Jesus in Ennon and Socoth. Mary of Suphan. Conversion of an Adulteress
From Jogbeha, Jesus went through Socoth to Ennon, a distance of about an hour along a pleasant road, enlivened by the camps of the caravans and the pilgrims going to Baptism. It was already lined with long rows of tents covered with foliage, and the people were still busied with preparations, because with the close of the coming Sabbath, the Feast of Tabernacles began. Jesus taught at intervals on the way. Just outside Ennon they had erected a beautiful tent, and a solemn reception was prepared for Jesus by Mary the Suphanite. The most distinguished personages of the city were present, also the priests, and Mary with her children. The men washed the feet of Jesus and His disciples, and costly refreshments were offered them, according to custom. Mary’s children and others of their age presented the viands. The women, closely veiled, prostrated before Jesus, their faces on the ground. He saluted and blessed them graciously. Mary, with tears of joy and gratitude, invited Jesus to repair to her house. When He entered the city, Mary’s children, two girls and a boy, and others of their age with long garlands of flowers and scarves of woolen stuff walked before Him and at His side.
Jesus, accompanied by His disciples, entered the courtyard of Mary’s house, passing under a flowery arch erected for the occasion. Mary again cast herself at His feet, weeping and thanking, her children following her example. Jesus caressed the little ones. Mary told Him that Dina the Samaritan had been there, and that the man with whom she had been living up to that time had received Baptism. Mary knew Dina, since her own husband and three legitimate children lived in Damascus. She and the Samaritan had together sounded Jesus’ praises. She was radiant with joy, and showed Jesus many costly robes for the use of the priests, and a high miter which she herself had made for the Temple, for she was incredibly skillful at such work, and rich in money and property. Jesus was very gracious toward her. He spoke to her of her husband, advising her to go back to him, to be reconciled with him, for her presence near him would prove of use, and her illegitimate children could be provided for elsewhere. He directed her also to send a messenger to her husband to request him to come to her. On leaving her house Jesus went to the place of Baptism, where He mounted the pulpit and taught the people.
Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, Veronica, Simeon’s sons, and some disciples from Jerusalem had come hither for the Sabbath. Andrew, John, and some of the Baptist’s disciples were still here, but James the Less had gone back. The Baptist had again sent messengers to Jesus urging Him to go to Jerusalem and to say openly before the whole world who He was. John was now so impatient, so anxious, because though so powerfully impelled to announce Jesus, he was unable to do so.
When the Sabbath began, Jesus taught in the synagogue, taking for His subjects the creation of the world, the waters, and the Fall of man. He alluded very significantly to the Messiah, commenting in the most striking manner upon 42:5-43, and applying the same to Himself and the Jewish people. After the Sabbath, there was an entertainment given to Jesus at the public banqueting hall. It had been prepared by Mary of Suphan. The tables, as well as the hall, were beautifully decorated with foliage and flowers and lamps. The guests were numerous and among them were many whom Jesus had cured. The women sat on one side behind a screen. During the meal Mary went forward with her children and placed costly perfumes on the table. She then poured a flask of odoriferous balm over Jesus’ head, and cast herself down before Him. Jesus received these attentions graciously, and related parables. No one found fault with Mary, for all loved her on account of her munificence.
Next morning Jesus cured several sick persons, and taught in the synagogue. He also taught in a place to which those pagans that had received Baptism and those still in expectation of the same were admitted. In His latter instruction He spoke so feelingly, so naturally, of the lost son, that one would have thought Him the father who had found his son. He stretched out His arms, exclaiming: “See! See! He returns! Let us make ready a feast for him!” It was so natural that the people looked around, as if all that Jesus was saying were a reality. When He mentioned the calf that the father had slaughtered for the newly found son, His words were full of mysterious significance. It was as if He said: “But what would not be that love which would lead the Heavenly Father to give His own Son as a sacrifice, to save His lost children.” The instruction was addressed principally to penitents, to the baptized, and to the pagans present, who were depicted as the lost son returning to his home. All were excited to joy and mutual charity. The fruit of Jesus’ teaching was soon apparent at the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, in the good will and hospitality shown by the Jews to their pagan brethren. In the afternoon Jesus with His disciples and a crowd of the inhabitants took a walk outside the city and along by the Jordan, through the beautiful meadows and flowery fields in which the tents of the heathens stood. The parable they had just heard, that of the Prodigal Son, formed the subject of conversation, and all were cheerful and happy, full of love toward one another.
The exercises of the Sabbath were today brought to a close at an earlier hour than usual. Jesus again taught and cured some sick before its close. Then all went out of the city, or rather to a quarter somewhat remote, for it was built very irregularly, the streets broken up by open squares and gardens. And now was celebrated a great feast. The tabernacles were arranged in three rows and adorned with flowers, green branches, all kinds of devices formed of fruit, streamers, and innumerable lamps. The middle row was occupied by Jesus, the disciples, the priests, and the chief men of the city disposed in numerous groups. In one of the side rows were the women, and in the other the school children, the youths, and the maidens forming three distinct bands. The teachers sat with their pupils, and every class had its own chanters. Soon the children, crowned with flowers, surrounded the tables with flutes and chimes and harps, playing and singing. I saw also that the men held in one hand palm branches on which were little tinkling balls, and branches of willow with fine, narrow leaves, also the branches of a kind of bush such as we cultivate in pots. It was myrtle. In the other they held the beautiful yellow Esrog apple. They waved their branches as they sang. This was done three times: at the commencement, in the middle, and at the end of the feast. That kind of apple is not indigenous to Palestine; it comes from a warmer clime. It may indeed be found here and there in the sunny regions, but it is not so vigorous nor does it ripen to maturity. It was transported hither by caravans from warm countries. The fruit is yellow and like a small melon; it has a little crown on top, is ribbed and somewhat flat. The pulp in the center of the fruit is streaked with red, and in it closely packed together are five little kernels, but no seed vessel. The stalk is rather curved, and the blossoms form a large, white cluster like our elderberry. The branches below the large leaves strike root again in the earth, whence new ones spring up and thus an arbor is formed. The fruit rises from the axel of the leaves.
