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JACOB'S ALTAR AT SHALEM.

"AND Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-aram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money. And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel."* This latter word signifies that the altar was dedicated to the Lord God of Israel. It appears to have been customary with the early patriarchs to devote particular spots to the worship of God, by erecting altars in his name, and thus consecrating the place as a family sanctuary, whither, no doubt, all the members of the little social community were accustomed to repair to offer up their devotions to the Almighty. These elementary temples are supposed to have been hallowed by the divine glory resting upon them, as it did in after times upon the ark of the covenant, both in the tabernacle and in the temple. They were in all probability succeeded by the proseuchæ, or houses of prayer, which were merely enclosed areas without roofs. To these succeeded the synagogue, of which there does not appear to be any trace prior to the Babylonish captivity. The proseuchæ differed from the synagogues in several particulars. In the latter, prayers in which the whole congregation united, were delivered according to an established formulary. In the former, every individual who entered prayed apart, offering up any prayer that his feelings might dictate or his circumstances require. In the accompanying illustration Jacob is seen on his knees before an altar, which he had raised to Jehovah in a small tract of land that he had purchased nigh to the city of Shalem. He has already offered a burnt-sacrifice upon it as an act of dedication, which is favorably accepted, as is shown by the direct ascent of the smoke. His tents appear in the valley behind him, under the shelter of a precipitous hill, which is crowned with the majestic cedar, a tree eminently associated with sacred history

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