Jesus in Silo, Kibzaim, and Thebez
I next saw Jesus in Silo, a city built around a high, steep rock with an extended plateau on a gently rising mountain range. On this plateau, the highest elevation of the mountain range, in early times after the departure from Egypt and during the journey through the desert, the Tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant had rested. There was a large space surrounded by a wall partly in ruins, and in it might still be seen the remains of the little building that had been erected over the Tabernacle. On the spot whereon the Ark had stood, under a roof which rested upon open arches, was a pillar similar to the one in Gilgal, and under it a kind of vault excavated in the rocky foundation. Not far from the spot occupied by the Ark was a place for offering sacrifice and a covered pit for the reception of the refuse of the slaughter, for they were permitted to offer sacrifice here three or four times in the year. The synagogue also was built on this enclosed space of the plateau, from which was presented a widely extended view. From it one could see the plateau of Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee, and far over many mountains.
Silo itself was a somewhat dilapidated and not very populous city. It possessed two schools, one belonging to the Pharisees, the other to the Sadducees. But the people were not good; they were arrogant, full of self-conceit and false assurance. At some distance from the city gate with its dilapidated towers, stood an Essenian cloister now fallen to ruin, and nearer to the city was the house wherein the Benjaminites had confined the virgins whom, at the Feast of Tabernacles, they had brought captive to Silo. ( 21:19-24).
Jesus with His twelve companions put up at a house at which travelling teachers and prophets were privileged. It was adjoining the schools and dwellings of the Pharisees and Scribes, who had a kind of seminary here. About twenty of these Scribes in their long robes and girdles, with long, rough tufts hanging from their sleeves, gathered around Jesus. They feigned not to know Him, and spoke of Jesus as of a third person using all kinds of cutting speeches, such as: “Now, how will it be? There are two baptisms, that of John and that of Jesus, the carpenter’s son of Galilee. Which, now, will be the right baptism?” They went on to say that they had heard also that women attached themselves to the mother of this carpenter’s son; for instance, a widow with her two sons. These latter, at the instigation of their mother, joined the followers of Jesus, while she herself went with His Mother, and so they travelled about. But as for themselves, they needed not such novelties. They had the Promise and the Law. All this they did not express bluntly and rudely, but with a semblance of mock friendship for Jesus. He answered their pointed speeches by saying that He was the One of whom they were speaking. And when they referred to the voice heard at His baptism, He informed them that it was the voice of His Heavenly Father, who was the Father of everyone who would repent of his sins and be regenerated by Baptism.
Then, affecting to consider it a very sacred place, they expressed unwillingness to allow Jesus and His disciples to enter the enclosure where formerly the Ark of the Covenant had stood. But Jesus, heedless of their opposition, entered. He reproached them with having, on account of their wickedness, lost the Ark of the Covenant; that now, preserving only the remembrance of it, they were still just as bad; that they had always violated the Law in the past, as well as in the present; and that, as the Ark had been withdrawn from the keeping of their ancestors, so now would the fulfillment of the Law be taken from themselves. As these men showed a desire to dispute with Him on some points of the Law, He stood them out, two by two, and interrogated them like children, proposing to them many deep questions in the Law. They were unable to answer; so, confused and angry, muttering and nudging one another with the elbow, they began to slink away. Then Jesus led them to the covered pit in which had been thrown the refuse of the sacrifice. He ordered them to uncover it and told them in a similitude that they were like unto that pit, inwardly full of ordure and rottenness and unfit for sacrifice, though outwardly clean, their unsightliness covered over by a fine exterior. He reminded them that from this very spot, as punishment of the sins of their forefathers, the Holy Ark had been taken away. They all left the place in anger.
When Jesus taught in the synagogue, He insisted especially upon the reverence due the aged and love toward parents. He spoke warmly on these points, for the people of Silo had long been in the wicked habit of slighting, despising, and disowning their aged parents.
A road led to Silo from Bethel on the south. Lebona was not far distant, and to Samaria from Bethel, it may have been from eight to nine hours. The Prophet Jonas lies buried at Silo.
When Jesus left Silo from the opposite side of the city, the northwest, Andrew, Saturnin, and Joseph of Arimathea’s nephews separated from Him, and proceeded on ahead to Galilee. Jesus with some disciples of John, then in His company, directed His steps to Kibzaim, where He arrived before the Sabbath. Kibzaim lay in a valley between two branches of a mountain range that extended through the middle of the country, and assumed in this place almost the exact shape of a wolf’s claw. The people were good, hospitable souls, and well-inclined to Jesus, whose coming they were expecting. Kibzaim was a Levitical city. Jesus put up near the school with one of the head men.
There arrived also to salute Jesus, Lazarus, Martha, Johanna Chusa, the son of Simeon (who was employed at the Temple), and the old servant of the first named. They were on their way to the wedding at Cana, and had been informed by messengers that they would here meet Jesus. Jesus, from the very first, always treated Lazarus with distinction and as a very dear friend. And yet I never heard Him ask: How is such or such a one of thy relatives or acquaintances?
Kibzaim was a solitary place hidden away in a corner of the mountain. The inhabitants subsisted chiefly by the cultivation of fruits. The manufacture of tents and carpets was also carried on, and many were engaged in sandal-making. Jesus spent the Sabbath here, and cured several sick persons by a word of command. Some were dropsical and others simpletons. They were brought on litters to Jesus and set down in front of the school. Jesus took a repast at the house of a distinguished Levite. After the Sabbath He went again to Sichar, where He arrived late, and passed the night at an inn appointed for Him. Lazarus and his party went from Kibzaim straight to Galilee.
Early next morning, Jesus went from Sichar northeastwardly toward Thebez. In Sichar, or Sichem, He could not teach. There were no Jews there. The inhabitants were made up of Samaritans and some others who had settled there either after the Babylonian Captivity, or in consequence of a war. They used to go up to the Temple at Jerusalem, though they did not join in the Jewish sacrifices. Near Sichem is that beautiful field which Jacob bought for his son Joseph. A part of it already belonged to Herod of Galilee. A boundary consisting of stakes, a rampart of earth, and a path ran through the valley.
