Jesus Journeys Into the Country of Ornithopolis and Thence Takes Ship for Cyprus
I saw Jesus with His followers, disciples and others, about fifty in all, journeying through a deep, mountainous ravine. It was a very remarkable-looking mountain. On two sides of it for about an hour in length were dwellings and sheds of light timber, peering into which the passer-by beheld the occupants as if in caves. Sometimes the projecting shed was covered with rushes, moss, or grassy sods. Here and there arose works something like fortifications, to prevent the landslips from the mountain from filling up the road. Here dwelt poor, outcast pagans whose duty it was to keep the road in repair and to free the region from ferocious beasts. They came to Jesus and implored His aid against these animals—long, broad-footed, spotted creatures, like immense lizards. Jesus blessed the country and commanded the animals to retire into a black swamp that was nearby. Wild orange trees grew by the roadside. It was about four hours’ distance to Tyre.
Jesus here separated from His companions and, plunging deeper and deeper into the ravine, taught here and there before the caves of its inhabitants. The road led down along the clear and tolerably rapid stream Leontes which, flowing through its deep bed, emptied into the sea a couple of hours north of Tyre. The river was crossed by a high stone bridge, at the opposite end of which was a large inn, where the disciples again met Jesus.
From this place He sent several of His companions into the cities of the Land of Cabul, and Judas Iscariot with some disciples to Cana near Sidon. The disciples had resigned to the care of the Apostles, each to the one set over him as his Superior, whatever money or goods they might happen to have with them. To Judas alone, Jesus gave a sum for himself. Jesus knew his greed for money and would not expose him to the temptation of appropriating that of others. He had remarked his anxiety on the score of money, although Judas loved to boast of his frugality and strict observance of the law of poverty. On receiving the money, he asked Jesus how much he might daily spend. Jesus answered: “He that is conscious of being so strictly temperate, needs neither rule nor direction. He bears in himself his law.”
About a hundred persons were at the inn awaiting Jesus. They belonged to that same Jewish tribe whom He had already visited and consoled at Ornithopolis and near Sarepta. Some of them had come hither for the purpose of meeting Him, while others belonged to this district, where they owned a synagogue. They received Him and His followers humbly and joyfully, and washed their feet. They were in their holiday garments of very antique style, wore long beards, and had fur maniples hanging from their arms. They had many singular customs, and something peculiar in their manner of life, like the Essenians. The pagans too of this place were very reverential toward Jesus. They likewise held the Jews in esteem, a circumstance more common throughout this district than in Decapolis. These Jews were descendants from a natural son the Patriarch Judah had had by a servant. This son, fleeing from the persecution of his brothers Her and Onan, had settled here. His family, having intermarried with the pagans of the country, did not go down with the other Israelites into Egypt and at last became quite estranged from the religion and customs of their people.
The pagans with whom these descendants of Judah had intermarried had, when Jacob—after Dina’s misfortune—was living near Samaria on Joseph’s inheritance, already experienced the greatest desire to enter into marriage relations with Jacob’s sons, or at least with his servant men and maids. They crossed the mountains humbly to lay before him their desire to marry amongst his followers, and of their own accord offered to receive circumcision. But Jacob would not listen to their demand. When, then, that persecuted son of Judah sought refuge among them with his family, he was very warmly received by the heathens, and his children soon united with them in marriage. How wonderful the dispensation of God! The rude desire of these Gentiles to unite with the holy race upon whom the Promise rested was not wholly frustrated, and later events brought about the ennobling of these people through the banished scion of Judah.
In spite of the great disorders arising from these mixed marriages, there was still one family among them that preserved itself pure; and it was, for the first time, instructed in the Law by Elias, who often sojourned in this region. Solomon had given himself much trouble to unite these people again with the Jews, but without success. Still there were among them about a hundred pious souls of pure descent from Judah. Elias had succeeded in uniting this separated branch again with Israel; and in the time of Joachim and Anne, teachers came from the country of Hebron in order to keep them to the observance of the Law. The descendants of these teachers were still living among them, and it was through them that the Syrophenician and her people entered into relations with the Jews. They lived in sentiments of deep humility, esteeming themselves unworthy to set foot upon the Promised Land. The Cypriote Cyrinus had, when in Dabereth, spoken of them to Jesus, and the latter took occasion from this fact to discourse long and familiarly with them.
He taught at first in front of the inn, the people standing around under open arbors, or sheds. The inn belonged to the Jews or was hired by them. Afterward He taught in the synagogue, a great many pagans listening to Him from outside. The synagogue was lofty and beautiful. The roof was provided with a platform around which one could walk and command a very extended view of the country.
