Jesus in Capharnaum and at the Lake of Genesareth
The Sabbath over, Jesus went that night with His disciples to Capharnaum, the bridegroom, his father, and several others accompanying Him a part of the way. The poor had been bountifully supplied at the marriage feast, for nothing appeared a second time on the table; whatever was left was immediately given away.
For two fasting days that occurred immediately after the Sabbath, I saw the cooking done in advance.
All the fires were covered, and the windows not absolutely necessary were closed. In the homes of the rich, there were little receptacles on the hearth in which, covered with hot ashes, the food kept warm. Jesus kept these fasts in Capharnaum where, too, He taught in the synagogue. Twice a day, the sick were brought to Him, and He cured them. The disciples from Bethsaida went home, but some of them afterward returned. Jesus traversed the country around teaching, but in the hours of rest He stayed with Mary.
Andrew, Saturnin, Aram, Themeni, and Eustachius were sent by Jesus to the great baptismal place on the Jordan this side of Jericho. It had been abandoned by John, and the disciples were now to baptize there. Jesus went with them a part of the way, and then turned off to Bethulia where He cured the sick and taught. From there He walked back between seven and eight hours toward Hanathon, northwest of Capharnaum, in whose vicinity there was a mountain formerly used by the Prophets for teaching. It had a gentle elevation of about an hour, and on it was a space arranged in olden times for teaching. It consisted of a high stone seat surrounded by stakes, over which a tent could be stretched as a protection against sun and rain. The space thus enclosed could accommodate a large audience. The tent was removed at the end of the instructions. From the mountain ridge arose three hills, one of which was the Mount of Beatitudes. From the place where Jesus taught was a widely extended view: the Sea of Galilee lay below the observer, and he could see far around toward Nazareth. Some parts of the mountain were fertile and inhabited, but not so where Jesus taught. It was surrounded by the foundations of a ruined wall, upon which might still be seen the remains of several towers. Around the mountain lay Hanathon, Bethanat, and Nejel. Their proximity leaves the impression that they were formerly but one large city.
Jesus had with Him three disciples: one the son of the widowed aunt of the bridegroom of Cana; the second the son of the other widow; and the third Peter’s half-brother Jonathan. The people were summoned by them to Jesus’ instruction on the mountain. Jesus taught here of the diverse spirits in men of different places, yea, even of the same family, and of the spirit that they should receive through Baptism. By this last spirit, they should all become one; one in penance, satisfaction, and expiation, as well as one with the Heavenly Father. Then He gave them some signs by which they might be able to recognize in what degree they had received the Holy Spirit in Baptism. He taught also on prayer and individual petitions. I was astonished to hear Him explaining several petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, although as a whole He had not yet repeated it. This instruction lasted from noon till evening, when He went down to Bethanat and stayed there overnight. The preceding night He had spent in Hanathon.
On the following day Jesus went from Bethanat toward the lake. Five more of John’s disciples had come to Jesus in Bethanat. They were from Apheca, the native city of St. Thomas, situated in a region to the north on the Mediterranean. They had long been with John; but now they followed Jesus.
Toward noon I saw Jesus and His disciples on a little hill about one half-hour from the lake, between Bethsaida and the spot where the Jordan flows into it. They commanded a view of it upon which they saw Peter, John, and James in their boats. Peter owned a large ship, and on it were his servants; but he was at the time in a small one which he was steering himself. John and James, in company with their father, owned a large ship and several small ones. I saw Andrew’s little boat near those of Zebedee, but he himself was at the Jordan. When the disciples remarked their friends on the lake, they wanted to go down to call them. But Jesus would not allow it. I heard the disciples asking: “How can those men down there still go around fishing after seeing what Thou hast done and hearing Thy teaching?” But Jesus answered: “I have not yet called them. They, and especially Peter, carryon a large business upon which many depend for subsistence. I have told them to continue it, and in the meantime hold themselves in readiness for My call. Until then I have many things to do. I have also to go to Jerusalem for the Pasch.”
About six and twenty dwellings were on the west side of the hill, occupied principally by peasants and the families of the fishermen. As Jesus approached these houses, a possessed person cried after Him: “There He goes! Here He comes! The Prophet before whom we must flee!” and soon He was surrounded by a crowd of such creatures, clamoring and raving, who were followed by their keepers. Jesus commanded them to be at peace and to follow Him. Then He went up on the hill and taught. There were about one hundred people, including the possessed, around Him. He spoke of evil spirits, of how to resist them, and of reformation of life. The possessed were freed from the spirits that held them. They became perfectly calm, they wept, they thanked, and declared that they could now recall nothing of what had happened to them during the time of their possession. Among these poor creatures were some who had been brought chained together from different parts of the country around, their friends having heard that there was on His way thither a Prophet as holy as Moses. After all their trouble, they would have missed Jesus had not one broken loose and cried after Him.
From this place Jesus went to join His Mother between Capharnaum and Bethsaida, the former of which was a little to the north and not far from the hill mentioned above. That evening when the Sabbath began, Jesus taught in the synagogue of Capharnaum. A feast was being celebrated. It had some reference to Tobias, who had frequented this part of the country and had done much good. He had also bequeathed property to the schools and synagogues. Jesus gave an instruction on gratitude.