Thebez was quite an important city, traversed by a highway and possessed of considerable trade. Heavily laden camels, their burdens rising high upon their backs, came and went. It was something wonderful to see those animals with their packs like so many little towers, climbing slowly over the mountain, their head at the end of the long neck moving from side to side before their lofty burden. Raw silk formed a chief staple of trade. The people of Thebez were not bad, nor were they prejudiced against Jesus, but they were neither simple nor childlike. They were indifferent, as well-to-do trades people often are. The priests and Scribes were content with themselves and indifferent to others. As Jesus entered the city, the possessed and the lunatics raised their cry: “There comes the Prophet of Galilee! He has power over us! He will drive us away!” Jesus commanded them silence, and instantly they became quiet. Jesus put up near the synagogue whither the crowds followed Him, bringing with them their sick, of whom He healed many. That evening He taught in the school and celebrated the Feast of Dedication, which then began. In the school and in all the houses seven lights were lit, also outdoors in the fields and on the roads near the shepherds’ huts were little burning tufts of something on the ends of stakes. Thebez was admirably situated on the mountain. At some distance, one could see the mountain road running through it and the laden camels climbing up; but near the city the view was hidden.
Andrew, Saturnin, and Joseph’s nephews had already left Silo and gone to Galilee. Andrew had been up among his relatives at Bethsaida. He had informed Peter that he had again found the Messiah, who was taken on His way up to Galilee, and that he would take him (Peter) to Him. All went now to Arbela, called also Betharbel, to see Nathanael Chased, who was there on business, and to induce him to go with them to celebrate the feast at Gennabris. Chased resided at that time in Gennabris in a high house that, with several others, stood by itself outside the city. The disciples spoke much to him of Jesus. Andrew had purposely taken them there for the feast because he, as well as they, counted upon Nathanael. They were eager to hear his opinion, but Nathanael appeared rather indifferent to the whole affair.
Lazarus had brought Martha and Johanna Chusa to Mary then at Capharnaum, whither she had come from Cana. They set off again for Tiberias where they hoped to meet Jesus. Simeon’s son was one of the escorts, and the bridegroom of Cana went also to meet the Lord. This bridegroom was the son of the daughter of Sobe, the sister of Anne. His name was Nathanael. He did not belong to Cana, though he was married there. Gennabris was a populous city. A highway ran through it, and there was much business and traffic carried on, especially in silk. It was in the country, a couple of hours from Tiberias, from which it was separated by mountains. To reach it, one had to go somewhat southward between Emmaus and Tiberias, and then turn to the latter. Arbela was between Sephoris and Tiberias.
First Formal Call of Peter, Philip, and Nathanael
Jesus departed before daybreak from Thebez. He and His disciples proceeded at first eastward, and then turning to the north, journeyed along the base of the mountain and through the valley of the Jordan toward Tiberias. He passed through Abelmahula, a beautiful city, where the mountain extends more to the north. It was the birthplace of Eliseus. The city is built on a spur of the mountain, and I noticed the great difference between the fruitfulness of its sunny side and its northern one. The inhabitants were tolerably good. They had heard of the miracles wrought by Jesus at Kibzaim and Thebez, so they stayed with Him on the way, begging Him to tarry with them and heal their sick. The excitement became almost tumultuous, but Jesus did not stay with them long. This city was about four hours from Thebez. Jesus passed near Scythopolis and on to the Jordan.
As He was journeying from Abelmahula, He met near a little city about six hours from Tiberias, Andrew, Peter, and John. Leaving the other friends in Gennabris, these three had come on to meet Jesus. Peter and John were in this part of the country upon some business connected with their fishery. They intended to proceed direct to Gennabris, but Andrew persuaded them to go first to meet the Lord. Andrew presented his brother to Jesus, who among other words said to him: This was said at the first salutation. To John, Jesus addressed some words relative to their next meeting. Then Peter and John went out to Gennabris, while Andrew accompanied Jesus into the environs of Tarichaea.
John the Baptist had by this time abandoned his place of baptism on this side of the Jordan. He had crossed the river and was now baptizing about one hour to the north of Bethabara, at the place whereon Jesus had lately allowed the disciples to baptize and where John himself had baptized at an earlier period. John had made this change to suit the convenience of the people from the region under Philip the Tetrarch. Philip was a good-natured man. Many of his people desired baptism, but were unwilling to cross the Jordan to receive it. Among them were many of the heathens. The last visit that Jesus made to this part of the country had roused in numbers the desire after baptism. Another reason also influenced John to baptize where Jesus’ disciples had lately been similarly engaged, and that was to show that there was no disunion between him and Jesus.
When Jesus with Andrew reached the neighborhood of Tarichaea, He put up near the lake at a house belonging to Peter’s fishery. Andrew had previously given orders for preparations to be made for Jesus’ reception. Jesus did not go into the city. There was something dark and repulsive about the inhabitants, who were deeply engaged in usury and thought only of gain. Simon, who here had some employment, had with Thaddeus and James the Less, his brothers, gone for the feast to Gennabris, where James the Greater and John were. Lazarus, Saturnin, and Simeon’s son came here to meet Jesus, as also the bridegroom of Cana. The last named invited Jesus and all His company to his marriage.
The principal motive that led Jesus to pass a couple of days in the vicinity of Tarichaea was that He desired to give the future Apostles and disciples time to communicate to one another the reports circulated about Himself, and especially what Andrew and Saturnin had to relate. He desired also that, by more frequent intercourse, they should better understand one another. While Jesus traversed the country around Tarichaea, I saw Andrew remaining in the house. He was busy writing letters with a reed upon strips of parchment. The writings could be rolled into a little hollow, wooden cylinder and unrolled at pleasure. I saw men and youths frequently entering the house, and seeking employment. Andrew engaged them as couriers to convey to Philip and his half brother Jonathan, also to Peter and the others at Gennabris, letters notifying them that Jesus would go to Capharnaum for the Sabbath and engaging them to meet Him there.