That evening the Jews tendered Jesus at the inn a festive entertainment, at which they took the opportunity to express to Him in a body their sincere gratitude for His not having despised them, for His coming to them, the lost sheep of Israel, and proclaiming to them salvation. They had kept their genealogical table in good order. They now laid it before Jesus and were deeply moved at finding that they had sprung from the same tribe as Himself. It was a joyful entertainment, and at it all assisted. They spoke much of the Prophets, especially of Elias, whom they named with words of great affection, recounting his Prophecies of the Messiah, also those of Malachias, and saying that the time for their fulfillment must now be near. Jesus explained everything to them, and promised to introduce them into the land of Judea. He did, in fact, later on establish them on its southern frontiers between Hebron and Gaza.
Jesus wore in this place a long, white travelling robe. He and His followers were girded and their garments tucked up, as if for a journey. They had no baggage. They carried what was necessary under the outer robe, wrapped round the body above the girdle. Some of them had staves. I never saw Jesus with any regular covering for His head; sometimes He drew over it the scarf that was usually worn around the neck.
There was in this part of the country an ugly kind of spotted animal with membranous wings, which could fly very rapidly. It was like an enormous bat, and it sucked the blood of men and animals during sleep. These animals came from the swamps up on the seashore, and did much damage. Egypt too was once infested with them. They were not real dragons, nor were they so horrible. Dragons were not so numerous, and they lived solitary in the most savage wildernesses. Fruits like nuts were gathered in these parts, some like chestnuts, and berries that hung in clusters.
From the inn, Jesus went to a seaport about three hours distant from Tyre. Alongside of the port there stretched far out into the sea, like an island, a tongue of the mountain, and on it was built the pagan city of Ornithopolis. The few, but devout, Jews of the place seemed to live in dependence upon the heathens. I saw as many as thirty pagan temples scattered here and there. Sometimes it seems to me that the port belonged to Ornithopolis. The Syrophenician owned there so many buildings, factories for weaving and dyeing, so many ships, that I think the whole place must have been at one time subject to her deceased husband or his ancestors. She dwelt now in Ornithopolis itself, though in a kind of suburb. Back of the city arose a high mountain, and behind that lay Sidon. A little river flowed between Ornithopolis and its port. The shore between Tyre and Sidon was, with the exception of the port, but little accessible, being rough and wild. The seaport to which I have alluded was the largest between Sidon and Tyre, and the number of ships crowding its waters made it almost like a little city itself.
The property of the Syrophenician, with its numerous buildings, courts, and gardens, looked like an immense estate. Its factories and plantations were full of workmen and slaves, whose families had their homes there. But just at present, things had come to a standstill; the former activity was not yet resumed. The lady was about to free herself from all such ties, and wished her people to choose a Superior from among themselves.
Ornithopolis was situated about three hours from the little place across the river where Jesus had spent the night, but from the settlement of the poor Jews it was one and a half hours. When Jesus went straight through this place to the port, Ornithopolis lay on His left. The Jewish settlement was toward Sarepta, which received the rays of the rising sun, for on that side the mountains rose in a gentle slope. On the north it was perfectly shady. The situation was very fine. Between Ornithopolis, the Jewish settlement, and the port, there lay so many solitary buildings, so many other little settlements, that looking down upon them from above, one might think that once upon a time they were all united. Jesus had with Him now only James the Less, Barnabas, Mnason, Azor, Cyrinus’ two sons, and a Cypriote youth whom those last-named had brought to Jesus. All the other Apostles and disciples were scattered throughout the country on missions. Judas was the last to set out. He went with his little troop to Cana the Greater.
Jesus went with His companions to the home of the Syrophenician who, by her cured relatives, had sent Him an invitation to an entertainment. A number of persons were assembled to meet Him, also the poor and the crippled. Of the latter, Jesus cured many. The dwelling of the Syrophenician with its gardens, courts, and buildings of all kinds was probably as large as Dulmen. Pieces of stuff, yellow, purple, red, and sky blue, were extended on the galleries of many of the buildings. These galleries were broad enough to permit a person’s walking on them. The yellow dye was extracted from a plant which was cultivated in the neighborhood. For red and purple, they employed sea snails. I saw great beds in which they were either caught or raised, and there were other places full of slime, like frog’s spawn. The cotton plant also was cultivated here, though not indigenous to this part of the country. The soil, in general, was not so fertile as that of Palestine, and around there were a great many ponds and lakes.