After the Sabbath, Jesus returned to His Mother with whom He conversed alone far into the night. He spoke of His future movements: He would first go to the Jordan, then celebrate the Pasch at Jerusalem, afterward call His Apostles, and make His public appearance. He predicted the persecution He should endure at Nazareth, alluded to His career after that, and explained in what way she and the other women should bear a part in it. There was at that time in Mary’s house, a woman already far advanced in years. She was the same poor widowed relative whom Anne had sent to Mary, to take the place of a servant to her in the Crib Cave. She was now so old that Mary rather served her than she Mary.
With eight disciples, Jesus set out before break of day on His journey to the place of baptism on the Jordan. Their way ran to the east of the lake and over the hill whence they had seen the boats of the Apostles. The Jordan here flows through a deep bed. About one half-hour before its discharge into the lake, the river is spanned by a bridge high and steep. This the Lord and His disciples crossed. On the other side, in a retired corner near the lake, lay a little fishery surrounded by numerous outstretched nets. It was called Little Corozain. Not quite an hour northward from the lake was Bethsaida-Julias. Great Corozain was a couple of hours east of the lake, and there dwelt Matthew the Publican.
Jesus travelled down the eastern shore of the lake and remained overnight in Hippos. Next morning He went on to Gadara in whose neighborhood He cured a man possessed. The unfortunate creature was being led after Him bound, but he freed himself and set up the cry: “Jesus, Thou Son of David! Jesus! Whither goest Thou? Thou wilt drive us away!” Jesus stood still, commanded the devil to be silent and to depart from the man, indicating at the same time whither he should go.
A couple of hours from Gadara, Jesus again crossed the Jordan, and went on toward the southwest, leaving Scythopolis to the left. He crossed Mount Moreh to Jezrael, a city on the west side of the plain Esdrelon. Jesus cured numbers there openly before the synagogue. But He stayed a few hours only in Jezrael, so that Magdalen who, at the earnest entreaty of Martha, had come with her to see Jesus, did not find Him on her arrival. She heard only of His miracles from the lips of those whom He had cured. The sisters here separated, and Magdalen retraced her steps to Magdalum.
The next place in which I saw Jesus was Hai, not far from Bethel, and about nine hours distant from the place of baptism. Hai had in ancient times been destroyed, and later partly restored. It was a retired little place. Jesus cured and taught there.
Among the Pharisees of Hai were some that had been present in the Temple at the teaching of Jesus in His twelfth year. They now referred to it as to a piece of consummate hypocrisy. He had, they said, in the synagogue of learned men taken His place on the ground among the scholars, disputed with them, and then, as if demanding information on the words of His opponents, had called upon the teachers with such questions as these: “What think you? Tell us, when will the Messiah come?” Having drawn them thus into the manifestation of their opinion, He ended by a show of His own superior knowledge. They now put to Jesus the plain question whether He was not that Child.
Jesus Permits Baptism to Be Given At the Jordan
From Hai Jesus departed for John’s former baptismal place, on the Jordan three hours from Jericho. Andrew and many of the disciples had come about an hour’s distance to meet Him. Several of John’s disciples, some also from Nazareth, were here. Some of them went on ahead to the little village of Ono, about an hour’s distance from the place of baptism, and gave notice that Jesus would there celebrate the Sabbath and cure the sick. They told the people that Jesus was continuing John’s work and teaching, and that openly and effectively He perfected that for which John had laid the foundation. Outside of Ono and about one half-hour from the baptismal place there was a private inn for Jesus’ accommodation. Lazarus had purchased it for Him and had placed there a man to see to the cooking, though Jesus usually took His meals cold. This inn served Him as a stopping place when in that part of the country, and from it He went around to the neighboring villages teaching and baptizing. When He reached Ono for the Sabbath, He taught in the synagogue and cured many sick persons who had been brought thither, among them a poor, emaciated woman suffering from a bloody flux.
In these last days, Herod frequently went to John, but the latter always treated him with contempt as an adulterer. Herod interiorly acknowledged that John was right, but his wife was furious against John. John baptized no more, and Jesus was now the whole subject of his preaching. All the candidates for Baptism, he sent across the Jordan to Him.
At the place of Baptism, many changes had been made by the disciples sent thither from Cana, and all in accordance with Jesus’ orders. It now presented a festal appearance, and things were better arranged than when John was there. On account of the crowds desirous of crossing, the ferry was removed to a lower point of the river, at a greater distance from that large circular enclosure which John had arranged in the open air around the baptismal pool. The spot upon which Andrew, Saturnin, and the other disciples baptized in turn upon Jesus’ command, was the little island upon which He Himself had been baptized. It was now covered by a large awning. While the disciples baptized, Jesus taught and prepared the aspirants for Baptism. The pool in which Jesus had been baptized was now very much changed. The five canals leading from the Jordan into the pool, and which had at first been covered, were now uncovered, and the four stones from the center, as well as the large, three-cornered, red-veined one at the edge upon which Jesus was standing when the Holy Spirit came upon Him, had all been removed. They had been taken to the new place of Baptism.