The pagans also took part in this feast. They, too, had their tabernacles of green branches, and those that had received Baptism took their places next to the Jews, by whom they were cordially and hospitably entertained. All were still influenced by the impressions received at the instruction upon the Prodigal Son. The meal lasted until late into the night. Jesus went up and down along the tables instructing the guests, and wherever anything was needed supplying the want through one of the disciples. Joyous sounds of conversation and merriment arose from all sides, occasionally interrupted by prayer and canticles. The whole place was ablaze with lights. The roofs of Ennon were covered with tents and tabernacles, and there the occupants of the houses slept at night. In the tabernacles outside the city many poor people and servants, after the feast was over and all had gone to rest, passed the night as guards.
Jesus, accompanied by the disciples and many others, returned from Ennon to Socoth, which was at no great distance. The greater part of the way was covered with tabernacles and tents, for many from the surrounding districts celebrated the feast here, and the caravans, which were constantly coming and going, were now resting for the feast. The whole length of the road was like one triumphal march. Behind the tabernacles were stands covered with awnings at which provisions could be purchased. It took Jesus several hours to traverse this road, for He was every-where saluted and from time to time He stood still to instruct. He did not reach the synagogue of Socoth till toward evening. Socoth on the north bank of the Jabok was a beautiful city, and had a very magnificent synagogue. Besides the Feast of Tabernacles, there was another celebrated today in Socoth, that of the reconciliation of Jacob and Esau. The whole day was devoted to it, and there were visitors from all the country around. Among the school children at Ennon were some of the orphans from the school of Abelmahula, who were now in Socoth, having come for the feast of today. It was the real anniversary of Jacob and Esau’s reconciliation, which, according to the Jewish tradition, had taken place on this day.
The synagogue, one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen, was rendered still more gorgeous today by its festal decorations of countless crowns, flowery garlands, and lovely, sparkling lamps. It was lofty and supported by eight columns. On both sides of the edifice ran corridors communicating with the buildings that comprised the dwellings of the Levites and the schools. One end of the synagogue was more elevated than the rest, and here toward the center rose an ornamented pillar with little cases and projections running up around it, in which were kept the rolls of the Law. Behind the pillar was a table, and near it a curtain that could be drawn to cut off the neighboring space from the rest of the synagogue. A couple of steps farther back was a row of seats for the priests, with one more elevated in the middle for the preacher. Back of these seats stood an altar of incense above which, in the roof of the synagogue, was an opening; and behind this altar, at the far end of the edifice, were tables upon which the offerings were deposited. The men, ranged according to their classes, stood in the center of the synagogue. To the left, on a slight elevation and separated by a grating, was the place for the women; and on the right was that of the school children grouped in classes, the boys and girls separate.
The feast of today celebrated the reconciliation between God and man. There was a general confession of sin made either in public or private, according to individual desire. All gathered round the altar of incense, offered gifts of expiation, received a penance from the priests, and made voluntary vows. This ceremony bore a striking resemblance to our Sacrament of Penance. The priest from the teacher’s chair spoke of Jacob and Esau, who had today been reconciled with God and each other, also of Laban and Jacob who had again become friends and offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and he earnestly exhorted his hearers to penance. Many of those present had by John’s teaching and that of Jesus during the past days been very much touched, and were waiting only for this great festival to do penance. Some men, whose consciences reproached them with grave faults, went through the door in the grating near the teacher’s chair around behind the altar, and laid on the tables their offerings, which a priest received. Then, returning to the priests in front of the pillar containing the Law, they confessed their sins either publicly to the assembled priests, or privately to one of their own choice. In the latter case, both priest and penitent retired behind the curtain, the confession was made in a low voice, a penance imposed, and at the same time incense was cast upon the altar. If the smoke arose in a certain way, the people took it as a sign of the genuineness of the penitent’s contrition and of the pardon accorded his sins. The rest of the Jews chanted and prayed during the confessions. The penitents made a kind of profession of faith, promising fidelity to the Law, to Israel, and to the Holy of Holies. Then they prostrated and confessed their sins, often with abundant tears. The female penitents followed after the men, and their offerings were received by the priests. Then retiring behind a grating, they called for a priest and confessed.
The Jews accused themselves of sins against the Ten Commandments and of all violations of established usages. There was something singular in their confession, which I hardly know how to repeat. They bemoaned the sins of their forefathers. They spoke of a soul prone to sin received from their progenitors, and of another, a holy one, received from God. They appeared indeed to speak of two distinct souls. The priests in their exhortation likewise said something to the same effect, namely, “May their” (the ancestors’) “sinful soul remain not in us, but may our holy soul remain in us!” I cannot now recall what was said of the influence mutually exerted by these two souls upon, and by, and in, each other. Jesus next spoke. He touched upon this same point, but treated it differently from the Doctors. He said that it should indeed be so no longer. The sinful soul received from their forefathers should not remain in them. It was a touching instruction, clearly signifying that Jesus Himself was about to make satisfaction for all souls. They also lamented the sins of their parents, as if knowing that all kinds of evils had descended to them through their progenitors, as if through them they were still in possession of the sad heritage of sin.
The penitential exercises had already begun when Jesus arrived. He was received at the entrance of the synagogue, and for awhile He remained standing at one side on the platform among the Doctors, one of whom was preaching. It was about five o’clock when He arrived. The offerings of the penitents consisted of all sorts of fruits, money, articles of clothing for the priests, pieces of stuff, silken tassels and knots, girdles, etc., and principally of frankincense, some of which was burned at once.
And now I witnessed a touching spectacle. While the confessions were going on and the offerings were being made by the penitents, I noticed a distinguished-looking lady in a private seat near the secluded place of penance. Her seat was cut off from the rest by a grating. I noticed her troubled and agitated appearance. Her maidservant was nearby, having just deposited on a stool at her mistress’ side a basket containing the gifts intended for the offering. The lady was impatient for her turn to come, and when at last she could no longer restrain her agitation and desire for reconciliation, she arose, drew her veil and, preceded by her maid with the offerings, passed through the grating and straight to the priests, into a place to which entrance was forbid-den to women. The wardens tried to prevent her, but the maid would not be stopped. She forced her way in, exclaiming: “Make way! Make way for my mistress! She wants to make her offering, she wants to do penance! Make way for her! She wants to purify her soul!” The lady, agitated and bowed down by sorrow, advanced toward the priests, threw herself on her knees, and begged to be reconciled. But they told her to withdraw, they could not hear her there. One of them however, younger than his brethren, took her by the hand, saying: “I will reconcile thee! If thy corporal presence belongs not here, not so thy soul, since thou art penitent!” Then turning with her toward Jesus, he said: “Rabbi, what sayest Thou?” The lady fell on her face before Jesus, and He answered: “Yes, her soul has a right to be here! Permit this daughter of Adam to do penance!” and the priest retired with her into the curtained enclosure. When she reappeared, she prostrated in tears upon the ground, exclaiming: “Wipe your feet on me, for I am an adulteress!” and the priests touched her lightly with the foot. Her husband, who knew nothing of what was transpiring, was sent for. At his entrance, Jesus occupied the teacher’s chair, and His words sank deep into the man’s heart. He wept, and his wife, veiled and prostrate on the ground before him, confessed her guilt. Her tears flowed abundantly, and she appeared to be more dead than alive. Jesus addressed her: “Thy sins are forgiven thee! Arise, child of God!” and the husband, deeply moved, reached out his hand to his penitent wife. Their hands were then bound together with the wife’s veil and the long, narrow scarf of the husband, and loosened again after they had received a benediction. It was like a second nuptial ceremony. The lady was now, after her reconciliation, quite inebriated with joy. At the moment her offerings were presented, she had cried out: “Pray! Pray! Burn incense, offer sacrifices, that my sins may be forgiven!” and she falteringly repeated various passages from the Psalms, while being conducted to her place by the priests.
Her offering consisted of many costly fruits such as they were accustomed to use at the Feast of Tabernacles. They had been carefully arranged in the basket, so that they would not injure one another by pressure. There were also borders, silk tassels, and fringes for priestly vestments. She at the same time committed to the flames several magnificent silk robes in which her vanity had arrayed itself for the gaze of her paramour. She was a tall, robust, beautifully formed woman of an ardent and vivacious temperament. Her deep contrition and voluntary avowal of guilt had won for her forgiveness, and her husband was heartily reconciled with her. She had had no children by her illicit connection, had been the first to dissolve her sinful bonds, and had won over her paramour to penance. She did not, however, make him known either to the priests or to her husband. It was forbidden to the latter to make inquiries, and to her to name the guilty one. The husband was a pious man; he forgave and forgot with all his heart. The multitude present did not indeed catch the details of the scene. Still they saw the interruption, they saw that something extraordinary was transpiring, and they heard the lady’s cry for prayer and sacrifice. All prayed earnestly for her, and rejoiced over a soul doing penance. The people of this place were very good, as they generally were on the east side of the Jordan, for they had retained more of the manners and customs of the ancient patriarchs.
Jesus continued teaching in beautiful and touching language. I recall distinctly His allusion to the sins of our forefathers and our own share in the same, and He rectified the ideas of some of His auditors on that subject. Once He used the expression: “Your fathers have eaten grapes, and your teeth have been set on edge.”
The schoolteachers were then questioned upon the faults of their pupils, while the latter were reminded that if they accused themselves and were sorry, they would be forgiven. There were many sick outside the synagogue and, although it was not customary for them to enter on the Feast of Tabernacles, yet Jesus directed the disciples to bring them into the corridor between the sacred building and the dwellings of the Doctors. At the close of the feast, the whole synagogue having long before been lighted up with lamps, He went out into the corridor and cured many of them. At the moment Jesus entered the corridor, a messenger appeared from the lately reconciled lady, begging Jesus to grant her a few words. Jesus went to her and retired apart with her a few instants. She threw herself at His feet and exclaimed: “Master, he with whom I sinned, implores Thee to reconcile him to God!” and Jesus promised to see him there in that same place after the repast.
The curing of the sick was followed by an entertainment in honor of the feast, and given on one of the open squares of the city. Jesus, the disciples, the Levites, and the most distinguished personages of the city took their places under a large and beautiful bower that formed the center of many others, the men and women separate. The poor were not forgotten. Everyone sent the best from his own table to them. Jesus went around from table to table, not excepting that of the women. The reconciled sinner was full of joy, as were also her female friends. They gathered around her, heartily wishing her every happiness. As Jesus was making the rounds of the tables, she seemed to be very uneasy about something, and frequently cast anxious glances toward Him, hoping that He would not forget His promise to reconcile the partner of her guilt, for she knew that he was already waiting at the place designated. When Jesus drew near to where she sat, He quieted her anxiety, telling her that He knew what was troubling her and bidding her rest assured that all would be well in its own good time. When the guests separated for their homes, Jesus started for His lodgings near the synagogue. He was met by the man who had been waiting in the corridor for Him, and who now threw himself at His feet and confessed his sin. Jesus exhorted him to sin no more and imposed on him as penance to give the priests every week for a certain time something for a charitable purpose. He was not obliged to make public offerings, but to mourn his sin in private.
When Jesus returned from Socoth to Ennon, He gave instructions at the place of Baptism, cured the sick, and visited the Gentiles. Several little parties of neophytes were baptized. There were still standing here some of the arrangements John had made when baptizing for the first time at the Jordan near On, a tent and the baptismal stone. The neophytes leaned over a railing, their heads over the baptismal pool. Jesus received the confessions of many and granted them absolution from their sins, a power which He had imparted to some of the older disciples-for instance, to Andrew. John the Evangelist did not yet baptize. He acted as witness and sponsor.
Before Jesus again left Ennon with His disciples, He had an interview with Mary the Suphanite in her own house. He gave her salutary advice. Mary was entirely changed. She was full of love, zeal, humility,
Jesus in Akrabis and gratitude; she busied herself with the poor and the sick. When journeying after her cure through Ramoth and Basan, Jesus had sent a disciple to Bethania to inform the holy women of it and of her reconciliation, in consequence of which announcement Veronica, Johanna Chusa, and Martha had been to visit her.
On His departure from Ennon, Jesus received rich presents from Mary and many other people, all of which were at once distributed to the poor. The gateway by which He left the city was decorated with an arch of flowers and garlands. The assembled crowd saluted Him with songs of praise, and He was met outside the city by women and children who presented Him with wreaths. This was one of the customs at the Feast of Tabernacles. Many of the citizens accompanied Him beyond the city limits. For two hours His road ran to the south, through the valley of the Jordan, and on this side of the river. Then it wound for about half an hour to the west, then turned again to the south and led to the city of Akrabis, which was situated upon a ridge of the mountain.
Jesus in Akrabis, Silo, and Korea
Jesus was received in ceremony outside of Akrabis, for the inhabitants were expecting His coming. The tabernacles of green branches were ranged for some distance beyond the city, and into one of the largest and most beautiful they conducted Jesus for the customary washing of feet and offering of refreshments. Akrabis was rather a large place, about two hours from the Jordan. It had five gates, and was traversed by the highway between Samaria and Jericho. Travelers in this direction had to pass through Akrabis, consequently it was well supplied with provisions and other necessaries.
Outside the gate at which Jesus arrived were inns for the accommodation of caravans. Tabernacles were erected before each of the five gates, for each quarter of the city had its own gate.
Next day Jesus made the rounds of the city, visited all the tabernacles, and gave instructions here and there. The people observed many customs peculiar to this festival; for instance, they took only a mouthful in the morning, the rest of the repast being reserved for the poor. Their employment during the day was interrupted by canticles and prayers, and instructions were given by the Elders. These instructions were now delivered by Jesus. On His coming and going, He was received and escorted by little boys and girls carrying around Him garlands of flowers. This, too, was one of their customs. The residents of the different quarters sometimes went from their own tabernacles to those of their neighbors, either to listen to the instructions or to assist at an entertainment. On such occasions they went processionally, carrying garlands such as were borne by Jesus’ escort.
The women were busied with all sorts of occupations in the tabernacles. Some were sitting embroidering flowers on long strips of stuff, others were making sandals out of the coarse, brown hair of goats and camels. They attached their work to their girdle as we do our knitting. The soles were furnished with a support like a heel both before and behind, also with sharp points, in order to aid in climbing the mountains. The people gave Jesus a very cordial reception, but the Doctors of the Law were not so simple-hearted as their confreres at Ennon and Socoth. They were indeed courteous in their manner, but somewhat reserved.
From Akrabis Jesus went to Silo, distant only one hour in a direct line toward the southwest; but as the road winds first down into the valley and then over the mountain, it makes the distance a good two hours. The inhabitants of Silo, like those of Akrabis, were assembled in the tabernacles outside the gates of the city. They, too, knew of Jesus’ coming and were waiting for Him. They saw Him and His companions from afar, climbing up the winding road that led to their city. When they perceived that He was not directing His steps to the gate nearest to Akrabis, but was going around the city more to the northwest, to that which led from Samaria, they sent messengers to announce the fact to the people of that quarter. These latter received Him into their tabernacles, washed His feet, and presented the customary refreshments, He went immediately to the central height of the city, where once the Ark of the Covenant had rested, and taught in the open air from a teacher’s chair very beautifully wrought in stone. Here, too, were tabernacles and houses of entertainment, in which latter everything needed in the former was cooked in common. Men were performing this duty, but they appeared to me to be slaves and not real Jews.
The day following was one of the most solemn of the feast, though I do not know whether what I saw here was a purely local custom or one practiced generally. One of the Doctors of the Law annually on this day delivered from the teacher’s chair a castigatory sermon, to which not one of his hearers dared offer the least contradiction. It was principally for the purpose of delivering this sermon that Jesus had come here today. All the Jews, men, women, youths, maidens, and children had assembled to hear Him. They had come processionally from their different tabernacles, carrying festoons and garlands of leaves between the various divisions and classes. The teacher’s chair, under an awning decorated with foliage, crowned a terraced eminence. Jesus taught until midday. He spoke of the mercy of God toward His people, of Israel’s revolts and turpitude, of the chastisements awaiting Jerusalem, of the destruction of the Temple, of the present time of grace, the last that would be offered them. He said that if the Jews rejected this last grace, never to the end of time should they as a nation receive another, and that a much more frightful chastisement should fall upon Jerusalem than it had ever yet experienced. The whole discourse was calculated to inspire fear. All listened silent and terrified, for Jesus very clearly signified, as He explained the Prophecies, that He Himself was the One who was to bring salvation. The Pharisees of the place, who were not of much account and who, like those of Akrabis, had received Jesus with a show of hypocritical reverence, kept silence, though filled with wonder and irritation. The people, however, applauded Jesus and sang His praises. Jesus spoke likewise of the Scribes, their misrepresentations of the Holy Scriptures, their false interpretations and additions.
That evening a public entertainment was given in the tabernacles on the eminence. But Jesus was not present at it. He went down to the tabernacles of the poor, where He consoled and instructed. Wherever there were no Pharisees to spy their actions, the people pressed around Jesus, cast themselves at His feet, paid Him homage, confessed their sins, and made known their needs. He consoled them and gave them advice. It was a touching sight to see all this going on in the darkness of night among the tabernacles, from which shone forth a faint and trembling glimmer. No lights were to be seen for, on account of the draught, the lamps had been covered with screens, and the yellow glare they cast lit up the green foliage, the fruits, and the people in a manner quite strange to behold. From the height of Silo, many places around could be distinctly seen, and everywhere shone the glimmering light of the tabernacle-feast, while the sound of singing came from far and near. Jesus did not perform any cures here. The Pharisees kept the sick back, and the people appeared to be afraid. Here as in Akrabis, the song of the Pharisees, when they heard of Jesus’ coming, was: “What new doctrine is He now going to bring us? What design has He in coming here?”
From Silo Jesus took a southwestwardly direction and went down for one and a half hours to Korea, a place that could be seen from the height of the former city. It had neither walls nor ramparts. The Pharisees of Korea went out some distance beyond the city to meet Jesus, taking with them one of their fellow citizens who had been blind from his birth. They thought to tempt Jesus. The blind man had over his garments, around his shoulder, and over his head a wide scarf like a linen cloth. He was a tall, handsome man. As Jesus drew near, to the astonishment of the bystanders, the blind man turned toward Him and cast himself at His feet. Jesus raised him and questioned him on his religion, the Ten Commandments, the Law, and the Prophecies. The blind man answered more intelligently than any had dared to hope—yes, he even seemed to utter prophecies. He spoke of the persecution awaiting Jesus, saying that He must not yet go to Jerusalem, because there His enemies would put Him to death. All present were struck with fear. The crowd gathered around was great. Jesus asked him whether he desired to see the tabernacles of Israel, the mountains and the Jordan, his own parents and friends, the Temple, the Holy City, and lastly Himself, Jesus, who was then standing before him. The blind man answered that he already saw Him, that he had seen Him as soon as He drew near, and he described His appearance and dress. “But,” he continued, “I do desire to see all other things, and I know that, if Thou wilt, Thou canst give me sight.” Then Jesus laid His hand on the man’s forehead, prayed, and with His thumb made the Sign of the Cross on his closed eyelids, raising them at the same time. Thereupon the man cast off the scarf from his head and shoulders, looked gladly and wonderingly around, and exclaimed: “Great are the works of the Almighty!” He fell at Jesus’ feet, who blessed him. The Pharisees looked on in silence, the relatives of the blind man gathered around him, the crowd intoned Psalms, while the blind man himself in a prophetic strain spoke and chanted alternately of Jesus and the fulfillment of the Promise. Jesus went on into the city, where He healed many sick and restored sight to others that were blind, whom He found in the space between the houses and the earthen mounds. The usual courtesies of washing the feet and offering refreshments had already been tendered to Him in one of the tabernacles outside the city. The blind man, who accompanied Jesus the whole way, continued to speak under prophetic inspiration of the Jordan, of the Holy Spirit who had descended upon Him, and of the voice from Heaven.
That evening Jesus preached in the synagogue for the Sabbath. He spoke of the family of Noe, of the building of the ark, of the vocation of Abraham, and expounded the passages of Isaias in which mention is made of God’s covenant with Noe, and of the rainbow as a sign in the heavens. ( 54-55). As He spoke I saw all very distinctly: the whole life and all the generations of the Patriarchs, the branches that separated from the parent stock, and the idolatry that arose from them. When I am actually gazing upon such things, all seems clear and natural, but when out of vision, when returned to the routine of daily life, I am saddened by its weary interruptions and can no longer comprehend what I have seen with the eye of the spirit. Jesus spoke likewise of the erroneous interpretation of the Scripture and of false computation of time. He proved by His own reckoning, which was quite simple and clear, that all things in the Scriptures could be made accurately to accord. I cannot understand how such things could have been thrown into confusion, while others had been totally forgotten.
One section of Korea lay upon a terraced mountain; the other, connected with the first by a row of small houses, extended eastward into a deep mountain dale. Some Pharisees and many sick from Silo were here awaiting Jesus. Although Korea lay a little more to the west than Akrabis, yet it was still nearer to the Jordan as the river made a bend in this locality. It was not a large place and the people were not rich. They did cheap basketwork, made beehives and long strips of straw matting, some coarse, some fine. The straw or reeds were bleached and of the best. They made also whole screens like entire walls of this matting for separating sleeping chambers one from another. There were in the neighborhood many other little places. The mountains of this region are steep and rugged. Across the Jordan from Akrabis was the region traversed by Jesus the preceding year at the Feast of Tabernacles when He went through the valley to Dibon.
Next morning Jesus preached in the synagogue and, while the Jews took their Sabbath promenade, cured many sick who had been brought to a large hall nearby. At the close of the Sabbath, while assisting at the entertainment given in the tabernacles, Jesus had a dispute with the Pharisees. The subject under discussion was the prophecies uttered lately by the man born blind and to whom Jesus had given sight. The Pharisees maintained that the same man had already predicted many things that had never come to pass, to which Jesus replied that the Spirit of God had not then descended upon him. During the conversation, mention was made of Ezechiel as if his early Prophecies relating to Jerusalem had not been fulfilled, to which Jesus responded that the Spirit of God had not come upon him until he was in Babylon near the river Chobar, when something was given him to swallow. Jesus’ response reduced the Pharisees to silence.
The man restored to sight went around the city, praising God, singing Psalms, and prophesying. The day before he had been to the synagogue, where he was invested with a broad girdle and was admitted by vow among the Nazarites. A priest performed over him the ceremony of consecration. I think he afterward joined the disciples.
Jesus visited the parents of the man restored to sight, he himself having prayed Him to do so. He conducted Him to their home, which was in a retired part of the city. They were Essenians, of the grade that lived in marriage, distant relatives of Zachary, and connected in some way with the Essenian community of Maspha. They had several sons and daughters, the one restored to sight being the youngest child. There were several other Essenian families, all related to them, living in their neighborhood. They owned beautiful fields on a declivity just outside their quarter of the city, and cultivated wheat and barley. They retained for their own use only a third part of the produce, one being given to the poor, the other to the community at Maspha. These Essenians came out hospitably to meet Jesus and welcome Him in front of their dwellings. The father of the blind man restored to sight presented him to Jesus with the request that He would receive him as the least of the servants and messengers of His disciples, the one to go before Him and prepare the inns for His reception. Jesus accepted him and sent him at once to Bethania with Silas and one of the disciples from Hebron. I think He intended to give Lazarus a joyful surprise by means of the man restored to sight, for he had known the latter as one born blind. The young man’s father was named Cyrus, Sirius, or Syrus, the name of a king who reigned during the Jewish Captivity. The son’s name was Manahem. He had always worn a girdle under his garments, but after his cure he put it outside and made a formal vow for a time. He possessed the gift of prophecy. Even when blind he had always been present at John’s preaching, and had received baptism. He often gathered many of the youths of Korea around him, instructed them and, inspired by the Spirit, prophesied to them of Jesus. His parents loved him on account of his piety and zeal, and provided him with clothing of the best. When Jesus gave him sight, He said: “I give thee a double gift, sight of soul and of body.” The Pharisees of Korea treated Manahem with contempt on account of his prophecies. They called them troubled fancies, foolish reveries, and said that he was vain of his fine clothes. They had brought him out themselves to meet Jesus, being firmly convinced that He could not cure him since no one had ever seen any pupil in his eyes. And now that he was restored to sight, the most wicked among them dared to affirm that he had never been blind, that being an Essenian, he had very likely made a vow to feign blindness.
The Pharisees who spoke with Jesus of Ezechiel had expressed their contempt for the Prophet. He was, they said, only a servant of Jeremias and he had, in the school of the Prophet, very preposterous, very gloomy reveries. Things had fallen out quite differently from his predictions. Manahem also had uttered very profound prophecies of Melchisedech, Malachias, and Jesus.
Jesus in Ophra, Salem, and Aruma
One hour to the southwest of Korea was the city of Ophra, hidden among the mountains. Starting from Korea the traveler had first to ascend and then to descend the mountain road. An hour and a half at most westward from it, and on the north side of the desert to Bethoron toward the west, stood the mountain fortress of Alexandrium. Mount Garizim lay on the northwest, to the south and west the plain just mentioned and the mountains of the tribe of Benjamin. Mary often traversed this plain. Many lonely shepherd huts were scattered over it, and the city of Bethel was built on its confines.
Three highroads ran through Ophra. Caravans from Hebron were constantly passing this way, consequently the whole place was made up of public inns and mercantile houses. The people were somewhat rude and greedy for gain. Once during the preceding year they had received a visit from some of Jesus’ disciples, and since that they had improved a little. At the moment of Jesus’ arrival, the men of the place were busy gathering grapes in the vineyards that lined the road on either side, for a solemn festival was to begin that evening. The tabernacles were deserted excepting by the children, the youths, and the maidens, who with banners were going through them processionally. The priests also were engaged removing the prayer rolls and other holy things from the tabernacles to the synagogue, where they laid a prayer roll on every seat. I saw the women in their homes. They were dressed in their holiday robes, and were praying from rolls of parchment.
Jesus was espied by some men outside the gate. They went to Him and conducted Him into the city. They washed His feet and He took a little luncheon at an inn near the synagogue. After that He visited several houses, healing the sick and giving instruction. That evening the roll of the Law was carried around in the school, and everyone read a little out of it. This ceremony was followed by a grand entertainment given in the public festive hall. I saw lambs on the table, and the Esrog apples also that had been procured for the Feast of Tabernacles were eaten. These apples were prepared with some ingredients. Each was cut into five parts, and these were again tied into one by a red thread. Five persons ate of one apple. The viands had all been prepared by Sabbath servants, that is, by pagans who appeared to be in a kind of slavery.
Next morning Jesus went from house to house, exhorting the people to turn away from their avarice and love of gain, and engaging them to attend the instruction to be given in the synagogue. He saluted all with a congratulatory word on the close of the feast. The people of Ophra were so usurious and unpolished that they were held in the same low esteem as the publicans. But they had now improved a little. That afternoon the branches of which the tabernacles had been formed were brought processionally by the boys to the square in front of the synagogue, there piled in a heap, and burned. The Jews watched with interest the rising of the flames, presaging from their various movements good or bad fortune. Jesus preached afterward in the synagogue, taking for His subjects the happiness of Adam, his Fall, the Promise, and some passages from Josue. He spoke also of too great solicitude for the things of life, of the lilies that do not spin, of the ravens that do not sow, etc., and brought forward examples in the person of Daniel and Job. They, He said, were men of piety, engrossed in occupations, but still without worldly solicitude.
Jesus was not entertained gratis in Ophra. The disciples had to pay all expenses at the inn. While He and they were still there a man from Cyprus came to see Him. He had been to see John at Machaerus, ten hours from Ophra, and had been conducted hither by a servant of Zorobabel, the Centurion of Capharnaum. He had been commissioned by an illustrious man of Cyprus to bring him some reliable news of Jesus, also of John, of whom he had heard so much.
The messenger did not tarry long at Ophra. He left as soon as he had executed his commission, for a ship was in waiting to carry him home. He was a pagan, but of a most amiable and humble disposition. The Centurion’s servant had, at his request, conducted him from Capharnaum to John, at Machaerus, and from the latter to Jesus, at Ophra. Jesus conversed with him a long time, and the disciples put in writing before his departure all that he desired to know. One of the ancestors of his master had been King of Cyprus. He had received many Jews fleeing from persecution and had even entertained them at his own table. This work of mercy bore its fruit in one of his descendants, obtaining for him the grace to believe in Jesus Christ. In this vision I had a glimpse of Jesus retiring after the coming Pasch to Tyre and Sidon, and thence sailing over to the island of Cyprus to announce His doctrine.
From Ophra Jesus journeyed through the valley between Alexandrium and Lebona to Salem. He descended through the forest of Hareth into the plain of Salem. Gardens and beautiful walks lay around the outskirts of the city, which was most delightfully situated. It was not very large, but cleaner and more regular than many others in this region, laid out in the form of a star, the points radiating from a fountain in the center. All the streets ran toward the fountain, and were broken up by beautiful walks. The city at this period, however, had something in its appearance that bespoke decline. The fountain was regarded as sacred. It was once tainted like that near Jericho, but Eliseus had, like the one alluded to, purified it by casting into it salt and water in which the Holy Mystery had been immersed. The little edifice erected over it was very beautiful. In the center of the city and not far from the fountain arose a lofty castle, then in ruins, the large window casements destitute of windows. Nearby stood a high, round tower. On its flat top, which was surrounded by a gallery, a flag was waving. At about two-thirds of the height of the tower projected four beams toward the four quarters of the world, upon which hung large polished globes that glittered in the sun. They faced four different cities, and were a sort of memorial of David’s time. He had once sojourned here with Michol and, when obliged to flee into the land of Galaad, he had by means of these globes received information from Jonathan concerning Saul and his movements against himself. The globes, by previous agreement, were hung sometimes this way, sometimes that, thus indicating by signs what was transpiring in those parts.
Jesus was very well received. People whom He met near the harvest ricks accompanied Him to the city, from which others were coming to meet Him. They conducted Him and the disciples to a house, in which they washed their feet and provided them with sandals and garments until their own were dusted and cleaned. Travelers were often presented with the dress thus provided, but Jesus never accepted it as a gift. He generally had a change with Him, of which one of the disciples took charge. The Salemites then took Jesus to their beautiful fountain and tendered to Him the customary refreshments. There were gathered around the fountain numbers of sick of all kinds, so numerous that even the streets were lined with them. Jesus at once began to cure, passing quietly from one to another until nearly four o’clock, when He assisted at a dinner given at an inn, and thence proceeded to the synagogue to preach. During the discourse He spoke of Melchisedech, also of Malachias who had once sojourned here and who had prophesied the Sacrifice according to the order of Melchisedech. Jesus told them that the time for that Sacrifice was drawing near, and that those ancient Prophets would have been happy to have seen and heard what they now saw and heard.
The people of Salem were of the middle class, neither poor nor rich, but well inclined and charitable toward one another. The Doctors of the synagogue likewise were well-intentioned, but they were often visited by Pharisees from the neighborhood—to their own great annoyance and that of the citizens. Salem enjoyed certain privileges. It had under its jurisdiction the district in its immediate vicinity and other neighboring places. Jesus was especially kind to these people and confirmed them in their good sentiments.
On the morning of the next day Jesus went about an hour southeast of Salem to a nook between the Jordan and the little river that flows into it from Akrabis. There was a pleasure garden in this hilly region, also three fish ponds, one above another, each fed by the waters of the little river. There were also baths that could be warmed. Jesus was followed thither by many from the city. From this garden Ennon could be distinctly seen across the Jordan, whose opposite bank was full of promenaders. Toward noon all returned to the city and found assembled some of the Pharisees from Aruma. This city was situated on a mountain two hours west of Salem and about one hour northwest of the newly built city of Phasael, which lay almost hidden in a corner of the mountains. It was there the devout Jairus dwelt, whose daughter Jesus had not long ago raised to life. Among those Pharisees was a brother of Simon the Leper, of Bethania. He was one of the most distinguished Pharisees of Aruma. There were also some Sadducees present. They had all come as guests, for it was customary for the Doctors of the Law to visit one another during the days immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles. Some from other places besides Aruma were present also. A banquet was given in one of the public houses of Salem, at which Jesus and all the Doctors assisted. The latter feared that Jesus was going to preach in Salem on the coming Sabbath. They did not relish the idea, since the inhabitants were already unfavorably disposed toward themselves; therefore Simon’s brother invited Jesus to go to Aruma for the Sabbath, and Jesus accepted the invitation.
Phasael was a new place at which Herod stopped when in that part of the country. The city was surrounded by palm trees, and a little stream took its rise in the neighborhood, thence flowing into the Jordan almost opposite Socoth. The inhabitants appeared to be colonists. The city was built by Herod.
On Jesus’ arrival at Aruma, He was not received by the Pharisees outside the city gate. Consequently, with His seven disciples, all like Himself with girded garments, He passed through into the city.
There He was received according to the custom of the place by some of the well-disposed citizens, and as was always done to travelers that entered the gate with their garments girded. The fact of their entering in that style indicated that they had not yet received hospitality. Jesus and the disciples were taken to a house where their feet were washed, their clothes dusted, and refreshments offered them. After that Jesus went to the priests’ house near the synagogue, where was Simon’s brother together with several other Pharisees and Sadducees who had come hither from Thebez and other places. Providing themselves with rolls of the Scriptures, they went with Jesus to the public baths outside the city. There they deliberated upon the passages of Holy Writ that occurred in the lesson of the present Sabbath. It was like a preparation for a sermon. They were very courteous, very polished in their manner toward Jesus, whom they pressed to preach that evening, begging Him at the same time not to say anything that could make the people mutinous. They did not say this in plain terms, but they made themselves understood thus. Jesus replied sternly and unhesitatingly that He would teach what was in the Scripture, namely, the truth, and He went on to speak of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
In the synagogue Jesus taught of Abraham’s vocation and his journey to Egypt, of the Hebrew tongue, of Noe, Heber, Phaleg, and Job. The lessons were from 12 and . Jesus said that already in Heber’s time God had separated the Israelites from the rest of mankind, for He had given Heber a new language, the Hebrew, which had nothing in common with other tongues then existing. This was done in order the more effectually to separate his race from all others. Before that, Heber, like Adam, Seth and Noe, had spoken that first mother tongue. But at the building of the Tower of Babel this had been confused and broken up into numerous dialects. In order to separate Heber entirely from the rest of men, God had given him a language of his own, the holy, ancient Hebrew, without which he and his descendants would never have been able to keep themselves pure and a distinct race.
While at Aruma, Jesus received hospitality at the house of Simon the Leper’s brother. Simon himself, though now living in Bethania, was originally from Aruma. He was a person of little importance, though with aspirations to the contrary, but his brother of Aruma was well versed in the lore of the day. All things were perfectly regulated in this Pharisee’s house. If Jesus was not received with the reverence that faith inspires, still He was treated conformably to the best laws of hospitality. He was given a separate oratory, the toilet linen and vessels were beautiful, and the master of the house himself paid the customary honors to his guest. The wife and children did not make their appearance.
Jairus of Phasael, whose daughter Jesus had raised from the dead, was also here for the Sabbath and had an interview with Jesus. He then went to see the disciples and took them around through the city. His daughter was not in Phasael, but at the girls’ school up at Abelmahula. On this day many young girls came here in a body, as I had previously seen the men visiting different places in parties. Abelmahula may have been something over six hours from Phasael.
