Jesus Cures in Bethsaida and Again Returns to Capharnaum
Two blind men came to meet Jesus on His arrival in Bethsaida, crying out to Him for help and, as if to disprove the old saying, they were leading each other. Jesus restored their sight, cured also the lame and gave speech to the dumb. Wherever He appeared, crowds pressed around Him bringing to Him their sick. Many touched Him, and were cured. The people were everywhere expecting Him, because they knew that He was coming again for the Sabbath. The story of the two possessed and of the swine was already well-known here, and had excited great comment and astonishment. Some of the disciples baptized the cured at Peter’s house. But as Jesus continued His labors and took no time either to eat or to rest, the disciples sought Him out and tried to induce Him to take some repose and refreshment.
When He went back to Capharnaum, a man dumb, blind, and possessed by the demon came to meet Him, and Jesus cured him instantaneously. This miracle created intense astonishment, for even when approaching Jesus, the man had recovered his speech and cried out: “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus touched his eyes, and he saw. He was possessed of many devils, having been wholly perverted by the heathens on the other side of the lake. The sorcerers and soothsayers of the land of Gergesa had seized upon him. They dragged him around with them by a cord and exhibited him in other places, where they showed off his strength in all kinds of skillful feats. They showed how he, though blind and dumb, still could accomplish everything, could know and understand all, could go everywhere, could bring everything and know everything by virtue of certain incantations, for all this the demon performed in him. These pagan sorcerers from Gergesa, who were ever wandering through the Decapolis and other cities, used the devil by means of that poor creature to help them earn their bread. If they journeyed over the sea, their miserable victim was not allowed to go on board a ship, but at the command of his masters, he was obliged to swim like a dog at its side. No one any longer troubled himself about him, for he was looked upon as forever lost. Most of the time he had no place of shelter. He lay in tombs and caves and endured all manner of ill-treatment from his cruel masters. The poor wretch had long been in Capharnaum, and yet no one had led him to Jesus. Now, however, he went to Him himself and was cured.
While Jesus was teaching in Peter’s house near the city gate just before the Sabbath began, a great tumult arose in Capharnaum. The miracle of the swine and the deliverance of the dumb and blind possessed had created great excitement. Several boats of Jews from Gergesa had crossed the lake to spread far and wide the report that Jesus cast out devils by the power of the devil. This irritated the people, and they gathered in large numbers outside the synagogue. As Jesus drew near to the city, the man possessed of the devil, as well as blind and dumb, ran out through the streets to meet Him. He was without a keeper and was followed by a crowd of people who became witnesses of his miraculous cure. They were so transported by it that they gave loud expression to their indignation against the Pharisees, who never wearied inveighing against Jesus, repeating again as they were now doing that He healed through the power of the devil. Among the crowd here assembled were many armed with a crossbow. These men called out to the Pharisees to desist from slandering Jesus, to recognize His power and acknowledge that never before had such things been done in Israel, and that no Prophet before Him had ever wrought such wonders. If they did not cease from obstinately opposing Jesus, they might depart from Capharnaum, for that they (the people) could no longer support such abuse and ingratitude.
On hearing this, the Pharisees pretended to be quite subdued. One of them, a great, broad fellow, stepped out before the rest and craftily addressed the crowd. He said it was indeed true that never had such doctrines been heard, never had such doings, such wonders been seen in Israel, no Prophet had ever performed the like. But he begged them to consider the circumstances attending the driving out of the demon from the man of Gergesa, as also those connected with the similar wonders wrought among them that very day. The man whom they had just seen delivered from the power of the devil, owing to his relations with the Gergeseans, just as good as belonged to them. In the critical examination of such things, one could not be too circumspect, etc” etc. Then he went on to give them a lengthy description of the kingdom of darkness. He described its orders and hierarchies, and showed how one is subordinate to another. Jesus, he said, had now a powerful spirit in league with Him. If not, why had He not long ago delivered that furious demoniac? Why, if He were the Son of God, was He not able to banish the demons from the land of Gergesa, without going there in person? No! He was obliged first to go into that country, and conclude an agreement with the chief of the Gergesean demons. He had to make a bargain with that demon prince and give him the swine as his booty, for although inferior to Beelzebub, that prince was still of some consequence. And now since He had freed that man at Gergesa, He had, by virtue of the same agreement, delivered the one here in Capharnaum through the power of Beelzebub. With much cunning and eloquence the Pharisee advanced the above and similar stuff. Then he begged his hearers to be calm and attend to the conclusion, for their own doings would show forth the fruit of all this excitement. The laborer no longer performed his task on working days, but ran around after the new Teacher and His miracles, and the Sabbath was turned into a day of din and uproar. Then he exhorted them to reflect, to go home at once and take some rest in preparation for the coming feast. By such persuasions he succeeded in inducing the people to disperse, and many of the light-minded were half convinced by his empty babble.
It was the eve of the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple. In the houses and schools stood pyramids of lighted lamps, while in the gardens and courtyards and at the fountains were lights and torches arranged in all kinds of figures. Jesus, followed by His disciples, entered the synagogue and taught unmolested, for His enemies were afraid of Him. He knew their thoughts and in what terms they had addressed the people, and He made allusion to it in these words: “Every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand. And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then shall his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out?” With words like these Jesus silenced them and, without further contradiction, left the synagogue. He passed that night at Peter’s.
The next day Jesus, accompanied by some of His disciples, visited Jairus’ family, whom He consoled and exhorted to the practice of good. They were very humble and entirely changed. They had divided their wealth into three parts, one for the poor, one for the Community, and the third for themselves. Jairus’ old mother was especially touched and thoroughly converted to good. The daughter did not make her appearance until called, and then came forward veiled, her whole deportment breathing humility. She had grown taller. She held herself erect, and presented the appearance of one in perfect health. Jesus visited likewise the pagan Centurion Cornelius, consoled and instructed his family, and then went with him to see Zorobabel, at whose house the conversation turned upon Herod’s birthday and John. Both Zorobabel and Cornelius remarked that Herod had invited all the nobility, including themselves, to Machaerus for the celebration of his birthday, and they asked Jesus whether He would permit them to go, Jesus replied that if they dared to stand aloof from the evils that might there take place, it was not forbidden them to go, although it would be better if they could excuse themselves and remain at home. They expressed their indignation at Herod’s adulterous life and John’s imprisonment, and hoped confidently that Herod would set him at liberty on his birthday.