Gazing from the shore out upon the sea, one might imagine it to lie higher than the surrounding country, so blue does it rise toward the sky. Here and there on the shore were low trees with large, black trunks and wide spreading branches. Their dense roots extended so far out on the water that one could walk over them to some distance from the land. The black trunks were, for the most part, hollow, and afforded a shelter for all kinds of noxious insects.
Jesus was received with solemnity. As He was reclining at table, the widow’s daughter poured a flask of fragrant ointment over His head. The mother presented Him with pieces of stuff, girdles, and three-cornered golden coins; the daughter, pieces of the same precious metal chained together. He did not tarry with them long, but went with His companions to the seaport, where He was solemnly received by the Jewish inhabitants and by the Cypriote Jews who were gathered there on their way back from the Paschal feast. Jesus taught in the synagogue, around which a great many pagans stood listening from without.
It was by starlight that Jesus, accompanied by all the travelers, went down to the harbor and embarked. The night was clear, and the stars looked larger than they do to us. There was quite a little fleet ready to receive the travelers. One large ship of burden took the baggage, the goods and cattle, and numbers of asses. Ten galleys carrying sail were for the accommodation of the Cypriote Paschal guests, Jesus, and His followers. Five of these galleys were fastened with ropes to the front and sides of the burden ship, which they drew forward after them. The remaining five formed an outer circle to these. Each of these vessels had, like Peter’s barque on the Sea of Galilee, benches for the rowers raised around the mast and below these little cabins. Jesus stood near the mast of the ships that were fastened to the large one and, as they pushed off, He blessed both land and sea. Shoals of fishes swarmed after the flotilla, among them some very large ones with remarkable-looking mouths. They sported around and stretched their heads out of the water, as if hearkening to the instructions given by Jesus during the voyage.
The passage was so unusually rapid, the sea so smooth, and the weather so beautiful that the sailors, both Jews and pagans, cried out: “Oh, what an auspicious voyage! That is owing to Thee, OProphet!” Jesus was standing near the mast. He commanded them silence and to give glory to the Almighty God alone. Then He spoke of God, one and almighty, and of His works, of the nonexistence of the pagan divinities, of the nearness of the time, yes, even its very presence, in which the highest salvation would be given to earth, and of the vocation of the Gentiles. The whole discourse was addressed to the heathens.
The few women on the ships remained apart by themselves. Many of the passengers were quite seasick during the voyage; they lay around in retired corners and vomited violently. Jesus cured several on board His ship. Then numbers called from the other ships telling Him of their needs, and He cured them from a distance.
I saw them also eating on the ships. They had fire in a metal vessel, and long, twisted strips of something, brown and clear like glue, which they dissolved in hot water. They passed the food around in portions on dishes furnished with a rim and a handle. There were several excavations like plates in each dish destined for different things, such as round cakes, vegetables, etc. The sauce was poured over it.
From Ornithopolis to Cyprus, the sea does not look so broad as below from Joppa. There one sees nothing but water.
Toward evening the ships entered the harbor of Salamis, which was very spacious and secure. It was strongly fortified with bulwarks and high walls, and the two moles that formed it ran far out into the sea. The city itself lay a good half hour inland, though one scarcely remarks the fact since the intervening space is set out with trees and covered with magnificent gardens. The ships in the harbor were numerous. That upon which Jesus was could not go close to the shore which, like a strong, high rampart, rose obliquely; besides this, the ship drew too much water to approach nearer. They cast anchor therefore at some distance. Near the shore were several small boats fastened with ropes. They approached the larger vessels, received their passengers and, by means of the ropes, drew back to the shore. In that upon which Jesus and the disciples sailed to land were some Jews who had come out to welcome and receive Him.
On the shore were numerous others who, having espied the ships in the distance, had come forth from the city in solemn procession. It was customary thus to receive the Jews on their return from the Paschal celebration. Those on the shore were principally old people, women, young girls, and the school children with their teachers. They had fifes, carried flying streamers, green branches, crowns on poles, and chanted songs of joy.
Cyrinus, three elder brothers of Barnabas, and some aged Jews in festive robes received Jesus and His followers, and conducted them to a lovely green terrace at some distance from the harbor. There they found carpets spread, wash basins filled with water, and on tables various dishes with refreshments. Cyrinus and his companions washed the feet of Jesus and His disciples, and presented them to eat.
An old man, the father of Jonas, the new disciple, was now led forward. He fell weeping upon his son’s neck, who presented him to Jesus, before whom he bowed low. He had been in ignorance as to what had become of his son, for they with whom he had started on the journey were come back long ago. All present were taken up with caring for the travelers returned. Many pressed through the crowd crying: “Is such a one here? Is such a one there?” and when they found their friends, they embraced them and led them away. The news of the sedition and Pilate’s massacre in the Temple, variously exaggerated, had already reached Cyprus, and the people were in great anxiety about their relatives.
