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HELON'S PILGRIMAGE TO JERUSALEM.
A PICTURE OF JUDAISM,
IN THE CENTURY WHICH PRECEDED THE ADVENT OF OUR SAVIOUR.
_TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF_
WITH NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE TRANSLATOR.
Ἡ ΣΩΤΗΡΙΑ ἘΚ ΤΩΝ ἸΟΓΔΑΙΩΝ ἘΣΤΙΝ.
LONDON: PRINTED FOR J. MAWMAN, LUDGATE-STREET.
LONDON: PRINTED BY A. APPLEGATH, STAMFORD-STREET.
VOL. II. BOOK III.
The Sacerdotal Office 1
The Journey to Joppa 19
The Feast of the New Moon 50
The Admission into the Priesthood 75
The Essenes 124
The Betrothment 151
The Feast of Pentecost 176
The Journey to Dan 193
The Nuptials 234
The Avenger of Blood 248
The Water of Jealousy 267
The Day of Atonement 290
The Feast of Tabernacles 312
The Conclusion 339
BOOK III. THE FEAST OF PENTECOST.
CHAPTER I. THE SACERDOTAL OFFICE.
The feast of the Passover was ended. The multitude had returned to their homes, or resumed their occupations in the city. The ashes on the altar of burnt-offering, whose gradual accumulation, during the week of the Passover, had raised them at last into a lofty pyramid, had been cleared away. The days of unleavened bread were past; the people had returned to their ordinary food, and all the glory of the festival seemed to have disappeared from the city.
Helon stood on the roof, on the following morning, contemplating the rising sun. His eyes turned towards the temple, and he remembered, with a feeling of disappointment and regret, that on this as on the preceding day, only a single customary sacrifice would be presented there. He looked down upon the streets—the exhilarating commotion of the festival had vanished, and all was solitary and still, save where a Tyrian merchant was seen hastening through the gate with his empty sacks, or a Galilean dealer in cattle, driving before him the remnant of his herd, for which he had been unable to find a purchaser. No pilgrim from Hebron or Libna, no stranger of the Diaspora was to be seen.
A deep melancholy took possession of Helon’s mind, and this day seemed likely to pass even more gloomily than the preceding. The dejection of mind which for several years past had been his habitual companion, had suddenly vanished during the paschal week. The enthusiasm which began at Beersheba, when he knelt down to greet the land of his fathers, had gone on constantly increasing; and he had felt within himself a resolution, which it seemed as if nothing could daunt, to keep the law of Jehovah. But now, though still in the Holy Land and in the city of God, his spirits sunk at every moment; his feelings had been too highly excited, and this depression was the natural consequence. He could not descend to the ordinary occupations of life in Jerusalem, in which, as the city of Jehovah, it seemed to him that a perpetual festival ought to prevail.
In the preceding days only the psalms, with their tone of cheerful and exulting piety, or the joyous prophecies of Isaiah, had been in his heart and on his lips; now the plaintive strains of Jeremiah, his former favourites, recurred to his mind, and he began to feel how removed he still was from that inward peace for which he longed, and which he thought that he had found in the first days of the festival. When he looked down upon the streets, whose compatative emptiness seemed to him absolute desolation, the beginning of the Lamentations came to his mind,
How doth the city sit solitary that was full of people! How is she become as a widow!
And he could scarcely forbear adding from the same prophet,
My soul is removed from peace, And I said my confidence is perished And my hope in Jehovah.
Lam. iii. 18.
With such feelings he wandered up and down on the roof, in the cool air of morning. Suddenly the smoke of the morning-sacrifice arose on mount Moriah, and the sound of a solitary trumpet was heard from the hill of the Lord. All Helon’s feelings returned with the associations of this sight and sound. “There is then,” he exclaimed, “one occupation in Jerusalem, which is a perpetual festival. It is theirs who dwell in the house of the Lord and minister at his altar. Why do I delay my resolution?”
At this moment the door of the Alijah opened, and the venerable Elisama issued from it. He had been performing there his morning devotions. Helon went up to him, wished him peace, and with kindling looks thus addressed him; “My uncle, often hast thou told me that Israel is Israel only in the Holy Land, yet even here I cannot remain, unless I become a priest.”
“Restless youth,” said Elisama smiling; “is it not enough for thee that thou art in the city of Jehovah?”
“But,” replied Helon, “even in the city of Jehovah, the priests alone keep a perpetual festival; and I fain would keep it with them.”
Elisama looked at him in joyful surprise. It had been his own wish that Helon, whose dislike of commerce he perceived, should become a priest, but wishing that it should be his spontaneous choice, he had forborne to suggest it to him; and he had not hoped for so speedy and so decisive a declaration. Scarcely able to repress his joy, he replied, “In a son of Levi the wish is natural; but what has suggested it?”
Helon related to him what he had felt on the second day of the Passover, when offering the burnt-offering; how the desire of entering into the sacerdotal order had ripened into resolution, and how ever since that time the words of the prophet, “the priest is an angel of the Lord,” had been perpetually before his mind, till at length his painful feelings on seeing the deserted city, and the joy which had revived in him on hearing the trumpet from Moriah, had convinced him that he could be happy only by entering into the priesthood.
Mal. ii. 7.
Elisama embraced him, and both remained for a time weeping. At length Elisama, breaking silence, said, “We will go to-morrow to the high-priest; he knows our family and me. In truth,” he continued, “Jehovah has blessed our house with much wealth in a foreign land, and thou, alas, art its only heir. It is right that thou shouldest revive the priesthood in our family, in which it has slept for four hundred years. This is the curse which rests on Israel in foreign lands. The privilege to be anointed to Jehovah by birth, and to have the right of ministering before him, is despised, and a Levite becomes but like another man. This I have often thought; the pursuits of commerce have indeed prevented my acting on this conviction, but all my wealth has been an inadequate consolation to me.”
“My second father,” exclaimed Helon, “my heart overflows with joy to hear that you think so; and with gratitude, that you permit me to revive the priesthood in our family.”
“Yes, Helon,” said Elisama, “I feel, too, that the priest is an angel of the Lord of Hosts. In the hour in which thou didst resolve to make a journey to the Holy Land, I framed in my heart the blessing which my lips now pronounce upon thee. But let us go to the grave of thy father, that thou mayest receive his blessing.”
Without entering the house, they descended the staircase which led directly from the roof into the outer court, and so into the street. Passing along the Broad-street they came immediately from the Higher City into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and its cedars, and proceeded beneath their solemn shade, till they reached the well-known sepulchre of the Egyptian pilgrim.
Both stood before it awhile in silence, and seemed to expect that some voice should still issue from it, or that the spirit of the beloved father and brother should come forth.
“O! hadst thou lived to see this hour,” at length exclaimed Elisama, “how had thy paternal heart rejoiced!”
Helon wept, whether in joy or sorrow he himself scarcely knew—but such tears are of a higher kind. He threw himself upon the grave, and long remained there praying and weeping. Elisama too gave free vent to his tears. “Arise,” he said, at length, to Helon, “and let us repeat together the 90th psalm. Thy father will answer thee in this song of Moses, and bless thee in the words of the man of God.”
Helon arose, and they both said together,
Lord, thou hast been our refuge From generation to generation. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever thou hadst fashioned the earth and the world, From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God! Thou turnest man to destruction, And sayest, Return ye children of men: For a thousand years are in thy sight As yesterday when it is past, And as a watch in the night. Thou sweepest them away; they sleep. In the morning they are as grass that groweth up, In the morning it is green and flourishing, In the evening it is cut down and withereth. For we are consumed by thine anger, And by thy wrath we are troubled. Thou settest our iniquities before thee, Our secret deeds in the light of thy countenance. Our days are wasted by thy anger, Our years are spent as a breath. The days of our years are threescore years and ten, And if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, Yet is their strength labour and sorrow; For it is soon cut off and we flee away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger Which is terrible that thou mayest be feared? So teach us to number our days, That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return to us, O Jehovah—how long? Be again gracious to thy servants. O! satisfy us speedily with thy mercy, That we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, And the years wherein we have seen evil. Let thy work appear unto thy servants And thy glory unto their children. May the favour of the Lord our God be upon us And prosper thou the work of our hands; Yea, the work of our hands may thy goodness prosper!
“Be that the blessing of thy father upon thee,” said Elisama when they had finished. “Does not this psalm seem to have been composed to suit our circumstances; beginning with lamentation on account of death, and confession of sin; yet even in the midst of these, calling on Jehovah, on him who has been our refuge from generation to generation? Yes, Helon, such has he been to the whole series of our ancestors even to him who, with the prophet Jeremiah, was compelled to flee into Egypt; and on this we found our prayer, Return to us O Jehovah! The Lord has heard thee, happy youth! Thou shalt behold the works of Jehovah! And from the sepulchre of thy father, from beneath these primeval cedars, his spirit blesses thee and says, The favour of the Lord thy God be upon thee. May he prosper all the work of thy hands, yea the work of thy hands may his goodness prosper. And now let us go. We will return home by Zion and by the spring of Siloah.”
At the south-east corner of Jerusalem, near the termination of the Kedron, lies the valley of Hinnom, where once sacrifices were offered to Moloch on Tophet. They bent their course around the Water-gate and went through this valley which lies on the southern side, along the aqueduct of Siloah, which had been erected by Solomon. They came first to the lower pool, then to the remains of a noble garden, and at last, opposite to the south-west side of the city to the upper pool, near which was the highly-prized fountain of Siloah, which Manasseh, on his return, had connected with the city by means of a well. Isaiah describes the waters of Siloah as “flowing softly.”
Isaiah viii. 6.
This is the holy spot where the wisest king of Israel was anointed. David, then grey with years, said, “Set Solomon my son on my own mule, and bring him down to Gihon (so this fountain was then called) and let Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, anoint him there king over Israel. So Zadok and Nathan, and Benaiah and the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down thither, and Zadok took a horn of oil out of the sanctuary and anointed Solomon, and they blew the trumpet, and all the people came up after him piping and rejoicing, so that the earth was rent with their sound.”
1 Kings i. 33.
“It was not without reason,” said Elisama, “that I brought thee hither to-day. As the king is the anointed of a people, so is the priest of a family. For thy own sake I led thee to the valley of Jehoshaphat; it shall serve as an omen to myself that I have brought thee hither.”
They were both silent. Passing by the Fuller’s Field, as it was called from ancient times, and bending round the western side of the city, by the ruins of the aqueduct of Hezekiah, they entered the valley of Siloah. Between the gate of the Fountain and the gate of the Valley they saw the tower of Zion, formerly called the tower of the Jebusites, and now the city of David, rising in the midst of the Higher City which had been built around it. The Higher and Lower City were separated by a valley, which was called the Tyropœon (valley of the cheese-makers.) They entered by the gate of the Valley and thus reached again the house of Iddo, in the Higher City, and in the Broad-street.
2 Kings xviii. 17. Isaiah vii. 3.
Judges i. 21.
How did Iddo sympathize in the joy with which Elisama announced to him the determination of Helon! He was standing in the outer court, and had just taken leave of some acquaintance, when they entered. Leading them with exclamations of joy to the inner court, he called his wife from the apartment of the women, made the slaves place cushions around the fountain, and repeatedly exclaimed, “What a happiness for a family! The priest is indeed an angel of Jehovah of Hosts.”
The day was spent in domestic festivity, but Helon could not be present at the evening sacrifice, because he had made himself unclean by contact with a grave. It seemed somewhat strange to him, that he should have been defiled by a visit to his father’s tomb, and be unfit to appear in the temple of Jehovah, because he had shed there tears not of earthly sorrow but of heavenly hope. But he consoled himself with the thought that the priest was more secure even in this respect.
Numb. xix. 16.
In the afternoon, as he could not go up to the temple, he strayed, accompanied by his host, through the Higher City, the Lower City, and came at last into the New City. The artisans were at their labours, in shops open to the street, and presented a picture of animated activity. They passed the ruins of the palaces of David, in the Upper City, and Solomon in the Lower City, and saw the tower of Baris, where Helon was to appear on the following day, before the high-priest, and at length turned in the New City around the hill Bezetha, by the Gate of the Corner which lay in the north-east side of the city. The sepulchres of the kings, a splendid work, hewn out of the rock, was near. Helon and Iddo proceeded, and winding round the west side of the city came into the vale of Gihon. “Yonder,” said Iddo, “is Golgotha,” as they came to an open space.
2 Chron. xxi. 20.
A dim remembrance of the connection of this place with some past event of his life came into Helon’s mind, and he at length recollected his dream. “I have had,” said he to his host, “an extraordinary dream, which I have been unable to shake off and which ended with Golgotha.” When he had related it to him, Iddo replied, “Remember the words of Elihu,
In a dream, in visions of the night, When deep sleep falleth upon men, In slumberings upon their bed God giveth instruction unto men.—Job xxxiii. 15.
A part of the dream is on the point of being fulfilled, in your receiving the sacerdotal unction, and we will hope that the rest portends only good. What Golgotha should mean I do not understand.”
Helon purified himself in the evening, by the prescribed ablutions, from the uncleanness which he had contracted by the contact of the grave. Still he was not permitted to enter the temple for seven days to come; for so long the uncleanness lasted which was produced by touching a sepulchre. But the prohibition applied only to the temple.
The following day was a sabbath. Elisama took the presents which he had destined for the high-priest, and Helon and he went together to the castle of Baris. It was a stately edifice erected by Hyrcanus. It stood at the north-east corner of the temple, on a steep rock fifty cubits high, and formed a quadrangle, in the midst of which a splendid palace stood. Besides a court, it was surrounded with a wall, on the four corners of which were towers, that on the south-east side being the highest, for the purpose of commanding the temple from it.
The high-priest received the stranger, sitting in the inner court, by the fountain, and bade them welcome. Elisama had been known to him before, and Hyrcanus rejoiced to see him after an interval of many years. With lofty panegyrics of his government, and the heroic deeds of himself and his progenitors, Elisama laid his Egyptian presents at his feet, consisting of valuable or curious productions of nature and art from that country, and then made application for Helon’s admission into the priesthood. The high-priest lent a favourable ear to the request, but observed, that as the triumphal entry of his sons was to take place on the approaching new moon, he could not before that time admit Helon to the temple service, and he recommended it to Elisama to employ the interval in examining the genealogical table of the young candidate. Having promised them all necessary aid in carrying their purpose into effect, he dismissed them.
The first step had now been taken. Helon left the castle, full of exultation, and congratulating Israel that such a hero as Hyrcanus sat upon its throne. On their return home Elisama announced to Iddo his intention of making a journey with Helon to Joppa, where the keeper of the genealogical register of their family dwelt. “Since you are now to be an inhabitant of the Promised Land,” said he to Helon, “it is right that you should become acquainted with it and with your kinsmen who dwell in it. We shall return in time to witness the triumphal entry.” Helon requested that they might take Anathoth in their way, a place which he felt an indescribable longing to see, as being the native town of his prophet Jeremiah. Elisama agreed, and as soon as the sabbath was ended preparations for the journey were hastily made.
CHAPTER II. THE JOURNEY TO JOPPA.
The crowing of the cock had already announced the near approach of morning, yet all was still in the streets of Jerusalem and in the temple, when Elisama, Helon, and the faithful Sallu, their upper garments girt short around them, with sandals on their feet, and staves in their hands, passed through the gate of Ephraim, and took the road to Anathoth.
They entered the territory of the tribe of Benjamin as soon as they had passed the gate. Jerusalem lay on the confines of Judah and Benjamin, as the metropolis of the whole people, and not belonging to any one tribe exclusively. Since the return from the captivity the distinction of the tribes had been obliterated, with the exception of that of Levi, and, strictly speaking, only the name remained in the case of the others, as a cherished memorial of former times.
A beautiful and fruitful plain, yet with something of declivity, lay before them, the only level ground in the immediate vicinity of the city. On whichever side you quit Jerusalem, the ground falls, for Jerusalem stands elevated and conspicuous on the surface of the earth, as it does in the history of the world. It was growing light when they came into the King’s valley, so called because it was here that Melchisedec, priest of the Most High God and King of Salem had met Abram, returning triumphant from his battle with Chedorlaomer and his confederate kings, and brought wine and bread to the patriarch and blessed him, and said, “Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, the possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.” Here too the king of Sodom came to meet Abram. They passed along this beautiful valley, which was beginning to be brightened by the first beams of the sun; the sickle of the reapers was heard on every side, and they congratulated themselves on being permitted to visit scenes where holy men had walked. “These,” said Elisama, “are truly consecrated spots; the memory of the events which passed here lives from generation to generation, and has outlasted the pillar which Absalom raised yonder, hoping to perpetuate his name by this monument, when he had no son to preserve it. He had no son, because he had shown that he could not teach him to honour a father; his monument has disappeared; no man mentions the pillar of Absalom; but the friendly meeting of the kings will be handed down to the latest posterity, in the name which this valley bears.”
Gen. xiv. 18.
2 Sam. xviii. 18.
Helon was silent; for he perceived that his uncle had involuntarily awakened a thought in his own mind, which never failed to give him pain. Elisama had no children, and he regarded this as a grievous punishment from heaven, for some unknown sin which he had committed. With an agitated voice he turned to Helon and gave him his hand; “Be thou,” he said, “my son! Like Absalom, I have sinned. I did indeed honour my father to his dying day; but the ways of the Lord are unsearchable; he is righteous, and it becomes me to say with David, 'Who can tell how often he transgresseth! Cleanse thou me from secret faults.'”
“I am thy son,” replied Helon, and pressed Elisama’s hand. “But here while Israel rejoices around us, in this lovely valley, in the blessing of the harvest, let joy and thankfulness alone occupy our minds.”
They proceeded on their way. The fields of barley stood, golden ripe, on either side of the road; troops of reapers were on their way to the harvest, and the sound of the sickle, the song of the labourer, and the rolling of the threshing-wain resounded through the air. While rows of the reapers were busy in cutting down the grain, others were binding up the sheaves, tying the stalks not far from the ears. Here a corner of the field was left for the poor; there a field already reaped was affording them a gleaning. Some were carrying their sheaves to the threshing-floor, others were loading them on waggons to convey them thither. They past one of these threshing-floors: it was an open place in the fields, where the soil had been made hard and smooth by stamping; the width was on an average from thirty to forty paces, and oxen, unmuzzled, according to the law, were treading out the grain. In another, which belonged to a rich man, a servant sat upon the threshing-wain, guiding the beasts, who dragged this machine, with its iron-shod wheels, over the sheaves, while another, following behind, shook up the straw with a fork. All were enlivening their various labours with a song; and such passages as these might frequently be heard,
He watereth the hills from his chambers, The earth is satisfied with the fruit of his works. He causeth grass to grow for cattle, And herb for the service of man, Bringing forth bread out of the earth.—Ps. civ.
Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; Thy paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness, And the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks, The vallies also are covered over with corn, They shout for joy and sing.—Ps. lxv.
Lev. xix. 9.
Deut. xxv. 4.
The travellers joined in these festive songs, and, according to ancient custom, pronounced, at every field which they passed, the benediction,
The blessing of Jehovah be upon you! We bless you in the name of Jehovah.—Ps. cxxix. 8.
Helon felt now the full force of the prophecy of Jehovah by Isaiah; “They joy before thee, according to the joy in harvest.” They had travelled about three sabbath-days' journies through this exhilarating scene, when they reached the little town of Anathoth; their road to Joppa did not necessarily take them through it, but it was the birth-place of Jeremiah, and Elisama and Helon could not refuse themselves the pleasure of hallowing the remembrance of the prophet, who had been the guest of their family, on his own natal soil. It was here that this man of God had spent his childhood—here, as a youth, he had received the call of Jehovah; and when Helon, in his boyish days, had heard from his father or his mother, or his uncle, any anecdote of their prophet, the names of Jeremiah and of Anathoth bad always been connected together.
Isaiah ix. 3.
They halted at the gate, and asked to be shown the field of Hanameel, which Jeremiah bought from the son of his father’s brother, when the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, a transaction which Jehovah designed to be an omen that the people then dispersed should be again collected together, and return to occupy their ancient possessions. “For thus saith Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel, they shall still buy houses, fields, and vineyards in this land.” One of the severest denunciations of the prophet, was that delivered against Anathoth, in which, as his own city, he was least held in honour.
Jer. xxxvii. 7.
Thus saith Jehovah against the men of Anathoth, Who seek thy life and command thee, “Prophesy not in the name of Jehovah Lest thou die by our hand.” Therefore thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Behold, I will punish them: The young men shall die by the sword; Their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, And there shall be no remnant of them. For I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth In the time when I visit them.—Jer. xi.
It was fearfully accomplished on this city of the priests; but so was also the word spoken at the purchase of the field of Hanameel; for at the return from the captivity one hundred and twenty-eight men undertook to rebuild the city of their fathers.
Ezra ii. 23.
Helon’s ancestors, strictly speaking, derived their extraction from this city of the priests in the tribe Benjamin, and therefore he regarded this as his own city. He imagined a resemblance between himself, as he was now about to assume the sacerdotal office, and the calling of the prophet Jeremiah, and repeated the account of it to his uncle, as they returned from seeing the field of Hanameel.
The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, “Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee, And before thou camest forth out of the womb I had chosen thee, And I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” And I replied, “Ah, Lord God! Behold I cannot speak; For I am a child.” But the Lord said unto me, “Say not, I am a child: For thou shalt go to all to whom I shall send thee, And thou shalt speak whatsoever I command thee. Be not afraid of them; For I am with thee to help thee;” So saith Jehovah. Then Jehovah put forth his hand And touched my mouth, And said to me, “Behold I put my words into thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee before nations and kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build up and to plant again.”—Jer. i.
But he had scarcely repeated this passage, when he began humbly to feel that it would be better for him to keep all such comparisons out of view. He left this remarkable place with regret; but it had ceased for several generations to be the abode of his ancestors; Elisama had neither kindred nor even acquaintance there, and they had a long journey still before them.
They left Mizpah, Emmaus, Rama, and Kiriath-jearim to the north. Helon lamented that they could not visit them all, but must bend their course directly from Anathoth to Bethshemesh. Bethshemesh is the ancient city of the priests in Judah, to which the alarmed Philistines brought back the ark of the covenant, and where blamable curiosity respecting sacred things was severely punished.
1 Sam. vi. 19.
From Bethshemesh they followed the road to Modin, a spot which their admiration and loyalty towards the Maccabees would not allow them to pass without notice. What could be more interesting to sons of Israel, who had just come from a land which was still a house of bondage to their nation, than the place where the heroes who had emancipated Judah had begun their work in the might of Jehovah, and with his blessing. In this little village of Modin lived the pious father with his five valiant sons, whose family bore the name of the _Hammerer_, Maccabæus. When the frenzy of Antiochus Epiphanes had arisen to the highest pitch, and Jerusalem bent beneath his oppression, the aged Mattathias, in this insignificant spot, declared, “Though all nations in the dominions of the king obey him, so that every one falleth away from the worship of his fathers, and obeyeth the commands of the king, yet I and my sons and my brothers will not depart from the law of our fathers.” So he spoke, and punished the first apostate whom he saw, and overturned the altars of the king, not in blind unauthorized fury, but in holy zeal for the rights of his people. He and his family quitted their abode, took refuge in the mountains, and collected around them the noblest and the bravest of the nation. The father died; but his spirit rested upon his sons; one after another fought and conquered for the law of Jehovah; until at length, the son of Simon, our Hyrcanus, obtained the meed of so many exploits, in the united dignities of prince and priest.
1 Maccab. ii.
Simon, in the brilliant days of his prosperity, caused the sepulchre of his family to be enlarged, and made it one of the most splendid works of architecture in the country. Elisama and Helon hastened to visit it, and admired the lofty work of hewn stones, the seven pyramids raised upon it in honour of the five sons and their parents, the tall columns which surrounded it, and the emblems of their victories carved in stone upon the monument.
1 Maccab. xiii. 27.
“May Jehovah increase them a thousand times!” said Elisama. “May Jehovah bless this heroic family of priests!” exclaimed Helon: and as they pursued their way and looked back on the lofty monument, they observed to each other, that even in the destruction of Samaria, that is to the third generation, God continued to prosper them. Reclining under the shadow of a few lofty palms, which stood by the road side, where they could see the towering mausoleum, they refreshed their bodies in the shade, and cheered their minds with the thought of Jehovah’s mercies.
At length they arose and set forward on their way, and reached the limit of their first day’s journey, Lydda, which bears also the names of Lod and Diospolis. In a direct line they were forty sabbath-days’ journies from Jerusalem, but their circuitous route made it amount to a good deal more. In the neighbourhood of this city, the rich corn-land of Ono bordered on the fertile pastures of Sharon, which extends northward from the Mediterranean sea. Close to the gate was a large house, where men in festal attire were going in and out, and the open gate seemed to invite the presence of the stranger.
“Let us turn in hither,” said Elisama; “hospitality never fails among those who are celebrating a feast.”
The master of the house came to the outer court to receive them, and conducting them to the house, bade them welcome to the feast of the winnowing, which he was celebrating. As the threshing-floor where this feast was usually held was very near his house, he was accustomed to transfer it thither. He led them into the inner court, where his guests were assembled; the slaves untied the latchets of their sandals, and washed their feet. Elisama was much fatigued and enjoyed repose; but he was not allowed to enjoy it long, for they were speedily called to the meal. A great abundance of dishes was placed upon the table, the servants were treated as the chief persons, and milk, honey, wine, fruit, cheese, rice, and flesh, were so plentifully supplied, that they could not be consumed, though the appetite of the guests was keen.
Ruth iii. 1, 2.
“Our doctors of the law,” said the master of the house, “reckon the making a feast among good works, and I feel this doubly at the feast of the winnowing, which I make for my servants.” Helon attached himself to the priests and Levites of the place, who, according to the ancient custom of Israel, had also been invited; they received him into their circle and related to him at his request the history of Lydda. This town had been taken possession of by those who had returned from the captivity of the tribe of Benjamin; it had afterwards been reckoned with Samaria, and finally along with Rama and Apherama had been restored to the hero Jonathan by Demetrius Soter. From this subject it was an easy transition to the victory over the Samaritans which the sons of Hyrcanus had just achieved. All these particulars arrested his attention, but none more than a description which an aged Levite gave of the desolation caused by a flight of locusts which he had witnessed in his youth. These locusts are of about the length and thickness of a finger; their numbers are countless, and they form swarms which extend for several leagues in breadth. Such a swarm, when approaching, appears like a mist; when it is arrived, it resembles the falling of thick flakes of snow: the air is darkened and filled with a fearful murmur: they cover the ground and all that grows on it, often to a foot in height, devouring every green thing, grass, corn, and the trunks of young trees. They creep into the houses, destroy clothes and furniture, and besides this, lay their eggs in the ground, which in the course of fifteen or sixteen days become young locusts. The south-east wind brings them, and it is happy for the land when it also drives them into the sea.
Deut. xii. 17, 18.
Ezra ii. 33.
1 Maccab. xi. 34.
The aged Levite had retained such a lively impression of the misery of those times, that he could not cease from describing the plague itself, and the still more dreadful evils of pestilence and famine which it left behind. Helon listened to him with shuddering, and then broke out in the words in which the prophet Joel describes them:
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm in my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble. For the day of the Lord cometh—it is nigh at hand. A day of darkness and gloom— A day of clouds and thick darkness. As twilight spreads over the mountains, So now a people, great and strong. There hath not been ever the like, Nor shall be from generation to generation. A flame devoureth before them, And behind them a fire burneth. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, And behind them a desolate wilderness: Yea, nothing shall escape them. Their form is as the form of horses, And they leap as horsemen leap. They run like the noise of chariots on the mountain tops, Like the noise of fire that devoureth the stubble. They are a strong people, arrayed for battle. Before them nations tremble, And all their faces glow. They run like mighty men, They climb the wall like men of war; They march every one straight forward, And they shall not break their ranks. No one shall thrust another, They shall walk every one in his own path. They break through the midst of swords, And interrupt not their march; They run to and fro in the city, They mount the wall and climb up the houses, They enter the windows like a thief. The earth quakes before them, The heavens tremble, The sun and moon are darkened, And the stars withdraw their light. Jehovah thunders before his army: For his hosts are very great And mighty is he that executeth his word. The day of the Lord is great and terrible, Who can abide it?—Joel ii.
It was late when our travellers retired to rest; yet they arose early, to reach Joppa before the heat of the day. Elisama left a present with the master of the house, as a return for his hospitality, and they took leave of each other, one saying, “God reward thee;” the other acknowledging it as a gift of God, that such guests had taken up their abode with him.
They had not travelled more than seven sabbath-days’ journies, when Joppa, the _Beautiful_, as its name implies, rose before them. It is close to the sea, is built upon a rising ground, and offers on all sides picturesque and varied prospects. Towards the west the open sea extends; towards the east spreads the fertile plain of Sephela, reaching as far as Gaza, in which are the fifteen principal cities of the Philistines: towards the north, as far as Carmel, the flowery meads of Sharon are seen, and through the dark summits of the hills of Ephraim and Judah on the east, a piercing sight can even discern one of the towers of Jerusalem. A thin veil of morning vapour lay on the blue hills, on the distant plains and the boundless sea. Our travellers gazed on the scene with such a fulness of tranquil delight, that it was long ere they remembered that they had business in the city. Elisama inquired at the gate for his friend, and going to his house was received by him with a hearty greeting. His first question was respecting the residence of the genealogist. He was told that he no longer lived in Joppa, but was gone to Ziklag. Elisama was provoked that he should have received false information in Jerusalem, but Helon pacified his uncle, by reminding him that they had enjoyed a pleasant journey and this mistake would afford him an opportunity of seeing the south-west side of Judah. Elisama would gladly have taken his departure instantly, and Helon have followed him; but their host insisted that they should remain with him till the morrow. Elisama agreed, on condition that he should furnish Helon with a guide, to conduct him to the harbour, and show him what was remarkable in it. He called for this purpose one of his sons, who was of nearly Helon’s age, and they went down to the shore. Here Solomon had landed his cedar-wood from Lebanon, to be used in his works of architecture, and it was by the same haven that the materials for the building of the second temple were imported. Simon the Maccabee had improved the harbour and fortified the city, which Jonathan had taken from a Syrian garrison. Helon, well acquainted with the celebrated harbours of Egypt, examined it critically, and not being in his present mood inclined to praise any thing connected with commerce, he excited some displeasure in the mind of his companion, by observing how inadequately it was sheltered from the north wind. It was about noon when they arrived at home, and found the elders sitting around the fountain in the court. “Do you remember,” said Elisama to Helon, “that this was the place at which the prophet Jonah embarked on a voyage, which had nearly terminated fatally for him, when he endeavoured to escape from the mission to which God had appointed him.” Helon was about to answer, when he saw his host knit his brow and start up. “You remind me,” said he, “of an accursed heathen, who arrived here lately with a Phœnician caravan, a lively and acute Greek, who kept himself aloof from all the rest, and amused himself by turning the Tyrians into ridicule. This son of Belial had the assurance to ask me, if the history of our prophet was not a new version of the Grecian story of Andromeda, who was exposed here to the jaws of a sea-monster, and delivered by Perseus. What his Grecian fable may be I know not, but I was so enraged at his insinuation, that——”
2 Chron. ii. 16.
1 Maccab. xiv. 5, 6.
Jonah i. 3.
“This can be no other than our Myron,” said Elisama. “How long since was he here?” “About three weeks,” replied his host. “It is the same,” said Elisama. “He came with us from Egypt as far as Gaza. The Greeks are a nation of scoffers, but it shall one day fare with them, praised be Jehovah, as it has fared with Samaria in our days.”
“Were that glory also reserved to our Hyrcanus,” said his host, “I would do what this man has done,” pointing to a Nazarite who had just entered the court.
It was a wild looking figure which presented itself to their view. His upper garment was of rough hair, and his locks hung far down upon his shoulders, tangled and neglected, and showing that it was long since they had been shorn.
Helon had never yet seen a Nazarite, for they were seldom to be met with but in the Holy Land. But he was acquainted with all the passages in the law relative to this kind of vow, by which a man for a time consecrated himself, abstained from wine and from all the produce of the vine, and allowed no razor to come upon his person, nor any contact of a dead body to pollute him. This Nazarite was a Jew of Maresa, who had been one of those that had lost their house and home, when, a year and a half before, the Samaritans, at the command of the king of Syria, had inflicted great injury on the Jews, who had settled again in Maresa, subsequently to its devastation by Judas Maccabæus. In his wrath he had vowed himself to Jehovah, till the time when the atrocities of the Samaritans should cease and Samaria be razed to the foundations. He was just come from the camp of Israel, and was expressing his joy and gratitude that Jehovah had so soon accomplished the object of his vow. He had seen the houses and the ramparts of Samaria levelled, amidst the songs of the soldiery, and the spot on which the city had stood furrowed with trenches of water and converted into a desert. He had much to relate of the preparations which Hyrcanus had made for the reception of his victorious sons, and he announced his intention of going up to the Holy City, at the next feast of the new moon, to have his head shorn there, and offer a sacrifice for the termination of his Nazarite’s vow. This led them into a wide field of discourse, and the Nazarite remained to partake of the evening meal, though he could not taste the choice wine with which the citizen of Joppa regaled his guests. One remark of the Nazarite threatened to destroy the harmony of sentiment which had hitherto reigned between him and Elisama. He praised, among others, Hilkiah and Ananias, (the sons of that Onias who had built Leontopolis) who, being the principal advisers of Cleopatra the queen of Egypt, had prevailed on her not to consent to the sending of the auxiliaries whom, to the amount of six thousand men, her son and joint regent, Ptolemy Lathyrus, had despatched to Antiochus Cyzicenus, to raise the siege of Samaria. Every thing which was connected with the Hellenists of Egypt was intolerable to Elisama, and above all, to hear their chiefs mentioned with praise in the Holy Land itself. Their host made peace between them, remarking that Jehovah had himself decided in this case, by the miserable and ignominious fate which had befallen these auxiliaries; and they were completely reconciled when the Nazarite spoke of Iddo as his friend. They separated in peace and love, and with the hope to meet again in a few days in the presence of Jehovah, at the rejoicings for the victory. On the following morning, Elisama, quite refreshed, grasped his staff, and, with Helon and Sallu, set out for Ziklag.
Their road led them first through Gazara, which had been a city of the Philistines, burnt after they were conquered, and rebuilt by Solomon, and very recently strongly fortified by the Maccabees; next to Noba, celebrated for the terrible vengeance which Saul took there upon the priest Ahimelech, and on all the other inhabitants, for their crime in giving to David, when he fled from before Saul, the loaves of the shew-bread and the sword of Goliath. Leaving this place they descended from the hills into the plain of Sephela. They here came again into the scenes of harvest, and reached the town of Gath, which stands at the limit of the territory of Dan, hearing on every side shouts of joy and pious thankfulness. Gath was once the fourth among the five chief cities of the Philistines, and in later times an apple of discord between them and the Israelites, passing from the hand of one party to that of the other. The giant Goliath was a Philistine of Gath. It had been razed by king Uzziah, and since that time had been a very insignificant place.
1 Kings ix. 15.
1 Maccab. ix. 52.
1 Sam. xxii. 19.
2 Chron. xxvi. 6.
When they reached Gath, they had travelled twelve sabbath-days’ journies: they now entered the tribe of Judah, and had half that distance to travel to Eleutheropolis, a small village. Their road led them through the region which lies in the middle between Maresa and Morescheth. They quickened their pace and arrived late in the evening at Ziklag, having past through Agla, which was twelve miles distant from Eleutheropolis. Ziklag had been the favourite abode of David; Achish, the king of Gath, had assigned it to him for his residence; its destruction by the Amalekites had roused him to take exemplary vengeance upon them, and he had afterwards rebuilt it.
When they arrived at Ziklag, they inquired for the house of the genealogist, and went directly to it. It had long been dark, and Elisama was very weary; and when the genealogist had given them a friendly reception, as his Egyptian kinsmen, and expressed high approbation of Helon’s determination to become a priest, they laid themselves down to rest.
The institution of genealogists may be traced up to the earliest times of Israel’s existence as a nation. Jehovah was their true and only ruler. Under him the people lived in families, which together formed tribes, the families themselves being subdivided into _houses_. Each tribe had its own prince, chosen probably by the _heads of families_, who were themselves chosen by the _heads of houses_. The princes and the heads of families were called elders; their number was seventy-one, and besides them there were judges, and genealogists who kept the registers of the different families. Although at various times the supreme power was by turns in the hands of heroes, kings, princes and high-priests, yet the fundamental principle of the constitution was, that Jehovah was sole and absolute monarch of his people Israel, and that they obeyed him, under all intermediate magistrates, whatever their titles or offices might be. In earlier times the heads of families, the judges, and genealogists of each tribe, assembled occasionally together, under the presidence of the prince of the tribe, for the purpose of joint deliberation; sometimes these officers assembling from all the tribes formed a species of Diet.
1 Sam. xxvii. 5.; xxx.
The genealogist of each family was a very important person, and especially in the tribe of Levi, in which so many privileges were attached to purity and certainty of extraction. He who wished to serve as a priest before Jehovah, must not only descend on the father’s side from Aaron, but be of irreproachable birth on that of the mother. The series of Helon’s paternal ancestors had been very exactly carried on in Egypt, and Elisama had brought documents thence with him to establish it. But his mother was also the daughter of a priest, and as her family lived in Judah, it was necessary that the genealogy on this side should be examined into, and the descent shown to be regular.
The following day was occupied with these researches. The genealogist showed the pedigree of his family to Helon; his name was formally entered under that of his mother, and he thus stood on her side among the children of the course of Abia, as on his father’s he belonged to the course of Malchia.
On the fifth day our travellers returned to Jerusalem. Helon, rejoicing in the success of his journey, compared his own lot with that of the children of Habaiah, Hakoz, and Barzillai, of whom Ezra and Nehemiah write, that after their return from the captivity they sought for their registers, and not being able to find them, forfeited their sacerdotal office. On their return they past through Lachish, which Helon had not seen before, of which the prophet Micah said, “Thou art the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion.” This town was taken by Joshua from a Canaanitish prince; it was fortified by Rehoboam. Amaziah was put to death in it; and the ambassadors of Hezekiah came hither with presents to Sennacherib. Next he saw Libna, which, like Lachish, was situated in the plain of Sephela, and was memorable for its defection from king Joram. At last they came to Socho, near which is the grove of terebinths, where David fought with Goliath. In the earlier part of their day’s journey they had also seen the cave of Adullam, doubly memorable as having afforded a hiding-place to David, and as being the place where Judas Maccabæus kept the first sabbath, which we read of as having been celebrated after the atrocities of the king of Syria.
Ezra ii. 61. Neh. vii. 63.
Micah i. 13.
Josh. x. 32.
2 Chron. xi. 9.
2 Kings xiv. 19.
2 Kings xviii. 14.
2 Kings viii. 22.
1 Sam. xxii. 1. 2 Maccab. xii. 38.
Happy in having stored his memory with many pleasing pictures of the Land of Promise, infinitely more happy in the thought that there was now no obstacle to his admission into the priesthood, Helon greeted the Holy City a second time.
CHAPTER III. THE FEAST OF THE NEW MOON.
Elisama and Helon, as they drew near the gates of Jerusalem, soon perceived from the commotion among the people, from the triumphal preparations, some wholly, some only partially finished, and from the influx of strangers, that a public rejoicing was at hand. It resembled the preparation for the Passover, but there was more of mirth, and altogether a more worldly character in it. The acclamations of joy which had been heard on the first intelligence of the victory were now renewed, on the evening before the victors were to make their solemn entry into Jerusalem.
Iddo was standing at the gate of his house, a place in which, according to the custom of the Jews, the father of the family was seldom seen, not even Iddo, lively and active as he was. On this occasion, however, he had stationed himself there, in order to lose none of the animating sights which the busy and crowded streets exhibited. Beside him stood the Nazarite, who had already arrived, in his coarse garments and unshorn locks.
The feet of the guests were washed and the supper served up. The conversation turned on what the travellers had seen during their journey, and what had passed in Jerusalem during their absence. All were in eager expectation of the spectacle of to-morrow, and as Elisama was weary, they speedily separated and retired to rest. On the following day, as early as the commencement of the morning-sacrifice, the multitude streamed towards the gate of Ephraim, by which the victorious army was to enter. The streets of the New City and the Lower City, as far as the castle Baris, were strewed with fragrant flowers; tapestry of various colours hung from the parapets of the roofs, and banners were displayed from the Alijahs, while on the pinnacles of the temple were hung the curtains which in former years had closed the entrance of the sanctuary. A chorus of virgins passed out at the gate of Ephraim, under a splendid triumphal arch, to meet the victorious army. Messengers were hastening to and fro, the crowd increased, and every one was endeavouring to find himself a commodious place. The music of the temple was heard between. Sallu had secured one of the highest places for his masters, from which the whole scene lay before their eyes. In this way several hours had passed; the messengers, mounted on horseback, went and returned more frequently—at length, from thousands of voices was heard the exclamation, “They come!”
The chorus of virgins arose with their psalteries and tabrets, and sung in bold strains the valour of the conquerors, the fall of Samaria, and the mercy of Jehovah to his people. When they reached the advanced guard of the army, way was made for them, till they reached the car on which the youthful Maccabees were seated. Standing before it they began an ode, the burthen of which recalled the immortal song of Miriam, the sister of Moses, the first of the female singers of Israel.
Sing unto Jehovah, for he has triumphed gloriously: He hath filled Samaria with trenches of water!
Then the hymn took up the praises of the princes and the warriors and the whole people, and the defeat of Samaria; and at the close of every strophe, all with united voice and instruments, raised the chorus of Miriam.
The victorious princes thanked the virgins, who advanced before them to the triumphal arch at the gate of Ephraim. Here stood the high-priest with the whole of the Sanhedrim, and a great multitude of the priests and Levites. To the sound of the temple music they sang the following psalm:
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart, I will show forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee, I will sing praise to thy name, O thou Most High! My enemies were turned back, They sunk and perished at thy presence. For thou maintainest my right and my cause, Thou sittest on thy throne judging rightly.
Thou hast rebuked, thou hast destroyed the wicked, Thou hast blotted out their name far evermore. The swords of the enemy are come to an end, Their cities are destroyed, their remembrance is perished with them. Jehovah shall endure for ever, He hath prepared his throne for judgment; He judges the world in righteousness, He administers judgment in uprightness to the nations. Jehovah is the refuge of the oppressed, A refuge in time of trouble. They that know thy name put their trust in thee: For thou, Lord, forsakest not those that seek thee. Sing praises to the Lord who dwelleth in Zion! Declare among the people his doings. As the avenger of blood he remembereth them, He forgetteth not the cry of the humble. Have mercy upon me, O Jehovah! Consider my trouble among my enemies; Lift me up from the gates of death That I may show forth thy praise, That in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in thy salvation. The heathen are sunk into the pit which they made, In the net which they hid is their own foot taken. Thus it is known that Jehovah executeth judgment. The wicked are snared in the work of their own hands, The wicked are cast into hell, And all the nations that forget God. The needy shall not always be forgotten, The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever. Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail, Let the heathen be judged by thee.
Set a ruler over them, O Lord, Let the nations know that they are but men!—Ps. ix.
Priests, warriors, and citizens listened to the psalm in silent veneration. The aged man who wore the insignia of the high-priest’s office looked at times with moistened eyes upon the car in which his sons were seated, as if the remembrance of his own youthful heroism revived in his mind, and as if he would have said, “My Aristobulus, my Antigonus, sons of Mattathias, noble Maccabees, perform deeds in Israel, like those of the brethren Judas and Jonathan!”
When the psalm was ended, he approached his sons: they descended from their chariot and hastened to throw themselves into the arms of their father, who embraced and blessed them. The music began again; the triumphal procession arranged itself and advanced through the city, which resounded on every side with songs of congratulation. The maidens with their tabrets and psalteries headed the procession: they were followed by a multitude of victims for the sacrifice, adorned with flowers, branches and fillets, designed to be offered as a thank-offering on the morrow. Then came the prisoners in fetters, and the huge elephants which had been taken from the Syrians. Each of these animals bore a wooden tower upon his shoulders, in which were thirty-two warriors, besides the Ethiopian who guided him.