Jesus next visited His Mother, with whom were then stopping Susanna Alpheus, Mary, the daughter of Cleophas of Nazareth, Susanna of Jerusalem, Dina the Samaritan, and Martha. Jesus told them that He was going away the next morning. Martha was very sad on account of Magdalen’s relapse into sin and the state of demoniacal possession in which she then was. She asked Jesus whether she should go to her, but He told her to wait awhile. Magdalen was now often like one beside herself. She yielded to fits of anger and pride, struck all that came in her way, tormented her maids, and was always arrayed in the most wanton attire. I saw her striking the man that lived as master in her house, and I beheld him returning her blows with ill-treatment. At times she fell into frightful sadness, she wept and lamented. She ran about the house seeking for Jesus and crying out: “Where is the Teacher? Where is He? He has abandoned me!” and then fell into convulsions like epileptic fits.
One may imagine the pain of her brother and sister at beholding one of a noble family, one so richly endowed by nature, given up to so frightful a state.
What a touching sight, that of Jesus traversing the streets of Capharnaum, His robe sometimes girded up, sometimes at full length; His motions so well regulated, and yet without stiffness; His step so gentle that He seemed rather to glide than to walk; His whole appearance, though breathing simplicity, so full of majesty that His like was never before seen! There was nothing strange in His look, no irresolution in His manner. He never took a false step, never a useless one. He cast no vain glance, made no aimless turn, and yet in all His bearing there was no trace of affectation or design.
Martha and Susanna had visited their inns on the way through Galilee to Samaria, for they exercised a kind of general superintendence, the other women seeing to those established in their own respective districts. They went together to the several inns, taking with them asses laden with all kinds of household necessaries. Once when Mary the Suphanite accompanied them, the report spread among the people that Mary Magdalen now went around with the women who provided for the needs of the Prophet of Nazareth and His party. The Suphanite was in figure very like Magdalen, and neither of them was very well-known on this side of the Jordan. Besides being called Mary and the ill repute her past life had gained for her, the Suphanite also had anointed Jesus at a feast given by one of the Pharisees. She was consequently, even at this early date, confounded with Magdalen, a mistake that only increased with time among those not well acquainted with the Community.
The holy women took care that their inns were well supplied with beds, coverlets, linen, woolen clothes, sandals, cups, jugs of balsam, oil, etc. Although Jesus had need of little, yet He was desirous that the disciples should not be a burden to others, and should find their necessary wants supplied. In this way He deprived the Pharisees of all reasonable cause of reproach.
The Mission of the Apostles and Disciples
At the close of the Sabbath, Jesus spoke again in the synagogue, inveighing in severe terms against the wickedness of the Pharisees in saying that He drove out devils through the power of the devil. He challenged them to say whether His actions and His teachings were not in perfect harmony, whether He did not practice what He preached. But they could allege nothing against Him.
In Peter’s house outside the city gate, Jesus taught on the Beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” and made the application against the Pharisees. After that He prepared the disciples for their approaching mission.
Jesus would not longer remain in Capharnaum—the crowd was too great and too excited. Many Gergeseans also had come hither, and they wanted to follow Jesus. They were poor, were habituated to a wandering life, and thought it would be a good thing to be supported by Him. Besides this they were under the impression that Jesus would, like Saul or David, cause Himself to be anointed king and then establish His throne in Jerusalem. But Jesus told them to go back to their homes, to do penance, to keep the Commandments, and to practice the lessons they had heard from Him. His Kingdom, He said, was far different from what they imagined, and no sinner should have part therein.
Jesus afterward left Capharnaum, accompanied by The Twelve and by thirty disciples. They directed their steps northward. Crowds of people were journeying along the same way. Jesus frequently paused to instruct sometimes this, sometimes that crowd, who then turned off in the direction of their homes. In this way He arrived at about three in the afternoon at a beautiful mountain, three hours from Capharnaum and not quite so far from the Jordan. Five roads branched out from it, and about as many little towns lay around it. The people who had followed Jesus thus far now took their leave, while He with His own party, having first taken some refreshment at the foot of the mountain, began to ascend the height. There was a teacher’s chair upon it, from which He again instructed the Apostles and disciples upon their vocation. He said that now they should show forth what they had learned. They should proclaim the advent of the Kingdom, that the last chance for doing penance had arrived, that the end of John’s life was very near. They should baptize, impose hands, and expel demons. He taught them how they should conduct themselves in discussions, how to recognize true from false friends, and how to confound the lat-ter. He told them that now none should be greater than the others. In the various places to which their mission called them, they should go among the pious, should live poorly and humbly, and be burdensome to none. He told them also how to separate and how again to unite. Two Apostles and some disciples should journey together, while some other disciples should go on ahead to gather together the people and announce the coming of the former. The Apostles, He said, should carry with them little flasks of oil, which He taught them how to consecrate and how to use in effecting cures.¹ Then He gave them all the other instructions recorded in the Gospels on the occasion of their mission. He made allusion to no special danger in store for them, but said only: “Today ye will everywhere be welcomed, but a time will come wherein they will persecute you!”
After that the Apostles knelt down in a circle around Jesus as He prayed and laid His hands upon the head of each; the disciples He only blessed. Then they embraced and separated.