The place in which Jesus was received was charming. Toward the west, one saw the immense city with its innumerable cupolas and towering edifices crimsoned by the fiery rays of the sun sinking huge and red below the horizon. Toward the east, the view extended over the sea to the lofty mountain ranges of Syria, which there rose up like clouds against the sky. Salamis stood in the midst of a broad plain, covered with numbers of beautiful high trees, terraces, and pleasure grounds. The soil appeared to me very friable, like dust or sand, but drinking water did not seem to be abundant. The entrance into the harbor was not open. It was guarded by fortified islands, between which were one broad and several smaller roadsteads. The little islands were fortified with semicircular towers, low and broad, through whose open windows could be observed all that was going on outside. The Jewish quarter was in the northern part of the city. When Jesus and His followers left the harbor and went one half-hour toward the city, they turned to the right and, still outside the city, went a considerable distance to the north.
When Jesus and His disciples arrived, the Jews returned from the Pasch were already assembled upon an open, terraced square. One of the ancients, an Elder of the Synagogue, was standing on an elevated point from which he could overlook all below. It reminded one of calling the muster-roll, to see whether all the soldiers were present. The Elder was receiving information upon the details of their journey. He inquired whether any of them had suffered injury by the way, or had any complaints to lodge against a fellow traveler, and requested an account of what had happened in Jerusalem. Jesus and His disciples were not present at this assembly. He was solemnly welcomed by a number of venerable old Jews and from the terrace delivered an exhortation to the assembled crowd, after which they dispersed to their homes.
At the head of the two streets that formed the Jewish quarter stood the magnificent synagogue, the dwellings of the ancients and rabbis, the schools, and at some distance, the hospital for the sick with a reservoir, or pond. The road leading to the city was very firm and solid, covered with fine sand, and shaded by handsome trees. On the highest point of that Jewish place of assembly there was a tree in whose strong, leafy branches one could sit as in an arbor.
Jesus and His followers were escorted by the Elders to a large hall near the synagogue where they spent the night. Here Jesus cured of dropsy some sick who had been carried on litters into the fore court of the inn. There was in this house a spacious lecture hall, and in it travelling rabbis were lodged. It was very handsome, built in pagan style with a colonnade around it. The interior was one immense room with tiers of seats and teachers’ chairs against the walls. On the lower floor and rolled up against the walls were couches, and above them, tucked up and fastened to the wall, were tent covers that could be let down around the beds, thus forming a private alcove. One could from the outside mount to the flat roof of the hall, upon which were placed various kinds of plants in pots. The father of Jonas, the new disciple, spent the night there, for he did not belong to the city, but Cyrinus and his sons went home.
Jesus Teaches in Salamis
On the morning of the following day, Jesus was accompanied by the Superior, a venerable old man, and some of the teachers to the hospital, a circular building enclosing a garden. In the center of the latter there was a reservoir, or pond, for bathing; but for drinking and cooking purposes, the water was collected in huge casks and purified by means of certain fruits thrown into it. Medicinal herbs were raised around the pond. The third part of the hospital was occupied by invalid females, and it was separated from the rest of the building by doors kept locked. Jesus cured some of the dropsical and gouty male patients, also such as were slightly tainted with leprosy. The newly cured followed Him to the open square upon which, in the meantime, the other Jews had gathered, and where Jesus delivered an instruction first to the men. He took for His subject the gathering of the manna in the wilderness, and said that the time for the true Heavenly Manna of doctrine and conversion of heart had come, and that a new kind of Bread from Heaven was about to be given them.
This instruction over, the men withdrew and the women took their place. A great many pagan women were present, but they remained standing in the background. Jesus instructed the women in general terms, because of the pagans among them. He spoke of the one, Almighty God, of the Father and Creator of Heaven and earth, of the folly of polytheism, and of God’s love for mankind.
After that Jesus and His followers went to dine at the Superior’s house, whither He had been invited along with several rabbis. It was a very large mansion of pagan architecture with forecourts, open porches, and terraces. All was here prepared for a grand entertainment. Numbers of tables were spread under the colonnade and there were arches erected and adorned with wreaths. It appeared to be a banquet intended principally for Jesus and friends returned from the Paschal solemnity. The Superior conducted Jesus into a side building, in which were his wife and some other women. Several Doctors accompanied them. After the veiled women had with a low inclination saluted Jesus and He had said some gracious words to them, a procession of flower-crowned children appeared, playing on flutes and other instruments, to conduct Jesus to the feast. The table was ornamented with vases and bouquets. It was higher than those in use in Judea, and the other guests reclined less outstretched, closer to one another. They washed their hands. Among the various viands was a lamb. Jesus carved it and distributed it to the guests on little round rolls. It had, however, been cut up and put together again before being placed on the table.