1 Maccab. vi. 37.
After these came the high-priest with the Sanhedrim, the priests, the Levites, and the temple-music. The two sons of Hyrcanus, on their car, formed the centre of the procession, and after them came the military music of flutes, horns, aduffes, and trumpets. The army itself followed, adorned with branches of laurel and palm. First came the heavy-armed infantry with shields and lances, in companies of hundreds and thousands. They had no upper garment, and their under garment, which was girt up short, was of various form and colour, as the fancy of each individual dictated; but all had a sword hanging at their girdle; their feet and arms were protected by metal greaves and arm-pieces, the body was covered with a coat of mail, the head with a helmet, and over the back hung the large shield. The light-armed infantry followed in like manner, but with less cumbrous defensive weapons, and slings, bows, and darts for offence. The cavalry were few in number and lightly armed: the Jewish state had never maintained any large force of this description. The military engines followed, of which the Israelites had learnt the use from the Phœnicians and Syrians; catapults, bows which were bent by machinery and threw beams of wood to a great distance; balistæ, levers with one arm which hurled masses of stone of many hundred weight into a fortress; battering rams, consisting of the trunks of trees, armed at the extremity with an iron head of a ram, swung in chains, which were set in motion by warriors who stood beneath a moveable pent-house, and thus driven with great force against the walls. The people, crowding behind, closed the whole procession. When they arrived at the castle of Baris, the youthful warriors entered their father’s palace, and the army dispersed itself through the city.
Helon had beheld with pride this display of the martial power of his nation. War and its pomp and circumstance had hitherto possessed little interest for him, who, from his youth, had been devoted to the peaceful pursuits of science, and had now turned all his desires to the priesthood; yet, on this occasion, an ardour was excited in him which he had never felt before. These troops were the conquerors of the Samaritans, that apostate people, who had opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem with such bitter hostility, and been a thorn in the side of the people of Israel. At the same time memory recurred to the manifestations of God’s power in behalf of his people in earlier times, to the triumphs of Uzziah and David, to the songs of the virgins in honour of him and of Saul, of the daughter of Jeptha, of Deborah, and Miriam. What youth is there whose bosom does not glow at the sight of a victorious army of his countrymen?
While the city was filled with tumultuous rejoicings, Helon drew aside a relation of Iddo, who had served in the war, and led him home, questioning him respecting all the events of the campaign. The rejoicings of the inhabitants continued till the evening. But suddenly the trumpets were heard to sound, to announce the appearance of the new moon. The high-priest and the Sanhedrim had scarcely attended the warriors home, when they had to assemble in their hall in the temple, and fix the commencement of the festival. They were accustomed always to meet here on the evening of the new moon. Men were stationed on all the heights and watch-towers, who, as soon as they perceived the new moon, hastened to announce it to the Sanhedrim; on this the high-priest said, “The new moon is hallowed,” and the Sanhedrim replied, “It is hallowed.” Fires were then kindled upon all the hills, or messengers sent to different parts, and on the following day the people celebrated the feast of the new moon.
For the first time for many years past, the fire was lighted on this occasion on the mount of Olives. For several years, it had been the practice of the Samaritans, always watching to do injury to Israel, to light the fire on the wrong evening, and thus to mislead the people in the distant towns. The custom of making the fire therefore had been discontinued, and messengers sent through the country instead. Now, however, that Samaria was destroyed, no deception was feared, and the fires could be lighted as in old times; the citizens of Jerusalem hastened to the roofs of their houses, to watch the blaze on the mount of Olives, to which others soon answered on the more distant hills.
This new moon introduced the second month of the ecclesiastical year, Sid or Ijar. The civil year began with the new moon of October, as the natural commencement of the annual circle of agricultural operations.
When the morning came, the people crowded to the sacrifice through the gate of Nicanor into the temple. All the courts were filled, and the warriors supplied in some measure the place of the pilgrims. Elisama and Helon remembered, that if they wished not to defile the temple, and bring on themselves the punishment denounced by the law, of being cut off from the people, they had a special duty to perform. Before their journey they had touched the grave of Helon’s father, in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and had thus become unclean. This did not prevent them from appearing before the high-priest, or from entering on their journey, or from performing their morning and evening prayer; but they were not allowed to go further into the temple than the court of the Gentiles, and had they knowingly ventured even to enter the court of Israel, they would have made themselves obnoxious to this terrible punishment. Levitical uncleanness had reference exclusively to appearing before Jehovah, in the place where his honour dwelt. The rigid demand of the performance of a purifying ceremony conveyed this intimation, that what is deemed pure by men, is not so regarded by Him, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, until it has been again made holy by the rite which he has ordained. After both had bathed themselves and washed their clothes, they presented themselves, as they had already done the preceding day, on the steps which lead from the court of the Gentiles into that of the women; and underwent a sprinkling. This was performed by one, who was himself clean, on those who were unclean, and with a bunch of hyssop dipped in the water, mixed with the ashes of the red heifer. Helon thought of the words of David,
“Purify me with hyssop, that I may be clean; Wash me, that I may be whiter than snow.”—Ps. li. 7.
Numb. xix. 20.
Numb. xix. 17.
On this day, as on every other day of the year, the daily service before the altar of Jehovah began by the sacrifice of a lamb, with the meat and drink offerings which belonged to it. When this had been done, the burnt-offering and the sin-offering which Moses had appointed on the new moon, for the whole people, were offered up, and finally the thank-offering for individuals. The burnt-offering consisted of two young bullocks, a ram, and seven lambs of the first year, with their meat and drink offerings. The meat-offering to each bullock was three ephas, to the ram two ephas, to each of the sheep a tenth of an epha of flour, (the epha was equal to forty-three and a half egg-shells.) The drink-offering to each bullock was half a hin of wine, to the ram a third, and to the sheep a fourth of a hin. (The hin contained as much as seventy-two egg-shells.) Besides this was added, to each meat-offering, the same quantity of oil as there was of wine in the drink-offering, and also a handful of incense. The sin-offering consisted in a goat. While the burnt-offering was presented, the great Hallel was sung, and the priests on the pillars blew the trumpets.
Exod. xxix. 38.
Numb. xxviii. 11-15.
After this the high-priest presented his thank-offering for the victory, consisting of a vast multitude of bullocks, rams, and sheep, with the appropriate meat and drink offerings; his sons also testified their gratitude by considerable sacrifices, and some of the principal officers of the army took the same method of expressing their gratitude or discharging their vows. The victims which had been seen in the procession of the day before, adorned with flowers and fillets, were brought to the altar; their blood was sprinkled upon it, the entrails with the fat waved to the Lord, towards the four winds of heaven, and then burnt upon the altar. The breast, the right shoulder, the jawbones, the tongue, and the stomach came to the share of the priests, the rest was prepared as a feast for the person who offered the sacrifice. During the sacrifice the priests blew their silver trumpets, and the Levites on the fifteen steps sung the following psalm of David:
Blessed be the Lord, my strength, Who teacheth my hands to war And my fingers to fight. He is my friend and my fortress, My protector and my deliverer, My shield in whom I trust, Who made the nations subject to me. Lord! what is man, that thou carest for him, Or the son of man, that thou makest account of him? Man is like vanity; His days are a shadow that passeth away.
Bow the heavens, O Jehovah, and come down! Touch the mountains and they shall smoke. Cast forth lightnings and scatter them, Shoot thine arrows and destroy them. Stretch thine hand from above, Save me, deliver me from great waters, From the hand of the sons of foreigners, Whose mouth speaketh falsely; Perjury is their right hand. I will sing a new song unto thee, O God, Upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings I will sing praises unto thee. Thou givest victory to kings, And deliverest David thy servant from the sword of the enemy. Save me, deliver me from the hand of the sons of foreigners, Whose mouth speaketh falsely; Perjury is their right hand. Our sons grow up in their youth as plants, Our daughters, as polished columns, after the fashion of a palace. Our granaries are full, affording all manner of store. Our sheep bring forth thousands, And ten thousands in our streets: Our oxen are strong to labour. There is no breaking in, no robbery, No complaining in our streets. Happy is the people that is in such case! Happy is that people whose God is Jehovah!—Ps. cxliv.
Numb. x. 10.
Towards the end of all these offerings, which were so numerous that it would not have been possible to have accomplished them all in so short a time, but for the practised dexterity and systematic procedure of the priests, the Nazarite made his appearance: he had already laid aside his coarse garment, and he was now to be solemnly absolved from his vow. It was necessary for him to present all the three principal kinds of offerings, a lamb for a burnt-offering, a yearling sheep for a sin-offering, and a ram for a thank-offering. To these was added, besides the drink-offering, a basket full of unleavened cakes, of the finest meal, of which a part were kneaded with oil, a part had only had oil poured upon them. The burnt-offering was wholly consumed on the altar; the sin-offering was the portion of the priests; the thank-offering served in a great measure to furnish a festive meal, which was prepared for the Nazarite and his friends, in a small court in the south-east corner of the court of Israel, called the court of the Nazarites.
Numb. vi. 13.
Helon, Elisama, Iddo, the relation of Iddo, who had returned from the war, and many others were invited to partake of this meal, and accompanied him to the court of the Nazarites. The excavation in which the fire was burning was cleared, and fresh coals heaped upon it. Then the Nazarite, returning thanks in a prayer to God, took the knife, and cutting off the hair from his head, threw it on the coals to be consumed. The flesh of the thank-offering was then roasted, and when it was ready, a priest took the shoulder, together with a cake mixed with oil, and another on which oil had been poured, and placed them in the hands of the Nazarite. They went together to the front of the sanctuary: the priest placed his own hands beneath those of the Nazarite and waved what he held in them before Jehovah, towards the four winds of heaven, and then received it for his own portion.
His vow was thus completely ended, and all the prescribed solemnities had been observed. But not contented with this he offered several special thank-offerings, which were sacrificed in the usual manner, and the flesh prepared for the feast. The table was spread in one of the galleries over the porticoes in the court. Iddo and Helon were made to take the seats of honour, one on each side of the Nazarite. He, relieved from the cumbrous and unseemly load which he had borne for a year, had anointed his head, and was clad in a splendid caftan. The servants of the temple waited on them during the whole of the meal.
The Nazarite spread his hands over the bread, and as a blessing ascribed praise to Jehovah. Then, with more than ordinary solemnity, he took the cup with both his hands, lifted it high above the table with his right, and said, “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, thou King of the world, who hast given us the fruit of the vine.” The company said Amen! He then, in a long draught, drank the first wine which he had tasted for a year, and as the guests followed his example, he exclaimed, “It is time that wine maketh glad the heart of man, as the Psalmist teaches us; but he who would feel the full force of the saying, must have drank it for the first time at the close of a Nazarite’s vow, before the face of Jehovah, after the destruction of Samaria. This is the time to enter into the full force of what the Preacher says, 'Eat thy bread with joy and drink thy wine with a merry heart: for thy work is pleasing to God. Let thy garments be always white and thy head lack no oil.'”
Eccle. ix. 7.
“I perceive,” said Iddo, “that you and I have reason to congratulate ourselves, that we are children of Israel and not Rechabites, who after the example and command of their ancestor Jonadab, refused to drink wine, when it was set before them by the prophet Jeremiah.”
“I have found by experience,” said the Nazarite, “that zeal for Jehovah makes abstinence easy, and burdensome observances light.”
“That may be seen,” said one of the company, “in the case of the high-priest, who leads in some respects the life of a Nazarite perpetually. He is not allowed to drink wine, or any strong drink in the temple; for the spirit of the Lord, and not intoxicating liquors, must gladden his heart. He must not touch a corpse; for he must have no communion with sin, or death which is its punishment. He must not make his head bald; for that which in ordinary life might be a burden must be an ornament of his head.”
Lev. x. 9.
Lev. xxi. 10-12.
“This motive,” said Iddo, “makes many things light, that would otherwise be grievous,” casting his eyes towards his young relative, who had just returned from the war. “It is true,” said the youth, “I declined to avail myself of the indulgence which the law would have granted me, I had been just betrothed, when the war broke out. The keeper of the genealogical register assembled our youth and read to us the law, as spoken by the Lord our God to Moses. ‘When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses and chariots and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, and shall say unto them; Hear, O Israel: ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint: fear not and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them. For Jehovah your God goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you victory. And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, Who is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? Let him return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. And who is there that has planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? Let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle and another man eat of it. And who is there that hath betrothed a wife, and that hath not taken her? Let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her. And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and shall say unto them, Who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint, as well as his. And when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, then shall captains place themselves at the head of the people.’ On this proclamation being made, a multitude of persons withdrew, who had built houses, or planted vineyards, or been betrothed to wives. I however refused to avail myself of this privilege, nor would my bride allow me to claim it. My father had served when, twenty years before, our prince, John Hyrcanus, had conquered Sichem and destroyed the temple on Gerizim, and he had talked to me a thousand times of his campaigns and his victories. So I thought it became his son to be with the sons of Hyrcanus, when they marched for the destruction of Samaria, and I went therefore joyfully to the field.”
Deut. xx. 1-9.
“And are you not now in haste to return home?” asked Iddo.
“I shall remain here till the fourteenth of this month Ijar, and then with my comrades celebrate the latter Passover, not having been able to keep the feast at the proper time. Then I will return home and relate to my bride the valiant deeds of Aristobulus and Antigonus, how we defeated Antiochus Cyzicenus, who came to raise the siege of Samaria; and how Jehovah strengthened my arm, so that I smote his general Callimander in battle, whom he had left to command his army, when he himself retired to Tripolis. She will laugh the Syrians to scorn, and become my faithful wife.”
Numb. ix. 6.
When he had said these words, the whole company were loud in his praise. “Never,” exclaimed Iddo, “may the altar of Jehovah be without an Hyrcanus; never may the chief of Israel when he goes to battle be without such soldiers!”
The conversation respecting the events of the war continued during the rest of the meal. The young soldier related to them the particulars of the defeat of Antiochus and his generals, and the ravages which he had committed upon the country when he dared not, even with the six thousand Egyptian auxiliaries, attack the Jewish army. At length the last cup was blessed, and they left the temple full of joy and gratitude. As they descended, they heard the shouts of joy from the castle Baris, where the high-priest had made a great banquet for his sons.
CHAPTER IV. THE ADMISSION INTO THE PRIESTHOOD.
“O thou dream of my childhood and my youth, art thou then really about to be fulfilled? O pride and sorrow of my forefathers, sacred priesthood, art thou indeed about to be revived in their descendent? Praised be Jehovah!”
Such were the exclamations of Helon, when, a few days after the feast of the new moon, the morning dawned of the day on which he was to appear before the Sanhedrim, and to undergo their scrutiny, preparatory to his admission into the priesthood. The following day was the sabbath, when he was to offer his first sacrifice. He opened the door of the Alijah on Iddo’s house, while it was yet twilight, and after the performance of the Kri-schma threw himself on the ground before Jehovah, and thus prayed:
Behold thou desirest truth in the inward part, Teach me then hidden wisdom! Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; Wash me, that I may be whiter than snow. Make me to know joy and gladness, That the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, And blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a pure heart, O God, And renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, Take not thy holy spirit from me, Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, And may a cheerful spirit support me. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways That sinners may be converted unto thee.—Ps. li.
The sun was rising as he quitted the Alijah. He looked towards the east, where his father’s sepulchre lay in the valley of Jehoshaphat, and then to the south-west towards Egypt, where the reflection of the rising sun streaked the edge of heaven with a ruddy glow, and mentally greeted his mother. Next to the image of his parents according to the flesh, that of Aaron, the great progenitor of the sacerdotal order, took possession of his mind, on this day, which was to witness his admission into their society. Elisama came to fetch him from the roof, and with a step of conscious dignity and pride conducted him to Iddo and the guests, who were assembled in the inner court. Having received their hearty congratulations, Elisama conducted his Helon to the temple-hill. Not even on the day when he made his first pilgrimage, and passed through the Beautiful gate and the gate of Nicanor, had the old man felt as he did on this morning, in which his kinsman was to revive the priesthood in his family. His heart beat not less high than Helon’s, and his aged eye was lighted up with youthful exultation and hope. He blessed Jehovah, who had given to him and to his deceased brother firmness to withstand all the solicitations which had been addressed to them, to assume the priesthood at Leontopolis.
Helon entered, with trembling steps, into the courts of the Lord. The Sanhedrim was standing along with the course of priests for the week, in the court of the Priests, and the morning-sacrifice was performed with the customary rites. As the priests on the pillars blew their trumpets at the pouring out of the drink-offering, and the Levites sung on the fifteen steps, the sound of their voices and their instruments seemed to him like the call of Jehovah to him. “To-day,” thought he, “I stand for the last time, as one of the people in the court of Israel, to-morrow I shall minister before the face of Jehovah!” When the sacrifice was over, the high-priest and the Sanhedrim withdrew into their hall of judgment. No meeting of this body was ever held for merely secular business, either on the sabbath or the day of preparation, but they often assembled to transact what related to the service of God.
With deep emotion Helon entered the hall; it was one of the largest and most splendid of all which the courts of the temple contained. It lay partly in the court of the Priests and partly in that of Israel, and was called also Gazith, because it was paved with marble. There, was an entrance from both courts, one called the Holy, the other the Common. In this all the courses of the priests were exchanged, and here the great council, or Sanhedrim, held its sittings.
The Sanhedrim consisted of seventy-one persons, partly priests, partly Levites, partly elders. In extraordinary cases the elders from all the tribes were convoked, who then formed the great congregation. The high-priest occupied the place of president, and was seated at the western end; he bore the title of Nashi, or Chief. On his right sat the Ab-beth-din, Father of the Council, probably the most aged man among the elders, and on his left the Wise Man, probably the most experienced among the doctors of the law. The remaining sixty-eight sat in a half circle, on either side, with a secretary at the end of each row. As the three chief persons belonged respectively to the sacerdotal order, to the body of the citizens, and the profession of the law, so the remaining members were made up of these three elements. The twenty-four courses of the priests were represented here by their heads, the elders were a deputation from the chiefs of families and of houses; the doctors of the law were the most learned of the Levites. The whole assembly was seated, with crossed feet, on cushions or carpets. The Sanhedrim was the supreme judicial and administrative court in Israel; every thing relating to the service of God, foreign relations, and matters of life and death, came under its cognizance. It was further their business to scrutinize every son of Aaron, who wished to enter as a priest into the service of Jehovah.
Elisama entered the hall attended by Helon. He announced the name of the young man and of his father, and produced extracts from the registers, which ascertained the legitimacy of his birth. The tribe of Levi, when numbered in the wilderness, contained 22,000 males above a month old, and 8580 males between thirty and fifty; they were all devoted to the service of Jehovah; but only a single family, that of Aaron, had the privilege of furnishing priests for the altar; the rest of the Levites were only the servants of the priests. In David’s time the number of the Levites from twenty years and upwards was 38,000; that of the priests perhaps not 6000. Aaron had four sons, two of whom were punished with an early death in the wilderness, for their presumption: the other two, Eleazar and Ithamar, had such a numerous posterity, that these were divided into sixteen and eight, or twenty-four courses or families. As only four were found among those who returned from the captivity, these were divided into the original number of twenty-four, which bore the name of the ancestor of each family. Helon, by his father’s side, belonged to the course of Malchia, which was the fifth; and by the mother’s to that of Abia, which was the eighth.
Numb. iii. 39.
Numb. iv. 48.
Numb. iii. 5-10.
1 Chron. xxiii. 3.
1 Chron. xxiv. 4.
Ezra ii. 36-39.
Next, the passage of the law was read, in which Jehovah commands that no descendent of Aaron should ever be admitted to the priesthood, who had any natural imperfection or deformity of body, although he might still claim a subsistence from the provisions of the temple. Helon was examined and found free from any of those imperfections which the law enumerates. Had he proved otherwise, he would have been clad in black, and dismissed, being only allowed in future to discharge menial offices about the temple. The outward worship of Jehovah was to be a mirror and emblem of the inward dispositions demanded from the worshipper; and therefore he required, that both his sacrifices and those who offered them should be without blemish.
Lev. xxi. 17.
Helon having undergone the necessary scrutiny, and having been found not only of pure descent but free from all bodily infirmity, was committed to the care of one of the ministering Levites, and conducted by him into the vestry, which stood near the gate of Nicanor. Here the Levite put on him the white sacerdotal robes, which one of the same body had made. They consisted of drawers reaching to the leg, the under-garment fitting close to the body and descending to the ancles, woven of one piece without a joining or a seam; the girdle of four fingers’ breadth, which went twice round the body, and, being tied in front, both ends hung down nearly to the feet; it was woven so as to resemble a serpent’s skin, and embroidered with flowers, purple, dark blue, and crimson; lastly, the turban, which was wound firmly around the head in the form of a crown. The feet were bare.
Exod. xxviii. 39-43.
After being robed, Helon returned into the hall of the Sanhedrim, and the law of Moses relative to the priests was read to him; “And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, None among them shall defile himself with a dead body among his people, except for the nearest of his kindred, for his mother and for his father, and for his son and for his daughter, and for his brother and for his sister, while she is still a virgin and lives with him, having no husband; for her he may defile himself. But he shall not defile himself for any one that belongeth to him among his people, least he desecrate himself. They shall not make their heads bald, nor shave off the extremity of their beard, nor make incisions in their flesh. They shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God, for the offerings of Jehovah made by fire, the food of their God, they are to offer; therefore must they be holy. They shall not marry a woman that is a harlot, nor one that has been polluted, for they are holy to their God. And thou shalt esteem them holy for they offer the food of thy God; they shall be holy unto thee; for I Jehovah who sanctify them am holy.” When this passage had been read, the high-priest blessed the candidate for the priesthood, and said, “Praised be God that no blemish hath been found in the seed of Aaron, and praised be he who hath chosen Aaron and his sons to stand and minister before God in his holy temple.” And all the members of the Sanhedrim said Amen! The sitting was thus ended, and Helon was led into the court of the Priests. Those of the course which was then on duty were standing there, and, greeting him, received him among their body.
The family of Aaron was consecrated once for all in the wilderness, when they offered on eight successive days the sacrifice of initiation. Since that time it had been only renewed, and each new priest began his ministration by a meat-offering, on his presenting which the original unction was imputed to him. This Helon was to do on the following morning, and it fortunately happened that, owing to the delay occasioned by the return of the victorious army, the course to which he belonged entered on duty on this very sabbath.
Lev. viii. ix.
Lev. vi. 20.
2 Chron. xxiii. 4-8.
Elisama offered on this joyful occasion a magnificent thank-offering of several bullocks, and invited the whole course of priests, who gradually arrived to be in readiness to begin their functions, to feast upon the sacrifice.
Among the rest he had invited the old man of the temple. He who bore this name was a venerable priest, nearly one hundred years old, of the course of Jojarib, to which the Maccabees also belonged. Engaged, since his twenty-fifth year, in the service of Jehovah, he had now past eighty years in the house of his God, and in the course of them had witnessed very eventful times. He had entered the temple, in the life of the excellent high-priest Onias III., and had endured the alternate yoke of the Syrians and the Egyptians; he had seen Antiochus Epiphanes, and known the victims of his sanguinary fury; he had been one of those who followed the valiant Mattathias to the wilderness; he had admired the heroic deeds of the members of the family of the Maccabees, Judas, Jonathan, Simon, and John Hyrcanus, and had served them in succession. In Egypt, where he had frequently dwelt, he had seen, forty years before, the foundation of the temple of Leontopolis, and he had beheld that of Gerizim levelled with the ground. As a doctor of the law, he was master of all the knowledge of divine or earthly things which Israel then possessed, and had been able to compare his experience with the word of God. He knew accurately the opinions of all the sects into which Israel was divided, and though he joined himself to none of them, yet was honoured by them all, and almost reckoned by all to belong to themselves. For a considerable time, during the last years of the high-priest Simon, and in the first years of Hyrcanus, he had discharged the honourable office of the Wise Man in the Sanhedrim, and in every year of the thirty-four that had elapsed since the new era of Israel’s emancipation began, some important affair had been decided by his counsel. In consequence of his increasing years, he had laid down all his offices, resigned his house and property to his children’s children, and taken up his abode in a single apartment in the temple, where he discharged the duty of a priest of the permanent course, as it was called, that is of those who dwelt in Jerusalem and supplied the place of any one in the other courses who could not serve in his turn. His piety, his wisdom, his earnest longing for the advent of the Messiah, and his affection for the house of the Maccabees, were become proverbial. He united so well the mild dignity of age with the fresh sensibility of youth, that he possessed a most decided influence over the principal persons in the state, but more especially on all the younger priests, whose teacher he might be considered, and who very generally adopted his opinions. Even the heathens admired the vigour and originality of his mind. What most surprised many of his countrymen was, that he, whom they would, before all others, have called a Chasidean, that is a man of extraordinary piety, laid no claim to so high a title, and contented himself with the humbler name of a just man.
The old man made his appearance, but declared that he came only to bid the youth welcome to the courts of the Lord. A feast, even in the temple, he said, did not befit a man over whom one hundred winters had already past. All rose up when he appeared, and, falling at his feet, kissed the border of his robe. Helon had heard of him in Alexandria, and Elisama had pointed out his venerable form to him, as he assisted at the sacrifice; and when he saw him appear in the banqueting room, for his sake, overpowered by such kindness and condescension, he too fell, in silent reverence, at his feet, and kissed the border of his garment. The old man raised him up, and said, “Praised be the God of Israel, who bringeth the seed of Aaron out of Egypt, to the place where is the memorial of his name.” He spoke of his grandfather, whom he had known at Alexandria, and said that Jehovah would bless that house for ever, on account of the zeal which every member of it had displayed for the honour of his law. He then called Helon from the company, observing to the rest, that before he partook of their feast, he would regale him with food of another kind. Helon with profound veneration followed the old man, who led him through the court of the Gentiles to Solomon’s porch, which with its lofty pillars formed the eastern boundary of this court. Here he placed himself on the ground and Helon beside him. He made the youth relate to him the history of his life, and the manner in which the desire of becoming a priest had been first awakened in him. He afterwards addressed a few of those questions to him, by which one who knows mankind penetrates into the bosom of a youth. His countenance gradually assumed an expression of pleasure and good-will, which led Helon to hope that his answers had been satisfactory.
“It cannot be said my son,” he at length began, “that the Hellenists have been wholly wrong in their allegories. They are right in the principle from which they set out, that the service of Jehovah contains a hidden and deeper wisdom. Does not David say,
Behold thou delightest in the truth in secret things, Teach me therefore thy hidden wisdom.—Ps. li. 6.
and Solomon in the Proverbs, ‘His secret is with the pious.’ Their error lay in this, that they sought to discover in heathen and human wisdom the secret meaning of our ordinances and laws. Here,” he continued, “is the place which Jehovah hath chosen; since he brought his people out of Egypt he has never fixed on any other city, among any other of the tribes, in which a house should be builded for his name to dwell in. I brought thee hither, that thou mightest see it in all its glory. Look how its courts rise one above another, from the place on which we stand to the altar of burnt-offering, and then to the sanctuary of Jehovah! Look and wonder! This Moriah is the place where Abraham was commanded to offer up his son Isaac, and where also was the threshing-floor of Araunah, at which the angel of Jehovah stretched out his hand over Jerusalem, to punish the sin of David. David purchased the threshing-floor and built an altar there and offered sacrifice upon it, and when Jehovah heard him he exclaimed, ‘Here shall be the house of Jehovah, and the altar of the burnt-offering for Israel;’ and his son Solomon built the house and the altar. Dost thou know, Helon, the prayer which he offered at the dedication of the temple?” Helon without the least hesitation began: “And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord, in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven; and he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no god like thee in heaven above or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants, that walk before thee with all their heart: who hast kept with thy servant David, my father, that thou promisedst him: thou speakest also with thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand, as it is this day. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with thy servant David that thou promised him, saying, There shall not fail thee a man in my sight, to sit on the throne of Israel; so that thy children take heed to their way, that they walk before me, as thou hast walked before me: and now, O God of Israel, let thy word, I pray thee, be verified, which thou spakest unto thy servant David my father. But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee, how much less this house of prayer that I have builded! Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee to-day: that thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there; that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place. And hearken thou to the supplication of thy servant, and of thy people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place, and hear them in heaven, thy dwelling-place, and when thou hearest, forgive. If any man trespass against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house; then hear thou in heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head, and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness. When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against thee, and shall turn again to thee, and confess thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto thee in this house: then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land, which thou gavest unto their fathers. When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee: if they pray towards this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them: then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel; that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance. If there be in the land famine, if there be blasting, mildew, locust, or if there be the caterpillar; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities, whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness there be; what prayer and supplication soever be made by any man, or by all the people of Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands towards this house; then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest, (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men,) that they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto their fathers. Moreover, concerning a stranger that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country, for thy name’s sake, (for they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched-out arm,) when he shall come and pray towards this house; hear thou in heaven thy dwelling-place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have builded, is called by thy name. If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord, toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for thy name; then hear thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause. If they sin against thee (for there is no man that sinneth not) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives, unto the land of the enemy, far or near; yet if they shall bethink themselves, in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; and so return unto thee with all their heart and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house I have built for thy name; then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven, thy dwelling-place, and maintain their cause; and forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them; for they be thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron, that thine eyes may be open unto the supplication of thy people Israel, to hearken unto them in all that they call for unto thee. For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant; when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.”
2 Sam. xxiv. 16.
1 Kings viii.
“Praise Jehovah,” said the old man, when Helon had finished, “for the blessing of a father who has so well instructed thee in the holy Scriptures. It becomes a young priest to be able to give an answer from them to every question that is put to him. Thou hast repeated Solomon’s dedication prayer: his temple was founded amidst acclamations, and destroyed amidst tears: this was founded amidst tears, but its glory shall surpass that of the first temple, when He comes, for whom we wait. He shall walk through this temple, stand in this porch of Solomon, pass through this Beautiful Gate, approach the altar of burnt-offering, and give this house its highest consecration. Helon, the whole earth lies under a curse; it bears thorns and thistles, and the ground is accursed on account of man, who has sinned thereon. Jehovah will take away the curse, when he comes to his temple, and from this spot the change is to begin. It has been for nearly a thousand years a holy land, free from the curse, a type of what the whole earth is one day to become. This Naaman the Syrian felt, when he had discovered, by the cleansing of his leprosy, that there was a prophet in Israel, as he showed by carrying away three mules’ burden of earth into his own country.
2 Kings v. 17.
“Learn too from this prayer, how holy is the place in which thou art, and in which thou shalt in future serve Jehovah. Pray to him in his temple, that his eyes may be open towards thee, and that he may make the light of his countenance to shine upon thee. Go now to the feast, and if thou desirest to hear more, come to the old man in the temple. There is his apartment.”
The venerable man blessed him, and then crossed the court of the Gentiles. Helon watched him, till he disappeared, and then remained for a long time wrapt in thought, till some one came to summon him to the company. The feast concluded early, for the course of Malchia had to prepare, on the evening before the sabbath, for entering upon its office. About the ninth hour all labour had ceased, the trumpets had announced the sabbath, the Levites had baked the shew-bread, the twelve priests had carried it in solemn procession to the porch, and hence two of them had taken it into the holy place, and had deposited it upon the table of shew-bread: the old shew-bread had been removed, and the two censers of incense of the preceding week had been replaced by two new ones. The rest of the priests and the Levites laid themselves down betimes to sleep. Helon could not sleep. The past and the future were both too interesting. A feeling of mingled joy and awe shot through his frame when he heard the bars of the temple gates closed, and found himself shut in within the sanctuary of Jehovah; it seemed as if he were here protected from every earthly evil, as if nothing could now prevent him from fulfilling the law of the Lord, and becoming complete in his obedience. Often was he disposed to have cried aloud, “Better is a day in thy courts, than a thousand elsewhere!” At times lost in thought, at times wrapt in devotion, he passed the sleepless hours, while the priests slumbered around him. When he heard the step of the guard of Levites, in the court of the Gentiles, or when the guard of priests, as they went their rounds in the court of Israel, with lighted torches in their hands, approached the place where he lay, he envied the happy persons who were not only allowed, but whose duty it was, to traverse the courts and porticoes and palaces of the sanctuary, beneath the stars of heaven. When the two companies of the priests, uniting after their separate rounds, greeted each other with the words, “All is peace,” the sounds came to his mind with a significance that was indescribable.
At an early hour the watch came again to waken those who slept. The priests bathed themselves, and went to the vestry to put on their robes. Next they assembled in the hall Gazith, to cast lots for the division of the offices for the day. The first lot, which decided who should cleanse the altar of burnt-offering from the ashes of the preceding day, fell upon Helon, to his great astonishment. Then followed the lots of those who were to sacrifice the lamb, to sprinkle the blood upon the altar, to trim the lamps, to bring the parts of the victims to the altar of burnt-offering, to burn incense in the holy place, &c.
One of the priests now opened the curtain of the portico, and another the gate of Nicanor, and some of the Levites threw open the outer gates of the temple, that the children of Israel might enter. The crowing of the cock announced the time when the cleansing of the altar of burnt-offering was to take place. The priests called out to Helon, “Beware of touching any vessel, before thou hast washed thy hands and feet and sanctified thyself.” He washed himself again, mounted with trembling steps the sloping ascent to the altar, which was fifteen cubits high. He cleared the burning coals from the ashes and collected these in a heap at an appointed place. This was his first service as a priest. As he performed it, he could not help inwardly praying that the flame in his heart might in like manner be purified from every thing that made it burn dim.
When the wood for the offering of that day had been prepared, and the watches and the singers chosen, after a short interval some of the priests exclaimed, “Light, light!” the others replied, “Is it light towards Hebron?” and when the question was answered in the affirmative, and the first beam of dawn struck upon the roof of the sanctuary, the chief of the course of priests exclaimed, “Priests, to your duties! Levites, to your steps! Children of Israel, to your station!”
The last words did not refer to the whole people of Israel, but only to the Men of the Station, who represented the people at the sacrifice, in the same way as there were substitutes for the priests in the temple, chosen out of all the courses of priests. These substitutes of the people resided in Jerusalem, and were divided according to the twelve tribes.
All hastened to their respective posts. The service of Jehovah began with the cleansing the altar of incense in the holy place, and laying the wood on the altar of burnt-offering. A male lamb of a year old, without blemish, was brought to the north side of the altar of burnt-offering, the men of the station laid their hands upon it, in the name of the people; one priest killed it, another received the blood, a third sprinkled the altar with it, while others first extinguished five of the lights in the seven-branched lamp in the holy place. Incense was then brought in and burnt upon the altar of incense, and the remaining lights extinguished.
The sun had now risen: the pieces of the animal which had been killed, the usual meat-offering, as well as that which the high-priest offered daily, and that which Helon was to present, and the drink-offering, were all brought to the place between the altar of burnt-offering and the sanctuary, heaved before Jehovah, and then brought to the opposite side of the altar. The pieces were sprinkled with salt, the Kri-schma was prayed, and the flesh laid upon the altar and offered as a burnt-offering to the Lord. The meat-offering which belonged to it was next burnt, and the high-priest’s meat-offering followed. Helon had already heaved the offering, by which he renewed the priesthood in his family, and now brought it to the altar. It consisted of incense and the half of a tenth-deal of an epha of wheat-flour, baked in oil. He salted both and then threw all the incense, but only a handful of the meal, into the fire; for all the rest belonged to the priests. Lastly, the drink-offering of wine was poured into a pipe, which ran from the altar to the brook Kedron, and the daily burnt-offering was closed. While the drink-offering was pouring out, the Levites played and sang upon the fifteen steps the 92d psalm, it being the sabbath day, and the two priests, upon the pillar near the altar, accompanied with their trumpets.
Lev. vi. 14.
It is a good thing to give thanks unto Jehovah, To sing praises unto thy name, O thou Most High, To show forth thy loving-kindness in the morning, And thy faithfulness every night, Upon an instrument of ten strings and upon the psaltery, Upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, Lord, makest me glad through thy work; I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O Lord, how great are thy works, And thy thoughts are very deep! A brutish man knoweth it not, A fool doth not understand it. Though the wicked spring as grass, Though the workers of iniquity flourish, Yet they shall be destroyed for ever. But thou, Jehovah, art Most High for evermore. For lo, thine enemies, O Lord, Lo, thine enemies shall perish; All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. But thou wilt exalt my horn as an unicorn’s, I am anointed with fresh oil; Mine eye shall see my desire on my enemies, Mine ear shall hear it on the wicked that rise against me. The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that are planted in the house of the Lord, They flourish in the courts of our God. They still bring forth fruit in old age, They are fresh and full of sap: To show that Jehovah is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.—Psal. xcii.
After this daily-offering, the special-offering for the sabbath-day, consisting of two lambs of the first year, was offered, accompanied with other psalms. At the close, the chief priest of the course gave his blessing, and the people replied by similar benedictions.
Numb, xxviii. 9, 10.
Numb. vii. 23.
Helon had been present at many sacrifices, but this was the first time that as a priest he had stood beside the altar of burnt-offering. Seen so much more nearly than before, every thing appeared in a new light to him; he felt that something more profound must be hidden under this veil of outward ceremonies, and he longed to be able to interrogate on this subject the old man of the temple, who, when the sacrifice was over, had betaken himself to his cell. Helon had several times watched his countenance during the sacrifice, that he might read in it if possible the interpretation of the rite. The priests dispersed after the sacrifice was over. Helon also left the court of the Priests, and as he was entering the court of Israel, he met Elisama, who with feelings of the most animated pleasure had stood there the whole morning, to watch the first ministrations of his Helon. He pressed his hand, and would have embraced him but for the sanctity of the place. Helon regarded him with a look which expressed the fulness of his happiness, and tears stood in the eyes of both. “I have to greet thee in the name of Iddo,” said Elisama. “And I thee in the name of the old man of the temple,” said Helon. “Art thou going to him?” replied Elisama. “Go, and the God of thy fathers go with thee!”
The old man was sitting before a roll of one of the prophets, and invited Helon to seat himself beside him. After a time he asked him, what had seemed most impressive to him in the psalm which he had heard sung that day on the fifteen steps?
“The close,” replied Helon, “in which it is said, of those who are planted in the house of the Lord, that they continue green even in old age.”
“And who are they?” asked the old man. “The sons of Levi,” Helon replied. “Repeat to me, if thou knowest it, the blessing with which Moses blessed them before his death.”
Moses said unto Levi, Thy holy one beareth thy light and thy truth, He whom thou didst prove at Massah, With whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; Who saith unto his father and his mother, I see them not; And to his brother, I acknowledge him not; And to his sons, I know nothing of them. For they have observed thy word And kept thy covenant. They teach Jacob thy judgments, And Israel thy law. They shall put incense before thee, And whole burnt-offerings on thine altar. Bless, O Jehovah, his substance, And accept the work of his hands. Smite through the loins of them that rise against him, That those who hate him rise not again.—Deut. xxxiii. 8.
“Thou hast said what is required of the tribe of Levi,” said the old man. “It was not without reason that to the whole tribe no portion was given in Israel: for, ‘Jehovah is their heritage.’ He had first of all chosen the eldest-born in every family to be his ministers, and still the priesthood so far rests upon them that they must be ransomed for five shekels on the thirtieth day. In this way the office is transferred to the tribe of Levi. Others have so much to do with worldly things, that they could not instruct their children from their infancy in the knowledge of the law. But the sons of Levi with their children are to live only for the temple and the laws, and on this account the rest of the people give up three-tenths of their income, of which one-tenth supports the Levites, the second is for the expenses of sacrifices and feasts, and for coming up to Jerusalem at the festivals; the third is for the maintenance of the king. Thus the priest and the Levite, free from the ordinary cares of life, are devoted exclusively to Jehovah. They are to present the offering of Jehovah, the bread of their God. Hence the purity which they are so carefully to preserve, not allowing themselves to come in contact with any thing which might defile them. The sacerdotal order is the most exalted in the world. Yet its dignity lies not in any preeminence of its own; but in God’s choice of it, to preserve and make known his law. Be not thou therefore unduly exalted, but rejoice that thou art permitted, as a priest of Jehovah, to minister in his temple. Before the full light of day is spread over heaven and earth, some one spot is brightened by a partial gleam. But has that spot done any thing to merit this distinction? Give thanks then to Jehovah that thou standest in the earliest beams of that dawn which is the harbinger of light to all mankind. When He comes for whom we wait, the brightness of his rising shall illuminate the whole earth, and the heathens shall walk in his light.”
Exod. xiii. 12-16; Numb. iii. 12, 13.
Lev. xxvii. 30-33; Numb. xviii. 21-32; Deut. xii. 17-19; xiv. 22-29; xxvi. 12-15; 1 Sam. viii. 15.
The old man ceased, and departing, left Helon alone, who remained till near the ninth hour, when the evening-sacrifice began; and he hastened forth, that he might not be too late for his duties. The evening-sacrifice on the sabbath was in no respect different from that on ordinary days. The priests had prepared the incense, the Levites the meat-offering; Helon arranged his own, which consisted of the other half of the tenth-deal of the epha, of which he had offered one-half in the morning. The ceremonies and sacrifices already described were repeated; the lamb was killed and its portions burnt, the daily meat-offering, the meat-offering of the high-priest, and lastly, that of Helon, were presented; incense was burnt again in the holy-place, and the seven-branched lamp lighted for the night. The drink-offering was poured out upon the altar, accompanied by the songs of the Levites, and the trumpets of the priests, and followed by the benediction, which closed the service of the day. It was about the twelfth hour. But the flame continued long after it was dark to shoot up from the altar of burnt-offering, and even through the whole night the embers continued glimmering. The consecrated vessels were restored to their places: the whole course of Malchia had been in attendance this day, as it was the sabbath, but only a sixth part of them prepared themselves for service on the morrow. When all was finished in the temple, the priests prepared their meal and then laid themselves down to rest.
So closed the first day of Helon’s sacerdotal life; his heart was agitated, as it had been at his first entrance into the land of his fathers; but the sanctity of the place forbade every violent expression of his emotions. He had become more serious, it might almost be said more manly; and his joy and gratitude, instead of dissipating themselves in words, seemed to reserve their energy for action and the fulfilment of duty. A new life seemed to have begun in the temple of Jehovah.
As on the following day he attended the usual morning-sacrifice, although only as a spectator, he observed a woman who was undergoing the ceremony of purification after childbirth. She had bathed herself at home, first on the seventh and afterwards on the fortieth day, and she now brought to the temple a burnt-offering and a sin-offering—a lamb of the first year for the former, a turtle-dove for the latter. The priest sprinkled her with the blood of the sin-offering, and she was purified, and praised the Lord, who had done great things for her, had preserved her own life, and had given a son into her arms. Helon beheld the ceremony with profound attention. The old man approached him, and after the rites of the morning-sacrifice were ended, turning to Helon, said to him, “Son of Adam, remember that for thee, too, a mother once offered a sin-offering and a burnt-offering.”
“I know it,” replied Helon, “but I have been in vain endeavouring to discover what is the import of this purification of the mother.” “Compare it,” said the old man, “with what thou thyself didst, to obtain purification at the festival of the new moon, after having touched a grave. Since man defiles, at his death, those who lament his departure with the tears of affection, and by his birth those who embrace him with joy, can he himself be pure by nature?”
Helon started. After a pause the old man continued: “Does not David say, I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me! And did not God say to the first man, In the day that thou eatest of the tree, thou shalt die the death? Is any thing more necessary, in order to prove that the birth of man is in sin, and that his death is the wages of sin? Forty days, after the birth of a male, eighty, after that of a female, (the sex which first sinned,) is the mother unclean. For a burnt-offering she brings a lamb, for a sin-offering a turtle-dove, and reconciled by the blood of these innocent animals, she is permitted to appear before Jehovah. See what are the consequences of our birth!
“A red heifer, without blemish, that has never borne the yoke, is brought before a priest, led by another priest out of the Holy City, and killed yonder on the mount of Olives. The priest dips his finger in the blood and sprinkles it seven times towards the temple; then he burns the cow with the hide and the hair, and throws upon it cedar-wood, hyssop, and a red thread. Another priest collects the ashes, and carries them to an appointed place. All the three are rendered unclean. When any one who has denied himself with a dead body is to be made clean again, these ashes are mixed with water, and one who is himself clean sprinkles it upon him upon the third and the seventh day; and while thus he that was unclean becomes clean, he that was clean becomes unclean. See what are the consequences of our death!”
