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a certain premium they gave Jewish shekels for the Cyrenian coins. Helon witnessed the proceeding with no sinall dissatisfaction.
He had the true Mosaic dislike to commerce and trade, of which, in the whole law, no single instance of encouragement is found. Though Canaan lay on the shore of the Mediterranean, and the example of their nearest neighbors, the Phoenicians, encouraged the Israelites to commerce, it was not the will of Jehovah that his people should devote themselves to traffic; agriculture on the contrary, was consecrated by its union with religion, and all the great national festivals were as much agricultural as historical. In this respect Israel resembled the Greeks more than the Orientals, among whom commerce is usually held in high estimation, constitutes an order of nobility, and engages even the prime ministers of the state. The Greek, on the contrary, at least in the earliest and purest times, considered such occupations as a surrender of his dignity, and inconsistent with the magnanimity of a free man. Helon would fain have seen the same spirit continuing to animate the Israelites, though for a differThe constant intercourse with foreigners, necessarily produced compromises and conformity, which diminished their attachment to the law and usages of their forefathers. He disliked the Hellenists of Alexandria, as much as their love of allegories, and deduced indeed from the former their neglect of the law, their indifference to the temple of Moriah, and their endeavor to pacify their conscience by allegorizing those precepts which in their literal acceptation too obviously rebuked their practices. If the children of the captivity, he thought, had not taken up the pursuit of commerce on the banks of the Euphrates and the Tigris, they would have returned in much greater numbers, and so many of them would not have been induced to prefer gain in a foreign land to the recovery of their own. "And had they returned in greater numbers," he exclaimed, "how soon would the Samaritans have been expelled, Galilee purified, and the Philistines been forced to bow their necks! Jerusa
lem would have been inhabited by a totally different race of men, and the days of Solomon might have returned!”
With such feelings, it was natural that he should turn away in disgust from all that seemed to change the proper character of the festival. This mixture of commerce with the religious solemnity was indeed not new; it seemed almost to arise necessarily out of the circumstances of the case. The festivals were not merely occasions of appearing before Jehovah, for pious services, nor merely anniversary assemblages of the people; they were also the great national fairs. One end of the court of the Gentiles served as a market-place; the most extensive dealings carried on in it were in cattle. Vast droves of sheep, goats, and bullocks preceded the pilgrims on their way to the city, to supply the sacrifices which were to be offered there. As the animals so offered must be all clean, it was necessary that this branch of trade should be wholly in the hands of the Jews. The sheep came from the wilderness of Judah; the bullocks from Galilee; Tekoah and Hermon furnished honey, and Gilead its precious balin. Phoenicians also came to the festivals, and brought with them foreign merchandise, purple, Egyptian linen, &c.
Elisama was frequently among the merchants, and judged of their wares with the eyes of one experienced in such matters, for he had himself been a merchant. But Helon could never be persuaded to follow his uncle's occupation, and had been accustomed at Alexandria to take refuge in the Bruchion, when exhorted to engage in commerce. "O! that a prophet would appear," he exclaimed one day in the temple, when his zeal was more than ordinarily kindled, "who should overturn the tables of the money-changers, and drive those who buy and sell from the courts of Jehovah !"*
These things, however, were only trivial diminutions of his pleasure, small specks in the bright glory which invested the temple and its services to his imagination. When he went up, morning or evening, and entered by the Beautiful-gate, he
* This was done by the Messiah. Vide John ii. 13—16.
hastened as speedily as possible from the objects the sight of which displeased him, to reach a scene more congenial to his feelings, to ascend the flight of steps which conducted to the altar of burnt-offering, to wander in the spacious porticoes, to follow with the eye the majestic steps of the highpriest, or listen to the psalms of the Levites. He had not words to describe the delight in which he thus passed his hours away. He inwardly resolved to become as it was then called, a Chasidean,* i. e. a perfectly righteous man. He thanked Jehovah that he had so happily escaped from the meshes of the Greek philosophy, and had so puré and ardent a love for the law of his fathers. He prayed to the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, to be enabled to fulfil the law in all its rigor, and he was conscious of a warmth of attachment to it, and an energy of purpose, which left him no doubt of succeeding.
The close of the festival was at hand; Helon could scarce refrain from tears when, on the evening of the seventh day, the sound of the trumpets announced that it was over. The last day, the twenty first of the month Nisan, was as holy as the first, and no work could lawfully be done on either of them. The festival-offering was presented on this as on every other of the seven days; the ashes from such a multitude of sacrifices, never having been cleared away, had accumulated to a lofty heap upon the altar. All those who had remained in Jerusalem had assembled in the temple; in the afternoon they went to the synagogue, and with sunset the feast of unleavened bread was over.
Helon went down from the temple, with slow and melancholy steps. The pilgrims were preparing for their departure, and the citizens returning to their ordinary occupations. the following morning they were present at the sacrifice, and returned thanks to Jehovah for permitting them to join in the celebration of his Passover. The tents were then struck;
* Chasidean The Chasidim, or Pietists, were a sect that sprung up during the Maccabees, distinguished for their devotion to pure Judaism, and their zeal for the institutions of Israel.
the different companies arranged themselves, and with the sound of cymbals poured out from the different gates, after having taken a hearty farewell of their respective friends.
Helon stood upon the roof, and saw the commotion in the streets and at the gates. The city gradually became more empty and silent. He listened, as the songs of the pilgrims died away in the distance, and when he heard from the road to Bethlehem, where he had himself joined in the chorus, the psalm which they were singing on their return, the sound fell on his heart, like the knell of departed joy.
THE feast of the Passover was ended. The multitude had returned to their homes, to resume their occupations in the city. The ashes on the altar of burnt-offering 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 Libnah, 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 bis 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 favorites, 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 comparative 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
With such feelings he wandered up and down on the roof, in the cool air of morning. Suddenly the smoke of the
*Lam. iii. 18.