Then the child musicians again made their appearance. Among them were some blind children and some with other defects. They were followed by a troop of gaily dressed little girls from eight to ten years old, among them the daughter, or granddaughter of the host. All were clothed in fine, white material, somewhat glossy. The garments worn in this country were not so ample in make, not so flowing in style as those of Judea. Their hair hung down in three parts, the ends uniting into a curl, or fastened together by some kind of ornament to which hung various little trinkets, fringes, pearls, or red balls like fruit. By this arrangement, their crisp black or reddish-brown tresses were kept from streaming around. Several of the little girls carried a large crown formed of wreaths and various kinds of ornamentation. It was composed of circlets so arranged that each was firm in its own place. To the first and larger one, the second was fastened by clasps, and from the latter rose a glittering tuft, or a small flag. I do not think the wreaths were formed of natural flowers, at least not entirely; for many of the blossoms looked to me like silk, or wool intermixed with feathers and various kinds of glittering ornaments. The little girls placed this great crown like a canopy upon a high pedestal, ornamented in a similar manner, that stood behind Jesus’ seat, while others brought aromatic herbs and perfumes in little dishes and alabaster vases, which they set down before Him. A child belonging to the house broke one of the little flasks, poured its contents over His head, and spread it with a linen cloth over His hair, after which the children retired. The little girls went through these ceremonies with perfect composure and without speaking a word, their downcast eyes never once glancing toward the guests. Jesus very quietly received their attentions and thanked them in a few gentle, gracious words, whereupon the children—without raising their eyes—went back to the women’s hall. The women ate all together.
I did not see Jesus and His disciples reclining long at table. Jesus constantly sent food and drink to the tables of the poor by His disciples, who spent most of the time serving others. After some time, Jesus Himself went around from table to table, distributing food, teaching, and explaining.
After the banquet, the Superior and some of the teachers went with Jesus and the disciples out to the aqueduct, which they approached from the west. The city had bad water. I saw some of those stupendous structures, like immense bridges, which contained many great reservoirs, or cisterns. Each quarter of the city had its own waterworks and reservoir. From some they had to pump the water; from others it could be drawn. The reservoir of the Jews stood apart by itself. They showed it to Jesus, complained to Him of the scarcity and bad quality of the water, and wanted Him to improve it. He spoke of the new reservoir in progress of construction, said that He wanted Baptism to be given at it, and told them how it should be arranged.
After that they proceeded to the synagogue, for the Sabbath was begun. It was an extraordinarily large and handsome edifice, lit up by numerous lamps and full of people. Around the outside ran steps and balconies from which spectators could both see and hear what was going on inside. All these places were occupied by pagans, and below they had even crowded into the interior of the synagogue, where they now stood quietly side by side with the Jews.
The instruction was on passages from the third book of Moses, treating of sacrifices and various laws, and others from Ezechiel. It began by some of the Doctors reading these passages, which Jesus explained and commented upon so beautifully that all were deeply impressed. He spoke also of His own mission and its speedy accomplishment. His hearers believed Him to be not only a Prophet, but still more than a Prophet. He must, they thought, at least be the one that was to go before the Messiah. Jesus explained to them that that precursor was John, and enumerated the signs by which they might recognize the Messiah—without, however, indicating to them clearly that He Himself was the Messiah. Nevertheless, they understood Him, and listened in reverence and respectful fear. After the instruction all dispersed to their homes, and Jesus went back with His followers to the house of the Superior.
On the whole, Jesus was received in Salamis with extraordinary affection. The inhabitants pressed around Him, all being desirous of showing Him honor, for there was among them neither sect nor strife. Jesus healed several sick persons in their own homes. Jews and heathens lived here on very familiar terms, though in separate quarters. In that of the Jews there were two streets. The house of the sons of Cyrinus was a large, square building. They were engaged in commerce and owned ships. A peculiar style of architecture was predominant in Salamis. I saw numerous turrets and spires, a great deal of latticework, many latticed windows, and all kinds of ornamentation on the edifices. The people presented Jesus and the disciples on their arrival with new sandals and a change of garments. Jesus kept His only till His own were shaken and dusted; then He gave them to the poor.
On the morning of the Sabbath, Jesus taught again in the synagogue on the time of grace and the fulfillment of the Prophecies, and that so eloquently that many of His hearers shed tears. He exhorted to penance and Baptism. This instruction lasted between three and four hours.
