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The History Of Dice And Cards

Volume I

The Gaming Table by Andrew Steinmetz, Volume II

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The History Of Dice And Cards

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Dice are also mentioned in the New Testament, where occurs the
word cubeia (Eph. iv. 14), ('the only word for "gambling" used in
the Bible'), a word in very common use, among Paul's kith and
kin, for 'cube,' 'dice,' 'dicery,' and it occurs frequently in
the Talmud and Midrash. The Mishna declares unfit either as
'judge or witness,' 'a cubea-player, a usurer, a pigeon-flier
(betting-man), a vendor of illegal (seventh-year) produce, and a
slave.' A mitigating clause--proposed by one of the weightiest
legal authorities, to the effect that the gambler and his kin
should only be disqualified 'if they have but that one
profession'--is distinctly negatived by the majority, and the
rule remains absolute. The classical word for the gambler or
dice-player, cubeutes, appears aramaized in the same sources into
something like kubiustis, as the following curious instances may
show: When the Angel, after having wrestled with Jacob all
night, asks him to let him go, 'for the dawn has risen' (A. V.,
'the day breaketh'), Jacob is made to reply to him, 'Art thou,
then, a thief or a kubiustis, that thou art afraid of the day?'
To which the Angel replies, 'No, I am not; but it is my turn to-
day, and for the first time, to sing the Angelic Hymn of Praise
in Heaven: let me go.' In another Tadmudical passage an early
biblical critic is discussing certain arithmetical difficulties
in the Pentateuch. Thus he finds the number of Levites (in
Numbers) to differ, when summed up from the single items, from
that given in the total. Worse than that, he finds that all the
gold and silver contributed to the sanctuary is not accounted
for, and, clinching his argument, he cries, 'Is, then, your
master Moses a thief or a kubiustis? Or could he not make up his
accounts properly?' The critic is then informed of a certain
difference between 'sacred' and other coins; and he further gets
a lesson in the matter of Levites and Firstborn, which silences
him. Again, the Talmud decides that, if a man have bought a
slave who turns out to be a thief or a kubiustis,--which has here
been erroneously explained to mean a 'manstealer,'--he has no
redress. He must keep him, as he bought him, or send him away;
for he has bought him with all his vices.

Regarding the translation 'sleight' in the A.V., this seems a
correct enough rendering of the term as far as the SENSE of the
passage goes, and comes very near the many ancient
translations--'nequitia,' 'versutia,' 'inanis labor,' 'vana et
inepta (?) subtilitas,' &c., of the Fathers. Luther has
'Schalkheit,'--a word the meaning of which at his time differed
considerably from our acceptation of the term. The Thesaurus
takes Paul's cubeia (s.v.) more literally, to mean 'in alea
hominum, i. e., in certis illis casibus quibus jactantur

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