Meanwhile a messenger arrived from Capharnaum begging Andrew to solicit Jesus to go thither right away, for a messenger from Cades had been there awaiting Him for the past few days. This man wanted to ask Jesus for help.
Accordingly, with Andrew, Saturnin, Obed, and some of John’s disciples, Jesus set out from the fisher house near Tarichaea to Capharnaum. This last named city was not close to the lake, but on the plateau and southern slope of a mountain. On the western side of the lake, the mountain formed a valley through which the Jordan flowed into the lake. Jesus and His companions went separately, Andrew with his half-brother Jonathan, and Philip—both of whom had come in answer to his notification—walked together. Jonathan and Philip had not yet met Jesus. Andrew spoke enthusiastically to them. He told them all that he had seen of Jesus, and protested that He was indeed the Messiah. If they desired to follow Him, he added, there was no need of their presenting to Him a formal petition to that effect; all they had to do was to regard Him attentively, and He, seeing their earnest wish, would give them a hint, a word to join His followers.
Mary and the holy women were not in Capharnaum itself, but at Mary’s house in the valley out-side the city and nearer to the lake. It was there that they celebrated the feast. The sons of Mary Cleophas, Peter, James the Greater, and his brother John had already arrived from Gennabris with others of the future disciples. Chased (Nathanael), Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, however, were not present. But there were many other relatives and friends of the Holy Family who had been invited to Cana for the wedding, celebrating the Sabbath here, because they had been notified that Jesus was expected.
Jesus along with Andrew, Saturnin, some of John’s disciples, Lazarus, and Obed, stopped at a house belonging to the bridegroom Nathanael. Nathanael’s parents were dead. They had left a large patrimony to their son.
The future disciples, just come from Gennabris, experienced a certain shyness in Jesus’ company. They were actuated in this by the influence Nathanael Chased’s opinion had over them and then again, by the thought of the wonderful things they had heard of Jesus from Andrew and some others of John’s disciples. They were restrained also by their own natural bashfulness and likewise by the remembrance of what Andrew had told them; viz., that they were not to make advances themselves, but merely pay attention to the teaching of Jesus, for that would be sufficient to make them decide to follow Him.
For two whole days had the messenger from Cades been waiting here for Jesus. Now he approached Him, cast himself at His feet, and informed Him that he was the servant of a man of Cades. His master, he said, entreated Jesus to return with him and cure his little son who was afflicted with leprosy and a dumb devil. This man was a most faithful servant; he placed his master’s trouble before Jesus in very pathetic words. Jesus replied that He could not return with him, but still the child should receive assistance, for he was an innocent boy. Then He directed the servant to tell his master to stretch himself with extended arms over his son, to recite certain prayers, and the leprosy would disappear. After which, he, the servant himself, should lie upon the boy and breathe into his mouth. A blue vapor would then escape from the boy and he would be freed from dumbness. I had a glimpse of the father and servant curing the boy, as Jesus had directed.
There were certain mysterious reasons for the command that the father and the servant should stretch themselves alternately upon the boy. The servant himself was the true father of the child, of which fact, however, the master was ignorant. But Jesus knew it. Both had therefore to be instrumental in freeing the child from the penalty of sin.
Cades was about six hours from Capharnaum, on the boundary toward Tyre and west of Paneas. It was once the capital of the Canaanites, but was now a free city whither the prosecuted might flee from justice. It bordered on a region called Kabul, which had been presented by Solomon to the king of Phoenicia. I saw this region ever dark, gloomy, dismal. Jesus always shunned it when going to Tyre and Sidon. I think robbery and murder were freely carried on in it.
When on the Sabbath Jesus taught in the synagogue, an unusually large crowd was assembled to hear Him, and among His audience were all His friends and relatives. His teaching was entirely novel to these people, and quite transporting in its eloquence. He spoke of the nearness of the Kingdom of God, of the light that should not be hidden under a’ bushel, of sowing, and of faith like unto a mustard seed. He taught, not in naked parables, but with explanations. The parables were short examples and similitudes, which He used to explain His doctrine more clearly. I have indeed heard Him in His teaching making use of a great many more parables than are related in the Gospel. Those there recorded are such as He most frequently used with explanations more or less varied to suit the occasion.
After the close of the Sabbath, Jesus went with His disciples into a little vale near the synagogue. It seemed intended for a promenade or a place of seclusion. There were trees in front of the entrance, as well as in the vale. The sons of Mary Cleophas, of Zebedee, and some others of the disciples were with Him. But Philip, who was backward and humble, hung behind, not certain as to whether he should or should not follow. Jesus, who was going on before, turned His head and, addressing Philip, said: “Follow Me!” at which words Philip went on joyously with the others. There were about twelve in the little band.
Jesus taught here under a tree, His subject being “Vocation and Correspondence.” Andrew, who was full of zeal for his Master’s interests, rejoiced at the happy impression made upon the disciples by the teaching of Jesus on the preceding Sabbath. He saw them convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, and his own heart was so full that he lost no opportunity to recount to them again and again all that he had seen at Jesus’ baptism, also the miracles He had wrought.
I heard Jesus calling Heaven to witness that they should behold still greater things, and He spoke of His mission from His Heavenly Father.