Outside of Aruma and to the east stood an immense old building occupied by aged men and widows. They were not Essenians, though they were habited in long, white robes and lived according to a certain rule. Jesus taught among them. When invited to a dinner or an entertainment, Jesus usually went from table to table and gave instructions.
The Feast of the Dedication of Solomon’s Temple was being celebrated in Aruma. The synagogue was brilliantly illuminated. In the middle of it stood a pyramid of lights. The feast proper was already past. I think it was immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles. The present nocturnal celebration was a continuation of it. Jesus preached on the Dedication. He told of God’s appearing to Solomon and saying to him that He would preserve the Israelites and the Temple as long as they remained faithful to Him, and that He would even dwell among them in the sacred edifice; but that He would destroy it if they fell away from Him. Jesus used severe language when alluding to this. He applied it to the present, to His own day, in which evil had reached its height. If, He said, they were not converted, the Temple would be destroyed. Then the Pharisees began to dispute with Him. They declared that God had not made use of such threats, that it was all a fable, an imagination of Solomon. The discussion became very lively, and I saw Jesus speaking with great animation. There was something in His appearance that affected them strongly and they could scarcely rest their eyes upon Him. He spoke to them upon the passages met today in the Sabbath lessons, of distorting and corrupting the eternal truths, of the history and chronology of ancient heathen nations, the Egyptians, for instance. He demanded of the Pharisees how they could venture to reproach these pagans, they themselves being even then in so miserable a condition, since what had been handed over to them as something so peculiarly theirs, something so sacred, the Word of the Almighty upon which His covenant with their holy Temple was founded, they could whimsically and capriciously reject as imaginations and fables. He affirmed and repeated God’s promises to Solomon, and told them that in consequence of their false interpretations and sinful explanations, Jehovah’s menaces were about to be fulfilled, for when faith in His most holy promises was wavering, the foundation of His Temple also began to totter. He said: “Yes, the Temple will be overturned and destroyed, because ye do not believe in the promises, because ye do not know that which is holy, because ye treat it as a thing profane! You yourselves are laboring at its downfall. No part of it shall escape destruction. It will go to pieces on account of your sins!” In this wise spoke Jesus, and with such significance that He appeared to allude to Himself under the name of the Temple, as before His Passion He said still more plainly: “I will build it up again in three days.” His words on this occasion were not so significant, though sufficiently so to fill His hearers with fury not unmixed with dread, and make them feel that there was something extraordinary and mysterious in His speech. They expressed their indignation in loud mutterings. Jesus paid no attention to them. He coolly continued His discourse in language they could not gainsay, for though against their will, they were interiorly convinced of the truth of His words. As He left the synagogue, the Pharisees offered Him their hand, as if desirous of apologizing for their violence. They wished to maintain an appearance of friendliness. Jesus gently addressed to them some earnest words, and left the synagogue, which was then closed.
I had a vision of Solomon. He was standing upon a column in the court of the Temple and near the altar of incense, addressing the people and praying aloud to God. The column was high enough for him to be distinctly seen. There was an interior ascent to the top upon which was a broad platform with a chair. It was movable and could be transported from place to place. I afterward saw Solomon in the fortress of Sion, for he did not yet occupy his new palace. It was there also that at an earlier period I saw God communicating with David, especially at the time of Nathan’s embassy. There was also a terrace sheltered by a tent, upon which David slept. I saw Solomon praying on that terrace. A supernatural light of intense brilliancy shone around him, and from the light a voice proceeded.
Solomon was a handsome man. He was tall and his limbs were rounded, not spare and angular like those of most people of that place. His hair was brown and straight, his beard short and well trimmed, his brown eyes full of penetration, his face round and full with rather prominent cheekbones. He had not at that time devoted himself to his seraglio of pagan women.
To avoid scandalizing His enemies, Jesus did not publicly cure in Aruma. The people were besides intimidated by the Pharisees, and dared not make their appearance by day. It was an exceedingly touching sight to see Jesus, as I did, going on two successive nights through the moonlit streets and seeking admittance at some of the poorest gates where people were humbly awaiting Him. With the two disciples that accompanied Him, He entered the courtyards and cured many sick. They were pious souls who believed in Him and had implored His help through the intervention of the disciples.
All this could be easily done without observation, since the streets in that quarter were very quiet. They were lined by the walls of the forecourt in which were little entrance gates; the windows of the houses were in the back, opening into the courtyards and little gardens. The people were patiently waiting for Jesus. I remember seeing a woman afflicted with an issue of blood. She was closely enveloped in a long veil, and was led by two young girls into the court. Jesus did not remain long by the sick when He cured at night. To arouse their faith, He usually put to them the question: “Dost thou believe that God can cure thee, and that He has given that power to One on earth?” These were the words, or something to the same effect, for I cannot clearly recall them. Then He presented His girdle to the sick woman to kiss and spoke some words that sounded like the following: “I heal thee through the Mystery” (or it may have been: I heal thee in the intention) “in which this girdle had been worn from the beginning and will be worn till the end.” In curing others Jesus laid the ends of the girdle on their heads. It was a long, wide strip like a towel. It was worn sometimes unfolded, sometimes folded into a narrow band, and again with long, hanging ends ornamented with fringe.
The valley to the east of Aruma, which extended from east to west in the direction of Sichar and northward to the mountain northeast of Sichem, was woody. To the east of this mountain, which rose in the midst of the plain of Sichar, was the little wood known as the Grove of Mambre. It was there that Abraham had first pitched his tent, there also that God appeared to him and made to him the promise of a numerous posterity. A large tree stood nearby. Its bark was not so rough as that of the oak and it bore flowers and fruit at the same time. The latter were used for the knobs of pilgrim staffs. It was near this tree that the Lord appeared.
The highroad ran from Sichar to the left of the wood and around Mount Garizim. In the plain to the north of the forest was a city that recalled Abraham’s sojourn in those parts. Some vestiges of it must still exist. It was three hours north of Aruma and two northwest of Phasael. It was called Thanath-Silo.