That the spot upon which Jesus had been baptized was the same as that upon which the Ark of the Covenant had stood, that the stones in the Baptism pool were those upon which it had rested in the bed of the Jordan, were facts known only to Jesus and John, and of which neither had spoken. So, too, the Lord was the only one who knew that these stones now formed the foundation of the baptismal basin. The Jews had long forgotten the resting place of these stones, and it was not made known to the disciples. Andrew had hewn a circular basin in the three-cornered stone which rested on the four others in a cavity filled with water which surrounded the stones like a canal. This water, as also that in the basin of the three-cornered stones, had been brought from the baptismal pool of Jesus, and Jesus had blessed it. When the aspirants stood in the canal around the triangular basin, the water reached up to their breast.
Near the place of Baptism was a kind of altar upon which lay the baptismal garments. Two of the disciples imposed hands upon the shoulders of the neophytes while Andrew or Saturnin, sometimes another, dipped the hollow hand three times into the basin and poured the water over their head baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. The baptizers, as well as those that imposed hands, wore long white robes girdled, and from their shoulders hung long white strips like broad stoles. John was accustomed to baptize from a triple-channeled shell from which the water flowed in three streams, and the words he used were of Jehovah and of Him that had been sent, somewhat different from those now uttered by the disciples at Baptism. None of those that had been baptized by John were here rebaptized; but I think that after the descent of the Holy Ghost, at the Baptism administered at the Pool of Bethsaida, they were again baptized. Nor were there here any women as yet baptized. The Baptism with triple immersions I saw for the first time at the Pool of Bethsaida.
There was an opening in the awning just above the basin of Baptism. The neophytes stood at the side, the baptizer and sponsors on the corner of the stone.
Jesus taught from an elevated teacher’s stand in the open air. During the heat of the day, a tent or awning was stretched over it. The subjects of Jesus’ discourse were Baptism, penance, the approach of the Kingdom of God, and of the Messiah, whom they should seek not among the distinguished of this world, but among the poor and lowly. He designated this Baptism a cleansing, a washing away, while John’s baptism was one of penance. He spoke also of a Baptism of fire, a Baptism of the Spirit, which was yet to come.
The bushes and trees that John had planted in the form of an arbor around the baptismal pool rose above them all. On the pointed top I saw a figure like a little child. It appeared to be rising out of the trunk of a vine, its little arms outstretched in the act of scattering yellow apples with one hand, and roses with the other. It was a remnant of the adornments of the festival that celebrated the commencement of Jesus’ baptizing mission.
Jesus was now gone with several of His disciples southward from the place of Baptism and toward the west of the Dead Sea. He had entered the region in which Melchisedech sojourned when he measured off the Jordan and the mountains. Long before Abraham, he had conducted the Patriarch’s forefathers thither. But the city that they built had been destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrha. I saw at that time, at about half an hour’s distance inland from the Dead Sea, in the midst of a desolate region where immense caves and black, jagged rocks met the gaze, the dilapidated walls and towers in the ruined city Hazezon Thamar. Where now appears the Dead Sea, was before the submersion of those godless cities, only the river Jordan. It was here about a quarter of an hour broad. The people, who dwelt in caves and ruined buildings of all kinds at some distance from the sea, were not real Jews. They were slaves belonging to wandering tribes that had settled in those parts, and for whom they were obliged to perform all the field labor. They were poor and humble and very greatly neglected. They looked upon Jesus’ arrival among them as an inconceivable favor, and gave Him a very loving reception. He cured many of them.
At the present day that region is not so desolate as it was in the time of Jesus, but in very early ages it was indescribably fruitful and lovely. It was in Abraham’s time changed by the formation of the Dead Sea from one of the most magnificent regions into a dreary desert. The shores of the Jordan were then walled in with freestone and on them once stood a great number of cities and towns, beautiful mountains and hills rising up between them. The whole region was covered with groves of date palms, vineyards, orchards, and fields of grain. Its fruitfulness surpassed description. Previously to the formation of the Dead Sea, the Jordan had, just below its greatest depth, divided into two branches between the cities that were afterward submerged. One of these branches flowed eastward, receiving in its course the waters of many smaller streams; the other watered the desert through which the Holy Family fled into Egypt, as far as the region of Mara, where Moses had rendered the bitter waters sweet, and where Anne’s ancestors had sojourned. There were salt mines in the neighborhood of those cities, but they exercised no deleterious influence upon the waters of the numerous springs around. The tribes dwelling at a considerable distance in this region that afterward became so desolate, used the water of the Jordan and found it excellent.
The remote ancestors of Abraham, who had been settled in Hazezon by Melchisedech, had become very degenerate, and Abraham was, by a second exercise of God’s mercy, led to the Promised Land. Melchisedech had been in these parts long before the Jordan existed. He had measured off and determined everything. He often came and went, and sometimes he was accompanied by a couple of men, who appeared to be slaves.
Jesus went afterward with His disciples in a direction leading to Bethlehem. After His Baptism He crossed the valley of the shepherds. The people depended upon the caravans that passed through for their principal support. It is about four hours from Bethania and on the boundary between Judah and Benjamin.
There were in Betharaba many possessed. They ran about outside the city crying out that Jesus was coming. Jesus commanded them to cover themselves, and in a few moments they had made aprons of leaves. Jesus delivered them from the evil spirits and, on entering the city, sent back to them messengers with clothes. There were some among them whose body used suddenly to swell to a great size.
Andrew and five other disciples had left the place of Baptism and preceded the Lord to Betharaba in order to announce His coming and to give notice that He would there celebrate the Sabbath.
