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Lost in these solemn musings, they silently followed Selumiel, as he led them along the bank of the Gihon towards the “ field of blood.” It was a small even plat of ground, lying just south of the waters of the Gihon, and surrounded by abrupt and cragged rocks on three sides. It had been originally used as a place for making bricks and earthenware, by reason of the abundant clay in the vicinity, and its nearness to the Gihon and Kidron. It was now occupied as a cemetery, or burial place, which the Jews called “the house of the living," to show their belief in the immortality of the soul, and of the resurrection of the body. It was surrounded by a high wall, on those parts where it was not naturally defended by rocks. The Jews were very careful in the burial of their dead; and to be deprived of burial was one of the greatest dishonours, or causes of unhappiness, that could befall a
It was never denied even to enemies, except in special cases. As they drew near this place of the dead, a funeral procession from the city was just approaching, bearing the body of a young stranger who had come up to Jerusalem to witness the celebration of the Passover, and had suddenly sickened and died. Selumiel and the little boys joined the procession, as was customary for all who met them on these occasions, and entered the burial ground. The young stranger had no relatives to follow him to the grave, but a company of mourningwomen, hired for the occasion, “ wept and bewailed” him greatly. As they entered the place of the dead, the bearers of the corpse addressed themselves to those who lay there, as if they had been still alive, saying, "Blessed be the Lord, who hath created you, fed you, brought you up, and at last, in his justice, taken you out of the world. He knows the number of you all, and will in time revive you ; blessed be the Lord, who causeth death, and restoreth life.” The body was then let down to the ground. They then walked round the grave, repeating a prayer. A little sack full of earth was then put under the head of the dead, and the coffin nailed down and closed, the mourning-women saying to him “ Go in peace.”
higher and higher, and seemed ready to dash over me, with an exclamation of horror, I dropped the glass and closed my eyes upon the sight."
When the ceremony was completed, Selumiel and the boys turned away from the procession, to examine the sepulchres, with which but a few years had filled the place. Many tombs had been hewn out of the rocks on either side of the field, and a large nunber of small white monuments marked the spots where the humble " strangers" slept. One spot seemed to have been frequently visited, and the path leading to it was much worn by the frequent feet of the visiters. It was a plain grave shaded by a spreading tree, and unmarked by any monument or inscription to designate the name of him whom it covered.
« There," said Selumiel, as they approached it, “ lies all that was mortal of the traitor . Judas. When the miserable man found, that Jesus did not deliver himself as he had expected from the Jews, but was condemned to be crucified, he was seized with the deepest
His dreadful crime rose up before him in all its horrors. Borne down with anguish too grievous to be endured, he rushed
into the temple, and threw down the thirty pieces of silver for which he had betrayed his Lord at the feet of the Sanhedrim, exclaiming, • I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood !' A most blessed testimony, from one who knew him well, and who was a bitter enemy, to the purity and innocence of Jesus. The hard-hearted priests, unmoved by his anguish or his tears, and spurning from them, in this day of his calamity, the companion of their crimes, coldly replied, . What is that to us? see thou to that ! Such, my dear boys, is the friendship of the wicked.
The wretched Judas, finding no compassion from these proud priests, and unable to endure the upbraidings of his guilty conscience, fled to this lonely spot, and hanged himself on this tree; and falling headlong from it (the cord having broken) he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And this was known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and from that circumstance, this place has been called Aceldama (the field of blood)."
6 Was it used before that time as a burialplace, uncle ?” said Simon.
“ The Sanhedrim," replied Selumiel," after
the departure of Judas, took the silver pieces which he had thrown down before them, and consulted what they should do with them. And they reasoned with one another, saying ; • It is not lawful to put them into the treasury of the Lord.' See, my dear boys, how very punctilious they were in regard to so small a matter, while at the same time they were imbruing their hands in the same innocent blood—for,' said they, it is the price of blood.' So they bought with them this field to bury strangers in. How true was the saying of Jesus, which he spake of them,
They strain at (or out) a gnat, and swallow a camel.'"
The gate of the burial ground was now about to be closed, and they left the spot and walked silently and thoughtfully homewards, meditating on the mournful scenes they had just witnessed.
" Are those tombs still to be seen at Jerusalem ?” inquired William Appleton. “I should suppose that some remains of them, at least, would still be visible.”
They are still visible, and the spot is oecupied by the Armenian Christians as a se