Page images
PDF
EPUB

the exijith and cxixth Psalms sung. Elisama by the beard, as he sat one This formed the first half of the great evening among the citizens at the gate song of praise which was called em- of Jericho. The consequences of the phatically the Hallel, consisting of six old man's wrath are terrible. Psalms, from the cxiiith to the cxviith, “Elisama arose, with glowing cheeks and was sung on all great festivities. and a look in which the expression of A second washing of the hands fol- the wildest rage grew every moment lowed, the cup was a second time stronger. His limbs treinbled; his blessed and sent round. The master features were distorted, his hair stood broke off a piece of the unleavened on end, and his breast heaved with a bread, wrapped it in the bitter herbs, feverish gasp. 'Accursed Heathen!! and, haring dipped it in the charoseth, he exclaimed in fury; "accursed ate it and then distributed a portion Heathen !' he repeated, and drawing to each of the company, who did the his sword, aimed a blow at Myron. same; and now the eating of the Lamb The offender, awakened to a conbegan, in which the Paschal feast pro- sciousness of what he had done, saw perly consisted.”

the weapon about to fall on him and When the festivities of the Passo- evaded the stroke; a citizen of Jerirer are concluded, and the crowds re- cho, whom the tumult of the assemturned home, Helon feels an irresisti. bly had pushed forward, received it ble desire to enter into the order of and fell mortally wounded at Elisama's the priests, that he may renew and feet. In silent horror all stood around, perpetuate the delight which he has and looked by turns on the murderer, felt from the services and offerings of the corpse and the author of the misthe Temple. Being Levitically born, chief. The whole city hastened to the he presents himself to the High- spot; Myron escaped, and Salumiel, Priest, and seeks admission into the taking the unconscious Elisama by sacerdotal order; his request is granted, the hand, led him home. Helon prebut he is told that he must produce ceding them, burst with a cry of horthe genealogical register of his family, ror into the house, exclaiming, Woe, and to obtain this he makes a journey woe-homicide-Elisama!' The wofirst to Joppa, and, not finding the men hastened from their apartments, genealogist there, afterwards to Zik- and knew not the cause of the confulag, to find him. This gives the au- sion. Salumiel entered with Elisama thor an opportunity of describing -one in eager haste, the other bewil. these parts of Palestine ; and Helon dered, with fixed eyes and open mouth, and Elisama return to Jerusalem in ‘Bring horses, bring camels, bring any time to witness the triumphal entry beast of burden,' exclaimed Salumiel. of the sons of Hyrcanus, after their Thou hust slain him, Elisama, and victories over the Samaritans. Helon, must flee before the avenger of blood.' after due probation by the Sanhedrim, • Whither?' asked Helon. To a city is admitted as a priest, and all the ce- of refuge,-to Hebron in Juda-to remonies and offerings which attended Bezer in Reuben-to Ramoth Gilead such an initiation are described, per- best of all.' At these words Elisama haps, with too much of monotonous awoke from his trance. Tears flowed repetition. We are next called to at- from his aged eyes as he exclaimed, tend him in a visit to Jericho, the • Merciful God, must I in my old age abode of Salamiel, the brother of fee as a murderer, and die by the Iddo; he becomes enamoured of his hands of the avenger?' His voice was lovely daughter Sulamith, and, on his choked with sobs. Two rapid dromemarriage, takes up his residence there daries, ships of the desert, were in a splendid house purchased for him brought. Melon accompanied the unby Elisama. They visit Jerusalem to- happy man. It was already night, gether at the Feast of Pentecost, and and they passed unobserved out of all seems to promise pure and lasting Jericho. Without a salutation or an happiness, when the indiscretion of adieu they urged their flight, in dread Myron, who had accompanied them least the avenger should be on their to Jericho, occasions a fatal accident, traces, Elisama with his hair loose, and plunges the whole family in the his turban floating on the wind, and deepest distress. In a moment of death on his countenance. thoughtless gaiety, he has plucked It was one of the most terrific

