Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

with his guards. Priests were marching in they were surrounded, to pray to their God, procession; and crowds of worshippers standing to sing their psalms, and to read the law. about the holy place. Tongues of flame leaped This gave rise to the synagogue, which faintly from the altars on which the priests were

means no more than a "meeting together;" sprinkling blood

but the wretches who lay around (the Pool) on their quilts and but after the Maccabæan insurrection it berugs, the blind, the leprous, and the aged poor,

came a popular institution, and every little drew no compassion from the busy priests. One village had its synagogue. Now, as much of man, the weakest of the weak, had been helpless the work of Christ was done in the synano less than thirty-eight years. Over this man gogue, as he loved to go into them and to Jesus paused and said : –

take part in their services, it is desirable "6Wilt thou be made whole ?'

that we should have a clear notion of what a “¢ Rabbi, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool; but while I

synagogue was: am coming, another stepped down before me.'

“ A house of unhewn stones taken up from The Compassionate answered him :

the hill-side ; squat and square of the ancient

Hebrew style, having a level roof, but neither “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.'

spire nor tower, neither dome nor miparet to “At once the life leaped quickly into the of the Jews in which Jesus taught. . enchant the eye ; such was the simple synagogue

Inpoor man’s limbs. Rising from the ground, he side a Syrian' synagogue is like one of our folded up his quilt, taking it on his arm to go parish schools, with scats for the men, rough away; but some of the Pharisees seeing him get sofas of wood half covered with rushes and up and roll his bed into a coil, run towards him straw; a higher seat stands in the centre, like crying :- "It it the Sabbath day; it is not law. that of a mosque, for the elders of the town, a ful for thee to carry thy bed. It was certainly desk for the reader of the day; at the south end an offence against the Oral Law."

a closet, concealed by a hanging veil, in which

the Torah, a written copy of the Pentateuch, The Jews had turned the blessing of the is kept in the sacred ark. A silver lamp is Sabbath into a curse.

always kept burning, a candlestick with eight

arms, a pulpit, a reading-desk, are the chief “ From the moment of hearing the ram's articles of furniture in the room. horn, a sacred trumpet, called the shofa, blown olden times women were allowed to enter with from the temple wall, announcing that the Sab the men, though they were even then parted bath had coinmenced, he was not allowed to from father and son by a wooden screen. light a fire or make a bed, to boil a pot; he

Before entering a synagogue a man is excould not pull his ass from a ditch, nor raise pected to dip his hands into water. an arm in defence of his life

A Jew Ten persons are necessary to form a meeting; could not quit his camp, his village, or his city every town or city having a synagogue, appointon the day of rest. He might not begin a jour. ed ten men called Batlanim (men of leisure), ney ; if going along a road, he must rest from who were bound to appear at the hour of prayer. sundown till the same event of the coming day.

Higher in office was the Chazzan, wbo Ho might not carry a pencil, a kerchief, a shekel took charge of the house and scroll. in his belt; if he required a handkerchief for The Meturgeman was an interpreter of the law, use, he had to tie it round his leg. If he offend- wbose dury it was to stand near the Reader for ed against one of these rules, he was held to the day, and translate the sacred verses, one by deserve the doom awarded to the vilest of sin- one, from the Hebrew into the vulgar tongue.

Some rabbins held that a man ought not Above him were the elders.. When the to change his position, but that, whether he was people came in they first bowed to the ark; standing or sitting when the shofa sounded he the elders took their places on the raised platshould stand or sit immovable as a s'one until the form; the rich went up to high seats near the Salbuth had passed away.

ark; the poor sat on wooden sofas, na ted with

A prayer was said, one of the Jesus broke the Oral Law that he might up to the veil, which he drew aside with rever

Psalms of David sung. The Chazzan walked bring his followers to a sense of its degrad- ence, lifted the ark from its niche, took out ing spirit, and announced the new truth that the turah, carried the roll round the benches, The Sabbath is made for man; not man for every one striving either to kiss or touch it with the Sabbath.After two very interesting his palm; the Sheliach read the lesson for the chapters upon Antipas Herod and Herodias, day; at its close the elder expounded the text in we have one upon the Synagogue. Some a sort of sermon, when the torah_was carried writers have striven to claim the remotest hal in those times a right to express his opinion

back, and prayers began. Every bearer antiquity for this institution, but in all prob- of the sucred text, and of what it meant." ability it might be dated from the captivity. There would be a natural desire to meet together away from the pagans, by whom Our Lord availed himself of this right,