The old man continued his walk in the court of the Priests, and left Helon standing in the greatest astonishment at the new and profound views which had been opened to him. He saw him not again till after the evening-sacrifice on the second day after the sabbath, when the family of the course of Malchia, to which Helon belonged, had been called to take its turn in ministering at the altar. He found the old man engaged in prayer, and was invited by him to place himself beside him on the carpet. After a short silence he began; “I trust that from our previous conversations you have clearly perceived, that the earth with all its inhabitants is unholy, and every individual a sinner! Is Jeremiah still the favourite prophet of your house?” Helon replied that he was. “Do you understand a passage in his prophecies, in which the same thought is twice repeated, ‘Behold the days are coming, saith Jehovah, that I will raise up unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and act wisely, and shall execute justice and judgment in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell in security; and this is the name by which he shall be called, Jehovah who is our Righteousness’.’ What means this?” “Instruct me,” replied Helon. “This is the Messiah: on the earth which lies under the curse, man, himself sinful, cannot exhibit that righteousness which is acceptable to God. Therefore Jehovah himself will be our righteousness in the Messiah. He is the great object of prophecy, from its commencement in the days of our first parents to the present day, a period of near four thousand years, till the appearance of him for whom we wait, the Consolation of Israel. But on account of the dulness of the people’s heart this intimation is given in a twofold way, audibly by the words of holy writ, and visibly in the sacrifices. The sacrifices are visible prophecies of the Lord who is our righteousness. How often does Jehovah declare, that he has no pleasure in sacrifices and burnt-offerings, i. e. when they are not presented with a reference to the Messiah. Taken in this connection, they have a reconciling virtue. Every sacrifice, therefore, has a double import. The sacrificer lays his hand upon the victim’s head, and thus transfers his own sin to it, and so far sacrifice is a memorial of the offerer’s guilt: but on the other hand, when Jehovah accepts the sacrifice and permits the blood to be sprinkled and the flesh to be burnt upon his altar, he confirms the promise which Moses made at the establishment of the covenant in the wilderness. ‘Behold, this is the blood of the covenant which Jehovah maketh with you concerning all these laws.’ The Messiah will be the true offering. As Isaiah prophesies that God will ‘Lay our sins upon him and inflict chastisement upon him that we may have peace,’ so by this means he will become our righteousness, and the promise of God is confirmed and fulfilled in him. But these are dark, sacred, unfathomable thoughts, who can comprehend them in all their extent? Thus much is certain, that in his sacrifice all others will be united, and what are now called by different names, will form only one. Till he comes, there are various sacrifices according to our various necessities; some for the people collectively, as on the day of atonement and at the Passover; others for individuals; morning and evening sacrifices for each day; sabbath-offerings for the week; offerings at the new moon for the month, and at the annual festivals for the whole year. There are trespass-offerings for sin; thank-offerings of gratitude for blessings received. But enough of these things, on which it is so easy but so dangerous to enlarge. Yet hope not to understand them, till light from heaven has beamed upon thee here. Keep these principles in view, pray for divine illumination, and the dark shall become light to thee. Thou knowest, even from those heathens who were the objects of thy former admiration, that there are things the knowledge of which cannot be learnt, but must be given.”
Jer. xxiii. 9.; xxxiii. 16.
Exod. xxiv. 8.
Isaiah liii. 5.
While they were speaking, Elisama came to the door and announced that Selumiel of Jericho was standing without, and that he wished to speak with the old man. He himself called Helon aside, while Selumiel conversed with the old man, and told him that in the ensuing week he was going to Jericho, and wished him to accompany him, as his week of service would expire on the morrow. Helon was unwilling to leave Jerusalem, but he bethought himself that it became a priest to honour his father and his mother, or those who stood in this relation to him, that his days might be long upon the earth. He therefore assented to the proposal of his uncle, especially as he heard that their journey would take them near the Oasis of the Essenes, whom he had a great desire to see. Elisama left him well pleased, and Helon hastened back into the court of the Priests.
On the fifth day the old man called Helon after the morning-sacrifice, and commanded him to follow him to his apartment. Both of them seated themselves on the carpet, and the old man began with unusual energy.
“Thy week of service is drawing to a close, and Selumiel tells me that he purposes to take thee to the pleasant city of Jericho. The angel of the Lord encamp on the journey about those that fear him! But as I foresee that he will introduce thee to the knowledge of the Essenes, I must, ere thou depart, give thee one admonition; and O, young man! remember that it is written, ‘Days should speak and length of years should give understanding.’
“Eighty years have now passed over me, since I began to be acquainted with men of every variety of religious opinion among my people. I was then, as thou art now, young, without an adviser, and easily attracted and deceived by every new wisdom which appeared. I wish to guard thee against errors into which I fell; for it is a bitter feeling at last to discover that we have been wandering from the truth. Thou rejoicest in Israel and the temple, and holdest the Hellenists alone in abhorrence. But believe me that there are things yet more to be abhorred in Israel itself, nay even in those that are within the walls of the temple. There is a fearful division and confusion in Israel; seven sects wage war against each other. May it fare with thee as with the old man! Thou wilt find many things in all of them which will not displease thee, but pray to God that thou mayest be enabled to see, that each of them has more or less departed from the right way, and mingled human wisdom with the divine law. Thou wilt find in all, honourable and upright men, but also among all, the proud man and the hypocrite; and all, without exception, are deficient in the humility and the simplicity which are essential to the knowledge of divine truth. I do not reckon among them the _proselytes of the gate_, whom we have in all nations; and I mention them only that I may omit none, and may begin where I have least to blame. Praise Jehovah that their number is constantly increasing, and pray that he would guide them yet further—that they may renounce every thing that is heathenish, and become proselytes of righteousness. It is still worse with the _Hellenists_, who have been punished, by the blindness with which they have plunged into allegory, for that worldly-mindedness which made them disdain to return to the land of Promise. This the _Essenes_ did in some measure, and for this, and for their rigid obedience to the law, I praise them—but why do they imitate foreign manners in the land of Jehovah, pride themselves on vain wisdom, drawn from their ancient books, and despise the temple of our God? The _Pharisees_ are their opponents, and while I justly praise their zeal for the faith of our fathers, I must blame them for mixing oral traditions so lightly with the written law, and for the pride which has prompted them to do it. For this fault they are justly reproved by the _Sadducees_: but much greater is their departure from the truth, who reject the prophets of Jehovah, and resemble more the disciples of a heathen Epicurus, than of the Lord who spake on Sinai. I say nothing of the _Samaritans_, who like ourselves expect a Messiah, but prefer the desolate Gerizim to our Moriah. What confusion in Israel! What dissension and mutual hatred! There is still a small handful, whom I will not call a sect, men of pious, peaceful minds, who wait in simplicity and humility for the appearance of the Messiah, who reject every other word but that of God, and keep his ordinances in his temple. Of their number I reckon myself one—Elisama also belongs to them, as do nearly all the Aramæan Jews who live in the Diaspora. In Jerusalem, however, there are few such to be found. Now thou art forewarned, go, and Jehovah bless and keep thee!”
This was the last interview which Helon at this time had with the old man. On the sixth day, the last before the new sabbath, the course of Malchia finished its term of service after the evening-sacrifice. Helon quitted the temple, and hastened to join his friends in the house of Iddo.
CHAPTER V. THE ESSENES.
The impression which the first week of his sacerdotal duties had made upon Helon was quite different from all that he had experienced before. Hitherto his mind had been excited, and his curiosity and expectation raised; what he had lately seen and felt had given a quiet sober calmness to his mind, which was only broken at times by the eager desire of further knowledge on those subjects, on which his conversations with the old man in the temple had turned.
The following sabbath he attended the morning and evening sacrifice, in a portico, which lay on the northern side of the court of the Priests, and opposite to the altar of burnt-offering, and was called the Covert of the sabbath. This was a distinction allotted to the course of priests who had been on duty the preceding week, and were now resting from the noblest of all occupations, the service of Jehovah.
The sun was rising on the Holy City on the first day of the week, when Iddo took leave of his guests at the Water-gate. They took the road to Jericho, which leads over the mount of Olives. They had before them a journey of one hundred and fifty stadia, or about twenty-four sabbath-days’ journies. Passing the dry bed of the brook Kedron, they walked under the shade of the cedars, till the road wound up the side of the mount and led them through rows of olive-trees over the easternmost of the three summits. It is loftier than any of the hills on which the city stands. As they ascended it, Helon cast back a look of gratitude and regret on the sacred spot, where God had shown him so much good. The summit commanded on one side a view of the temple, the castle Baris, Zion, and the wide-stretched city; on the other, the eye could reach to the Dead Sea and the glittering line of the Jordan’s course, which winds on the other side of the walls of Jericho and falls into the Dead Sea. Towards the east, the exhalations rose from the sea, at the place where once Sodom and Gomorrah stood—a terrible memorial of Jehovah’s vengeance on the transgressors. Towards the west the smoke of the morning-sacrifice was ascending from the altar of burnt-offering in the temple. “See,” said Elisama, as he pointed to Moriah, “the fulfilment of the words of Moses, the glory of the Lord appearing to all the people in the fire that comes from before him and consumes the burnt-offering on the altar.” And then turning to the clouds of pitchy smoke that hung over the Dead Sea; “Behold there the fulfilment of another word of Scripture, 'The Lord thy God is a consuming fire and a jealous God.'”
Lev. ix. 23, 24.
Deut. iv. 24.
They proceeded in silence. At length Helon observed, “When the flame ascends upon our altar of burnt-offering, or the seven-branched candlestick is lighted at evening in the holy place, I cannot but think of Jehovah’s comparison of himself to a light, in our psalms and prophets. Fire is the most ethereal of the elements, and is a symbol as well of the grace of God to the pious, as of his indignation against sinners.”
“Beware,” interrupted Selumiel, “of making to thyself any likeness of God.”
“I understand,” said Helon, “what you mean. Even the doctrine of Zerdusht is superstition, because he has disfigured, by human additions, the knowledge which is handed down in its purity in our sacred writings. Yet it is remarkable that the children of the east have selected precisely this point from the divine wisdom of their forefathers, worshipping, alas, the visible sun, instead of the eternal light.”
“Be satisfied,” said Selumiel, “those whom thou art about to see to-day, have already prayed some hours ago for the return of the heavenly light. They do so every morning, and every morning their prayer is heard. You shall see my Essenes.”
“_Thy_ Essenes!” said Elisama. “Thou hast already thrown out hints of this kind more than once, Selumiel, greatly to my surprise. I remember when we were young together in Egypt, thou hadst a similar passion for the doctrines of the Therapeutæ; and an early passion, it seems, never dies.”
“I confess,” said Selumiel, “that in my youth I often looked with veneration towards the hill beside the lake Mareotis, where they had their favourite abode. But at a later period of my life I perceived that the contemplative life of the Therapeutæ, their profound solitude, and their enthusiastic passion for allegory, are not to be compared with the pious but active life led by the Essenes. I could say much to you of this people, but I will reserve it till we have passed through Bethany.”
This was indeed a spot more adapted for seeing than for listening. Bethany was a village on the eastern slope of the mount of Olives, and about two sabbath-days’ journies from Jerusalem. It was a still and lovely spot, surrounded with olives, palm-trees, figs, and dates, so that it seemed to stand in the midst of a large garden. They often turned to look back upon it, when they had passed through it. As they crossed a sparkling brook which ran at the foot of a steep hill, Selumiel exclaimed, “I will first quench my thirst, according to the manner of the Essenes, from this pure stream, and will then tell you, as I proposed just now, what I think of this people.”
A wild and dreary region lay before them, called the desert of Jericho. “I know,” said Selumiel, “that our Sadducees ridicule the Essenes, and our Pharisees curse them. But however the former may ridicule the idea of self-communion and moral strictness, it is certain that there is a deeper foundation for this self-communion at least, than individual inclination or caprice. The aged are generally inclined to it, and I know not what more genuine happiness one who has seen the world can propose to himself, in declining years, than the undisturbed society of persons like minded with himself, engaged in the united worship of Jehovah. And as there is a period of life, in which almost all men feel the disposition to turn the thoughts inward, circumstances may arise to produce this inclination at an earlier period. Calamity and sorrow respect no age; and as it may be said of some men that they are children even in their grey hairs, so is it true of others, that even from their childhood they show the contemplative and serious character of age. Why then should not a whole society, consisting of such youths and such old men, unite to devote themselves to self-communion? It has been said of the Greeks, that they are always children; it may be said with equal truth and more honour of the Essenes, that they are always old men.”
“But,” said Elisama, “they never appear in the temple.” “That is what the Pharisees condemn in them, and I will not undertake to decide upon the question: but thus much is certain, that they fulfil all the other precepts of the law so much the more zealously, and appeal, on this point, to passages of holy writ, which teach the inefficacy of any ritual of sacrifice. But I will not defend them for not coming to mount Moriah; and I am so far from agreeing with them in this respect, that I am, as you know, a punctual visiter at all the festivals. Let us rather consider what both Sadducees and Pharisees blame in them, and see whether this blame does not really redound to their praise. You know that the Sadducees in their folly maintain, that the whole course of the events of life depends upon man’s own free will, that fate has no influence over human affairs, and that it rests with ourselves to be the authors of our own weal or woe. The Pharisees, with more reason, teach that some things in our lives are the work of fate, but not all, and that in some cases it depends upon ourselves whether events shall happen or not. But how many rulers of the world must they then suppose to exist, or how would they contrive to keep this host of rulers in order and in harmony? How much more just and consistent is the doctrine of the Essenes, that fate disposes of all events, that nothing happens to man without its appointment, and that the great and the trifling in events, what is necessary and what is apparently arbitrary, all is alike subject to a predestined order!”
“Nay,” Elisama exclaimed, “these are subjects on which only the Messiah when he comes can instruct us fully—but this doctrine is horrible.”
“Myron would say,” observed Helon, “that the Essenes were Jewish Pythagoreans; as the Pharisees might be called Jewish Stoics; and the Sadducees, Jewish Epicureans.”
Their conversation broke off here, all parties being a little out of humour, an effect to which the desert on which they had now entered perhaps contributed. It was a long, hilly, dreary waste. Deep ravines without verdure opened beside serrated cliffs, sometimes of a chalky whiteness, sometimes of sand. No fountain, no shrub, was to be discerned, as far as the eye could reach; scarce here and there a stunted plant or a dry blade of grass. The rocks were rent and thrown in such wild confusion, that Helon thought an earthquake must have torn up the bowels of the earth, in this abode of desolation and of death. Towards the east, between the ragged summits of the hills, the thick clouds of smoke from the Dead Sea arose, as from the bottom of the abyss. From the higher ground the region around Jericho might indeed be seen, but it served by the contrast rather to aggravate the dreariness of the nearer scene.
Selumiel was the first to resume the discourse. “You remarked,” said he to Helon, “that the Essenes are Jewish Pythagoreans; and there are in truth many points of resemblance between them. Both practise community of goods, both hold in abhorrence every kind of effeminacy and voluptuousness, both love white garments, forbid to take an oath, drink only water, pay extraordinary reverence to old age, enjoin silence for a stated time upon their novices, offer only unbloody sacrifices, and teach that destiny is supreme and uncontroulable in human affairs. They agree besides in this, that both believe the soul alone to be immortal; while the Sadducees deny that any thing of man is imperishable, and the Pharisees maintain the resurrection of the body. This coincidence in so many remarkable points may give us a clue to the common source of their doctrines and institutions. Pythagoras is said to have been in Babylon at the time of our captivity, and Zerdusht to have known Israel on the banks of Chebar—may not these both have drawn from the same source as our Essenes? For my own part, I consider the Essenes to be those who have preserved the original knowledge of divine things in the greatest purity. Hence it is that they so zealously observe the law, that they keep the sabbath with peculiar sanctity, that they consider agriculture as the most honourable of all occupations, that they hold Moses in the highest veneration, and endeavour to observe the precepts of the law with unusual strictness, directing their attention to its inward fulfilment in the heart, rather than the outward act of conformity to its commands. Of their mode of life you shall judge for yourself, when we visit their village; their heroic deeds in war are known from the recent history of our country.”
Helon’s attention and interest were very powerfully excited, but the last warning of the old man of the temple resounded in his ears, and to interrupt the panegyrics of Selumiel, he asked him, “Can you tell me when they made their first appearance, and what is their origin?”
“Some,” said Selumiel, “suppose them to descend from Jonadab, the son Rechab, who lived before the captivity; others, from those who fled into the desert with Judas Maccabæus, during the oppression of the Syrian kings; while others deduce them from Egypt, and from some of its sects of heathen philosophers. I hold them, however, to be of very high antiquity.”
While he was thus speaking, they saw a wanderer hastening over one of the naked hills which were near them. He was an aged man, of a spare form and long white beard, who, supporting his steps with a staff, kept on his way without looking around him, the human counterpart of this ungenial region. “This,” said Selumiel, “is one of them: I know him by his clothing, and by his only spitting behind him.” As he approached they greeted him, and he gravely returned the salutation. According to the custom of the Essenes he was clad only in white garments, and carried nothing but a staff on his journey.
“Wilt thou guide us to the Oasis of the Essenes?” asked Helon.
“Follow me,” he replied abruptly.
“How many are there of you?” asked Helon, endeavouring to engage him in conversation.
“There are four thousand of us in this country.”
“But I am surprised that you travel without any wallet.”
“I am come, curious youth, from a distance, to assist at the trial of one of our body, which cannot be held by fewer than one hundred persons. Among us every thing is in common. We avoid great cities, but where we go we trust to the hospitality of our brethren.”
“Who is the transgressor on whom ye are to sit in judgment?” asked Selumiel.
“A man who had scarcely completed his probation, and was not able to keep the secret of our institution.”
“Tell me,” said Helon, “I beseech you, what is the probation which must be gone through, before any one can be received as a member of your society.”
“He receives a white garment, a girdle of peculiar sanctity, and a spade, after which he must labour for a year, and practise self-examination. He is then received into our society, but for three years is not admitted to the common table. If in this time he gives evident tokens of being discreet, just, temperate, and chaste, an oath of tremendous sanctity is demanded from him, that he will before all things honour and serve the Lord, that he will be just towards men, that he will hate all unrighteousness, assist the pious, keep his faith and word towards every man, and pay profound obedience to the magistrate, who rules not but by the ordination of God; that he will not himself abuse power if he should be in possession of it, that he will keep his hands pure from theft and his mind from the desire of unlawful gain; that he will conceal nothing from his brethren, nor reveal their secrets to any other, even when threatened with tortures and death; that he will not communicate the doctrines of the body to any one, in any other form than that in which they have been taught to him, and that he will keep with equal care the books of doctrine and the names of the angels. When he has sworn to do all this, he is admitted to a participation in the bath, in the common meal, and all the secrets of the society.”
The gravity of the man, the solemnity of his words, and the earnestness with which he spoke, thrilled through Helon’s frame, combined as they were with the peculiar character of the scene.
They proceeded without further speaking, till they came within sight of an Oasis, a fruitful spot amidst the waste. A fountain rose here from a cleft in the rock, and a few cottages, surrounded by cultivated fields, stood under the shade of palm-trees. Beyond the immediate neighbourhood of the fountain all was wild, desolate, and barren, an emblem, according to the Essenes, of the soul of an unrighteous man, and the naphtha-smoke which rose in the distance from the Dead Sea, they regarded as a type of the future punishment of the wicked. This was the settlement of the Essenes. As they approached, they perceived by the multitude of persons who were going to and fro, that the trial had occasioned an unusual resort. Yet, in spite of this, every thing went on with such a stillness, as if single individuals were pursuing some noiseless occupation. An Essene, an acquaintance of Selumiel, told them how great was the consternation and horror of the whole body, at the discovery that a traitor had divulged their secrets. This offence was to be visited by the most fearful penalty of their code, expulsion from their society. Its terror consisted in this, that having bound himself by an oath, which even the unworthy dared not violate, never to use ordinary food, nor even to receive food at all from other men, there was nothing left him, but to support himself on roots and herbs till he died.
They arrived about the fifth hour (eleven o’clock) the time when they took their meal in common. They had risen before daylight, had conversed together briefly, but only concerning divine, never concerning human things, and had then greeted the sun as if imploring him to rise. After this every one had been dismissed by the person under whose superintendence he was placed, to pursue his labour for the day, and having now pursued it for several hours, they had bathed themselves in cold water a second time, and girded themselves with the sacred linen dress. Assembling in a hall, the entrance to which was forbidden to all but the members of their own order, they had thence proceeded, as carefully purified as if they were in a temple, to their refectory, where they seated themselves at table, not reclined as was the custom of the east. Bread and vegetables were placed before them; a priest prayed before and after the meal; while eating, a solemn silence was preserved, and when they had finished, they laid aside the holy garment, and each prepared himself to pursue his labour without intermission till the evening.
Food was placed before the strangers, Essene fare, bread and hyssop. No women were to beseen: for the Essenes on this Oasis belonged to the highest class, in which marriage was forbidden: it was allowed in the inferior classes, only with strict limitations and restraints. They must speedily have become extinct, had it not been that they received many children among them for education, and that many grown-up persons constantly joined their society, weary of the cares and vicissitudes of busy life. Thus they formed a society which never died out, although no child was born among them. They allowed no traffic in their community, because it must have been carried on through the medium of gold, which they considered as the root of all moral corruption; they had no servants, for each ministered to the other; and they took no oath, that which they had taken at their admission rendering every other superfluous.
Although our travellers were not admitted into the refectory of the Essenes, they were not alone. They found a multitude of sick persons assembled, who had come in hope of relief from the secret wisdom of the Essenes. They performed their cures by means of mysterious formularies, and recipes carefully preserved in their ancient books. These books had come to them in times of venerable antiquity from remote regions of the east, and were carefully studied by them, especially on the sabbath, which they held even more sacred than the other Jews. Their cures were wrought chiefly by enforcing temperance, self-command, and the dominion of the soul over the body; and with these means they performed wonders. The simplicity of their lives preserved their health to extreme old age, and not a few boasted that the spirit of prophecy had been wakened in them.
When Selumiel and Elisama had laid themselves down after the frugal repast, to rest beneath the palms, Helon went about to examine the whole arrangement and economy of this establishment. He would gladly have entered into conversation with some of the Essenes, but no one addressed him, and the determined taciturnity of their looks, and the profound stillness which reigned around these cottages, deterred him from making the attempt. He silently followed an aged man, who with his staff was making his round through the fields, when about noon every one was already again at his labour, and who seemed to be superintending their operations. The bending of the men, the prostration of the youths, as he approached them, showed to Helon that reverence for age was here inculcated and practised as a part of the duties of religion. Every thing here was done by command; no man followed a will of his own; indeed the will itself appeared to be social not individual, one thing only was excepted—beneficence. If those who were in need were not his own kindred, every one might assist and relieve them without asking permission or waiting for a command. The fields were covered with luxuriant crops, but the cultivators themselves were spare and pale.
Selumiel and Elisama had rested themselves, the heat of the mid-day was past, and there was no more to be discovered in a day than in an hour respecting the Essenes. The simple exterior of their habits and customs was easily seen. To learn any part of their secrets, it was necessary to listen in silence for years together. Our travellers therefore broke up immediately after the mid-day, and continued their tedious way through the desert to Jericho. Selumiel had requested his friend, the Essene, to be their guide, as the road was intricate even to those who had frequently travelled it. The Essene, at home amidst these solitudes, readily complied, and led them through ravines, amidst precipices, through sandy plains destitute of vegetation, and over naked hills. Always alert and ready to assist, he went before them, gave them his hand in difficult parts of the way, supported the elder men in the steeper ascents, and answered every question that was addressed to him, but so briefly that he seemed to weigh every word, and to be in perpetual apprehension of allowing one that was superfluous to escape his lips.
In answer to the question of Elisama, whence the name of Essene was derived, he informed them that it was Persian, and denoted the resemblance of their life to that of bees. “We learn from them to be unwearied in our diligence, to live in brotherly union, to be without distinction of sex in respect to desire, and to gather stores for the supply of others.” Their contempt for the female sex and aversion from matrimony displeased Elisama, who called the latter an ordinance of God, and pronounced it a vain and presumptuous thought of man, to wish to annihilate the distinction of sex, when the Creator had made the human race male and female.
Selumiel endeavoured to silence Elisama, by reminding him that nearly all the members of this community were old men. But the Essene himself would not accept this explanation; he maintained that this opinion was intimately and necessarily connected with the rest of their system. “The body as ye see,” said he, “is perishable and its elements for ever changing; the soul is immortal and unchangeable. Sprung from the purest ether, it is drawn down to the body by a certain natural impulse, and kept as it were imprisoned there while the body continues to exist. When freed from the fetters of the flesh, it rejoices like those delivered from a long and galling bondage, and wings its flight upwards. The souls of the just are conducted to an abode, beyond the ocean, of indescribable delight, where neither rain nor snow deforms the sky, and mild sea-breezes temper the rays of the sun. The wicked, on the contrary, are condemned to eternal thraldom and torment in a dwelling of frost and darkness. Should not then every soul abhor and shun intemperance and pleasure, as its worst enemies, and renounce every gratification which would give the body an ascendency over it, while it cultivates sobriety and chastity as the means of making its present captivity more tolerable, and of being ultimately delivered from it?”
The Essene spoke thus, animated in the defence of his doctrines, and almost forgetting the ordinary conciseness of his discourse. When he had ended, he turned abruptly round, after a brief salutation to the travellers. A hill higher than any in the desert, and equally bare, though on its verge, stood before them. They looked back, and saw the Essene vanishing among the intricacies of the path which they had just quitted, carefully holding his garments together, and hastening back to his brethren, without looking to the right hand or to the left. Helon seemed to breathe more freely as they emerged from this region of desolation. Selumiel, looking back towards the Oasis, and leaning on his staff, asked his companions, “Now, then, how like ye my Essenes?”
“Call them not _thy_ Essenes,” said Elisama, “for, Jehovah be praised, there is a wide difference between them and thee.”
“Allow me this,” said Selumiel, “and I will in return allow thee to speak of _thy_ Pharisees.”
“That,” said Elisama, very earnestly, “I shall never be; call me an Aramæan Jew, and I shall gladly accept the title.”
“What difference should one or the other make in our friendship?” said Selumiel. “Cannot we attach ourselves to different opinions, without any breach of our mutual good-will? Iddo takes it ill if I call him a Sadducee.”
“Alas for Israel,” said Elisama; “shall peace never come to thee? It has been a melancholy reflection to me, that in the land where alone Israel is truly Israel, I have scarcely found a single old friend who does not lean to one sect or other. What will be the end of these things?”
The young priest, dissatisfied with the turn which their conversation had taken, said hastily, and in a manner which neither of the old men understood, “In my service in the temple one thing only displeased me, that the turn of duty comes to each course of priests but once in twenty-four weeks. I fain would live the life of a priest every week and every day.”
“You might have discovered the method of doing so this very day,” said Selumiel.
“The Essenes do not sacrifice,” said Helon; “how then shall I find among them a perpetual priesthood?”
Elisama looked at him with astonishment. Selumiel, rejoiced as if he had come over to his opinion, replied, “You may find it in the daily mortification of your body and obedience to the law.”
“No,” said Elisama, “I will tell you—the conjugal and domestic life is the perpetual priesthood. You know that the patriarchs sacrificed with their own hands, and even now the master of the house becomes a priest, when, at the feast of the Passover, he kills the lamb, blesses the bread, and praises Jehovah. In spite of all the Essenes and their admirers,” said he, looking significantly at Selumiel, “it is my opinion, that the true Chasidean must be the father of a family.”
Selumiel stretched out his hand to the friend of his youth; they turned round, and scarcely had they advanced a few steps further when they had reached the summit of the hill, and the garden of God, the plain of Jericho, lay before them. The towers of the city arose from amidst the fertile fields, through which the silver Jordan wound its course. From the valley of death through which they had just passed, they had emerged into a scene where life displayed itself in all its luxuriance and fulness. The wide meadows through which the Jordan rolled were adorned by groups of towering palm trees and balsam bushes; the hills on both sides closed in the landscape with a beautifully picturesque effect. The air was fragrant with the odour of the roses which bear the name of Jericho. The note of the quail was heard in the corn-fields, the eagle swept his majestic way through the air, and the stork and the pelican strode stately beside the flood.
CHAPTER VI. THE BETROTHMENT.
Selumiel led his friends from Egypt through the gate of Jericho. Not far from it stood a house distinguished from all in its neighbourhood by its size and the style of the architecture. It was the house of Selumiel, who filled the office of an elder in Jericho. He had scarcely bidden his guests welcome in the outer court, and invited them to enter the inner by the covered way, when his son met him with his new-born grandson. The joy of the old man was indescribable. “You see,” said he to his guests, when he had led them to the fountain under the palms, and had called the slaves to wash their feet, “you see by my joy at the sight of my grandchild, that notwithstanding all I have said in their praise, I do not belong to the highest class of the Essenes. While the slaves do their duty, allow me to take a short walk into the Armon.”
Helon, in the mean time, viewed with admiration the splendour and wealth of the mansion. Its general arrangement was that which is common to houses in the east; but the solidity of construction and elegance of finish which characterised each part, showed that it was the residence of a wealthy man. Marble, cedar of Lebanon, brass, gold, silver, ivory, silk, and whatever else contributes to the splendour of an oriental house, glittered here on every side.
Selumiel’s house was built in such a way, that it enclosed a large open quadrangular space, called Chazer, or Thavech, (the middle or inner court,) which, under a sky that was almost uninterruptedly serene, served as a great chamber, even on great and festive occasions. The pavement was composed of variegated marble, tastefully disposed. In the middle, where in houses of humbler construction a simple basin stood, was a fountain, enclosed with marble and surrounded with lofty palms, which cast such a cooling shade beneath, that our travellers felt themselves instantly refreshed. In the angles stood rows of vases filled with flowers, especially the roses of Jericho, and many other odoriferous shrubs, planted in bowers. Their grateful shade, and the ever fresh and green turf around the fountain, made the coolness as it were visible, which in the hottest days was to be found there. On the sides of this quadrangle stood three rows of pillars, forming two parallel porticoes. The floor of them was covered with carpets and cushions of very elaborate workmanship, and before some of the pillars hung curtains, which gave the space behind the convenience of an enclosed chamber. The cushions were embroidered with gold and silver, and the curtains were of silk, red, white, green, and blue. Against the interior sides of the porticoes were divans and sofas, elevations of the height of from two to three feet, which were surrounded with a lattice, and in the day time were covered with carpets and served as seats, in the night were used as beds. Above, the porticoes were covered by three galleries one above another, for the house had three stories, and each gallery had a parapet breast-high towards the court.
Round this court the principal parts of the house were disposed. The side which adjoined the street contained a small court, separated from the inner only by a wall and a door, contrary to the common mode of building, according to which this court lay beyond the outer wall and in front of the house, being connected with it by a covered way: some houses again had both the small internal court, which we have described in Selumiel’s house, and the larger exterior court, the latter then serving to receive horses and camels. In Selumiel’s house the court was furnished with a sofa, visitors were received here, and only those whom the master of the house specially invited into the interior went any further. The house-door, which was in the wall of the house and was covered with inscriptions, led to the outer court. In this court was a staircase, which led to the upper stories of the house and immediately to a little building directly over the small interior court, called Alijah, which rose like a tower upon the flat roof. An awning was fastened to the parapet of the roof in such a manner, that it could be drawn over the whole of the innermost court, and produce complete shade in the brightest sunshine.
The side of the court which was furthest from the street formed the communication with the Armon, or house of the women. The apartments of the females were universally in the east separate from those of the men, and in Selumiel’s mansion they formed a distinct house, divided and arranged much in the same way as we have already described, so that there were in fact two houses, having one side in common.
Elisama and Helon had been so much occupied with the splendour which they beheld around them, that they had allowed the slaves with their silver ewers to wait, without performing their office. Selumiel re-entered, and said, smiling, to Elisama, observing how he was occupied, “Doubtless you are used to see more splendid edifices in Alexandria.” “Nay,” said Elisama, laughing, “I recall what I said on the way. An elder of Israel who dwells so sumptuously and tastefully is assuredly no Essene.” Selumiel led his guests into one of the bowers, and after they had rested here a short time, to the richly spread table. When the dishes were taken away, and the dessert set on, the mother and her daughter appeared, to bid a solemn welcome to the guests from Egypt—a condescension which showed the esteem in which Selumiel held them. The mother, though advanced in years, was active and still handsome; but Sulamith her daughter, who stood by her side, was glowing in all the freshness of youthful beauty, and united in herself every charm by which a daughter in Israel could fix the attention of the beholder. From beneath the large eyebrows, coloured of a brilliant black, dark eyes, like those of the gazel, sent forth their quiet brilliancy, through the transparent veil which descended from the turban. Her tall and stately form was clad in a robe of fine cotton, which flowed down in folds like a wide mantle; the sleeves hung loose, except where they were fastened with costly bracelets; the ears and the nose were adorned with rings of gold, in which rubies, emeralds, and topazes were set. Helon, dazzled by so much beauty, on which he hardly dared to gaze, and agitated by an emotion which he had never felt before, thought he read in the looks with which the old men regarded his surprise, the interpretation of some words which had occasionally escaped Elisama and Selumiel, and which till now he had not understood.
When the females had retired, and the men continued their conversation, Selumiel’s son addressed himself to Helon, and proposed to him that in the coolness of the early morning on the following day he would be his guide through the region round Jericho, and as far as to the Dead Sea. Helon, lost in feelings to which he had hitherto been a stranger, had scarcely heard the conversation of the elders; but he was roused from his reverie by this offer, which it was the more difficult to decline without discourtesy, as an oriental seldom imposes on himself the fatigue of a walk. Yet it seemed to him as if he were forcibly torn from that world of delightful illusions, to which he had been just transported.
At the first dawn of the following day, the two young men issued from the mansion of Selumiel, into the streets of Jericho. The city is about six sabbath-days’ journies from Jordan, and three sabbath-days’ journies in circumference. It was considered at this time as the second city in Judea, and had been in ancient times one of the thirty-one royal cities of Canaan. It was chiefly inhabited by priests, whose number was estimated by some as high as 12,000.
The son of Selumiel was well acquainted with the ancient history of his nation, and had discovered Helon’s enthusiasm for every thing which recalled it. As they quitted the city he pointed to the other side of the Jordan. “There,” said he, “our forefathers encamped in the fields of Moab, opposite to Jericho, and thither Balak the king of Moab summoned Balaam to curse them. The blue hill seen far in the distance is the hill of Abarim, and part of it is Nebo, to which Jehovah led Moses and showed him the land which he was not permitted to enter, the future heritage of the children of Israel. Thence Joshua sent out spies to explore the land, and especially Jericho, when Rahab saved them by her humanity. There,” pointing to the banks of the Jordan itself, “our fathers crossed the flood, Jehovah renewing the miracle by which they had passed through the Red Sea. They destroyed the city, and not only exterminated every living thing, but their leader laid a curse on him who should rebuild it, which six hundred years afterwards fell on Hiel of Bethel, whose eldest son died when he laid the foundation of it, and the youngest when he set up the gates. Yet its sanctity was recovered by the residence of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, who long dwelt here, and the schools of the prophets which they superintended. In later times we must confess, with grief, that it was here the valiant chief and high-priest Simon, father of Hyrcanus, fell by the hand of his son-in-law.”
Josh. vi. 26.; 1 Kings xvi. 34.
1 Maccab. xvi. 14.
Helon thanked his companion for his information, dissatisfied with himself that the present and the past contended with each other for the possession of his mind. They continued their way to an eminence, from which they had a prospect scarcely to be equalled even in the Holy Land itself. They had here a view of the course of the Jordan. In its progress from its source in Antilibanus, a course of about one hundred sabbath-days’ journies, it had attained a breadth of thirty paces; it is about the depth of a man, and in the neighbourhood of Jericho it has a strong current. It abounds in fish, and its banks were overgrown with sedges, reeds, willows, and tamarisks, among which, jackals, lions, and other wild beasts harboured. The river had just overflowed its banks, in consequence of the melting of the snows of Lebanon, and this annual exundation greatly promoted the fertility of the adjacent fields. On the banks of Jordan lies Gilgal, the place where the people of Israel crossed over under Joshua, and erected twelve stones as a memorial. A little further on was Bethabara, where the pilgrims from Galilee crossed to the eastern side of the Jordan, in order to avoid going through the country of the Samaritans. Thus a great part of the beautiful valley of the Jordan lay before them, whose fertile fields are enclosed by hills on each side, on the east by the mountains of Judah, on the west by Abarim, with the summits of Pisgah and Nebo on Peor, followed by the mountains of Moab. Southward they beheld the plain of Jericho, ten sabbath-days’ journies in length, and almost three in breadth, extending to Engeddi, containing the celebrated grove of palms, adorned with olives and balsam shrubs, and known in all the ancient world for its honey and its roses. Joining this plain the Dead Sea extended itself far to the south, called also the Sea of the Plain, from its vicinity to the plain of Jordan; the Salt Sea, from the taste of its waters; and the Eastern Sea, in contradistinction from the Mediterranean, which lay westward of Palestine. It was formed in the time of Lot and Abraham, by the destruction of the towns of Sodom, Gomorrah, Adama, and Zeboim, the place of which this lake now covers. Its length amounts to eighty-three, its breadth to twenty-one sabbath-days’ journies; its waters, being impregnated with naptha and asphaltus, are salt and bitter; and all around it had the appearance of conflagration, because the frequent exundations of the lake covered the adjacent soil with a coating of salt. The fruits correspond with the water; the son of Selumiel related to Helon, that the apples of Sodom, as they are called, were beautiful to the eye, but bitter and unfit to eat, and that when they were dried, they were nothing but dust.
Jer. xlix. 19.
Josh. iii. 15.
Deut. xxxiv. 3.
Gen. xix. 24-26.
The world of external nature is but the mirror which reflects to us what interests our feelings in the world of man. Helon had never looked on the beauties of nature with so true a relish for them, as now that they gave him back the image of his own fond hopes and gay imaginations; nor had he ever felt so deeply the impression of her awful scenes, as now when they harmonized so well with the trembling anxiety which chastised his hopes.
On their return to the house they found all busy with preparations for the solemnity of the circumcision of Selumiel’s grandson, which was to take place on the following morning. At the third hour accordingly of the next day, a large company assembled in Selumiel’s house. Besides the two witnesses, who must be married persons of either sex, ten men were necessary, in whose presence the circumcision was to take place, and besides these had been invited the heads of all the courses of priests who lived in Jericho, the elders and the friends of Elisama. The family remembered the command of God to Abraham, when he spoke to him, and said, “This is my covenant which ye shall keep between me and you, and thy posterity after thee: every male child among you shall be circumcised, when he is eight days old; and the uncircumcised male child shall be cut off from his people, because he hath broken my covenant.”
Gen. xvii. 9.
The rite was performed in the largest apartment of the house, and by the hand of the grandfather, in the presence of the whole assemblage. When the child was born and had been washed, rubbed with salt and wrapped in swaddling-clothes, the father had placed it on his bosom, as a sign that he acknowledged it as his own. He now fetched it from the apartment of the mother, who had been purified, by bathing, from the impurity of the first seven days after childbirth, and brought it to the room where the company was assembled. A psalm was sung, alluding to the covenant which God had made with his people Israel, and then the song of Moses after the deliverance from Egyptian bondage. The rite was then begun; in the midst of it, the father of the child said, “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, king of the world, who hast sanctified us by thy precepts, and commanded us to enter into the covenant of Abraham.” Those who stood around replied, “Lord, as thou hast permitted this child to enter into the covenant of our father Abraham, grant also that he may enter into thy law, into the marriage-state, and into good works.” Selumiel then laid his hand upon the child’s head, and asked the father what its name should be. The name was commonly derived from the circumstances under which the child was born or circumcised. The father, in honour of the guests from Egypt, who were then present, replied, “His name shall be called Mizraim.” The grandfather then prayed, “O Lord our God, God of our fathers, strengthen this child and preserve him to his parents. His name shall be called in Israel, Mizraim, son of Abisuab, the son of Selumiel. May his father rejoice in the son of his loins and his mother in the fruit of her womb!”
The boy was then carried back to his mother, and all who were present congratulated the father and the grandfather. Selumiel invited them to the inner court, where they partook of refreshments and remained till afternoon, when a splendid banquet was served up, consisting of every thing which one of the wealthiest citizens of Jericho could collect for such an occasion. Two oxen, twenty lambs, and twelve fatted calves were killed; for the master of the feast was thought to show his wealth and his hospitality by the unexpected abundance of every kind of food that was produced. Every guest found in the fore-court a splendid caftan, which he put on for the feast, and deposited there again on his departure. These garments were always in readiness to be worn on festive occasions, and their number and costliness was one of the surest pledges of the master’s wealth. The guests, after their feet had been washed, were anointed with costly ointment, and when they took their leave they were perfumed, especially the beard.
Sulamith and her mother did not appear to-day, but confined themselves to the chamber of Abisuab’s wife, and celebrated the festival there. Helon had seen Sulamith only once and in passing on the preceding day, but her image had remained involuntarily imprinted upon his mind. In the midst of the lively conversation which passed at the banquet, the proverbs which were quoted and the riddles which were propounded, she was always present to his thoughts, and so animated the powers of his mind, that his eloquence and ingenuity drew on him the attention of all. His _mashal_ was the most pregnant and striking; his riddle, the most ingenious; his solution the readiest and most happy. When he laid himself down on the divan beside his uncle, he could not sleep nor rest, and to calm the tumult of his breast, he arose, and passing through the courts ascended the Alijah, in which at Alexandria he had passed many a sultry night, and there, kneeling, prayed to the God of his fathers. But his prayer partook of the general state of his feelings; unable to collect his thoughts sufficiently for meditation, he could only pour out before Jehovah the fulness of a grateful heart.
It was just beginning to dawn when he left the Alijah, and walked up and down upon the roof. The stars were dim; the hills of Moab lay in darkness, and the Dead Sea was wrapt in vapour, but on the summits of the hills of Judah the first distant beam of light appeared to break. “What are they doing now in the temple?” he asked himself; “perhaps they are changing the watch, or clearing the altar, or opening the gates that Israel may come up and appear before Jehovah. And how is the venerable old man of the temple employed?” He remembered with gratitude how much light he had derived from his conversations with him, and then the warning recurred to his mind which he had received from him. He now fully comprehended its meaning. In the journey through the desert, in the visit to the Essenes, in the discourse of Elisama and Selumiel, and the conversation of the priests at the banquet, he had found abundant proofs of the truth of the old man’s assertions respecting the parties by which Israel was distracted. He grieved to think that the highest and the noblest in Israel were arrayed against each other in hostile sects; that simplicity of faith and purity of life were so little honoured, and heathen philosophy, in a Jewish garb, exalted to the throne. “Should the Messiah come,” said he, “I verily believe that, after having disputed about his claims, they would finish by all rejecting him. The priests themselves descend from their dignity, as the appointed conservators of divine knowledge, to the wranglings of human philosophy, and the light of heavenly truth, which they should transmit pure and direct, is absorbed or diverted by the gross medium through which it passes; and thus this unhappy land, so awfully chastised by the justice of God, so graciously received back to favour by his mercy, is deprived of the bliss which Providence designed for it. Who could have believed,” he continued, “when a few weeks ago I approached Jerusalem, when I saw for the first time the temple and the priests, and all my wish was to be enrolled among them and to dwell on the hill which Jehovah has chosen for his peculiar presence, who could have believed that so short a time would have made every thing appear to me so tame and common? Is the fault my own, that I pass too easily from the one extreme to the other; or am I disappointed, that, instead of a perpetual ministration before Jehovah, I am only called at long intervals and for a short time to appear in his temple? Yet surely even this might be sufficient to keep alive my zeal, were it not that the moment he quits the temple the dreams of Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes again take possession of the mind of a priest, and seduce him into transgressions of the law. What hope then, under such circumstances, of becoming a Chasidean? There was another priesthood of which Elisama spoke, as we stood together at the foot of that pointed hill. O that I could but be assured that I was not mistaken in the meaning of his often repeated hints!” As he spoke his face turned involuntarily towards the Armon. Some one came behind him and touched him on the shoulder; it was Elisama. He started, as if it were possible that he might have heard his soliloquy, and could scarcely return his uncle’s salutation, “I am glad,” said Elisama, with a serious look, “to find you here alone: for some days past I have wished for an opportunity of speaking to you alone on important matters. Let us go into the Alijah, we shall be most secure there from the danger of interruption.
“When we left Egypt it was all thy wish to see the land of thy fathers: thy mother had another wish. Thou art of that age when the youth of Israel take to themselves wives. Doubtless we are all agreed in this, that thy wife should not come from any Hellenistic family. Among the Aramæan Jews of Alexandria, there was none with whom so near a connection would have been honourable for us. Besides it is thy mother’s wish that her daughter-in-law should be, as she herself was, a native of the Holy Land. I have been occupied in looking round for a wife for thee. What sayest thou to Sulamith, the daughter of Selumiel?”
