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HELON'S PILGRIMAGE TO JERUSALEM.
THE whole house was in commotion. The camels were receiving their load in the inner court, and drinking before their journey, from the fountain beneath the palm trees. The slaves ran this way and that way: in the apartments of the women the maid servants were busily preparing the farewell meal for the son of their mistress, who, while she hurried in different directions and issued her commands, was repeating the words of the fortysecond Psalm
As the hart panteth for the water brooks,
My soul thirsteth for God.
The living God:
When shall I return
And appear before the face of God.
She had been born in the Holy Land, and her deceased husband had brought her to Egypt. The country in which her youthful days had been spent, and the journeys to Jerusalem, in which she had borne a part, rose up to her remembrance and with overflowing eyes she proceeded:
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say unto me continually
The thought of her deceased husband rushed upon her mind and her tears flowed in a fuller stream. Yet with a lighter heart, and with a less faltering voice, she proceeded:
When I remember these things my heart melteth within me ;
At this moment Helon met her. She embraced him and said, "So once I went to the holy city, but now I must remain a captive in a strange land. All the day long this psalm of the sons of Korah dwells upon my mind. Thy father sang it the last evening that we spent together. Immediately after, he set out for the promised land, and returned no more."
Helon was moved by the distress of his mother. His feelings had been the same as hers, but he was near the accomplishment of his wishes. He was about to visit the holy city, and the grave of his father in the valley of Jehoshaphat; and raising himself from his mother's embrace, he replied, "Hast thou forgotton the thrice repeated chorus of that psalm?
Why art thou cast down, O my soul,
And why art thou disquieted within me?
Hope thou in God for I shall yet praise him
Sallu, a young Jew, who had been purchased as a servant of the family six years before, now entered the apartment. He was dejected, and anxiously asked Helon, "Wilt thou not take me with thee, master?" The mother replied, "Thou art free; yesterday thy six years expired, and it shall be Helon's last employment before his departure solemnly to emancipate thee." The youth kept his eyes fixed upon Helon as if he was still asking him, "Wilt thou not take me with thee, master?" "Why dost thou refuse thy freedom, Sallu ?” said Helon. Master," he replied, "when thy father bought me six years ago, I was a houseless, friendless boy. I have been brought up with thee, and if I now must leave thee, I
shall be again without a friend or a home. I will not leave thee; thou art going to Jerusalem, and, if I go not with thee, I shall never behold the altar of my God, nor the place to which I direct my prayers. Take me with thee, and I will be a servant in thy house all my days. I have called the elders, and they will be here immediately."
They endeavored to dissuade him from his purpose. Helon painted to him the value of freedom, and the mercy of Jehovah towards the bondsmen in Israel, in appointing their release in the seventh year. His mother promised him that he should not go forth empty handed; that she would give him "of her flock, and of her barn, and of her winepress, of all in which the Lord her God had blessed her," as the Lord had commanded by Moses in the law.* But Sallu replied, “ Nay, but I will remain with thee; it is best for me to be here." The elders had now arrived.
"This youth," said one of them, "will be a servant of thy house. Come together to the gate."
The elders, with Helon, his mother, and Sallu, went through the covered way, as far as the gate which opened to the outer court. Sallu stood beside the gate-posts. The elder asked him, "Wilt thou not leave Helon?" Sallu replied, "I will not leave him, for I love him and his house." Then Helon took an awl, and piercing his ears against the door post, made him his servant forever. The elders pronounced a blessing, and Helon put a ring through the ears of Sallu, as a sign that he was become his property. The youth bounded for joy, and exclaimed, "I have bought thee with my blood. Wilt thou not now take me with thee to the Holy Land ?” “Go,” said Helon, "to look after the camels, and prepare thyself for the journey."
The mother invited the elders to partake of the farewell supper with her and her son, at which Elisama was also to be present. They consented, and went back with her into the inner court. Helon remained awhile behind, to inspect the + Deut. xv. 16, 17,
* Deut. xv. 14.