[blocks in formation]

customs of the East, that the next of been employed, and the precious balm kin of any one who had been slain, of Gilead applied externally and intereven unwittingly, was deemed infa- nally. These were the two chief remous if he did not avenge him by put- medies of the Hebrews. But here ting to death the man who had killed they had lost their power. Elisama hiin. Moses, unable to eradicate this fell into a death-like slumber. When custom, had mitigated it by the ap- he was delirious, the image of Myron pointment of six cities of refuge, three seemed to be constantly before his on each side of the Jordan, in which eyes ; and he upbraided him with his the unintentional homicide might be ingratitude, and warned his son Helon safe from the vengeance of the Goel. to beware of him, as it would not be In thesc cities, and for a thousand the last of his misdeeds. On the folyards around, he could not be touch- lowing day his reason returned for ed—if he ventured beyond these limits, some hours, and he spoke calmly and before the death of the High-Pricst, clearly. It was the last revival of the the Goel might lawfully kill him. flame of life. He regnested Helon to The roads and hedges learling to the repeat to him the prayer of Moses, city of refuge were to be kept in re- the man of God. Lord, Thou hast pair, that the fugitive might not be been our refuge in all generations.' impeded in his flight. The son of the Ps. xc. He heard it with great attencitizen of Jericho, whom Elisama had tion, and the emotions of his heart killed, had been fetched from the were visible, at many passages, in his fields and had gone forth to avenge looks and his clasped hands. He lay his father ; but he was too late ; Eli- for a long time with closed eyes, but sama had already reached Ramoth his lips were in motion, and it was Gilead in safety. Salumiel, who had evident that he was addressing himremained behind to attend the judicial self to God, probably in a penitential proceedings, determined to go and see Psalm ; for once, when his voice grew him, and Salamith could not be per- stronger, he was heard to say, (Ps. suaded to remain behind. Ramoth cii. 10,) Gilead lay on the other side of Jor

"My days pass away as a shadow, dan, in the country called in ancient

And I wither as grass, umes Gilead; a country not so fruit

But thou!, Jehovah, shalt endure for ful as this side, from its many inoun

ever, tains and sandy deserts, yet rich in And thy name remaineth from generapasturage for cattle, and watered by tion to generation. two mighty streams, the Arnon and Thou wilt arise and have mercy on Zion; the Jabok, which empty themselves for the time is come that thou shouldst into the Dead Sea and the Jordan. favour her, The hills of Basan, Gilead and Aba- The appointed hour is come.' rim, extending from Antilibanus, send their branches through this country.

“ His voice again became faint, and It was given on the conquest of Ca. it was after some interval that he was naan to the tribes of Gad and Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh, as their “He weakeneth my streugth in the way, residence. Ramoth, situated on the He shorteneth my days.' Jabok, was the principal city, celebrated in history by the vow of Jeph

“ And then with a firmer tonetha, and the battle between Ahab and The children of thy servants shall conJehoshaphat and the Syrians.

tinue, On their arrival, they learnt that And their seed shall prosper before Elisama was dangerously ill. The

thee.' agitation of mind and fatigue attendant on his flight, had overpowered his “ He turned with an expression of feeble frame; he had been attacked the deepest affection to Helon, and by a fever, under which he was hourly said, 'Greet thy mother from mesinking. A Levite, who was the phy- when the High-Priest dies, carry my sician of Ramoth, and possessed great bones to the valley of Jehoshaphat knowledge of the human franie and anal lay thein beside thy fathers'the virtues of plants, had been sum- wait on Jehoval and thou shalt ob. moned. Strengthening batlıs had tain,'-his words became inaudible.

+

heard to say

Helon held his cold hand, and bathed of the family began to weep along with it with his tears, and all who stood her. They arose, twisted their handaround his bed, in mournful silence, kerchiefs together, and ran shrieking thought him already dead. But the round the room, while Salamith, sitdying eye opened once more-gazed ting motionless in the middle, wrung round on them all-then fixed itself her hands and tore her beautiful dark on heaven. His head sank back in hair. When she ceased, the mourners Salamith's arms. Twice the mouth resumed their song till she again gave was distorted in the bitterness of pain them a signal, and the relatives re--then once again. The boily became newed their lamentations. This lastrigid-the respiratiou ceased. ed till towards evening, when the in

