Jesus Teaches and Cures In Capharnaum
On the preceding evening, flags with knots and strings of fruit were raised on the synagogues and public buildings of Bethsaida, to herald the last day of the month Ab. With the Sabbath, the first day of the month Elul began. Next morning after Jesus had healed many sick Jews in Bethsaida, He went with the disciples to Peter’s, near Capharnaum. The women had preceded Him thither, and crowds of sick were again awaiting Him. There were two deaf men into whose ears Jesus put His finger. Two others were brought forward, who could scarcely walk, besides which their arms were perfectly stiff and their hands swollen. Jesus laid His hand on them and prayed; then grasping them by both hands, He swung their arms up and down, and they were cured. The swelling did not, however, disappear at once, but only after a couple of hours. He exhorted them for the future to use their hands for the glory of God, for it was sin that had reduced them to this state. He cured many others, and then went into the city for the Sabbath.
The concourse of people at Capharnaum was very great. The possessed had been released from their place of confinement and ran crying out along the streets to meet Jesus. He commanded them to be silent and delivered them; whereupon, to the astonishment of the multitude, they followed Him quietly to the synagogue and listened to His instruction. The Pharisees, and among them those fifteen from the other cities, sat around His chair, forced to treat Him with respect and hypocritical reverence. They gave Him the Scriptures, and He taught from 49, that God had not forgotten His people. He read aloud: “If even a woman should forget her child, yet would not God forget His people”; and then explained from the following verses that the impiety of men could not restrain God, could not hinder Him from realizing His thoughts of mercy. The time of which the Prophet speaks, that the eyes of God are always on the walls of Sion, had now come, now should the destroyers flee and the builders commence their labor. The Lord would gather together nations to ornament His sanctuary. There will be so many good and pious souls, so many benefactors and leaders of the poor nations that the sterile synagogue will say: Who has begotten to me so many children? The Gentiles shall be converted to the Church, the kings of the earth shall serve her! The God of Jacob shall snatch from the enemy, from the perverted synagogue, her children; and they that like murderers lay hands on the Saviour, shall rage against one another, and choke one another.
Jesus explained this as referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, since it would not receive the Kingdom of grace. God demands whether He has separated from the Synagogue, whether He has given her a bill of divorce, whether He has sold His people. Yes, on account of their sins, have they been sold! On account of her transgressions, has the Synagogue been abandoned! He has called, He has warned, and no one has heeded. But He is the mighty God, He can cause Heaven and earth to tremble, Jesus applied all to His own time. He showed that all had been led astray, those that had been forsaken by the synagogue. And then, as if speaking to Himself, He uttered the words of this passage of Isaias: “The Lord hath given me a learned tongue, that I should know how to uphold by word him that is weary: He hath opened His ears to Him in the morning to hear His commands, and He hath not resisted.” The Pharisees took these words as foolish self-praise, though they were ravished by His preaching, and said to one another at the end of it: “Never before has any Prophet so taught!” They whispered, nevertheless, some malicious remarks into one another’s ears, Jesus went on with the explanation of this passage: “I have given My body to the strikers, and My cheeks to them that plucked them,” applying it to the persecutions that He had already endured and to what He had still to suffer. He spoke of the ill-treatment He had received at Nazareth, saying: “Let him who can condemn Me, come forward!” His enemies, He said, would grow old and come to naught in their vain teachings, the Judge would come upon them. The godly would hear His voice, while the ignorant, the unenlightened should call to God and hope in Him. The Day of Judgment would come, and they that had kindled the fire would go to ruin. ( 1:11). This passage, also, Jesus explained of the destruction of the Jewish people and Jerusalem.
The Pharisees had not a word to reply. They listened in silence, transported by His words, though occasionally whispering a jeering remark into their neighbor’s ear. Jesus then explained something from Moses as He always did at the termination of His sermons, and added a parable, which He addressed more particularly to the disciples and to the faithless young Scribe of Nazareth. The parable was that of the talent put out at interest, for the young Scribe was vain of his acquirements. He was humbled interiorly by it, but not improved. Jesus related the parable in terms similar to, though not quite the same as those given in the Gospel.
In front of the synagogue, Jesus cured the sick on the streets, and then went with His disciples to Peter’s outside the city gate. Nathaniel Chased and the bridegroom, also Thaddeus, had come hither from Cana for this Sabbath. Thaddeus was often in Capharnaum, for he travelled a great deal throughout the country, dealing in fishing nets, sailcloth, and tackling. That night the house was again full of sick persons, and separated from the rest were several women afflicted with a flow of blood. Some women, completely enveloped, were brought on portable beds by their friends. They were pale and emaciated, and had already sighed long after Jesus’ help. This time I saw that He imposed hands on the sufferers, and blessed them. Then He commanded those on the beds to throw off their covers and arise. They obeyed, one helping the other. Jesus exhorted them and bade them adieu. During the night, He retired to pray.
The spying Pharisees had not spoken openly in Capharnaum of the object of their mission; even the Centurion Zorobabel had been questioned only secretly. They had sufficient pretexts to account for their presence: The Jews were in the habit of going from one place to another for the celebration of the Sabbath, especially if a distinguished Doctor was expected to preside; it was customary, besides, for crowds to retire into the country of Genesareth, to rest from business and enjoy the beauty and luxuriance that everywhere abounded.
On the following day Jesus went very early to Capharnaum. There was an innumerable concourse gathered before the synagogue, among them crowds of sick, of whom He healed many. When He entered the synagogue wherein the Pharisees were assembled, some possessed who were present began to cry out after Him. One in particular, more noisy than his fellows, went running toward Him crying: “What have we to do with Thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Thou hast come to destroy us! I know that Thou art the Holy One of God!” Jesus commanded the demon to be silent and to go out of the man. The latter, tearing himself, ran back among his companions, but the devil, uttering great cries, went out of him. The man then became perfectly calm, and cast himself at Jesus’ feet. Many of those present, and especially the disciples, said in the hearing of the Pharisees, who were scandalized at what they saw: “What kind of a new doctrine is this? Who can this Teacher be? He has power over the impure spirits!”
The crowd was so dense, there were so many sick in and around the synagogue, that Jesus had to take His stand on a spot to be seen and heard not only from within, but also from the court, which was crowded. The Pharisees stood around Him inside, while Jesus turned toward the court to address the people. Sometimes He turned toward the interior of the synagogue, and again toward those outside. The halls around the building were open for the accommodation of the immense throng of hearers, who filled not only the court, but mounted the steps leading to the flat roofs of the buildings that enclosed it. Below were the cells and oratories reserved for penitents and those that came to pray. There were some places specially reserved for the sick.