Jesus went at the end of it with His disciples and the Doctors to Cyrinus’, whither they had been invited to dine. It stood just between the Jewish and the pagan quarters. Salamis had eight streets, two of which belonged to the Jews. The little party did not go through the latter, but by a route running between the two quarters and at the rear of the houses. In this way they passed the great gates of the city. In the gateways was gathered a crowd of pagans, men, women, and children. They were very respectful and saluted Jesus and His followers timidly from a distance. They had listened to His instruction of the school, and were now come with their friends to the gates.
At the end of the street and half within the walls of the pagan quarter was the magnificent home of Cyrinus, with its courts and side buildings. As soon as the house became visible in the distance, the wife and daughters of Cyrinus were seen approaching with their servants. They saluted Jesus and His disciples. Cyrinus had five daughters, along with nieces and other young relatives. All these children bore with them presents which, after they had bowed low before Jesus, they set down at His feet on carpets which they had previously spread. The gifts consisted of brio-a-brae in all shapes and forms, some of amber, others of coral, notably a little tree of the latter mounted upon a stand. It appeared as if each child wanted to offer the dearest object in her possession, and if she could not get near enough to Jesus Himself, she presented it to one of His companions.
Cyrinus’ dwelling was very spacious and built in pagan style, with forecourts and outside flights of steps. On the roof was a well-arranged garden of plants growing in pots. All was adorned in festive style. The table was higher than those in ordinary use, and covered with a red cloth over which was a transparent one of glossy silk, or fine straw plaiting. The couches around the table, too, were more in accordance with pagan customs, shorter than those in use among the Jews. Besides the disciples, the guests numbered about twenty men. The women ate apart, and after dinner all took the customary Sabbath promenade out to the waterworks.
From there Jesus permitted Himself and His disciples to be conducted by Jonas, the new disciple, to the house of his father, which stood surrounded by gardens somewhat distant from the Jewish quarter. I t was like a large farmhouse, having something of the cloister in its arrangement. The old man was an Essenian, and with him dwelt, though in a separate part of the house, several old women, widowed relatives, nieces or daughters, who were somewhat differently clothed and wore white veils. The old man was humble and joyous as a child, and allowed himself to be led by his children to meet Jesus. He was at a loss as to what he should give Jesus, for he had no treasures. But he pointed around him, to himself, his sons, his daughters, as if to say: “Lord, all that we have, we ourselves are Thine—and my dearest child, my son is Thine!” He invited Jesus and the disciples to dine with him on the following day.
Jesus then returned to the waterworks and spoke with the Superior about the arrangements for the baptismal well, which was not yet under roof and had no means of letting in water. They had first to beg or buy water from the pagans. It would have to be conveyed thither from the aqueduct which, on the plain, was about one story high with reservoirs on either side. The source of the water was in the mountain range on the west. The new baptismal well had more than four corners, and there were steps leading down into it. Around it were cavities in the form of a tray, which could be filled with water by pressing on a winch. The whole was surrounded by a rampart and nearby, for instructions, was a charming open place covered by an awning.
A great many Jews and heathens were gathered on the spot, and Jesus told them that next day He would instruct those that wanted to receive Baptism. The Jews made frequent allusion to Elias and Eliseus, who likewise had been here.
Jewish women with their children had stationed themselves here and there on the way. Jesus patted the little ones in His vicinity, frequently called the others to Him, and gave to all His blessing. Several pagan teachers, or mothers in yellow veils were standing apart with their little girls and boys. Jesus blessed them from afar.
After that all repaired to the synagogue for the closing exercises of the Sabbath. Jesus again taught upon sacrifice, taking His texts from the third book of Moses (Leviticus) and the Prophet Ezechiel. There was something marvelously sweet and impressive in His words as He showed that the Laws of Moses were now realizing their most elevated signification. He spoke of the offering of a pure heart. He said that sacrifices multiplied a thousand times could no more be of any avail, for one must purify his soul and offer his passions as a holocaust. Without rejecting anything, without condemning or abolishing any of the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law, He explained it according to its real signification, thus making it appear far more beautiful and worthy of reverence. Jesus, at the same time, prepared His hearers for the Baptism and exhorted to penance, for the time was near.
His words and the tone of His voice were like living, deeply penetrating streams of light. He spoke with extraordinary calmness and power, and never very rapidly, excepting sometimes when talking with the Pharisees. At such times, His words were like sharp arrows and His voice less gentle. The tone of His ordinary voice was an agreeable tenor, perfectly pure in sound, without its counterpart in that of any human being. He could, without raising it, be distinctly heard above a great clamor.