He alluded also to their own vocation, telling them to hold themselves in readiness. They would, He continued, have to forsake all when He called them. He would provide for them, they should suffer no want. They might still continue their customary occupations, because as the Passover was now approaching He would have to discharge other affairs. But when He should call them, they should follow Him immediately. The disciples questioned Him unrestrainedly as to how they should manage with regard to their families. Peter, for instance, said that just at present he could not leave his old stepfather, who was also Philip’s uncle. But Jesus relieved his anxiety by His answer, that He would not begin before the Paschal feast; that only insofar as the heart was concerned, should they detach themselves from their occupations; that exteriorly they should continue them until He called them. In the meantime, however, they should take the necessary steps toward freeing themselves from their different avocations. Jesus then left the vale by the opposite end, and went to His Mother’s house, one of a row that stood between Capharnaum and Bethsaida. His nearest relatives accompanied Him, for their mothers also were with Mary.
Very early the next morning, Jesus with His relatives and disciples started for Cana. Mary and the other women went by themselves, taking the more direct and shorter route. It was only a narrow footpath running for the most part over a mountain. The women chose it as being the more private. It was besides wide enough for them, as they usually walked single file. A guide went on ahead, and a servant followed at some distance. Their journey was to the southwest of Capharnaum, almost seven hours.
Jesus and His companions took a more circuitous route through Gennabris. The road was broader and better suited to conversation. Jesus taught along the way. He often halted, gave utterance to some truth, and then explained it. This road was more to the south than that which Mary took. It was almost six hours by it from Capharnaum to Gennabris, at which place it turned southward, and three hours more took the traveler to Cana.
Gennabris was a beautiful city. It had a school and a synagogue. There was also a school of rhetoric, and the trade carried on was extensive. Nathanael had his office outside the city in a high house that stood by itself, though there were others at some distance around it. In spite of the invitation received from the disciples to that effect, he did not go into the city to meet Jesus.
Jesus taught in the synagogue and, with some of the disciples, took a luncheon at the house of a rich Pharisee. The rest of the disciples had already continued their journey to Cana. Jesus had commissioned Philip to go to Nathanael and bring him to meet Him on the way.
Jesus was very honorably treated at Gennabris, and the inhabitants were eager to keep Him with them longer. They brought forward as a reason for His doing so that He was one of their own countrymen, and also that He should have compassion on their sick. But Jesus soon left them and proceeded to Cana.
Meantime Philip had gone to Nathanael’s office, in which he found several clerks, Nathanael being in a room upstairs. Philip had never before spoken of Jesus to Nathanael, since he, Nathanael, had not accompanied his friends to Gennabris. They were, however, well acquainted with each other, and Philip, full of joy, was enthusiastic when speaking of Jesus. “He is,” he said, “the Messiah of whom the Prophets have spoken. We have found Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph.”
Nathanael was of a bright, lively disposition, energetic and self-reliant, consequently frank and sincere. In reply to Philip’s remarks, Nathanael said: “Can anything very good come from Nazareth?” He knew the reputation of the Nazareans, that they were of a contradictory spirit and were not distinguished for the wisdom of their schools. He thought that a man who had been educated there might indeed shine in the eyes of his credulous and simpleminded friends, but that he could never satisfy his own pretentious claims to learning. But Philip bade him come and see for himself, for Jesus would soon pass that way to Cana. Nathanael accordingly accompanied Philip down by the short road to that house which stood a little off the highway to Cana. Jesus, with some of His disciples, was standing where the road branched off into the highway. Philip, since Jesus’ injunction to follow Him, had been as joyous and unrestrained as before he had been timid. Addressing Jesus in a loud voice as they approached, he said: “Rabbi! I bring you here one who has asked: ‘What good can come from Nazareth?'” But Jesus, turning to the disciples who were standing around Him, said as Nathanael came forward: “Behold! A true Israelite, in whom there is no guile!” Jesus uttered the words in a kind, affectionate manner. Nathanael responded: “How dost Thou know me?” meaning to say: How knowest Thou that I am true and without guile, since we have never before spoken to each other? Jesus answered: “Before Philip called thee, I saw thee when thou wast standing under the fig tree.” These words Jesus accompanied by a significant look at Nathanael intended to recall something to him.
This glance of Jesus instantly awoke in Nathanael the remembrance of a certain passerby whose warning look had endued him with wonderful strength at a moment in which he was struggling with temptation. He had indeed been standing at the time under a fig tree on the pleasure grounds around the warm baths, gazing upon some beautiful women who, on the other side of the meadow, were playing for fruit. The powerful impression produced by that glance, and the victory which Jesus had then enabled him to gain, were fixed in his memory, though perhaps the form of the Man to whom he owed both the one and the other had faded from his mind. Or he may indeed have recognized Jesus without being aware that the warning glance had been designedly given. But now that Jesus reminded him of it and repeated the significant glance, Nathanael became greatly agitated and impressed. He felt that Jesus in passing had read his thoughts, and had been to him a guardian angel. Nathanael was so pure of heart that a thought contrary to the holy virtue had power to trouble his soul. He recognized, therefore, in Jesus his Saviour and Deliverer. This knowledge of his thoughts was enough for his upright, impetuous, and grateful heart, enough to make him, on the instant, joyfully acknowledge Jesus before all the disciples. Humbling himself before Him as he uttered those significant words, Nathanael exclaimed: “Rabbi! Thou art the Son of God! Thou art Israel’s King!” Jesus responded: “Thou believest now because I have said that I saw thee under the fig tree. Verily, thou shalt greater wonders see!” And then turning to all, He said: “Verily! Ye shall see the heavens open and the angels of God ascending and descending over the Son of Man!” The other disciples, however, did not understand the real import of Jesus’ words concerning the fig tree, nor did they know why Nathanael Chased had so quickly declared for Jesus. It was like a matter of conscience hidden from all excepting John, to whom Nathanael himself entrusted it at the marriage feast of Cana. Nathanael asked Jesus whether he should at once leave all things and follow Him, for that he had a brother, to whom he could make over his employment. Jesus answered him as He had the others on the preceding evening, and invited him to Cana for the marriage feast.