Helon fell at his uncle’s feet, and embracing his knees exclaimed, “Is it possible? Ah! give me Sulamith!”
“Rise,” said Elisama. “May Jehovah bless you both! I have already settled the conditions with Selumiel in Jerusalem, and we kept silence, only that we might see whether Sulamith would please you. He wished to have a priest for a son-in-law, and one who should not come empty-handed.”
“O give my whole fortune, if he demands it,” said Helon.
“At this moment he is speaking with Sulamith.” Looking through the lattice of the Alijah, he saw Selumiel passing along the court, and called to him to come up to them. He came and Helon fell before him on his face.
“I know enough,” said he, “I will call my wife and daughter—follow me to the large saloon of the Armon.”
He led them from the Alijah through the outer and inner court to the Armon, which no foot of a male stranger had ever trodden before. He left them standing in the richly adorned saloon, and went to call Sulamith and her mother. They came with him, and the brother also made his appearance. The mother was in tears: Sulamith stood with her face completely veiled. Elisama then came forward and said, “If ye will deal kindly and truly with my nephew Helon, tell me, and give him this your daughter Sulamith to wife; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.” Then Selumiel and Abisuab answered, “The thing proceedeth from the Lord, therefore we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. Behold Sulamith is before thee; take her and go thy way, that she may be the wife of thy nephew Helon.” Elisama and Helon bowed themselves to the earth; and Elisama said, “I will pay thee for thy daughter 10,000 shekels.” “I give them to her for her dowry,” said Selumiel, “and add to them 10,000 more.” Then Selumiel, turning to Sulamith, said, “Wilt thou go with this man into the land of Egypt, or remain with him in Jericho, as Jehovah shall appoint?” Sulamith, sobbing, answered, “Yes.” Then the mother led her daughter to Helon, whose joy was without bounds; she bowed down before him, and he took her by the hand and raised her up. The father, the mother, and the brother of the bride, along with Elisama, then drew near to them, and blessed them both, and said, “May ye grow and multiply a thousand times, and may your seed possess the gate of your enemies!”
Gen. xxiv. 49.
The company which had assembled on the preceding day was again invited, and Selumiel said to his astonished guests, “Rejoice with me, my friends, and bless the God of our fathers. I have received from Jehovah two children, a grandson and a son-in-law.”
Elisama remained in Selumiel’s house. Helon, so propriety required, took up his abode in a neighbouring house; but through the day he was chiefly in the Armon of his Sulamith. The more intimately he became acquainted with her, the higher his love and admiration rose. Every day discovered to him some new excellence, her deep piety, her gentle temper, her quick sensibility, her sound understanding, and playful, harmless wit. He looked on with delight when, in the course of her daily occupations, she prepared the meal for bread, kneaded it in flat round cakes, and baked it in the deep oven. He stood beside her when, as became a female, she wove cloth for the garments of the men. He lent his aid when she prepared the perfumed ointments, and rubbed upon a smooth marble stone the sandalwood, the juice of the date-palm, the kernel of the Behen-nut from Egypt, oil of sesame, fragrant reed from Lebanon, oil of myrtle, cypress, and mastix, and the juice of the pomegranate-rind. In whatever occupation he had seen her, whatever had been the subject of their conversation, he always returned home at evening more grateful to God. The sabbath and the new moon, all the solemnities of religion had become more interesting to him, and his confidence revived that with such a daughter of Israel by his side, he should be able to keep the whole law, and perhaps even become a Chasidean.
CHAPTER VII. THE FEAST OF PENTECOST.
The feast of Pentecost drew near. It derived this name, which is Greek, and its Jewish name of the Feast of Weeks, from the circumstance that seven weeks or fifty days elapsed between it and the day after the Passover, on which the first-fruits of barley were offered, so that it was the fiftieth day from that time. It fell on the sixth day of the third month Sivan, and the days between the offering of the sheaf and it were solemnly reckoned every evening, at the time of supper. The master of the house, rising up with the rest of the company, said, “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, king of the world, who hast sanctified us with thy precepts, and commanded us to count the days of harvest,” adding, this is the fifth day, or one week, and the third day, and so on. In this way they thought that they were fulfilling the command of the law, “Seven weeks shall ye reckon; begin to reckon the seven weeks from the time when thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn; and thou shalt keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord thy God.”
Exod. xxxiv. 22.
Deut. xvi. 9.
Helon wished, in virtue of his priestly office, to travel to Jerusalem; Abisuab and his wife were going up to present their new-born child before Jehovah; Sulamith was glad to join herself to her brother and sister-in-law; and Selumiel and Elisama had to comply with the law, which enjoins that all males should appear, thrice in the year, at each of the great festivals, before Jehovah. The preparations were already made, and the day of the pilgrimage was very near.
On the forty-seventh day Helon was sitting with Sulamith beside the fountain in the inner court of the Armon. They were conversing on the office of the priest: Sulamith expressed her joy in the thought that she should see her betrothed husband ministering at the altar of Jehovah; and Helon declared what increased delight he should have in every service, when he reflected that the eyes of his Sulamith accompanied him from place to place. As he spoke he saw in imagination her cedar-form, conspicuous among all who filled the court of the Women, and her dark eye watching him as he moved. As they conversed thus together, the well-known sound of cymbal and flute was heard, accompanied by more than a thousand human voices. “It is the Galileans going up to the festival,” said Sulamith, listening as the sacred sounds seemed to descend from heaven into the court where they were sitting. Helon hastened forth to greet them. Although Samaria was destroyed, they still took their ancient road by Bethabara and Jericho, in preference to that by Sichem, especially as in the former track their train was swollen by accessions from every village through which they passed. They were now about to pass through Jericho, and to encamp at the western gate. Welcomes and greetings met them from every house.
On the following morning, when the pilgrims from Jericho were going to unite with them, the long-standing hatred between the Jews and the Galileans displayed itself. The Galileans, who occupied the country which had formerly made a part of the kingdom of Israel, had adopted many customs from the heathens among whom they lived; inhabiting a fertile region they lived in the possession of many physical comforts, but neglected the cultivation of literature and knowledge, and their uncouth pronunciation, by which the guttural letters were confounded, bore witness to the low state of refinement among them. Their Jewish brethren were proud of superior knowledge, as the Galileans of superior wealth, and they seldom came together without some explosion. The present dispute was about precedence in the march. The men of Jericho claimed it, as genuine Jews and inhabitants of a city of priests, reproaching the Galileans that their ancestors were only the common people of the land, left behind when the great and noble were carried into captivity. The men of Jericho at length prevailed: Selumiel, as elder of the city, led the march with the heads of the courses of priests; the Levites struck up their music, and all the people sung together.
The city whose foundation is in the holy mountains, The gates of Zion, Jehovah loves More than all the dwellings of Jacob. Glorious is it to speak of thee O City of God! Of Zion it is said, This and that man was born in her. He, the Most High buildeth her. When God reckoned up the people He wrote, This man was born there.—Ps. lxxxvii.
Thus the train quitted the smiling fields of Jericho, and entered on the wilderness, which they crossed by a nearer way than that which led by the Oasis of the Essenes. By mid-day they had reached a verdant spot, shaded with palm-trees, and, encamping beneath them, opened their wallets, and distributing their provisions, endeavoured to exhilarate themselves amidst the desolation which surrounded them. Sulamith, sitting between her father and her bridegroom, had taken her sister’s first-born from her arms and playfully placed it on her lap, when a Galilean approached them and asked Selumiel, if Elisama and Helon from Alexandria were with him. Selumiel having pointed them out to him, he informed them that he was charged with the salutations of a young Greek of Alexandria, of the name of Myron, whom he had recently seen in his visit to Damascus. Myron had commissioned him at the same time to say, that his affairs would not allow him to come to Jerusalem at Pentecost. He regretted that he must thus lose their society on his return to Egypt, which had been a source of so much pleasure to him on his journey thence. If, however, they could wait, he requested to be informed by this Galilean, who was about to return to Damascus immediately after the feast.
“A fair opportunity,” said Selumiel’s son, “for you, Helon, to meet him in the north of Judea, and bring him to the festivities of the marriage; while you at the same time visit that part of the Holy Land which you have not seen. I know what you are going to object—but while preparations for the nuptials are going on, no one can be more easily spared, even by the bride, than the bridegroom.” Selumiel agreed; and, notwithstanding the remonstrances of Helon and Sulamith, it was finally arranged that the Galilean should carry back word to Damascus, that Helon would meet Myron, in three weeks time, at Dan, the frontier town of Judea on the north.
The pilgrims resumed their march, the desert was soon left behind, and Bethany with its gardens and olive-yards appeared. The train ascended the mount of Olives and wound along its western descent, among the cedars in the valley of Jehoshaphat. The temple, which was seen from this side under its most imposing aspect, was brightened with the glow of sunset; and the whole city, with its hollows and eminences, and the white tents which in some places were erected, and in others erecting, partook of the illumination of the evening lights. Companies of pilgrims hastened from all sides to the city, but none drew the attention of the spectators more than that which was descending the mount of Olives.
Selumiel and his party were received with undiminished hospitality into the house of Iddo, who poured out his hearty congratulations to Sulamith and Helon, telling the latter that from the time when he had first seen him, he had anticipated that they should be more nearly related. In the midst of his friendly greetings and compliments, however, it was plain that something weighed upon his mind; and when the women had retired into the Armon, and the men were sitting around the fountain in the court, he asked whether they had heard of the event which had occurred in their absence. They asked him of what kind, and he replied respecting the high-priest. They had heard imperfect rumours of it on the way, and requested him to relate the circumstances more fully.
“You know,” he began, “that Hyrcanus has from his youth inclined to the party of the Pharisees, though with moderation. I must confess that I have been astonished how he, who himself possesses the gift of foreknowledge, uniting, as the Messiah shall hereafter do, the triple office of high-priest, king, and prophet, and to whom a voice foretold the approaching victory of his sons over the Samaritans, when he came out of the Holy of Holies, on the last day of atonement, how such a man should not have seen through these hypocrites. It is true, he was brought up by them, and their influence, which since the time of Jonathan has been unfortunately on the increase, has been very serviceable to him in the support of his government. They have now scandalously repaid his over-confidence in them. At one of the feasts which were held in the castle of Baris, in celebration of the victory over the Samaritans, the pious prince, moved by gratitude towards Jehovah, called upon those who were present to tell him if there were any point in which he had neglected to fulfil the commands of God, and his duties towards men. As was natural, they broke out into the warmest encomiums on his administration. One of them only, the haughty Eleazar, whom you know, Selumiel, alleged that he could mention an instance of his violation of the law. Hyrcanus urged him to speak, and he said, ‘Thou canst not legally be high-priest, for thy mother was a bondwoman.’ The accusation was as groundless as it was insolent: Hyrcanus was stung by it to the quick, and even the rest of the Pharisees blamed him who had made it, for uttering a falsehood. The banquet was interrupted; Jonathan, the confidential friend of the high-priest and a zealous Sadducee, advised him to call the council together, and lay the matter before them. He did so, but the Pharisees, who predominate there, proposed only the imprisonment of the offender; and the high-priest chose rather that the indignity offered to him should pass unavenged, than that this inadequate punishment should be inflicted. He has now, however, seen the Pharisees in their true colours, and he and his sons, it is to be hoped, will in future be on their guard against these hypocrites. They will seek to do him mischief, but the conquerors of Samaria may set them at defiance.”
All were astonished and shocked at the recital; Selumiel strengthened Iddo in his displeasure. Elisama lamented that Israel should be distracted by such dissensions, and that a canker should be at the root of its fair appearance of prosperity. Helon rejoiced in the prospect of that domestic felicity with his Sulamith, which should remove him from the scene of these unholy contentions of party spirit. They repaired to supper, and Iddo counted the forty-eighth day from the offering of the first-fruits.
The following day was the preparation for Pentecost, and was passed in bathing, cutting off the hair, and other purifyings. An hour after the evening-sacrifice Helon went up to the temple and knocked at the door of the old man’s cell. “Welcome to Azereth!” he exclaimed, as Helon entered. Azereth, or Day of Assembly was the name given to the day of Pentecost as well as to the seventh of the Passover, and to the eighth of the Feast of Tabernacles. “Will it in truth be Azereth to Hyrcanus and the Pharisees?” said Helon. “Did I not tell thee, young man,” he replied, “that it would be so? Believe me, this scene is only the commencement of long and ruinous dissensions between the council and the prince. God grant that I may not live to see them! But for thee, at least, priest and bridegroom both, it is truly Azereth, and in a different sense from the seventh day of the Passover.” “Give us thy blessing,” said Helon; and as he knelt down the old man stretched out his hands upon his head and blessed him. Helon then asked him to explain the design of the feast which was about to commence. “As,” said he, “when the first barley sheaf was offered, we prayed to Jehovah for his blessing upon the harvest, so now that both the barley and the wheat are gathered in, we thank him that he has given us the early and the later rain, and dew from heaven, and the appointed weeks of harvest. Thus the Pentecost is a harvest feast: but it is also a commemoration of the giving of the law: for it was on this fiftieth day, the sixth after Israel’s arrival in the wilderness of Sinai, and the third after the purification of the people, that Moses led them out of the camp to meet Jehovah, and to receive the law amidst the thundering and lightning, and the sound of the trumpet. But pray to God that he would disclose to thee the sublimer meaning which lies hidden under these more obvious purposes. Bethink thee of that approaching time, when all the gifts of Jehovah shall be poured out upon his kingdom on earth, when all prayers shall be granted, and the law shall be universally known and kept in its purest and most spiritual sense. Let this thought guide thy devotions at the feast. And now, if thou art pure, go to the evening-sacrifice. Hark! the trumpets announce that the Pentecost is about to begin.”
Helon departed, was present at the evening-sacrifice, and remained in the temple through the night with all the priests who had assembled at Jerusalem for the festival. On the following day the principal duty fell to the course whose week was just beginning; but there was so much to be done beyond the common offices, that they needed the aid of the others. The dissensions of the Pharisees and Sadducees were more visible than ever, and ceased not even in the temple and on the holy night.
The gates were opened, and among the rest who filled the courts before the crowing of the cock, Iddo, Selumiel, Abisuab, and Elisama presented their victims to the priests; and Sulamith with the wife of Iddo and her own sister-in-law were in the court of the Women. The ordinary morning-sacrifice was first offered, then the special offering of the festival, consisting of seven lambs of the first year, a young bullock and two rams for a burnt-offering, a goat for a sin-offering, and two yearling sheep for a thank-offering. The difference between the offerings on this occasion and at the Passover was, that there were then two bullocks and one ram offered, and now two rams and one bullock. When the drink-offering was poured out, the priests blew upon their pillars, the Levites sung on the fifteen steps, and the whole congregation sung the great Hallel.
Lev. xxiii. 18.
Now came the special-offering of the Pentecost. It consisted of two loaves and a tenth of an epha of fine wheat flour, the first-fruits of the harvest, which a priest had waved before Jehovah towards all the four winds of heaven, in the open space between the altar and the sanctuary. When this offering had been presented to Jehovah, the sacrifices of individuals began. Selumiel, his son, and Elisama, brought their noble victims; thousands followed them, and among the rest, Helon offered his thank-offering, and paid to the Lord the vow which he had formed in the happy hour of his betrothment. Selumiel’s son offered for the purification of his wife, as it chanced to be the fortieth day from her delivery, a lamb of the first year as a burnt-offering and a turtle-dove as a sin-offering. She prayed while they were slain, and a priest, bringing the blood of the sin-offering in a dish, sprinkled her with it, and thus she became clean. She had brought her first-born in her arm, and presented him before Jehovah; and her husband redeemed him, according to the law, by the payment of five shekels. For thus said Jehovah, “Behold I have taken the Levites unto myself among the children of Israel, instead of all the first-born; therefore the Levites shall be mine. For the first-born are mine, since the time when I slew all the first-born in Egypt: then did I set apart all the first-born in Israel, both of man and beast, that they should be mine. I am Jehovah.”
Numb. xviii. 15.
Numb. iii. 12.
When all these were ended, and the blessing given to the people in the name of Jehovah, Iddo, with the assistance of his own slaves and of Sallu, presented his own thank-offering. The wife of Abisuab, Sulamith, and the wife of Iddo, partook of the feast which the sacrifice furnished in one of the apartments of the temple, and in addition to them some priests and Levites who had been bidden. Helon, once more in the temple, in sight of the crowds of worshippers who poured in streams along its courts, within hearing of the solemn sound of the temple music, surrounded by all the circumstances which made this consecrated spot a little world within itself, and seated by his Sulamith, forgot his native country Egypt, his longing for his mother and his home, the factions of Pharisees and Sadducees; and nothing occupied his thoughts, but the wish to live in the Holy Land as a priest of Jehovah, and to endeavour to fulfil the law, with all his soul, and with all his mind, and with all his strength.
The Feast of Pentecost lasted only one day.
CHAPTER I. THE JOURNEY TO DAN.
On the day which followed the feast of Pentecost, Helon stood upon the highest of the three summits of the mount of Olives, and with a heavy heart and weeping eyes watched the train of the pilgrims from Jericho, as they disappeared among the groves and gardens of Bethany, and listened to their songs, in which the voice of Sulamith seemed to warble to him a farewell, full of affection and regret. It had cost him many a struggle, to resolve to undertake this journey to Dan—but Selumiel had determined to put his self-command to this proof, and Helon was forced to comply. There was a certain hardness in Selumiel’s natural disposition, which the influence of an amiable wife had not entirely mollified; he had been compelled in his youth to practise much self-denial and bear many mortifications, and he could not deny himself the pleasure of making even those he loved undergo a similar discipline, persuading himself perhaps that he was improving their tempers, while he was indulging his own. “The path of obedience is arduous and rough,” said Helon with a sigh, as he turned from where the Jordan wound its way through the meadows of Jericho, to the northern hills of Ebal and Gerizim, over which his destined journey lay; “the path of obedience is rough, but it shall be trodden.” He called to mind the first commandment with promise, and he thought that when he had made this sacrifice to the sense of duty, he should be able, without difficulty, to fulfil the rest of the commandments, and become a Chasidean. Ambition came to the aid of virtue, and he returned towards the city, resolved, though not satisfied.
On the following morning he took his departure, in company with the Governor of Samaria, whom Hyrcanus had just appointed, and some Galilean Jews, who preferred returning into their own country by the nearer way. Iddo accompanied his friend as far as to the gate of Ephraim, not without a secret dissatisfaction at the ill-nature of his brother. The travellers were mounted, and attended by such a train as became the rank of the principal person in the party. They entered the King’s valley, and directed their course between Mizpa and Nob towards Geba, which lay not far from Rama, the city where Samuel judged, called in latter times Arimathea. The road was stony; the conversation of the party turned wholly on worldly topics. This Geba is also called Geba of Benjamin, to distinguish it from another of the same name: it was celebrated for David’s victory over the Philistines. It lay on a rising ground, six sabbath-days’ journies from Jerusalem, and was one of the cities of the priests. As they had been late in quitting Jerusalem, they halted here for their rest at noon, and as most of the party were disposed to consult their own ease, they remained till late in the afternoon. The road to Michmash was more steep and rocky than that which they had travelled. Here they had to traverse a defile, between two abrupt and rugged rocks, in the mountains of Ephraim, forming a pass which had been rendered celebrated by the exploits of Jonathan in Saul’s first expedition against the Philistines, and by the residence of the Maccabee prince Jonathan. They halted for the night at Bethel, a place of which the name often occurs in the sacred writings. This city was sixteen sabbath-days’ journies from Jerusalem, and Helon called to mind that from the mulberry-trees in its neighbourhood it had been named Luz, when Abraham dwelt there; that Jacob here saw the vision of the ladder on which the angels ascended and descended, and that rising upon the following morning he built an altar to Jehovah, and called the name of the place Bethel. The ark of the covenant had long stood here; and it was here too, alas, that Jeroboam had set up the worship of the golden calves which he had learnt in Egypt, causing Israel to sin. The prophets so much abhorred its idolatries that they changed its name into Bethaven, _place of unworthiness_; and to go to Bethel, came to signify the same thing as to apostatize from Jehovah to idolatry.
1 Sam. vii. 17.
2 Sam. v. 25.
1 Chron. vi. 60.
1 Sam. xiv. 4.
1 Mac. ix. 73.
Gen. xxviii. 19.
1 Kings xii. 29.
Hos. x. 5; Amos iv. 4.
On the following morning, instead of taking the usual road by Lebona and Gophna, they went by Shiloh, where the governor had business. Shiloh was the first town in Samaria, and peculiarly interesting to Helon, from the circumstance that Joshua came thither from Gilgal, and that the tabernacle had long stood there. It was very pleasantly situated on a hill, whence the mountains both of Judah and Ephraim might be seen. For nearly three hundred years it was the place in which the tribes assembled, till the tabernacle was removed to Nob and Bethel; afterwards by Saul to Gibeon; and finally by David to Jerusalem. It was here that in the times of the Judges the maidens were carried off by violence; here Eli had fallen from his seat, at the news of the capture of the ark by the Philistines. After the mid-day rest at Shiloh, the governor hastened to his residence at Sichem, which was sixteen sabbath-days’ journies from Shiloh, thirty-six from Bethel, and more than fifty from Jerusalem.
Josh. xviii. 1.
1 Sam. xxi. 1.
2 Chron. i. 3.
Judges xxi. 16.
1 Sam. iv. 18.
Iddo had strongly recommended Helon to the good offices of the governor, who, to do honour to the recommendation, invited him to take up his abode in his own house, which displayed every luxury of furniture, and a numerous train of servants. The pompous condescension, the free life and licentious conversation of the governor, who was a Jew by birth, but a Samaritan in sensuality and worldly mindedness, were so displeasing to Helon, that he would instantly have departed; but his host would not allow him to go without passing a few days with him. He endeavoured to console himself by exploring every object of interest in the neighbourhood, for which purpose the governor furnished him with attendants and guides.
Sichem lay in a plain, or to speak more accurately, in a valley, which extended to the east and west. On the northern and southern sides of the long line of the city rose the two mountains, Ebal and Gerizim, separated by so small an interval, that the voice might be heard from the summit of the one to the summit of the other. Thus sheltered from the pernicious winds of the north-west and south-west, it lay stretched out in picturesque beauty, at the feet of the gigantic guards that seemed stationed for its protection. It was half a sabbath-day’s journey in length, but so narrow, that it consisted only of two parallel streets, with an open space between them. The fruitful plain into which the valley expanded was watered by several mountain streams, and diversified by vineyards and olive-yards, plantations of mulberries, and orchards of figs, citrons, and pomegranates. About a sabbath-day’s journey from the city, on the road to Jerusalem, was the well of Jacob, situated in the field or plain which Jacob had purchased from the children of Hamor. The well is nine feet in diameter, and a hundred deep, with five feet of water. It was cut in the rock, and a flight of steps descended to the water. In the midst of this lovely plain stood the grove of Moreh.
Gen. xxxiii. 19; Josh. xxiv. 32.
Gen. xii. 6.
From every part of the plain Sichem and its hills of Ebal and Gerizim were seen. The city seemed more closely connected with Gerizim which lay on the south, than with Ebal on the north. Gerizim was fruitful, abounding in springs and covered with vines and olives; its principal face being turned to the north, it escaped that parching heat which made Ebal scorched and bare. The latter, on the side adjacent to the city was full of caverns, which served the inhabitants as sepulchres.
The natural beauties of this exquisite scene were combined with a multitude of historical associations. The grove of Moreh had been the first resting-place of Abraham, when he entered the Land of Promise. Jacob had dug the well, purchased the plain, and buried the idols of his wives beneath the terebinth. The outrage committed by his sons Simeon and Levi had compelled him to retire to Bethel, through fear of the men of Sichem. Joshua had called the tribes together for the last time to this place, and had caused a stone to be erected on Ebal, as a memorial of the renewal of the covenant with Jehovah. It was Sichem which proclaimed Abimelech king, after he had murdered his seventy brethren; it had also been the first to revolt from him, in consequence of which it was destroyed and sowed with salt. At Sichem the schism between Israel and Judah was consummated, and Jeroboam made it the metropolis of the new kingdom. After the erection of the temple on Gerizim, which Hyrcanus had destroyed, Sichem had been for three hundred years the chief seat of the Samaritan idolatry.
Gen. xxxv. 4.
Josh. xxiv. 1.
1 King xii. 25.
Helon dismissed his guides as soon as they had pointed out to him the particular spots, and every morning wandered alone for several hours over the neighbourhood. Now he lingered beside the well of Jacob, or traversed the field of the patriarch, or rested in the grove of Moreh; now, from the lofty side of Ebal or Gerizim, beheld the whole landscape spread at his feet. His hours flowed on without his being conscious of their lapse, while, in the dreams of thought, he pictured to himself his approaching happiness, not without a secret feeling of pride in his virtuous resolution, in having quitted Sulamith for a time, in compliance with her father’s command. He returned unwillingly towards evening, to take his place among the guests at the luxurious table of the governor, and hear their heartless jests.
Once however, during his rambles, he found the governor’s protection of great importance to him. He had joined some Samaritans who had laid themselves down in the shade of some olives on the sloping side of Gerizim, and were conversing about their temple and their worship, the rites of which were still celebrated amidst its ruins. They reviled Hyrcanus and his sons, and exalted the memory of Sanballat and Manasseh. This was more than Helon could endure. He started up and exclaimed, “Where is your temple? When Moses commanded that on the entrance of the tribes into the promised land, one half should stand on Ebal to curse the ungodly, and the other half on Gerizim to bless the godly, (as was done under Joshua,) he said, ‘When ye go over the Jordan ye shall raise up stones upon mount Ebal, and plaster them with lime, and there build an altar of stones to Jehovah your God.’ And ye, contrary to the express command of God, have built a temple upon Gerizim!”
Deut. xxvii. 4; Josh. viii. 30.
The Samaritans arose, and in violent anger exclaimed, “Thou art a Jew, one of those who through hatred against us have corrupted the law, have effaced the name of Gerizim and inserted that of Ebal.”
“It is false,” said Helon.
“We alone possess the genuine law,” exclaimed the Samaritans. “And ye have the curse,” replied Helon with equal emotion.
The dialogue was growing so warm, that Helon might probably have suffered some personal violence from them, had not the officers of justice made their appearance, who carried them all before the governor. He speedily decided the matter, dismissed the Samaritans with scorn—giving Helon at the same time many sarcastic admonitions, to controul his zeal and enthusiasm more carefully in future. At the evening’s banquet he had again to endure his raillery; and when he was alone he could not help exclaiming, “Well may Sichem be called in Judæa _Sichar_, for it is in truth the place of drunkenness and lies!”
On the following morning he took his departure. The governor politely gave him an escort as far as Samaria; fearing, as he said, that he should expose himself to the same dangers as on mount Gerizim: Helon accepted the offer, but shook off the dust of Sichem from his feet when he had quitted it.
Samaria was in the former territory of the tribe of Manasseh. Omri, the sixth king of Israel, and father of Ahab, built it, and called it after Samer, the possessor of the ground. Thirza, which had before been the royal residence, having been reduced to ashes, Samaria became the capital of the kingdom of Israel, and remained so till its destruction. At that time it was a league in circumference, was called the head of Ephraim, and contained a magnificent temple of Baal which Jezebel had erected. It slighted the warnings of Elijah and Elisha, and was destroyed by the Assyrian Salmanasser, after a siege of three years.
1 Kings xvi. 24.
1 Kings xvi. 32.
2 Kings xvii. 5.
At this time it was a picture of desolation. The lofty hill on which it once stood, with a view towards Joppa, Carmel, and the Mediterranean sea, was covered with heaps of ruins and water-courses diverted from their channels. Its commanding prospect only made it a more conspicuous monument of the valour and the vengeance of the heroes of Judah and of the wickedness of its inhabitants. A second time the prophetic word of Hosea and Micah had received its accomplishment. Helon looked down at once with exultation and gratitude to God upon the scattered huts in which the children of Samaria were hiding themselves, while the sons of Jerusalem were praising Jehovah in their houses and their palaces.
Hos. viii. ix. x.; Micah i. 6.
He dismissed the escort of the governor and pursued his way to Thirza, the limits of this day’s journey. He had purposed to reach Megiddo, but his progress was arrested by a spectacle equally new and interesting; a tribe of wandering shepherds, who were making their annual migration from the plain of Sharon to mount Hermon. They had been detained later than usual, for they commonly remove early in the spring. The flocks and herds led the way, behind them came camels laden with their tents, baggage, and poultry, and the young of the flocks, which as yet were too weak to accompany the march. The women and children followed, mounted on other camels; some of the females were spinning as they rode, others grinding in their hand-mills, others tending their infant children. The boys ran by the side of the camels, playing or fighting. Lances, from eight to ten feet in length, were every where seen above the heads of this tumultuous train; and on all sides were heard the hoarse voices of the men who carried them, some of whom were endeavouring to maintain order, and others surrounded and protected the line of march.
When they reached their ordinary place of encampment, a new scene began; the sheep and goats laid themselves in the grass, the camels knelt down, the poultry flew from their backs. In two hours the dark brown tents were erected. Helon made Sallu assist them, while he himself looked on and enjoyed the animated confusion of the scene. With upright and cross poles a large tent of an oblong form was erected. The coverings were of a thick brown stuff made of goats’ hair, and the door of the tent was nothing but a curtain of this cloth, which could be lifted up or drawn aside. In the middle was the tent of the chief of this nomadic tribe; the rest were pitched around it, to the distance of thirty paces. Every one of the larger tents was divided into three parts by curtains; in the outermost were the young and tender cattle which required shelter, in the next the men, and in the innermost the women. The mattresses, pillows, and coverlets for sleeping were laid in one corner; the weapons were hung on the sides of the tent; carpets were spread upon the floor, a hole dug in the middle for the fire, and the few and simple articles of household furniture, wooden dishes, vessels of copper, a hand-mill, and bottles of leather, easily found their appropriate place.
Helon beheld, with admiration, the rapid erection of this moveable town. The number of the tents was about thirty, that of the men and women above two hundred, and the cattle amounted to some thousands. Always reminded of the past by the present, he thought he saw the Rechabites, or Israel journeying in the wilderness, or the pastoral wanderings of Abraham and Jacob. “How much more agreeable to nature, how much more favourable to virtue,” thought he, “is this life of simplicity and freedom, than the constraint and luxury of the governor’s palace!” He laid himself down beside the well, and thought “what would be wanting to the happiness or to the purity of life, if here, with Sulamith, I could spend my days, far from the cares and the temptations of the busy world!”
The chief of the tribe received him and Sallu hospitably, with their horses and camels, and killed a calf for their entertainment, which the women prepared by roasting in small square pieces. Milk, butter, and cheese formed the rest of their repast. At the first dawn of morning the whole encampment was in motion, to milk the cattle and lead them out to their pasture. Helon often cast his eyes towards the spot where a few scattered cottages marked the place on which the ruins of Thirza stood. Though the city had disappeared, the loveliness of the site still showed why Thirza had been to the Hebrews an emblem for beauty. Baasha governed Israel from this hill, and Zimri the murderer of his son, after seven days’ enjoyment of the fruits of his crime, consumed himself along with the royal palace. “These,” said Helon, “are all passed away; the capital and the kingdom are alike become a tradition; yet the tribes of migrating shepherds still pursue the track which their forefathers kept in ages past!”
Cant. vi. 4.
1 Kings, xv. xvi.
About noon a small caravan of merchants arrived, which usually followed the shepherds: they pitched their white tents, and spread their wares out around them. The shepherds came and purchased what they wanted, giving in exchange skins, wool, goats’ hair, cheese, and even cattle. Helon purchased some ornaments, which he designed to be a present to his hospitable entertainer. He remained some days among them, delighted beyond measure with their mode of life, and entering with the liveliest interest into all their occupations. He helped the shepherds to water their flocks from the well, played with the children, and related stories in the evening, when they gathered with their camels around the fire.
Only a few days now remained to the time when he was to meet Myron at Dan. After taking a friendly leave, he directed his course to Megiddo, which lies between the fragrant plain of Sharon on the south, and the great plain of Jezreel on the north. Megiddo is celebrated for the battle in which the kings Ahaziah and Josiah were killed fighting against Neco, king of Egypt. Helon had come hither to see the great route of the Phœnician commerce, which pursued a course parallel to the sea. He passed Tunis Stratonis, a small and now almost abandoned town, but possessed, as he remarked, of an incomparable harbour. Here he was a hundred stadia from Jerusalem. Keeping to the north from Turris Stratonis, he came to Dor, which is also on the sea-coast, and thence by Magdiel to the foot of Carmel.
2 Kings, xxiii. 29.
Carmel joins the plain of Sharon to the south, and the hills of Ephraim to the south-east; and on the north the bay of Acco and the plain of Jezreel or Esdraelon, through which the Kishon runs, rising in mount Tabor, and falling into the sea at the foot of Carmel, after having divided the lands of Issachar and Zebulon. Helon ascended the mountain; it is of great height, and has a wide and beautiful prospect both by land and sea. It is distinguished, as its name expresses, by its fertility. Its very summit is crowned with pines and oaks; its lower regions abound with olives and laurels. Helon, as he stood on it, thought with sacred awe of the victory which the worship of Jehovah had gained over that of Baal, through the energetic zeal of Elijah of Thisba, and of the slaughter of the priests of Baal, which made Kishon run purple to the sea. As he descended, he found a multitude of Phœnician fishermen engaged in taking the shell-fish from which their celebrated die is made. There are two species of this fish; one is caught by bait, the other, which is particularly abundant on the shore of Carmel, is gathered from the rocks. The die is contained in a white vein or bladder in the neck; the Phœnicians made from it fourteen shades of purple, of which the most highly prized, the bright red and the violet, were manufactured with inimitable skill at Tyre. A shepherd’s dog which had fed upon the fish, and had thus stained his mouth of a beautiful colour, is said to have furnished the first hint for this lucrative article of commerce.
1 Kings, xviii.
Helon did not proceed from Carmel to Acco, a Phœnician city on the river Belus, for he had resolved to enter no heathen place on this journey, devoted to exploring the regions of the promised land. Leaving Carmel to the south, a high hill to the north, which bears the name of the Tyrian Climax, (or stair) and the hills of Galilee on the east, he entered the plain of Zebulon. But he often turned to look on the kingly head of Carmel, and to admire the structure of the hills which form the Tyrian Climax, descending, as by a flight of steps, from their highest elevation to the level of the sea. The city of Tyre lay behind these hills.
Judges, i. 31.
Quitting Samaria, and entering Galilee, the plain of Zebulon brought him to Gathhepher, the birthplace of the prophet Jonah; and thence he proceeded through the land of Naphthali to Thisba, where in ancient times the prophet Elijah, and more recently the pious Tobit, had been born. But neither beautiful scenery nor the gratification of beholding the places where eminent men had lived, could efface from Helon’s mind the painful feeling that every step which he took carried him further from Jericho. His pride in the consciousness of fulfilling a duty became less and less able to support him; he thought that he had carried his obedience a point too far, and was angry with Selumiel, with Elisama,—with himself. He was therefore rejoiced when he saw in the distance Antilibanus, the southern branch of a chain of mountains, of which the other branch lay in Phœnicia. This was consequently the boundary of the promised land. Its name, Lebanon, was derived from the whiteness of its rocks and peaks, especially from the perennial snow which covered the head of Hermon, its highest summit. The morning sun was shining on its brilliant peak, as Helon crossed the lesser Jordan, and entered Dan, the frontier town of Judæa on the north. He inquired his way to the caravansera, and had just halted before it with his horses and camels when Myron came out and embraced him.
Tobit, i. 2.
Jer. xviii. 14.
Helon joyfully returned his salutation. “And you will be ready,” said he, “to-morrow, to set off for Jericho?”
Myron burst into a laugh. “It is true, I see, what the Galilean said, on his return, of the good fortune which has befallen you there. My own good star has brought me to be the witness of your nuptials. Receive my hearty congratulations. How does my venerable Elisama? But our first care must be to give your beasts rest and shelter.”
The Grecian levity of Myron’s manner was a relief to Helon. They entered the court of the caravansera; in the middle of it was a large cistern of water, from which the horses and camels drank; the baggage was deposited in rooms behind the portico, and fodder for the beasts, with a scanty supply for themselves, was to be purchased of the attendant in the caravansera. When these things were done, Myron and Helon seated themselves in a corner of the portico, where they should be most free from interruption, and Helon related to his friend his adventures since they separated. When his narrative was ended, Myron said, “After you left the caravan at Gaza, I had a melancholy life in the midst of my merchants, none of whom had a single thought in common with me. My freedom of speech was perpetually involving me in disputes, out of which I sometimes found it difficult to extricate myself. I remember particularly at Joppa”—
Helon interrupted him to say, that he had heard of the offence which he had given to a citizen of that place, and expressed his regret at Myron’s want of caution.
“There is no malice,” said Myron, “in my pleasantries; and for the rest be assured, that not one Greek in a hundred really feels such veneration for your religion and your people as I do. When I had seen the singular Tyrian Climax, I had a great curiosity to visit Tyre and Sidon. They were the parents of Carthage, Thebes, Gades in Spain, and many other powerful colonies. Arithmetic, astronomy, geography, navigation, were either invented by them, or at least taught by them to the Greeks. It was Hiram, king of Tyre, as you have told me, who built the eighth wonder of the world, the temple of your king Solomon, at Jerusalem. Even the great invention of alphabetical writing was probably made by them; that of the purple die is not disputed. There is something too in the situation of Tyre, in the midst of the sea, obliged to supply by her own activity and ingenuity what a narrow and rocky country denied, which made me very desirous of seeing by what institutions she had been able to contend so successfully against natural disadvantages. I found manufactures of glass and purple in full activity, docks crowded with ships, and markets full of silk, wool, cotton, ivory, ebony, and cedar, of all the precious and the useful metals, of wine and oil, of horses, dromedaries, and slaves: but the character of the inhabitants pleased me not; their sagacity is cunning; their polish, the want of force and individuality of character; their pride, the ignoble pride of wealth. I did homage in my own mind to the wisdom of your lawgiver, who chose to form a nation of agriculturists, rather than of merchants.
“How exactly,” said Helon, “does your account of the new Tyre agree with that which our prophet gives of the old. Shall I repeat you a part of it?”
“I shall listen to it most willingly,” said Myron. “Since our separation I have wished to hear more of your psalms and prophets, though when we were together I was disposed to complain of excess rather than deficiency.”
“Hear, then,” said Helon, “what Ezekiel spoke:
The word of Jehovah came to me saying, “Son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyre, And say of Tyre; O city! that art at the entrance of the sea, Merchant of the nations in many islands, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Thou, O Tyre, sayest, I am mightiest (of cities) Thy borders are in the sea; Thy builders have made thee perfect in beauty, They have made all thy planks of firs of Shenir, They have fetched cedars from Lebanon to make thee masts, They made thine oars of oak of Bashan; Thy benches, inlaid with ivory, They made with box from the islands of Chittim. Embroidered byssus from Egypt thou didst spread forth, It served thee for a sail; Thy coverings (canopies) were blue and purple, From the isles of Elisha. Sidonians and men of Arvad were thy rowers; The most skilful, O Tyre, were from thyself; They were thy pilots; The oldest and most skilful men of Gebal were thy ship-wrights. All the ships on the sea and their mariners Came to thee to purchase thy merchandise.
Persians, Lydians, and Lybians served as warriors in thine armies, They hung up their helmets and shields in thee; They upheld thy splendour. The men of Arvad with thine own warriors were upon thy walls, The Gammadæans in thy towers. They had hung their shields around on thy walls, They made thy splendour complete. Tarshish dealt with thee Through the abundance of thy merchandise of every kind: They brought silver, iron, tin, and lead for thy traffic. Grecians, Tibarenians, and Moschians dealt with thee, They brought men and vessels of copper to thy markets; From Togarmah they brought for thy traffic Horses of various breeds and mules. The men of Dedan trafficked with thee, (For many isles offered thee the hand for traffic) They brought ivory and ebony-wood In exchange for thy commodities. Idumea dealt with thee Through the multitude of thy fabrics; They brought rubies, purple, and embroidery, Corals, and crystal for thy traffic. Israel and Judah dealt with thee They brought wheat from Minnith and Pennag; Honey, oil, and balsam to thy mart. Damascus dealt with thee Through the multitude of thy fabrics, Through the abundance of thy riches; (They brought) wine of Chalybon and white wool. Vedan and Javan brought from Usul Polished steel for thy traffic;
Cassia and cinnamon were in thy mart. Dedan dealt with thee With coverings of horses and chariots. Arabia and the princes of Kedar dealt with thee With lambs, and rams, and goats. The merchants of Sheba and Rama dealt with thee; They brought for thy traffic The best of spices, precious stones, and gold. Haran and Cane, and Eden, and the merchants of Sheba, Assyrians and Chilmedians dealt with thee; They dealt with thee in costly clothes, In blue and embroidered mantles, With store of clothes Which, bound up with cords, They brought to thy mart. But the ships of Tarshish were chief in thy mart, (By them) thou wast filled with treasures and renowned in the midst of the seas.”—Ezek. xxvii.
“A splendid, but not an exaggerated picture,” said Myron, “of the commerce of Tyre. Yet with all its luxury and splendour it was so little to my taste, that I left it and went to Damascus. But how, Helon, shall I describe to thee this eye of the east, this terrestrial Elysium? Imagine a lovely plain, fruitful, well watered, full of trees and meadows, bordered on both sides by hills, but at a considerable distance; by Antilibanus on the one hand, and the Arabian chain on the other. From Antilibanus descends a stream which is called Chrysorrhoas; on entering the plain it divides into three branches, of which the principal flows straight towards Damascus, and separating its amber waters into a multitude of little streams, refreshes every street of the city. Reuniting below the city with the other two branches, they all form a lake of great extent on the eastern verge of the plain. In the red soil of which this plain is composed, every variety of fruit-tree grows in greater perfection than elsewhere. The city itself is one of the oldest in the world. I had passed my time there most happily, and nothing would have drawn me from it so soon but your friendly invitation. I have been waiting here for you since yesterday.”
On the following morning early they left the caravansera, and turning from Hermon’s snowy peak, they passed between the hills of Antilibanus, of which Hermon is only a part, and bending eastward, came first to Paneas. It lies at the foot of a hill, which also belongs to Antilibanus; and the Jordan flows from caverns in the rock. They were wondering at its copiousness, so near its apparent source, when an inhabitant of Paneas approaching, said, “Strangers, this is not the real head of the Jordan. It has already flowed sixteen sabbath-days’ journies under the earth. At that distance, to the east of Paneas, is a little lake, called from its form Phiala, which is constantly receiving the influx of streams, yet, without any visible outlet, never overflows. The reason is, that its waters by a subterraneous channel pass to the hill of Paneas, and break forth there as the Jordan, which from this cause appears of such magnitude at its source.” They asked him how the existence of this subterraneous channel was known, and he told them that things which had been thrown into the lake of Phiala had reappeared in the Jordan.
From Paneas they followed the course of the Jordan to the lake Merom, called also Samochonitis. Before it reaches this lake it receives the lesser Jordan, which rises near Dan; and the Daphne, whose source is not far from the place where it issues from the rock. The lake Merom is ten sabbath-days’ journies long, and five broad, and full of sedge and oozy water. In summer it is so much dried up, that only the bright line of the Jordan’s current is visible; and lions, tigers, bears, and other wild animals, harbour in the reeds and bushes with which the rest is overgrown; till, when the snow of Lebanon begins to melt, the Jordan overflows, and fills up the whole basin of the lake. It was now full. Not being able, owing to the inundation, to take the nearest way to the lake of Genezareth, they struck into the desert, thinking thus to reach Bethsaida, which was at the distance of sixteen sabbath-days’ journies.
Josh. xi. 5.
Jer. xlix. 19; Eccles. xxiv. 26; Josh. iii. 15.
They had ridden a long time in this desert, under the burning rays of the sun, and at last discovered that they had missed their way. Perceiving some living figures in the distance, which they took for shepherds, they made towards them in the hope of obtaining information. As they came nearer to them the men warned them by gestures to keep at a distance, with hoarse and broken voices, and melancholy looks, uttering the words, Unclean, unclean! “They are lepers,” said Helon, with a look of horror, and turning his horse’s head fled with precipitation, followed by the others.
Lev. xiii. 45.