Among the directions given to the Apostles, Jesus had indicated to them the place and time at which they should again join Him, in order to bring Him news and exchange places with the disciples that remained with Him. Six of the Apostles continued with Him: Peter, James the Less, John, Philip. Thomas and Judas, besides twelve of the disciples. Among the latter were the three brothers James, Sadoch, and Heliachim (Mary Heli’s son), Manahem, Nathanael (also called Little Cleophas), and several others. The other six Apostles had with them eighteen disciples, among whom were Joses Barsabas, Judas Barsabas, Saturnin and Nathanael Chased. Nathanael, the bridegroom of Cana, did not travel around. He attended to other affairs for the Community, and like Lazarus rendered service in his own immediate circle. All shed tears on separating. The Apostles who were going forth on their mission descended the mountain by the eastern route leading to the Jordan, where I saw a place situated, Lecum by name, about a quarter of an hour from the river. When Jesus came down the mountain, He was again surrounded by a crowd returning home from Capharnaum.
From the foot of the mountain Jesus started with the disciples southward from Saphet, which was situated on another high mountain, to a place called Hucuca. Before reaching this place, He was met by many people who received Him and the disciples with expressions of great joy.
At a fountain a blind man and several cripples were awaiting Jesus’ coming, and they now implored Him for help. The blind man’s eyes were infected with disease. Jesus ordered him to wash his face at the fountain. When he had done so, He anointed his eyes with oil, broke off a little twig from a bush nearby, held it before his eyes, and asked whether he saw it or not. The man answered: “Yes, I see a very tall tree.” Jesus anointed his eyes once more and repeated His question, whereupon the man cast himself on his knees before Him, crying out joyfully: “Lord, I see mountains, trees, people! I see everything!” There was great jubilation among the people as they escorted the man back into the city.
Jesus went on curing the lame and the palsied who were standing around on crutches made of light but very firm wood. Each had three feet, so that it could stand alone; and when the two were crossed together, the sick could rest the breast against them.
When the blind man and his escorts went shouting with joy into the city, many of the inhabitants, the Elders of the synagogue, and the school teachers with their scholars came flocking out to meet Jesus. They were full of joy. Jesus returned with them, went into the school and gave them some instructions in parables on the Eight Beatitudes. He exhorted all to penance, for the Kingdom was near. He explained the parables at great length. The disciples were present. Before beginning, Jesus had recommended to them strict attention, in order that they might repeat what they heard when they scattered around among the houses and villages in the environs. It was thus that they acquired in Jesus’ public discourses what they, in their turn, had to teach in the country around; for the Apostles along with several of the disciples scattered as usual among the environs to cure and to teach. They met again in the evening at the place indicated by Jesus and to which He Himself had gone. Here they stopped with the Elder of the synagogue, who placed before them fish, honey, little rolls and fruit, of which they ate.
Hucuca was situated about five hours to the northwest of Capharnaum, five hours southwest of the mountain upon which Jesus had given the Apostles their mission, and about three hours south of Saphet. There were none but Jews in the place, and they were tolerably good people, for most of them had received John’s baptism. They manufactured stuffs of fine texture, narrow scarves of wool, tassels and fringes of silk; they knit sandals also, under which they placed two supports like heels. These sandals were flexible in the middle, and very comfortable, for they allowed the dust to fall through holes made for that purpose.
The Apostles and several of the disciples with them scattered, two by two, throughout the city and its environs. Hucuca must have once been a strong fortress, for it was surrounded by moats now dry, and its approach was over a bridge. One could look through the gate far into the city and see its beautiful synagogue. Hucuca was surrounded by verdant walks planted with trees so thick and high that, even at a short distance, its houses could not be seen. Its synagogue was extraordinarily beautiful. It was surrounded by a colonnade into which the main building could be opened for the accommodation of a more considerable crowd; opposite the entrance the wall was solid and formed a semicircle. It stood upon an open square at the end of the street upon which was the entrance. The whole city was well built and very clean. The people gathered into the synagogue. Jesus went first into two separate halls, in one healing many sick men, in the other women sick of all kinds of maladies. Many sick children were brought to Him, some young enough to be carried in the arms, and He healed them. The healthy children, He blessed.
In the synagogue Jesus taught of prayer and of the Messiah. He said that the Messiah had already come upon earth, that they (His hearers) were living in His time, that they were listening to His teachings. He spoke of the adoration of God in spirit and in truth, and I felt that it meant the adoration of the Father in the Holy Ghost and in Jesus Christ, for Jesus is the Truth. He is the true, the living, the incarnate God, the Son conceived of the Holy Spirit. At these words, the Doctors of the synagogue humbly begged Him to say who He really was, whence He came, whether they whom they looked upon as His parents were not His parents, His relatives not His relatives, whether He was really the Messiah, the Son of God. It would be well, they said, for the Doctors of the Law to know positively what to think. Being placed over others, they before all others ought to know Him. But Jesus answered them evasively, If He said, “I am He!” they would not believe Him, but would say that He was the Son of those people of whom they had spoken. They should not inquire into His origin, but should hear His doctrine and observe His actions. Whoever does the will of the Father is the Son of the Father, for the Son is in the Father and Father is in the Son, and whoever fulfills the will of the Son fulfills the will of the Father. Jesus spoke so beautifully on this subject and on that of prayer that many cried out, “Lord, Thou art the Christ! Thou art the Truth!” and falling down they wished to adore Him. But He repeated to them: “Adore the Father in spirit and in truth!” and He left the city with His disciples and the Elder of the synagogue, at whose house they passed the night. In this suburb there was a school very well attended, but no synagogue. The Feast of Lights was still being celebrated.
Next day Jesus taught again in Hucuca on the parable of the sower and the different ways in which the seed is received. Then He spoke of the Good Shepherd come to seek the lost sheep, and who would be happy to carry back even one on His shoulder. He said thus would the Good Shepherd do until His enemies put Him to death; and thus also should His servants and His servants’ servant do until the end of time. If at the end wily one sheep was saved, yet would His love rest satisfied. Jesus spoke most tenderly on this point.
Jesus In Bethanath, Galgal, Elcese, And Saphet
The Apostles and several of the disciples went on ahead, while Jesus with some of the others returned by the way He had come; that is, He went back to Bethanath, one hour and a half to the south of Saphet.
