« PreviousContinue »
time he ate and drank nothing. And the Lord wrote upon the two tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
The commands which God gave to his people extended to their whole public and domestic life. Unwholesome species of food were forbidden, under the title of “unclean." The regulations concerning marriages and inheritance; the directions respecting the cultivation of the land, and the feeding of the flocks; the laws concerning the punishment of theft, murder, and other offences; the rules of war; the mutual rights of fathers and children, of widows and orphans, of the poor, the blind, the deaf, and of slaves, were all laid down in the minutest manner. Even birds' nests, fruit trees, and the oxen that threshed out the corn were not forgotten. “ Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn." “ Thou shalt not hurt any fruit trees.” When thou findest a bird's nest, thou shalt not take the mother with the young ones; but thou shalt let the mother go, that it may go well with thee as long as thou livest.” " When thou seest an ox or an ass lying down under his burden, thou shalt help him up.
“ Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling-block before the blind, but thou shalt fear thy God.”
The tribe of Levi, to which Moses belonged, had special privileges given to it. The children of Moses, indeed, received no privilege above the rest of the tribe. But to Aaron his brother, and his descendants, the priesthood was given ; and out of the tribe of Levi the teachers and physicians, and more especially the rulers and officers of the people, were taken.
Aaron himself was solemnly anointed as High Priest, and clothed with the priestly garments; and a magnificent tabernacle was constructed for the worship of God. In the golden ark, which stood in the inner chamber of the tabernacle, the most holy place, the tables of stone were preserved on which God himself had written his law. Into the fore chamber of the tabernacle, the sanctuary, the high-priest daily brought incense with prayers before God. A large outer court surrounded the tabernacle, in which stood the altar of burnt offering, where the priests offered the sacrifices of the people.
There appears to have existed among the people some old customary sacrifices, to which they were much attached. These God did not entirely abo
lish ; but he regulated them, and commanded that if any one would bring a burnt offering, or a meat offering, or a thank offering, he should bring it in the manner now prescribed, and to the appointed place; that sacrificial feasts might not be held under every green tree and upon every high hill. Also, as a punishment for certain transgressions, trespass offerings and sin offerings were appointed. Among the Jews, at the present day, sacrifices no longer exist.
Three times a year, there was a feast of weeks, to which all the males were required to come. There was also the Passover, in commemoration of their deliverance out of Egypt; the feast of Pentecost, in commemoration of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai ; and the feast of Tabernacles. These three feasts had a reference also to the cultivation of the land. At the Passover, the first ripe sheaves of barley were to be placed upon the altar; for the time of the feast was just at the beginning of the barley harvest. The feast of Pentecost was called the feast of the first harvest, because the barley harvest was over, and the wheat harvest was beginning; and the feast of Tabernacles was also the feast of thanksgiving after the vintage. Cessation from work, however, was not always connected with the celebration of a feast; but only the first and last days of the feast were sabbath days. Some of these feasts are still observed by the Jews.
26. THE GRAVES OF THE LUSTERS. WHEN the people had passed a year in the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai, and had celebrated the anniversary of their deliverance out of Egypt, the pillar of cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle of the testimony, and the people prepared themselves for their departure. This was no doubt a time of joy among the people, for they were to go directly into the land flowing with milk and honey. But much happened between.
They had scarcely gone three days' journey in the wilderness, before their zeal cooled. The mixed multitude that was among them lusted after other food, and wept and lamented one to another, “Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick : but now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” And the Lord said, “ Prepare yourselves, and to-morrow the Lord shall give you flesh to eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; but even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the Lord which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?” And Moses said, “The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.' And the Lord said unto Moses, “Is the Lord's hand waxed short ?” So Moses assembled the children of Israel. And the Lord sent a wind which brought quails from the sea, and scattered them by the camp, as it were a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the other side, round about the
camp, and two cubits high upon the face of the earth.
And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and gathered the quails; but before they had eaten them a plague came forth
them; and many of the people that had lusted died, and were buried there. Therefore the place was called “ The graves of the lusters.” a
When the people were come into the wilderness of Paran, Moses sent men to spy out the land of Canaan ; one man from every tribe. These went through the land from the southern to the