Then Jesus and His disciples proceeded on their way to Cana, Nathanael Chased meanwhile returning home to prepare for the wedding, for which he set out on the following morning.
The Wedding at Cana
Cana, situated on the west side of a hill, was a clean, pleasant place, not so large as Capharnaum. It had a synagogue to which were attached three priests. Near it was the public house at which the wedding was to be held. It had a forecourt planted with trees and shrubs. From this house to the synagogue, the street was adorned with leafy festoons and arches from which hung garlands and fruits. The festal hall extended from the entrance of the house back to and beyond the fireplace, a high wall with ledges in it, which was now adorned like an altar with vases and flowers and gifts for the bride. Almost a third of this spacious hall was behind the fireplace, and there the women sat at the wedding banquet. The beams supporting the upper story were likewise hung with garlands, and there were means of ascent in order to light the lamps fastened to them.
When Jesus with His disciples arrived near Cana, He was most deferentially received by Mary, the bride’s parents, the bridegroom, and others that had come out to meet Him. Jesus with His familiar disciples, among them the future Apostles, took up His abode in an isolated house belonging to the maternal aunt of the bridegroom. This aunt also was a daughter of Anne’s sister Sobe. She held the mother’s place to the bridegroom during the wedding ceremonies. The bride’s father was named Israel and was a descendant of Ruth of Bethlehem. He was an opulent merchant, who carried on a large freighting business. He owned warehouses and great inns and storing places along the highroads for supplying caravans with fodder. His employees were numerous, for most of the inhabitants of Cana earned their living by working for him; in fact, all business transactions were wholly in the hands of himself and a few others. The bride’s mother was a little lame; she limped on one side and had to be led.
All the relatives of St. Anne and Joachim had come from around Galilee to Cana, in all over one hundred guests. Mary Marcus, John Marcus, Obed, and Veronica had come from Jerusalem. Jesus Himself brought about twenty-five of His disciples with Him.
Long ago had Jesus, in His twelfth year at the children’s feast held in the house of St. Anne upon His return from the Temple, addressed to the bridegroom words full of mysterious significance on the subject of bread and wine. He had told him that at some future day He would be present at his marriage. Jesus’ participation in this marriage, like every other action of His earthly career, had, besides its high, mysterious signification, its exterior, apparent, and ordinary motives. More than once had Mary sent messengers to Jesus begging Him to be present at it. The friends and relatives of the Holy Family, judging from a human view, were making such speeches as these: “Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is a lone widow. Jesus is roaming the country, caring little for her or His relatives, etc., etc.” It was on this account, therefore, that Mary was anxious that her Son should honor His friends by His presence at the marriage. Jesus entered into Mary’s views and looked upon the present as a fitting opportunity to disabuse them of their erroneous ideas. He undertook also to supply one course of the feast, and so Mary went to Cana before the other guests and helped in the various preparations. Jesus had engaged to supply all the wine for the feast, wherefore it was that Mary so anxiously reminded Him that the wine failed. Jesus had also invited Lazarus and Martha to Cana. Martha assisted with Mary in the preparations, and it was Lazarus who defrayed (a circumstance known only to Jesus and Mary) all the expenses assumed by Jesus at the feast. Jesus had great confidence in Lazarus, and willingly received everything from him, while Lazarus was only too happy to give to Jesus. He was up to the last like the treasurer of the Community. During the whole feast, he was treated by the bride’s father as a person of special distinction, and he even personally busied himself in his service. Lazarus was very refined in his manners, his whole demeanor earnest, quiet, and marked by a dignified affability; he spoke little, and his bearing toward Jesus was full of loving devotedness.
Besides the wine, Jesus had also engaged to supply one course of the banquet, which course consisted of the principal viands, such as birds of all kinds, fruits, and vegetables. For all these provision had been made. Veronica had brought with her from Jerusalem a basket of the choicest flowers and the most skillfully made confections. Jesus was like the Master of the feast. He conducted all the amusements, which He seasoned with His own instructions. He it was, too, who arranged the whole order of the wedding ceremonies. He directed that all guests should amuse themselves on those days according to the customs usual on such occasions, but at the same time draw some lesson of wisdom from their various enjoyments. Among other things, He ordered that twice in the day the guests should leave the house, to amuse themselves in the open air.
Then I saw the wedding guests in a garden, the men and women separate, amusing themselves with conversation and games. The men reclined in circles on the ground. In the center were all kinds of fruit which, according to certain rules, they threw at one another. The thrower aimed at making it fall into certain holes or circles, while the others sought to prevent its doing so. I saw Jesus with cheerful gravity taking part in the game. Frequently He smilingly uttered a word of wisdom that made His hearers wonder. Deeply impressed, they received it in silence, the less quick to perceive its meaning asking for an explanation from their neighbor. Jesus had the inner circle and decided the prizes, which He awarded with beautiful and sometimes quite astonishing remarks. The younger of the guests amused themselves by running and leaping over leafy festoons and heaps of fruit. The women sat apart and played also for fruit, the bride’s seat being always between Mary and the bridegroom’s aunt.
There was also performed a kind of dance. Children played on musical instruments and sang choruses at intervals. The dancers, both the men and the maidens, held scarves with which they touched one another when dancing in rows or in rings. Without those scarves they never touched one another. Those of the bride and bridegroom were black, the others were yellow. At first, the bride and bridegroom danced alone, then all danced together. The maidens wore veils, but partly raised over the face; their dresses were long in the back, but a little raised in front by means of laces. There was no leaping nor springing in the dance, as is customary amongst us. It was more a moving in all kinds of figures, accompanied by frequent swaying of the person and keeping time to the music with the hands, the head, and the whole body. Though perfectly modest and graceful, it reminded me of that swaying of the Pharisaical Jews at prayer. None of the future Apostles took part in the dance; but Nathanael Chased, Obed, Jonathan, and some others of the disciples entered into it. The female dancers were the maidens only. The order observed was quite extraordinary, and a spirit of tranquil joyousness prevailed among the guests.