When within about half an hour of Bethanath, He was met by a blind man, who was led by two lovely boys in short, yellow tunics and large chip hats that shaded them from the sun. They were the children of Levites. The man was old and of honorable standing; he had long hoped for Jesus’ coming. Accompanied by the boys, who had seen Jesus approaching, he hurried forward to meet Him, crying out from a distance: “Jesus, Thou Son of David, help me! Have mercy on me!” When he came up with Him, he cast himself at His feet and said: “Lord, Thou wilt certainly give me light again! I have awaited Thee for so long, and for so long I have felt interiorly that Thou wouldst come and cure me!” Jesus replied: “As thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee according to thy faith,” and taking him to a fountain in the grove, He commanded him to wash his eyes. The man’s eyes, as well as his whole forehead, were ulcerated and covered with a crust. When he had washed, the scales fell from his eyes. Then Jesus anointed them with oil, as also his forehead and temples. Sight immediately returned, and the man gave thanks. Jesus blessed him and the two boys, and predicted that they should at some future day announce the word of God.
They now drew near the city, outside which the Apostles and other disciples again joined Jesus. Many of the citizens had here gathered, and when they saw the blind man coming back with his sight restored, their joy was quite extraordinary. The man’s name was Ktesiphon. But he was not that blind Ktesiphon who likewise was cured, and who afterward became a disciple and went with Lazarus to Gaul.
Jesus, accompanied by the Levites and all the people, went to the synagogue in which He delivered an instruction. The Feast of the Dedication, or the Feast of Lights as it was sometimes called, was still being celebrated, so that it was a kind of holiday. Jesus again explained the parables of the sower and of the Good Shepherd. The people were good and quite joyous over Jesus’ coming among them. He stopped in the Levites’ house near the school. There were no Pharisees in Bethanath. The Levites lived together as in a monastery and sent people out to other places.
Bethanath was once a fortified city and full of pagans, for the tribe of Nephtali, instead of exterminating them, had long held them tributary. But at this time there were no pagans in the city. They had been expelled when the Temple was re-established, when Esdras and Nehemias had obliged the Jews to send away their heathen wives. The terrible threats that God made to His people by the Prophets if they persevered in such alliances and refused to drive the pagans from the country, thereby exposing themselves to ever-present temptation to contract marriages with heathens, were fully realized; for around Thabor and in the chain between Endor and Scythopolis, where the peaks are so irregularly piled one on another, and where I saw so much gold hidden in the earth, the heathens had never been driven out, and the country had therefore become a wilderness.
From Bethanath Jesus went with the Apostles and disciples northward around Saphet to Galgal, a large, beautiful place through which ran a great highway. He went with His followers to the synagogue. There were some Pharisees in this city. Jesus preached vehemently against them, explained all the passages of the Prophet Malachias that spoke of the Messiah, the Precursor John, and of the new, clean Sacrifice. He ended by announcing that the time for the fulfillment of these Prophecies had arrived.
From Galgal Jesus went eastward to Elcese, which lay to the north of Saphet, and where the Prophet Nahum was born. Here He taught for a short time and visited the leper hospital, where He cured about eight of the inmates and commanded them to show themselves to the priests in Saphet. He also taught the shepherds. I saw in the fields around Elcese grass of extraordinary height, and in it numbers of camels grazing. Jesus went likewise to a mountain containing many caves, in which dwelt heathens, whom He instructed. The whole day was spent in walking, instructing and curing, for everywhere on the roads the sick and suffering were brought to Jesus.
Toward evening He arrived at Bethan, which lay to the west under the heights of Saphet and about one hour from Bethanath. It was a little place, a colony from Bethanath, and was situated so near to the steep, western heights of Saphet that from them they could look down upon the little town. Jesus and the disciples put up here with some relatives, for the daughter of Elizabeth’s sister was married at Bethan. She had five children, of whom the youngest girl was about twelve years old. The sons were already from eighteen to twenty. This family, with some others disposed like themselves, lived apart in a row of houses built near the walls of the city. Some were built in the rocks, some in the walls themselves. All belonged to the married Essenians, and the husband of Elizabeth’s niece was the Superior. The family owned here some property inherited from their forefathers. They were very pious people. They spoke to Jesus of John and asked Him with anxiety whether or not he would soon be set at liberty. Jesus replied in words that made them very grave and sad, though without disturbing their peace of mind.
John had visited them when he came first from the source of the Jordan in the wilderness, and they had been among the first to go to his baptism. They spoke to Jesus of their sons, whom they intended soon to send to the fishery at Capharnaum. Jesus replied that those fishermen, that is Peter and his companions, had begun another kind of fishing, and that their young sons also would follow Him in their own good time. They did indeed join The Seventy-Two. Jesus taught and cured here. I heard Him saying that the other disciples were then on the confines of Sidon and Tyre, and that He Himself would go back to Judea. I saw that Thomas showed great pleasure at the prospect of this journey, because he anticipated opposition on the part of the Pharisees and hoped to be able to dispute with them. He expressed his sentiments to the other disciples, but they did not appear to share his satisfaction. Jesus reproved his exaggerated zeal, and told him that a time would come when his own faith would waver. But Thomas could in nowise understand His words.
While Jesus was teaching on the Beatitudes in the school at Beten, the Pharisees of Saphet came down to invite Him to their city for the Sabbath. He explained before them the parable of the seed falling on different kinds of ground, but they would not understand the allusion contained in the rocky soil. They disputed the point with Him, but He soon reduced them to silence. When they invited Him for the Sabbath, He replied that He would go with them for the sake of the lost sheep, but that both they and the Sadducees (some of whom were at Saphet) would be scandalized on His account. They replied: “Rabbi, leave that to us.” Jesus responded that He knew them well, and that their unrighteousness filled the land. He went up to Saphet, followed by many from Bethan. Saphet on this side was built on so steep a part of the mountain that frequently the roof of one house was on a level with the ground floor of another. The road lay far below the houses, to which one had to mount by steps hewn in the rock. It took half an hour to climb up to the synagogue, where the mountain assumed the form of a great plateau whose northeastern declivity was not so steep. Outside the city Jesus was received with solemn ceremony by many good people. They surrounded Him waving green branches and singing canticles. Then they washed His feet, as well as those of the disciples, and offered them the customary refreshments. Thus attended, Jesus reached the synagogue, where a great crowd was assembled. The Feast of the Dedication closed today, and they were celebrating that of the new moon as well as the Sabbath; besides all this, the desire to see Jesus and His disciples added to the numbers present.