The huts in which these unhappy victims of a loathsome disease dwelt were hard by in the desert. As our travellers were hastening from the scene, they met the relations of the lepers, who dwelt in Bethsaida, and who were bringing them the food by which their miserable existence was to be protracted. The lepers set down their vessels and retired out of sight; the others then came, placed provisions in them with the greatest caution, and carefully avoiding to touch them; and then hastened away, as from the region of death. Father and mother, brother and sister, children and wife, all forsake the miserable leper; scarcely will one of those who are clean venture to bid him peace from afar; and when the provision is no longer fetched away, they rejoice that his sufferings are terminated.
These men had been attacked by the elephantiasis, the most virulent of all the kinds of leprosy. It is gradual in its approaches, a scaly scurf overspreading the body; the nervous system loses its sensibility, the touch grows duller and duller, till it is lost altogether. Little pain is felt by the afflicted person, but dejection and despondency take possession of his mind. The breath becomes corrupt, swellings of the size of a nut are formed, and ulcers cover the body. The nails fall from the fingers and the toes; in some cases these parts themselves drop off; the hair turns grey and falls; all the joints become stiff; and yet, while the unhappy person becomes a burthen to himself and loathsome to all around him, he eats and drinks as usual. This terrible disease is not only in the highest degree contagious, but also hereditary, sometimes continuing in a family to the fourth generation. No wonder that it should be regarded as a judgment of God for some enormous crime.
Helon and his companions continued their hasty flight, till they reached the Jordan, which soon conducted them to Bethsaida, which stood at the place where it falls into the lake of Genezareth. Bethsaida is almost wholly inhabited by fishermen, whom they found busily employed with the angle and the net. They called some of them, and were conveyed in one of their boats across the lake to Magdala The lake of Genezareth, called also the lake of Chinnereth, and the lake of Galilee, is twenty sabbath-days’ journies long, and six broad. Its waters abound with fish, and are so clear that the stones at the bottom can be seen. Aromatic bulrushes and reeds grow along the shores. The form of the lake is nearly oval, and it lies in a deep vale, which on the east and west is closed in by high mountains, on the north and south expands into a plain. As Helon and Myron sailed on its transparent waters, they saw first of all, on its western side, Capernaum, which, as its name implies, was delightfully situated, between the lake and the hills, lower down to the east Chorazin, and a multitude of smaller places. The celebrated region of Decapolis lay on the eastern side, beyond the hills.
Josh. xiii. 27; Numb. xxxiv. 11.
Arrived at Magdala, they quitted their boat, and traced the shore as far as where the Jordan issues from the lake, crossed the river, and being joined by the slaves with the horses and camels, took the road to Tabor, which lies at the end of the plain of Jezreel, over against Carmel. Notwithstanding Helon’s impatience, he could not pass so celebrated a mountain without a nearer examination, and Myron willingly came into his plans.
This lofty hill rises out of the middle of the plain, wholly unconnected with any other. Its base is composed of an ash-coloured stone, and as the upper part is covered with trees, it has the appearance of a tall pillar with a verdant capital. The ascent to the summit is nearly five sabbath-days’ journies, and on the top is a plain of about four in circumference. Wild animals and birds abound on it; and Hosea alludes to the fowling which was carried on here to a great extent. Barak assembled an army of 100,000 men on Tabor from Zebulon and Naphthali, before he engaged with Sisera; and indeed a fitter position for a camp can scarcely be imagined. Helon and Myron were astonished at the extent of the view. The snowy peak of Hermon and the dark exhalations of the Dead Sea can both be discerned from it. “And there,” exclaimed Helon, transported with delight, “are the towers of Jericho!” The sea of Galilee, the Jordan and the Peræa, spread themselves on the east; on the west the prospect reached to the Mediterranean and to Carmel; near which the Kishon, which rises in Tabor, falls into the sea; a small branch of it discharges itself into the lake of Galilee. Near Tabor, to the north-west, was Nazareth, situated on the slope of a hill and extending into a little valley, shut in on every side. To the south lay Endor, famed in the history of Saul; and near to each other Shunam, the scene of Elisha’s miracle, and Jezreel, fifteen sabbath-days’ journies from Samaria, on which was the vineyard of Naboth. From this place the whole plain derives the name of Jezreel, or Esdraelon. Further in the distance, a dark shade lowered on the hills of Gilboa. Helon called to mind the lamentation of David for Jonathan and Saul, who had been slain in battle here against the Philistines; and he repeated it to Myron, assuring him that he had never heard a more pathetic elegy.
Hos. v. 1.
Judg. iv. 12.
2 Kings iv.
1 Kings xxi.
And David spoke this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: “Is the pride of Israel fallen on thy high places? So are the mighty fallen. O tell it not in Gath, Publish it not in the streets of Askelon, Lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, Lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph! Ye mountains of Gilboa, No dew, no rain be on your field of slaughter! For there has the shield of the mighty been thrown away, The shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil. From the blood of the slain, from the marrow of the mighty, The bow of Jonathan turned not back, The sword of Saul returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided. They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions. Ye daughters of Israel, weep for Saul! He clothes you no more in purple, Nor puts ornaments of gold on your apparel. How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O! Jonathan, thou wast slain on thine high places; I am distressed for thee my brother Jonathan; Very dear wast thou to me: Thy love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women. How are the mighty fallen! How are the weapons of war cast away!”
Myron did justice to this pathetic elegy; and they descended Tabor together.
Their journey was now directed to Bethshan or Scythopolis, the place at which the Galilean pilgrims were wont to cross the Jordan, in order to avoid the Samaritans, by keeping on the other side as low down as Bethabara, where they crossed it again. The line from Dor on the Mediterranean to Bethshan formed the boundary between Samaria and Galilee. Galilee contained two hundred larger and smaller towns, some of the latter having as many as 15,000 inhabitants. Agriculture, fishing, and pasturage, the culture of the vine and the olive, all were carried on with success in this country, which is diversified with hills and plains, both of them abounding in water. The inhabitants were characterised by their love of freedom, though both their language and their manners were corrupted by their great intercourse with foreign nations.
They quitted Galilee at Bethshan, and crossing the Jordan pursued their journey along the numerous windings of the stream, which from Bethsaida to the Dead Sea has a course of seventy-two sabbath-days’ journies. Succoth, where Jacob built huts, near Mahanaim, a town on the Jabbok, (so named by him from the vision which was granted to him there) Debir and Bethabara, were hastily passed. At length the Jordan opened into the plain of Jericho; they passed through the city gate and soon reached the hospitable mansion of Selumiel. The gate, with its pious inscriptions, opened to receive them; Myron was astonished at the splendour of the house; while Helon thought only that this was his happy home.
Gen. xxxiii. 17.
Gen. xxxii. 2.
Josh. xiii. 26.
Deut. xi. 20.
CHAPTER II. THE NUPTIALS.
Helon found no one in the front court, and hastily entered the inner court, followed by Myron. The slave came to tell them, that there was no one in the house.
“Where are they, then?”
“In Helon’s house,” said the slave with a smile; and informed him that Selumiel, Elisama, Iddo, the wife of Selumiel, Sulamith, and Abisuab with his wife, had gone out a few hours before, in order to receive him in the newly-purchased house. They had justly calculated that he would return this evening.
Helon heard this intelligence with joyful surprise, and easily divined the fact, that out of his affection for Sulamith, who wished not to be separated from her parents, Elisama had purchased a house for him in Jericho; and if not in Jerusalem, where could he be better pleased to dwell than in the City of Palms? The splendid mansion was to be a nuptial present to his beloved nephew. It is true that the property must return to its owner in the year of Jubilee, and the contract for it was therefore rather a lease than a purchase; but a considerable price had nevertheless been set upon it, which Elisama’s wealth enabled him easily to pay.
The slave showed them the way to the house which stood near the opposite gate, so that they had to traverse the whole length of the city. A slave had been waiting for some hours before the gate, and upon a signal given by him to those within, all the males of the company were in waiting to bid him welcome.
“See,” said Selumiel, “the rewards of self-denial!”
“Welcome, my brother, and henceforth fellow-citizen of Jericho,” said Abisuab.
Helon, with moistened eyes, threw himself into the arms of Elisama. All stood around, pouring out congratulations and blessings.
“What more do we want,” said Elisama, “but that thy mother from Alexandria were here?”
Helon looked around with inquiring eye. Selumiel took him by the hand, and led him through to the richly furnished inner court. Her mother and sister-in-law came with Sulamith from the Armon. After their greetings had been exchanged, Helon, at the command of Elisama, as now the master of the house, re-conducted them to their apartments. Bewildered with joy, he could scarcely speak. After a short interval they all returned to the house of Selumiel, to the evening meal, and at night Elisama, Helon, and the Greek, returned to the house of Helon, where they thenceforth resided. Myron was in astonishment at all he saw, and began to form a very different idea of Israel from that which he had entertained before.
On the following morning Helon arose early, and traversed the house which was to be the scene of his future happiness and duties. No other feeling in life resembles that with which the youth, on the point of emerging into manhood, wanders in solemn musing through the house in which he is to sustain the duties of husband and father. As he explored its courts, its porticoes, and chambers, by turns, he admired the commodious arrangement and tasteful architecture, and the costly furniture, or blessed the generous Elisama; or raised his thoughts in pious gratitude to Jehovah, and implored the continuance of his mercies. He ascended the roof, and looked westward towards the hills of Judah, and eastward to Nebo and Abarim. Entering the Alijah, he consecrated it as the future scene of his devotions by prayer to Jehovah. As he arose from his knees, turning involuntarily towards Jerusalem, he broke out in the words of the psalm:
Unless Jehovah build the house, They labour in vain that raise it; Unless Jehovah guard the city, The watchman waketh but in vain. In vain ye rise early and sit up late, And eat the bread of care; He giveth it to his beloved in sleep. Lo! children are a heritage from Jehovah, The fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, So are the children of youth: Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them! They shall not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate.—Psal. cxxvii.
As he turned round, Elisama was behind him at the door, and was wiping the tears from his eyes. “May Jehovah bless thee,” said he. “His counsel is wonderful, and he will bring it to pass.”
“God grant me,” said Helon, “that I may keep his law with a perfect mind.”
“May he give thee what thy psalm says,” replied Elisama. “Now that thou art a priest and a husband in the promised land, I doubt no longer. Marriage is a divine ordinance, and the divine blessing rests upon it. This I myself experienced, alas, for too short a time! God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helpmate to be with him. And the Preacher says, There is one alone, and not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother, yet is there no end of all his labour, nor is his eye satisfied with riches. For whom do I labour (he should ask himself) and bereave my soul of good? This also is vanity and a fruitless travail.” Elisama sighed and proceeded, “Two are better than one: they have a good reward for their labour: for if they fall the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone! for when he falleth he hath not another to lift him up. Helon, I _had_ once a wife and a child—and I was happy. What have I done that such bliss—? but I will say no more. The children of my brother are my children; thou art my son; and I rejoice in thy happiness as my own. The marriage state is a service of Jehovah, and one of the most effectual means of the fulfilment of his law. By this image he has denoted the relation between himself and the people of his covenant. But let me hear thine own lips describe the blessing that awaits thee. Rehearse to me the conclusion of the book of Proverbs; and bethink thee what is implied in this, that the great master of wisdom could devise no better termination of his precepts, than the praises of a virtuous wife.”
Gen. x. 18.
Eccles. iv. 8.
Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is above rubies, The heart of her husband trusts safely in her, And he shall have no want of spoil. She will do him good and not evil All the days of her life. She seeketh wool and flax, She worketh willingly with her hands; She is like the merchants’ ships, She bringeth her food from afar; She riseth while it is yet night, And giveth meat to her household and tasks to her maidens. She considereth a field and buyeth it, With the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard; She girdeth her loins with strength, And strengtheneth her arms; She enjoyeth the fruit of her labour, Her lamp goeth not out by night; She stretcheth forth her hand to the distaff, Her fingers hold the spindle. She openeth her hand to the poor, Yea, she stretcheth forth her hands to the needy. She feareth not the snow for her household, For all her household are doubly clad: She maketh herself coverings, She is clad in fine linen and in purple. Her husband is honoured in the gates, When he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh costly garments and selleth them, She delivereth girdles to the merchant, Strength and honour are her clothing; She feareth not for the future; She openeth her mouth with wisdom, On her tongue are precepts of kindness. She looketh well to her household, And eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up and call her blessed, Her husband and he praiseth her (saying) “Many daughters have done virtuously, But thou excellest them all. Comeliness is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman that feareth Jehovah shall be praised. Praise her for the fruit of her hands; Let her works praise her in the gate.”
The preparations for the nuptials were speedily made in both houses. The numerous female companions of Sulamith assembled in Selumiel’s Armon. The bride, who had just completed her fourteenth year, was conducted to a bath, at which, gratification for all the senses was properly provided for her, and for all her young companions. After bathing, she was anointed with the choicest perfumes, and her friends brought their gifts, consisting of clothes and costly articles, most of them made by themselves. Her hair was perfumed and braided, her eyebrows deepened with a powder of brilliant black, and her nails coloured red. Next, the young maidens, her companions, arrayed her in the nuptial robes, of the finest texture and most brilliant colour, which flowed with ample folds to her feet. The girdle was clasped around her waist, the veil hung down from her head, and high above all her other ornaments rose a crown, from which the bride was called _the crowned_.
The evening was come, and the stars twinkled on the court, where all was prepared for festivity. Now appeared Helon, anointed and crowned in a similar manner, with the sons of the bride-chamber. They were the young priests and Levites of Jericho, who had been invited for this purpose; and Myron was among them. Each of them, to the number of seventy, bore a staff in his hand, on which was fixed a shallow vessel filled with burning oil and pitch. The festal train was admitted into Selumiel’s inner court; the bride and the virgins came forth from the Armon, and the youths and maidens, with aduffes and guitars, sung, in alternate strophes, the praises of the bridegroom and the bride.
Now began the ceremony of conducting the bride to the bridegroom’s house. The seventy youths, with their flambeaux, headed the procession; the bride was surrounded by her bridemaidens. Thus Sulamith left her father’s house: arrived at the threshold, the feelings which she had struggled to suppress, the mingled emotions of hope and fear, of regret and joy, overpowered her, and she burst into a flood of tears. The mother too wept, pressed her beloved daughter to her breast, and blessing her said, “Be thou the mother of a numerous posterity, like Rachel and like Leah!” Selumiel supported his child in his strong paternal arms, and said, “God, I thank thee that I have lived to see my child happy!”
The sounds of joy were heard from the companions. Sulamith was placed in a litter, and her nurse beside her. All the females were closely veiled; Sulamith in a veil of flame-colour. The long train moved through the streets of Jericho. A multitude of persons preceded, carrying the clothes, trinkets, and new furniture of the bride. As each carried only one thing, the procession was very long. Next came the friends of the bridegroom with Helon; then the bride in her litter, accompanied by the virgins. The rest of Helon’s friends, male and female servants, and children, closed the train. All the inhabitants of Jericho hastened from their houses, or looked down from their roofs.
Thus at length they reached the house of Helon. The bride paused at the threshold of the dwelling, in which so much happiness or misery might await her, as if with a timid irresolution. She adorned the door-posts with woollen fillets, and anointed them with oil, and at length the virgins suddenly lifted her over the threshold, the boundary between her past and her future life. The nuptial train entered the courts, and the bride solemnly took possession of the Armon, while the male part of the company remained in the outer apartments, where a splendid feast was served up to them. When all had eaten and were satisfied, males and females assembled in the inner court; the virgins presented the bride, the youths the bridegroom, to Selumiel. In evident agitation, he said, “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, who didst create Adam and Eve! Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, who causest Zion to rejoice in her children! Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, who makest the bride and the bridegroom to be glad together!” Then taking the right hand of his daughter, he placed it in the right hand of Helon, and pronounced the benediction: “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob be with you, and help you together, and give his blessing richly upon you! Jehovah make the wife that comes into thy house like Rachel and like Leah, who built up the house of Israel! May thy house be as the house of Malchia, thy fathers’ father, and your sons be priests to minister before Jehovah in his temple!”
Ruth, iv. 11, 12.
Selumiel, while he pronounced this blessing, struggled with an emotion which he was unwilling to betray; and Elisama stood near him, giving freer vent to his feelings. The bride sobbed beneath her veil, and Helon was melted into tears.
Kindred and friends now approached the married pair, and bestowed on them their congratulations. The feast ended with the usual ceremonies.
On the following morning the nuptial festivities began afresh, and lasted for seven days, each distinguished by some new expression of joy. Numerous presents were brought to the newly married pair by the guests; and others given to them in return. The company exercised their ingenuity in riddles and _maschals_; or a grave and learned rabbi would discourse on the sanctity and duties of the marriage state, and the honour and happiness of those who might thus be appointed to give birth to the Messiah.
Judges, xiv. 17, 18; Tob. xi. 19.
This protracted festival was at times wearisome to Sulamith and Helon, who longed to begin their tranquil, solitary, and domestic life. In the mean time, Helon was delighted to discover every day some new perfection in Sulamith, some new resemblance to the maidens and mothers of Israel in times past. Her domestic virtues assimilated her to Sara; her poetical imagination to Miriam, the sister of Moses; her disinterestedness and self-devotion to the daughter of Jephthah; and her artless piety to Hannah, the mother of Samuel.
CHAPTER III. THE AVENGER OF BLOOD.
It was determined that the young married pair should proceed with Myron, immediately after the marriage, to Alexandria, to fetch Helon’s aged mother from Egypt, in time to attend the feast of Tabernacles. Elisama was to remain in the mean time at Jericho, least, as he observed, he should bring on her the imputation of being a false prophetess. Alas! he little knew what a melancholy accomplishment her prediction was about to receive, and in his own person. The departure was delayed—neither Sulamith nor Helon was impatient for it, and Myron was very willing to remain. Helon found scarcely any thing left him to wish. All his expectations of outward prosperity were fulfilled, and he flattered himself that he was as near the summit of spiritual perfection as of earthly bliss. The deep veneration which Sulamith expressed for his purpose of becoming a Chasidean, regarding him as already being all that he purposed to become, inspired him by degrees with a high opinion of his own righteousness. His present happiness seemed to him a sign of the favour of Jehovah. Accustomed to regard all calamity as a divine judgment for sin, all prosperity as the reward of virtue, he considered his present condition as a mark of the distinguished approbation of God. His conscience seemed to join the league and promote his self-deception; his tenderness for Sulamith, his readiness to make little sacrifices of his wishes to hers, his gratitude and affection towards her parents and his own benefactor Elisama, were magnified by him into a complete obedience to the divine commands, into something more than mere righteousness. As those are apt to do who have experienced hitherto uninterrupted success, he began to think that every thing which he undertook must be successful—that his mountain stood strong and should never be moved. He never, alas, thought of inquiring how much youth and good fortune, the sense of pleasure and pride of heart, had to do in the construction of this showy edifice of self-righteousness.
Myron, during the first days of his residence at Jericho, found himself in circumstances so different from what he had expected, that he held it prudent to keep back as much as possible, and become better acquainted with the scene and its personages, before he trusted himself to act upon it. Hence during the festivities of the nuptials, he had been a quiet and unobtrusive spectator, and had recommended himself to the Jewish youths by the easy flexibility of his manners. He had particularly attached himself to Selumiel, after the tumult of rejoicing had subsided, and those who were left together had leisure to seek out the persons who were most congenial to themselves. If he ever offended Elisama, by some expression savouring of heathenism, which now and then seemed to drop from him involuntarily, Selumiel took his part. He soon discovered Selumiel’s partiality for the Essenes, and completely won his heart by telling him, that the Tomuri of Dodona, the Orphici of Thrace, the Curetes in Crete, were either degenerate branches of these Jewish devotees, or had endeavoured to form a similar association of wisdom and sobriety, but had remained at a much lower point in the scale of perfection. Selumiel took him with him everywhere, even when he went in the evening to the gates of the city, where the men of Jericho assembled to pass the cool hours in conversation. Helon, of whom he stood most in awe, happened to turn the discourse upon the superiority of Israel to the worshippers of idols, and pointed out the absurdity of the worship of the Egyptians and earlier Samaritans, among whom Apis was revered under the form of a bull; Moloch of a mixed figure, partly man, partly calf; Dagon was represented as having the lower part of a fish; Tartac, as an ass; Nibbaz, as a dog. All expected to see Myron provoked by this attack upon his religion; but to their great astonishment he not only assented to all that Helon had said, but entertained the company, the whole evening, with ludicrous tales of the adventures of the Grecian gods. The grave Orientals were delighted with him, because his manners were diametrically the reverse of their own. While they sat immoveable in the position which they had once taken, he on his light and nimble feet turned this way and that, alert to seize every opportunity of mirth; ready to converse with those who were disposed for conversation, or to talk alone when others were silent. Amused with his lively sallies, they encouraged him to proceed from one freedom to another, till he thought that every thing was allowed to him.
It chanced that a man passed by, loaded with a heavy burthen, and hanging down his head like one conscious of ignominy. He had been detected in frauds a few days before, and as a punishment his beard had been cut off. The finger of scorn was pointed at him by the whole assemblage, and the unfortunate man slunk hastily away. “How strange,” said Myron, “that you should set so much value on a huge tuft of hair upon your chins, that one who has been deprived of it dares not show himself in your presence; and yet you seldom have taste enough to give it an elegant form! Look for example at Elisama, who thinks so much of his beard; what an unsightly encumbrance it is to him.” Encouraged by the laughter which arose from the younger part of the assembly, he approached Elisama, and plucked him by the beard; little aware that to an Oriental, and especially a Jew, such an action was one of the grossest outrages that could be committed—an attack upon the very sanctuary of his personal dignity. Helon sprung to interpose—but it was too late. Elisama arose, with glowing cheeks, and a look in which the expression of the wildest rage grew every moment stronger. His limbs trembled; his features were distorted, his hair stood on end, and his breast heaved with a feverish gasp. “Accursed heathen!” he exclaimed in fury, “accursed heathen!” he repeated, and drawing his sword, aimed a blow at Myron. The offender, awakened to a consciousness of what he had done, saw the weapon about to fall on him and evaded the stroke; a citizen of Jericho, whom the tumult of the assembly had pushed forward, received it, and fell mortally wounded at Elisama’s feet. In silent horror all stood around, and looked by turns on the murderer, the corpse, and the author of the mischief. The whole city hastened to the spot; Myron escaped; and Selumiel, taking the unconscious Elisama by the hand, led him home. Helon, preceding them, burst with a cry of horror into the house, exclaiming, “Woe, woe—homicide—Elisama!” The women hastened from their apartments, and knew not the cause of the confusion. Selumiel entered with Elisama—one in eager haste, the other bewildered, with fixed eye and open mouth. “Bring horses, bring camels, bring any beast of burden,” exclaimed Selumiel. “Thou hast slain him, Elisama, and must flee before the avenger of blood.” “Whither?” asked Helon. “To a city of refuge—to Hebron in Judah—to Bezer in Reuben—to Ramoth Gilead best of all.” At these words Elisama awoke from his trance. Tears flowed from his aged eyes as he exclaimed, “Merciful God, must I in my old age flee as a murderer, and die by the hands of the avenger?” His voice was choked with sobs.
Two rapid dromedaries, ships of the desert, were brought. Helon accompanied the unhappy man. It was already night, and they passed unobserved out of Jericho. Without a salutation, or an adieu, they urged their flight, in dread lest the avenger should be on their traces; Elisama with his hair loose, his turban floating on the wind, and death on his countenance.
It was one of the most terrific customs of the east, that the next of kin of any one who had been slain, even unwittingly, was deemed infamous if he did not avenge him, by putting to death the man who had killed him. Moses, unable to eradicate this custom, had mitigated it by the appointment of six cities of refuge, three on each side of the Jordan, in which the unintentional homicide might be safe from the vengeance of the _Göel_. In these cities, and for a thousand yards around, he could not be touched—if he ventured beyond these limits, before the death of the high-priest, the Göel might lawfully kill him. The roads and bridges leading to the city of refuge were to be kept in repair, that the fugitive might not be impeded in his flight. The avenger was called Göel, as being stained and impure, till he had acquitted himself of his obligation. The son of the citizen of Jericho whom Elisama had killed, had been fetched from the field, and had gone forth to avenge his father; but he was too late: Elisama had already reached Ramoth Gilead in safety.
On the following morning a judicial investigation was held. The seven judges took their places in an apartment at the gate, crouching on carpets; beside them sat two Levites; Selumiel, who represented the accused person, stood on the left; the avenger of blood, as the complainant, on the right. Selumiel was clad in mourning and with disordered hair. Behind him were the witnesses whom he had brought with him; and who, before they delivered their testimony, took an oath, and replied Amen, Amen, to the imprecations which the judges laid upon them, if they should not speak the truth. They bore witness that Elisama had harboured no malice against the deceased, and had not intended to smite him, but had been provoked by the insult of a young heathen. The judges did not immediately decide, but on the following morning a second sitting was held, at which they pronounced that Elisama, of Alexandria, had committed an involuntary homicide, and that the privilege of the city of refuge was decreed to him. As he had already taken refuge in Ramoth Gilead, a Levite was sent with a letter to the judges and elders of that place, commending him to their protection.
Selumiel, who had remained behind to attend the judicial proceedings, determined to go and see Elisama; and Sulamith could not be dissuaded from accompanying him. Ramoth Gilead lay on the other side of Jordan, in the country called in ancient times Gilead; a country not so fruitful as this side, from its many mountains and sandy deserts, yet rich in pasturage for cattle, and watered by two considerable streams, the Arnon and the Jabbok; the former empties itself into the Dead Sea, and the latter into the Jordan. The hills of Basan, Gilead, and Abarim, extending from Antilibanus, send their branches through this country. It was given on the conquest of Canaan to the tribes of Gad and Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh, as their residence. Ramoth, situated on the Jabbok, was the principal city, celebrated in history by the vow of Jephthah, and the battle between Ahab and Jehoshaphat and the Syrians.
Numb, xxxii.; Josh. i. 12.
Judg. xi. 29.
1 Kings xxii.
On their arrival they learnt that Elisama was dangerously ill. The agitation of mind and fatigue, attending on his flight, had overpowered his feeble frame; he had been attacked by a fever, under which he was hourly sinking. A Levite, who was the physician of Ramoth, and possessed great knowledge of the human frame and the virtues of plants, had been summoned. Strengthening baths had been employed, and the precious balm of Gilead applied externally and internally. These were the two chief remedies of the Hebrews. But here they had lost their power; Elisama fell into a deathlike slumber. When he was delirious, the image of Myron seemed to be constantly before his eyes; and he upbraided him with his ingratitude, and warned his son Helon to beware of him, as it would not be the last of his misdeeds. On the following day his reason returned for some hours, and he spoke calmly and clearly. It was the last revival of the flame of life. He requested Helon to repeat to him the prayer of Moses, the man of God. “Lord, thou hast been our refuge in all generations,” Ps. xc. He heard it with great attention, and the emotions of his heart were visible, at many passages, in his looks and his clasped hands. He lay for a long time with closed eyes, but his lips were in motion, and it was evident he was addressing himself to God, probably in a penitential psalm; for once, when his voice grew stronger, he was heard to say,
My days pass away as a shadow, And I wither as grass; But thou, Jehovah, shalt endure for ever, And thy name remaineth from generation to generation; Thou wilt arise and have mercy on Zion. For the time is come that thou shouldest favour her, The appointed hour is come.
Jer. viii. 22; xlvi. 11.
His voice again became faint, and it was after some interval that he was heard to say—
He weakeneth my strength in the way, He shorteneth my days.
And then with a firmer tone—
The children of thy servants shall continue And their seed shall prosper before thee.—Ps. cii.
He turned with an expression of the deepest affection to Helon, and said, “Greet thy mother from me—when the high-priest dies, carry my bones to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and lay them beside thy father’s—wait on the Lord, and thou shalt obtain”—his words became inaudible. Helon held his cold hand, and bathed it with his tears; and all who stood around his bed in mournful silence, thought him already dead. But the dying eye opened once more,—gazed around on them all—then fixed itself on heaven. His head sunk back in Sulamith’s arms. Twice the mouth was distorted in the bitterness of pain—then once again. The body became rigid—respiration ceased.
After a solemn pause, each reading in the countenance of the rest the confirmation of his fears, all uttered at the same moment a piercing shriek of grief. The men rent their upper garments, beat their breasts, threw their turbans on the ground, strewed dust and ashes on their head, put on sackcloth, covered their chins, and went barefoot. Helon was hurried away, least, being a priest, he should contract pollution from the dead body. The eyes of the corpse were closed, and it was carried into the Alijah by the nearest relatives. As it had been the custom in Judæa, since the captivity, to bury very soon, the night was passed in making preparations. The body was wrapped in a large sheet, the head bound with a napkin, and then the whole from head to foot swathed with a broad bandage, and each foot, each hand, each finger separately. At midnight came the Levites with their musical instruments: the female mourners began their office by lifting up their voices and lamenting, strewing ashes on their heads and singing a dirge. On the following morning the house was filled with neighbours and friends, expressing their sympathy. Sulamith ran about weeping and wringing her hands above her head. The men sat in another apartment upon the ground and mourned in silence. Sulamith was conducted to the apartment of the women, where she placed herself on a carpet in the middle, and the rest of the females of the family sat round her. The hired mourners formed a wide circle at a little distance. Each of the women held a handkerchief in her hand by two of the corners. The mourners, who knew a variety of funeral songs, began one which expressed the virtues and calamities of the deceased. Sulamith gave them a sign and they ceased; and all the females of the family began to weep along with her. They arose, twisted their handkerchiefs together, and ran shrieking round the room, while Sulamith, sitting motionless in the middle, wrung her hands and tore her beautiful dark hair. When she ceased the mourners resumed their song, till she again gave them a signal, and the relatives renewed their lamentations. This lasted till towards evening, when the inhabitants assembled at the door, and the corpse was carried to the grave. Those who carried the bier proceeded with such hasty steps that they seemed rather to run than walk—an usage which was said to bear this meaning,—that death is the most terrible punishment of sin. Every one who met the procession joined the mourners, and bore part in the cries of the women.
Numb. xix. 14.
Before the gate of the city, in a garden planted with trees, stood the sepulchre of Elisama’s host, hewn out of the rock; and in this the corpse was deposited; for burning was deemed dishonourable by the Jews, and regarded with abhorrence. The bearers threw aloes, myrrh, and other fragrant substances, upon the body, so as to cover it, and the sepulchre was closed with a stone, which was annually whitened with lime. The friends and relatives having remained standing awhile before the closed sepulchre, bowed themselves thrice to the earth and prayed; then taking up a sod threw it behind them, and said, “Remember, O man, that dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return.” The procession returned with a repetition of the funeral lamentations.
On reaching home they washed their hands, and the neighbours brought them the bread of mourning. A beautiful and humane custom in Israel! No victuals were prepared in the house which death had visited, but the neighbours and friends came with delicate viands and invited the mourners to partake of them, to recruit their strength and spirits. This was called _the bread of mourning_; and the cup, which was handed round, _the cup of consolation_. The mourning lasted seven days, during which it was held indecorous to wash the garments, to bathe or anoint the body, or to wear the sandals or the turban. Every day Sulamith went with the women of the family to lament, at the tomb of the deceased, his true affection and his calamitous fate. When the days of mourning were ended suitable presents were made to the friendly host, and Helon, Sulamith, and Selumiel returned from the Peraea over the Jordan to Jericho. The bones of Elisama were to repose in the precincts of Ramoth Gilead till the death of the high-priest, when they should be transferred to the valley of Jehoshaphat, to rest there till the joyful morning of the resurrection. He was at length at peace, after a life, to which, like that of the patriarch Jacob, tranquillity had been a stranger. He had died in the city of the daughter of Jephthah, a victim to his indulgence of Helon’s wish to retain the friend of his youth; as she had been the victim of her love to her country. The secret anticipation which had always kept him at a distance from the heathen was now fulfilled; as well as the prophecy of Helon’s mother, when she parted from them in tears at Alexandria, and declared her apprehension that they would not all return. “Oh! that such a righteous man should have died the death of the sinner,” exclaimed Helon, in the bitterness of his grief, as he stood beside the stream of the Jabbok. “Doth Jehovah then punish the righteous as the sinner? O Elisama, Elisama, where shall I find light?”
“He has fulfilled his destiny,” said Selumiel. “Who may escape what fate has ordained for him?”
CHAPTER IV. THE WATER OF JEALOUSY.
Let him beware who thinks that he has attained the highest pinnacle of temporal prosperity! The ball is in ceaseless vibration, and the moment in which it reaches its greatest elevation is that in which its descent must necessarily begin.
The death of Elisama had so disturbed the mind of Helon that Selumiel’s wisdom and Sulamith’s affection could only for a moment yield him consolation. Calamity had come like a flash of lightning, and revealed to him the obscure recesses of his own character; but with what a convulsive shock had this illumination entered, and how painful the contemplation of the objects which it disclosed. The fabric of self-righteousness, which for some months he had built up with so much care, was overthrown; the vision which he had cherished was gone; what would he not have given to have been able to arrest its flight?
The perverted state of his feelings showed itself most of all in his fury against Myron. If his conscience ever remonstrated, he persuaded himself that it was not Myron as an individual, but heathenism that he abhorred. All those passages in the psalms and the prophets in which Jehovah is implored to pour out his wrath upon the heathen, and is declared to bring their counsels to nought, became his favourite theme of meditation. By an incredible delusion he applied to his own personal injury the denunciations of Jehovah’s wrath against apostasy from himself. Even the love of Sulamith, who anxiously marked the state of his mind, hardly availed to pacify and soften him.
In the mean time the joyous season of the vintage, and the gathering of the olives and the fruit began. With shouts of joy they climbed the lofty palms, of which the plain of Jericho was full, and gathered the dates, which grew in large bunches of fifteen to twenty pounds in weight. They were afterwards divided according to their different degrees of ripeness; some were eaten fresh, others were pressed to obtain from them the celebrated palm-wine. This was done amidst festive shouts, and the praises of the tree were celebrated, of which every part is applicable to some use of man. From the terebinths, some of which had seen the lapse of centuries and were still vigorous and verdant, they plucked the red and fragrant berries, or climbed the pistachio to bring down its delicious nuts, or stored up the resin which spontaneously exudes from both these trees. The figs and the pomegranates were gathered, the balsam scraped from the weeping tree, or expressed from its seeds. Later in the season the olive trees, some of which yielded a thousand pounds of oil, were stripped of their yet unripe berries, which were gently pressed that the virgin oil might run from them; or crushed in the press that they might furnish oil for the necessary purposes of food and anointing. Even the vintage was beginning here and there.
Sulamith was careful to accompany Helon to all these exhilarating scenes; but it was long before the luxuriance of nature and the happiness of man had any other effect upon him than to make him more painfully conscious of his loss of inward peace; and the more he scrutinized his own performance of the divine commands, the more was he dissatisfied with himself.
One morning he was walking with Sulamith and Abisuab through a vineyard and seeking the ripe bunches among the loaded trees. His mind was more cheerful and more composed than it ever had been since the death of Elisama. A slave of Selumiel’s came hastily to him and summoned him to the house, saying, that a messenger from Gaza had arrived with letters that required a speedy answer. He had brought letters from Myron addressed to Selumiel and to Helon.
On the unfortunate evening when the homicide of Elisama had occurred, Myron had hastily taken the road to Gaza, designing as speedily as possible to return to Alexandria. With all his levity he joined a great deal of good-nature, and when he reflected on his conduct, his conscience found much to reproach him. He was compelled to wait at Gaza for an opportunity of conveyance to Egypt, and during his stay the news of what had happened in Jericho, soon followed by that of Elisama’s death, was made public there, and excited a very general feeling against him, both among Jews and heathens. The first effect was to make him wish for a speedy departure—but then again the thought of his conduct towards the friend of his youth smote him to the heart, and he could not go, till he had sought his forgiveness. Thus he allowed several opportunities of making the journey in company to pass by, and yet he could not summon courage to go to Jericho. At length he resolved on the following plan. He came to a place in the neighbourhood of that city, and thence dispatched a messenger to Selumiel, to whom he testified his sincere sorrow for what he had done, and earnestly requested his good offices in reconciling him to Helon. To him also he wrote a letter, which he entreated Selumiel to deliver to him.
Selumiel was much affected on reading the letter; he sent for Helon and gave him that which was destined for him. It was with difficulty that he could be prevailed on to receive it. Myron reminded him of their youthful friendship, and earnestly supplicated for an interview.
“That,” said Selumiel, “would be an act of heroism well worthy of an Israelite.”
“The heathens are threatened with Jehovah’s curse,” said Helon, “and we reap nothing but misery from their friendship. I will not see him.”
“Did not Solomon pray even for the heathens,” said Selumiel; “and will not the Messiah be the light of the heathens? Thou must not be implacable, if thou wishest to fulfil the law of the fathers. Was not Joseph reconciled to his brethren? did not David show mercy to Saul his enemy? did not Jehovah himself on Sinai command, ‘If thou seest the ox or the ass of thine enemy going astray thou shalt lead him back;’ and is not a heathen of more estimation than an ox or an ass?”
1 Kings viii. 41.
“Forgive Myron,” said Sulamith, fondly laying her head on his bosom, “forgive him, priest of Jehovah! Leave vengeance to him who hath declared that he will repay; and think what joy thou wouldest feel, if through thy means he became a proselyte of the gate.”
Helon’s former spirit revived, and he resolved that he would perform the heroic act to which he was called. The messenger was sent back to Myron, with permission to him to return. He soon made his appearance; for he had wandered near the confines of the city while uncertain of the issue of his embassy. He fell before the feet of his injured friend, clasped his knees, and supplicated forgiveness, with all the force of Grecian eloquence, and the emotion of sincere penitence and sorrow. Their reconciliation was soon accomplished. Sulamith had the delight of seeing her husband restored to the same peace and joy as in the first happy days of their union.
Myron was received again into the house, and, in the freedom of their renewed confidence, Helon informed him how much he was indebted for his return to the good offices of Sulamith. Myron, as the remembrance of the mischief which he had done began to be obliterated from his volatile mind, resumed his gaiety, and with it the hasty thoughtlessness which was his characteristic.
Helon had gone one day to the gate of the city alone; for Myron had never since his return accompanied him thither. It suddenly occurred to him that he had never duly expressed his gratitude to Sulamith, for her mediation in his favour, and he went straightway to the Armon, in the warmth of his feeling, without reflecting on what he was doing.
The citizens of Jericho, who sat in the gate, saw in the mean time that red mist gathering in the north-west, which is the usual prognostic of the approach of the pernicious wind of the east. This wind is felt in all its pestilential fury in the desert, where it sweeps over the surface, often to the height of a foot, destroying every thing which it encounters. It is there called the simoom. In Palestine its effects are not destructive to life, but in the highest degree oppressive and disagreeable. All the citizens of Jericho arose hastily from the gate, and hastened to their homes.
Helon, on his arrival at his home, went immediately to the Armon, to warn Sulamith of the approach of the simoom. At the door he met Myron, whose visit Sulamith had not received, but had warned him instantly to withdraw, if he would not bring ruin on himself and her.
Helon started with surprise and horror when he saw Myron in his Armon, which no foot of male, save his own, had ever trodden before. Wild jealousy and furious anger took possession of his mind, and agitated his whole frame. “Vile heathen,” he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder, “is this thy return for my hospitality and friendship? Was it not enough that thou didst murder Elisama?”
Myron’s protestations of his innocence were unheard or unheeded in the whirlwind of Helon’s rage. His cries soon brought together the slaves of the house. Seizing Myron by the arm, he fiercely thrust him towards them, and they, laying hold of him, drove him with blows and curses from the house. Sulamith had hastened from the Armon, and endeavoured to calm her husband; but at the sight of her his fury burst forth more violently than ever, and thrusting her back into the Armon, he ran like one frantic through the streets of Jericho to find Selumiel, to whom he related what had happened. They returned together, Selumiel’s indignation scarcely less fierce than his own. Selumiel on entering went immediately to his daughter, and laying hold of her exclaimed, “Monster! am I then the father of an adulteress? Didst thou learn from thy mother or from me to break thy marriage vow with a godless heathen?” She had been sitting sobbing and in tears, her face hidden in the veil with which she had wrapped her head. At these words, however, uncovering herself and looking up at her father, she said with a firm voice, “I am innocent!”
Helon and Selumiel were yet more provoked by this assurance. “If thou art innocent,” said Selumiel, “thou shalt drink the water of jealousy. I will know that my daughter is pure, or if not, may all that the law has denounced against the adulteress light upon thee!” With these words he went forth to call the elders together, and Helon shut himself up in the Alijah. All the happiness of his life was fled; he wept, he complained, he inveighed against the heathens, against Sulamith, against himself. In the agony of his grief he threw himself on the ground, rent his clothes, and tore his hair. Then again he sat in fixed and moping silence, or opened his lips only to recite passages of Scripture, which describe the harlot and the adulteress. “Yes,” he exclaimed, “the Essenes are right, it is because they know the inconstancy of women that they have excluded them from their society. Unhappy Israel, what shall become of thee, when thy matrons are corrupt and thy wives give themselves up to folly! No wonder that the once holy people is fallen even below the heathens themselves.”
A moment after, reflecting on what he had said aloud, he started with terror as from a frightful dream. “Can that be Sulamith?” he said with a sigh. The image of his wife, in all her gentleness and loveliness, stood before his mind, and softened, he exclaimed, “It is impossible.” Had Sulamith at that moment spoken but a word to him, he would have forgiven her all. He even quitted the Alijah to go to her: but when he looked down on the door of the Armon, and the thought flashed on him that through it the man had passed by whom he had been dishonoured, every returning thought of love and compassion was banished from his mind.
The inferior court, which was held on the spot where the offence was alleged to have been committed, assembled in this instance on the following morning at the gate of the city; Selumiel, appearing as accuser of his own daughter, stood on the right of the judges, and Sulamith on their left. The whole gate was filled with citizens of Jericho, among whom the news of this affair had rapidly spread, and excited universal curiosity.
Sulamith felt, at her first entrance, overpowered by the solemnity of this venerable assemblage, of which she had heard so much, but which she had never seen; that feeling having subsided, she regained her self-possession. Helon stood with a bewildered countenance, not venturing to look at his wife, or he must have read her vindication in her countenance, in which the pride of conscious innocence struggled with the feeling of ignominious exposure, and in her bright eyes now red with weeping, but untroubled by any expression of guilt or fear.
The father related what had happened, and Helon confirmed his statement. The judges turned to Sulamith, and asked her if she acknowledged the truth of what was alleged against her. “I call Jehovah to witness,” she replied with lofty tranquillity of manner, “that I am innocent, and will take the oath of purgation.” “Be it unto thee,” said the elder, “as thou hast desired.” Two assessors were selected to accompany her to the Sanhedrim, before whom alone the oath could be taken, to protect her on the way from the fury of the men, and to lay the whole affair before the supreme council.
They departed from Jericho immediately. The whole city was assembled, men, women, and children. Sulamith’s mother stood among the crowd wringing her hands. Most of the females sympathized with their suffering sister; but the whispers of malice and the taunts of malignant joy were also heard.
Helon followed them at a distance, by the same road by which at Pentecost he had gone up to Jerusalem an affianced bridegroom, full of joy and hope. Then the desert had seemed to be converted into a paradise. How was his condition changed! Elisama was dead, the land of promise had proved a land of chastisement to him; his enthusiasm for the sacerdotal office was dead within him; his wife went before him as an adulteress. With what regret did he look towards the distant Oasis of the Essenes, and long to bury himself in it, without a wife, without the priesthood, a stranger in the land of promise, solitary and single among the people of Israel!
They arrived in the evening at Jerusalem. Iddo was sitting in the gate, but when he saw them, and discovered the purpose for which they were come, he fled with averted head, and hands stretched out as if to repel some threatening evil. They ascended the temple-hill; all who met them were astonished to see her, who at the feast had been the object of universal admiration, brought up as a transgressor. She was confined for the night in a chamber of the temple; and Helon and Selumiel passed it in dejection and gloom in the house of Iddo.
The morning, the fearful morning came! After the usual sacrifice, the Sanhedrim assembled in the hall Gazith. All its seventy-one members were present, the high-priest, the elders, and the Levites sitting in a semicircle. Sulamith was led through the multitude that filled the courts, and placed before the tribunal. The assessors of the court of Jericho then laid the matter before the Sanhedrim, and Selumiel and Helon confirmed their statement. The father and husband were commanded to withdraw, and Sulamith, in her mourning garments, remained standing alone, in the midst of the judges.