During those days of rejoicing, Jesus had frequent private interviews with those disciples that were later on to become His Apostles. But the others were not neglected. Jesus often walked with them and with all the other guests in the country around and instructed them. The future Apostles often explained Jesus’ teachings to their companions. This going abroad of the guests facilitated the preparations for the feast indoors. Several of the disciples, however, and even Jesus Himself at times, were present at the preparations going on in the house, helping to arrange this or that, and besides, several of them had a part in the bridal procession.
Jesus intended to manifest Himself at this feast to all His friends and relatives. He wished also that all whom He had chosen up to the present, should become known to one another and to His own relatives. This could be done with greater freedom on such an occasion as this marriage festival.
Jesus taught likewise in the synagogue before the assembled guests. He spoke of the enjoyment of lawful pleasures, of the motives through which they might be indulged, and of the moderation and prudent reserve that ought to accompany them. Then He spoke of marriage, of husband and wife, of continence, of chastity, and of spiritual unions. At the close of the instruction, the bridal pair stepped out in front of Jesus, and He addressed each separately.
The Nuptial Ceremony. The Women’s Game. The Men’s Lottery
On the third day after Jesus’ arrival, at about nine o’clock in the morning, the marriage ceremony was performed. The bride had been adorned by her bridesmaids. Her dress was something like that worn by the Mother of God at her espousals. Her crown, too, was similar, though more richly ornamented. But her hair was not netted in strands so fine as was that of Mary, the braids were fewer and thicker. When fully attired, she was presented to the Blessed Virgin and the other women.
The bride and bridegroom were conducted processionally from the house of festivity to the synagogue and back again. Six little boys and as many little girls with garlands and wreaths headed the procession. Then came six larger boys and six larger girls with flutes and other musical instruments. On their shoulders stood out some kind of stiff material like wings. Twelve young maidens accompanied the bride as bridesmaids, and the same number of youths the bridegroom. Among the latter were Obed, Veronica’s son, Joseph of Arimathea’s nephews, Nathanael Chased, and some of John’s disciples, but none of the future Apostles.
The nuptial ceremony was performed by the priest in front of the synagogue. The rings exchanged by the young pair had been presented to the bridegroom by Mary after Jesus had blessed them for her. I remarked something at this marriage that had escaped me at the nuptials of Joseph and Mary; viz., the priest pierced the left ring finger of both bridegroom and bride with a sharp instrument, just at the place where the ring was to be worn. Then he caught in a glass of wine two drops of blood from the bridegroom and one from the bride. The contents of the glass the young couple then drank in common, and afterward gave away the glass. After this many other articles, such as scarves and other pieces of clothing, were bestowed upon the poor gathered around. When the bridal pair were reconducted to the festal house, Jesus Himself received them.
Before the wedding banquet I saw all the guests again assembled in the garden. The women and maidens sat on a carpet in an arbor and played for fruit. They passed from one to another a little, triangular tablet on the edge of which were inscribed certain letters, and which was provided also with an index. The tablet was rested on the lap, the index twirled, and the point over which it paused determined the prizes.
But for the amusement of the men, I beheld a wonderful game, contrived by Jesus Himself in the summerhouse. In the center of the house stood a round table with as many portions of flowers, leaves, and fruits placed around the edge as there were players. Jesus had, beforehand and alone, arranged these portions, each with reference to some mysterious signification. Above the surface of the table was a movable disk with a slot in it. The portion of fruit or flowers over which the slot rested when the disk was revolved, became the prize of him who had turned it. In the center of the table, a vine branch laden with grapes rose out of a bundle of ears of wheat. The longer the disk was turned, the higher rose the grapes and wheat. Neither the future Apostles nor Lazarus took part in the game. I was told at the time that whoever had received a call to teach or who was to be favored with greater knowledge than his companions, should not engage in the game: he should watch the results and be ready to season them with instructive applications. Thus would gravity and hilarity mutually temper each other.
In this game arranged by Jesus, there was something very wonderful and more than fortuitous, for the prize that fell to the players severally was significant of his own individual inclinations, faults, and virtues. This Jesus explained to each as the prize he had won was assigned him. Each prize was, as it were, a parable, a similitude upon the winner himself, and I felt that with the fruit he actually received something interiorly. All were touched and animated by the words of Jesus, perhaps also by the partaking of the fruit whose significant properties were now producing their effect. What Jesus said about each prize was quite unintelligible to all that it did not concern. It was received by the bystanders as only a pleasant, pointed remark. But each felt that the Lord had cast a deeply penetrating glance into his own interior. The same thing happened here as at Jesus’ words to Nathanael relative to that gazing under the fig tree. They had sunk deep into Nathanael’s soul, while from the others their meaning remained hidden.
I remember even yet that mignonette was one among the flowers, and that Jesus, when awarding his prize to Nathanael Chased, said to him: “Now canst thou understand that I was right in saying to thee: Thou art a true Israelite in whom there is no guile.”
I saw one of the prizes producing most wonderful effects. Nathanael, the bridegroom, won a remarkable piece of fruit. There were two pieces on a single stem: one was like a fig, the other, which was hollow, more like a ribbed apple. They were of a reddish color, the inside white and streaked with red. I have seen similar in Paradise.
I perceived that the bystanders were very much surprised when the bridegroom won that fruit, and that Jesus spoke of marriage and of chastity, and dwelt upon the hundredfold fruit of the latter. And yet in all that Jesus said on these subjects, there was nothing that could shock the Jewish ideas on the score of marriage. Some of the Essenian disciples, James the Less for instance, comprehended better than the others the deep significance of His words.
