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as not to trouble his father.
After leaving Rama (which you must not confound with another town of the same name about six miles north of Jerusalem, and which was distinguished as the birth-place of Samuel, and the scene of the slaughter of the infants, over whom the prophet represents Rachel as weeping), they passed on through a fine country, the southern slopes of whose hills were entirely covered with vines. On their right hand, at the distance of nine or ten miles, lay Ekron, once a city of the Philistines, and famous for the plagues endured on account of the presence of the ark,* and a few miles further on was Ajalon, a place dear to every Jew for the wonderful interposition of Jehovah, and the miracle of the sun and moon stayed in their course. On their left hand lay Lydda, and the country of Ephraim, and before them in the blue distance, the highlands that lie between the seacoast and Jerusalem. At Bethoron the mountains became more abrupt, and the scenery more grand and romantic. The road was more winding, and the travelling
* 1 Sam. y. 10.
+ Josh. & 12
more difficult. They reached Bethoron a little before noon; and finding a cool and shady valley, beautifully carpeted with green grass, they determined to halt an hour or two in the hottest part of the day, to refresh themselves and their animals. Beautiful palms spread their branches over them, and a fresh fountain of pure water issued from beneath a large rock in the side of the hill. After a short rest, having unladen the camels and turned them loose to browse upon the shrubs that grew around in abundance, the travellers brought forward their stores from their sacks and mantles. Their upper garments were spread for carpets, and they lay around upon them to eat. The very poorest had brought something with him. For weeks before, even ever since the feast of tabernacles, which had taken place six months before, on the fifteenth of the month Tisri or September, they had denied themselves, in order to save something for this festival ; and on this day, at least, the command of Moses might appear to have been literally fulfilled, “ There shall be no beggar among you." But besides this, the rich had provided for the poor a supply of those things
which on ordinary occasions they were not able to procure themselves. Wines, raisins, confectionary, and fruits were distributed liberally by the rich among the poorer pilgrims, and for this occasion, at least, all distinctions of rank and wealth were forgotten. Every heart was cheerful, and the whole scene resembled more a company feasting, than a caravan halting at mid-day. They halted about two hours in this pleasant valley, and Selumiel took the boys round from one palmtree to another, to see the various little groups that sat under them. The appearance of the young boys in the company was particularly interesting. They seemed to hang upon the lips of those who were talking, anxious to catch every word that was uttered respecting Jerusalem and the approaching passover. I cannot express to you the interest and excitement which prevailed among all the boys.
There is no occasion among us which calls forth any such enthusiastic feeling as the annual feasts produced in the minds of the Jewish boys. Thanksgiving and Christmas are nothing to them. After their rest and refreshment, the caravan resumed its march. So
many had joined them, that it was now swollen to several thousands. The camels, refreshed, proceeded with a quickened pace. Their course for the remainder of the journey lay through a hilly and romantic country. A little south of Emmaus or Nicopolis, they passed through the valley of Elah, a spot ever memorable for the death of Goliath, and the triumph of the stripling David. Here the procession halted for a few minutes to commemorate the warrior-bard, whose glory was so intimately connected with this spot, and whose heart first conceived the wish to build a house for Jehovah. The cymbals, cornets, and timbrels of the Levites struck up their music again, and the whole company joined in singing the following psalm :
“Lord, remember David !
Lo! we heard of it at Ephratah,
The multitude repeated again and again the last two lines. They then went on with the second part of the psalm, which was probably sung at the dedication of the temple, repeating in the same way the words,
“ Jehovah hath chosen Zion,
Proceeding in this way, they came within a few miles of Jerusalem. From the next hill, which lay just before them, the city could be
haste of the multitudes now increased at every step, and their impatience for the first sight of Jerusalem was expressed in the following psalm :
“Great is the Lord; and greatly to be praised