They addressed her at first in a friendly tone, and endeavoured to bring her to confession, alleging grounds of excuse from her youth and her husband’s own culpability. “Daughter,” said one of the Sanhedrim, “glorify the great name of God, and do not allow that this sacred name should be washed with water and blotted out.” At other times they assumed an angry tone, blamed her silence, which they interpreted as an evidence of guilt, and bade her beware that she did not by her obstinacy plunge herself into an untimely death. Sulamith adhered to her denial, and, as they often urged her to confession, replied, “I am innocent and falsely accused. Put me to what test ye will, but ask of me no other confession than this, that I am innocent.”
The Sanhedrim, convinced by her noble firmness, ceased to importune her, and decreed that she should drink the water of jealousy, and take the oath of purgation. “Daughter,” said one of them, “if thou art innocent, put thy trust in Jehovah and drink boldly. It is with the bitter water as with poison, which laid upon a wounded part produces death, but has no effect when the flesh is sound.”
She was led from the hall Gazith to the gate of Nicanor, not however by the direct road, but by a long circuit, that she might still have time to reflect and to confess. The crowd formed a lane through which she had to pass, not only exposed to their gaze, but plucked scornfully by the arms, enduring their taunts and blows. Only here and there some one of more generous disposition, struck with her free and noble carriage, exclaimed, “The water of jealousy cannot injure thee; thou mayest drink it without fear.” At length they reached the gate of Nicanor, opposite to the sanctuary, and the priest, who had been appointed for the purpose, began the appalling ceremonies of the oath of purgation. Laying hold of her garments, he rent them from the top of the neck to the breast with expressions of horror, tore the veil from her head, and threw her turban on the ground. He dishevelled her braided hair and let it float upon the wind, and then turning his face from her, said, “Thou hast forsaken the manner of the daughters of Israel who cover their heads, and hast followed the manners of the heathens who go with their heads uncovered.”
The men spat on the ground before her: the women uttered cries of abhorrence, and a deep murmur of Woe! woe! ran from rank to rank among the people, which even the unconcerned spectator could not hear without shuddering. Helon stood with averted head, and stupified with horror. Selumiel wept aloud.
The priest threw all the rest of Sulamith’s ornaments, her necklace, ear-rings, and bracelets, to the ground, and girded her rent garments over her bosom with a strip of bark. The more ignominious the outrages to which she was subject, the more striking appeared the contrast of her dignified air and demeanour. The husband was compelled to reach to the priest the offering of jealousy, consisting of a tenth part of an epha of meal, in a basket of osier. The meal was of barley, the meanest grain, neither oil nor incense was mingled with it. Helon could not bear to look, but reached it to the priest with averted head, least his eyes should encounter those of Sulamith.
The priest took an earthen vessel that had never been used, filled it with water from the laver beside the altar of burnt-offering, and carrying it into the holy place put into it some of the dust of the floor. When he returned, he exhorted her once more to reflect what she was about to do, and if she were guilty not to drink, but to confess her sin. The accused replied distinctly and firmly, “I am innocent.” Again the deep murmur of Woe! woe! spread along the shuddering multitude, who thronged the temple courts.
The priest then with an elevated and solemn voice said, “If thou art innocent, and hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another, instead of thy husband, be thou free from the curse of this bitter water, and let it not harm thee. But if thou hast gone aside to another and hast been defiled, then may Jehovah make thee a curse among thy people, and bring on thee all the curses which are written in his law.”
Numb. v. 19.
Sulamith thus adjured, answered firmly, supported by the power of God, Amen, Amen. And the murmur of Woe! woe! rolled deeper and more awfully along the ranks of men and women.
The priest now wrote the curses on a roll. Helon took the barley meal from the basket, placed it in a sacred vessel, and gave it into his wife’s hands. Her look met his and pierced him to the heart, and roused from the stupor in which he had been sunk during the preceding part of the ceremonial, he made his way through the people, and rushed down from the temple-hill. A pause of a few moments ensued, and then the priest, laying his hand under the hand of Sulamith, waved the offering of jealousy in the customary form before Jehovah, then took it from her, carried it to the altar of burnt-offering, and, ascending it, mixed the meal with salt, and burnt it in the fire. He then descended again to the gate of Nicanor, took the roll, and washed the writing with the water in which the dust of the sanctuary had been mixed. The assembled crowd stood in deep and breathless attention. The priest reached to Sulamith the vessel which contained the water of cursing: she took it, lifted her eyes towards the holy of holies, and drank it off. There was a stillness as of death amongst all who stood around, as if they were conscious of the presence of Jehovah, to clear the innocent or punish the guilty.
Sulamith stood in the midst of the people, firm, and with her looks fixed on the holy of holies; all eyes were directed towards her, and watched what would be the effect of the draught. But when they saw that she was unharmed by it, and that God had justified her from the accusations of her enemies, they burst into a cry of joy, and Hallelujah resounded from the temple to the city. Selumiel rushed to his daughter, and folded her in his paternal arms. With shouts of triumph and exclamations, “Blessed be Jehovah, she is innocent!” they accompanied her into the inner court of the temple, where the priest formally pronounced her acquittal. Thronging around her, all offered her their congratulations. Her hair was braided anew, her turban, her veil, her jewels were restored to her, and the dark garments of mourning exchanged for festal attire. Sulamith descended from the temple with modest and downcast looks. Iddo, who had heard the shouts of joy and had rightly interpreted them, opened his gates and received her. The people who had accompanied her remained long assembled on the open place before the Water-gate.
But where is Helon? When he had fled from the temple, overpowered by the look of Sulamith, he wandered about, shunned as one frantic by all who observed him, and unconscious whither he was going, till his feet carried him to the grave of his father in the valley of Jehoshaphat, where, exhausted by fatigue and strong excitement, he fell before the sepulchre and remained long insensible. Longer might he have remained, but that he was roused from his stupor by voices which cried, He is here, he is here! He opened his eyes and saw Iddo, who had come out with several others to seek him. Iddo embraced him, repeating to him, She lives, she is guiltless! while Helon, like one awakening from a dream, scarcely understood the meaning or the reference of the words. When fully restored to the consciousness of what had passed, joy, remorse, and shame rushed in such a torrent upon his mind, that he would have fallen again to the earth if they had not supported him. In this state they led him home.
CHAPTER V. THE DAY OF ATONEMENT.
Sulamith was waiting for her husband at the door, surrounded by her friends. As he entered she threw herself at his feet, and implored his forgiveness for the uneasiness which she had caused him. He raised her up, and then throwing himself on his face before her, implored her forgiveness with a look which penetrated her soul. To ask pardon in words was beyond his power. The friends conducted them to the inner court. Sulamith placed herself beside Helon, and endeavoured to tranquillize him, but he sat with eyes fixed upon the ground. He could scarcely even rejoice in the acquittal of his wife, so bitter was the remembrance that it was by him she had been unjustly accused. For the first time in his life he despised himself. It was in vain that Iddo advised him to efface the remembrance of what was past, and enjoy the present good; there was too much of Sadducean levity in this exhortation to pass instantaneously from sorrow to joy, to suit a mind so deeply agitated as Helon’s. Equally unavailing was the advice of Selumiel, to regard it all as the result of inevitable destiny, and to resign himself to it as the will of Jehovah. To reach the sublimity of this Essene philosophy required a more buoyant spirit than his, who was so oppressed by the sense of his own unworthy conduct.
Thus the day passed on. At evening the feast of the commencement of the civil year was announced by the sound of trumpets. It was the new moon of the seventh month, or Tisri, and was called the feast of Trumpets, because from morning to evening trumpets of rams’ horns were blown in the temple, according to the command of Moses. “In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets.” Helon resolved to pass this day and the succeeding eight days of penitence, before the great day of Atonement, which fell on the tenth of the month Tisri, with the old man in the temple. While he remained with Sulamith, he was so painfully reminded of the injury which he had done her, that he could have no hope of consolation or tranquillity.
Lev. xxiii. 23.
As soon as the gates were opened he went up to the temple, and as he crossed the court of the Gentiles, the old man was coming from his chamber. He went up to him and bade him welcome. “I purpose,” said Helon, “to spend the next ten days in the courts of Jehovah and to present a sin-offering.” “Come then to my chamber,” said the old man, “and remain there.” He returned thither, and Helon followed him. “Elisama,” said Helon, “is dead at Ramoth Gilead, whither he had fled from the avenger of blood.”
“I know it,” replied the old man.
“I have accused my wife unjustly, and made her unhappy.” “I was present yesterday, and saw how nobly she vindicated her innocence by the water of jealousy,” the old man replied.
“Alas, I am no Chasidean,” said Helon mournfully, “and never shall be one!” “It is true,” said the old man; “but you should be more than a Chasidean.”
“All on earth is vanity and deception—happiness, hope, and love—all is deception,” exclaimed the youth. “And the greatest deception of all is that which as yet thou dost not suspect,” rejoined the old man. “Remain here till thou art purified. I go to the sacrifice, for this day shall no work be done, but offerings be offered to the Lord.”
Lev. xxiii. 25.
Helon remained in the old man’s chamber. As every festival was first consecrated generally by the customary sacrifice, afterwards specially by its own, the morning-sacrifice was first presented. Next came the sacrifice of the new moon, two young bullocks, a ram, seven lambs of the first year as a burnt-offering, with their appropriate meat and drink offering, and a young goat as a sin-offering. Last of all the special offering of the seventh new moon was sacrificed, a young bullock, a ram, and seven lambs of the first year, with meal and wine, and a goat as a sin-offering. The law was afterwards read and explained in the synagogue.
Numb. xxix. 1-3.
Helon heard in his cell the blowing of the trumpets and the song of the people; and in his solitude repeated after them the eighty-first psalm which they were singing:
Sing aloud unto God, our strength, Make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob! Take psalms, strike the timbrel, The pleasant harp with the psaltery. Blow the trumpet in the new moon, On the solemn day of our feast: For this is a custom in Israel, A law of the God of Jacob, Which he ordained for a testimony in Joseph When he came out of the land of Egypt, Where I heard the voice of the unknown: I took the burden from his shoulder, His hands were delivered from the basket. Thou calledst in trouble and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the thunder cloud, I proved thee at the water of Meribah. Hear, O my people, I testify unto thee, O Israel, would that thou listenedst to me! Be there no strange god among thee, Worship not any strange god! I, Jehovah, am thy God, Who brought thee out of the land of Egypt: Open thy mouth and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice, Israel would not follow me. So I gave them up to their own desire And they walked according to their own counsels. O that my people would hear me And Israel walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies And turn my hand against their oppressors. They that hate Jehovah should have submitted themselves to him, And their prosperity should have endured for ever; I would have fed them with the finest of the wheat, I would have satisfied them with honey from the rock.
After the evening-sacrifice the old man questioned him respecting the state of his mind. Helon laid open his whole heart to him with filial simplicity and unreservedness, and as he spoke he could have fancied that Elisama, returned to life, was sitting before him. “Once only in my life,” said he, “have I been happy, when I quitted Egypt and entered the promised land, and kept the Passover in the temple of Jehovah. I was then happy in sanguine anticipation. But I soon discovered imperfections where I had thought every thing faultless; I found the truth, the melancholy truth of the account which thou hadst given me of the priests. I thought to find a sanctuary of pure happiness and virtue in my own house. Jehovah bestowed on me a virtuous wife, but I proved myself unworthy of her. Elisama died under the imputation of homicide, and we all were guilty of injustice towards the excellent Sulamith. Thou art right; Israel is a disobedient, sinful people. I condemn others freely, because I include myself in the same condemnation. Jehovah has given us his law, and the only fruit of it is that we are more criminal than the heathen who live without a law. O that I had lived in Solomon’s or David’s days! In our present condition it cannot be fulfilled. What God has enabled thee to do is a miracle, as all the people regard it.”
The old man heard him calmly as he uttered all this and much more, and then in a grave and serious tone began. “Thou talkest like a young man, hastily and ignorantly, and in all that thou hast said scarcely any thing is true, except the sinfulness of Israel. We are disobedient, as thou hast described us, thou and I, and the whole people; in the days of Solomon and David it was no better; and hadst thou lived in those times thou wouldst have been as far as thou art now from the fulfilment of the law. The law was given us to convince us of our sins, not to serve as the basis on which our pride might build its towering edifice. When it has convinced us of our sin, it awakens also our longing for help and consolation. It is the lot, or rather the privilege, of Israel, that it alone has the consciousness of sins, and the hope of a certain atonement for them. If both are united in thee, if thou mournest truly for thy sins, and truly desirest reconciliation, do what thou hast purposed and offer thy sin-offering: afterwards we will discourse further.”
Helon purchased a goat for a sin-offering; this was the victim which a ruler and a priest was to present; the high-priest, on the other hand, a bullock; and a common Israelite, a sheep. He carried it through the gate on the northern side of the altar of burnt-offering; standing behind it he laid his hands on the head of the animal between the horns, and said, confessing his sins, “O Jehovah, I have transgressed against thee! forgive my transgression and my sin which I have committed.” Then he slew the goat: a priest received the blood in a basin and carried it to the altar of burnt-offering, dipped his finger in it, and touched the four horns of the altar, letting a few drops trickle down each of them. He then ascended it, and poured the remainder of the blood down the pipe. Helon took off the skin of the victim and taking the internal fat gave it to the priest, who waved it with the liver and the kidnies between the altar and the temple, salted it, and burnt it on the altar. The rest of the flesh belonged to the officiating priest. Helon had offered this sacrifice, in expectation that his conscience would be tranquillized by it; but he did not experience the result which he had promised himself. He found himself as full of sorrow and fear after the offering as before. He complained to the old man, that he had desired to walk in the way of the Lord, and had offered a sacrifice in pursuance of it, but found no blessing follow it.
“Has not David said,” replied the old man, “even he who so delighted in the service of the sanctuary,”
Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it, Thou delightest not in burnt-offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.—Ps. li. 16.
“I would,” said Helon, “that my whole heart belonged to Jehovah, then should I have peace and joy. But how may I attain this state?”
“Tell me,” said the old man, “when, as priest, would you declare the leper cleansed from his leprosy?”
“When no spot of leprosy remains in him from head to foot,” said Helon, “but all is sound, as far as the priest can see.” “So judge then of the sinfulness of your whole state, from a single sin. Read the penitential psalms, and tell me what you find in them most applicable to your own condition.” Helon obeyed his injunctions, but for several days the old man came and went without noticing him. One evening, however, when he returned from the sacrifice, and was about to withdraw again, Helon earnestly entreated him to stay. “I have found,” said he, “the words which too truly describe my own condition,
There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger, Nor any health in my bones because of my sins; For mine iniquities rise above my head; They weigh me down as a heavy burden.—Ps. xxxviii. 3, 4.
“What a new light has opened upon me from these words! in what a condition do I now appear to myself! How did I deceive myself when I supposed that, a learner as I was, I had already attained the rank of a Chasidean! What miserable self-deception was I practising, when I professed to renounce those things to which my heart so strongly clung! What contemptible pride, to imagine that I could reach the summit of perfection by ascending, step by step, from the fulfilment of one commandment to that of another! And when one frail support of my self-conceit gave way, how eagerly did I catch at another, to prop myself up. I must confess with Cain ‘My sin is too great to be forgiven,’ and I tremble at the words of the children of Korah, ‘No man can by any means redeem his brother nor give to God a ransom for him.’ I am under the curse pronounced from Sinai, 'Cursed be he that fulfils not all the words of this law to do them.'” “Praised be Jehovah,” said the old man, “that thou hast at length discerned one part of the eternal truth; the other will not be withheld from thee in due season. Israel is a people mourning for sin, but also hoping for forgiveness. If our sins separate between God and us, we have the more need of a mediator. The Messiah comes who shall also remove our sins. Say not therefore ‘My sins are too great to be forgiven.’ Thou knowest that the mercy of Jehovah is like his nature, infinite. Pray then for faith, and even now thy offering on his altar shall reconcile thee, by virtue of the future sacrifice of the Messiah. Thou hast partaken of the sin of thy people, partake also with them in the atonement which is to be made on the morrow.”
Ps. xlix. 7.
Dan. ix. 24.
On the following day Helon was early in the temple. The high-priest had been already seven days there, preparing himself for the great solemnity of atonement on the tenth day of Tisri, and along with him his substitute, who was to fill his place, if any accidental impurity should disqualify the high-priest. The solemnity began in the evening. It was the greatest fast in the year, lasting twenty-four hours, from evening to evening. The people assembled in the temple as soon as it was light. The high-priest had watched all night and had bathed himself in the morning. He was on this occasion the representative of the whole people before Jehovah, and performed those services at the altar which were usually the office of the priests. He offered the morning-sacrifice and the meat-offering for himself as high-priest. Having again bathed himself, he put on his under robe of byssus, his drawers, his upper garments, and his girdle and turban. Once more he washed his hands and feet, and then offered a bullock for a sin-offering for himself and his house, and a goat for the sins of the people, at the door of the sanctuary.
He laid his hand behind on the head of the bullock, and said, “O Jehovah, I have sinned against thee, both I and my house! Forgive my sins wherewith I have sinned against thee, I and my house, as it is written, 'On this day is your atonement made, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before Jehovah.'” Thrice he uttered the name of Jehovah in this confession, and thrice all the priests, the Levites, and the whole people, fell on their faces and said, “Praised be the holy name of his kingdom for ever and ever!”
Lev. xvi. 30.
From the bullock he went to the two goats on the north side of the altar, and placing himself between them, shook a box in which were two small tablets, one inscribed “For Jehovah,” the other “For Azazel.” He drew a lot for each, and placed it on the head of the goat for which he had drawn. When he drew that which was for Jehovah, he said aloud “For Jehovah;” and all the priests, the Levites, and the people, fell upon their faces to the earth. The goat Azazel was then taken to the gate of Nicanor. The high-priest returned to the bullock, made a new confession over it for the sins of himself and his house, and the sons of Aaron, then slew it, and another priest received the blood in a basin. The high-priest took coals from the altar of burnt-offering, and laying incense upon it, went through the holy into the most holy place, to burn incense before Jehovah. He returned into the court, keeping his face towards the holy of holies, and then taking the blood, carried it as he had done the incense, and dipping his finger in it, sprinkled it once in the air, and seven times on the ground towards the place where in the former temple the ark of the covenant had stood.
When he returned into the court the goat for Jehovah was brought to him. He slew it, carried the blood into the holy of holies for the sins of himself, his house, and the sons of Aaron, as well as of the whole people, and sprinkled it as before. Retiring from the most holy into the holy place, he sprinkled the veil which was between them seven times; first with the blood of the bullock, and then with that of the goat. Then mingling their blood, he dipped his finger in it and let a few drops trickle down the horns of the altar of incense. He cleared the altar from ashes, and sprinkled the place seven times with blood. The remainder of the blood he poured out at the bottom of the altar of burnt-offering. The high-priest went next to the goat Azazel, laid his hands upon his head, and confessed over him the sins of the people, as he had before confessed those of himself and his house. As often as the name of Jehovah recurred, the people fell on their faces and said, “Praised be the holy name of his kingdom for ever and ever!” The goat was then carried by an Israelite into the wilderness of Zuk, twelve thousand paces from Jerusalem, and full of rocks: from the summit of one of these he hurled the goat down that he might bear the sins of the people into the desert.
The high-priest then took the skin and inward parts of the goat which was for Jehovah, with the rest of the body, and sent it to be burnt outside the city. The men who performed this office, as well as he who carried the scape-goat to the wilderness, were unclean the rest of the day.
These ceremonies made a deep impression upon Helon. He followed the high-priest into the court of the Women, where he read the following portion of the law. “And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, On the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation unto you and ye shall afflict yourselves and offer an offering made by fire unto Jehovah. And ye shall do no work on that day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before Jehovah your God. For whosoever shall not afflict himself on that day shall be cut off from among his people; and whosoever doeth any work on that day him will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be unto you a statute for ever, in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month, from even unto even shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” The high-priest bathed himself, laid aside his garments of byssus, and put on his pontifical array, his meil, his ephod, his breastplate, and his turban with the name of Jehovah. In these garments he approached the altar and offered a ram as a burnt-offering for himself, and another for the people; with seven lambs of the first year, and the fat of the sin-offering for himself and the people. The people remained fasting in the temple; the hearing the law was the principal occupation between the sacrifices. The fast continued from evening to evening.
Lev. xxiii. 26.
When evening came the high-priest offered, before the usual sacrifice, a bullock for a burnt-offering and a goat for a sin-offering. After the evening-sacrifice he bathed himself, washed his hands and feet, changed his pontifical robes for his garments of byssus, went again into the holy of holies and brought out the censer. This was the fourth time that he entered it on this day, the only day in the year when he appeared before the ark of the covenant. Having bathed again and put on his pontifical array, he burnt incense in the holy place and lighted the lamps, concluding by giving his benediction to the people, who prostrated themselves while they received it. Helon had felt during the solemnities of this day the weight removed from his mind which had so long pressed upon it. He prayed in the words of the Psalmist:
Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence my bones waxed old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; My moisture was turned into the drought of summer, Yet I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and my iniquity I did not conceal. I said, I confess my transgressions unto Jehovah; Thou forgavest the burthen of my sin. For this let every one that is godly pray unto thee While mercy may yet be found; The floods of mighty waters shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding-place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: But he that trusteth in Jehovah shall be surrounded with mercy. Be glad in Jehovah, and rejoice, ye righteous; And shout for joy, all ye upright in heart.—Ps. xxxii.
His peace and joy increasing, as he poured out his soul in prayer before the Lord, he continued;
Bless Jehovah, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless Jehovah, O my soul, And forget not all his benefits; Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, Who healeth all thy diseases,
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction, Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercy, Who satisfieth thy desire with good things, So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Jehovah executeth righteousness And judgment for those that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel. Jehovah is merciful and gracious, Long suffering and plenteous in mercy. He will not always call to judgment, Nor keep his anger for ever. He dealeth not with us according to our sins, Nor rewardeth us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is his mercy towards them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us. As a father pitieth his children, So Jehovah pitieth those that fear him. For he knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; And the place thereof knoweth it no more. The mercy of Jehovah is from everlasting to everlasting upon those that fear him, And his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, To those who remember his commandments to do them. Jehovah hath established his throne in the heavens; And his kingdom ruleth over all.
Praise Jehovah, ye his angels, Mighty ones, that do his commands, Hearkening to the voice of his word! Praise Jehovah, all his hosts, Ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure! Praise Jehovah, all his works, In all places of his dominion! Praise Jehovah, O my soul!—Ps. ciii.
At evening he returned to the cell of the old man. A calm peace had overspread his mind, to which he had long been a stranger. He no longer prided himself in his imaginary self-righteousness, but he felt the satisfactory assurance that his “transgression was forgiven, that his iniquity was pardoned;” and in the midst of his gratitude to Jehovah, he did not forget the filial effusion of thankfulness towards the venerable man, whose counsels had taught him how to seek rest to his soul.
CHAPTER VI. THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.
The Feast of Trumpets, on the first day of the month Tisri, had been the beginning of a series of solemnities crowned by the Feast of Tabernacles, which began on the fifteenth and lasted till the twenty-second day. While some of the people of Israel were gathering in the latest gifts of the earth, and others preparing for the pilgrimage to Jerusalem; while some, who were compelled to remain at home, were beginning to dress their green bowers, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to collect branches from the adjacent country, to decorate their tabernacles in the vallies around the city; Helon returned to his friends in the house of Iddo. He said nothing of what had passed, but they all perceived immediately that he was become a new man. He embraced Sulamith with a pure affection, and a humbled consciousness of his past injustice; his manner towards all around was full of mild benevolence. There was none of the outward warmth and vehemence of manner which he had exhibited before, yet his mind was full of activity and joy. The calm composure of his whole demeanour was that of a man to whom the mysteries of life are solved, and who feels that omnipotent love defends and guides him through time and eternity. His thoughts and desires seemed all directed towards an invisible, eternal, future good; and yet never had his heart been more open to all the joys of nature, or more susceptible to the tenderest feelings of human affection. Sulamith had never loved him so much, nor ever been so beloved by him. The true happiness of her married life now began; all that had passed was in the strictest sense forgotten. She bloomed again, in more than her former beauty, like the rose of Jericho, when the morning sun drinks from its fragrant leaves the heavy dew which had weighed them down.
On the thirteenth day of the month Tisri, the companies of pilgrims began to arrive from every side. The native of Lebanon, the inhabitant of Beersheba, of Peræa, and Galilee, those that dwell on the seashore, and the stranger from Syria, Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Lybia, after their toilsome journies, greeted the temple and city of their God. From the roof of Iddo’s house, Helon and Sulamith looked down on the festal throng.
The sight which they witnessed on the following day, the day of the preparation for the festival, was peculiar to the precincts of Jerusalem. The courts of the temple, all the roofs of the houses, the mount of Olives, as far as its highest pinnacle, the valley of the Kedron, and the whole environs of the city were covered with a sudden verdure. The gardens and fields had already assumed the yellow hue of autumn, but the palms, the firs, the myrtles, and the pomegranates had been compelled to yield their more durable foliage for this occasion. The whole neighbourhood was parched by the heat of the sun, and the vineyards had been already stripped, but at once spring and summer appeared to return with all their variety of colours. The busy hands of men and women were every where in full activity, the children waited on the builders, and, as if by magic, Jerusalem seemed all at once filled and encircled by an encampment of green bowers, a lively and refreshing contrast to the mournful barrenness of the hills which were in the distance of the picture.
By the evening all was ready. The citrons and apples of Paradise glowed amidst the dark green of the bowers, their walls were hung with tapestry and their floors covered with carpets, and the large lamp burnt in the middle. When the evening star appeared in heaven above the western sea, every family, after the customary ablutions, left its dwelling to occupy its tabernacle. Iddo had resigned his house to strangers, and had erected himself a tabernacle in a vineyard on the mount of Olives, to which he and the family of Selumiel repaired, and placed themselves around the richly furnished table. He prayed, “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, thou king of the earth, who hast sanctified us by thy precepts and commanded us to dwell in tabernacles.” He then emptied the cup, the rest followed his example; and the same thing was done almost at the same instant in the surrounding tabernacles. The thousands of lamps in the bowers on the mount of Olives, in the vale of Kedron, and on the roofs of the houses in the city, seemed like stars of the earth, answering to those by which the heavens were already overspread. A gentle wind just stirred the leaves of the bowers, and the sounds of festivity and mutual congratulation echoed on every side, amidst songs and the music of cymbals and aduffes. Well may they rejoice whose sins are removed: if the people afflicted themselves before the atonement was made, it was natural that after it they should indulge in the mirth of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Towards midnight the lamps were gradually extinguished, and all was silent in the tabernacles. The women, the children, and the weakly persons returned to their houses, and the men laid themselves down to rest on the floor. But scarcely had the first beams of morning reddened the summits of the Arabian hills, when they all left their bowers to fill the courts of the temple. The usual ceremonies of extinguishing the lamps, killing the lamb, burning incense in the holy place, and offering the morning-sacrifice, were first gone through. The eight priests then ranged themselves on the sloping ascent of the altar, each with that part of the sacrificial instruments which was intrusted to his care, the last being he who bore the golden vessel with the wine of the drink-offering. At once all the instruments of music struck up together, the Water-gate was opened, and through its lofty folding-doors a priest entered with a golden ewer full of water which he had drawn from the spring of Siloah, whose softly flowing stream runs at the south-eastern foot of mount Moriah. All was silent, except the sound of the silver trumpets. The people made a wide opening for the priest, who approached the altar of burnt-offering and was met by him who bore the vessel of wine. As soon as they saw each other they both exclaimed, “With joy we draw water from the wells of salvation;” and the people around repeated, “With joy we draw water from the wells of salvation.” The priest who had descended from the altar then took from the other the ewer of water, and mingled it with the wine. The Hallel was sung in the mean time by the Levites, the people who filled the courts holding a citron in the one hand and a bundle of palm, willow, and citron branches in the other.
Isaiah, xii. 3.
This was the solemnity of which it was commonly said in Israel, “He who has not seen the joy of the drawing of water has seen no joy.” Helon regarded it as not only an expression of thankfulness for the early and the latter rain, to which the fruits of the earth now gathered in had owed their abundance, but as a memorial of the water which gushed forth in the wilderness at the stroke of Moses’ rod; besides that still higher meaning which it remained for the Messiah fully to disclose.
The special offering of this day, consisting of thirteen bullocks, two rams, and fourteen lambs of the first year, with their meat-offering and drink-offering, and a goat for a sin-offering. On this day priests of all the courses were on duty, and at least four hundred and sixty-four. A multitude of Levites, skilful in their art were disposed on the fifteen steps, and the great Hallel was sung by them and the assembled myriads of the people. When they came to the Hosanna in the 118th Psalm, the people and priests moved around the altar, imitating the journey of Israel through the wilderness, holding, as before, a citron in one hand and a bundle of palm and myrtle branches in the other, repeating, “O Lord help, O Lord grant success.” As they passed the high-priest, they showered the fragrant leaves and fruit upon him, heaping the choice gifts of the earth upon the person of highest sanctity among the people. To the worshippers in general this solemnity combined a grateful acknowledgment of the gift of the fruits of the earth, with a memorial of the most important event in the history of God’s chosen people. But Helon looked forward to a time when all the promises of Jehovah should be fulfilled, and when to the shouts of Hosanna should be added, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!”
Numb. xxix. 12.
When the circuit of the altar was completed, and the high-priest from the summit of the fifteen steps had given his benediction to the people, one part of them presented their own thank-offerings, another repaired to the porticoes, to hear the law read and expounded. In the sabbatical year the whole law was read at the Feast of Tabernacles.
Neh. viii. 18.
Deut. xxxi. 10, 11.
Immediately after the evening-sacrifice, when the water of Siloah had been again mingled with the wine of the drink-offering, the multitude crowded to the court of the Women, which was illuminated by lamps of unusual size, disposed on four candelabra, fifty cubits in height. The Levites with their instruments stood on the fifteen steps, which led from the court of the Women to the court of Israel, and from the galleries over the porticoes the women were spectators of what passed below. The members of the Sanhedrim, the elders and chief men of the people took torches in their hands, sung psalms, and performed sacred dances, in honour of Jehovah; the youths displayed feats of corporeal strength and dexterity; and the festal assemblage did not disperse till a late hour of the night.
The feast lasted eight days: in the first seven the ceremonies of the commencement were repeated, but with this difference, the number of bullocks for the burnt-offering was diminished by one every day, and in the six following days civil occupations might be pursued, which were forbidden on the first. The traffic, which took place at all the great festivals, was especially active at this time. The curious productions of Egypt, the imports and manufactures of Tyre, the spices of the east, the balsam of Gilead, and the corn and cattle of Galilee, were bartered or sold; and every one purchased what was necessary against the approaching season of winter. Helon, however, had no pleasure in seeing what he considered as a profanation of the house of God, and withdrew from the sight of it to pass his days in the tabernacle of Iddo, on the mount of Olives. On the third day he presented his thank-offering, which was truly to him what its name implied, an offering of peace. While Sulamith was engaged in preparing the meal from that part of the victim which belonged to the offerer, Helon availed himself of the permission which the priests enjoyed on festival days, to go into the holy place and see its magnificence.
Standing at the altar of burnt-offering, which was itself raised forty-two steps above the court of the Gentiles, a space of twenty-two cubits intervened between the spectator and the temple building. The altar, therefore, was not within but in front of the temple, the blood of atonement which was to reconcile man to God being thus shed between them. Twelve steps ascend from the level of the base of the altar to the temple; and where the pillars Jachin and Boaz stood in the temple of Solomon, the portico began. The building consisted of three parts, the portico, the holy place, and the holy of holies. The portico was a hundred cubits high, a hundred long, and twenty broad: the entrance, which was seventy cubits, and twenty-five broad, stood open without folding-doors. Within, the portico was ninety cubits in height, fifty in length, and twenty in breadth, from east to west. Every part of it was gilded. Opposite to the entrance was the curtain which closed the passage into the holy place, fifty-five cubits in height and sixteen in breadth, exhibiting the colours of the four elements, white, dark blue, crimson, and purple. A large vine, with golden clusters, of the size of a man, was represented over the entrance. The holy place had not the same proportions as in Solomon’s; it was twenty cubits in breadth, sixty in height, and forty in length. In it stood the golden candlestick, the golden altar of incense, and the golden table of shew-bread. The holy of holies, before the entrance to which a second curtain hung, was a cube of twenty cubits. In this temple it was empty; but in that of Solomon it had contained the ark of the covenant with the tables of the law, above which was the cover or mercy-seat, and over that the two cherubims, between which the glory of Jehovah dwelt. There were chambers of three stories high on the sides, and over the holy and most holy place, entered by doors in the portico, which served as repositories for the treasures and other valuables. The whole of this part of the building was ceiled with plates of gold, and the flat roof furnished with gilded iron spikes, to prevent the birds from settling upon it.
1 Kings, vii. 21.
Helon contemplated with sacred awe the dwelling place of God. In company with the other priests he ascended, in mental prayer and with deep humility, the twelve steps; and was led through the apartments which are around and over the holy and most holy place, and then descended again into the portico. The curtain before the holy place was withdrawn. Helon in his ministrations in the court of the priests had often seen thus far, and with veneration contemplated the abode of the glory of Jehovah; but now his trembling foot entered its hitherto unknown precincts. The golden lampstand was on the southern side, whose seven lamps were kindled every evening; towards the north, the table of shew-bread, on which the loaves of the presence were placed every week; and in the middle the altar of incense, of acacia wood, a cubit in length and breadth, and two cubits in height, on which, morning and evening, a priest burnt incense, while the lamb was offered. Only the foot of a priest might enter the holy place; into the holy of holies none but the high-priest’s, and that only once in the year, on the day of atonement. What gave a higher interest to the indescribable feelings which occupied Helon’s mind, as he stood before the veil of the holiest place, was the company of the old man of the temple, who had dissuaded him from entering on the festival of Pentecost, promising to be his guide at the Feast of Tabernacles. He had prepared himself and Helon by a long and fervent prayer. The old man manifested an unusual degree of emotion. On ordinary occasions, the frame of his mind seemed equally removed from grief and joy, from emotion and apathy, but now he was visibly agitated, and his venerable form seemed to acquire a supernatural dignity from the feeling with which he laboured. In passing through the sacred building profound silence was always observed; but when they returned from it he still remained silent; and Helon, much as he wished to ask him questions respecting the import of all he saw, durst not speak to him while he saw him in this mood. The old man led him to Solomon’s porch, where he had received him on the first evening, and pointed with his hand to the courts of the temple which were within their view. After a long silence, during which he was strongly agitated, he said, “Kneel down, my son! I will give thee my blessing. I promised thy father and thy uncle to do for thee what I have done: I am hastening to where they already are; may we meet there again! Jehovah has guided thee by my means; be thine own spirit henceforth thy guide; for thou wilt see me no more on earth.” Helon, astonished and overpowered, sunk upon the ground and received the old man’s blessing; and while he lay weeping on the earth, he had disappeared. Helon went to his cell; it was open, but there was no man within. He hastened to Selumiel, who told him that the old man often disappeared for a long time together, and that his words were always true.
They returned together after the meal to Iddo’s tabernacle on the mount of Olives. When they had seated themselves, the figure of a stranger appeared among them, whom they did not at first recognise. It was Myron. In the first moment of their surprise they seemed doubtful how to act; Iddo was inclined to thrust him out by force; when Myron, whose pale face and shrunk figure had prevented their knowing him at first, exclaimed, “Let Helon decide!” He turned to him and said; “On the day when my foolish thoughtlessness a second time gave a wound to the happiness of your life, I fled into the wilderness of Judah. A priest found me wandering, brought me back to Jerusalem, and received me hospitably. He told me what had befallen you; and I testified to him my deep remorse and penitence. He seized the opportunity to persuade me to abandon the fables and follies of the religion in which I had been brought up, and to turn to the worship of the one true God. This evening an aged and venerable man entered the house of my host, and bade me seek thee out, and tell thee, in his name, that thou shouldest receive me not only into thy friendship, but into thy faith. Behold me ready to become a proselyte!”
“This,” said Helon, “must be the old man of the temple; his word shall be obeyed.” He embraced the friend of his youth, and begged him to forgive his groundless suspicions. “O,” said he, “had Elisama but lived to see this day! He had always hope that thou wouldest be one of us. Did I not too always predict, that if thou shouldest see Israel in all its glory in the Land of Promise, thou wouldest desire to become a partaker in their hopes?” “The God who made heaven and earth hath done this,” said Myron; “he has severely punished my folly, and in the midst of my chastisement made me to know your law and your hopes. I now understand why in every land I have found prophecies which pointed to Judæa for their accomplishment.”
“Praised be Jehovah,” exclaimed Iddo, “who increaseth his people Israel, and hath spoken by his prophet the word of which this day we behold the accomplishment, 'Arise, shine for thy light is come and the glory of Jehovah riseth upon thee. For behold darkness shall cover the earth and thick darkness thy people: but Jehovah shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee, and the Gentiles shall come to thy light.'”
Isaiah, lx. 1.
Myron, in his usual hasty and decided manner, pressed his speedy reception as a proselyte, and his friends were desirous that this festival should be made still more solemn by his conversion. In later times accessions from among the heathens to the Jewish religion had become very common, and they were regarded as a pledge of the approach of the time when the promises of God should be fulfilled, which, as they understood them, implied the dominion of Israel over the whole earth.
Iddo and the priest with whom Myron had lodged endeavoured to prevail on him, by submitting to circumcision, and baptism to become one of the family of Abraham and an heir of its promises, after which, on the offering of three turtle-doves, he would become a proselyte of righteousness, and be permitted to bring his sacrifice, like a native Jew, into the court of the priests. Myron was more inclined to become only a proselyte of the gate; and Helon took his part, and asked what more was necessary, since he could thus enjoy the benefits of the law, could partake in all the civil privileges of Israel, and dwell in their gates? “Would there not too,” he asked, “be danger that he should be seduced by the Hellenists to join the worship at Leontopolis, if he returned to Egypt in every respect a Jew?”
On the following morning they conducted Myron before the tribunal which sat in the gate of Nicanor. In the presence of three witnesses, Helon, Selumiel, and the priest his host, he solemnly abjured idolatry, professed his belief in all the truths which are revealed in the law, and promised obedience to the seven Noachic precepts, as they were called; namely, to abstain from idolatry, to worship only the true God, to avoid incest, not to commit theft, or robbery, or murder, to maintain judgment and justice, and to abstain from blood and all that contained blood, consequently from things strangled. He then presented his offering, but he was not allowed to come any further than to the enclosure between the court of the Gentiles and the court of Israel. From this time he bore the name of a devout man, one that feared God, a stranger or proselyte of the gate.
As Helon and Myron spent the last day but one of the feast in Iddo’s tabernacle on the mount of Olives, Helon read to him the description which Nehemiah gives of the first celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles after the captivity:
Neh. viii. 13.
“And on the second day were gathered together the chief of the fathers of all the people, the priests, and the Levites, unto Ezra the scribe, even to understand the words of the law. And they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month. And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, “Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths, every one upon the roof of his house, and in their courts, and in the courts of the house of God, and in the street of the Watergate, and in the street of the gate of Ephraim. And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths; for since the day of Joshua, the son of Nun, unto that day, had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness. Also day by day, from the first day unto the last day, he read in the book of the law of God. And they kept the feast seven days: and on the eighth day was a solemn assembly according unto the manner.”
“It is not to be denied,” said Myron, when it was finished, “that the Dionysian festivals of the Greeks have considerable resemblance to the Feast of Tabernacles; the mixt offering of water and wine reminds me of the gift of Bacchus; the bundle of palm, myrtle, and willow branches, of the Thyrsus; the Hosanna, of the Evoe; the procession round the altar, of the Dionysian train; the dance in the court of the Women, of the dances of the Grecian youths. The torch too is in both cases found in the hands of the votary. But the resemblance of the Dionysia of the Greeks to the Feast of the Tabernacles is that of a distorted image to the faithful picture.”
“You might have gone further,” said Helon, “and have added that such is the relation generally of heathenism to Judaism. The heathens have mingled poetry and fable with the tradition which they received from the family of Noah; they have disfigured by human inventions the divine truths which they learnt from the Jews. How indeed could it be otherwise, since Jehovah found it necessary to preserve this knowledge pure in Israel, by renewing and impressing more deeply the communication of it by means of the law?”
“I understand now,” said Myron, “what you alluded to before, and I see the history of antiquity in an entirely new light. The Greeks differ from the Egyptians only in this, that they have given their distorted images a more graceful form.”
“Bless Jehovah,” said Helon, “that thou hast returned at last to the true source; and pray to him that all the heathens may come to draw from it. The advent of the Messiah, who shall accomplish this, cannot be far distant. He shall be the light of the Gentiles and the consolation of Israel. The sceptre is already departed from Judah and is in the hand of Levi; and the seventy weeks of Daniel are hastening to their close.”
Gen. xlix. 10.
“And tell me,” said Myron, “my former friend, but now my brother in faith, shall my heathen brethren in those days become proselytes of the gate, or proselytes of righteousness? To me it seems, if I may venture to confide to you my opinion on such a subject, that this distinction points to an important difference in the laws of Jehovah themselves. I have bound myself by an oath to obey those precepts of universal morality, which are contained equally in the Noachic and Mosaic law; and I have professed my belief in all the truths which your lawgiver taught; but I have not bound myself to all the rites and ceremonies which your nation practises. How then, if the former were what is truly valuable, what all nations alike need; and in the days of which you speak shall alike know; and if the latter were only important for their tendency to preserve the others?”
“It may be so,” said Helon, musing. “The old man in the temple has taught me, that the sacrifices are but a visible prophecy, commanded to the people from their want of a more spiritual faith. But I will neither deny nor affirm any thing in this matter. The Messiah comes who will remove all our doubts. Meanwhile let us rejoice in the belief, that in the manner which Jehovah in his counsels has decreed, 'the law shall go forth from Zion and his word from Jerusalem; and he shall teach the Gentiles his ways and they shall walk in his paths.'” The friends embraced each other, and descending from the mount of Olives Helon went up to the altar in the temple.
Micah, iv. 2.
The last day of the Feast of Tabernacles was the most joyous of all. The drawing of the water, the Hosanna, the nightly illumination and dance had been repeated every day; the seventh day was called the great Hosanna and the day of Willows. The altar of burnt-offering was decked with branches of willow, all bent inwards, as an emblem that earthly glory must bow before the majesty of God. Instead of once, the people went seven times around the altar with their branches and their citrons. The last meal was taken in the tabernacles, whose green decorations had already begun to fade; but to the freshness which had charmed the eye when the feast began, succeeded the mind’s remembrance of seven happy days which had been passed in them. The father of the family pronounced the blessing over the last cup of wine which they were to drink here, and when it was emptied gave his benediction to the company, who left the tabernacle with that melancholy with which we quit a spot where we have enjoyed much happiness. The women and children, and even Myron and Helon, carried away a citron, a pomegranate, a branch, or a leaf, as a memorial of the festival. In the evening the illumination and the dance as before described were repeated. This part of the festivities, as well as the drawing of the water, ceased on the eighth day, which was added as a special sabbath to the full week of the feast. On this day no circuit was made around the altar, and the offering consisted only of one bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of a year old, as a burnt-offering, with their usual meat and drink offerings, and a goat for a sin-offering. Besides Azareth, Day of Convocation, it was called the Day of Rejoicing in the Law, because every year on this day the reading of the law and the prophets ended, and began afresh on the following sabbath. Thus what every one had begun in his own synagogue at home, he completed here in the midst of the assembled people. This took place on the twenty-second day of the month, in which, up to this point, there had been only four common days.
CHAPTER VII. THE CONCLUSION.
The tabernacles were broken up, and only the scattered leaves, flowers, and fillets testified that they had been. The pilgrims were preparing for their departure, and exchanging their farewell salutations. Many took leave of Jerusalem never to behold it again. The autumn wind blew chill, and where a solitary tabernacle still remained as a monument of the festival, its green was changed to an autumnal yellow. The circle of the Jewish feasts was closed, the half year of harvest was at an end, and the dark and rainy season of winter was fast approaching, when no pilgrim’s song was heard on the roads to Jerusalem; a winter which to many would prove the winter of death.