I saw that the guests wondered more over that prize than over any other, and I heard Jesus saying that those fruits could produce effects far greater than was the remarkable signification attached to them. After the bridegroom and bride had eaten the fruit they had won, I saw the former become very much agitated. He grew pale, and a dark vapor escaped from him, after which he looked to me much brighter and purer, yes, even transparent when compared with what he had been before. The bride, too, who at a distance was sitting among the women, became after eating her piece of fruit quite faint. A dark shadow appeared to go out from her. The fruit that the bridal pair ate bore some reference to chastity.
There were certain penances connected with the different prizes. I remember seeing both the bride and bridegroom bringing something away from the synagogue, and performing certain devotions. Nathanael Chased’s prize was a little bunch of sorrel.
In each of the other disciples, there awoke after eating their prizes his predominant passion. It struggled a little for the mastery, and then either departed, or the possessor became by the combat strengthened against its assaults. The vegetable kingdom before the Fall was endowed with certain supernatural virtues, but since the taint of sin the power of plants remains for man a secret. The form, the taste, the effects of the various herbs and fruits, are now but simple vestiges of the virtues they possessed before sin touched them. In my visions, I have seen upon the celestial tables fruits such as they were before the Fall. But their peculiar attributes were not always quite clear to me. Such things appear confused to our darkened understanding rendered even more obtuse by the customs of ordinary life.
When the bride fainted, her attendants relieved her of some of her heaviest ornaments. From her fingers they drew several of her numerous rings. Among them was a gold funnel-shaped shield worn like a thimble on the middle finger. They removed also the bracelets and chains from her arms and breast. The only ornament she retained beside the marriage ring, which the Blessed Virgin had given, was a gold pendant from the neck. It was in shape something like an oblong arch on the plain of which was inlaid something in brown, like that of the wedding ring of Mary and Joseph. On that brown ground reclined a figure attentively considering a flower bud which it held in its hand.
The game in the garden was followed by the nuptial banquet. That part of the spacious hall of the festal house on this side of the adorned fireplace, was divided into three spaces by two movable screens so low that the guests reclining at the different tables could see one another. In each of these compartments was a long, narrow table. Jesus reclined at the head of the middle one, His feet toward the fireplace. At the same table sat Israel, the bride’s father, Lazarus, the male relatives of Jesus, and those of the bride. The other wedding guests, along with the disciples, sat at the two side tables. The women sat in the space back of the fireplace, but where they could hear all that Jesus said. The bridegroom served at table, assisted by the steward, who wore an apron, and by several servants. The women were waited upon by the bride and some maid servants.
When the viands were brought in, a roasted lamb, the feet bound crosswise, was set before Jesus. When the bridegroom brought to Jesus the little case in which lay the carving knife, Jesus bade him recall that children’s entertainment after the Paschal feast, at which He had related the parable of a marriage, and had foretold to him that He would be present at his (the bridegroom’s) marriage. These words were intended for Nathanael alone. On hearing them, he became very thoughtful, for he had quite forgotten the circumstance. Jesus was at the banquet as He had been during the whole celebration, very cheerful and always ready with a word of instruction. He accompanied every action with an explanation of its spiritual signification, and spoke of hilarity and the enjoyment of the feast. He remarked that the bow must not always be bent, that the field must sometimes be refreshed by rain, and upon each He uttered a parable. As He carved the lamb, most wonderful words fell from His lips. He spoke of separating the lambs from the flocks, not for the greater advantage of the little animals thus chosen, but that they should die. Then He alluded to the process of roasting in which the meat was divested of its rawness by the fire of purification. The carving of each member signified, as He said, the manner in which they who would follow the Lamb should separate from their nearest relatives according to the flesh. When to each one He had reached a piece and all were partaking of it, He said that the lamb had been separated from its companions and cut into pieces, that it might become in them a nourishment of mutual union, so too must he that would follow the Lamb renounce his own field of pasture, put his passions to death, and separate from the members of his family. Then would he become, as it were, a nourishment, a food, to unite by means of the Lamb his fellow men to the Heavenly Father. Before every guest was a plate or a little wheaten cake. Jesus set a dark brown plate with a yellow rim before Himself, and it was afterward handed around. I saw Him at times holding up a little bunch of herbs in His hand, and giving some instruction upon it.
Jesus had engaged to supply the second course of the banquet as well as the wine, and for all this His Mother and Martha provided. This second course consisted of birds, fish, honey confections, fruits, and a kind of pastry which Veronica had brought with her. When it was all carried in and set on a side table, Jesus arose, gave the first cut to each dish, and then resumed His place at table. The dishes were served, but the wine failed. Jesus meanwhile was busy teaching. Now when the Blessed Virgin, who had provided for this part of the entertainment, saw that the wine failed, she went to Jesus and reminded Him that He had told her that He would see to the wine. Jesus, who was teaching of His Heavenly Father, replied: “Woman, be not solicitous! Trouble not thyself and Me! My hour is not yet come.” These words were not uttered in harshness to the Blessed Virgin. Jesus addressed her as “Woman,” and not as “Mother,” because, at this moment as the Messiah, as the Son of God, He was present in divine power and was about to perform in presence of all His disciples and relatives an action full of mystery.
On all occasions when He acted as the Incarnate Word, He ennobled those that participated in the same by giving them the title that best responded to the part assigned them. Thus did the holiness of the divine action shed, as it were, some rays upon them and communicate to them a special dignity. Mary was the “Woman” who had brought forth Him whom now, as her Creator, she invokes on the occasion of the wine’s failing. As the Creator, He will now give a proof of His high dignity. He will here show that He is the Son of God and not the Son of Mary. Later on, when dying upon the Cross, He again addressed His weeping Mother by the appellation of Woman, “Woman, behold thy son!” thereby designating John.
Jesus had promised His Mother that He would provide the wine. And here we see Mary beginning the role of that she has ever since continued. She places before Him the failure of the wine. But the wine that He was about to provide was more than ordinary wine; it was symbolical of that mystery by which He would one day change wine into His own Blood. The reply: “My hour is not yet come,” contained three significations: first, the hour for supplying the promised wine; secondly, the hour for changing water into wine, thirdly, the hour for changing wine into His own Blood.