Jesus and His disciples put up at a private inn, one of those free inns, such as in those times were always found in the different cities for the accommodation of travelling teachers and rabbis. Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, and others from Jerusalem had come hither to meet Jesus.
Jesus taught in the synagogue, also from a stone seat that stood in a public place intended for such use, and on all the streets and corners, for the crowds were too great for the school to accommodate. He healed numerous sick of different kinds whom the disciples brought to Him, making a way for them through the crowd. Lazarus and Joseph of Arimathea stood in the distance.
At the close of the Sabbath, the Lord returned to Ono with His disciples. They passed through the little town of Bethagla, one of the stopping places of the Children of Israel after they had crossed the Jordan, for they did not all cross at one and the same place. They went over in bands at different points of the dry bed of the river. When arrived at Bethagla, they arranged their clothing and girded themselves. Jesus passed the stone of the Ark of the Covenant where John had celebrated the feast.
Lazarus and Joseph of Arimathea returned to Jerusalem. Nicodemus had not come. He was more reserved, on account of the office that he held, but he served Jesus in secret, and to the end notified the little Community of any danger that threatened.
The next day was the first feast of the new moon, and I saw that the serving class and civil functionaries in Jerusalem had a holiday. It was kept as a festival of joy, a day of rest, consequently there was no baptizing on it.
The flags for the Feast of the New Moon were waving from long flagstaffs on the roof of the synagogue. Large knots were made at intervals on the staves between which the folds of the streamers opened in the breeze. The number of knots signified to those at a distance what month had just begun. Such flags were un fur led also as signals of victory or of danger.
The whole day Jesus was busy preparing for Baptism the people who had gathered there on the eve and encamped around; but there was no baptizing, because a feast was being celebrated in commemoration of the death of a wicked King (Alexander Jannaeus). The place of Baptism had been very beautifully arranged and adorned. Andrew and the other disciples began very early on the following day the Baptism of those that Jesus had prepared the day before.
The preceding evening Lazarus had returned with Obed, Simeon’s son, and with them Jesus started very early the next morning for the neighborhood of Bethlehem, passing between Bethagla and Ophra, which was more to the west. Jesus took this journey with Lazarus in order to hear what reports were circulating about Himself at Jerusalem, also to give him some instructions, which he was to transmit to the little Community, as to how they should conduct themselves under certain circumstances. They took the road once trodden by Joseph and Mary when going to Bethlehem, and in about three hours reached a row of poor, isolated dwellings belonging to shepherds. Lazarus told Jesus all that was being said about Him at Jerusalem, and that they spoke of Him in a manner partly derisive, and partly inquisitive. They said that they would see whether He would come to Jerusalem for the Pasch and, if He did, whether He would as daringly perform His miracles in a great city as among the credulous people of Galilee. He told Jesus also of the spying of the Pharisees and of what they reported of Him in different places. Jesus relieved Lazarus’ anxiety on these points, and drew his attention to various passages in the Prophets wherein all this had been foretold. He said that He would be about eight days longer at the Jordan, would then return to Galilee, then go to Jerusalem for the Pasch, and after that call His disciples. Jesus consoled Lazarus on the subject of Magdalen, of whom He said that already there had fallen upon her soul a spark of salvation, which would entirely consume her.
They spent the greater part of the day among the shepherd dwellings, at which they were entertained with bread, honey, and fruit. There dwelt here only about twenty-one women of the shepherd class, all widows. Some had grown sons, who supported them in their old age. Their dwellings were merely cells separated from one another by hedges of living brushwood. Some of these women had visited the Crib Cave at the birth of Christ and offered gifts. Jesus taught here. He entered some of the cells and cured the sick inmates. One was very old and emaciated, and lay upon a couch made of leaves. Jesus led her forth by the hand. The women had a refectory and dormitory in common.
Lazarus and Obed went back to Jerusalem, while Jesus continued visiting and curing the sick. Toward three in the afternoon, I saw Him again at the place of Baptism.
Jesus in Adummin and Nebo
Jesus, with most of His disciples, passed through Bethagla to Adummin, a place hidden away in a frightfully wild, mountainous region, broken by innumerable ravines. The road running along by the rocks was in some places so narrow that even an ass could scarcely tread it. It was about three hours from Jericho, in a district so retired on the boundary between Benjamin and Juda that I never before noticed it. It was wonderfully steep. It was a refugial city for murderers and other malefactors, who found here protection from capital punishment. They were either kept in custody until they reformed or employed in the quarries and in the most painful field labors. The place received on this account the appellation “The Path of the Red, the Bloody.” This city of refuge was in existence even before David’s time. During the first persecution of the Community after Jesus’ death, it came to an end. Later on, a convent was built there to serve as a stronghold, or fortress, for the first religious guardians of the Holy Sepulcher.1 The people subsisted by the culture of the vine and other fruits. It was a frightful wilderness, consisting chiefly of naked rocks, which sometimes toppled from their base, carrying down with them the clinging vines.
