313. The Face Between the Knees

1 Kings 18:42  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Listen from:
This is not, as some commentators have thought, a posture obtained by kneeling on the ground and then bending the face over to the earth. It refers to a common Oriental position for meditation and devotion. The person sits with the feet drawn close to the body, thus bringing the knees nearly on a level with the chin. In Egypt there are many statues of men in this position. Specimens of these can be seen in museums of Egyptian antiquities; there are several such in the Abbott Collection in New York, and a number in the British Museum, one of which is made of black basalt. This was undoubtedly the posture of Elijah, who, in addition to sitting in this peculiar manner, inclined his head forward until his face was literally “between his knees.” Dr. Shaw found this to be an occasional posture of the Turks and Moors in Barbary while engaged in their devotions. Rosenmüller tells of a Persian poet who was so lost in religious contemplation, with his head upon his knees, that he failed to hear the voice of a friend who accosted him (Morgenland, vol. 3, p. 194). In India this posture is likewise common for those who are engaged in deep meditation or who are in great sorrow. Roberts gives several illustrations of it: “This morning, as I passed the garden of Chinnan, I saw him on the ground with his face between his knees. I wonder what plans he was firming! It must have been something very important to cause him thus to meditate.” “Kandan is sick or in trouble, for he has got his face between his knees” (Oriental Illustrations, p. 205).