[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors]

liei's

straw.

which every Jew possessed, of speaking in “ Jesus sat in the synagogue in his usual the synagogue upon the text which had been place. The Jews poured in, each man and woread; and Mr. Dixon has worked up two man making lowly reverence towards the ark. scenes well known in the career of Our

. . The service began with the prayer of Lord, with all the surrounding incidents sweet incense, after which the congregation, the and scenery, so graphically and so accurate these were sung, the chazzan, going up to the

batlanim leading, sang Psalms of David ; when ly that no one could read these descriptions ark, drew aside the veil and took out the sacred without rising from them with a clearer and roll, which he carried round the aisles to the more complete understanding of the simple reader of the day, who raised it in his hands, so statement of the Gospel. The Gospels were that all who were present could see the sacred not written as historical sketches, but as text. Then the whole congregation rose. vehicles for the vital truth they contain ; Opening the scroll, the reader read out the seco

When the consequently, anything that resuscitates the tion or chapter for the day. scene and reproduces the incidents as they lesson was finished, the chazzan took the scroll took place, with all their peculiar surround - from the reader, and carried it back to its place

behind the veil. Then when the roll was reings, must be of great value in assisting us stored to the ark, they sang other psalms, after to comprehend more readily, and to retain which the elder delivered the midrash, an expoin our minds more vividly, the events of sition of the text which had been read. The Our Lord's career. We think this is more time now being come to question and be quespre-eminently the characteristic aim and tioned, all eyes turned on the Teacher who had achievement of this work than of the many fed the 5,000 men.... . . Their questionings others we have read upon the subject, and were sharp and loudwe shall instance one, the scene in the syna

««• Rabbi, when camest thou hither?'

Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye ask mo gogue of Capernaum. The first alluded to was the declaration of Jesus in the syna- ate of the loaves and were filled. Labor vot

not because ye saw the miracles, but because yo gogue at Nazareth; but, as many of the for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat incidents are included in this of Capernaum, which endureth unto everlasting life, u hich the we content ourselves with giving it some- Son of Man shall give unto you, foc lim bath what in detail, as an illustration of the God the Father sealed.' peculiarity we have already mentioned. “Then they asked him Let the reader first peruse the simple state

“What must we do that we may work the ment in the Gospel of St. John, vi. ch., 25 works of God?' v., to the end, and then the following, or

“ To which he answered, with a second pub. better still, the whole of chapter xvii. in the lic declaration, that he was Christ the Son of

God second volume of Mr. Dixon's work, called

“ • This is the word of God, that yo believo · The Bread of Life," and we will rise from on him whom He hath sent.' it with a much more vivid conception of one “What sign showest thou that we may seo of the most trying scenes in Our Lord's his- and believe thee? What dost thou work?tory. On the steps of the synagogue a mot- “ Full of the great act which many wit. ley crowd had collected, eager, excited, and nesses declared that they had seen in the desert curious, for it was just after the miraculous beyond the lake, they wished to have it repeated feeding of the 5,000, and they were full of before their eyes ; so they said to him

“Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderit; they had heard of it in all its stupendous power; it was the miracle of all miracles pess, as it is written, he gave them bread froin

heaven to eat.' most likely to overpower the Jewish mind;

“Jesus took up their thought. it recalled to them the words of Jehovah:

". Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave At even ve shall eat flesh, and in the morn: you not the bread from heaven, but my Father ing ye shall be filled with bread, and ye shall giveth you the true bread from heaven. For know that I am the Lord your God.”

the bread of God is that which cometh down

from heaven and giveth life unto the world.' And this man, this son of Joseph the car- “Rabbi, evermore give us this bread.''