The companies of travellers arranged themselves for their departure. Selumiel and his family, with Myron and Iddo, took the road by Bethany to Jericho. As they passed through the hollow between the southernmost and the middle summit of the mount of Olives, Helon thought of the tears which he had shed on that spot at Pentecost, when he exclaimed, “The path of obedience is difficult.” Now returning a happy husband, with the peace of God in his heart, he was inclined to say, “Easy is the path of obedience to him who walks in it with faith.” They halted at noon at the Oasis, beneath the palms, and arrived late in the evening at Jericho. On the following day the Galileans crossed the Jordan on their return home.
Helon, Sulamith, and Myron began to make preparations for their departure to Alexandria, from which they were to fetch the mother of Helon. When they were about to begin their journey symptoms of the plague showed themselves at Jericho. This is the most terrific of all diseases, as rapid in its operation as the leprosy is slow, and producing an equally miserable death. Those who are seized with it are suddenly attacked by pains in the head and loins; the speech becomes inarticulate, and not unfrequently is lost altogether, as well as the sense of hearing. The eyes become dull and heavy; lethargy succeeds, the strength is prostrated, fever, delirium, and melancholy seize the sufferer, and he commonly dies on the third day, unless a plague-boil preserves him for a miserable existence. If the disease spreads, all intercourse is at an end. The streets, the fountains, and the houses are heaped with dead; infected persons are abandoned by their nearest relatives; and despair and licentiousness walk hand in hand. The people call the plague the arrows of God.
As the plague commonly rages most destructively on its first breaking out, Selumiel considered this circumstance as a divine warning to withdraw from Jericho with his whole family, and go into Egypt. Preparations were speedily made, friends and household were commended to Jehovah, and the city of palms abandoned as if a curse were upon it. They hastened by Bethel, Gibeon, and Lydda, to Joppa, where Helon’s host was requested to procure for them, as speedily as possible, an opportunity of sailing to Alexandria in a Phœnician ship.
Helon looked from the heights of Joppa to the hills of Judah, and blessed the beloved land which had been to him not only a land of promise but a land of fulfilment. The image of his pious mother, all whose expectations he was about to accomplish and surpass, her joy at seeing him again, and the prospect of returning to the land of her fathers and visiting the grave of her husband, her blessing bestowed on him and Sulamith—all these things occupied his mind with delightful anticipations.
His host seemed uneasy. Helon supposed he might apprehend that they had brought infection with them, and might communicate it, and he hastened to set him at ease on this point. His host shook his head in answer to Helon’s assurances, and looked sorrowfully at him. At length he said, “It is not to myself but thee that my grief relates. Collect all thy firmness; in vain dost thou go to Alexandria to bring back thy mother. She is dead! The tidings of the death of Elisama and the rumour of thy wife’s unfaithfulness reached her together, and her heart broke with its double weight of sorrow.”
Sulamith uttered a piercing shriek, and Myron wept in grief and shame. Helon felt what an affectionate child feels when bereaved of a mother, but he knew that the hand of Jehovah guided him; that the Lord woundeth, but also healeth; that his ways are not our ways, nor his thoughts our thoughts. “Comfort me, O Jehovah,” he exclaimed, his eyes raised to heaven, “comfort me as one is comforted by his mother!” Then seating himself in a corner he gave vent to those tears which soften the anguish of the heart to a tender sorrow.
It was determined, notwithstanding this intelligence, that they should continue their voyage to Alexandria, where Helon’s presence was necessary. Selumiel with his wife, his son, his daughter-in-law, and his grandson, Helon, Sulamith, Sallu, and Myron, embarked on board a Phœnician vessel. They ran swiftly along the coast, and Jamnia, Ashdod, Ascalon, Gaza, and Raphia were soon left behind. The mind of Helon was as clear and calm as the mirror in which the sea reflected the bright blue heavens. His grief for the death of his mother had only increased his trust in the Divine compassion, which had bestowed on him that perfect peace of mind, which neither in death nor life sees any thing to fear. One morning they were watching the broad red dawn announcing the approach of day. All were in an unusual frame of mind. Helon, full of tranquil joy, was relating to his friends, as they sat around him on the deck, the course of Divine Providence with respect to him in the year that was just completed, and how it had conducted him to that true peace which he had sought in vain before: “I could call upon the whole world,
Praise Jehovah, all the world, Serve Jehovah with joy! Come into his presence with rejoicing, Confess that Jehovah is God. He has made us and we are his, His people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, His courts with songs of praise. Bless him, praise his name! For Jehovah is good, his mercy is everlasting, And his faithfulness from generation to generation.—Ps. c.
“And through all the vicissitudes of my life, in calamity and in death, these words shall be my comfort, which the last of the prophets spoke, when the oracle of prophecy was about to be closed in silence:
The Lord whom ye seek will come speedily to his temple, And the Angel of the Covenant whom ye desire, Behold he cometh, saith Jehovah of Hosts.”
Mal. iii. 1.
While he thus spoke, delightful anticipations of futurity seemed to take possession of his soul. All who sat around him were silent; for the power of his faith seemed to communicate itself, by an indescribable operation, to their minds. All at once, confused voices exclaimed throughout the ship, A storm, a storm! The heavens grew black with clouds, the tempest rose, and the waves beat on every side of the ship. They endeavoured to avoid the shore, which was rocky and produced breakers which threatened every moment to overwhelm the vessel. The Phœnician mariners called on their gods, the children of Israel prayed to Jehovah. Helon stood in the midst of threatening waves and terrified men, tranquil and full of confidence. At once the ship received a violent shock, and sprung a leak. Their efforts were in vain. Sulamith flew to Helon’s arms, and each repeated to the other passages from the Psalms. All hope of safety was at an end, and sounds of terror and lamentation were heard on every side. Suddenly, the ship struck violently upon a rock and went to pieces. The crew sunk, and no one could bid another farewell. Helon supported himself for a short time upon a plank, and looking round saw Sulamith and her father sink. Alone, and scarcely conscious, he struggled for a few moments with the stormy waves. One of tremendous height came rolling onward; Helon exclaimed amidst the uproar of the elements,
“The Angel of the Covenant— Behold he cometh, saith Jehovah of Hosts,”
and was buried in the waters.
After an hour the storm had ceased. And the storms of this world, too, had ceased for those who had found death in the waves, and life in the bosom of their God.
NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
Page 7.—_The staircase from the roof to the outer court._] See Bishop Pearce on Mark ii. 4. Matt. xxiv. 17. Shaw’s Travels, p. 210, 214. The bishop supposes the staircase to have gone immediately into the street, but Shaw says that he never observed an instance of this.
Page 11.—_The termination of the Kedron._] The author means by this expression the point where the Kedron, after skirting Jerusalem on the east, turns off towards the Dead Sea. See what was said in the note on p. 244, vol. i. of the locality of Siloah, and its identity with Gihon. The valley of the Son of Hinnom, in which Tophet was a high place, (2 Kings xxiii. 10. Jer. vii. 31.) appears to have been on the _southern_ side of Zion and without the city. If it had been, as some suppose, the same with the Tyropœon, which separated Acra from Zion, it would have been within the city, which is incredible, considering its pollution. What the author afterwards (p. 12) calls the valley of Siloah, appears to be the western end of the Tyropœon, at the eastern end of which was the fountain Siloah.
Page 14.—_Sepulchres of the kings._] See in Maundrell, p. 76, the description of their still magnificent remains. “For what reason they go by this name is hard to resolve, since it is certain that none of the kings of Israel or Judah were buried here, unless it may be thought perhaps that Hezekiah was buried here, and that these were the sepulchres of the sons of David. 2 Chron. xxxii. 33.”
Page 15.—_Golgotha._] This spot, called also Calvary, according to the common opinion of travellers, is included within the present city of Jerusalem. See the plan in Shaw’s Travels, p. 277.
Page 16.—_Castle of Baris._] Baris בירה is an appelative, signifying a tower, (Joseph. Ant. x. 11.) used as a proper name of the castle which John Hyrcanus built, (Jos. Ant. xviii. 6.) as the royal residence. It was afterwards enlarged by Herod and called Antonia. (Jos. Ant. xv. 14.) In the text, “north-east corner of the temple” has been inadvertently substituted for north-west, which was its real position.
Page 19.—_The crowing of the cock._] It has been asserted, on the authority of the Rabbins, (see Lightfoot on Matt. xxvi. 34.) that no cocks were kept in Jerusalem; but this appears to have been a later and groundless tradition, (Kuinoel. Matt. xxvi. 74.) to exalt the purity of the Holy City. For the same reason they said that no gardens were allowed within the walls, Lightfoot, Matt. xxvi. 36.
Page 19.—_Confines of Judah and Benjamin._] See Reland, 840. It is sometimes spoken of in Scripture as included in the territory of Benjamin; Judges i. 21. Sometimes of Judah; Josh. xv. 63. The Rabbins say that the boundary line passed through the temple. Josephus (Ant. v. 1. 22.) reckons it to belong to Benjamin.
Page 20.—_A beautiful plain._] “Jerusalem is surrounded by precipices on the south-east, east, and west, having only a small level towards the south, and a larger one to the north, which forms the summit of the mountain over which is the road to Jaffa.” Travels of Ali Bey, ii. 240.
Page 21.—_Absalom’s pillar._] A monument, in part of the valley of Jehoshaphat, which passes by the name of the pillar of Absalom, is represented by Pococke, vol. ii. p. 22. It is cut out of the rock, and the front is adorned with Ionic columns. It is probably a sepulchre of much later origin.
Page 23.—_Modes of threshing._] See Russell’s Aleppo, i. p. 76. Lowth on Isaiah, xxviii. 27, 28. Fragments to Calmet, No. xlviii.
Page 25.—_Anathoth._] “Civitas sortis Benjamin, sacerdotibus separata, in tertio ab Ælia milliario: de qua Hieremias propheta.” Hieronymus in locis.
Page 28.—_Elisama had neither kindred nor even acquaintance in Anathoth._] The author appears to have forgotten what he had said, vol. i. p. 16.
Page 28.—_Emmaus._] This is not the Emmaus mentioned Luke xxiv. 13., but a town afterwards called Nicopolis. See Reland, 146. The Emmaus of the gospel history was a village, and nearer to Jerusalem. Rama, too, must not be confounded with the town of this name now called Ramla, about three leagues from Joppa, on the road to Jerusalem. Pococke, ii. 4. The ruins of Modin are said to be still visible on the top of a high mountain to the south of the road from Joppa to Jerusalem, (Richardson, ii. 26.) but I am not aware that any modern traveller has explored them.
Page 31.—_Lydda._] It is still known by the name of Loudd. It lies about a league east-north-east of Rama, and in the same fertile plain. Poc. ii. 4.
Page 31.—_Ono._] See Lightfoot’s Works, ii. 320. Reland, Cat. sub. voce. It was three miles from Lydda. 1 Chron. viii. 12. From a passage quoted by Lightfoot it appears to have abounded in figs. Sharon was a continuation of the great plain of Sephela mentioned before. The whole coast of Palestine, from Carmel to the limits of Egypt, is level. “Pro campestribus in Hebræo _Saron_ ponitur. Omnis regio circa Lyddam, Joppen, et Jamniam apta est pascendis gregibus.” Hieronym. ad Jes. lxv. 1 Chron. xxvii. 29. Reland, 370.
Page 32.—_The servants were treated as the chief persons._] The genius of the Mosaic law was considerate of the comfort of servants, who were to join in the festive meal made upon the unsacrificed portions of the free-will-offerings, Deut. xii. 18. and in the feast of Pentecost, Deut. xvi. 11. But I am not aware of any direct authority for representing it as a Jewish custom to make a feast for the servants, in which they were treated as the chief persons. Yet it is not probable that our Lord (Luke xii. 37.) would have represented the master as girding himself and waiting on the servants whom he wished to reward for their fidelity, if such a thing were wholly unknown. Bishop Pearce, in his note on this passage, explains it of the custom of the bridegroom’s waiting on the company as a servant, which he says was common not very long since in our own country. It would still remain to be explained how the servants came to be included in the company on which he waited. The Roman Saturnalia, however, may show that such an inversion of the customary relations of life was not altogether foreign to ancient manners.
Page 34.—_Flight of locusts._] Blumenbach’s Nat. Hist. Art. _Gryllus migratorius_. The epitome of Livy, lib. lx. mentions a pestilence as breaking out in Africa, about this time, in consequence of the putrefaction of a vast swarm of locusts. According to other accounts nearly a million of persons perished. Oros. v. 11. Prid. Conn. An. 125. Of their devastations, see Shaw, 187. who illustrates almost every particular in the description of Joel, from his own experience. Hasselquist, 444. Bryant’s Plagues of Egypt, p. 133-152.
Page 36.—_Joppa._] The author supposes this name to be derived from the Hebrew יפה _beautiful_. Under the name of Jaffa, this port is celebrated in the history of the middle ages, and in that of the late war. Josephus speaks of the badness of the anchorage, (Bell. Jud. iii. 8. 3.) and modern travellers confirm the account.
Page 37.—_One of the towers of Jerusalem can be discerned._] Ιόππη—ἐν ὕψει ἱκανῶς, ὤστε ἀφορᾶσθάι φασιν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ τὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα, την τῶν Ιουδάιων μητρόπολιν. Strabo, lib. xvi. 759. This circumstance is not confirmed by modern travellers. Pococke, ii. 3. “Joppa stood upon and under a hill, from whence, as Strabo relates, but impossible to be true, Jerusalem might be discerned; having an ill haven, defended on the south and west with eminent rocks, but open to the fury of the north.” Sandys, p. 118. Yet Josephus relates, (Bell. Jud. v. 4.) and in this he could hardly be mistaken, that the sea was visible from one of the towers of Jerusalem.
Page 39.—_Grecian story of Andromeda._] “Est Joppe ante diluvium, ut ferunt condita: ubi Cephea regnasse eo signo accolæ adfirmant, quod titulum ejus, fratrisque Phinei veteres quædam aræ cum religione plurima retinent. Quinetiam rei celebratæ carminibus ac fabulis servatæque a Perseo Andromedæ clarum vestigium, belluæ marinæ ossa immania ostendunt.” Pomp. Mela, i. 11.
Page 40.—_A Nazarite._] See Lightfoot on Luke i. 15. 1 Cor. xi. 14. Jennings’s Jew. Ant. i. 415. Mich. Mos. Law, § 143.
Page 41.—_Maresa._] See Josephus, Ant. xiii. 10. 2. Its capture by Judas Maccabæus is mentioned, Ant. xii. 7. ad fin. It was at Maresa that Asa defeated the Ethiopians. 2 Chron. xiv. 10. Jerome and Eusebius place it at two miles from Eleutheropolis. Cellarius, iii. 13. p. 359.
Page 41.—_Destruction of Samaria._] See Jos. Ant. xiii. 10. 3. Prid. Conn. An. 109. Antiochus Cyzicenus, who commanded the Egyptian auxiliaries, had fallen into an ambuscade, and lost many of his men. Callimander, whom he had left in command, was defeated and killed.
Page 43.—_Gazera._] This place, called also Gezer, or Gadara, (to be distinguished from Gadara in the Peræa mentioned in the New Test.) is several times spoken of by Josephus in connection with Joppa. Ant. xiii. 9. Reland, 778, 801. Strabo mentions it in connection with Ascalon and Ashdod, xvi. p. 759. It was the western boundary of the portion of Ephraim. The root of the word (גדר) denoting an enclosed place, gave rise to several names of towns; among others the Phœnician Γάδειρα, Cadiz.
Page 44.—_The five cities of the Philistines._] Gath, Ekron, Ascalon, Gaza, and Ashdod, (Azotus.) Jos. Ant. vi. 1.
Page 44.—_Eleutheropolis._] Though scarcely mentioned in the times of the Old or New Testament, it became afterwards a place of considerable importance, and the episcopal see of _Palestina prima_. Epiphanius was born there. Reland, 749.
Page 45.—_Institution of genealogists._] Michaelis supposes that the שטרים (called _officers_ in our translation, Josh. xxiii. 1, 2.) mentioned Exod. v. 10. were the genealogists of the Israelites. Mos. Law, § 51. Of the division into families (משפחות), houses of the fathers (בתי אבות), and heads of the houses (ראשיבתאבות), see Numb. i. 2. Jos. vii. 14. 16. 17. Mich. § 46. Lowman, Heb. Gov. chap. v. Thus in the affair of Achan, first the _tribe_ of Judah is taken, then the _family_ of Zerah, then the _house_ of Zabdi, and lastly the _individual_ Achan. Josh. vii. 16. The political institutions of the Jews, the right to landed property, &c. all depended on birth; and the keeping of accurate genealogies was of the very first necessity. Josephus, c. Ap. i. 7. describes the means which were taken to preserve the registers and to repair any mutilations or imperfections which might have been occasioned by political disturbances.
Page 46.—_Their number was seventy-one._] There were twelve princes and fifty-eight heads of families. Num. xxvi. The supreme ruler for the time being, under Jehovah, would naturally preside. Whether the princes and heads were elective is doubtful. See Lowman, p. 77. The assembly of Israel at Shechem by Joshua, (xxiv. 1, 2.) is an example of such a _Diet_ as the text mentions.
Page 48.—_Lachish._] Rehoboam is said (2 Chron. xi. 9.) to have _built_ Lachish, but it is evident from the connection that this means _fortified_: for he is said to have built Hebron and other cities, which were in existence long before. So when Solomon is said to have built Tadmor or Palmyra, the meaning probably is not that he founded, but that he fortified and garrisoned it. Michaelis, Mos. Law, § 23.
Page 48.—_The grove of terebinths._] In the valley of Elah. 1 Sam. xvii. 2, 3. Dr. Clarke, iv. 421. describes it as being three miles from Bethlehem, on the road to Jaffa.
Page 56.—_Aduffes._] The _Aduffe_ (a word which through the Spanish and the Arabic appears to be connected with the Hebrew תף) is formed of a circle of metal, over which a skin is stretched, and hung with bells at the circumference. Mich. Mos. Law, § 197, note. Russell’s Aleppo, i. 152. where it is called _Diff_.
Page 56.—_Jewish army._] In the times of the Maccabees the Jews, who had frequently served in the armies of the Grecian kings, appear to have adopted the Grecian armour and discipline, as far as they could. But we have few details of their military system in Josephus or the Apocrypha. Their triumphs had been celebrated from early times with dance, song, and sacrifice, and continued to be so under the Maccabees, 1 Macc. xiii. 51. iv. 34. Jos. Ant. xii. 7. 5. Judith xv. xvi. and probably in this respect, _mutatis mutandis_, they imitated the heathens. So at least our author presumes.
Page 57.—_Military engines._] The battering ram (כר) (Ezek. xxi. 22.) and other engines (xxvi. 9.) are said to have been used by the Babylonians, and the use of them might be learnt by the Jews. Uzziah is said (2 Chron. xxvi. 14.) to have constructed machines for throwing darts and stones. Calmet, Mil. des Héb. Diss. i. 237. Under the Maccabees they appear to have been in common use. 1 Macc. xiii. 43.
Page 59.—_New moon._] Of the annunciation of the new moon and the fraud of the Samaritans, see Lightfoot, Works, i. 950. “The Bairam,” or feast which succeeds the fast of Ramadan, “is announced at Aleppo by the castle guns, as soon as a declaration on oath has been made of the appearance of the new moon. The person who bears this testimony commonly comes from one of the villages.” Russell, i. 189.
Page 60.—_Sid or Ijar._] See the note, vol. i. p. 260, respecting the Jewish calendar.
Page 61.—_Being cut off from the people._] It is probable that in all cases where this is denounced as the punishment for violations of the Levitical law, it was supposed that they were committed presumptuously; and the omission of purification from forgetfulness would not have entailed the punishment. Mich. Mos. Law, § 249. Comp. 2 Chron. xxx. 18. “Quidquid de pœnâ excisionis statuendum fuerit, certius nihil est quam eam nec a Talmudicis nec a Karæis inter humanas aut forenses pœnas censeri, sed pro divinitus tantum infligencâ accipi.” Selden de Synedr. p. 95. This is not probable.
Page 62.—_Touching a grave._] According to the law respecting impurities contracted by this means, (Num. xix. 19.) there should have been a purification on the third day.
Page 64.—_Share of the priests._] See Deut. xviii. 1-5. Lev. vii. 28-38. Num. xviii. 8-20.
Page 66.—_Removal of the Nazarite’s vow._] Numb. vi. 13-21. comp. Acts xxi. 24. Reland, Ant. Heb. 287. Id. 328. of the sacrifices which might or might not be eaten. Of the court of the Nazarites, Lightfoot, Works, i. 1092. As these sacrifices were expensive, it appears to have been a usual act of pious benevolence, to “be at charges” for poorer Nazarites. So Josephus (Ant. xix. 6.) relates, that Agrippa, on his coming again to his government, caused many Nazarites to be shaved. If the Apostle Paul’s vow was really a Nazarite’s, which many doubt, it should seem as if it sometimes extended only to seven days, the term during which, according to the original law, he remained unclean by funereal defilement, while his vow was upon him.
Page 78.—_Gazith._] According to Reland, Ant. Heb. p. 104, half of this hall was in the court of the priests, half in the Chel. (See vol. i. p. 253.) The reason for this division was, that the court of the priests was within the precincts of the sanctuary, in which no one was allowed to _sit_, except kings of the family of David. The Sanhedrim sat therefore in the part which was not in the court of the priests. See Maimon. de Æd. Templi, vii. 6. Lightfoot, Works, i. 2005. It is said to have been built by Simeon Ben Shetach, a little later than the time of John Hyrcanus.
Page 79.—_The Sanhedrim._] When Moses found the burden of judging the people too great for him, (Numb. xi. 16.) he appointed seventy men, elders of the people, to assist him. In the succeeding times of the judges and kings, the traces of this institution disappear; but after the captivity a great council (Synedrium) was formed, on the model and consisting of the same number as this, uniting the political functions of the diet and the juridical duties of Moses’s judges. Lowman, Heb. Gov. ch. ix. Mich. Mos. Law, § 50. Seventy was a favourite number, Jos. B. J. ii. 20. 5.
Page 80.—_Scrutiny of the priests._] Reland, Ant. Heb. 184. Maim. de Rat. ad. Templi. c. vi.
Page 82.—_Clad in black._] Josephus (Bell. Jud. v. 5. 7.) says, those who were excluded from the priesthood for bodily defects, wore _common garments_.
Page 83.—_Sacerdotal robes._] Lightfoot, Works, i. 2049. Of the position of the vestry, see Reland, 104. The girdle was hollow like a purse: this is what is meant by being like a serpent’s skin.
Page 85.—_The unction was imputed to him._] “Sacerdotes gregarii semel modo in solitudine adspersi fuere, uti Judæi tradunt, sic ut vi unctionis illius vel adspersionis posteri eorum consecrati censerentur.” Reland, Ant. Heb. 148.
Page 90.—_Behold thou delightest in the truth in secret things._] Such is the turn which the author gives to the words, which in our version are rendered, “Behold thou desirest truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” The whole connection is unfavourable to this interpretation, for David is evidently praying for moral purity. “Truth in the reins” is, probably, sincerity in virtue; and wisdom, in the book of Proverbs, is often used in the same sense. It may be observed here, once for all, that the author appears to put into the mouth of the old man of the temple, his own opinions respecting the typical nature of the ordinances and sacrifices of the law. Into this much controverted question the translator does not consider himself called upon to enter. Every reader will judge according to his own interpretations of the language of Scripture.
Page 99.—_Carrying the shewbread into the sanctuary._] Reland, Ant. Heb. 225. who, however, represents only eight priests as engaged in this office. So Lightfoot, Works, i. 1082.
Page 100.—_The nightly watch of the priests and Levites._] Maim, de Æd. Templi, c. viii. Fasc. Hist. et Phil. Sacr. vi. 69. Lightfoot, i. 941.
Page 101.—_Casting lots._] Lightfoot, i. 942. Reland, 198.
Page 102.—_Sloping ascent to the altar._] The altar of burnt-offering was not to be ascended by steps, (Exod. xx. 26.) but by an inclined plane. Of the men of the station (אנשי מעמד), see Reland, p. 186. Of the priests who resided constantly in Jerusalem. Lightfoot, i. 917.
Page 103.—_The sun had risen._] It is commonly supposed that nine in the morning and three in the afternoon were the hours respectively of morning and evening sacrifice, as they were the two principal hours of public prayer. Lewis, Ant. i. 501. Josephus, however, represents the morning sacrifice as offered, πρωὶ, which, according to the common use of the word, (Larch. Herod, ii. 173.) must mean in the earliest of the morning, and this was the time of private morning prayer. Jos. Ant. v. 8.
Page 109.—_The sacerdotal order is the most exalted in the world._] The priesthood was the Jewish aristocracy. Ὥσπερ δὴ παρ’ ἑκάστοις ἄλλη τίς ἐστι εὐγεναιας ὑποθεσις, οὕτως παρ’ ἡμῖν ἡ τῆς ἱερωσύνης μετουσία τεκμηρίον ἡστι γένους λαμπρότητος. Jos. Vit. i.
Page 111.—_Only a sixth part._] “Quælibet sacerdotum curia dividebatur in familias septem, ex quibus unaquæque unum hebdomadæ diem obibat altaris munia.” Crenius, Fasc. Hist, et Phil. Sacr. vii. 795.
Page 116.—_Jehovah our righteousness._] “Laudant qui in scriptis Rabbinorum Messiam Jovam nuncupari contendunt, _Echa R._ ad Thren. i. 16. fol. 59. 2. _Quodnam est nomen regis Messiæ? R. Abba f. Cahana dixit, Jova est nomen ejus, sec. Jer. xxiii. 6._ יהוה צדקנו (ubi tamen hoc nomine symbolico Israelitæ insigniuntur et Jer. xxxiii. 15. Hierosolymæ id ipsum nomen tribuitur) _quod dixit R. Levi, Bonum est civitati si nomen habet quod rex et regi si nomen habet quod Deus ejus, sec. Ezech. xlviii. 35._ Etiam Justi qui Dei favore perfruuntur, Dei nomine insigniuntur, Bava Bathra, fol. 75. 2. _Tria sunt quæ nomine ipsius Dei veniunt, nimirum Justi, Jes. xliii. 7. Messias, Jer. xxiii. 6. Hierosolyma, Ezec. xlviii. 35._ Quo autem sensu Messias in Rabbinorum scriptis nuncupetur _Jehovah Zidkenu_ docet R. Albo in Sepher Ikkarim (v. Schoettgen. Hor. Heb. ii. 200.) _Scriptura nomen Messiæ vocat Jehovah Zidkenu, quia mediator Dei est, per quem justitiam a Deo accipiemus._ Kimchi: _Israelitæ vocabunt Messiam hoc nomine Jehovah Zidkenu, quia temporibus ejus justitia Dei nobis firma et stabilis erit, quæ nunquam recedet._” Kuinoel ad Joh. i. 1.
Page 125.—_Covert of the sabbath._] See Lightfoot, i. 2028. 2 Kings xvi. 18.
Page 125.—_Distance of Jericho from Jerusalem._] Ἀπέχει δὲ Ἱεροσολύμων μὲν σταδιόυς ἑκατὸν πέντήκοντα, τοῦ δὲ Ιορδάνου ἐξήκοντα. Jos. Bell. Jud. iv. 8. The view from the Mount of Olives is described by most travellers in the Holy Land.
Page 128.—_The Therapeutæ._] Philo, who is the only ancient author who speaks of the Therapeutæ, says, (de Vit. cont. Op. 892.) that there were many of them in all parts of Egypt; but that their favourite residence was a hill near the lake Mareotis. The Therapeutæ were, according to him, the contemplative Essenes. Op. 889. They were great allegorists; Ἐντυγχάνοντες τοῖς ιἑρωτάτοις γράμμασι, φιλοσοφοῦσι, την πάτριον φιλοσοφίαν ἀλληγοροῦντες. They were called Therapeutæ, ἄπο τοῦ θεραπεύειν τὸ Ὀν, p. 890. The account of the Essenes and the other Jewish sects, the Pharisees and Sadducees, may be seen in Philo, Op. 876. Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 8. Ant. xiii. 5. xviii. 1. or Prideaux, Conn. An. 107. who has translated great part of what Josephus says.
Page 132.—_A dreary waste._] “After some hours travel you arrive at the mountainous desert into which our blessed Saviour was led, to be tempted by the devil. A most miserable, dry, barren place it is, consisting of high rocky mountains, so torn and disordered as if the earth had here suffered some great convulsion, in which its very bowels had been turned outward. On the left hand, looking down in a deep valley as we passed along, we saw some ruins of small cells and cottages, which they told us were formerly the habitations of hermits, retiring hither for penance and mortification. And certainly there could not be found in the whole earth a more comfortless and abandoned place for that purpose. From the top of these hills of desolation, however, we had a delightful prospect of the mountains of Arabia, the Dead Sea, and the plain of Jericho.” Maundrell, p. 80. The reader will observe with what propriety this region has been chosen for the scene of the parable of the good Samaritan. See Buckingham, 292.
Page 134.—_Valour of the Essenes._] Philo (Op. 877.) represents them as holding war in the utmost abhorrence, and never fabricating any instrument which could be employed in it. Josephus praises (Bell. Jud. ii. 8. 10.) the constancy which they displayed in the Roman war, but it was in enduring torture. He speaks of them, however, as carrying swords for their defence against thieves; and Philo mentions that the Therapeutæ united for mutual protection, if their settlements were attacked. Op. 893.
Page 138.—_Oasis of the Essenes._] It is placed in this neighbourhood on the authority of Pliny, who represents them as living near the Dead Sea, on the western side, but at such a distance as to avoid the effects of the pestilential effluvia. N. H. v. 17.
Page 138.—_The books of doctrine and the names of the angels._] Συντηρήσειν ὁμοίως τάτε τῆς αἱρέσεως αὐτῶν βιβλία καὶ τὰ τῶν ἀγγέλων ὀνόματα. Jos. Bell. Jud. ii. 17. Thus rendered by Prideaux, “to preserve with equal care the books containing the doctrine of their sect, and the names of the _messengers_ by whose hands they were written and conveyed to them.”
Page 140.—_Seated themselves at table._] This was the primitive custom of the Jews, (as of the heroic times of Greece, Athen. lib. i. p. 11.) See Gen. xxvii. 19. 1 Sam. xx. 5. 24, Amos ii. 8. is the first passage of Scripture in which the recumbent posture is mentioned.
Page 141.—_No women were to be seen._] “Gens sola, et in toto orbe præter ceteras mira sine ullâ feminâ, omni venere abdicatâ, sine pecuniâ, socia palmarum. In diem ex æquo convenarum turbâ renascitur, large frequentantibus quos vita fessos ad mores eorum fortunæ fluctus agitat. Ita per seculorum millia, incredibile dictu gens æterna est in qua nemo nascitur.” Plin. N. H. v. 17.
Page 149.—_The garden of God, the plain of Jericho._] See the description in Josephus, B. J. iv. 8. Huds. Ὡς οὐκ ἀν ἁμαρτεῖν τινα ἔιποντα, θεῖον εἶναι τὸ χωρίον, ἐν ᾧ δαψιλῆ τὰ σπανιώτατα καὶ καλλίστα γεννᾶται. Other particulars respecting the city and the region which surrounds it may be found in Reland, 829. Most modern travellers to the Holy Land also describe it. See Maundrell, p. 80. seq. Pococke, ii. 31. Epiphanius describes Jericho as having a circuit of twenty stadia. It is generally supposed that the village of Rihhah, about three miles from the Jordan, marks the site, as it evidently bears the name of Jericho. But Rihhah has no ruins, such as might have been expected on the site of so considerable a city. Hence it has been thought that the ancient Jericho stood nearer the mountains, at a place where many broken shafts and other traces of buildings are visible, and at the distance of six miles from the Jordan. Buckingham, 295.
Page 158.—_Chiefly inhabited by priests._] This circumstance serves still further to illustrate the local propriety of the parable of the good Samaritan.
Page 161.—_Bethabara._] Βηθαβαρὰ בית עברה denotes a place of passage. John i. 28. Engeddi was called, from its palms, Hazazon Thamar, 2 Chron. xx. 2. It was a large village. Pliny, who calls it the second town in Judæa after Jerusalem, (v. 17.) must have confounded it with Jericho. It was about three hundred stadia from Jerusalem.
Page 161.—_Balsam shrubs._] Pliny N. H. xii. 25. ii. 672. Hard. “Omnibus odoribus præfertur balsamum, uni terrarum Judæa concessum, quondam in duobus tantum hortis utroque regio, altero jugerum xx non amplius, altero pauciorum. Opes Judæis ex vectigalibus opobalsami crevere, quod in his tantum regionibus gignitur. Est namque vallis quæ continuis montibus velut muro quodam ad instar castrorum clauditur. Spatium loci ducenta jugera nomine Hierichus dicitur. In ea sylva est et ubertate et amœnitate insignis; palmeto et opobalsamo distinguitur. Arbores opobalsami formam similem piceis arboribus habent, nisi quod sunt humiles magis et in vinearum morem excoluntur. Hæ certo anni tempore balsamum sudant” Justin, xxxvi. 4. The balsam tree appears to be a native of Arabia Felix, (see Bruce’s Travels, v. 19-24.) and, according to Josephus, the queen of Sheba brought it into Judæa, Λέγουσι δ’ ὅτι καὶ τὴν τοῦ ὀποβαλσάμου ῥιζαν, ἥν ἔτι καὶ νῦν ἡμῶν ἡ χώρα φέρει, δόυσης ταῦτης τῆς γυναικὸς ἔχομεν. Ant. viii. 6. Various ancient authors describe the shrub. See Dr. T. M. Harris’s Nat. Hist, of the Bible, published at Boston, N. A. Beneath the desolating sway to which Palestine is subject, the balsam has disappeared from the plain of Jericho. Pococke, 32. Volney, Voy. en Syrie, ii. 187. Arabia now supplies what is imported under the name of Balsam of Mecca. Hasselquist, 293.
What is _now_ called the rose of Jericho is a species of _thlaspi_, according to Pococke. Mariti describes it as a small plant, having a number of stems which diverge from the earth; they are covered with few leaves but loaded with flowers, which appear red in the bud, but turn paler as they expand, and at length become white entirely. The flowers, he says, have a great resemblance to those of the elder, but have no smell. This can hardly be the plant of which Wisdom says, (Eccles. xxiv. 14.) “I was exalted like a palm-tree in Engaddi, and a rose plant in Jericho.”
Page 162.—_The Dead Sea._] Of the ancient geographers, Strabo has given the fullest account of the Dead Sea, but strangely confounding it with the lake of Sirbonis, (xvi. p. 763. 4.) He particularly mentions the tradition of the country, that the cities had been destroyed by an earthquake and an eruption of sulphur and fire. It is not surprising that where there was so much to astonish, imagination should have exaggerated even the real wonders of the scene. What is mentioned in the text is agreeable to the observations of the latest travellers, except that it does not appear that those dark clouds of smoke rise from the surface, which the author has described, p. 133. What has given rise to the account has probably been the exhalations which often hang in a dense cloud over the stagnant waters. Volney, i. 182. 3. Irby and Mangles, p. 447. By far the most accurate account of the Dead Sea, is that which is given by the authors last referred to, in their unpublished Travels in Syria. Hitherto it had scarcely been explored by an European traveller on the southern side, and consequently its extent, in that direction, had been very much overrated. Including what they call its _back-water_, a shallow bay forming a prolongation of it on the south, (p. 454) it cannot exceed, they say, thirty miles at the utmost, though the ancients have assigned to it a length of from seventy-five to eighty. Nor is it possible that it should anciently have extended much further than it now does; because at the distance of about eight or ten miles to the south of the present limit of the backwater, a range of cliffs completely closes the valley of the Ghor, (p. 454.) This is therefore the utmost extent that the lake can have had in ancient times.
The saltness and bitterness of the water mentioned in the text does not arise from a mixture of naphtha and asphaltes, but from the large quantities of the muriates of magnesia, soda, and lime, which it contains, amounting to a fourth part of the weight, according to Dr. Marcet’s analysis. Phil. Trans. 1807, p. 296. Hence the great specific gravity of the water, which has been exaggerated as if the human body could not sink in it. Tac. Hist. v. 6.
Page 162.—_Apples of Sodom._] Wisdom x. 7. (where, however, the land is only described as “bearing fruit that never comes to ripeness.”) Tac. Hist. v. 7. Jos. Bell. Jud. iv. 8. “_Poma Sodomitica_, are the fruits of the _Solanum Melongena_, Linnæi; these I found in plenty about Jericho, in the vales near Jordan, not far from the Dead Sea. It is true they are sometimes filled with a dust, yet this is not always the case, but only when the fruit is attacked by an insect (_tenthredo_) which turns all the inside into dust, leaving the skin only entire, and of a beautiful colour.” Hasselquist, p. 287.
Page 164.—_Ceremonies of circumcision._] These are described from the practices of the modern Jews; see Buxtorf. cap. ii. p. 79.
Page 166.—_Every guest found in the fore-court a splendid caftan._] Comp. Matt. xxii. 11. the parable of the wedding garment; it has been reasonably concluded that so severe a punishment would not have been inflicted on the man who was not in a wedding garment, if it had not been offered to all the guests.
Page 167.—_Mashal._] This name the Hebrews gave to those sententious and figurative maxims of moral wisdom of which the Proverbs of Solomon are a specimen. See Lowth, Prel. 24. Samson’s wedding affords an example of such “wit-trials” as are here described, Judges xiv.
Page 176.—_Reckoning of the days from the Passover._] See Maimonides, ap. Cren. Fasc. vi. 477.
Page 179.—_The Galileans._] Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii. 3.) describes the extent and the fertility of Galilee. Lightfoot, Works, vol. ii. p. 78, has collected from the Rabbins several instances of the false pronunciation of the Galileans. Wetstein on Matt. xxvi. 73. The contempt in which they were held by the learned inhabitants of Jerusalem is sufficiently known from the New Testament.
Page 184.—_Insult offered to Hyrcanus by the Pharisees._] This circumstance is related by Josephus, (Ant. xiii. 10.) The reason alleged by the Pharisees, if it were their real motive, was honourable to them. Οὐ γάρ ἐδοκει λοιδορίας ἕνεκα θανάτῳ ζημιοῦν· ἄλλως τε καὶ φύσει πρὸς, τὰς κολάσεις ἐπιεικῶς ἔχουσιν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι.
Page 186.—_Azereth._] See Lightfoot, “of the Pentecost, עצרת,” Works, vol. ii. p. 970. Josephus, Ant. iii. 10. 6. This name is given to other festivals in Scripture, but never to this, except by the Rabbins. It is not said in Scripture that the law was given on this day, but it is inferred by calculation of the time. The Israelites came out of Egypt on the fifteenth of Nisan, and they reached the foot of Sinai on the new moon of the third month from their departure, (Exod. xix. 1.) adding the fifteen remaining days of Nisan to twenty-nine of Siv, the first day of Sivan would be the forty-fifth from their departure. Five days more elapsed, (Exod. xix. 3. 7, 8. 11.) before the law was actually given. Jennings’s Jew. Ant.
Page 195.—_Rama._] This, which signifies _high_, was a name borne by so many places in Palestine, that it is difficult to discriminate them. Reland, p. 581, 964, supposes that the Arimathea of the New Testament was near Lydda. 1 Macc. i. 34.
Page 197.—_Lebona._] Now Leban, on the road from Jerusalem to Naplosa. Maundrell, p. 63.
Page 199.—_Sichem._] Of its position see Buckingham, p. 63. Reland makes Sichem or Sichar (John iv. 5.) to be ten miles from Shiloh, and forty from Jerusalem, p. 1007. The town of Neapolis, called by the inhabitants Mabortha, (Jos. Bell. iv. 8.) was built so nearly on the site of Sichem, that it is generally spoken of as the same. The name is retained in the modern Naplosa or Nablous. Dr. Clarke bears testimony to the romantic beauty of the situation, (iv. 268.) Maundrell, p. 62, supposes that the city may have anciently extended nearer to Joseph’s well, as a mile seems a great distance to come to draw water. Mr. Buckingham, however, says that there are traces of sepulchres _between_ the well and the city, which must have been without the walls. Travels, p. 543.
Page 200.—_Moreh._] Like Mamre, it was celebrated for its terebinths, (Deut. xi. 30.) and the two places have sometimes been confounded together.
Page 203.—_The Samaritans._] A remnant of this people, escaping the persecutions of the emperor Justinian, (Gibbon, viii. 323.) has still continued to inhabit Sichem, and to celebrate their festivals on mount Gerizim. Basnage, vii. c. 25, 26. Had the despot effected his purpose of exterminating or converting them, Revelation would have been deprived of the evidence which their copy of the Pentateuch furnishes of the general integrity of the Mosaic writings. This invaluable document was first brought into Europe about 1640 A. D. About forty of them still remain at Naplosa. Jowett’s Christian Researches, p. 425. No ancient authority supports the Samaritan reading of Gerizim for Ebal, Deut. xxvii. 4. Josh. viii. 30. Had the Jews corrupted the reading out of hatred to the Samaritan worship, they would have made Gerizim the Mount of Cursing, Deut. xxvii. 12.
Page 204.—_Well may Shechem be called Sychar._] שכר, _Sicar_, signifies in Hebrew to be intoxicated, and שקר to lye. Isaiah xxviii. 3. The Jews, even in their most serious compositions, delighted in this play on words. Isaiah x. 30.
Page 206.—_Samaria._] Dr. Richardson’s Travels (ii. p. 414) contain the fullest account which any modern traveller has given of the present state of Samaria. There are still many magnificent remains of the buildings erected by Herod when he raised it from its ruins and named it in honour of Augustus, Sebaste. Jos. Ant. xv. 8. 5. The historian relates its destruction by Hyrcanus, Ant. xiii. 10. 4.
Page 206.—_A tribe of wandering shepherds._] Compare the picture of the Bedouin Arabs in Volney (Voyage en Syrie, i. 235, 239, 40.) Clarke, vi. 248. and of the Turkmans, Russell, i. 388.
Page 211.—_Route of the Tyrian commerce._] The remains of this paved road leading towards Tyre are still distinctly visible along the coast. See Irby and Mangles, Travels, p. 197.
Page 211.—_Megiddo._] Called Μαγδόλος by Herodotus, ii. 159. in his narrative of the victory of Pharaoh Necho.
Page 211.—_Turris Stratonis._] It is uncertain from, whom this town received its name. Herod occupied ten years in restoring and beautifying it, and forming the harbour; and gave it, in honour of Augustus, the name of Cæsarea. Jos. Ant. xvi. 5. Bell. Jud. i. 21. It was called Καισάρεια Σεβαστή (Augusta) and ἐπι τῇ θαλασσῇ, to distinguish it from Cæsarea Philippi or Paneas, near Dan. It was to Cæsarea Augusta that Paul was sent when his life was threatened by the Jews. Acts xxiii. 23. From the account of Josephus it should seem as if it had had no harbour before Herod formed one; for he observes, that the whole coast from Dan to Joppa was without a harbour. Bell. Jud. i. 21.
Page 213.—_The purple dye._] The manner of making it is fully described by Pliny, N. H. lib. ix. 60. seq. “Two shell-fish were employed to furnish it, the _murex_ and the _purpura_; the former gave a dark blue colour; the latter a brighter tint, approaching to scarlet. The liquor is contained in a sort of pouch, which occupies the middle part of the shell; the shells are carefully broken, so as to preserve the part entire; they are sprinkled with salt, and the mucilage which they form is put into a leaden caldron and heated; the fleshy particles are gradually drawn off and the liquor left pure. The purple tint was given by the mixture of the two juices.” Swinburne’s Travels in Sicily, ii. 64, 65.
Page 213.—_Acco._] It received the name of Ptolemais from one of the kings of Egypt. In the middle ages, when it became celebrated in the history of the crusades, it resumed its original name, slightly altered, and is now called Acre. It lies on the northern side of the promontory of Carmel. See Maundrell, p. 54.
The Τυρίων κλίμαξ, which, according to Josephus, (Bell. Jud. ii. 10.) was one hundred stadia north of Ptolemais, appears to have been the _White Cliff_ in which the chain of Antilibanus terminates, and it probably derived its name from the road described by Egmont and Heyman, ii. 232. Maundrell erroneously places it to the north of Berytus, (p. 35.) It is so steep, says Mr. Buckingham, (p. 58) as “in some places to render _steps_ necessary:” hence the name κλίμαξ.