The road proper from Jericho to Jerusalem did not run through Adummin, but westward of it, on which side there was no access to the city. But that from Bethagla to Adummin was intersected by another running from the shepherd valley to Jericho, and at about one half-hour’s distance from Adummin. Near this crossroad was a very narrow and dangerous pass, designated by a stone as the spot where long before had really happened the fact upon which Jesus based the parable of the good Samaritan and the man that had fallen among robbers. As Jesus was approaching Adummin, He turned a little out of the way with His disciples, to give an instruction on that memorable spot. Seated on the stone chair and surrounded by the disciples and the people of the immediate neighborhood, He taught, taking for His text the incident just quoted. He celebrated the Sabbath in Adummin and taught in the synagogue, relating a parable that referred to the advantages offered to malefactors by the refugial city, all which He applied to the grace of doing penance on this earth. He also cured several persons, most of them dropsical. The Sabbath over, Jesus and the disciples returned to the place of Baptism.
Next evening Jesus went with His disciples to the city of Nebo, situated on the opposite side of the Jordan at the foot of Mount Nebo, whose height is such that several hours are necessary to reach the summit. Messengers had previously been sent to implore Him to enter the city and teach. The population was a mixed one, Egyptians, Moabites, and Israelites that had in former times defiled themselves with idolatry. They had been aroused by John’s preaching, but had not had the courage to go over to Jesus’ place of Baptism. I think they dared not. On account of some crime of their forefathers (of what kind I no longer remember), they were held by the Jews in great contempt. They dared not go about freely, but to certain places only. They now came to Jesus humbly begging Him to baptize among them. The disciples had brought from the baptismal pool, water in leathern bottles, which they had left under the care of some guards.
Nebo was about one half-hour from the Jordan, from which it was separated by a mountain, and between five and six hours from Machaerus. The country around was not fertile. To reach Nebo, one must, after crossing the river, climb the mountain and then descend on the other side. Just opposite the place of Baptism stands the mountain, affording no place for a landing, and behind was the city Nebo. It was tolerably large, the foundation hilly, and separated by a valley from the mount of the same name. There was still here a heathen temple, but it was closed and something built around it.
Jesus, from a teacher’s chair and out in the open air, prepared the people for Baptism, which the disciples administered. The baptismal basin was placed over a cistern into which the neophytes stepped, and which was filled with water to a certain height. The disciples had brought with them the baptismal robes, rolled up and wrapped around their person, which were put on the neophytes during the ceremony. They floated around them on the water. After the Baptism a kind of little mantle was placed on their shoulders. At John’s baptism, it was something like a stole and as wide as a hand-towel, but at the Baptism of Jesus, it was more like a real little mantle on which was fastened a stole like a lappet trimmed with fringe. Among the newly baptized were mostly tender youths and very old men, for many of the middle-aged were postponed until they should become less unworthy. Jesus healed many sick of fevers and many dropsical who had been carried thither on litters. The possessed among the heathens were not so numerous as among the Jews.
Jesus blessed also the drinking water, which was not good here. It was muddy and brackish. It was collected among the rocks whence it was brought in bottles and poured into a reservoir. Jesus blessed it crosswise, and rested His hand upon several different points of the surface.
On their return journey to the inn outside Ono, Jesus and the disciples spent the greater part of the day on the road, only one hour long, from Nebo to the Jordan ferry. Jesus taught the whole way. The road was bordered by huts and tents in which the people from Nebo sold to travelers fruit and distilled wine. It was these vendors that Jesus instructed. Before evening He returned with the disciples to His inn at the place of Baptism.
Jesus went afterward through the surrounding district, instructing the peasants singly and in crowds. Among them were many good souls, who during the time that John was baptizing here supplied the crowds with food. Jesus appeared to be seeking out everyone, even those in the most remote corners, for He was soon to leave these parts and go on to Galilee.
He stopped for a while at the house of a rich peasant whose fields covered a whole mountain. On one side the harvest was ripe, when on the other they were just about to sow. Jesus taught in a parable of sowing and harvesting.
There was here an old, dilapidated teacher’s chair formerly used by the Prophets. The peasants had restored it very handsomely, and from it Jesus delivered His instructions.
Several such places for teaching had been restored since John had here baptized. He had ordered it, for that, too, was a part of These teaching chairs had here, as with us the pictures of the Stations, quite gone to ruin since the times of the Prophets. Elias and Eliseus had frequented this part of the country. Jesus celebrated in Ono the morning of the Sabbath, which was followed by a feast that must have had some connection with fruit. I saw whole basketfuls carried during those days into the synagogue and town halls.
The arrangements at the place of Baptism had already been taken apart and stowed away by the disciples. Near the spot upon which the stone of the Ark of the Covenant lay, there were now scattered around about twenty dwellings. Bethabara was not close to the shore, but about one half-hour from the ferry; one could see it however. From the ferry to John’s present place of baptism beyond Betharaba was a good hour and a half’s distance.
I saw Jesus going from house to house at Ono. At first I knew not for what reason, but later I heard that it was on account of the tithes, to the paying of which He was urging the people. He reminded them also of the alms which it was customary to give on the feast of fruit trees now beginning. That evening He celebrated the Sabbath in the synagogue where He taught. After that began the preparations for the new year’s fruit festival. It was a threefold feast: first, it commemorated the rising of the sap in the trees; secondly, because today tithes of all the fruits were offered; and lastly, it was a feast of thanksgiving for the fertility of the soil. Jesus gave an instruction upon all these points. They ate much fruit, and gave to the poor whole figures of fruit that were built up on the tables. About twenty new disciples had, up to the present, come to Jesus.