Saphet could boast of many Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes, and simple Levites. There was a kind of religious school here, in which youths were educated in all the Jewish liberal arts and in theology. Thomas, a couple of years before, had been a student at this school. He went now to visit one of the head teachers, a Pharisee, who expressed his wonder at seeing him in such company. But Thomas silenced him by his zealous defense of Jesus’ actions and teachings. Some Pharisees and Sadducees from Jerusalem had managed to insinuate themselves into this school, and their arbitrary dealings rendered them insupportable to even the Pharisees and teachers of the place. Among them were some of those who had sent for Jesus. They addressed Him in a very insinuating speech in which, alluding to His fame and His miracles, they suggested that He should raise no excitement or commotion in their city. They had been very much scandalized at the solemn reception tendered Him by the people. As the Sabbath had not yet begun, Jesus replied to them in the outer porch before all the people. He spoke in very strong language of the disturbance and scandal which, owing to their efforts, had been spread throughout the country. He, however, mentioned nothing in particular, though He challenged them to upbraid Him with anything wherein He had violated the Law, He who had been sent by His Father for its perfect accomplishment.
While thus disputing with them, the lepers whom He had healed the day before at Elcese presented themselves to fulfill His order to go to the priests for inspection. Jesus exclaimed: “Behold how I fulfill the Law! I ordered these men to appear before you, although they had no obligation to do so, since they were made clean instantaneously by the command of God, and not by the skill of man.” This encounter greatly vexed the Pharisees, who went nevertheless to examine into the cure. It was usual in such cases merely to inspect the breast. If that was clean, the whole person was judged to be the same. The Pharisees, astounded and vexed, were forced to declare these men freed from the ban of leprosy.
Besides the passages of Scripture appointed for this particular Sabbath, Jesus taught from Genesis, from the First Book of Kings, and likewise upon the Ten Commandments. He dwelt upon several points deduced from His texts, which both Pharisees and Sadducees felt in their hearts were thrusts at themselves. He spoke of the fulfillment of the Promises and announced the chastisement of God upon all that would not profit by His exhortations to penance. He alluded to the destruction of the Temple and the ruin of many cities. He spoke of the true Law, which they did not comprehend, and of their own law of yesterday, as He denominated it, which He absolutely condemned. I understood that He meant by this latter something like the Jewish books of the present day, the Talmud, I think, because here at Saphet they were especially esteemed and studied.
The exercises of the synagogue over, Jesus and the disciples went to the house of one of the Pharisees to the place, who kept a public inn for teachers and rabbis. The other Pharisees also took part in the repast. During the meal, Jesus read the Pharisees a severe lecture, because they reproached the disciples for not washing their hands before coming to table and for neglecting other observances customary before eating. He likewise checked them for their ridiculous fastidiousness respecting the serving up of the food, for they were accustomed to reprehend the servers for the slightest stain upon the dishes or their contents.
Next morning numbers of very sick persons, some of them aged, were brought and ranged in the courtyard before the house in which Jesus was stopping. It had cost their friends no little trouble to bring them from the pathless, mountainous city. Jesus began to cure them one after another. Some were deaf; others blind, palsied, lame; in a word, there were sick of all kinds among them. Jesus made use of prayer, the imposition of hands, consecrated oil, and in general of more ceremonies than usual. He spoke with the disciples, taught them to make use of this manner of curing, and exhorted the sick according to their various needs.
The Pharisees and Sadducees from Jerusalem were very much scandalized at all that they saw. They wanted to send away some of the newly arrived sick, and they began to quarrel. They would by no means tolerate such disturbance on the Sabbath, and so great a tumult arose that Jesus, turning to them, inquired what they wanted. And now they began a dispute with Him on the subject of His teaching, especially of His constant reference to the Father and the Son. “But,” they said, “we know well whose Son Thou art!” Jesus replied that whoever does the will of the Father is the son of the Father. But that he who does not keep the Commandments has no right to raise his voice in judgment upon others; he should rather rejoice at not being cast out of the house as an intruder. But they continued to allege all sorts of objections against His cures, to accuse Him of not having washed before the meal of the preceding evening, and to repudiate His charge against them of not keeping the Law. They went so far that Jesus, to their exceedingly great terror, began to write on the wall of the house, and in letters that they alone could decipher, their secret sins and transgressions. Then He asked them whether they wanted the writing to remain upon the wall and become publicly known, or whether, effacing it, they would permit Him to continue His work in peace. The Pharisees were thoroughly frightened. They rubbed out the writing and slunk away, leaving Jesus to continue His cures. These Pharisees had been guilty of embezzlement of the public funds. Legacies and donations intended for the foundation of homes for widows and orphans, they had used for the erection of all kinds of magnificent buildings. Saphet was rich in such establishments, and yet there were to be found in it numbers of poor, miserable creatures.
That evening Jesus closed the instructions in the synagogue, and passed the night in the same house. There was a fountain near the synagogue. The mountain of Saphet was beautiful and green, covered with numerous trees and gardens. The roads were bordered by sweet-scented myrtles. High up on the plateau were large, four-cornered houses and solid foundations around which could be erected tent habitations. This city was largely engaged in the manufacture of vestments for the priests, and it was full of students and learned men.
Jesus in Cariathaim and Abram
Jesus went with the disciples around the environs of Saphet and cured many sick who had been brought out of the houses and laid on the road by which He was to pass. Early in the morning He sent one of the nephews of Joseph of Arimathea, along with Seraphia’s son, to the neighboring town of Cariathaim, about three hours from Saphet, with a commission to prepare the inn. He and the disciples left Saphet sometime after. The disciples scattered here and there on the road, while Jesus also went along teaching and healing. He went first westward between Bethan and Elcese, after which the road turned toward the south. Somewhat beyond Elcese—near which was a beautiful mountain—lay a little, oval lake as large as that near the Baths of Bethulia. It was the source of a stream that flowed down into the valley which, southeast of Cariathaim, declined into that of Capharnaum. This valley was narrow in some parts, wide in others, and extended seven hours before reaching Capharnaum.