The lessons and prayers were chanted in the synagogue on a recitative tone, in the same manner as the choral singing and Mass of the Christians, and sometimes the Jews sang alternately. Jesus read in this way the passages that He explained from Holy Scripture.
After Jesus’ instruction, a pious old Doctor of the Law began to address the assembly. He had a long, white beard, was of a meager form and kind, benevolent countenance. He did not belong to Salamis, but was a poor, travelling teacher who journeyed from place to place on the island visiting the sick, consoling the imprisoned, collecting for the poor, instructing the ignorant and little children, comforting widows, and delivering discourses in the synagogues. On this occasion, he appeared to be inspired by the Holy Ghost. He addressed the people in a speech that bore witness to Jesus, such as I never before heard in public from anyone of the rabbis. He rehearsed all the benefits of Almighty God to their fathers and themselves, and urged them to gratitude to Him for having permitted that they should live at the coming of such a Prophet, such a Teacher, to whom likewise they owed thanks for having journeyed on their account all the way from the Holy Land. He reminded them of God’s mercy to their tribe (they were of the tribe of Issachar), and called upon them to do penance and amend their lives. He said that God would not treat them so severely now as He did when He punished the fabricators and adorers of the golden calf. I do not know the force of his allusion; perhaps many of their tribe had been among the idolaters. He said also marvelous things about Jesus: that he esteemed Him more than a Prophet, though he did not venture to say who He really was, that the fulfillment of the Promises was near, that all should consider themselves happy to hear such instructions from such lips, and to have lived at an epoch of such hope, such consolation for Israel. The people were deeply moved, and many shed tears of joy. All this took place in the presence of Jesus, who was quietly standing on one side among His disciples.
Jesus went afterward with His followers to the house of the Elder, where the conversation became very animated. All present tried to prevail upon Jesus to remain among them. They quoted the words of some of the Prophets relative to persecution and sufferings, which words seemed to apply to the Messiah. They trusted that such might not happen to Jesus, and asked whether He was the precursor of the Messiah. Then Jesus told them about John, and declared to them that He could not remain among them. One of those present, who had been in Palestine when Jesus was there, began to speak of the hatred of the Pharisees against Him, and said some hard things about that sect. But Jesus reproached him for his severity, said a few words in their excuse, and turned the conversation to other subjects.
Next day, in the hospital and at the recently constructed baptismal well, Jesus prepared the people for Baptism. Several in the hospital made known to Him their sins, for which purpose they retired apart with Him. He caused water for Baptism to be put aside here in basins, and in it the sick were later on baptized by the disciples.
When Jesus arrived at the open square around the baptismal well, He found a great multitude there assembled, among them many heathens, for during the night the people had been pouring in from the surrounding country. Jesus taught under an awning. His discourse turned upon His own mission, upon penance and Baptism.
Jesus Invited to the House of the Roman Commandment in Salamis
While Jesus was delivering His instruction, a pagan soldier, or constable, made his appearance with a message to the magistrates. It was to this effect, that the Roman Commandant in Salamis wished to speak with the new Teacher and, consequently, invited Him to his house. The soldier delivered his message rather sternly, as if he took it ill that they had not led Jesus to him at once. The magistrates transmitted it to Jesus through the disciples during a pause in the discourse. Jesus replied that He would go, and went on speaking. After His instruction, accompanied by the disciples and Elders, He followed the messenger to the Commandant’s. They had to go a distance of half an hour, along the same way by which Jesus had come hither from the port, before reaching the principal gate of Salamis, a beautiful, high archway supported on pillars. As they passed the great walls and large gardens on the way, the pagan people and laborers looked inquisitively after Jesus, and many as He approached shyly hid behind the walls and bushes. On entering Salamis they repaired to a large open square. The houses as they passed along were lined with spectators, standing on the galleries of the courts, behind the lattices, and in the gates. On some of the street corners and under the arches were pagan women and children, ranged three by three in regular order. The women were veiled, and they bowed low to Jesus as He passed. Here and there children, sometimes too the women, stepped forward and presented to Jesus or His companions divers little gifts, such as bunches of aromatic shrubs, little flasks of perfumes, little brown cakes, and objects in the form of stars and other things that exhaled a delicious odor. This appeared to be the custom of the country, a sign of reverential welcome. Jesus lingered a few instants near such groups, cast upon them gracious and earnest glances, and blessed them, though without touching them.
I saw idols standing here and there. They were not like those of Greece and Rome, images in human form, but like those in Sidon, Tyre and Joppa, figures with wings, or scales. I also saw some like dolls.