Jesus Cures in Phasael the Daughter of Jairus the Essenian. Magdalen’s First Call to Conversion
At the close of the feast, Jesus left Ono with twenty-one disciples and journeyed to Galilee. His way led through the region in which Jacob had owned a field, and among those shepherd houses, from one of which Joseph and Mary had been so harshly turned away on their journey to Bethlehem. He visited the occupants of the inn that had extended hospitality to the holy travelers, and instructed them; with those of the inhospitable one, He stayed overnight and admonished them to be converted. The woman of the house was still alive, though on a sickbed. Jesus cured her. Then He passed through Aruma where He had before been. Jairus, a descendant of the Essenian Chariot, dwelt in the neighboring and somewhat despised place, Phasael. He had some time previously begged Jesus to cure his sick daughter, and Jesus had promised to do so, though not just then. Although his daughter was dead, Jairus now dispatched a messenger to meet Him and remind Him of His promise. Jesus sent His disciples on ahead after appointing a certain place where they should again meet Him, and He Himself accompanied Jairus’ messenger back to Phasael.
When He entered the house of Jairus, the daughter lay wrapped in the winding-sheet ready for burial, her weeping friends around her. Jesus ordered the neighbors to be called in, and the winding-sheet and linens to be loosened. Then taking the dead girl by the hand, He commanded her to arise. She did so, and stood before Him. She was about sixteen years old and not good. She had no love for her father, although he prized her above all things. He was charitable and pious, and shrank not from communication with the poor and despised. That was a source of vexation to his daughter. Jesus roused her from death both of soul and body. She reformed, and some time after joined the holy women. Jesus warned those present not to speak of the miracle they had witnessed. It was through the same desire of secrecy that He had not allowed the disciples to accompany Him. This was not the Jairus of Capharnaum whose daughter also was, at a later period, raised from the dead by Jesus.
On leaving Phasael, Jesus turned His steps to the Jordan which He crossed, and continued His journey northward through Peraea as far as Socoth, where He recrossed to the west side of the river and went on to Jezrael.
Jesus taught in Jezrael and performed many miracles before a great concourse of people. All the disciples from Galilee were here assembled to meet Him. Nathanael Chased, Nathanael the bride-groom, Peter, James, John, the sons of Mary Cleophas, all were there. Lazarus, Martha, Seraphia,1. Veronica. and Johanna Chusa, who had come before from Jerusalem, had visited Magdalen at her castle of Magdalum to persuade her to go with them to Jezrael in order to see, if not to hear, the wise, the admirable, the most eloquent, and most beautiful Jesus, of whom the whole country was full. Magdalen had yielded to the persuasions of the women and, surrounded by much vain display, accompanied them thither. As she stood at the window of an inn gazing down into the street, Jesus and His disciples came walking by. He looked at her gravely as He passed with a glance that pierced her soul. An unusual feeling of confusion came over her. Violently agitated, she rushed from the inn and, impelled by an overpowering sense of her own misery, hid in a house wherein lepers and women afflicted with bloody flux found a refuge. It was a kind of hospital under the superintendence of a Pharisee. The people of the inn from which Magdalen had fled, knowing the life she was leading, cried out: “That’s the right place for her, among lepers and people tormented with bloody flux!”
But Magdalen had fled to the house of the leprous through that feeling of intense humiliation roused in her soul by the glance of Jesus, for she had made her way into that respectable position among the other women through a motive of pride, not wishing to stand in the crowd of poor, common people. Accompanied by Lazarus, she returned to Magdalum with Martha and the other women. The next Sabbath was there celebrated by them, for Magdalum could boast a synagogue.
Jesus in Capharnaum, Gennabris, and Kisloth-Thabor
Toward evening Jesus went for the Sabbath to Capharnaum, though not till after He had visited His Mother. He taught there, and again took up His abode in the house belonging to the bridegroom of Cana. The disciples were gathered here. Jesus preached all the next day and till the close of the Sabbath. Numbers of sick and possessed were brought to Him from the country around. He cured them openly before all His disciples, and drove the devils out in presence of an ever-increasing crowd. Messengers came from Sidon begging Him to go back with them, but He put them off kindly until a future day. The crowd became so great that at the close of the Sabbath Jesus left Capharnaum with some of His disciples, and escaped into a mountainous district about an hour to the north of the city. It was situated between the lake and the mouth of the Jordan, and was full of ravines. Into one of these He retired alone to pray. This is the same mountain range from one of whose spurs, when returning lately from the mount of Bethanat with His disciples, they had seen the ships of Peter and Zebedee on the lake.
The disciples that accompanied Him went down to the dwellings of the fishermen near the lake in order to apprise them of Jesus’ coming. Andrew had stayed behind in Capharnaum, teaching and explaining to the assembled multitude.
In the evening Jesus went to His Mother’s house between Bethsaida and Capharnaum, whither had come Lazarus with Martha and the other women from Jerusalem. They were on their way from Magdalum and had called to take leave of Mary before returning to Jerusalem. He said that Martha was too anxious, that Magdalen had been very deeply affected, yet she would, notwithstanding, relapse once more into her old ways. She had not yet laid aside her fine attire, for, as she declared, one in her position could not dress so plainly as the other women, etc. As there now began in the city a fast of thanksgiving for the death of a man who, in violation of the Law, had caused certain images to be set up in the Temple, Jesus taught again in Capharnaum.