“ Jesus answered them penter, had fed 5,000 people on five barley loaves and two small fishes. They saw the

“I am the bread of life He that comcth to little boat on the beach in which Jesus had me shall not hunger, and he that believeth in me

shall never thirst. ... For I am come down come ; they had heard of his walking on the from heaven not to do mine own will, but the water that very night; and now the crowd will of him that sent me, that of all which he was increasing, for the country was aroused, hath given me I should lose nothing, but should and people came flocking from all parts to raise it up at the last day.' see this man who did such marvellous « The elders, the batlanim, the chazzan things.

gazed into each other's faces, and began to

you.'

murmur agaiost him, just as the men of Naza- | to her and said, “ Great is thy faith, Oworeth had n,urmured against him.

man, be it unto tbee as thou wilt.” This " • Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph whose was a fatal blow to the Jewish exclusiveness, father and mother we know? How is it, then, a Gentile had been called into the Church, that he saith, I am come down from heaven?' “Jesus spoke to them again

and the pride of the Jew humbled for ever. "Murmur not among yourselves. No man

On the last Sabbath day which Jesus spent can come to me except the Father which sent on earth, he struck another blow at the cerme draw him; and I will raise him up the last emonial law, by taking his disciples to dine day. . . . . I am the bread of life. . : .. I am at the house of one Simon a leper. He had the living bread which came down from heaven; reached Bethany, and taken up bis abode if any man eat of this bread he shall live for in the house of Martha and Mary, among ever; yca, and the bread that I will give is my the outcast and the poor, for that last seven flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.' days now called in the Church the Holy

Strange doctrines for Jews to weigh. Then week. The scene was an impressive one. leupt hot words among them, and some of The city, as far as the eye could reach, was those who had meant to believe in him drew back. If he were the Christ, the Son of David, one vast encampment, caravans were arrivthe King of Israel

, why was he not marching ing from every direction, bringing thouon Jerusalem, why not driving out the Romans, sands of Jews to the feast, who, selecting why not assuming a kingly crown? How can their ground, drove four stakes into the this man give us his flesh to eat?'

earth, drew long reeds round them, and The Lord spike again, still more to their covered them with leaves, making a sort of discontent and chagrin, seeing that they wanted bower; others brought small ients with an earthly Christ. “'Except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of Plain of Rephaim, the valley of Gihon, the

them; the whole city, Mount Gibeon, the Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in hill of Olivet, were all studded with tents

“This was too much for many, even for some and crowded with busy people hastening who had been brought to the door of belief. to finish their preparations before the shola

. . The service of the synagogue ended, the should sound at sunset, and the Sabbath elders came down from the platform, the chazzan begin, when no man could work. In the put away the sacrid vessels, the congregation Temple, the priests, the doctors, the money came out into the sun, angry in word and changers, the bakers of shew bread, were mocking in spirit. They wanted facts ; he had all at work, and the last panorama in the given them truth. They hungered for miracu: life of Christ commenced. lous bread, for a new shower of manna ; he had

On the first day in Holy Week, now offered them symbolically his flesh and blood. They had set their hearts on finding a captain known as Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jeruwho would march against the Romans, who salem on an ass's colt, a prominent figure in would cause Judas of Gamala to be forgotten, the festivities, for the erowds rushed to see who would put the glories of Herod the Great him, with their palms, and marched with to shame. They had asked him for earth, and him singing psalms; they had come out from he had answered them with heaven."

Jerusalem to meet him, and tbey escorted

him into the city. At night he returned to But the scene was drawing to a close; Bethany. Jesus went on with his work after this On the Monday and Tuesday he went tumult in the synagogue, opposing himself early to the Temple, mixing among the peoto the senseless rites of the Pharisees, defy, ple, restoring sight to the blind, and preaching the Oral Law, healing the sick, and ing to the poor. As his life began with a preaching to the people. Passing through series of Temptations, so it was the will of the country from Galilee a Syro-Phenecian his Father that he should be persecuted woman who had heard of him, and perhaps with them at its close. - a lesson we may all seen him, ran after him in the road, and do well to dwell upon — up to the last days besought him to heal her daughter who was of his life, Jesus was subjected to tempta. a lunatic. The disciples urged him to send tions. On the Tuesday some emissaries of her away, for his life would not have been the Sanhedrim came to the court where he safe if he had another conflict with the was preaching to question him, and gather Jews that quarter, and to heal this Gen- evidence against him. They found him tile woman's child would be sure to bring amongst a crowd of Baptists, and demanded them on his track. Turning to the woman, bis authority for teaching. Christ retorted Jesus told her he was sent only to the lost by putting them to the dilemma of stating sheep of Israel; but she persisted, crying, whether John's baptism was of heaven or “Lord, help me ;” an evidence of faith not; they were too much afraid of the peowhich was quite sufficient, and Jesus turned (ple to say it was of men, and if they said

