Sivut kuvina

occurred five days after the Day of Atonement, and lasted uninterruptedly for a full week, and was followed by the "Sabbath of the joy of the law," on which the annual prelection of Scripture was completed. On this occasion, which equally commemorated Israel's stay in the wilderness, and the goodness of the Lord in granting year by year of the fruits of the land, which had newly been ingathered, the people lived in booths constructed generally of branches of fruit-trees, from many of which their rich clusters still depended. The worshippers, lately purified from sin, kept this as a feast of thanksgiving. Arrayed in festive garments, carrying in one hand a citron, and in the other the "lulav," or palm-branch, intertwined with willows and myrtle, the worshippers appeared daily in the temple. Every morning, after the customary sacrifice, a priest drew from the pool of Siloam water into a golden pitcher, capable of containing three logs. Amidst the sound of trumpets he entered the temple through the water-gate, and poured it on the altar of burnt-offering. On the second, the sixth, and the seventh day, "that great day of the feast," (John vii. 37,) wine was also poured, which, through a separate vase, flowed into a receptacle under the altar, destined to receive drink-offerings. Louder than the sound of the Levites' instruments was the voice of praise, or the call for mercy and deliverance. In the evening a religious feast was celebrated. After the evening sacrifice, announced by the customary nine blasts from the trumpets of the Levites, the people congregated in the court of the women, the men below, the women upon balconies all around. Immense golden candelabra, each with four branches, gave their light; and on four ladders, one beside each branch to feed the flame, youthful priests were placed. The glare of that light shed its brightness over the city beneath, and every court in Jerusalem was lit up by the flame in the temple. pious and chief (perhaps the Essenes and Pharisees) danced before the people, and swung and threw up the torches in their hands. The musie of the harp, of the cymbal, and of the psaltery, of flutes and of trumpets, resounded from the courts of the sanctuary. On the fifteen steps which led to the court of the women stood Levites, who, with their instruments, accompanied those hymns, of which the following is a fragment:


"O happy youth, devoted sage,

Who will not put to shame our age!"


"O happy, also, is our age,

Which now atones for youth, not sage!'


"O happy he on whom no guilt does rest,

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And he who sinn'd with pardon shall be blest."


At the upper gate, which led from the court of the people to that of the women, stood two priests with trumpets. As soon as the crowing of the cock announced the approach of dawn, with blast of trumpets they descended into the court and passed on to the eastern gate, when, facing round toward the temple, they sang

"Our fathers here establish'd by Thy grace,
Had turn'd their back upon Thy holy place,
And to the rising sun they set their face;
But we will turn to Thee, Jehovah God;
Our eyes are set on Thee, Jehovah God."

Another happy day was the 15th of Ab, when the collection of wood, required in the sanctuary, was finished. Then the maidens all went forth arrayed in white garments, specially lent them, that so rich and poor might be on an equality, into the vineyards round Jerusalem, where they danced and sung. The following fragment of a song has been preserved :"Around in circle gay the Hebrew maidens see,

From them the happy youths their partners choose.
Remember, beauty soon its charms must lose,
And seek to win a maid of fair degree.

When fading grace and beauty low are laid,
Yet her who fears the Lord shall praise await;
God blessed her handiwork, and, in the gate,
'Her works have followed her,' it shall be said."

Such are some of the interesting relics of temple-days and temple-usages which have been preserved. It is scarcely necessary to state, that as in Scripture, so in early Jewish poetry, neither definite and continued metre, nor regular and premeditated rhyme, must be sought. As it was composed for song, a certain metre no doubt must have been observed, but it was rather that of thought, the unfettered, immediate outpouring of the soul, than the measured step to which we have been accustomed. Gradually, however, these forms also developed. One of the most ancient attempts at it was in stanzas of four unequal lines. If only the long lines corresponded, it was termed "Levenah al gabeh levenah," (brick upon brick); if the short lines "Ariah al gabeh ariah," (piece of brick upon piece of brick). If one and two were short, and three and four long, it was "Ariah al gabeh levenah;" in the opposite case, "Levenah al gabeh ariah." But it was comparatively long ere Hebrew poets learned-some think from strangers-regularly to range their ideas in the order in which they are now marshalled. Josephus and some of the fathers have, at least in the interpretation of some, attempted to find in Hebrew poetry the classical forms to which they were strangers both in matter and manner. The modern and scientific mode of pronouncing the Hebrew is that in trochees. The traditionary, and to our mind more musical and appropriate, if not more correct, is that in iambics.