But Mary’s anxiety for the wedding guests was now entirely relieved. She had mentioned the matter to her Son, therefore she says confidently to the servants: “Do all that He shall tell you.”
In like manner does the Church, the Bride of Jesus, say to Him: “Lord, Thy children have no wine.” And Jesus replies: “Church” (not ), “be not troubled, be not disquieted! My hour is not yet come.” Then says the Church to her priests: “Hearken to His words, obey all His commands, for He will always help you!”
Mary told the servants to await the commands of Jesus and fulfill them. After a little while Jesus directed them to bring Him the empty jugs and turn them upside down. The jugs were brought, three water jugs and three wine jugs, and that they were empty was proved by inverting them over a basin. Then Jesus ordered each to be filled with water. The servants took them off to the well which was in a vault in the cellar, and which consisted of a stone cistern provided with a pump. The jugs were earthen, large and so heavy that when full it took two men to carry them, one at each handle. They were pierced at intervals from top to bottom by tubes closed by faucets. When the contents to a certain depth were exhausted, the next lower faucet opened to pour out. They were only tipped up on their high feet.
Mary’s words to Jesus had been uttered in a low tone, but Jesus’ reply, as well as His command to draw water, was given in a loud voice. When the jugs filled with water had been placed, six in number, on the side table, Jesus went and blessed them. As He retook His place at table, He called to a servant: “Draw off now, and bring a drink to the steward!” When this latter had tasted the wine, he approached the bridegroom and said: “Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse. But thou hast kept the good wine until now.” He did not know that the wine was provided by Jesus as was also this whole course of the feast. That was a secret between the Holy Family and the family of the bridal pair. Then the bridegroom and the bride’s father drank of the wine, and great was their astonishment. The servants protested that they had drawn only water, and that the drinking vessels and glasses on the table had been filled with the same. And now the whole company drank. The miracle gave rise to no alarm or excitement; on the contrary, a spirit of silent awe and reverence fell upon them. Jesus taught much upon this miracle. Among other things, He said that the world presents the strong wine first, and then deceives the partially intoxicated with bad drinks; but it was not so in the Kingdom that His Heavenly Father had given Him. There pure water was changed to costly wine, as lukewarmness should give place to ardor and intrepid zeal. He alluded also to that banquet at which in His twelfth year, after His return from teaching in the Temple, He had been present with many of the guests now assembled, and who were then mere boys. He reminded them that He had on that occasion spoken of bread and wine, and had related the parable of a marriage at which the water of tepidity would be changed into the wine of enthusiasm. This, He said, was now fulfilled. He told them that they should witness greater miracles than this; that He would celebrate several Paschs, and at the last would change wine into Blood and bread into Flesh, and that He would remain with them till the end to strengthen and console. After that meal they should see happen to Him things that they could not now understand, even were He to explain them. Jesus did not say all this in plain terms. He hid it under parables, which I have forgotten, though I have given their sense. His listeners were filled with fear and wonder, and the wine produced a change in all. I saw that, not by the miracle alone, but also by the drinking of that wine, each one had received strength, true and interior, each had become changed. This change was similar to that wrought in them at an earlier stage of the entertainment by the eating of the fruit. His disciples, His relatives, in a word, all present were now convinced of Jesus’ power and dignity, as well as of His mission. All believed in Him. Faith at once took possession of every heart. All became better, more united, more interior. This same effect was produced in all that had drunk of the wine,
At the close of the banquet, the bridegroom went to Jesus and spoke to Him very humbly in private. He told Him that he now felt himself dead to all carnal desires and that, if his bride would consent, he would embrace a life of continence. The bride also, having sought Jesus alone and expressed her wish to the same effect, Jesus called them both before Him. He spoke to them of marriage, of chastity so pleasing in the sight of God, and of the hundredfold fruit of the spirit. He referred to many of the Prophets and other holy persons who had lived in chastity, offering their bodies as a holocaust to the Heavenly Father. They had thus reclaimed many wandering souls, had won them to themselves as so many spiritual children, and had acquired a numerous and holy posterity. Jesus spoke all this in parables of sowing and reaping. The young couple took a vow of continence, by which they bound themselves to live as brother and sister for the space of three years. Then they knelt before Jesus, and He blessed them.
On the evening of the fourth day of the marriage, the bride and bridegroom were conducted to their home in festal procession. Lights arranged so as to form a letter were carried. Children went before carrying on strips of cloth two wreaths of flowers, an open one and a closed one, which they tore to pieces and scattered around in front of the house of the newly-married couple. Jesus had gone on ahead. He received them at the house and blessed them. The priests also were present. Since the miracle wrought by Jesus at the banquet, they had become very humble, and gave Him precedence everywhere.
On the Sabbath spent at Cana, Jesus taught twice in the synagogue. He alluded to the wedding feast and to the obedience and pious sentiments of the bridal couple. On leaving the synagogue, He was accosted by the people, who threw themselves at His feet and implored Him to cure their sick.
Jesus performed here two wonderful cures. A man had fallen from a high tower. He was taken up dead, all his limbs broken. Jesus went to him, placed the limbs in position, touched the fractures, and then commanded the man to rise and go to his home. The man arose, thanked Jesus, and went home. He had a wife and children. Jesus was next conducted to a man possessed by the devil, and whom He found chained to a great stone. Jesus freed him. He was next led to a woman, a sinner, who was afflicted by a bloody flux. He cured her, as also some others sick of the dropsy. He healed seven in all. The people had not dared to crowd around Him during the marriage festivities; but now that it was rumored that He was going away after the Sabbath, they could no longer be restrained. Since the miracle of the marriage feast, the priests did not interfere with Jesus. They allowed Him to do all that He wished. The miracles, the cures just related happened in their presence alone, for the disciples were not there.