[ocr errors]

of heaven, Jesus would have reproached government would allow them to punish with them for their want of faith ; they confessed death. Andas told him to speak for himtheir ignorance. Then each party tried to self, but he would not. The High Priest entrap him.

then said, “ Art thou the Christ ? " he said, The Pharisees brought him a woman "I am.” Then Annas asked him who were taken in adultery. By the Mosaic law this his disciples, and Jesus replied, " I spake offence would have been punished with openly to the world, I taught in the synadeath. But the Roman government would gogue and in the Temple, whither the Jews have executed any Jew who would venture resort, in secret I have said nothing; ask to carry out such a law, and therefore the them which heard me, they know what I question seemed to compel Jesus to speak have said.” The officer of the Temple either against Moses or the Romans. He smote him, and Annas ordered him to be quietly turned to the witnesses, and told the bound with cords, and when it was day they man who was innocent amongst them to went in a body to the palace of Caiaphas. cast the first stone at her.

Here Jesus was questioned again, and anThe Herodians tempted him on a point of swering that he was the Christ, the High tribute. They had two taxes, one to God Priest rent his clothes, in sign that it was and one to Cæsar, both were disputed, and blasphemy and worthy of death. The Santhey consulted him in order to involve him hedrim pronounced bim guilty, and the ofwith God or Cæsar; but he foiled them by ficers carried him to the Prætorian gates confirming both.

and delivered bim a prisoner into the hands

of Pilate's guards. The vacillation of Pi“Render unto Cæsar the things which are late, and the last scene in our Lord's caCæsar's, and unto God the things that are reer, are known to all. Mr. Dixon leaves God's."

them with the observation, “ They form a

divine episode in the history of man and They began to be astonished.

must be left to the writers who could not The Sadducees tempted him with their err.” dogma of the Non-Resurrection. They told A good book is its own best eulogy, and him sneeringly of a woman who had mar- we may safely leave this of Mr. Dixon's to ried seven husbands, and they wanted to itself

, but we cannot refrain from testifying know whose she would be in the life to our appreciation of such a valuable addition come. Jesus replied calmly

to the records of eastern travel. It is su

perfluous to say that it is excellently writ“In the Resurrection they neither marry nor ten, as it emanates from the pen, not of a are given in marriage, but are as the angels in tyro but of a master-craftsman, whose style Heaven.

is too well known to need eulogy, a style

graphic, pointed, and impressive, the result And the Sadducees with their philosophy, of clear vision and accurate delineation, their learning, and their unbelief, retired in strengthened by a sort of Frith-like power confusion.

of grouping, as witness the description of On the Wednesday he remained in Beth- the street life of Jaffa, which, as an exquiany in seclusion, while Judas was arranging site piece of word-painting, is perfect. for bis safe betrayal to Annas and the The reader is led through the sacred nobles.