From the Shir we naturally pass to the Tefila or prayer. Properly prayer was considered the spontaneous effusion of the soul, called forth by a sense of immediate wants or experienced blessings. The measures taken by Ezra for the celebration of public worship throughout the land and the regulation of the temple-service, were the first steps towards a liturgy, which at first consisted probably in traditionally preserved prayers of sages and leaders of congregational devotions (the "Sheliach," "angelos," or messenger of the congregation). They were afterwards committed to writing, and gradually became the nucleus of the present Jewish prayerbook. In this liturgy about fifty fragments belonging to the talmudical period are incorporated. The oldest, which date from "the men of the great synagogue," comprise the confessions of the high-priest on the day of atonement, the arrangement of the "Shema," its three accompanying prayers, and six of what are called the eighteen eulogies. The highpriestly confessions on the great fast were successively for himself, for his household, for the priests, and for the people. Turning towards the most holy place, and laying his hands on the bullock which stood between the court and the altar of incense, he pronounced the first, which in substance

is similar to all the others. "Alas, O Jehovah! I have committed iniquity, I have transgressed, I have sinned, I and my house. Alas, Jehovah! atone for the iniquities, the transgressions and the sins which I have committed and sinned before thee, I and my house, as it is written in the law of Moses thy servant: for on that day will He atone for you to make you clean, from all your transgressions shall ye before Jehovah be cleansed."

Again, after he had tied a strip of red wool round the head of the scape-goat, and another round the neck of the goat to be sacrificed, he turned the former towards the cast gate, whence it was to be led forth, and laid his hands upon the head of the bullock, confessing the sins of the sons of Aaron. Legend had it that the voice of confession was heard even as far as Jericho. It was responded in the praises of the people, who, when the high priest pronounced the ineffable name of Jehovah, fell on their faces and exclaimed, "Blessed be the name of the glory of his kingdom for ever and ever." Though pronounced ten times on that solemn day, yet the voice and praise and the sound of the priests' instruments concealed the mysterious name from priest and layman. Then the high-priest slew the bullock, caught its blood in a vase, and caused it to be stirred by an attendant. Having put fire into a golden censer, and incense into a spoon, he rapidly advanced to the Ark of the Covenant, placed the censer between its staves, and put the incense on the coals. A second and a third time he entered with the blood of the bullock, and then with that of the goat, and sprinkled the Ark once above and seven times below. In the same manner he sprinkled the curtain, and then, mingling the blood of the sacrifices, the golden altar and its horns. He then confessed over the scapegoat the sins of the people. At the close of the service he prayed, "May it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that neither this day nor during this year any captivity come upon us; yet if captivity befall us this day or this year, let it be to a place where the law is cultivated. May it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that no want come upon us either this day or this year; but if want visit us this day or this year, let it be due to the liberality of our charitable deeds. May it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that this year may become a year of cheapness, of fulness, of intercourse, and of trade; a year with abundance of rain, of sunshine, and of dew; one in which Thy people Israel shall not require assistance one from another. And listen not to the prayers of those who go forth on a journey. And as to Thy people Israel, may no enemy exalt himself against them. May it please Thee, O Lord our God, and the God of our fathers, that the houses of the men of Saron may not become their graves."

The only really fixed form of daily prayer was a collection of passages constituting a kind of confession of faith, which every Israelite was to repeat morning and evening. It consisted of Deut. vi. 4-9; xi. 13-21; Numb. xv. 37-41, and was in the morning preceded by two and succeeded by one; and in the evening both preceded and succeeded by two prayers, which, although considerably enlarged, are still in use.

[After having given these, and the eighteen Berakas to be repeated every day, Dr. Edersheim remarks:-]

It will be observed, that affection and trust in the Lord and His Word, longing for the coming of the Saviour, confidence in their privileges as Hebrews, and a desire after and respect for knowledge of the law (in the rabbinical sense), constitute the chief burden of these prayers.

The Sleepless Night.

"On that night could not the king sleep!"-no very unusual thing The poet, referring to Jacob at Bethel, says:

this, as regards kings.

"Kings are often waking kept,

Rack'd with cares on beds of state;

Never king like Jacob slept,

For he lay at heaven's gate."

And who has not read the mournful soliloquy of one of our English kings, who envied, amidst his restless tossings, the sleep of the toiling peasant and the wave-rocked seaman!

"The king could not sleep!" What a common-place observation! what an ordinary occurrence, to be thus recorded in the inspired volume! yet the thing was of God, and His own pen hath written it. Events of amazing magnitude hung upon this incident; God's whole scheme of providence was interwoven with this little circumstance.

