« PreviousContinue »
gallery support the roof, the windows, you see, all face inward upon the court below. When company is entertained in this court, an awning or covering of cloth is stretched over it to protect them from the sun or rain. This was probably the tiling, which was removed to let down the man sick of the palsy “ into the midst before Jesus," and this explanation makes that whole account very plain.
The top of the house, which is called the terrace, is perfectly flat, and is surrounded by two parapets or walls, one outer and one inner. On this the inhabitants, in the het season, spend their evenings, conversing and enjoying the cool breeze. Here, too, they often sleep, for the sake of the cool air, and freedom from gnats and flies. particular precept about building the wall round the top of the house, to prevent persons, who might arise during sleep, from falling off.* We read too of persons escaping hastily from the housetop without entering the house to take any thing out of it, when attacked in the night by enemies. I think you will now be
Moses gave a
* Deut. xxii. 8.
+ Matt. xxiv. 17.
able to understand from this description what
I shall say.
When Helah and his guests reached the roof, and the boys looked round on the beautiful scene before them, spread out in the clear moonlight, they could hardly contain themselves, even before the large company of strangers, from uttering loud exclamations of wonder and delight. On every side they saw the families come out upon the roofs of the houses to enjoy the fine breeze that swept through the valley between Mount Zion and the temple, from the mount of Olives, and to entertain their guests. All Jerusalem seemed alive. The whole city was animation and joy. There were then assembled to attend the feast nearly two millions of human beings. Selumiel, coming near to his scholars, and pointing to the groups of happy persons on the neighbouring housetops, reminded them of the beautiful psalm, which he had often explained to them, and taught them to repeat.
Simon, immediately perceiving the beauty and appropriateness of it to the present scene, to the great delight of several of the guests, who were watching the surprise and wonder which the boys exhibited at this new scene, repeated :
“Behold how good and pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment on the head of Aaron, That ran down upon his beard, That went down to the skirts of his garments. So the dew of Hermon descends Upon the hills of Zion; For there hath Jehovah commanded his blessing, Prosperity for ever more.”—Ps. cxxxii. Supper was now ready. Thiee low tables were set so as to form but one, in a semi-circular form. Around these were placed, not seats, but couches or sofas, formed of stuffed mattresses. The guests were arranged on these, each reclining on his left elbow, with his feet outwards from the table, and his head near the bosom of the one on his left hand. Helah placed Selumiel on his right hand, which is the place of honour, and is always assigned to the person most beloved by the master of the feast. This place was occupied by the beloved John, who lay upon
Jesus' bosom at supper.
The supper was simple and frugal. Unleavened cakes, honey, and fruits, and pure
wine, constituted the entertainment. Before and after eating, Helah pronounced the usual prayer, “ Blessed be thou, O Lord, our God, the king of the world, who hast produced this fruit from the earth.” The females of the family ate by themselves in their own private apartment. When supper was ended, then came the ceremony of purifying the house from leaven. Jehovah had commanded that no leaven should be eaten for seven days, and the Jews were very strict in putting it away. Helah led his guests round in procession to search the house. Every corner, drawer, and cupboard in the house was searched, and every particle of leavened bread carefully removed. When the search was finished, the guests were dispersed to their rooms for the night, and Selumiel, taking his little boys with him alone, explained to them the meaning of all they had seen, and taught them the necessity of putting away the old leaven of wickedness, that they might be a new lump, unleavened, and receive Christ their passover.* Then kneeling down with them, he prayed and commended them to their merciful Sa
* See 1 Corinthians, v. 7, 8.