Again were brought to Him the sick, of whom He cured many, and again did messengers come to invite Him to other places. There were at this time some very ill-disposed Pharisees around Him and they contradicted Him on several points. They asked Him what would come of all that excitement, for the whole country was in commotion on His account, since He was teaching publicly and daily swelling the numbers of His followers. Jesus rebuked them severely, and told them that He was about to teach and act still more openly.
On that evening began a fast in commemoration of the great victory gained by the other tribes over that of Benjamin, on account of some shameful transgression. I saw that in the country of Phasael, where Jesus had lately raised to life the daughter of Jairus, as also in Aruma, Givea, etc., this day was kept with special strictness, since they had been the theater of those events. I saw that the women in those places made a certain offering and took a prominent part in the fast of atonement.
That night Jesus, with Andrew, Peter, the sons of Mary Cleophas and of Zebedee, was conducted by Nathanael Chased to Gennabris, his own dwelling place. Nathanael had established there an inn for Jesus. He did not enter Nathanael’s house which, however, He passed on the way to the city. Nathanael the bridegroom and his wife also visited Capharnaum and Jezrael at this time.
The place of Baptism near Ono was guarded in turn by the inhabitants. Jesus taught in Gennabris and cured some raging possessed. A road for traffic ran through the city. The inhabitants were not so docile as those nearer the lake. Although they did not openly contradict Jesus, yet many received His teaching coldly.
Besides the future Apostles, Jonathan, Peter’s half-brother, was also in Gennabris. The other Apostles had scattered around Capharnaum and Bethsaida relating all that they had seen and heard of Jesus.
From Gennabris Jesus went with the future Apostles to Bethulia, about three hours distant, five from Tiberias, and not far from Jezrael. It lay on a height so steep that one might fancy it was ready to topple down at any moment. The fragments of its walls were so broad that a wagon could be driven on them. The road from here to Nazareth passed Mount Thabor, from which it was only a couple of hours to the south.
Nathanael Chased had at this time given over his office in Gennabris to his brother, or cousin. He was, for the future, to follow Jesus.
When Jesus entered Bethulia, the possessed began to cry after Him on the street. On arriving at the marketplace, He stood still near a teacher’s chair and sent some of His disciples with directions to the superior of the synagogue to have the doors on all sides of the school opened. Others were sent from house to house to call the occupants to the instruction. The synagogue was surrounded by doors between the columns, and it was customary to throw them open when the crowd was exceptionally great. Jesus taught here of the tiny grain of wheat that must be cast into the earth. During His stay He abode in an inn that had been prepared for Him. The Pharisees here did not indeed openly contradict’ but they murmured, and Jesus knew that they did so, because they feared He would celebrate the Sabbath among them. He told His disciples this, and that He would keep it about a couple of hours further on, at a place to the northwest toward Thabor. I cannot now recall the name of that place, but the inhabitants were engaged in dyeing silk for fringes and tassels.
Jesus also cured the sick there. All the disciples that had remained behind met here again.
As Jesus, on account of the murmuring of the Pharisees, left Bethulia, He taught outside of the city at the distance of about a quarter of an hour where there was a teacher’s chair of stone. Ruined walls lay around, and the place looked as if it might once have belonged to the city proper. At about three in the afternoon, Jesus arrived at Kisloth, which was almost three hours distant, at the foot of Mount Thabor. Andrew and the others had preceded Him in order to arrange the inn. A great multitude from the whole country around had gathered at Kisloth, among them numbers of shepherds with their crooks and merchants on their way from Sidon and Tyre. Jesus’ miracles and preaching were already noised throughout the land. All crowded to the places where He taught; and when it became known that He purposed celebrating the Sabbath at Kisloth, they flocked thither to hear Him.
Wherever Jesus now appeared great excitement prevailed. They called after Him, cast themselves down before Him, and pressed around Him in order to be able to touch Him; consequently He came and went suddenly and unexpectedly, thus to escape the crowd. Frequently He separated from His disciples on the road, sent them by another route, and went on Himself alone. In the towns and villages, they often had to open a way for Him through the crowd. Nevertheless He permitted many to draw near and touch Him, and many a one was thereby interiorly aroused, converted, or cured.
In the evening Jesus retired to the inn prepared for Him by the disciples outside of Kisloth-Thabor, where He had already been twice before. Kisloth was perhaps seven hours from Nazareth, though in a direct line about five. As the roads of this country are so winding, running as they do through the valleys, and as the inhabitants determine distances sometimes by the length of the roads between two places, and sometimes by what it might appear to one gazing down from the mountains, their statistics on that point seldom agree. Galilee was thickly dotted with cities and towns, but from no elevated point could more than a few be seen.
Kisloth-Thabor was chiefly a commercial mart in which were some rich merchants and a great number of poor people. Many of them were dyers of raw silk which was afterward manufactured into fringes and tassels for sacred vestments. These dyers in earlier times were found principally at Tyre on the sea, but later many of them removed here. The rich merchants employed the poor in their factories. I saw here likewise some people who appeared to be slaves.