As they advanced into the city, the crowd following Jesus constantly increased, and people were streaming from all sides toward the open square. In the center of the latter was a beautiful well. Steps led down into it, and through the middle of the basin the water bubbled up. It was protected by a roof supported on pillars, and surrounded by open porches, little trees, and flowers. The entrance to the well was usually closed. The people could get some of its water only by certain privileges, as it was the best in the city and thought possessed of peculiarly wholesome properties.
Opposite this well stood the Commandant’s palace with its colonnade. On an open balcony over which was a pillared roof sat the Roman Commandant on a stone seat, watching Jesus’ approach. He was dressed in military costume, a white tunic tightly fitting round the body, striped here and there with red. It descended to below the hips and ended in straps, or fringe. The lower limbs were laced. He wore a short red mantle and on his head a hat that looked to me like a shaving dish. He was a strong, robust man with a short beard, black and crisp. Behind him and on the steps of the balcony were standing Roman soldiers.
The pagans were astonished at the marks of respect he showed to Jesus, for when the latter approached, he descended from the balcony, clasped His hand in the end of a linen scarf that he held in his own, and pressed it with the other hand, in which was the other end of the scarf, at the same time bowing low before Him. Then he led Jesus up to the balcony, where he put to Him, most graciously, question after question. He had, he said, heard Him spoken of as a wise Teacher. He himself revered the Jewish Law. If all that was said of Him was true, Jesus did indeed perform great wonders. Who gave Him the power for such things? Was He the promised Comforter, the Messiah of the Jews? The Jews were expecting a king—was He that king? By what means would He get possession of His Kingdom? Had He an army somewhere? Perhaps He was going to collect forces here in Cyprus among the Jews? Would it be long before He would show Himself in all His power? The Commandant put sundry questions of this kind in a tone full of respect and earnestness. His profound sympathy and reverence for Jesus were visible. Jesus answered all in vague and general terms, as He usually did when such questions were put to Him by magistrates. He would, for instance, answer: “Thou sayest it! So they think. The Prophets have thus declared.” To the questions relative to His Kingdom, to His army, He answered that His Kingdom was not of this world. The kings of this world had need of warriors, but He gathered the souls of men into
the Kingdom of the Almighty Father, the Creator of Heaven and earth. In deeply significant words He touched, in passing, upon many subjects. The Commandant was astounded both at His language and bearing.
He had ordered refreshments to be brought to the well in the open square, and he now invited Jesus and His disciples to follow him thither. They examined the well and partook of the refreshments, which were spread on a stone stand previously covered. There were several brown dishes with sauce of the same color, into which they dipped cakes. They partook also of sticks of confectionery, or strips of cheese, about an arm in length and two inches thick, fruit, and pastry made into figures of stars and flowers. Little jugs of wine were placed around the stand. Others, made of something with colored veining, in shape just like those of Cana only much smaller, were filled with water from the well. The Commandant spoke too with marked disapprobation of Pilate, of the violence he had exercised in the Temple, and of his character in general, also of the demolished aqueduct near Silo.
Jesus held another conversation with the Commandant here at the well. He spoke of water and its different sources, some muddy, others clear, some bitter and salty, others sweet, of the great difference in its effects, of how it was conducted into the well and again distributed in conduits. From such remarks He passed to instructing both pagans and Jews upon the waters of Baptism, the regeneration of mankind by penance and faith, when all would become children of God. It was an admirable instruction with something in it similar to His conversation with the Samaritan at the well. His words made a deep impression upon the Commandant, who was already very well disposed toward the Jews. He wanted to hear Jesus frequently.
In Salamis the separation between Jews and pagans was not so marked. Here as in Palestine, the more enlightened Jews, and especially the followers of Jesus, ate and drank with the upper class of pagans, although always making use of separate vessels. On their return, Jesus was saluted by many of the heathens, and that still more respectfully than before, owing to the marks of honor shown Him by the Commandant.
Flowers in this country were extremely abundant, and artificial ones were most artistically made of colored wool, silk, and little feathers. I saw the heathen children whom Jesus blessed adorned for the most part with such flowers. The little girls were, like the boys, dressed in very short garments of thin material; the very little ones of the poor had only a cincture around the waist. The young maidens of the wealthier classes wore thin, yellow tunics richly covered with those colored woolen flowers of which I have spoken. Around the shoulders, the ends crossed over the breast, they wore a scarf of thin texture, and on their arms and head, little garlands of artificial flowers. They must have raised silkworms here, for I saw along the walls trees carefully reared whereon those insects were crawling and spinning their cocoons.