Jesus again clearly and energetically expounded Isaias, applying all to their own time and to Himself. The times, He said, were fulfilled and the Kingdom was near. They had always longed after the fulfillment of the Prophecies, they had sighed for the Prophet, the Messiah, who would relieve them of their burdens. But when He would come, they would not receive Him, because He would fail to realize their erroneous notions of Him. Then taking the signs of the coming of the Prophet for whose accomplishment they always sighed, those signs that were still read from the Scriptures in their synagogues and for which they prayed, He proved that they had all been fulfilled. He said: “The lame shall walk, the blind see, the deaf hear. Is there not something of this now? What mean these gatherings of the Gentiles to hear instruction? What do the possessed cry out? Why are the demons expelled? Why do the cured praise God? Do not the wicked persecute Him? Do not spies surround Him? But they will cast out and kill the Son of the Lord of the vineyard, and how shall it be with them? If ye will not receive salvation, yet shall it not be lost. Ye cannot prevent its being given to the poor, the sick, to sinners and publicans, to the penitent, and even to the Gentiles in whose favor it shall be taken from you.” Such was the substance of Jesus’ discourse. He added: “That John whom they have imprisoned ye acknowledge to be a Prophet! Go to him in his prison and ask him for whom did he prepare the ways and of whom did he bear witness?” While Jesus spoke, the rage of the Pharisees increased, and they whispered and muttered together.
During Jesus’ discourse, four distinguished men of Capharnaum, sick of an unclean malady, were carried by eight others less sick to the synagogue and placed in such a position in the court that Jesus could see them and they could hear His teaching. On account of their sickness, they were allowed to enter only by one particular gate, but that being just at present obstructed by the crowd, the eight semi invalids had to lift them in their beds to a place over a wall and force their own way through the crowd, which at once retreated before the unclean sickness. When the Pharisees saw the newcomers, they became angry and began to snarl at them as public sinners suffering from an unclean malady. They spoke aloud against them, asking what kind of irregularity was this, that such people should venture into their vicinity? When their remarks ran through the crowd and reached the objects of them, the poor sick men became sad and frightened lest Jesus, being informed of their sins, should refuse to cure them. They were full of contrition, and had long sighed for Jesus’ assistance. But when
Jesus heard the murmuring of the Pharisees, He turned on the instant to where the sick men were lying in fear and anxiety, addressed His discourse to the crowd in the court and, casting a look full of earnestness and love on the sufferers, cried out to them: “Your sins are forgiven you!” At this the poor men burst into tears, while the Pharisees, highly exasperated, growled out: “How does He dare say so? How can He forgive sins!” Jesus said: “Follow Me down there, and see what I am going to do! Why are ye offended at My doing the will of My Father? If ye do not want salvation yourselves, yet should you not grudge it to the repentant! Ye are angry that I cure on the Sabbath? Does the hand of the Almighty rest on the Sabbath day from doing good and punishing evil? Does He not feed the hungry, cure the sick, and shed around His blessings on the Sabbath? Can He not send sickness on the Sabbath? May He not let you die on the Sabbath? Be not vexed that the Son does the will and the works of His Father on the Sabbath!” When He reached the sick men, He ordered the Pharisees to stand in a row at some distance, saying: “Stay here, for to ye these men are unclean, though to Me not, since their sins have been forgiven them! And now, tell Me. Is it harder to say to a contrite sinner, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee,’ than to say to a sick man, ‘Arise, and carry thy bed hence?'” The Pharisees had not a word to answer. Then Jesus approached the sick men, laid His hands on them one after the other, uttered a few words of prayer over them, raised them up by the hand, and commanded them to render thanks to God, to sin no more, and to carry away their beds. All four arose. The eight who had carried them and who were themselves half-sick, had become quite vigorous, and they helped the others to throw off the covers in which they were wrapped. These latter appeared to be only a little fatigued and embarrassed. Putting together the poles of their portable beds, they shouldered them, and all twelve went off through the wondering and exulting crowd joyfully intoning the song of thanksgiving: “Praised be the Lord God of Israel! He has done great things to us. He has had mercy on His people, and has cured us by His Prophet!”
But the Pharisees, full of wrath and deeply mortified, hurried away without taking leave of the Saviour. Everything about Jesus exasperated them: His actions and His manner of performing them, that He was not of the same opinion with them, that He did not esteem them just, wise, and holy, that He associated with people whom they despised. They had a thousand objections to make to Him; namely, that He did not keep the fasts strictly, He associated with sinners, pagans, Samaritans, and the rabble at large, that He was Himself of mean extraction, that He gave too much liberty to His disciples and did not keep them in proper respect—in a word, everything in Him displeased them. Still they could bring no special charge against Him. His wisdom and His astonishing miracles they could not deny; consequently, they took refuge in ever-increasing rage and calumny. When one considers the life of Jesus in detail, the priests and people of His time are found to be pretty much the same as they are nowadays. If Jesus actually returned to earth, from many Doctors of the Law, from many politicians, He would have to endure still worse things.
The sickness of the lately cured consisted in a discharge of impure humors. They were, before their cure, quite exhausted and motionless, as if they had had an apoplectic stroke. The eight others were partially lame on one side. The beds consisted of two poles with feet, a crosspiece in the middle, on which a mat was stretched. They rolled the whole together, and carried them on their shoulders like a couple of poles. It was a touching sight—those men going through the crowd singing!
Jesus Cures Peter’s Mother-in-Law. Peter’s Great Humility
Jesus now went without delay with the disciples out of the city gate and along the mountain to Peter’s in Bethsaida. They had urged Him to do so, for they thought that Peter’s mother-in-law was dying.
Her sickness had very much increased, and now she had a raging fever. Jesus went straight into her room. He was followed by some of the family; I think Peter’s daughter was among them. He stepped to that side of the bed to which the sick woman’s face was turned, and leaned against the bed, half-standing, half sitting, so that His head approached hers. He spoke to her some words, and laid His hand upon her head and breast. She became perfectly still. Then standing before her, He took her hand and raised her into sitting posture, saying: “Give her something to drink!” Peter’s daughter gave her a drink out of a vessel in the form of a little boat. Jesus blessed the drink and commanded the invalid to rise. She obeyed and arose from her low couch. Her limbs were bandaged, and she wore a wide nightdress. Disengaging herself from the bandages, she stepped to the floor and rendered thanks to the Lord, the entire household uniting with her.
At the meal that followed, she helped with the other women and, perfectly recovered, served at table. After that, Jesus, with Peter, Andrew, James, John, and several of the other disciples, went to Peter’s fishery on the lake. In the instruction He gave them, He spoke principally of the fact that they would soon give up their present occupations and follow Him. Peter became quite timid and anxious. He fell on his knees before Jesus, begging Him to reflect upon his ignorance and weakness, and not to insist on his undertaking anything so important, that he was entirely unworthy, and quite unable to instruct others. Jesus replied that His disciples should have no worldly solicitude, that He who gave health to the sick would provide for their subsistence and furnish them with ability for what they had to do. All were perfectly satisfied, excepting Peter who, in his humility and simplicity, could not comprehend how he was for the future to be, not a fisherman, but a teacher of men. This, however, is not the call of the Apostles related in the Gospel. That had not yet taken place. Peter had nevertheless already given over a great part of his business to Zebedee. After this walk by the lake, Jesus again went to Capharnaum and found an unusual number of sick around Peter’s house outside the city. He cured many, and taught again in the synagogue.