The disciples, with thick ropes run through stakes, had cut off a space in front of the inn in order to keep back the crowd. It was from that space that Jesus preached. As among His audience there were many of the rich merchants from the city, He taught upon riches and the danger attending the love of gain. Their position, He told them, was more perilous than that of the publicans, who more easily than they would reform. Saying these words, Jesus pointed to the ropes that separated Him from the crowd, and uttered the words: “A rope like one of those would go more easily into the eye of a needle than a rich man into the Kingdom of Heaven.” The ropes were camel’s hair, as thick as one’s arm, and drawn four times through the stakes around the enclosure. The rich people defended themselves by saying that they gave alms out of all their profits. But Jesus replied that alms that have been expressed from the sweat of the poor bring down no blessing. This instruction was not pleasing to His hearers.
Kisloth was a Levitical city made over by the tribe of Zabulon to the Levites of the race of Mer-ari. The most celebrated school of the whole country was here. It was very large and all its exercises were conducted with solemnity. When on the Sabbath Jesus taught in the synagogue, the priests assisted at the discourse. They handed Him the rolls of Scripture or read the passages that He indicated, upon which He questioned and explained. There was also singing, but not of the Pharisaical kind. I heard the voice of Jesus sweetly sounding among all the others, but I do not remember having heard Him singing alone.
Next morning Jesus taught in the school of Kisloth. Andrew instructed the children in an adjacent hall, and recounted to the strangers crowding in all that he had seen and heard of Jesus. Jesus took for His subject vanity and presumption. He performed no cures that day because, as He said, they thought themselves better than others, and attributed to their own merit His coming to teach in their city; whereas He would have them know that He had been led thereto by His know ledge of their misery and His desire to humble and convert them.
The preaching ended, Jesus went out into the court in front of the synagogue, in which there were little cells belonging to it. They were like sentry boxes in a courtyard. Here, He cured of convulsions and other ills numerous children brought to Him by their mothers. He cured them because they were innocent. He cured several women also who humbled themselves before Him, saying: “Lord, hearken to my fault, my transgression!” They cast themselves down in the hall before Him and bewailed their sins. Among them were some afflicted with a bloody flux, and others tormented by evil inclinations from which they implored to be freed.
That evening Jesus celebrated the Sabbath in the school and afterward ate at the inn. His future Apostles and intimate friends were with Him at the same table, and the disciples not engaged in serving were in adjoining apartments. The next day He celebrated the Sabbath in the synagogue, and in front of it healed many sick. He also visited and cured in their homes many that could not be carried to Him. The disciples assisted Jesus in this, bringing the sick, leading them to Him, raising them up, and making room for them. They executed His commissions and delivered His messages.
All the travelling expenses, as well as the alms, were up to the present furnished by Lazarus, and Simeon’s son Obed kept the accounts.
The little cells before the synagogue that looked like sentry boxes were in the courtyard where, through a grating, the women spoke in private to Jesus. It was the custom for female sinners, penitents, or women that had contracted legal impurity to receive in these cells consolation from the priests.
There was no city upon Mount Thabor, but there were bulwarks, walls, and something like a vacant fortress, whither at times the troops retired. On the evening after the Sabbath, Jesus and His most intimate disciples, the future Apostles, were entertained by a Pharisee who had been touched and converted by the teaching of Jesus. Next day Jesus, with His disciples, was present at a great banquet, given in His honor in the public feast hall by the most distinguished men of the place. Jesus taught here also, and on the same evening left the city for Jezrael, which was not much more than three hours’ distance from Kisloth-Thabor.
In Jezrael, Jesus’ relatives and the disciples from Bethsaida, including Andrew and Nathanael, took leave of Him in order to visit their homes. He indicated to them where they should again meet. About fifteen of the younger disciples still remained with Him while He taught here and performed some cures. There were all kinds of religious and secular schools in Jezrael, for it was a large city. Jesus took Naboth’s vineyard for the subject of one of His discourses.
From Jezrael Jesus went one hour and a half southward to a field in a valley, two hours long and as many broad, wherein were numerous orchards surrounded by low hedges. It was an uncommonly productive and charming fruit region. There were numerous tents here standing in couples at different intervals, and occupied by people from Sichar who guarded and gathered in the fruit. I think it was a kind of service that they were obliged to take turns in rendering. About four occupied one tent. The women dwelt together apart from the men, for whom they did the cooking. Jesus instructed these people under a tent. There were here most beautiful springs and abundant streams, which flowed into the Jordan. The principal source came from Jezrael. It formed in the valley a charming spring, over which a kind of chapel was built. From this spring house the stream divided into several others throughout the vale, united with other waters, and at last emptied into the Jordan. There were about thirty custodians whom Jesus instructed, the women remaining at some distance. He taught of the slavery of sin, from which they should free themselves. They were inexpressibly rejoiced and touched that He had come to them. He was so loving and condescending to these poor people that I had to shed tears myself over it. They set before Jesus and the disciples fruit, of which they ate. In some parts of the valley the fruit was already ripe, in others the trees were only in blossom. There were some brown fruits like figs, but growing in clusters like grapes, also yellow plants from which they prepared a kind of pap.1 In this valley rises Mount Gilboa, and here also was Saul slain in battle against the Philistines.
(From the description, we may presume that the plant to which Sister Emmerich alludes was a species of maize; and they were, very probably, the fruit of the date palm. She mentioned likewise and several plants used as salads. The whole region south of Jezrael she describes as teeming with fruitfulness.)