" After a salemn pause, each read. habitants assembled at the door, and ing in the countenance of the rest the the corpse was carried to the grave, confirmation of his fears, all uttered Those who carried the bier proceeded at the same moment a piercing shriek with such hasty steps, that they seem, of grief. The men rent their upper ed rather to run than walk—an usage garinents, beat their breasts, threw which was said to bear this meaning, their turbans on the ground, strewed that death is the most terrible punishdust and ashes on their head, put on ment of sin. Every one who met the sackcloth, covered their chins and procession joined the inourners, and went barcfoot. Helon was hurried bore part in the cries of the women. away, least, being a priest, le should “Before the gate of the city, in a contract pollution from the dead body, garden planted with trees, stood the The eyes of the corpse were closed, sepulchre of Elisama's host, lein and it was carried into the Alija (a out of the rock ; and in this the corpse small chapel on the roof of the house, was deposited ; for burning was deem. by the nearest relatives. As it had ed dishonourable by the Jews and rebeen the custom in Judea, since the garded with abhorrence. The bearers Captivity, to bury very soon, the night threw aloes, myrrh and other frawas past in making preparations. grant substances upon the body so as The body was wrapt in a large sheet, to cover it, and the sepulchre was the head bound with a napkin, and closed with a stone, which was annuthen the whole, from head to foot, ally whitened with lime. The friends swathed witli a broad bandage, and and relatives remained standing awhile each foot, each hand, each finger se before the closed sepulchre, then bow. parately. At midnight came the Le- ed themselves thrice to the earth and vites with their musical instruments: preyed : then taking up a sod threw the female mourners began their office it behind them and said, 'Remember, by lifting up their voices and lament- O man! that dust thou art and to ing, strewing ashes on their heads and dust thou shalt return.' The processinging a dirge. On the following sion returued with a repetition of the morning the house was filled with funeral lamentations.

On reaching neighbours and friends, expressing home they washed their hands, and their syinpathy. Salamith ran about, the neighbours brought them the weeping and wringing her hands above bread of mourning. A beautiful and her head. The men sat in another humane custom in Israel! No vicapartment npon the ground and mourn. tuals were prepared in the house which ed in silence. Salamith was conduct- death had visited, but the neighed to the apartment of the women, boursand friends came with costly where she placed herself on a carpet

viands and invited the mourners to in the middle, and the rest of the fe- partake of them, to recruit their inales of the family sat round her. strength and spirits. This was called The hired wourners formed a wider the bread of mourning, and the cup. circle at a little distance. Each of the which was handed round, the cup of women held a handkerchief in her consolation. The mourning lasted hand by two of the corners. The seven days, during which it was held mourners, who knew a variety of fu, indecorous to wash the garments, to neral songs, began one which expres, bathe or anoint the body, or to wear sed the virtues and calamities of the the sandals or the turban. Every day deceased. Salamith gave them a sign Salamith went with the women of the and they ceased; and all the females family to lament, at the tomb of the deceased, his true affection and his all with the most admirable meekness calamitous fate. When the days of and dignity, and, having drunk the mourning were ended, suitable pre- water uninjured, is declared innocent sents were made to the friendly host, of the charge. Helon, though forand Helon, Salamith and Salumiel re- given by his wife, cannot forgive himturned from the Perca over the Jor- self for the pain he has caused her ; dan to Jericho.”

ment.

and remains in a state of the deepest This calamity is represented by the dejection, till his conscience is relieved author as a punishment of the pride by the sacrifices on the day of atoneof Helon, who, according to a notion The change in him is chiefly which Judaism was not unlikely to brought about by his intercourse with inspire, believed his own prosperity the old man of the Temple, a venerato be a mark of the peculiar favour of ble personage, into whose mouth the heaven, and thought that his zeal for author puts those interpretations of the law, and his delight in the services the Jewish rites and history, with reof the Temple, had already advanced ference to the expected Messiah, which him to the rank of a chæsidean, or he supposes to have prevailed among perfectly righteous man. He is gra- those who, avoiding the sectarian tedually recovering his composure, and nets of Pharisees, Sadducees and Eslearning to think more humbly of senes, were desirous to fulfil the la:v himself, when Myron, who has been without addition or diminution. By wretched from the conseiousness of him Ilelon is taught the folly of his the sorrow which he had brought on former presumptuous self-rigliteoushis friend, seeks a reconciliation, and ness, and to consider the sacrifices of obtains it chiefly through the media- the law as the appointed means of tion of Salamith. His return is the reconciliation with God, till the Mescause of fresh calamities. Finding siah should come, to take away the that it was to Salamith that he owed sin of the people. His cheerfulness his forgiveness, he goes one evening, returns, and he celebrates the feast of in ignorance of Oriental manners and Tabernacles, which closed the annual the fury of Oriental jealousy, to the cycle of Jewish festivals, with more Armon, or female apartment, to ex- true religious feeling than any of the press his gratitude to her. She warns preceding. On their return to Jeri. him of his danger, but before he has cho, they hear that the plague has made good his retreat, Helon appears. broken out, and determine all together Their protestations of innocence are to go to Alexandria, to sec Helon's unavailing : Myron is contumeliously mother : but before they can embark driven from the house, and Salamith, at Joppa, news reaches them that she being brought before the judges of is dead. They set out, however, and Jericho as an adultress, declares her- for several days have a prosperous self willing to undergo the fearful ce- voyage. Myron, who has become a remony of drinking the water of jea- proselyte of the gate, is one of the lousy. For this purpose she is con- party. veyed to Jerusalem. The author, " The Phænician vessel in which though in general very remote from they had embarked, ran swiftly along the modern German school of theo- the coast, and Jamnia, Ashdod, Aslogy, appears to have adopted the calon, Gaza and Raphia, were soon opinion of Michaëlis, that this was left behind. The mind of Helon was intended as a trial of the power of as clear and calm as the mirror in conscience on the mind of the culprit, which the sea reflected the bright blue and that the method to which the heavens. His grief for the death of priests trusted for obtaining the truth, bis mother had only increased his was to accumulate horrors upon her, trust in the Divine compassion, which which nothing but the force of inno- had bestowed on him that perfect cence could enable her to bear. She peace of mind which neither in death is led through the streets of Jerusalem, nor life sees any thing to fear. One exposed to every species of indignity, morning they were watching the broad harassed with exhortations to confess red dawn, announcing the approach her crime, and at last produced, before of day. All were in an unusual frame the whole people, to take the test of mind. Helon, full of tranquil joy, which the law prescribed. She bears was relating to his friends, as they sat