As the concourse of people continued to increase, Jesus, without being noticed, disengaged Himself from the crowd, and went alone to a wild but very pleasant ravine which extended to the south of Capharnaum, from Zorobabel’s mansion to the dwellings of his servants and workmen. In it were grottos, bushes, and springs, numerous birds, and all kinds of tame, rare animals. It was a skillfully cared-for solitude belonging to Zorobabel, besides being a part of that garden of pleasure, Genesareth, thrown open to the public. Jesus spent the night alone and in prayer, the disciples being ignorant of His whereabouts.
Early next morning, He left the wilderness, but not to return to Capharnaum. He ordered Peter and another of the disciples who had come to seek Him to send Parmenas, Saturnin, Aristobolus, and Tharzissus to a certain place where He would meet them, and thence go to the Baths of Bethulia. He went around the height of the valley on which lay Magdalum, which He passed a couple of hours eastward to the left. On the south side of this height was the city of Jetebatha.
Jesus at the Baths of Bethulia And in Jetebatha
At first I thought that Jesus was going to Gennabris, situated among the mountains, about three hours west of Tiberias. But He did not go there, but to the north side of the valley where was the fountain of Bethuel. A great many wealthy and distinguished people from Galilee and Judea owned villas and gardens here, which they occupied in the beautiful season of the year. On the south side of the lake, formed by the northern declivity of the heights of Bethuel, were rows of houses and warm baths, those toward the east being the warmer. The baths had one large reservoir in common, around which were private apartments formed by tents; in them were tubs sunk to a greater or lesser depth in the water, according to the convenience of the bathers. These private apartments communicated with the reservoir. There were many inns in the neighborhood of the baths. A private house and garden could also be hired for the season with everything else free. The revenues belonged to the city of Bethulia, and were used principally to keep up the baths. The waters of the lake were uncommonly pure, clear as a mirror to the very bottom, which was paved with beautiful, little white pebbles. It was fed by a stream from the east which flowed from the baths in the valley of Magdalum. The lake swarmed with little pleasure boats, which in the distance looked like ducks. On the north side of the lake, but facing south, were dwellings for the accommodation of female visitors at the baths. Their walks and pleasure grounds, however, were near the brook that flowed through those of the men. Both sides of the valley formed a gentle declivity toward the lake. From the dwellings and baths there ran around the lake, crossing and opening into one another, shady avenues, embowered walks with wide-stretching trees and luxuriant foliage, among which lay meadows of very high and beautiful grass, orchards, vegetable gardens, and grounds for riding and games. The view was enchantingly beautiful—hills and mountains, all teeming with the most exuberant fertility, rich especially in grapes and fruits. The second harvest of the year was now ripe.
Jesus remained on the side of the lake by which He had come, and put up at a traveler’s inn. People soon gathered around Him, and He taught them with great sweetness outside the inn. Many women were among His hearers. Next morning I saw a number of little boats coming over from the south side of the lake where the bathers were. It was a deputation of the most distinguished men come to invite Jesus courteously to return with them and preach. Jesus ferried across with them and went to an inn where they presented Him with a little luncheon. He taught in the cool of the morning and evening under shady trees, on a hill not far from the inn. Most of His hearers stood around Him, the women on one side veiled. The order observed was truly pleasing. The people were, for the most part, well-bred and well-inclined, cheerful and good-humored. As there were no factions among them, one did not fear to give vent to his feelings before the others, consequently they were all most reverential and attentive to Jesus. They were perfectly carried away and rejoiced by His very first discourse. He taught of purification by water, of the union, equality, and the feeling of confidence that reigned among them, of the mystery of water, of the washing away of sin, of the bath of baptism as administered by John, of the charity and good understanding that ought to unite the baptized, the converted, etc. He borrowed, moreover, subject matter and graceful similitudes from the lovely season, from the country around, the mountains, trees, fruit, and herds, in short from everything they saw about them. I saw His audience around Jesus in a circle, and at times exchanging places with newcomers to whom He repeated the substance of His last discourse.
I saw some gouty invalids moving slowly about. They were mostly government officials and officers who were enjoying a vacation. I recognized them by the uniforms they wore when leaving for their different garrisons around the country. During their stay at the baths, all were dressed alike with nothing to distinguish them from other people. The men wore fine, yellow woolen stuff made into tunics of four separate skirts, one above the other, the lower one wrapped into a kind of trousers down to the knees; some went barefoot, others wore sandals. The upper part of the body was covered with a scapular open at the sides and bound at the waist by a broad girdle. The shoulders were covered with an arm flap that reached halfway to the elbow; the head was uncovered. They played at games, fighting with little sticks and armed with shields made of leaves. They attacked one another in rows and also singly, aiming at pushing their opponents from their places. They ran toward a goal for a wager, jumped over ropes, sprang through hoops upon which all sorts of glittering things were hanging. These they were not to touch in passing through, otherwise they tinkled and fell off. The contestant for the prize lost in proportion to the number thus displaced. The prizes consisted of fruit which I saw lying ready for the winners. I saw some playing on reed flutes; others had long, thick reeds through which they gazed into the distance and into the lake. Sometimes they blew balls or little arrows through them, as if they were shooting after fishes. I saw that these reeds were flexible; they could be bent to form a ring and then hung on the arm. I saw them also sticking glass globes of different colors on the ends of the reeds and waving them to and fro, thus reflecting the light of the sun. The whole landscape was mirrored in the globes, but in an inverted position. When the globes were revolved, the whole lake appeared to be passing overhead. This greatly diverted the beholders.
The fruits, and especially the grapes, were truly magnificent. I saw some persons very respectfully and courteously bringing some of the finest to Jesus.
The dwellings of the women were on the opposite side of the valley; but their baths were on this side, more toward the east and out of sight of those of the men. On the banks of the stream that flowed into the lake, I saw little boys in short, white woolen tunics with willow switches of various colors in their hands, driving flocks of different kinds of aquatic birds. The water from the stream and lake was conducted up to the inns on the height and also to the baths. It was received in channels from which it was raised to higher reservoirs, and from them to others, and so on. I saw the women also playing at different games on the green. They were very modestly clothed in fine, white woolen wrappers that fell around them in numerous folds and were girded twice, over the breast and again at the waist. The wide sleeves could be raised or lowered by means of buckles. Around the wrists they had large, stiff frills with many folds, like the tail of a peacock. Their headdress consisted of a cap of circular puffs graduated lower and narrower, wound with silk or small feathers of natural whiteness. It looked like a snail’s shell made of feathers. It was tied behind and a long point made of tassels hung down the back. They wore no veil, but over the face were two sections of finely plaited, white, transparent stuff like half fans, which reached to below the nose, and had holes for the eyes. They could lower them in part if they wished to guard against the sun, or throw them entirely back. Before men they were lowered.
I saw the women amusing themselves lustily at the following game. Each had a girdle ending in a ring, or a loop, around her waist. They formed a circle, each holding her neighbor fast by the loop with one hand, the other being free. A trinket was concealed in the grass and they turned round here and there in a circle until one of the players spied it. When she stopped to pick it up, the others in the circle gave a sudden jerk; those following likewise stooped after the treasure, each one trying not to fall. Sometimes they tumbled over one another amid shouts of laughter.
Bethulia was situated on a plateau in a mountainous region, solitary and wild. It was an hour and a half south of the lake. Above it was a great, rough looking tower and many ruined walls and towers. Once upon a time, the city must have extended much further and been very strongly fortified. Trees were now growing on those walls, upon which vehicles could be driven, and I saw the visitors at the baths promenading on them. The city lay high up around the mountain. Here it was that Judith became illustrious. The camp of Holofernes stretched from the lake through the ravine of Jetebatha around to Dothan, a couple of hours to the south of Bethulia. From Jetebatha also there were visitors at the baths. They did not wait to hear Jesus’ instructions but, returning to Jetebatha, spread the news of His presence in Bethulia. Jetebatha was situated about an hour and a half to the southeast, built in the bosom of the mountains as in an immense cave. Before it rose a mountain from which the descent into the city was over deep, wild ditches. It appeared to be built in a deep quarry, the mountain hanging high over it. To the north of this mountain, not quite two hours distant, was Magdalum, on the edge of a deep dale, with its surroundings of avenues, gardens, and towers of all kinds stretching off into the middle of it. Between the mountain and Magdalum were still standing the remains of the channel of an aqueduct through whose arches one could look far off into the country. The channel was now overgrown by vines and foliage. Southward from Jetebatha rose another wild mountain pierced right and left by broad ravines. It was a region full of wonderful hiding places. There were numerous Herodians in Jetebatha. In a wall of the fortifications they had a secret meeting place. The sect was composed of shrewd, intelligent people ranged under a secret superior. They had signs whereby they recognized one another, and the chiefs could also tell (how, I do not now know) if a member had betrayed anything. Secret enemies of the Romans, they were plotting a revolution in favor of Herod. Although in reality followers of the Sadducees, yet in the exterior they conformed to the Pharisees, thinking in this way to draw over both parties to their designs. They knew indeed that the time had come for the appearance of the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and they resolved to make use of the general belief for the furtherance of their ends. Exteriorly and through motives of cunning, they were very bland and tolerant, though really treacherous sneaks. They had, properly speaking, no religion at all; but under the cloak of piety, they labored at the founding of an independent kingdom of this world, and Herod supported them in their intrigues.
When the synagogue of Jetebatha heard of Jesus’ presence in the neighborhood, they sent two Herodians to the baths of Bethulia, to find out what sort of a person He was and to invite Him to Jetebatha. Jesus, however, gave them no decided answer as to whether He would go or not. About seven of the disciples that had journeyed with Him a couple of weeks before met Him here again. Two of them were John’s disciples, some relatives of his who also were disciples, from the country of Hebron, and one was a cousin from Lesser Sephoris. They had been seeking Him in Galilee, and had now found Him, During those days, I saw Jesus speaking confidentially with several of the guests at the baths. There must have been some of His own followers among them.
When the Herodians returned to Jetebatha, one of them set about preparing the people in case Jesus should come to their city. He told them that Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth, who was now nearby at the Baths of Bethulia, would probably visit their city for the coming Sabbath. He was the one who had made a great uproar in Capharnaum on the preceding Sabbath and on the Sabbath before that in Nazareth. He warned them not to be seduced by Him, not to applaud Him, not even to let Him speak for any length of time, but to interrupt Him with murmurs and contradictions whenever He said anything singular or unintelligible; and so the people were pre-pared for Jesus’ coming.
Jesus delivered at the Baths of Bethulia another discourse full of beauty and simplicity. Numbers of men formed around Him a circle in which He moved about among them. At a distance in the background, several men lame with the gout were timidly standing. They had come to make use of the baths, but had not yet ventured to approach Jesus. Jesus repeated what He had taught yesterday and the day before, exhorting His audience to purification from sin. All hearts were touched and turned to Him. Many exclaimed: “Lord, who could hear Thee and resist Thy words!” Jesus replied:
“Ye have heard much about Me, and now ye listen to My words. Who do ye think I am?” Some said: “Lord, Thou art a Prophet!” Others answered: “Thou art more than a Prophet! No Prophet ever taught such things as Thou dost teach. None has ever done the things that Thou hast done!” But others, again, kept silence. Jesus, penetrating the thoughts of these last, pointing to them, said: “These men’s thoughts are the right ones.” Someone then said: “Lord, Thou canst do all things! Is it not so? They said that Thou hast even raised the dead, the daughter of Jairus. Is it so?” The speaker alluded to that Jairus who dwelt in a city not far from Gibea, where Jesus had at an earlier period instructed the poor, depraved inhabitants. Jesus answered the question addressed to Him by a simple “Yes!” and then His questioner went on to inquire why Jairus still remained in so disreputable a place. Thereupon Jesus began to speak of fountains in the desert, applying the similitude to the necessity of the weak for a powerful leader. Jesus’ hearers were full of confidence and they questioned Him with simplicity. Then He asked them: “What do ye know of Me? What evil do men say of Me?” Some answered: “They complain that Thou dost not discontinue Thy works on the Sabbath day and that Thou healest the sick on that day.” Then Jesus, pointing to a little neighboring field near a pond, in which shepherd boys were guarding tender lambs and other young cattle, said: “See those young shepherd boys and their tender lambs! If one of the little animals should fall into the pond on the Sabbath and bleat for help, would not all the others stand around the brink bleating piteously also? Now, the poor little shepherds could not help the lamb out. But supposing the son of the master of the flocks were passing by—supposing he had been charged to look after the lambs and see to their pasture—would he not be touched with pity at the sound of the poor little thing’s bleating? Would he not hasten to draw it out of the mire?” Here all raised their hands like children at catechism, and cried out: “Yes, yes! He would!” Jesus went on: “And if it were not a lamb, if it were the fallen children of the Heavenly Father, if it were your own brethren, yes, if it were yourselves! Should not the Son of the Heavenly Father help you on the Sabbath?” All cried out again: “Yes! Yes!” Then Jesus pointed to the men sick of the gout standing afar off, and said: “Behold your sick brethren! Shall I not help them if they implore My assistance on the Sabbath day? Shall they not receive pardon of their sins, if they bewail them on the Sabbath day? If they confess them on the Sabbath and cry to their Father in Heaven?” With uplifted hands, they all cried out: “Yes, yes!”
Then Jesus motioned to the gouty patients, and they moved slowly and heavily into the circle. He spoke a few words to them on faith, prayed for awhile, and said: “Stretch out your arms!” They stretched out their afflicted arms toward Him. Jesus passed His hand down them, breathed for an instant on their hands, and they were cured, were able to use their limbs. Jesus commanded them to bathe, and warned them to abstain from certain drinks. They cast themselves at His feet giving thanks, while the whole assembly sang canticles of praise and glory.
Jesus wanted to depart, but they begged Him to remain with them. They were full of love and good intentions, they were very much impressed. He told them that He had to proceed further and fulfill His mission. They accompanied Him a part of the way with the disciples. He dismissed them with His blessing, and went on to Jetebatha about an hour and a half to the east.
It was afternoon when Jesus arrived at His destination. He washed His feet and took a luncheon at an inn outside the city. The disciples went before Him into Jetebatha to the chief of the synagogue, and requested the key for their Master, who wished to teach. The people hurriedly gathered in crowds, and the Doctors of the Law and the Herodians were all expectancy to ensnare Him in His doctrine. When He had taken His place in the synagogue, they put to Him questions upon the approach of the Kingdom, the computation of time, the fulfilling of the weeks of Daniel, and the coming of the Messiah. Jesus answered in a long discourse, showing that the Prophecies were now fulfilled. He spoke, too, of John and his Prophecies, whereupon they took occasion to warn Him hypocritically to be careful as to what He said in His instructions, not to set aside the Jewish customs, and to take a lesson from John’s imprisonment! What He said of the fulfillment of the weeks of Daniel, of the near coming of the Messiah, and of the King of the Jews, was excellent and quite in accordance with their own ideas. But, as He told them, might seek where they would, they would still nowhere find the Messiah. Jesus had, though rather vaguely, applied the Prophecies to Himself. They understood Him well enough, but they pretended that such things could not happen to anyone, and that they had failed to catch His meaning. In reality they wanted to force Him to speak out more clearly, so that they might get something of which to accuse Him. Jesus said to them: “How ye play the hypocrite! What turns ye away from Me? Why do ye despise Me? Ye lay snares for Me, and ye seek to form new plots with the Sadducees, as ye did in Jerusalem at the Pasch! Why do ye caution Me, citing John and Herod?” Then He cast into their face Herod’s shameful deeds, his murders, his dread of the newborn King of the Jews, his cruel massacre of the Innocents, and his frightful death, the crimes of his successors, the adultery of Antipas, and the imprisonment of John. He spoke of the hypocritical, secret sect of the Herodians who were in league with the Sadducees, and showed them what kind of a Messiah and what sort of a Kingdom of God they were awaiting. He pointed to different places in the distance, saying: “They will be able to do nothing against Me until My mission is fulfilled. I shall twice traverse Samaria, Judea, and Galilee. Ye have witnessed great signs wrought by Me, and seeing still greater, ye shall remain blind.” Then He spoke of judgment, of the death of the Prophets, and of the chastisement that was to over-take Jerusalem. The Herodians, that secret society, seeing themselves discovered, blanched with rage when Jesus referred to Herod’s misdeeds and laid open the secrets of the sect before the people. They were silent and, one by one, left the synagogue, as did also the Sadducees who here had charge of the schools. There were no Pharisees in Jetebatha.
Jesus now found Himself alone with His seven disciples and the people. He continued to teach some time longer, and many were very much impressed. They declared that they had never listened to such instructions, and that He taught better than their own teachers. They reformed their lives, and followed Him later. But a large part of the people, instigated by the Sadducees and Herodians, murmured against Him and raised a tumult. Jesus therefore left the city with the disciples and went southward through the valley, and then up for a couple of hours into a harvest field between Bethulia and Gennabris. Here He put up at a large farmhouse, whose occupants were well known to Him. The holy women had often stayed here overnight on their journeys to Bethania, and the messengers between them and the Saviour used to put up at the same place.
Jesus in the Harvest Field of Dothain and in Gennabris
Jesus in the harvest field of Dothain taught of reaping, gleaning, and binding into sheaves. This was the field in which later on He and the disciples plucked the ears of wheat. He went around the field, here and there, talking of seeds and stony soil, for such was the character of this region. He said that He was come to gather the good ears, and explained the parable of rooting up the tares at the harvest. He likened the harvest to the Kingdom of God. He instructed at intervals during the work and while going from one field to another.
The stalks remained standing high, the ears only having been cut off and bound together in the form of a cross.
In the evening after the harvest, Jesus from a hilltop delivered a long discourse before the laborers. Borrowing a similitude from a brook that flowed in their vicinity, He applied it to the life, gentle and beneficent, of some men; He spoke of the flowing waters of grace, and of the conducting of those waters to our own field, etc. He sent John’s two disciples to Ennon with a commission to say to His own disciples there that they should go to Machaerus and calm the people, for He knew that an insurrection had broken out in that place. Aspirants to baptism had crowded to Ennon; immense caravans had arrived. But when they found out that the Prophet had been arrested, they proceeded to Machaerus, their numbers increasing on the way. They raged and shouted, crying for John to be released, that he might instruct and baptize them. They even threw stones at Herod’s palace, all the approaches to which the guards hastily closed. Herod pretended that he was not at home.
That evening Jesus put up near Gennabris in another farmhouse, and taught again of the grain of mustard seed. The master of the house complained to Him of a neighbor who for a long time had encroached upon his field and in many ways infringed his rights. Jesus went to the field with the owner, that he might point out to Him the injury done. As the present state of affairs had lasted some time, the damage was considerable, and the owner complained that he could not do anything with the trespasser. Jesus asked whether he still had sufficient for the support of himself and his family. The man answered, yes, that he enjoyed competency. Upon hearing this, Jesus told him that he had lost nothing, since properly speaking nothing belongs to us, and so long as we have sufficient to support life, we have enough. The owner of the field should resign still more to his importunate neighbor, in order to satisfy the latter’s greed after earthly goods. All that one cheerfully gives up here below for the sake of peace, will be restored to him in the Kingdom of his Father. That hostile neighbor, viewed from his own standpoint, acted rightly, for his kingdom was of this world, and he sought to increase in earthly goods. But in Jesus’ Kingdom, he should have nothing. The owner of the field should take a lesson from his neighbor in the art of enriching himself, and should strive to acquire possessions in the Kingdom of God. Jesus drew a similitude from a river which wore away the land on one side and deposited the debris on the other. The whole discourse was something like that upon the unjust steward, in which worldly artifice and earthly greed after enrichment should furnish an example for one’s manner of acting in spiritual affairs. Earthly riches were contrasted with heavenly treasures. Some points of the instruction seemed a little obscure to me, though to the Jews, on account of their notions, their religion, and the standpoint from which they viewed things, all was quite plain and intelligible. To them all was symbolical.
The field in which lay Joseph’s Well was in this neighborhood, and Jesus took occasion from the circumstance just related to refer to a somewhat similar struggle recorded in the Old Testament. Abraham had given far more land to Lot than the latter had demanded. After relating the fact, Jesus asked what had become of Lot’s posterity, and whether Abraham had not recovered full propriety. Ought we not to imitate Abraham? Was not the kingdom promised to him, and did he not obtain it? This earthly kingdom, however, was merely a symbol of the Kingdom of God, and Lot’s struggle against Abraham was typical of the struggle of man with man. But, like Abraham, man should aim at acquiring the Kingdom of God. Jesus quoted the text of Holy Scripture in which the strife alluded to is recorded, ( 13:7 ) and continued to talk of it and of the Kingdom before all the harvest laborers.
The unjust husbandman likewise was present with his followers. He listened in silence and at a distance. He had engaged his friends to interrupt Jesus from time to time with all kinds of captious questions. One of them asked Him what would be the end of His preaching, what would come of it all. Jesus answered so evasively that they could make nothing out of His words. They were, however, something to this effect: If His preaching seemed too long to some, to others it was short. He spoke in parables of the harvest, of sowing, of reaping, of separating the tares from the good grain, of the bread and nourishment of eternal life, etc. The good husbandman, the host of Jesus, listened to His teaching with a docile heart. He ceased to accuse his enemy, later on gave over all he possessed into the treasury of the rising Church, and his sons joined the disciples.
There was much talk here of the Herodians. The people complained of their spying into everything. They had recently accused and arrested here at Dothain and also in Capharnaum several adulterers, and taken them to Jerusalem where they were to be judged. The people of Dothain were well pleased that such persons should be removed from among them, but the feeling of being continually watched was very distasteful to them. Jesus spoke of the Herodians with perfect freedom. He told the people to beware of sin, also of hypocrisy and criticizing others. One should confess his own delinquencies before sitting in judgment upon his neighbor. Then Jesus painted the ordinary manner of acting among the Herodians, applying to them the passage from the Prophet Isaias read in the synagogue on the preceding Sabbath, which treats of dumb dogs that do not bark, that do not turn away from evil, and that tear men in secret. He reminded them that those adulterers were delivered over to justice while Herod, the patron of their accusers, lived in the open commission of the same crime, and He gave them signs by which they might recognize the Herodians.
There were in several of the huts nearby some men who had received injuries during their labor. Jesus visited them, cured the poor creatures, and told them to go to the instruction and resume their work. They did so, singing hymns of praise.
Jesus sent some shepherds from Dothain to Machaerus with directions to John’s disciples to induce the people to disperse, for their rebellion, He said, might render John’s imprisonment more rigorous, or even give occasion for his death.
Herod and his wife were in Machaerus. I saw that Herod caused the Baptist to be summoned to his presence in a grand hall near the prison. There he was seated surrounded by his guard, many officers, Doctors of the Law, and numerous Herodians and Sadducees. John was led through a passage into the hall and placed in the midst of guards before the large, open doors. I saw Herod’s wife insolently and scornfully sweeping past John as she entered the hall and took an elevated seat. Her physiognomy was different from that of most Jewish women. Her whole face was sharp and angular, even her head was pointed, and her countenance was in constant motion. She had developed a very beautiful figure, and in her dress she was loud and extreme, also very tightly laced. To every chaste mind she must have been an object of scandal, as she did everything in her power to attract all eyes upon her.
Herod began to interrogate John, commanding him to tell him in plain terms what he thought of Jesus who was making such disturbance in Galilee. Who was He? Was He come to deprive him (Herod) of his authority? He (Herod) had heard indeed that he (John) had formerly announced Jesus, but he had paid little attention to the fact. Now, however, John should disclose to him his candid opinion on the subject, for that Man (Jesus) held wondrous language on the score of a Kingdom, and uttered parables in which He called Himself a King’s Son, etc., although He was only the son of a poor carpenter. Then I heard John in a loud voice, and as if addressing the multitude, giving testimony to Jesus. He declared that he himself was only to prepare His ways; that compared with Him, he was nobody; that never had there been a man, not even among the Prophets, like unto Jesus, and never would there be one; that He was the Son of the Father; that He was the Christ, the King of Kings, the Saviour, the Restorer of the Kingdom; that no power was superior to His; that He was the Lamb of God who was to bear the sins of the world, etc. So spoke John of Jesus, crying in a loud voice, calling himself His precursor, the preparer of His ways, His most insignificant servant. It was evident that his words were inspired. His whole bearing was stamped with the supernatural, so much so that Herod, becoming terrified, stopped his ears. At last he said to John: “Thou knowest that I wish thee well. But thou dost excite sedition against me amongst the people by refusing to acknowledge my marriage. If thou wilt moderate thy perverse zeal and recognize my union as lawful before the people, I shall set thee free, and thou canst go around teaching and baptizing.” Thereupon John again raised up his voice vehemently against Herod, rebuking his conduct before all the assistants, and saying to him: “I know thy mind! I know that thou recognizest the right and tremblest before the judgment! But thou hast sunk thy soul in guilty pleasures, thou liest bound in the snares of debauchery!” The rage of the wife at these words is simply indescribable, and Herod became so agitated that he hastily ordered John to be led away. He gave directions for him to be placed in another cell which, having no communication outside, would prevent his being heard by the people.
Herod was induced to hold that judicial examination because of his anxiety, excited by the tumult raised by the aspirants to baptism and the news brought him by the Herodians of the wonders wrought by Jesus.
The whole country was discussing the execution in Jerusalem of certain adulterers from Galilee who had been denounced by the Herodians. They dwelt upon the fact that sinners in humble life were brought to justice while the great ones went free; and that the accusers themselves, the Herodians, were adherents of the adulterous Herod who had imprisoned John for reproaching him with his guilt. Herod became dispirited. I saw the execution of the adulterers mentioned above. Their crimes were read to them, and then they were thrust into a dungeon in which was a small pit. They were placed at its edge. They fell upon a knife which cut off their heads. In a vault below waited some jailers to drag away the lifeless trunks. It was some kind of a machine into which the condemned were precipitated. It was in this same place that James the Great was executed at a later period.
On the following day Jesus was again teaching among the harvesters when Andrew, James, and John arrived. Nathanael was at his house in the suburbs of Gennabris. Jesus informed His disciples that He would next go through Samaria to the place of baptism on the Jordan. The well of Dothain, at which Joseph was sold, was not far from the field in which Jesus was then teaching.
The people of the place asked whether or not they did rightly in supporting the poor, crippled laborers that could no longer work. Jesus answered that in acting thus they acquitted themselves of a duty, but they should not pride themselves upon it, otherwise they would lose their reward. Then He entered the huts of the sick, cured many of them, bade them attend the instruction and return to their work. They obeyed, praising God.
