of generous joy, Ps 68:18; Ac 1:2,4. Prophets received gifts, or declined them, as duty required, 2Ki 5:15; 8:9; Da 2:48; 5:17. The word gifts often denotes bribes, Ex 23:8; Ps 15:5; Isa 5:23. The same word is also applied to the offerings required by the law, De 16:17; Mt 5:23-24; to the blessings of the gospel and eternal life, which are preeminently gifts, Ac 8:20; to the Christian grace, for the same reason, Eph 4:8,11; and to the miraculous endowments of the apostles, 1Co 12-14. See TONGUES.
So common in the East that there are 15 distinct Hebrew words for them. Minchah, from an inferior to a superior (Jg 3:15). Maseeth, vice versa (Es 2:18). Berakah, "a blessing," i.e. complimentary (2Ki 5:15). Shochad, a bribe (Ex 23:8; 2Ki 16:8). Many were not voluntary, but a compulsory exaction: tribute (2Ki 17:3). "To bring presents" is to own submission (Ps 68:29). That to a prophet was his consulting fee (1Sa 9:7), not a bribe (1Sa 12:3). To refuse a present was an insult; the wedding robe offered and slighted was the condemnation of the disrobed guest (Mt 22:11).
These have a large place in the O.T. history, and several different words are used which are often translated PRESENTS. There were
2. From an inferior to a superior. 2Ch 9:24; 17:5,11. This also took the form of tribute, an acknowledgement of submission. 1Sa 10:27; 1Ki 4:21. When Solomon reigned supreme, 'all the earth' sought to Solomon to hear his wisdom, and brought presents, as did the queen of Sheba. 1Ki 10:2,24-25. This is a type of Christ's kingdom as established on earth, when presents, as willing tribute, will be sent from all nations to the Lord Jesus. Ps 45:12; 72:10,15; Isa 60:9.
3. Gifts to judges: these were very apt to become bribes, and were strictly prohibited. Ex 23:8; De 16:19; 2Ch 19:7. It was usual also to take presents to prophets, 1Sa 9:7; and as the prophets were sometimes judges, the gifts were liable to become bribes, as they did with the sons of Samuel, though Samuel himself could challenge the people, and they admitted the fact, that he had never taken a bribe to blind his eyes therewith. 1Sa 8:3; 12:3.
GIFTS. The practice of making presents is very common in oriental countries. The custom probably had its origin among those men who first sustained the office of kings or rulers, and who, from the novelty and perhaps the weakness attached to their situation, chose, rather than make the hazardous attempt of exacting taxes, to content themselves with receiving those presents which might be freely offered, 1Sa 10:27. Hence it passed into a custom, that whoever approached the king should come with a gift. This was the practice and the expectation. The custom of presenting gifts was subsequently extended to other great men; to men who were inferior to the king, but who were, nevertheless, men of influence and rank; it was also extended to those who were equals, when they were visited, Pr 18:16. Kings themselves were in the habit of making presents, probably in reference to the custom in question and the feelings connected with it, to those individuals, their inferiors in point of rank, whom they wished to honour, and also to those who, like themselves, were clothed with the royal authority. These presents, namely, such as were presented by the king as a token of the royal esteem and honour, are almost invariably denominated in the Hebrew, ??? and ????, 1Ki 15:19; 2Ki 16:8; 18:14; Isa 36:16. The more ancient prophets did not deem it discreditable to them to receive presents, nor unbecoming their sacred calling, except when, as was sometimes the case, they refused by way of expressing their dissatisfaction or indignation, 2Ki 5:15; 8:9. In later times, when false prophets, in order to obtain money, prophesied without truth and without authority, the true prophets, for the purpose of keeping the line of distinction as broad as possible, rejected every thing that looked like reward. Gifts of this kind, that have now been described, are not to be confounded with those which are called ???, and which were presented to judges, not as a mark of esteem and honour, but for purposes of bribery and corruption. The former was considered an honour to the giver, but a gift of the latter kind has been justly reprobated in every age, Ex 22:8; De 10:17; 16:19; 27:25; Ps 15:5; 26:10; Isa 1:23; 5:23; 33:15. The giver was not restricted as to the kind of present which he should make. He might present not only silver and gold, but clothes and arms, also different kinds of food, in a word any thing which could be of benefit to the recipient, Ge 43:11; 1Sa 9:7; 16:20; Job 42:11. It was the custom anciently, as it is at the present time in the east, for an individual when visiting a person of high rank, to make some presents of small value to the servants or domestics of the person visited, 1Sa 25:27. It was the usual practice among kings and princes to present to their favourite officers in the government, to ambassadors from foreign courts, to foreigners of distinction, and to men eminent for their learning, garments of greater or less value, Ge 45:22-23; Es 8:15. The royal wardrobe, in which a large number of such garments was kept, is denominated in Hebrew ?????, 2Ch 34:22. It was considered an honour of the highest kind, if a king or any person in high authority thought it proper, as a manifestation of his favour, to give away to another the garment which he had previously worn himself, 1Sa 18:4. In the east, at the present day, it is expected, that every one who has received a garment from the king will immediately clothe himself in it, and promptly present himself and render his homage to the giver; otherwise he runs the hazard of exciting the king's displeasure, Mt 22:11-12. It was sometimes the case, that the king, when he made a feast, presented vestments to all the guests who were invited, with which they clothed themselves before they sat down to 2:2Ki 10:22; Ge 45:22; Re 3:5. In oriental countries, the presents which are made to kings and princes are to this day, carried on beasts of burden, are attended with a body of men, and are escorted with much pomp. It matters not how light or how small the present may be, it must either be carried on the back of a beast of burden, or by a man, who must support it with both his hands, Jg 3:18; 2Ki 8:9.