waves.

around him on the deck, the course safety was at an end, and sounds of of Divine Providence, with respect to terror and lamentation were heard on hiin in the year that was just com- every side. Suddenly, the ship struck pleted, and how it had conducted him violently upon a rock and went to to that true peace of mind which he pieces. The crew sunk, and no one bad sought in vain before. I could could bid another farewell. Helon call upon the whole world,

supported himself for a short time * Praise Jehovah, all the world,

upon a spar, and looking round saw

Salamith and her father sink. Alone Serre Jehovah with joy! Come into his presence with rejoicing. for a few moments with the stormy

and scarcely conscious, he struggled Confess that Jehovah is God. He has made us and we are his,

One of tremendous height His people and the sheep of his pas. claimed amidst the uproar of the ele

came rolling onward; Helon exture. Enter his gátes with thanksgiving, ments, His courts with songs of praise. Bless him, praise his name !

• The angel of the covenant For Jehovah is good, his mercy is ever

Behold he cometh, saith Jehovah of lasting,

Hosts,' And his faithfulness from generation

and was buried in the waters. to generation.'—(Psalm c.)

“ After an hour the storm had * And thr

gh all the vicissitudes ceased. And the storms of this orld of my life, in calamity and in death, too, had ceased for those who had these words shall be my comfort, found death in the waves and life in which the last of the prophets spoke, the bosom of their God.” when the oracle of prophecy was about The melancholy impression which to be closed in silence:

the close of this story will leave on

the inind of every reader of feeling, • The Lord whom ye seek will come even in this imperfect sketch, is the

speedily to his temple, And the angel of the covenant whom succeeded in the fictitious part of his

best proof how well the author has ye desire. Behold he cometh, saith Jehovah of work; and it is this circumstance Hosts.'

which distinguishes it above all the

stories which have been written as “ While he thus spoke, delightful vehicles of antiquarian information. anticipations of futurity seemed to He has deprived us of the means of take possession of his soul. All who judging how far it is an exact picture sat around him were silent ; for the of the Jewish life and sentiments in power of his faith seemed to commu- the period assumed, by entirely withnicate itself by an indescribable ope- holding references to authorities, on ration to their minds. All at once, the insufficient ground, that they confused voices exclaimed throughout would be useless to the unlearned and the ship, a storm, a storm! The superfluous to the learned. We are heavens grew black with clouds, the glad, however, to perceive that the tempest rose, and the waves beat on remonstrances of his German readers every side against the ship. They have induced him to promise to supply endeavoured to avoid the shore, which this great deficiency, by giving his was rocky and produced breakers own notes, and those which the Dutch which threatened every moment to Professors, Vanderpalm and Clarisse, overwhelm the vessel. The Phæni- have added to a translation which has cian mariners called on their gods, the appeared in Holland. Full and accuchildren of Israel prayed to Jehovah. rate references alone can enable us to Helon stood in the midst of threaten- use such a work with any confidence ing waves and terrified men, tranquil for the purpose of instruction, and and full of confidence. At once the correct, in some measure, the fallacy ship received a violent shock, and which leads the reader to feel as if he sprung a leak. Their efforts were in really bad contemporary authority for vain. Salatnith flew to Helon's arms, the facts and descriptions which it and each repeated to the other pas- contains. The picture of the Jewish sages from the Psalms. All hope of people is probably idealized, and we

« PreviousContinue »