"The king could not sleep!" neither could Darius, after he knew the consequences of his foolish edict. But Ahasuerus had not thus acted: nothing particular oppressed him so that he could not sleep. True, a few days before, he had hastily sold a portion of his subjects to their murderous enemy; but pleasure and business had, perhaps, banished this in a great measure from his mind. The day before he had been at a banquet with his beloved queen and his favourite courtier; and had retired, well pleased, to rest, anticipating a renewal of the banquetting on the following day.

But still the king could not sleep, and there were many more beside him in the same condition, and who had abundant cause for their unrest. Perhaps his favourite could not sleep on account of ambition and revenge. The thought of himself at the banquet, and Mordecai on the gallows, might well keep him awake. The queen, notwithstanding all her apparent cheerfulness, could not sleep for sorrow. In many once happy homes, there was no sleep for some. True, the little children would sleep, ignorant of what impended over them; but mothers sat all the weary night, and dropped the burning tear on their dimpled cheeks. Fathers, too, had lost their wonted firmness, and hung in deep sorrow on the necks of their loved It was a night for weeping, and not for sleeping. O king, it is but right that thou shouldst keep thy vigils with those whom thy thoughtless cruelty has so fearfully injured!

"The king could not sleep that night." It was a night of crisis; the turning-point in a nation's history. In the morning their sorrows were to commence, so had malice willed it; then the first execution, the precursor of thousands, was to take place. The scaffold was already erected; the victim was marked out, and the cruel, wily foe, like a fawning leopard, was just about to spring upon his prey. But all the designs of the crafty were overturned; all the fears of the doomed ones were scattered; and all the mistakes of the thoughtless king rectified by the simple fact, "that he could not sleep that night." How clearly is the hand of God to be seen in little things!

When the king could not sleep, what did he do? he read, or rather he caused others to read to him. Did he indulge a hope that the monotony of the reader's voice would lull him into slumber? If so, he was disap

pointed, for he soon got interested in the subject. It referred to himself, and gave a detailed account of a plot against his life. The names of the conspirators, and the name of him who discovered their treachery, and thus saved the sovereign's life, were duly recorded. Upon inquiry, he found that, though his enemies had been punished, his deliverer had not been rewarded. His conscience accused him of ingratitude, and he asked himself in what way he should reward the man who had saved his life.

Thus the night wore away and the morning dawned. It was scarcely full day, when the king's favourite, intent on his cruel work, was already at his monarch's door, ignorant of what had been going on within. He was admitted, and a question from his sovereign raised his ambitious expectations to the highest pitch, but the next words crushed him down as with a thunderbolt. He must not oppose the command, and to obey it was more bitter than death. That was a memorable day; the royal city of Shushan was roused; and thousands upon thousands thronged to see the despised Jew riding on the king's charger, clad in royal robes, and to hear the doleful cry of the unwilling herald, repeating through every street the words which he had designed for himself: "Thus shalt it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour!" The procession finished, Haman returned to his house in heaviness, and from thence went to the queen's banquet. Then came discovery and despair; his wickedness came upon his own head-the king's favour was turned to wrath, and that night Haman slept the sleep of death.

But that night, most probably, the king could sleep; he had done two acts of justice that day worthy of a king; he had shaken off a pernicious incubus, and recognised a real friend. And that night the queen and her honoured uncle proved the truth of the sweet words, "So He giveth His beloved sleep." God had owned their confidence, and worked with them beyond all their expectations. And that night many a Jewish mother smiled through her tears, and blessed the name of Esther. And many a Jewish father lifted up his drooping head and blessed the God of Abraham, who had not said in vain, "I will bless him that blesseth thee, and curse him that curseth thee;" and uttered his heart's gladness in the words of David, "The Lord is righteous, who hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked" and all felt persuaded that He who had begun to work on their behalf, would "perfect that which concerned them." Nor were their expectations vain. God did appear. "The Jews had joy and gladness, and a feast, and a good day" (Esther viii. 17), and their enemies were all confounded.

Deeply interesting and instructive is this divine narrative. The name of God is not found in the Book of Esther, but the hand of the Lord is to be seen everywhere throughout it. Who can read it without exclaiming, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?"

Let us endeavour to bring this history to bear upon the circumstances of the Jew at the present time. How remarkable is the fact of the distinctness of Israel from all other people! Balaam had foretold this: "The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." He also said, "I cannot curse them, for they are blest." Haman said, "I will try to curse them," and he perished in the attempt. But first he describes them, and in doing this he verifies the truth of prophecy, and draws a portrait of the people which is still a correct likeness: "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people of all the provinces

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