On the way to Cariathaim, Jesus was met by some demoniacs who entreated Him to help them. They told Him that the disciples had not been able to relieve them, and that they thought He could do better than they. Jesus replied that if the disciples had not relieved them, it was not the fault of the disciples but their own want of faith, and He commanded them to go to Cariathaim and remain fasting until He should deliver them. He let them wait awhile and do penance. Half an hour from Cariathaim, Jesus was received by the Levites of the place, the school teachers accompanied by their children, and many of the good inhabitants who had come out to meet Him. The two disciples who had gone on ahead to prepare the inn were also there. They received Jesus near a bathing garden, which was supplied with water conducted through a canal from that little stream of which I have spoken. The garden was full of beautiful trees, flowers, and covered walks, and enclosed by a rampart and an astonishingly dense hedge. They washed the feet of Jesus and His disciples and entertained them with the usual refreshments.
Jesus here instructed the children for a little while and gave them His blessing. It may have been nearly five o’clock when they started for the city, which lay upon a hill overlooking the valley. The whole way to the synagogue Jesus healed many sick of all kinds whom He met in the streets. In the synagogue He again taught on the Beatitudes, also of the punishment of those Levites that had dared to lay their hands upon the Ark of the Covenant. And yet greater chastisements, He said, would fall upon those that would lay hands on the Son of Man, of whom the Ark was only a symbol.
While in Cariathaim, Jesus put up at a hired inn which had been furnished with necessaries out of the common stock of the Community by the two disciples sent on ahead. The food was prepared at a house in the city, where also cooking for the sick was done. The Levites ate with Jesus and the disciples.
Cariathaim was a Levitical city, and in it were no Pharisees. A couple of its families were related to Zachary. Jesus visited them and found them very much troubled on John’s account. He recalled to them the wonders that had preceded and accompanied John’s birth, and spoke of his mission and wonderful life. He reminded them likewise of many circumstances attendant on the birth of Mary’s Son, showed them that John’s fate lay in the hands of God, and that he would die when he had fulfilled his mission. Jesus prepared them in this way for John’s death.
The possessed whom He had sent to Cariathaim on the preceding day, and many other sick, accosted Him near the synagogue on the subject of their cure. He healed several, but others He sent away to fulfill certain prescriptions of fasting, alms-giving, and prayer. He did this here rather than elsewhere, because the people of this place were earnest in the keeping of the Law. After that He repaired with the disciples to the garden in which He had been received, where He taught and the disciples baptized. Encamped under tents in the neighborhood were pagans awaiting Jesus’ coming. They had already been in Capharnaum, whence they had been ordered here. There were in all about a hundred baptized. They stood in the water around a basin. Peter and James the Less baptized, while the others laid their hands on the neophytes.
In the evening Jesus taught in the synagogue, His subject being the Eight Beatitudes. He spoke also of the false consolation of the false prophets who had rejected the menaces of the true whose prophecies had, nevertheless, been fulfilled. He repeated His threats against those who would not receive Him who was sent by God.
Leaving Cariathaim, Jesus went with the disciples toward the south. He was as solemnly escorted on His departure by the Levites and schoolchildren as He had been received on His entrance. The people of Cariathaim were engaged in the transportation of goods and the manufacture of vestments for priests out of the silk that they imported from afar. On the southern declivity of the opposite side of the valley, where lay a place called Naasson, there was a sugar cane plantation whose products formed a staple of trade. Jesus ascended that height, while the disciples scattered among some of the places more to the east of the valley. Jesus taught near Naasson those whom He met coming from Capharnaum, among them some idolaters. On such occasions, Jesus was frequently accompanied a part of His way by crowds. I saw Him curing several, among others two poor cripples who were lying on the roadside. He took them by the hand and commanded them to rise. They immediately wanted to follow Him, but He forbade them to do so. He traversed another valley, arrived at a height situated before the city of Abram in the tribe of Aser, and put up at an inn outside the city, where were found beautiful gardens and pleasure grounds. There were only two disciples with Jesus when He entered the inn, the others not having yet arrived. The country here on the eastern side of the high ridges that run from Libanus down to the valley of Zabulon was rich in meadow land and very charming. Herds of cattle and camels were grazing in the high grass. Westward toward the lake, orchards were more numerous.
Abram was situated about three hours south of Cariathaim. But Jesus, not having followed the direct route, was certainly five hours on His journey thither.
In the evening Thomas, John, and Nathanael joined Jesus in the inn. The others were still in the neighboring towns. The mountain upon which Abram was built formed in its length the boundary between Nephtali and Zabulon. The steward of the inn laid before Jesus a dispute, which he begged Him to decide. It had reference to the wells in the vicinity used for watering the cattle. As the two tribes were so near each other in this place and their pasturage so extensive, altercations on the subject of the wells were frequent. The host thus addressed Jesus: “Lord, we will not let Thee go until Thou dost decide our quarrel.” Jesus’ decision was something like this: They should from each side set free an equal number of cattle, and from whichever side the greater number went of their own accord to the wells, that side should have the greater right to the said wells. Jesus drew from this circumstance matter for a profoundly significant instruction on the living water that He Himself would give them, and which would belong to those that most earnestly desired it.
The next day Jesus went into Abram, which was in two sections and on two different roads. It was like two separate villages interspersed with numerous gardens. The teachers of the school came out of the city to meet Jesus, washed His feet, and escorted Him to the synagogue. On the way thither, He cured many sick and crippled whom He found lying on the street, also some old people languishing from weakness; and some demoniacs who, though not actually furious, were running about muttering to themselves like silly, vicious creatures. They came involuntarily to where Jesus was, again and again repeating the words: “Jesus of Nazareth! Jesus! Prophet! Thou Son of God! Jesus of Nazareth!” Jesus delivered them by a blessing. In the synagogue He taught of the Beatitudes and from some passages of the Prophet Malachias.
There were in Abram Sadducees, Pharisees, and Levites, also two synagogues, for each section of the city had its own. The Sadducees had their own special synagogue, but Jesus did not teach in it. The Pharisees conducted themselves very politely toward Jesus. His inn was distant, about a good quarter of an hour from the southern end of the city, and was one of those established by Lazarus for His convenience. The steward was a married Essenian, a descendant of the family of that Zacharias who was murdered between the Temple and the altar. His wife was the granddaughter of one of Anne’s sisters. They had grown children, and possessed herds and meadows near that field in which Joachim had tarried before Mary’s Conception. Having little occupation at home, they had come hither to take charge of the inn; later on they were relieved by others. Like all the others, this inn was supplied with all kinds of necessaries, though not with superfluities. It had also its garden, its field, and its well.
There were no pagans in Abram, but down the mountain were some groups of houses inhabited by them.
The Apostles and disciples whom Jesus had left near Cariathaim came back again to the inn, as did also Andrew and Matthew. Thomas and James the Less went instead of them to Achzib in the tribe of Aser, between ten and twelve hours westward. Twenty men accompanied Andrew; some were strangers, and some had been cured and wanted to hear Jesus’ instructions. The two Apostles related how things had gone with them, how all had prospered with them, namely, healing, exorcising, preaching, and baptizing. Many sick and many seeking advice and consolation came to Jesus’ inn. Most of them were cripples with deformed limbs, old, emaciated people, demoniacs and infirm females, the latter of whom were in a chamber apart. The paralytics whom Jesus had healed the day before wanted to render assistance near the other sick. But He refused their help, saying that He was come to serve and not to be served.
Jesus taught and healed the whole morning, and had besides to settle a dispute concerning the wells. As the confines of Aser, Nephtali, and Zabulon here met, and the people carried on cattle raising, there arose frequent discussions on the subject of the wells. One man complained that another made use of the well that his ancestors had dug. He submitted the case to Jesus, saying that he would abide by His decision, though he did not wish to sacrifice lightly the rights of his children. Jesus decided that he should bore for a well in another field, which He pointed out to him. There he would find better and more abundant water. Between twenty and thirty Jews were baptized, among them those that had come hither with Andrew and Matthew. As there was here no brook in which they could stand, the neophytes knelt in a circle, and were baptized out of a basin with the hand. After that Jesus went into the city.
They whom Jesus cured in the city were for the most part affected with maladies similar to those already described. Their sufferings must have had some connection with the elevated situation of the city and the occupations in which they were engaged. Jesus took much notice of the children, who were standing in rows on the street corners and public squares, waiting for Him. He questioned them, instructed them, and gave them His blessing. The mothers brought to Him their sick little ones, and He healed them. Numbers of people from the country around had here assembled.
The Pharisees behaved most courteously to Jesus in the synagogue. They resigned the first place to Him, and gave the disciples seats around their Master, before whom they laid the rolls of Scripture. Jesus taught first on one of the Eight Beatitudes, then on the great persecutions that were to come upon Himself and His followers, and lastly, of the heavy chastisement, the destruction that was to befall Jerusalem and the whole country. The Pharisees, according to their custom, interrupted Him at times to ask for an explanation upon this or that point.
The people of Abram were very industrious. They prepared and sold cotton, of which wide strips moderately fine were made; they also wove something like flax. The thick stalk, after being split into fine strips, was passed over a sharp bone, or wooden instrument in order to detach the fine, long fibers. They were yellowish and shining, and were spun into the tunics worn when walking. It was neither flax nor hemp such as we have. They were engaged also in the manufacture of covers for tents and light screens of wood and matting.
Jesus and the Apostles spent the whole of the following morning and a part of the afternoon among some of the houses in the southern quarter of the city, teaching, consoling, reconciling enemies and exhorting them to union, charity, and peace. When a family counted many members, Jesus taught them alone; but, as a general thing, the neighbors were called in. All disputes were adjusted, all differences arranged. These visits of Jesus were mostly made to those houses in which were old, bedridden people who could not be present at the instructions in the synagogue. Some very old men received Baptism in their beds. Two of them could sit upright only with support, and they were baptized out of a basin.
On the first day of His entrance into Abram, Jesus had instructed a couple for matrimony, and assisted at the nuptials. In another house there were three other couples in expectation of the same. When the parents, the nearest relatives, and some of the Pharisees were assembled for the ceremony, Jesus instructed them upon marriage. He spoke of the wife’s submission in obedience to the Law, which followed the first sin as its consequence, though the husband should honor in his wife the Promise: “The seed of the woman shall crush the head of the serpent.” But now that the time of fulfillment was drawing near, grace took the place of the Law. The wife should now obey through reverence and humility, and the husband command with love and moderation. In this instruction Jesus said that the question as to how sin had entered the world was an unnecessary one. It had come from disobedience, but salvation was to spring from faith and obedience. He alluded also to divorce which, He said, could never take place, since husband and wife are one in the flesh. If, however, their living together was the occasion of great sins, then indeed they might separate, though without the liberty of marrying again. The Law had been made when the human race was in its infancy and in its early rude state; but now that they were no longer children and that the fullness of time had arrived, the remarrying of divorced spouses was a violation of the eternal law of nature. The privilege of separating was a concession granted when there was danger of offending God and only after a period of serious trial. Jesus delivered this instruction in the beautiful family mansion belonging to the parents of one of the bridal couples. All the young affianced were present, the brides separated from the grooms by a curtain, at one end of which Jesus stood. The parents also stood in order, the fathers on one side, the mothers on the other, while some of the disciples and Pharisees were grouped around Jesus.
This instruction on marriage gave rise to the first occasion for the Pharisees of this place to oppose Jesus. Nevertheless they did not begin their dispute at once, but waited till evening when Jesus was teaching in the synagogue upon the oppression of the Children of Israel in Egypt, and developing some passages from Isaiah. Here they attacked His doctrine on marriage. With regard to the wife’s submission, they found Him too mild, and in respect to the divorce question, too severe. They had, they affirmed, previously consulted numerous writings on that subject, and in spite of His repeated explanations, they could not accept His teaching. Although the dispute was warmly maintained, yet were the limits of decorum never overstepped.
