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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 favor 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 everything 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 be but 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 opportu
nity 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 Aramaan Jews of Alexandria, there was none with whom so near a connexion would have been honorable 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 around 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, exAh! give me Sulamith!"
claimed," Is it possible? "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 throught 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 He
lon, 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 ten thousand shekels." "I will give them to her for her dowry," said Selumiel," and add to them ten thousand 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!"
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 neighboring 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. 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.
* Gen. xxiv. 49.
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.
FEAS T O F
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 firstfruits 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."
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 † Deut. xvi. 9.
*Exod. xxxiv. 22.
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 fortyseventh 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 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 inade a part of the kingdom of Israel, had adopted many customs from the heathen 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
*"Thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto."