Jesus in Abila and Gadara
Jesus with the disciples and accompanied by the Levites went three hours to the northwest toward a deep dale through which the brook Karith flowed to the Hieromax. In this dale lay the beautiful city of Abila built around the source of the brook Karith. The Levites accompanied Him to a mountain that stood halfway on the road, and then went back to Betharam. It was three o’clock in the afternoon when the Levites of Abila, among whom were several Rechabites, received Jesus outside the city. Three of the disciples from Galilee were with the Levites awaiting His arrival. They conducted Him at once into the city and to a very lovely fountain, the source of the brook Karith. The beautiful little edifice, supported by columns that had been built over the source, formed the central point, to which ran colonnades connecting it with the synagogue and other public buildings. The city was built on both sides of the gently rising height. The streets ran from these central buildings in the form of a star so that from everyone of them the fountain could be seen. It was at this fountain that the Levites washed the feet of Jesus and the disciples, and offered them the customary refreshments. In the neighboring gardens and on the buildings around were men and maidens busily preparing for the Feast of Tabernacles.
From here Jesus accompanied the Levites northward about half an hour outside the city into the valley to where a broad, stone bridge was built over the stream. On it, in memory of Elias, was a low pedestal, or column, surmounted by a cupola resting on eight pillars. The pedestal supported a pulpit to which the teacher mounted by steps. Both banks of the narrow stream were cut in tiers to afford seats for the audience, and both were now crowded with people. In addressing them Jesus turned from side to side that all might hear.
Today was a feast in this city commemorative of Elias, of something that had happened to him here by the stream. The instruction was followed by a banquet at the baths and pleasure garden outside the city. The festival ended with the Sabbath, because on the following day a fast was kept in remembrance of the murder of Godolias. ( 25:22-25). The sound of trumpets was still heard during the day.
On the declivity of the mountain west of the city of Abila I saw a very beautiful sepulcher in front of which was a little garden. In the latter were assembled the women belonging to three families of Abila. They were celebrating a solemnity in honor of the dead. They sat on the ground closely veiled, wept, uttered lamentations, and frequently prostrated with the face to the earth. They killed several birds of very beautiful plumage, plucked them, and burned the lovely, shining feathers on the tomb. The flesh was afterward given to the poor. The tomb was that of an Egyptian woman from whom the mourners had descended. Before the departure of the Children of Israel, there lived in Egypt an illegitimate relative of the Pharaoh then reigning. She was very favorably disposed toward Moses, and rendered great services to the Israelites. She was a prophetess, and she it was that had discovered Joseph’s mummy to Moses on the last night of his stay in Egypt. Her name was Segola, and she was the mother of Aaron’s wife, from whom, however, he separated and married Elizabeth, the daughter of Aminadab of the tribe of Juda. The repudiated wife also was connected in some way with Aminadab, but how I do not now know. She had by her mother Segola, as well as by Aaron himself, been richly dowered. Taking with her large treasure, she accompanied the Israelites on their departure and married a second time during their stay in the desert. She afterward attached herself to the Madianites, especially to the family of Jethro. Her descendants settled near Abila where they dwelt under tents, and it was here that she was buried. After the time of the Prophet Elias, Abila was built, and it was then that those descendants settled there. I did not see the city in Elias’ time; it may have been destroyed before him. There were still three families of those descendants in Abila, and they were celebrating today the anniversary of the death of their ancestress, Segola’s daughter, whose mummy had been transported hither from the desert and entombed. The women made an offering of their earrings and other trinkets to the Levites in memory of their deceased relative, Jesus praised her from the pulpit of Elias and spoke of the goodness of Segola, her mother. The women listened attentively from where they stood behind the men. There were numbers of poor at the banquet in the bathing garden, and every guest was obliged before partaking of the viands to give something from his own plate to his poor neighbor.
I saw the Levites conducting Jesus next day into a great court all around which were cells. Here were found about twenty patients, some of them deaf and dumb, others blind from their birth, who were cared for by attendants and two physicians. It was a kind of hospital. The deaf and dumb were exactly like children. Each had a little garden in which he amused himself and raised flowers. Soon all gathered around Jesus, laughing and pointing with their finger to their mouth. Jesus stooped and wrote all kinds of signs in the sand with His finger. They watched Him attentively and, at every mark He made, pointed around them to this or that object. It was in this way that He made them understand something about God. I know not whether He formed letters or figures, or whether the mutes had ever before been instructed in that way. After that Jesus put His finger into their ears and touched them under the tongue with His thumb and forefinger. They shuddered as if a shock thrilled through their whole being, they gazed around, they heard, they wept, they stammered, they talked, they cast themselves down at Jesus’ feet, and broke forth into a most touching, monotonous chant of a few words, It sounded almost like that sweet singing I heard in the caravan of the holy Three Kings.
Then Jesus turned to the blind men who were standing still in a row. He prayed and laid His two thumbs on their eyes. They opened their eyes, fixed them upon their Saviour and Redeemer, and mingled their songs of praise with those of the once deaf and dumb, but who could now extol His goodness and listen to His words. Oh, what a charming, what a joyous scene! No words can describe it! The whole city crowded in joy and jubilation to hail Jesus as He came forth from the court surrounded by the miraculously cured, whom He had ordered to bathe.
After that, Jesus, with the disciples and Levites, traversed the city to the pulpit of Elias. The excitement throughout the city was great. At the news of the miracles just wrought, several possessed had been set at large. On a corner of one of the streets some women, poor simpletons, ran after Jesus, chattering and repeating the words: “Jesus of Nazareth! Prophet! Thou art a Prophet! Thou art Jesus! Thou art the Christ! The Prophet!” They were harmless fools. Jesus commanded them to be silent, and they became quiet. He laid His hand on their heads, and they fell on their knees in tears. Silent and confused, they allowed themselves to be quietly led away by their friends. Then several possessed pressed raging through the crowd as if to tear Jesus to pieces. He cast upon them a single glance, and they fell like whining dogs at His feet. With a word of command, He drove the devil forth. They sank down unconscious, a dark vapor escaped from them, and then they arose weeping and thanking and were led to their homes by their friends. Jesus generally ordered such persons to perform certain purifications. He again taught from the pulpit on the brook, alluding in the course of His instruction to Elias, to Moses, and to the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. He spoke of the cures that had just been effected in their midst, and of the Prophecies which declared that in the Messiah’s time the dumb would speak and the blind see. He also made allusion to those that saw these signs and yet would not acknowledge them.
I saw on that occasion many things connected with Elias. He was a tall, spare man with hollow, reddish cheeks, a bright, piercing glance, a long, thin beard, and a bald head with only a circle of hair around the back. On the top of his head were three large protuberances almost of the form of bulbs, one in the middle, two somewhat toward the forehead. He wore a garment made of two skins fastened together on the shoulder, open at the sides, and bound around the waist with a cord. Over his shoulders and around his knees hung the hair of the beast’s skin. He carried a staff in his hand. His shins were far darker than his face. He was nine months in Abila, and two years and three months in Sarepta with the widow. While at Abila, he dwelt in a cave on the eastern slope of the valley not far from the brook. I saw how the bird brought him food. At first there arose a little dark figure like a shadow out of the earth, holding in its hand a thin cake. It was neither man nor beast, it was the evil one come to tempt the Prophet. Elias would not touch the bread, but bade the tempter be gone. Then I saw a bird coming to the vicinity of his cave with bread and other food, which it hid under the leaves, as if for itself. It must have been a waterfowl, for it was web-footed. Its head was somewhat broad, and by the side of the beak hung bags something like pockets, and under the beak hung a craw. It made a cracking noise with its bill, like a stork. I saw that this bird was quite at home with Elias, so much so that on a sign from the Prophet it came and went. I saw him pointing to it right and left. I have often seen the same kind of bird with the hermits, also with Zozimus and Mary of Egypt.2 When Elias was with the widow of Sarepta, besides the oil and meal that never decreased, other food was sometimes brought him by ravens.
Jesus went with the Levites to the cave of Elias. On the eastern declivity of the valley under a broad, overhanging cliff was a narrow rocky bank upon which Elias, under shelter of the upper rock, used to sleep on a couch overgrown with moss. When the Sabbath, on the fourth of the month Tisri, began, and the fast was over, there was an entertainment in the bathing gardens, at which again the poor were fed.
Next morning, after Jesus had again taught and cured the sick in the synagogue, He went with the disciples, the Levites, the Rechabites, and some of the citizens to the western heights of the mountain. There making a circuit of about an hour, He went through the vineyards giving instructions. On this mountain range, as far as Gadara, were numerous rocky projections like mounds. Some had been raised by nature, others formed by the hand of man, and around them vines were planted, the vine stocks as thick as one’s arm. They were planted far apart and threw out their branches to a great distance. The bunches of fruit were often as long as one’s arm, while the single grapes were large as plums. The leaves were larger than those of our vines, though small when compared with the fruit. The Levites put many questions to Jesus upon different portions of the Psalms that treated of the Messiah. They said: “Thou art certainly the greatest Prophet after the Messiah! Thou canst explain these points to us.” Among other things there was question of the words: and of him that with blood-besprinkled garments trod the wine press alone. ( 63:3). Jesus explained all to them with its profound signification and applied it to Himself. During this little instruction they sat around one of the vine hills eating grapes. The Rechabites, however, would not touch the fruit, because they were forbidden to drink wine. But Jesus challenged them upon their abstinence and commanded them to eat, saying that if they sinned by so doing, He would take the guilt upon Himself. When they brought forward their Law as an excuse for not complying, I heard them saying that Jeremias, on the command of God, had once forbidden it and they had obeyed. But now that Jesus ordered otherwise, they hearkened to His word. Toward evening they returned to the city, and assisted at another entertainment to which the poor were admitted. Then Jesus taught in the synagogue and afterward went to the house of the Levites, where He passed the night on the roof under a tent.
Attended by the Levites, Jesus went from Abila to Gadara and reached the small Jewish quarter of the city in the evening. It was separate from the larger pagan quarter which had as many as four idolatrous temples. I knew at once that Gadara was a heathen city from seeing the idol of Baal standing under a large tree. Jesus was well received here. There were Pharisees and Sadducees among the inhabitants, also a Sanhedrim for the country around, although the male Jews of the place numbered from three to four hundred only. Jesus found some Galilean disciples awaiting Him in Gadara. They were Nathanael (Chased), Jonathan, Peter’s half-brother, and I think Philip. Jesus put up at the inn outside the Jewish quarter, where already a great number of arbors had been erected for the Feast of Tabernacles.
Next morning when Jesus went to the synagogue to preach He was met by a great crowd of sick, who had assembled outside to wait for Him, and also by several raging possessed. The Pharisees and Sadducees, though apparently well-disposed, wanted to drive these people away. They should not be so importunate, they said, it was not the time for that. But Jesus very graciously interposed, “Let them remain,” He said, “for it was for them that I came,” and He cured many of them.
The Jewish Sanhedrim of Gadara were meantime deliberating whether or not they should allow Jesus to teach, since so much was said against Him. They unanimously resolved to permit Him to do so, for they had heard Him very well spoken of, especially after the cure of the son of the Centurion of Capharnaum.
The disciples lately arrived spoke to Jesus of another person at Capharnaum who greatly needed His assistance.
In the synagogue Jesus taught of Elias, of Achab and Jezabel, and of the idol of Baal erected in Samaria. In speaking of Elias, Jesus said that he had not received bread from ravens, because he had been disobedient. There was also some allusion made to King Balthazar of Babylon, who had desecrated the sacred vessels and had seen the writing on the wall. Jesus taught long and earnestly from Isaias, most strikingly applying the Prophet’s words to Himself and uttering profound thoughts upon His own approaching Passion and victory. He spoke of the wine press, of the red, bloody garments, of the lonely worker, of the nations trodden down in wrath. He had previously spoken of the rebuilding of Sion, of the watchmen upon the walls of the Holy City, and I felt that He was alluding to the Church. To me His teaching, though so profound and earnest, was so clear, and yet the Jewish Doctors, though surprised and deeply affected, failed to understand Him. That night they met together, consulted the Scriptures, weighed and compared various passages. They thought that He must surely be allied to some neighboring nation, and that He would soon return with a powerful army and conquer Judea.
The idol Baal, under a wide-spreading tree outside the entrance of the pagan quarter, was of metal. It had a broad head and an immense mouth. The head went up in a point like a sugarloaf, and around it was a wreath of leaves like a crown. The idol, short, broad, and chunky, looked like an ox sitting upright. In one hand it held a bunch of corn, and in the other some kind of plant, perhaps grapes, or something similar. There were seven openings in its body, and it sat in a kind of cauldron in which a fire could be lighted under it. On its feasts, the idol was clothed.
Gadara was a stronghold. The pagan quarter was tolerably large and somewhat sheltered by the highest peak of the mountain, at whose northern base were warm baths and beautiful buildings.
On the following morning as Jesus was curing numbers of sick outside the city, the priests approached to salute Him. “Why,” said He addressing them, “Why were ye so disturbed last night over My teaching of yesterday? Why should ye tremble before an army, since God protects the just?
Fulfill the Law and the Prophets! Why then should ye fear?” Jesus again taught in the synagogue as on the preceding day.
Toward noon a pagan woman timidly approached the disciples and implored them to bring Jesus to her house that He might cure her child. Jesus went with several of His disciples into the pagan quarter. The woman’s husband met Him at the gate and led Him into the house. The wife cast herself at Jesus’ feet, saying: “Master, I have heard of Thy wonders and that Thou canst perform greater prodigies than Elias. Behold, my only boy is dying, and our Wise Lady cannot help him. Do Thou have pity on us!” The boy, about three years old, lay in a little crib in the corner. The evening before, the father had taken the child into the vineyard and he had eaten a few grapes. Soon after, the boy became sick, and the father had to take him back home whimpering loudly. The mother had held him all night in her arms, vainly trying to relieve him. He already wore the appearance of death, indeed he looked as if he might really be dead. At this point the mother had hastened to the Jewish quarter to implore Jesus’ aid, for the heathens had heard of the cures wrought by Him on the day before. Jesus said to her: “Leave Me alone with the child, and send to Me two of My disciples!” Then came Judas Barsabas and Nathanael the bridegroom. Jesus took the boy from his crib into His arms, laid him on His breast, breast to breast, pressed him to Himself, bowed His face upon the face of the child, and breathed upon him. The child opened his eyes and rose up. Then Jesus held him out in His arms and commanded the two disciples to lay their hands upon the child’s head and to bless him. They obeyed, and the child was cured. Jesus then took him to the anxiously waiting parents who, embracing the child, cast themselves down at Jesus’ feet. The mother cried out: “Great is the God of Israel! He is far above all the gods! My husband has already told me that, and henceforth I will serve no other god!” A crowd soon gathered and several other children were brought to the Lord. He cured one little boy of a year old by the imposition of hands. Another of seven years was a simpleton and subject to convulsions arising from possession by the evil one. The child did not endure any violent assaults, but he was often paralyzed and speechless. Jesus blessed him and ordered him a bath of three different waters: some from the warm spring of Amathus north of the base of the mountain of Gadara, some from the brook Karith near Abila, and lastly some from the river Jordan. The Jews of these parts kept on hand some of the water of the Jordan taken from the point over which Elias had crossed. They preserved it in leathern bottles, and used it in cases of leprosy.
The pagan mothers complained of the frequent illness of their children and of the little assistance they derived from their priestess in such trials. Jesus commanded the priestess to be summoned before Him. She obeyed reluctantly, for she did not want to enter Jesus’ presence. She was closely enveloped in veils. Jesus ordered her to draw near. But she would not look at Him, she turned her face away and behaved exactly like the possessed. She was irresistibly forced to turn away from the glance of Jesus, though at His command she approached. Jesus, addressing the pagan men and women before Him, said: “I will show you now what wisdom you reverence in this woman and what is her skill,” and He commanded the spirits to leave her. Thereupon a black vapor issued from her and all kinds of figures: noxious insects, snakes, toads, rats, dragons withdrew from her like shadows. It was a horrible sight, Jesus exclaimed: “Behold what doctrine ye follow!” The woman fell upon her knees weeping and sobbing. She was now quite changed, quite tractable, and Jesus ordered her to disclose by what means she had tried to cure the children. With many tears and half reluctantly she obeyed. She told that she had been taught to make the children sick by charms and witchcraft, that she might afterward cure them for the honor of the gods. Jesus then commanded her to accompany Him and the disciples to where the god Moloch was kept, and He directed several of the pagan priests to be called. A crowd had gathered, for the news of the child’s cure was soon spread.
The place to which Jesus now went was not a temple, but a hill surrounded by tombs. The god was in a subterranean vault in the midst of them. The vault was closed on top by a cover. Jesus told the pagan priests to call forth their god. When by means of machinery, they had caused the idol to rise into sight, Jesus expressed to them His regret that they had a god that was unable to help himself.
Then turning to the priestess, He commanded her to rehearse the praises of her god, tell how she served him, and what reward he gave her. Like Balaam the Prophet, the woman began to repeat aloud before all the people the horrors of Moloch’s worship and the wonders of the God of Israel. Jesus then directed the disciples to upset the idol and to shake it violently. They did as commanded. Jesus said to the pagans: “Behold the god that ye serve! Behold the spirits that ye adore!” and in the sight of all present, there appeared all kinds of diabolical figures issuing from the idol. They trembled convulsively, crept around for awhile, and vanished into the earth among the tombs. The idolaters gazed at the scene in affright and confusion. Jesus said: “If we cast your god down again into his den, he will surely go to pieces.” The priests implored Jesus not to destroy their idol, whereupon He allowed them to raise it as before and lower it into its place. Most of the idolaters were deeply touched and ashamed, especially the priests, although some were very indignant. The people were, however, on Jesus’ side. He gave them a beautiful instruction and many were converted. Moloch was seated like an ox on his hind legs, his forepaws stretched out like the arms of one who is going to receive something upon them, but by means of machinery he could be made to draw them in. His gaping mouth disclosed an enormous throat, and on his forehead was one crooked horn. He was seated in a large basin. Around the body were several projections like outside pockets. On festival days long straps were hung around his neck. In the basin under him fire was made when sacrifices were to be offered. Around the rim of the basin numbers of lamps were kept constantly burning before the god. Once upon a time it was customary to sacrifice children to him, but now they dared no longer do so, and animals of all kinds were offered in their stead. They were consumed in the openings of his body or cast into his yawning jaws. The sacrifice most agreeable to him was an Angora goat. There was also a machine by which the priests and others could descend to the idol in the subterranean vault among the tombs. The worship of Moloch was, however, no longer in great repute. He was invoked chiefly for purposes of sorcery and especially by the mothers of sick children. Each pocket around his person was consecrated to special sacrifices. Children used to be laid on his arms and consumed by the fire under him and in him, for he was hollow. He drew his arms in when the victim was deposited upon them, and pressed it tightly that its screams might not be heard. There was machinery in the hind legs by which he could be made to rise. He was surrounded with rays.
Jesus in Dion and Jogbeha
The heathens whose children Jesus had cured asked Him whither they should remove, for they were determined to renounce idolatry. Jesus spoke to them of Baptism, exhorting them in the meantime to remain tranquil and persevere in their good resolutions. He spoke to them of God as of a father to whom we must sacrifice our evil inclinations, and who asks no other offering from us than that of our own heart. When addressing the pagans, Jesus always said to them more plainly than He did to the Jews, that God has no need of our offerings. He exhorted them to contrition and penance, to thanksgiving for benefits received, and to compassion toward the suffering. Returned to the Jewish quarter, He terminated the exercises of the Sabbath and took a repast, after which began a fast in atonement for the adoration of the golden calf. It was celebrated on the 8th of Tisri because the 7th, the fast day proper, fell this year on the Sabbath.
Jesus left the city the next afternoon. The pagans whose children He had cured thanked Him again outside their own quarter. He blessed them, and with twelve disciples went down through the valley to the south of Gadara. He crossed a mountain and reached a little stream flowing from the range below Betharamphtha-Julias where the mines were. It was three hours from Gadara to the inn near the stream at which Jesus and the disciples put up. The Jews dwelling around that part of the country were engaged in gathering in the fruits. Jesus instructed them. There was also a band of pagans near the stream busy gathering white flowers from a blooming hedge, but it was not the flowers alone that they gathered, but also great, ugly beetles and other insects. When Jesus approached them, they drew back as if in fear. It was shown me that these insects were intended for the idol Beelzebub at Dion. I saw the idol outside the gate of the city, sitting under a large willow. It had a figure something like a monkey with short arms and slender legs, and it was seated like a human being. Its head was pointed and furnished with two little horns bent like a crescent, and the face with its extremely long nose was horrible. The chin was short but projecting, the mouth large and like that of a beast, the body lank, the legs long and thin with clawed toes. It wore an apron. In one hand it grasped a vessel by the stem, and in the other held a butterfly just escaping the larva. The butterfly, which was something like a bird and something like a disgusting insect, shone with variegated colors. Around the head of the idol and just above the forehead was a wreath of loathsome beetles and flying vermin, forming as it were a compact mass, one appearing to hold the other fast. Above the forehead and in the center of the pointed head between the horns sat one of those disgusting things larger and more hideous than the others. They were glittering, and they radiated all the colors, but they were horrible, venomous things with long bodies, horns, feelers, and stings. When Jesus drew near to the pagans that were seeking these insects for the idol, the whole crown flew asunder like a dark swarm and hid in the holes and corners around the country, while all kinds of frightful black spirits crept with them, frightened, into the holes. They were the wicked spirits that were honored in Beelzebub with those beetles.
On the following forenoon, Jesus reached Dion, that is the Jewish quarter, which was much smaller than that of the pagans. The latter was beautifully situated on the declivity of a mountain and had several temples. The Jewish quarter was entirely distinct from it. Where Jesus arrived outside the city the arbors were, for the most part, finished. Under one of them He was ceremoniously received by the priests and magistrates of the place, His feet washed, and the customary refreshments offered. Immediately after, He went out among the sick, numbers of whom were lying and standing under the arbors that had been erected from this spot to the city. The disciples assisted and kept order. There were sick of all kinds: lame, dumb, blind, dropsical, and paralyzed. Jesus cured and exhorted many. There were some that stood upright on three-legged crutches, and there were other crutches upon which the invalid could rest without using the feet. These latter were almost like go-carts. At last Jesus came to the sick women. They were lying, leaning, and sitting nearer the city under a long arbor that had been erected over a terraced bank. This bank was covered with beautiful, fine grass that hung like soft, silky hair, and over it was spread a carpet. There were several women afflicted by an issue of blood. They were closely veiled and remained at a distance. Others were hypochondriacal, their faces wan and sallow, their countenance sad and gloomy. Jesus addressed them graciously and cured them one after another. He gave each at the same time hints and admonitions suited to her case for correcting her several imperfections, for avoiding such and such sins, and He instructed all as to what penances to perform. He also blessed and cured several children presented to Him by their mothers. This work lasted until the afternoon and ended amid general rejoicings. The cured went away singing canticles of thanksgiving, joyously and merrily carrying their beds and crutches. They returned to the city processionally in beautiful order as they had been cured, accompanied by their rejoicing relatives, friends, and attendants. Jesus with the disciples and Levites walked in their midst. The humility and gravity of Jesus on such occasions are inexpressible. The women and children led the procession chanting the fortieth Psalm of David: They went to the synagogue and thanked God, after which they took a meal under an arbor. It consisted of fruit, birds, honeycomb, and toasted bread. When the Sabbath began, all went in mourning garments to the synagogue, for the great Feast of Atonement then commenced for the Jews.
Jesus delivered in the synagogue a discourse on penance. He spoke against those that limit them-selves to corporal purification without restraining the evil desires of the soul. Some of the Jews disciplined themselves under their wide mantles around the thighs and legs. The pagans of Dion also celebrated a feast with an enormous quantity of incense. The very seats upon which they sat were placed over burning perfumes.
I saw, too, the celebration of the Feast of Atonement in Jerusalem, the numerous purifications of the High Priest, his arduous preparations and mortification, the sacrifices, the sprinkling of blood, the burning of incense, also the scapegoat, and the casting of lots for the two goats. One was for sacrifice, the other was chased away into the desert with something containing fire tied to its tail. It ran wildly through the wilderness, and at last plunged down a precipice. This desert, which was once traversed by David, commenced above the Mount of Olives. The High Priest was today violently agitated and troubled; he would have been glad if another could have performed the duties of his office instead of himself. He was full of dread at the moment of entering the Holy of Holies, and he earnestly begged the people to pray for him. The people thought he must have committed some sin, and felt very anxious lest some calamity might befall him in the Holy of Holies. The truth was, his conscience smote him for the share he had had in the murder of Zachary, the father of John. This sin was chastised with interest in the person of his son-in-law, who passed sentence of death on Jesus. I do not think this High Priest was Caiaphas, but his father-in-law.
The Holy Mystery was no longer in the Ark of the Covenant. There were in it only some little linen napkins and the various compartments. This Ark of the Covenant was new and quite different in form from the first. The angels were different. They were seated and surrounded by a triple scarf; one foot was raised, the other hung at the side of the Ark, and the crown was still between them. There were all kinds of sacred things in the Ark, such as oil and incense. I remember that the High Priest burned incense and sprinkled blood, that he took one of the little linen cloths from the Ark, that he mixed some blood (which he either drew from his finger or had on his finger) with water, and then presented it to a row of priests to drink. It was a kind of figure of Holy Communion. I saw also that the High Priest, chastised by God, was become very miserable and was struck with leprosy. There was great consternation in the Temple. I heard a most impressive lesson read in the Temple from Jeremias and at the same time I saw many scenes in the life of the Prophet and much of the horrors of idolatry in Israel.
I saw also during another reading in the Temple that Elias, after his death, wrote a letter to King Joram. The Jews would not believe it. They explained it in this way: They said that Eliseus, who brought the letter to Joram, had given it to him as a prophetical letter bequeathed to himself by Elias. I began myself to think it very strange, when suddenly I was transported to the East and, in my journey, passed the Mountain of the Prophets, which I saw covered with ice and snow. It was crowned with towers, presenting perhaps the appearance it wore in the time of Joram. I went on then eastwardly to Paradise, and saw therein the beautiful, wonderful animals walking and gamboling around. There, too, were the glistening walls and, lying asleep on either side of the gate, Henoch and Elias. Elias was in spirit gazing upon all that was then going on in Palestine. An angel laid before him a roll of fine, white parchment and a reed pen. Elias sat up and wrote, resting the parchment on his knees. I saw a little chariot something like a chair, or throne, coming over an eminence, or around by some steps from the inside of the garden. It was drawn by three marvelously beautiful white animals. I saw Elias mount it and, as if on a rainbow, journey quickly to Palestine. The chariot stood still over a house of Samaria. I saw Eliseus inside praying, his eyes raised to Heaven. I saw Elias letting the letter fall before him, and Eliseus bearing the same to King Joram. The animals were harnessed to Elias’ chariot, one in front and two behind. They were indescribably lovely, delicately formed animals of the size perhaps of a large roe, snow-white, with long, white, silken hair. Their limbs were very slender, their head always in motion, and on their forehead was an elegant horn bent somewhat toward the front. On the day that Elias was taken up to Heaven, I saw his chariot drawn by the same kind of animals.
I saw also the history of Eliseus and the Sunamitess. Eliseus performed prodigies even more wonderful than those of Elias, and in his dress and manners there was something more elegant and refined. Elias was wholly a man of God with nothing in his manners modeled after other men. He was something like John the Baptist; they were men of the same stamp. I saw also how Giezi, the servant of Eliseus, ran after the man whom his master had cured of leprosy (Naaman), It was night and Eliseus was asleep. Giezi overtook Naaman at the Jordan and demanded presents from him in the name of his master.
On the next day Giezi was pursuing his work as if nothing had happened (he was making light wooden screens to be used as partitions between sleeping apartments) when Eliseus asked him: “Where hast thou been?” and exposed to him all that had taken place the previous night. The servant was punished with leprosy, which he transmitted to his posterity.
As the idolatry practiced by the human race, the adoration of animals and idols in the early times, the repeated lapsing of the Israelites into the same, and the great mercy of God in sending them the Prophets were shown me, and I was wondering how men could adore such abomination, I had a vision in which I saw that the same abomination still exists on the earth, though in a formless material, more spiritual. I saw innumerable visions throughout the whole world of idolatry infecting even Christianity, and I saw it indeed in almost all the forms in which it was formerly practiced. I saw priests adoring serpents in presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, their different passions assuming the various forms of those serpents. I saw all kinds of similar animals by the side of learned and distinguished men. They adored them while at the same time they I saw toads and all kinds of hateful creatures near poor, low, depraved people. I saw also entire churches in the practice of idolatry, namely, a dark, reformed church in the North with empty, horrible altars upon which stood ravens receiving the adoration of the congregation. The people saw not indeed such animals, but they were adoring them in their own conceits and haughty self sufficiency. I saw ecclesiastics for whom little distorted figures, little pugs, etc., were turning the leaves of their breviary while they recited the Holy Office. Yes, I saw with some even the idols of ancient times, such as Moloch and Baal. They were placed on the table among their books, and held sway over them. I have seen them even presenting morsels of food to those men who despised the holy simplicity of the children of God, and made a mockery of it.
I saw that such horrors are as rife in our own day as in the past, and that the visions of idolatry vouchsafed me were not accidental. If the ungodliness and idolatry of men of our own day could assume a corporeal form, if their thoughts and sentiments could be reduced to exterior acts, we should find the same idols existing now as in days gone by.
When Jesus again left Dion, several heathens from the pagan quarter approached Him very timidly. They had heard of the wonderful cures He had effected in Gadara, and they now brought their children to Him. Jesus cured them and induced the parents to determine to receive Baptism. After that He went with twelve disciples five hours to the south and over the brook that flowed down from the vale of Ephron. One half-hour to the south of this brook lay Jogbeha, a little, unknown place, quite hidden away in a hollow behind a forest. It was founded by a Prophet, a spy of Moses and Jethro, whose name sounds like Malachai. He is not, however, one and the same with the last Prophet, Malachias. Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, employed him as a servant. He was exceedingly faithful and prudent, on which account Moses sent him to explore this country. He had come two years before Moses arrived himself, had explored the country for miles around even as far as the borders of the lake, and had given an account of all that he saw. Jethro at that time dwelt near the Red Sea, but upon Malachai’s report, he went with the wife and sons of Moses to Arga. Malachai was at last pursued as a spy. They hunted him to kill him. There was no city here in those times, only a few people living in tents. Malachai took refuge in a morass, or cistern, and an angel appeared and helped him. He brought him upon a long strip of parchment the command to continue three years longer reconnoitering the country. The inhabitants, that is those who lived in the tents, provided him with clothes such as they themselves wore, long, red tunics and jackets of the same color. Malachai also explored the country around Betharamphtha. He lived for some time among the tent-dwellers of Jogbeha, and by his superior intelligence rendered them great assistance.
In the hollow in which Jogbeha was hidden was a ditch filled with water and quite covered with reeds, and on the spot in which Malachai lay concealed was a well that had been filled up. It began later on to bubble and cast out quantities of sand with occasional columns of vapor and sometimes pebbles. By degrees was formed around the well a hill, which was soon clothed with verdure. The morass was filled up by earth brought from a neighboring mountain, and buildings were erected upon it. Thus arose around the well, which was covered by a beautiful spring house, the city of Jogbeha, which name signifies: “It will be elevated.” The marshy cistern must have been built around in far earlier times, for lying near were the moss-covered ruins of walls in which were still discernible the holes destined probably for fish. There were other ruins in this locality like the foundation of an ancient tent castle. Malachias taught the inhabitants to use black mineral pitch in building.
Jesus was very graciously received in the isolated city of Jogbeha. Living apart from the other inhabitants was a sect called Karaites. They wore long, yellow scapulars, white garments, and aprons of rough skin. The youths wore shorter clothes and had their limbs wound with strips of stuff. There were about four hundred of these men. Once upon a time they were of far more importance, but suffered much from the oppression of enemies. They were of the race of Esra and a descendant of Jethro. One of their teachers had a great dispute once with a distinguished pharisaical Doctor. They clung strictly to the letter of the Law and rejected oral additions, led a life very simple and plain, and had all their goods in common. If a member withdrew from the community, he had to abandon whatever goods or property he had brought to it. There were no poor among them, for they mutually assisted one another; even strangers were supported by them. They reverenced old age, and among them were many aged persons, whom the young treated with the greatest deference. They called those holding a distinguished position “ancients.” The Karaites were sworn enemies of the Pharisees, who added all sorts of oral traditions to the Law, though in some points they were somewhat similar to the Sadducees. In their manners and customs, however, they were different, being far stricter. One