Jesus then went to the synagogue in Gennabris for the Sabbath. Gennabris was as large as Munster, and about one hour’s distance from the mountain upon whose heights lay the harvest field in which Jesus had last taught. It was situated toward the east on a slope covered with gardens, baths, and pleasure resorts. On the side by which Jesus arrived, it was defended by deep ditches of standing water. After half an hour Jesus and the disciples reached the walls and tower gates of the city precincts, where were gathered many disciples from the country around. With about twelve of them, Jesus entered the city, where numbers of Pharisees, Sadducees, and especially Herodians had assembled for the Sabbath. They had undertaken with crafty words to entrap Jesus in His speech. They said among themselves that such a project would be more difficult to carry out in small places, since in such Jesus was more daring, but among them the thing could be easily managed. They congratulated themselves beforehand, quite sure of the success of their plans. The crowd present, having been intimidated by these enemies of Jesus, held their peace and made no manifestation upon Jesus’ arrival. He entered the city quietly, and the disciples washed His feet outside the synagogue. The Doctors of the Law and the people were already assembled inside. They received Him coolly, though with some hypocritical demonstrations of respect, and permitted Him to read aloud and interpret the Scriptures. He opened at 54, 55, 56, from which He read and explained some sentences, treating of God’s establishing His Church, of what it cost Him to build it, of the obligation of all to drink of her waters and, though without money, to go and eat of her bread. Men, said Jesus, sought earnestly to satisfy their hunger in the synagogue, but no bread was there to be found. The Word come forth from the mouth of God—namely, the Messiah—should accomplish His work. In the kingdom of God, that is, in the Church, strangers and Gentiles should, if they had faith, labor and bear fruit; Jesus called the Gentiles eunuchs because, unlike the Patriarchs, they had not concurred in the lineage of the Messiah. He applied numerous texts of the Prophet to His Kingdom, to the Church, and to Heaven. He compared the Jewish teachers of His own day to dumb dogs which, instead of keeping guard, think but of fattening themselves, of eating and drinking immoderately. By these words He meant the Herodians and Sadducees who, lurking in secret, attack people without barking, yes, even assault the pastors of the flock. Jesus’ words were very sharp and incisive.
Toward the close of His discourse, He read from 11:29, of the blessing upon Garizim and the curse upon Hebal, and of many other things connected with the Commandments and the Promised Land. These different passages Jesus applied to the Kingdom of God.
One of the Herodians stepped up to Him and very respectfully begged Him to say a word upon the number of those that would enter His Kingdom. They thought to entrap Him by this question, because on the one side, all by circumcision had a share in the Kingdom; and on the other, while rejecting many of the Jews, He had spoken even of Gentiles and eunuchs as having a part in it. Jesus did not give them a direct answer. He beat around and at last struck upon a point that made them forget their former question. To another question put to Him, His answer consisted of a series of interrogations: How many of those that had wandered in the desert entered the land of Canaan? Nevertheless, had not all gone through the Jordan? How many really entered into possession of the land? Had they conquered it entirely, or were they not obliged to share it with the Gentiles? Would they not one day be chased out of it? Jesus added, moreover, that no one should enter into His Kingdom excepting by the narrow way and the gate of the Spouse. I understood that by this were signified Mary and the Church. In the Church we are regenerated by Baptism; from Mary was the Bridegroom born, in order that through her He might lead us into the Church, and through the Church to God. He contrasted entrance by the gate of the Spouse with entrance through a side door. It was a similitude like unto that of the Good Shepherd and the hireling ( 10:1 ). He added that entrance is permitted only by the door. The words of Jesus on the Cross before He died, when He called Mary the Mother of John and John the son of Mary, have a mysterious connection with this regeneration of man through His death.
Not having succeeded that evening in ensnaring Jesus, His enemies resolved to postpone further attempts until the close of the Sabbath. It is indeed wonderful! When Jesus’ enemies were concocting their schemes, they could boast of how they would catch Him and pin Him down in His doctrine; but as soon as He presented Himself before them, they could bring nothing against Him; they were amazed and almost persuaded of the truth of His words, though at the same time full of rage.
Jesus quietly left the synagogue. They conducted Him to a repast with one of the Pharisees, where, too, they could neither attack nor surprise Him. He spoke here a parable of a feast to which the master of the house had invited the guests at a certain hour, after which the doors were closed and tardy corners were not admitted.
The repast over, Jesus went with the disciples to sleep at the house of another Pharisee, an upright man and an acquaintance of Andrew. He had honestly defended those disciples, among them Andrew, who, in consequence of what had happened at the Pasch, had been brought before the court of justice. He had lately become a widower. He was still young, and soon after he joined the disciples. His name was Dinocus, or Dinotus. His son, twelve-years-old, was called Josaphat. His house was to the west and outside the city. Jesus had come to Gennabris from the south. He had descended the cultivated neighboring heights of Dothain, which lay more to the south than Gennabris, and then secretly turned back to the latter city. The Pharisee’s house was on the west side, as I have said, while Nathanael’s was on the north toward Galilee.
I saw today that Herod, after John’s judicial hearing, sent officers to the tumultuous people. They were commissioned to deal very gently with them, to tell them not to be disquieted on John’s account, but peaceably to return to their homes. The officers assured them that John was very well and kindly treated. They said, moreover, that Herod had indeed changed his prisoner’s cell, but it was only that he might have him nearer to himself. In disobeying the orders given them to disperse quietly, they might cast suspicion upon their master and render his imprisonment more painful. They should therefore go home at once, for he would soon resume his work of baptizing. The messengers from Jesus and John arrived just as Herod’s officers were haranguing the crowd, and they too having delivered similar messages, the people scattered by degrees. But Herod was a prey to the greatest anxiety. The execution of the adulterers in Jerusalem had reminded the public of his own adulterous marriage. They murmured loudly over John’s imprisonment for having spoken the truth and maintained the Law, according to which those poor criminals had been put to death in Jerusalem. Herod had moreover heard of Jesus’ miracles and discourses in Galilee, and it had also reached his ears that He was now coming down to the Jordan to teach. He was in great dread lest the excited populace might thereby be still more stirred up. Under the influence of these feelings, I saw him calling a meeting of the Pharisees and Herodians, to deliberate upon some means of restraining Jesus. The result of the conference was that he sent eight of the members to give Jesus to understand in the most delicate manner possible that He should confine Himself, His miracles, and His teaching to Upper Galilee and the far side of the lake; that He should not enter Herod’s dominions in Galilee, and still less that part of the country around the Jordan under his jurisdiction. They were to intimidate Him with the example of John, since Herod might easily feel himself constrained to make Him share John’s captivity. This commission started for Galilee that same day.
Next morning Jesus again taught in the synagogue and without much contradiction, for His enemies had resolved to wait for the afternoon instruction when they might attack Him all together. He again chose His texts alternately from and . Occasion offered to speak of the worthy celebration of the Sabbath, and He dwelt upon it at length. The sick of Gennabris had been so intimidated by the threats of the Herodians that they did not dare to implore Jesus to help them.
Jesus spoke also in the synagogue of the embassy sent by Herod to lie in wait to catch Him in His speech. “When they come,” said He, “ye may tell the foxes to take word back to that other fox not to trouble himself about Me. He may continue his wicked course and fulfill his designs in John’s regard. For the rest, I shall not be restrained by him. I shall continue to teach wherever I am sent in every region, and even in Jerusalem itself when the time comes. I shall fulfill My mission and account for it to My Father in Heaven.” His enemies were very much incensed at His words.
In the afternoon Jesus and the disciples left the house of Dinotus the Pharisee, to take a walk. When they reached the gate near which was Nathanael’s house, Andrew went in and called him out. He came and presented to Jesus his cousin, a very young man to whom he intended to resign his business, in order to follow Jesus uninterruptedly. I think he attached himself to Jesus irrevocably at that time.