Next day Jesus assisted with two of the disciples at the marriage ceremony of the young couples. He even acted as witness. They were married facing the chest that contained the Law and under the open heavens, for they had opened the cupola of the synagogue. I saw that both parties allowed some drops of blood from the ring finger to fall into a glass of wine, which they then drank. They exchanged rings and went through other ceremonies. After the religious rites came the celebration of the nuptials beginning with dance and banquet and merry-making, to all of which Jesus and the disciples were invited. The festivities took place in the beautiful public hall, which was supported by a colonnade. The bridal couples were not all from the city, but from the neigh-boring localities. They celebrated their nuptials here together, according to an agreement they had made to that effect when the news of Jesus’ coming was announced. Some of them, indeed, had been present with their parents at His instructions in Capharnaum. The people of this region were particularly good-natured and sociable. The weddings of the poorer were now celebrated with those of the rich, greatly to the advantage of the former.
I remarked that the guests brought certain presents, and that Jesus, in His own name and that of the disciples, made the young couples a gift in money. They, in their turn, sent back the money to His inn, and over and above as a present some baskets of nice wedding bread, all which Jesus caused to be distributed to the poor.
The feast began by a bridal dance in slow and measured step. The brides were veiled. The couples stood facing one another, and each bridegroom danced once with each bride. They never touched one another, but grasped the ends of the scarf that they held in their hands. The dance lasted one hour, because each groom danced once with all the brides separately, and then all danced together. Besides this, the step was very slow. Then followed the banquet, at which the men and women were, as usual, separated. The musicians were children, little boys and girls, with crowns of wool on their heads and wreaths of the same on their arms. They played on flutes, little twisted horns, and other instruments. The banqueting tables were so placed that the guests could hear without seeing one another. Jesus went to that of the brides and related a parable, something in the style of that of the ten wise and the ten foolish virgins. He explained it in quite a homely way adapted to the occasion, though at the same time His words were full of spiritual signification. He told each how she should acquit herself of the duties of her new, domestic position and what provisions she should lay up for that. His instructions contained a spiritual sense, and were suited to the particular character and shortcomings of the one to whom they were addressed.
The banquet over, then came the game of riddles. The enigmas written on slips of paper were thrown on a board that was full of holes, through which they fell into bags. Everyone had to solve the particular enigma that had fallen into his or her bag, or else pay a forfeit. The unsolved riddles were again and again thrown on the board, and the one that was so fortunate as to solve them at last, could claim all that had been previously lost on their account. Jesus looked on during the game, making happy and instructive applications of all that took place.
At the close of the festivities, Jesus and the disciples returned to their inn outside the city, whither they were conducted with lighted torches.
After Jesus had again taught in the synagogue, He visited the school of the boys and youths, whom He questioned and instructed, and then took leave of several people. After the repast, at the time generally spent in promenading on the Sabbath, Jesus with two of His disciples visited a girls’ school. It was, besides, a kind of embroidering establishment. The little girls were between the ages of six and fourteen. There were a great many of them, and today they were in their fine clothes. Two Doctors of the Law were present, and they too were in holiday attire, wearing broad girdles around their waists and long maniples on their sleeves. Every day they explained to the children some part of the Law. About ten widows superintended the affairs of the school. Besides instruction in reading the Law, in writing and reckoning, the girls worked at embroidery intended for sale. Through a series of halls were extended long strips of different materials, some an ell in width, some narrower, of the breadth of a broad girdle. The finished end was always rolled up. The pattern from which the young embroiderers worked lay before them painted on a piece of stuff. It was made up of flowers and leaves and little branches and serpentine lines, all forming large figures. The material upon which they worked was woven of very fine wool, something like the light mantles worn by the three Holy Kings, only it was rather stronger in texture and of different colors. The children worked with fine, colored wool, also with silk, yellow being one of the principal colors. They did not use needles, but little hooks. Some also worked on white strips that were narrower than the rest. Others were engaged on girdles, upon which they embroidered certain letters. The little girls stood at their work, one next the other. Their occupation was assigned them according to their age and talent. I saw some of the little ones preparing the threads, others smoothing the wool, and others spinning. All that the embroiderers needed, such as thread and instruments, was handed them by the younger ones. On this day they were not working. While the children were showing their work to Jesus as He passed through the halls with the superintendents, the whole business of the institution was shown me in a tableau. I saw also that some of the girls embroidered figures, large and small, upon separate pieces of stuff which were private orders intended for sale, and these they showed to Jesus. The heathens exchanged all kinds of things for them.
Some of the girls lived in the house, of which two stories were given up to the business, and others came from the city. There was also a hall for instructions, and there Jesus taught and catechized the children, who held little rolls in their hands. The smallest stood in front, their mistresses behind them. The children advanced, one row at a time, to Jesus’ chair. When He had blessed them and instructed them in familiar similitudes drawn from their work, He left the house, though not until they had presented Him with some strips of stuff and girdles, which they sent to His inn for Him. He afterward gave them to the different synagogues. Jesus then closed the exercises of the Sabbath in the synagogue. The whole country around had poured into the city, which was consequently crowded with people. Several of the disciples were still going around today among the houses outside the city. Jesus took leave of all present in the synagogue and made a brief recapitulation of what He had already taught them. All were very much touched and wanted Him to remain with them.
Before Jesus left Abram for Dothain, He dispatched two disciples with a message to Capharnaum, and two others to Cydessa. Andrew and Matthias alone remained with their Master, the others having scattered to different places.
Dothain was built on the same mountain ridge as Abram, and may have been distant from it southward something like five hours. There was here a private inn established for Jesus and His disciples, and there He met Lazarus, who had come thither with two disciples from Jerusalem. The holy women also had journeyed with Lazarus to this inn from Jerusalem.