scenes of the Holy Land by an artist as Thursday Jesus sent Peter and John into well as a scholar, who as he journeys on Jerusalem to prepare the Passover, and at revives the life of the past. We see the pasunset that day he and the twelve sat down triarchial life, the tents, the flocks grazing to the last supper; Judas left to see Annas, on the hills, the ready-writer with his pen and after singing a hymn, the other disciples lingering at the city gate. We hear David's rose from the table, passed through the minstrelsy and the tramp of Maccabæan sheep-gate into the Cedron Valley, and soldiery; we peer into the depths of one of came to Gethsemane. Here Jesus withdrew, those ancient wells built by the patriarchs and whilst his disciples were sleeping, he and listen to the conversation of the Samarwatched and prayed until the betrayers came, itan woman with that wonderful stranger; and the kiss of Judas revealed him to them. we linger at the wayside Khan, and see how The Sanhedrim was summoned in the dead natural is the tale of the Gospel. As we of the night, and when the members arrived near Jerusalem the grander figures of the they found Annas examining witnesses, but panorama pass over the scene, the Hewith no avail, they could not substantiate rods in their luxury and pride, in their huany charge against him that the Roman miliation and their sins, the grim towers of Macherus and the dark deed done behind peculiar theology. Shakespeare, though he its walls when the head of the messenger of has written with spotless purity, yet bears God fell to please a wanton woman, and traces of the tolerated licentiousness of the terror was struck into the heart of the ty- Elizabethan age. But Christ and his Gosrant; the splendid ceremonial service of the pel stand out distinct, totally distinct from Temple, with its altars, its sacrifices, and its the times and the life when they appeared. robed priests ; the Sadducees luxuriating in That Gospel could not have been proluced their palaces, with servants, carriages, gar- by the age, for was an antagonism to it; dens, living their voluptuous, godless lives; the age was a degenerate one, a mixture of the Pharisees with their demure aspect, formal ceremony and licentious unbelief; broad and multiplied phylacteries ; the bel- paganism was waning; Rome becoming demets of Roman soldiery, the imperial eagles based; the ancient traditions of the Jews hovering over the scene as the Jews passed were lost in human inventions and Rabiniby scowling at the pagan rulers of the Holy cal fantasies, when rising up in the midst of City, and then that marvellous god-like all this debasement, this corruption, these figure wandering about the streets followed anomalies, came Christ and his Gospel, pure by crowds of people, now entering the amongst rottenness, gentle in the midst of Temple courts to preach to them, and now violence, holy amongst flagrantinfidelity and stopping on his way to heal some lame man wanton vice, the Preacher and the preachor leper; his wandering along the wearying ing. both sent from somewhere, but manifestroads of Galilee; his mingling with the peo- ly not from the world, not from oriental barple in the synagogues, the popular gather- barism, not from western paganism, not ing place; his taking part in the service from Jewish corruption; it could then bave and reading the Scriptures; his final com- come from no other place than heaven, and ing up to ihe Holy City, the betrayal, the had no other author than God. And when scenes of his trial, the frantic eagerness of we reflect upon what was compressed in the Jews, the vacillation of Pilate, the terri- that three years

' labour, and compare it with ble suspense and the ultimate triumph of systems which have occupied men's lives to his foes, all these and many more incidents sketch out merely, and taken ages to perof biblical and gospel history are revived. fect; when we see that this greatest system, and enacted as it were amid the very scenes which has spread over the whole civilized and in the very places where they once took world by the force of its own truth, was in place. We repeat again, that this work is three short years laid down and consolidatan excellent commentary and illustration of ed, every principle defined, every rule esthe Gospel narrative ; and though the pen tablished, every law delineated, and an imof its author has been nobly wielded in the petus given to it by its great Master, which controversial defence of that Gospel, yet has always kept it advancing in the world perhaps even greater good may be done by against every opposing force, and in spite this exhibition and illustration of the life of every disadvantageous circumstance, all and work of Christ. To hold Him up to the doubt about its individuality, its superhueyes of men is the best antidote to scepti- man character, and its divine origin, must cism and whatever tends to do that, to plant vanish from the mind. Therefore we think, the image of Christ in the hearts of men, in conclusion, that the best thing for Chrisis a good work. The illustration of his in- tians still to do in this world is, to lift up dividuality, standing out as he did in his Christ before the eyes of men, no matter times, and as he does in every time distinct how, so that he be lifted up boldly and from all men and things. We take up the faithfully, be it by the voice, the pencil

, great work of any age, its characteristic or the pen (as in this instance before us), achievement, and we find the impress of the or better still by the more impressive exhiage stamped indelibly upon it; it smacks of bition of Christ in a Christian life. If we the time and the scenes. Homer is per- wish to save men, let us display Him always vaded with the valour of a mythic heroism, and everywhere in the confidence that he bloodshed and victory. Danté is the very will fulfil his own divine promise — " I, if I best reflection of mediævalism — its deep, be lifted up from the earth, will draw all superstitious piety, its weird dreams, and its men unto me."

« ZurückWeiter »