Page 215.—_Lebanon._] “Præcipuum montium Lebanum erigit, mirum dictu tantos inter ardores opacum fidumque nivibus.” Tac. Hist. v. 6. לבן signifies in Hebrew _white_. Libanus and Antilibanus are described by Strabo, xvi. 755. Reland, lib. i. c. 47. The part of the chain Antilibanus, which was called Hermon by the Israelites, was called Sirion by the Sidonians, and Shenir (the Sannir or Sannin of the Arabs) by the Amorites, Deut. iii. 9. They are sometimes distinguished from each other (Cant. iv. 8.) as different points of the same mountain chain. Some geographers have placed another Hermon in Galilee, near Tabor, (see Reland’s and Pococke’s maps) from Ps. lxxxix. 12. where, however, Tabor and Hermon seem to be conjoined, as having each witnessed a signal display of Jehovah’s power. Josh. xi. 17. Judges iv. See Lightfoot, ii. 369.
Page 215.—_Dan._] Josephus (Ant. v. 3. viii. 8.) speaks of Dan as situated in the great plain of Sidon, and near Libanus and the source of the Lesser Jordan. Lightfoot and Reland suppose that the _Lesser_ is the Jordan before it reaches the lake Samochonitis. This seems not probable.
Page 218.—_Tyre._] In the description of Tyre, v. 6, the islands of Chittim are Greece, Macedonia, Italy, and its dependent islands, Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, &c. Comp. Gen. x. 4. Dan. xi. 30. 1 Mace. i. 1. viii. 5. It is not wonderful that the Jews, knowing chiefly the southern parts of Greece, Italy, Gaul, and Spain, which are so deeply indented by the sea, should call them _isles_. Box, of extraordinary size, was produced in Corsica, Plin. N. H. lib. xvi. 28. The prophet here describes some extraordinary luxury in the equipment of a Tyrian vessel, not the ordinary construction of their ships. V. 7. Elisha is Hellas, Greece. Laconia was celebrated for its purple as well as many of the islands adjacent to the Peloponnesus:
——nec Laconicas mihi trahunt honestæ purpuras clientæ.—Hor. Od. ii. 18.
See Bochart Geogr. Sacr. lib. iii. c. 4. It seems singular that Tyre, so renowned for its own purple, should be represented as buying it from Greece. Perhaps the fine linen or byssus of Elis, dyed purple, is meant. Arvad is the Aradus of the ancients, on the coast of Phœnice. V. 9. Gebal is the Byblos of the Greeks, another seaport of Phœnice, still called Djebel. V. 11. Who the Gammadæans were is unknown; some consider the word as meaning _guards_. See Rosenmüller in loc. V. 12. Tarshish is generally agreed to be Tartessus in the south of Spain, celebrated for its metallic riches. V. 13. The Tibarenians and Moschians (Tubal and Meshech) inhabited the southern shores of the Pontus Euxinus. Cappadocia, of which Tibarenia was a part, furnished many slaves to other parts of the world; “Mancipiis dives eget æris Cappadocum rex.” Hor. Epist. i. 6. Bochart, G. S. iii. 12. V. 14. Togarmah is Armenia, which furnished an annual tribute of 20,000 colts to the kings of Persia. Strabo, xi. p. 529. V. 15. Dedan is supposed by Bochart, iv. 6. and Michaelis, Spic. Geogr. 201. to be Daden on the Persian gulf, and the ivory and ebony to have been brought from India or Ethiopia. V. 16. For ארם (Syria) the author has adopted the reading אדם, Edom, or Idumea. V. 17. The narrow and rocky country of Tyre was “nourished” (Acts xii. 20. 1 Kings v. 9. 11.) from the abundance of corn in Judæa, especially in Galilee. Minnith was on the other side Jordan; Pennag is unknown. It is supposed by Newcome to be the grain called _panic_. V. 18. Chalybon was the Greek name of the modern Haleb or Aleppo, whose wine was celebrated as the best of Asia in ancient times, ὁ Περσῶν βασίλευς τὸ Χαλυβῶνιον μόνον οἴνον ἕπινεν. Ath. i. c. 51. p. 28) and still much esteemed. Russell’s Aleppo. V. 19. Nations of southern Arabia seem to be meant by the names in this verse. V. 20. Dedan here mentioned is not the same as that in v. 15, but an Idumean tribe. Isaiah xxi. 13. Gen. xxv. 3. V. 21. Kedar denotes an Arabic tribe, (Is. lx. 7.) celebrated for its pastoral riches. V. 22. Sheba is the Sabæans; Rama, a town on the Persian gulf, the Rhegma of Ptolemy; the wares which they are said to bring must have been imported by them from India. V. 23. Haran, Cane, and Eden, appear all to be places in Arabia; the meaning of _Chilmedians_ is not ascertained. I have illustrated this passage at some length from its importance in the history of the Tyrians, a people by whom we have benefited so much, and yet of whom we know so little.
Page 221.—_Damascus._] See the description of the _Ager Damascenus_ in Volney, Voyage en Syrie, ii. 158. Egmont and Heyman, ii. 255.
Page 222.—_The lake Phiala._] Φιάλη, _patera_, a round, or oval and shallow vessel for drinking or libation, was a name given by the ancients to other lakes from their form, especially those which are the first receptacle of the waters of a river after issuing from their source, Reland, p. 265. There can be little doubt that the lake of Phiala is that which is described by Captains Irby and Mangles, p. 387. “We saw close to us a very picturesque lake, apparently perfectly circular, of little more than a mile in circumference, surrounded on all sides by sloping hills, richly wooded. The singularity of this lake is, that it has no apparent supply or discharge, and its waters appeared perfectly still, though clear and limpid.” Ἐκ μὲν οὐν τῆς περιφερέιας ἐτύμιως Φιάλη κέκληται τροχοειδὴς οὖσα λίμνη· μένειν δὲ ἐπὶ χέιλους αὐτη ἀιει τὸ ὑδως, μήτε ὑπονοστοῦν μήτε ὑπερχεόμενον. Jos. Bell. Jud. iii. 9. Josephus makes the lake Phiala to be one hundred and twenty stadia from Cæsarea or Paneas, towards the Trachonitis, or north east; it also agrees with the lake mentioned by Captains Irby and Mangles. The apparent source of the Jordan at Banias, described with some exaggeration perhaps by Josephus, Bell. Jud. i. 21. Ant. XV. 10. 3. as in a mountain of immense height and itself unfathomable, is thus spoken of by Seetzen. “The copious source of the river of Banias rises near a remarkable grotto in the rock, on the declivity of which I copied some ancient Greek inscriptions dedicated to Pan and the nymphs of the fountain. The ancients gave the name of source of the Jordan to this spring: but in fact it appears that the preference is due to the spring of the river Hasberia, which forms the largest branch of the Jordan. The spring of Tel-el-kadi, which the natives take for the source of the Jordan, is that which least merits the name.” Yet the Tel-el-kadi, an hour and a quarter north-east from Paneas, appears from Burckhardt, p. 42, to be the real Lesser Jordan of Josephus. It not unfrequently happens that the smaller branch gives its name to the united stream, as in the case of the Yorkshire Ouse, which is very small compared with the waters of the Swale and Ure, whose names are lost in it. Whether the fountain of Paneas have really that subterraneous communication with the lake Phiala, of which Josephus Speaks, must be left to be ascertained by future travellers. The experiment of throwing substances into the lake which the spring casts up, is said by Josephus to have been made (Bell. Jud. iii. 9. 7.) by Philip, tetrarch of Trachonitis. Our author therefore speaks of it by a _prolepsis_. The Hasberia, which rises to the north-west of Paneas, joins the stream from that place, about an hour and a half below the town. Burckhardt, p. 38.
Page 223.—_The lake Samochonitis._] Josephus, Bell. Jud. iii. 9. 7. iv. 1. Reland, 262. It is now called Houle, Burckhardt, p. 37. Pococke, ii. p. 73, says of it: “The waters are muddy and esteemed unwholesome, having something of the nature of a morass. After the snows are melted, it is only a marsh through which the Jordan runs. The waters, by passing through the rocky bed towards the sea of Tiberias, settle, purify, and become very wholesome.”
Is this name a vestige of _Ulatha_, which Josephus (Ant. xv. 10. 3. xvii. 2, 3.) places near Paneas, and between Galilee and Trachonitis?
Page 224.—_The leprosy._] Of this disorder and the Mosaic regulations respecting it, see Michaelis, Mos. Law, 209. Jos. Ant. iii. 11.
Page 227.—_Bethsaida._] The name בית צידין implies a residence of fishers, Reland, p. 653. According to Josephus, Ant. xviii. 2. the same Philip who ascertained the real source of the Jordan, greatly enlarged this fishing village, and changed its name from Bethsaida to Julias, in honour of the daughter of Augustus. The old name however seems to have kept its ground: for we never find the place called Julias in the New Testament. According to Pococke, some ruins of it are to be found at a place called Telouy. He mentions, however, a large village, still bearing the name of Baitsida, about two miles west of the lake of Gennesareth, and near the southern extremity, which he supposes to be the Bethsaida of the gospels, while he regards the ruins of Telouy as marking the site of the Bethsaida of the Gaulonitis, ii. 68.
Page 227.—_Magdela._] מגדל, signifying a tower, gave rise to the names of many places in Palestine, Megiddo, Migdol, Magdela, &c. There is a place which now bears the name of Magdol, a little to the north of Tiberias; but the Magdala of the New Testament (Matt. xv. 39.) appears to have been on the eastern side of the lake. Pococke, ii. 71. Lightfoot, from the Talmudical writers, fixes it to the vicinity of Gadara, or Omkeis, which is on the eastern side.
Page 227.—_Lake of Gennesareth._] Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii. 9.) makes its length to be one hundred stadia, its breadth forty. Pococke thinks its real length is about fourteen or fifteen miles. Clarke estimated its breadth at six miles. “The water was as clear as the purest crystal; sweet, cool, and most refreshing to the taste. Swimming to a considerable distance from the shore, we found it so limpid that we could discern the bottom covered with shining pebbles.” Clarke, v. 224. Strabo, xvi. p. 755, mentions the aromatic plants of the shore; but Burckhardt, p. 319, says he did not observe any of them.
Page 227.—_Capernaum._] Its situation is not accurately known; it is commonly supposed to be _Telhoum_, (Burckhardt, p. 319) between the Jordan and Tabegha. The plain of Gennesareth, (Pococke, ii. 71.) which adjoins the lake on its western side, by its fertility, corresponds very well with the description which Josephus (Bell. Jud. iii. 9.) gives of the environs of the fountain of Capernaum. The name signifies the _beautiful town_, (בפר נאה) an appellation which it must well have deserved, according to the description which Josephus gives of the plain of Gennesareth. Παρατείνει δὲ τὴν Γεννησὰρ ὁμώνυμος χῶρα, θαυμαστὴ φύσιν τε καὶ κάλλος·—θιλοτιμίαν ἄν τις εἴποι τῆς θύσεως βιασαμένης εἰς ἔν συναγαγεῖν τὰ μάχιμα καὶ τῶν ὡρῶν ἀχαθὴν ἔριν ἑκάστης ὥσπερ αντιποιουμένης τοῦ χωρίου· καὶ γὰρ ου μόνον τρέφει παρὰ δόξαν τὰς διαφόρους ὁπώρας ἄλλὰ καὶ διαφυλάσσει· τὰ μὲν γε βασιλικώτατα, σταφυλήν τε καὶ σῦκον, δέκα μησὶν αδιαλείπτως χορηγεῖ· τοὺς δὲ λοιποὺς καρποὺς δὶ ἔτους ὅλον περιγηράσκοντας αὐτοῖς. This plain may perhaps be that which Burckhardt describes (p. 319) as lying at the southern foot of the mountain which stretches down to the lake. It may be objected that Tel-houm is not in this plain; but it is evident that Josephus speaks of a larger plain, thirty stadia in length, while Burckhardt describes only a part of it, which he occupied twenty minutes in crossing. The position which the author assigns to Chorazin, on the eastern side, is very doubtful. No traveller has hitherto been able to identify it. Jerome places it two miles from Capernaum; and Dr. Richardson says, that the natives, when he inquired for the ruins of Capernaum, told him that it and Chorazin were near.
Page 228.—_Tabor._] The author (misled perhaps by the absurd prints in Maundrell’s Travels) has rather fancifully described Tabor as resembling a pillar; its real form is that of a truncated cone. Hence its name טבור, _umbilicus_. See the view in Pococke, ii. pl. v. He says the ascent is about two miles by a winding route, and the top of it half a mile long and a quarter of a mile broad. Mr. Buckingham ascended it, with great exertion, in half an hour. Others reckon the ascent at four miles. Both Maundrell (p. 115) and Pococke speak of the magnificence of the view from the summit. Egmont and Heyman mention its abounding in game. (Travels, ii. 26.) I know not on what authority it is said that the exhalations of the Dead Sea may be seen from it. The rivulet mentioned as discharging itself into the sea of Tiberias, appears to be that called Serrar by Egmont and Heyman, ii. 27. Mariti, ii. 126. But Mr. Buckingham (p. 108) says, the Ain el Sharrar forms the Kishon; nor is it probable, from the nature of the country, that a stream should flow from the same point into the Mediterranean and the lake of Galilee. There was a town on mount Tabor called Atabyrium, (Polybius, v. 70.) which was taken by Antiochus. The mountain was very strongly fortified by Josephus, when he commanded in Galilee, (Bell. Jud. ii. 20.) and numerous traces of the works are still visible. Pococke, ii. 64. Burckhardt, p. 332.
Page 229.—_Nazareth._] “Nazareth,” says Dr. Richardson, “stands in a vale, resembling a circular basin encompassed by mountains: it seems as if fifteen mountains met to form an enclosure for this delightful spot; they rise round it like the edge of a shell, to guard it from intrusion.” Travels with Lord Belmore, ii. 434. It does not stand, nor do the words of the Evangelist imply it, (Luke iv. 29.) on the summit of a hill, but on the side. Yet we should expect that the “brow” there spoken of should be nearer to Nazareth than two miles, (Pococke, ii. 63.) or a mile and a half, (Richardson, ii. 441.) and Buckingham (p. 99) mentions a precipice just above the town.
Page 231.—_Scythopolis._] It is uncertain for what reason the Greeks gave the name of Σκυθοπόλις to Bethshan, unless from some event connected with the incursion of the Scythians mentioned by Herod, i. 104. who spread themselves to the confines of Egypt, in the middle of the seventh century before Christ. The present name is Bysan: many remains of the ancient town of Su are still visible, from which Burckhardt estimates its ancient circumference at three miles, (p. 343.) Here he crossed the Jordan. From Bethshan to near Jericho, the western bank of the Jordan is very barren, and there are no remains of cities on it, (345 note.) Herod built a city to the north of Jericho, and thus produced an increase of cultivation in the surrounding country, before desert. Jos. Ant. xvi. 5. 3. The great plain of Esdraelon begins near Bethshan, and extends across to Carmel. Egmont and Heyman, ii. 28. Jos. Ant. xii. 8. 5. The boundaries of Galilee are laid down by Josephus, and its fertility and populousness described, Bell. Jud. iii. 3. Vit. 45.
Page 233.—_The gate with its pious inscriptions._] The Jews of the present day, to avoid profaning the word of God by public exposure, write the passages of the law on parchment, (called Mezuzoth) and enclose it in the door-post. Leo of Modena, P. i. c. 2.
Page 237.—“_He giveth it to his beloved in sleep._”] “Perennem et solidam felicitatem dat suis quasi in somno,” Dathe, i. e. without thought or labour on their part.
Page 241.—There are allusions in many passages of Scripture to parts of the nuptial ceremonies; as Gen. xxiv. xxxiv. 8. Judges xiv. Isaiah lxii. 10. Esther ii. 8-12. Tobit viii. 19. 1 Maccab. ix. 37. Matth. ix. 15. xxii. xxv. John ii. 1-10. Ps. xix. 5. Jer: vii. 34. But the circumstances by which our author has filled up his description, are chiefly taken from the accounts of nuptial ceremonies among the nations of the east at the present day. See Russell’s Aleppo, i. 281; 436. ii; 48. 79. Harmer, iii. 295. Calmet’s Dict. Art. _Marriage_, Fragments to Calmet, Nos. xlix. clvii. clxiii. Calmet’s Dissert. vol. i. 277.
The lifting of the bride over the threshold appears to be a Greek rather than an Oriental custom; at least I do not remember to have seen it mentioned in the authors who have described Oriental marriages. Nor is it very probable that a Gentile, as Myron was, should have been allowed to take part in so sacred a ceremony. Besides these companions, the New Testament alludes to one, the paranymph or friend of the bridegroom, (John iii. 29.) who stood at the door of the nuptial chamber.
Page 245.—These benedictions are those (much abridged) which the Jews still employ at marriages. See Calmet.
Page 251.—_The Orphici of Thrace._] Of the Orphic and Pythagorean discipline, see Herod, ii. 81. and Valckenaer on Euripid. Hipp. 956. The Tomyri of Dodona were the priests of Jupiter, Strabo, 1. vii. p. 506. They were the same probably as the Selloi, whose rigid mode of life is alluded to by Homer, II. xvi. 233. Ἀπθὶ δὲ Σελλοὶ, Σοὶ ναίους’ ὑποθῆται ἀνιπτόποδες χαμαιεῦναι. Soph. Trach. 1168. Heyne, Excurs. ad Il. loc cit. A fragment of the Cretans of Euripides, preserved by Porphyry, shows that the Curetes, priests of Idæan Jupiter, led a life very similar to the Essenes. Καὶ Κουρήταν Βόκχος ἐκλήθην, ὁσιωθέις. Πάλλευκα δ’ ἔχων εἴματα, θεύγω Γένεσίν τε βροτῶν καὶ νεκροθήκης Οὐ χριμπτόμενος· τήν τ’ ἐπψύχων Βρῶσιν ἐδεστῶν πεθύλαγμαι.
Page 251.—_Worship of the earlier Samaritans._] When Salmanassar had led captive the inhabitants of the kingdom of Israel, he supplied their place by colonies from Babylon and other places, (2 Kings xvii.) who brought with them their various idols. From this people and the Israelites left in the land, sprung the Samaritans, who, if the Jews may be believed, joined the worship of Jehovah with that of idols. Selden, de Dis Syris, p. 327. Addit. p. 285.
Page 253.—_Insult to the beard._] The Scriptures contain proofs of the susceptibility of the Hebrews on the subject of an indignity offered to their beards, 2 Sam. x. 1-5. “The Arabs,” says Niebuhr, “never shave off their beard. In the mountains of Yemen, where strangers are seldom seen, it is a disgrace to appear shaven: they supposed our European servant had committed some crime, for which we had punished him by cutting off his beard.” I am not aware, however, that the cutting off the hair was a judicial punishment among the Jews, unless Nehemiah xiii. 25. Isaiah 1. 6. should be thought to refer to it. The effect produced upon Elisama, by Myron’s action, will hardly be thought to be exaggerated when compared with the following passage from D'Arvieux’s account of the Arabs: “The Arabians have so much respect for their beards that they look upon them as sacred ornaments; nothing can be more infamous than for a man to be shaved; they make the preservation of their beards a capital point of religion, because Mahomet never cut off his. Among them it is more infamous for any one to have his beard cut off, than among us to be publicly whipped or branded with a hot iron. Many men in that country would prefer death to such a punishment. The wives kiss their husbands’ beards and children their fathers’, when they come to salute them: the men kiss one another’s beards when they salute in the streets, or come from a journey. They admire and envy those who have fine beards. ‘Pray do but see,’ they cry, ‘that beard; the very sight of it would persuade any one that he to whom it belongs is an honest man.’ If any one with a fine beard is guilty of an unbecoming action, ‘What a disadvantage is this,’ they say, ‘to such a beard! How much such a beard is to be pitied!’ If they would correct any one’s mistakes, they will tell him, ‘For shame of your beard! Does not the confusion that follows such an action light on your beard?’ If they entreat any one, or use oaths in affirming or denying any thing, they say, ‘I conjure you by your beard, by the life of your beard, to grant me this—or by your beard this is or is not so,’ They say farther, in the way of acknowledgment, ‘May God preserve your blessed beard! May God pour out his blessings on your beard!’ And in comparisons, 'This is more valuable than one’s beard,'” Mœurs des Arabes par M. D'Arvieux, quoted in Fragments to Calmet, xciii. Niebuhr (Descr. de l'Arabie, p. 26) mentions an Arab who was so highly offended that a man had even accidentally let fall some of his spittle on his beard, that it was with great difficulty he could be prevented from taking sanguinary vengeance for the affront. The reader who remembers Dr. Clarke’s description (Travels, v. 242.) of the paroxysm of ungovernable rage produced in an Arab by a blow, will not think the account in the text hyperbolical. “The Arab, recovered from the shock he had sustained, sought only to gratify his anger by the death of his assailant. Having speedily charged his _tophaike_, (musquet) although trembling with rage to such a degree that his whole frame appeared to be agitated, he very deliberately pointed it at the object of his revenge, who only escaped assassination by dodging beneath the horses, as often as the muzzle of the piece was directed against him. Finding himself thus frustrated in his intentions, his fury became ungovernable: his features livid and convulsed, seemed to denote madness: no longer knowing what he did, he levelled his _tophaike_ at the captain of Djezzar’s guard.”
Page 254.—_Ramoth Gilead._] It was fifteen miles to the westward of Philadelphia or Amman. (Reland, p. 474, Burckhardt, p. 358.) Its site, therefore, must be near that of Szalt, (Burckhardt, p. 347) perhaps El Meysera, which stands on the Zerka, the Jabok of Scripture, and near the mountains which are still called Djebal Djalaad (Gilead.) Or if the words of Jerome, (Loc. Heb.) “juxta fluvium Jabbok,” should be thought not necessarily to imply that it was _on_ the Jabbok, the site of the ruined towns Djelaad and Djelaoud on mount Gilead itself, (Burckhardt, 348.) will suit the elevated position implied in the name Ramoth. The Arnon is now called Modjet. See Burckhardt’s map. Mr. Buckingham supposes Ramza (which is not upon the Zerka, nor on mount Gilead) to be Ramoth. Travels, p, 337.
Page 255.—_Dromedaries._] The camel is the heavy beast of burden; the dromedary is used on all occasions which require great expedition. Shaw’s Travels, 167. The Arabs represent their speed as many times exceeding that of the fleetest horse.
Page 256.—_The Goël._] The Jewish law respecting homicide and the avenger of blood, has been fully discussed by Michaelis, § 131-136, who has well illustrated the humanity and wisdom of the Mosaic legislation, especially as contrasted with the precepts of the Koran. What is said in the text of the practice of the east, applies in modern times, at least, chiefly to the Bedoween Arabs. See Niebuhr, Descr. p. 28.
It may be observed, that Goël denoted the next of kin, not merely in his character of avenger of blood, but as having the right of redemption of an estate; (Mich. §. 137.) which may seem to make the etymology given in the text doubtful.
Page 259.—_The balm of Gilead had been applied externally and internally_.] The balm of Mecca is at this day used internally in Palestine, according to Hasselquist; but I am not aware of any proof that it was so anciently. “Les Hébreux ne parlent jamais des remèdes, quand il s’agit de maux internes, de fièvres, de langueurs, de peste, de douleurs de tête ou d’entrailles, mais seulement lorsqu’il y a blessure, ou fracture, ou meurtrissure.” Calmet sur la Médecine des Hébreux, Diss. vol. i. p. 331. That the Levites practised medicine, is probable from the analogy of other sacerdotal castes, and from their being appointed to decide in cases of leprosy: in their forty-eight cities they would be sufficiently dispersed throughout the country to serve as physicians to the people.
Page 261.—_Customs of mourning._] That it was usual in mourning to cover the lower part of the face, appears from Ezek. xxiv. 16. where the prophet is forbidden to adopt the customary marks of grief. “Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, _bind the tire of thine head upon thee_, and put on thy _shoes upon thy feet_, and _cover not thy lips_, and _eat not the bread of men_.” It appears from Addison’s account of the Jews in Barbary, (Harmer, iii. 382.) that they still muffle the lower part of the face in mourning. Probably the object was the same as that of the muffling the lower part of the leper’s face, (Lev. xiii. 45.) to give an indistinct and lugubrious sound to the voice. Geier de luctu Hebræorum, 259. The same passage of Ezekiel shows that it was customary to lay aside the turban, (Harmer, iii. 386. Baruch vi. 31.) and go barefoot in mourning, (Judith x. 4.) “Habebis calceamenta in pedibus quæ lugentes solent abjicere: unde et David, Abassalon filium fugiens et penitens super nece Uriæ, nudis pedibus incedit.” Hieronym. in Ezek. loc. cit. 2 Sam. xv. 30. The laying aside the sandals was a mark of humiliation, as well as sorrow; hence in times of public calamity the Romans practised a solemn supplication, called _nudipedalia_. “Cum stupet cœlum et aret annus nudipedalia denunciantur, magistratus purpuras deponunt.” Tert. de Jej. 16. Geier, p. 306. The rending of garments, beating the breast, strewing ashes on the head, and putting on sackcloth, need no illustration.
The Alijah was probably the upper chamber in which the body of Tabitha (Acts ix. 37.) was laid. Of the hasty interment of the Jews in later times, the history of Ananias and Sapphira is a sufficient proof. Such is the present practice of the east. Russell, i. 306.
It is plain, from the New Testament, that the custom of employing hired mourners prevailed among the Jews in our Saviour’s time; (Matt. ix. 23. Mark v. 38.) and probably the “mourning women” (Jer. ix. 17.) are to be understood of hired mourners, such as the Romans called _præficæ_. It is mentioned (Amos viii. 3.) as a characteristic of a great mortality, that the dead should be _cast forth in silence_. Males seem also to have been employed as mourners. Amos v. 16.
Page 262.—_The body was wrapped in a sheet._] That the arms and feet were swathed separately, and not fastened to the body or together, is rendered probable by John xi. 44. where Lazarus, when raised to life, is represented as _coming forth_ from the sepulchre, before the grave clothes are taken off. The sheet is the σίνδων, in which, according to Matt, xxvii. 59. Joseph of Arimathea wrapt the body of our Saviour, on the evening of the crucifixion, when there was no time for the minute bandaging with the κειρίαι, mentioned in the history of Lazarus. But whether both were combined, as mentioned in the text, may be doubted.
The wringing of the hands above the head was a mark of extreme grief. Jer. ii. 37. Geier, 290.
Page 264.—_Burning was reckoned dishonourable._] “Corpora condere, quam cremare, e more Egyptio.” Tac. Hist. v. 5. They differed, however, in this from the Egyptians, that they only _wrapt_ the body in spices, and did not fill the cavities with them. The burnings mentioned in Scripture, in connection with royal funerals, appear to have been burnings of spices, (2 Chron. xvi. 14.) in other cases a mark of a great mortality, as (Amos vi. 10.) requiring a more expeditious kind of sepulture. Josephus (cont. Apion. ii. 26.) is referred to as mentioning the custom of all who met a funeral joining in the lamentation; Πᾶσι δὲ τοῖς παριοῦσι θαπτομένου τινὸς καὶ συνελθεῖν καὶ συναποδύρασθαι ἐπόησε νόμιμον. The common reading, however, is περιοῦσι, “survivors of the family,” which suits the connection better. Of the Hebrew sepulchres a large account is given in Nicolaus de Sepulchris Hebræorum, Lugd. Bat. 1606. The custom of throwing a sod is introduced from the practice of the modern Jews. Buxtorf Synagoga, c. 35. p. 502. The annual whitening of the sepulchres was, according to the Rabbins, a charge of the magistracy, and performed in the month Adar, (Nicolaus, p. 237) i. e. a short time before the Passover; a circumstance of which Harmer (iii. 449.) does not appear to have been aware. It is remarkable that the Mahometans whiten their sepulchres before their great solemnity of Ramadan.
Page 265.—_The bread of mourning and the cup of consolation._] This custom is alluded to in Ezek. xxiv. 17. Jer. xvi. 5. 7. 8. “Neither shall men break bread among them on account of a mourner, to comfort him over a deceased friend; nor shall men make them drink of the cup of consolation because of one’s father, or because of one’s mother.” Blayney’s Translation, and the margin of the common Bible. “The origin of this custom undoubtedly was, that the friends of the mourner who came to comfort him; (and that they often came in great numbers we may learn from John xi. 19.) easily concluding that a person so far swallowed up of grief as even to forget his bread could hardly attend to the entertainment of so many guests, each sent in his proportion of meat and drink, in hopes to prevail on the mourner, by their example and persuasion, to partake of such refreshment as might tend to recruit both his bodily strength and his spirits.” Blayney. Geier de luct. Heb. p. 166.
Page 265.—_The mourning lasted seven days._] The shortest term of mourning appears to have been seven days; (Gen. 1. 10. Jos. Ant. xvii. 8.) many extended it to thirty. Num. xxxiv. 8. Bell. Jud. iii. 8. “At Aleppo,” says Russell, “the near relations visit the sepulchre on the third, the seventh, and the fortieth day after the interment. The women likewise visit the graves on their ordinary garden days. They set out early in the morning, attended by a small train of females, carrying flowers and aromatic herbs to bestrew the tomb. The moment they arrive at the place, they give loose afresh to their sorrow in loud screams interrupted at intervals by the chief mourner, who, in a lower tone of voice, recalls the endearing circumstances of past times, or, in a tender apostrophe to the deceased, appeals to the pains she incessantly employed to render his life happy: she describes the forlorn condition of his family now he is gone, and mingles fond reproach with professions of unalterable affection.” ii. 311.
Page 269.—_The palms._] See the account of the various uses of this tree (the natives reckon up 360) in Mariti’s Travels, ii. p. 348. Harris’s Nat. Hist. of the Bible. “A considerable part of the inhabitants of Egypt, Arabia, and Persia subsist almost entirely upon its fruit; they boast also of its medicinal virtues. Their camels feed upon the date-stone; and from the leaves they make couches, baskets, bags, mats, and brushes; from the branches, cages for their poultry, and fences for their gardens; from the fibres of the boughs, thread, ropes, and rigging; from the sap is prepared a spirituous liquor, and the body of the tree furnishes fuel.” Clarke, v. 409. Notwithstanding their being wholly destitute of lateral branches, and of great height, they are climbed with ease by the prominences of the bark, which form a kind of natural ladder. “The _terebinth_,” says Mariti, (iii. 29.) “has leaves of a figure much like that of the olive. The flowers are like those of the vine, and grow in bunches; they are of a purple colour, and produce no fruit. The fruit grows among the branches; they are of the size of juniper berries, hang in clusters, and contain each a small seed, of the size of a grape-stone: they are of a ruddy purple colour and are remarkably juicy.” The _pistachio_, is the בטן of the Hebrews, (Gen. xliii. 11.) still called _bouttoum_ in the Holy Land. (Burckhardt, 346.) Harris’s N. H. of the Bible, Art. _Nut._ It was found, if not exclusively, at least in the highest perfection, in Syria and Palestine; (Bochart, Geogr. Sacr. lib. i. c. 10. Op. iii. 387.) and is reckoned by Jacob (Gen. xliii. 11.) among the choice fruits of the land which his sons were to carry down as a present into Egypt.
Page 269.—_The balsam was scraped from the tree._] “Balsamum, modica arbor: ut quisque ramus intumuit si vim ferri adhibeas, pavent venæ: fragmine lapidis aut testa aperiuntur.” Tac. Hist. v. 6. This was the most precious kind of the balsam, called _opobalsamum_; that expressed from the seeds, _carpobalsamum_; that obtained by crushing and boiling down the shoots, _xylobalsamum_.
Page 275.—_The simoom._] Dr. Clarke (iv. 252.) says of the simoom, as experienced by him in Palestine, “Its parching influence pervaded all places alike, and coming as from a furnace, it seemed to threaten us all with suffocation. The author was the first who sustained serious injury from the fiery blast, being attacked by giddiness accompanied with burning thirst, headach, and frequent fits of shivering ensued, and these ended in violent fever.” Notwithstanding the respectable authorities for its deadly effects in the desert, the accurate Burckhardt (Travels in Nubia, p. 189) says, “I inquired, as I had often done before, whether my companions had often experienced the Semoum, which we translate by the poisonous blast of the desert, but which is nothing more than a violent south-east wind. They answered in the affirmative; but none had ever known an instance of its having proved fatal. I have been repeatedly exposed to the hot wind in the Syrian and Arabian deserts, in Upper Egypt and Nubia. The hottest and most violent I ever experienced was at Suakin, yet even there I felt no particular inconvenience from it, although exposed to all its fury in the open plain. For my own part I am perfectly convinced that all the stories which travellers, or the inhabitants of the towns of Egypt and Syria, relate of the Semoum are greatly exaggerated, and _I never could hear of a single well-authenticated instance of its having proved mortal either to man or beast._ I never observed that the Semoum blows close to the ground, as commonly supposed, but always observed the whole atmosphere appear as if in a state of combustion: the dust and sand are carried high into the air, which assumes a reddish, or bluish, or yellowish tint, according to the nature and colour of the ground from which the dust arises.”
Page 277.—The law respecting the water of jealousy will be found Num. v. 11-31. and the Rabbinical traditions in Lightfoot, Works, i. 982. Jos. Ant. iii. 11. 6. To many readers it will doubtless appear a harsh and unequal institution, authorizing one party to impose upon the other an oath of purgation, to be taken under circumstances very painful to the feelings, to remove a suspicion which might originate in unreasonable jealousy. But it must be remembered, that the idea of equality between the parties in the conjugal relation never entered into the minds of the ancients, least of all of the Orientals; and that the jealous husband would often have taken the law into his own hands and put the suspected wife to death, if this mode of satisfying his doubts had not been prescribed by the legislator. The Mosaic law did not undertake, by a perpetual miracle, to create in a barbarous age and in the bosom of the east, a people characterised by the refined humanity and respect for the rights of human nature which the influence of Christianity and centuries of improvement have produced in modern Europe, but to soften and elevate as far as possible the national character. Regarded in this light, the Mosaic law of the water of jealousy will be considered like the institution of the cities of refuge, as a humane appointment, to moderate an evil which it was impossible to eradicate. Michaelis (Mos. Law, § 263.) has shown how well the whole ceremony was adapted to strike terror into a guilty person, and prevent all but the most abandoned and hardened from attempting to perjure themselves—so that it would rarely happen that divine interposition would be called for to punish the crime. It does not appear from the law in the book of Numbers, what was, to be the punishment of the woman, if, under the influence of conscience and apprehension, she made confession. The Rabbins say that she was to be divorced; (Lightfoot, ubi supra) they also tell us that the punishment sometimes did not follow the drinking of the water for two or three years. It seems more probable, however, that it was the intention of the lawgiver, whatever the practice might be, that the woman, if she confessed, should be punished in the usual way as an adultress. See v. 31. We are told by the Rabbins that the use of this test was abolished, when the Sanhedrim lost the power of life and death. Such an _ordeal_ was indeed very abhorrent from the Roman jurisprudence. Lightfoot, Works, ii. 111.
It may be observed, that the law does not require the husband to put the offering of jealousy into the wife’s hand, as represented in the text, but into the priest’s.
Page 291.—_Blowing of trumpets._] The object for which this was appointed is not well ascertained, and various fanciful reasons are given by the Jews. Reland, Ant. Heb. p. 509. Perhaps it was nothing more than to mark the commencement of the civil year.
Page 297.—_A goat for a sin-offering._] The directions for sin-offerings are found, Lev. iv. Num. xv. 22. From these passages it appears, that these offerings were prescribed in the case of sins of ignorance; unintentional, and at the time unobserved, violations of the Levitical law. The sacrifice of Helon in the text, appears to be represented by the author as a voluntary expression of remorse for his unjust conduct; a purpose very foreign from the design of the sin-offerings spoken of in the passages above quoted. It may also be observed, that the law takes no notice of the case of a priest incurring guilt: perhaps he might be included under the general term ruler.
Besides sin-offerings, (called הטאת) trespass-offerings אשם were also to be presented, Lev. v. vi. xiv. 12, 13. xix. 20. 22. Num. vi. 11, 12.; chiefly in cases of the breach of some social duty, and in addition to the penalties provided against the offence, but also for Levitical defilement and sins of ignorance. They differed chiefly in this, that a sin-offering was sometimes made for the whole congregation; a trespass-offering only for individuals; a bullock was never sacrificed for a trespass-offering, and the blood of the latter was sprinkled at the bottom of the altar, not dropped on the horns. Jennings’s Jew. Ant. ii. 332. Lightfoot, Works, i. 929. &c.
Page 302.—The ritual for the day of atonement will be found, Lev. xvi. xxiii. 27-32. Num. xxix. 7-11. What is described in the text beyond the warrant of these passages, is derived from Rabbinical authority. See the treatise Joma יומא i. e. _the_ day κατ’ ἐξοχὴν) in Surenh. Mischna, ii. 206. et seq. Lightfoot, i. 961. It is doubtful whether a substitute were chosen to fill the place of the high-priest; for Josephus (xvii. 6. 4.) mentions an instance in which, having incurred pollution just before the day of atonement, it was necessary to create another for the rites of this day. As the high-priest had on this day to perform the office of a common priest, for which his splendid robes of ceremony would have been inconvenient, he went through this part of his duties in the ordinary sacerdotal dress of byssus, i. e. probably at this time cotton. The word by which the material of the priest’s dress is described in the Mosaic law is שש or בד, בוץ (byssus) not occurring in any of the books of Scripture before the captivity. As the Jewish ritual was formed in so great a degree upon that of Egypt, where the priests certainly wore linen garments, in a country early celebrated for its flax, (Exod. ix. 31.) it is probable that the garments of the priests were directed by the law to be made of this material, but that when the use of cotton was learnt, it was substituted for linen. This appears to have been the case in Egypt also; for Herodotus (ii. 81.) describes the priests as wearing κιθῶνας λινεόυς, but the mummies as being swathed, σινδόνος βυσσίνης τελαμῶσι (85.) while Pliny (N. H. xix. 1.) says, “Superior pars Ægypti, in Arabiam vergens, gignit _fruticem quem gossypion_ vocant; _vestes inde sacerdotibus_ Ægypti gratissimæ.”
Page 306.—_He hurled the goat down._] It does not appear that the goat was to be thrown from the rock for the purpose of destroying it, but to be turned into the wilderness, (Jos. Ant. iii. 10. 3.) as an emblem of the sin of the people, pardoned and removed from sight. This is the obvious etymology of the name עו אול, _caper abitus_, or _scape goat_, as our translation renders it. The desert of Zuk appears to have no existence but in Rabbinical geography.
Page 307.—_His meil._] The meil (מעיל)of the high-priest was worn immediately over his linen vest or tunic, and had bells and pomegranates round the borders; it had no sleeves, and sat close round the neck. The dress of the ordinary priests and the high-priest is described by Josephus, (Ant. iii. 7.) who also unfolds the spiritual meaning of every part.
Page 314.—_The Feast of Tabernacles._]—The law for its observance is found Exod. xxiii. 16. (where it is called “the feast of ingathering at the end of the year.”) Lev. xxiii. 33-43. Deut. xvi. 16. Jos. Ant. iv. 8. 12. It was one of the greatest of all the Jewish festivals. Jos. Ant. viii. 4, The treatise entitled _Succah_ in the Mishna, (Surenh. ii. 259.) contains the traditions of the Rabbins. See Lightfoot, i. 974. Reland, p. 477. It was at once a memorial of the wandering in the desert, and a thanksgiving for the close of harvest.
The Jews, both in ancient and modern times, (Jos. Ant. iii. 10. xiii. 13. 5.) have interpreted the command in Lev. xxiii. 40. “And ye shall take unto you the boughs of _goodly trees_,” to mean branches of the citron. They make them into a bundle with the other boughs there mentioned, though it is probable that the goodly trees are pointed out as the materials of which the booths were to be constructed. Comp. Nehem, viii. 18. The Samaritans (Basnage, History of the Jews, vii. c. 26.) and the Karaite Jews (Reland, 485.) appear to understand the words of the law in this sense.
Page 317.—_Drawing of water from Siloah._] This was evidently practised in our Saviour’s time; who, according to his usual custom of making passing events subservient to purposes of instruction, “cried in the temple on the last the great day of the feast, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” John vii. 37. Which words, according to the Evangelist, referred to the effusion of the Holy Spirit. It is probable that the custom originally alluded to the rain: for, according to the Mishna, they began to pray for rain after the Feast of Tabernacles, and continued to do so till the Passover. Surenhus. ii. 356. It is doubtful whether the drawing the water were performed, as here represented, on every day of the festival: from the Evangelist we should rather conclude that it was only on the last. The Rabbinical traditions are discordant.
Page 319.—I know not on what authority it is related that the people showered their leaves and fruit on the high-priest; and I suspect that it may have originated from a misapprehension of a passage in Josephus, (Ant. xiii. 13. 5.) in which the Jews are said to have done this as a mark of their displeasure against their high-priest Alexander. Another instance is mentioned in the Talmud, in which the people testified in the same way their displeasure against some one who had performed his office carelessly, Lightfoot, i. 976.
Page 321.—_Dancing at the Feast of Tabernacles._] See Lightfoot, i. 978. and comp. 2 Sam. vi. 14.
Page 329.—_Prophecies which pointed to Judæa for their accomplishment._] “Percrebuerat Oriente toto vetus et constans opinio, esse in fatis ut eo tempore Judæa profecti rerum potirentur.” Suet. Vesp. 4. Tac. Hist. v. 13. Jos. Bell. Jud. vi. 5. 4,
Page 330.—_Submitting to circumcision._] That among the Jews themselves there was a variety of opinion respecting the necessity of circumcision, is evident from the story of Izates, (Jos. Ant. xx. 2.) who was first converted by a Jew who advised him to neglect this rite, as a non-essential of Judaism, and afterwards was induced to submit to it by a more rigid missionary.
Page 331.—_The tribunal which sat in the gate of Nicanor._] According to the Rabbins, two tribunals sat in the temple, one in the gate of Nicanor, another beside the entrance to the court of Israel. Mishna, Surenh. v. 332.
Page 333.—_The Dionysian festivals of the Greeks._] The remark of Myron, respecting the similarity of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles to the Dionysia, is founded on a passage of Plutarch, Probl. Symp. iv. Prob. vi. vol. iii. p. 745, ed. Wyttenb. 8vo. The similarity is certainly striking, and, according to the reasoning which was once commonly applied to such coincidences, would be regarded as a proof that the rites of the heathens were derived from the Jews. In the present state of historical criticism, such a supposition would be thought improbable, especially as none of all the circumstances in which the similarity appears, is found in the institution of the festival by Moses, nor even in the account of the first celebration of it after the captivity.
Page 336.—_The last day of the Feast._] It is doubtful whether “the great day of the feast” (John vii.) were the seventh or the eighth. Jennings (Jew. Ant. ii. 228.) supposes that the Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days, and that the eighth was the Feast of Ingathering.
Page 338.—_Day of rejoicing in the law._] Josephus represents it as an injunction of Moses, that the law should be read every sabbath; (c. Apion. ii. 17.) but this is only true of the practice of the Jews in later times, after the establishment of synagogues.
London: Printed by A. Applegath, Stamford-street.
There a number of minor errors in the ‘Notes and Illustrations’ at the end of the text.
The page references are sometimes in error, but in this version that is immaterial, and were left as printed.
The world ‘all’ on p. 175 was damaged (see below), and was restored based upon a different printing.
On p. 356, the endnote referencing p. 57 refers to Ezekiel xxxi. 22. The word ‘battering ram’ occurs later, in verse 27.
The brief Hebrew phrases cannot always be exactly confirmed by modern sources. They have been retained as printed, using those sources only to confirm those characters which seem ambiguous.
In order to faciliate text searches, differences in spelling between the text and the endnotes, were resolved by amending the notes.
Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and are noted here. The references are to the page and line in the original. The following issues should be noted, along with the resolutions.
39.22 at his insinuation, that——[”] Added.
40.2 “How long since was he here[./?] Replaced.
175.16 The sabbath and the new moon, [all] the Restored. solemnities
178.15 accompanied by more than [ /a] thousand human Restored. voices.
199.12 On the no[r]thern and southern sides Inserted.
202.14 the lofty side of Ebal or Geri[ri]zim Removed.
217.12 for your religion and your people as [?/.] Replaced.
240.3 than the praises of a virtuous wife.[”] Added.
257.5 to the imp[r]ecations which the judges Restored.
257.11 The judges did not immedia[t]ely decide Restored.
322.23 between the spectator and [t]he temple Restored. building
375.11 The lake Sam[a/o]chonitis. Replaced.