After their walk, they entered the city at the side upon which the synagogue was situated. About twelve poor day laborers, sick from hard work and privation, having heard of the cure of cases like their own effected by Jesus in the harvest field, had dragged themselves from the country to the city in the hope of receiving a similar favor. They had stationed themselves in a row outside the synagogue, ready to cry to Jesus for help as He passed. Jesus approached, and said to them in passing some words of comfort. To their entreaties to help them, He bade them have patience. Close behind Him followed the Doctors of the Law, who were enraged that these strangers had dared petition Jesus for a cure since up to this time they had succeeded in restraining the sick of the city from a similar proceeding. They roughly repulsed the poor, miserable creatures, telling them under cloak of a good intention that they must not excite trouble and disturbance in the city; that they must take themselves off right away, for Jesus had important questions to treat with themselves; there was now no time for Him to busy Himself with them. And as the poor men could not retire quickly enough to suit their wishes, they had them removed by force.
In the synagogue Jesus taught chiefly of the Sabbath and its sanctification. The Commandment to that effect was contained in the passage from Isaias read on that day. After teaching some time, He pointed to the deep moats around the city near which their asses were grazing, and asked: “If one of those asses should fall into a moat on the Sabbath day, would ye venture to draw it out on the Sabbath day in order to save its life?” They were silent. “Supposing it was a human being that fell in, would ye venture to help him out?” Still they were silent, “Would ye allow salvation of body and soul to be meted out to yourselves on the Sabbath day? Would ye permit a work of mercy to be performed on the Sabbath day?” Again they were silent. Then said Jesus: “Since ye are silent, I must take it for granted that ye have nothing to oppose to My doctrine. Where are those poor men who implored My help outside the synagogue? Bring them hither!” As they whom He addressed showed no inclination to obey, Jesus said: “Since ye will not execute My orders, I shall have recourse to My disciples.” At these words, His enemies changed their minds, and sent messengers to seek for the sick men. Soon the poor creatures made their appearance, dragging in slowly. It was a pitiful sight. There were about twelve of them, some lame, and some so frightfully swollen with dropsy that even their puffed-up fingers stood wide apart from one another. They entered rejoicing and full of hope, although they had shortly before departed very sad, on account of the rebuff received from the Doctors of the Law.
Jesus commanded them to stand in a line, and it was touching to see the less afflicted placing those worse than themselves in front, that Jesus might cure them first. Jesus descended a couple of steps and called the first up to Him. Most of them were paralyzed in the arms. Jesus silently prayed over them, His eyes raised to Heaven, and touched their arms, gently stroking them downward. Then He moved their hands up and down, and ordered them to step back and give thanks to God. They were cured. The dropsical could scarcely walk. Jesus laid His hand on their head and breast. Their strength instantly returned, they were able to retire briskly, and in a few days the water had entirely disappeared.
During this miraculous healing the people began to press forward in crowds, among them many other poor, sick creatures who, uniting their voices with those of the cured, proclaimed aloud the praises of God. The concourse was so great that the Doctors of the Law, filled with shame and rage, had to give place to the people, and some of them even left the synagogue. Jesus went on instructing the multitude until the close of the Sabbath. He spoke to them of the nearness of the Kingdom, of penance and conversion. The Scribes with all their opposition and cunning had not another word to say. It was extremely ridiculous to see those men, who had so loudly boasted to one another, not once daring to open their mouths. They could not in even the least thing carry their point against Jesus, they could not answer even His simplest question.
After the Sabbath, a great banquet was spread in one of the public pleasure resorts of the city. It was intended to celebrate the close of the harvest, and Jesus with His disciples was invited. The guests were made up of the most distinguished citizens of the place, also many visitors to the city, and even some rich peasants. At several tables, laden with the products of the harvest, all kinds of fruit and grain and even poultry were eaten. Whatever had yielded an abundant crop was here represented with profusion. The flocks also yielded their share to the entertainment. Some of the animals were roasted ready to be eaten, while others were slaughtered and ready for cooking, as symbols of abundance.
The first places had been assigned to Jesus and His disciples, notwithstanding which, a haughty Pharisee had put himself foremost. When Jesus went to the table, He asked him in a low voice how he had come by the place that he occupied. The Pharisee replied: “I am here because it is the praiseworthy custom of this city for the learned and distinguished to sit first.” Jesus responded: “They that strive after the first places upon earth, shall have no place in the Kingdom of My Father.” The Pharisee, quite ashamed, resigned the seat for a lower one, though at the same time he tried to make it appear that he did so on an inspiration of his own. During the repast Jesus spoke of some things regarding the Sabbath, especially of that passage of 58:7: “Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harborless into thy house,” and asked whether it was not customary at such feasts, feasts of thanksgiving for a plentiful harvest, to invite the poor as guests and let them take part. He expressed His surprise at their having omitted that custom. “Where,” He asked, “are the poor?” “Since,” He continued, “ye have invited Me, have given Me the first place, have made Me the Master of your feast, it behooves Me to see about the guests that have a right to be present. Go, call in those people that I cured, and bring all the rest of the poor!” But as they were in no hurry to fulfill Jesus’ commands, His disciples hastened out and collected the poor in all the streets. They soon came trooping in, and Jesus and the disciples gave up their seats to them, while the Scribes, one by one, slipped out of the hall. Jesus, the disciples, and some right-minded people among the guests served the poor at table. When their meal was over, they divided among them all that was left, to the great joy of the recipients. Then Jesus and His followers returned to the house of Dinotus the Pharisee on the west side of the city, and there rested.
The next day crowds of sick from Gennabris itself and from the country around came to the house at which Jesus was staying, and He devoted the whole morning to their cure. They were mostly paralyzed in their hands and dropsical. The son of the Pharisee Dinotus, at whose house Jesus was stopping, was about twelve years old, and was named Josaphat. When his father gave up all to follow Jesus, he accompanied him. The Jewish boys wore a long tunic gored on both sides, buttoned in front and laced down to the feet. When more grown, they exchanged the long tunic for a shorter one like those of their elders, and bound their limbs in something like pan-taloons. When the boys’ tunic was girded at the waist, it hung in gathers; but it was usually worn flowing like a loose shirt, though often it was tucked up a little. When Jesus took leave of Dinotus, He pressed him to His Heart, and the man shed many tears.
Jesus with Nathanael, Andrew, James, Saturnin, Aristobolus, Tharzissus, Parmenas, and about four other disciples, went between two to three hours southward through the valleys. They spent the night under an empty shed belonging to the harvesters, on a declivity between two cities. The one on the left was called Ulama; that to the right was, I think, named Japhia. The distance between Ulama and Tarichaea was about the same as between Gennabris and Tiberias. The city to the right was less elevated than Bethulia, and was at a good distance from it, but to one far away, the mountain between
them not being visible, Bethulia appeared to rise above and directly behind Japhia. The locality seemed to lie quite near to Jesus’ route as He journeyed along, but the road soon made a bend that hid it from sight.
That field in which Jesus instructed the harvesters was the very same in which Joseph met his brethren with their herds, and the long four-cornered well the same into which he was let down.