Jesus at the Home of Jonas’ Father. Instruction at the Baptismal Well
When Jesus visited the home of the Essenian, the father of Jonas, He was accompanied by His disciples only and some of the Doctors. He was received with the usual courtesies, that is, washing of the feet. The domestic arrangements were here much more simple, more like the country than those of the mansion at which Jesus had first been entertained. The family was large and belonged to the sect of Essenians, to those that married. They lived in great purity, being pious and simple in their manners. The female portion were widows with children already grown, daughters of the old man, with whom they lived. Jonas the disciple was the son of a later marriage, and his mother died in giving him birth. The old man loved him so much the more as he was his only son, and he had been in great anxiety about his being absent for over a year. He had looked upon him as lost, when he received news of him through Cyrinus, whose sons had met Jonas at the Paschal feast and in Dabereth near Thabor. The youth had been travelling for information, as young students often do. He had visited the most remarkable of the Holy Places, the Essenians in Judea, Jacob’s tomb near Hebron, and that of Rachel between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The last-named lay at that time on the direct route between these two places; now, however, it lies somewhat on one side. He had likewise visited all that was most interesting in Bethlehem, as well as Mounts Carmel and Thabor. He had heard of Jesus and had been present at one of the mountain sermons before He went into the country of the Gergeseans. After the Paschal festival, he had gone with the sons of Cyrinus from Dabereth to the last instruction at Gabara. It was then that Jesus received him as a disciple, in which quality he now returned home.
The entertainment was held in a garden in which were long and densely shaded arbors. An elevated green bank, covered with a cloth, served as a table. The couches too consisted of similar grassy banks covered with mats. The meal was made up of various kinds of pastry, broth, vegetables steeped in sauce, lamb’s meat, fruit, and little jugs of something, all very simple. The women ate at a separate table, though they seemed more at their ease than other Jewish women. They served at table, their veils lowered, and sitting at some distance, afterward listened to the words of Jesus. On both sides of the garden there were whole rows of arbors formed of dense green foliage. I think they were intended as places for the devotional exercises of the family, which was like a perfect little Essenian Community. They lived by agriculture and cattle-raising, weaving, and spinning.
From this place, Jesus went with the disciples to the newly constructed baptismal well, where He prepared many Jews for Baptism by a discourse in which He exhorted to penance and blessed the baptismal water. Around the central well there were some salver-shaped basins on a level with the surrounding surface. These basins were encircled by little ditches, into which the neophytes descended by a couple of steps. He who baptized stood on the edge of the basin and poured water on the head of the neophytes bowed over the same. The sponsors stood behind and imposed hands on them. By the opening or pressing of a piece of machinery in the central well, the water could be introduced into the basins and ditches. I saw Barnabas, James, and Azor baptizing by three of the basins. Before the ceremony I saw Jesus, from a flat, leathern vessel which they had brought with them from Judea, pouring a little Jordan water taken from His own place of baptism, into the basins, and then blessing the water thus mixed with it. After the Baptism, not only was all this baptismal water poured again into the central well, but the basins were dried with a cloth which was then wrung out into the well. I saw the neophytes with little white mantles around their shoulders.
After that I saw Jesus going in a more westerly direction between gardens and walls, where were awaiting Him several pagans who, prepared by their friend Cyrinus, were likewise desirous of Baptism. He went aside with some of them whom He further instructed, and about thirty of them were baptized in the various bathing gardens around. Water was introduced into the baths for that purpose, which water Jesus blessed.
Besides the two streets belonging to the Jews, there was in the vicinity of Salamis an entire Jewish city. On one side of Salamis there was a round tower of extraordinary circumference, to which were attached all kinds of dependencies. It was like a citadel. The city possessed many temples, one of which was of uncommon dimensions, and to its terrace one could mount either by an interior or an exterior flight of steps. In the temple were found numerous columns, some so large around that in them were cut steps and little apartments wherein the people could stand on high and look down on the religious ceremonies. A couple of hours from Salamis, I saw another important city.
Westward from the city I saw a caravan of strangers approaching, who encamped under tents. They must have come from the other side of the island; indeed, on account of the direction, I was inclined to think they had come from Rome itself. They had some women with them and a great number of large, heavy oxen with broad horns and low heads. They were bound together, two and two, with long poles over their backs upon which they carried burdens. I think these strangers had come partly on account of the harvest. They brought with them merchandise which they wished to exchange for grain.
Next morning Jesus delivered, on the open square near the baptismal well, a lengthy instruction to both Jews and pagans. He taught of the harvest, the multiplication of the grain, the ingratitude of mankind who receive the greatest wonders of God so indifferently, and predicted for these ingrates the fate of the chaff and weeds, namely, to be cast into the fire. He said also that from one seed-corn a whole harvest was gathered, that all things came forth from one, Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, the Father and Supporter of all men, who would reward their good works and punish their evil ones. He showed them also how men, instead of turning to God the Father, turn to creatures, to lifeless blocks. They pass coldly by the wonders of God, while they gaze in astonishment at the specious though paltry works of men, even rendering honor to miserable jugglers and sorcerers. Here Jesus took occasion to speak of the pagan gods, the ridiculous ideas entertained of them, the confusion existing in those ideas, the service rendered them, and all the cruelties related of them. Then He spoke of some of these gods individually, asking such questions as these: “Who is this god? Who is that other? Who was his father?” etc. To these questions He Himself gave the answers, exposing in them the confused genealogies and families of their pagan divinities and the abominations connected with them, all which facts could be found, not in the Kingdom of God, but only in that of the father of lies. Finally He mentioned and analyzed the various and contradictory attributes of these gods.
Although Jesus spoke in so severe and conclusive a manner, still His instruction was so agreeable, so suggestive of good thoughts to His hearers that it could rouse no displeasure. His teaching against paganism was much milder here in Salamis than it was wont to be in Palestine. He spoke too of the vocation of the Gentiles to the Kingdom of God and said that many strangers from the East and from the West would get possession of the thrones intended for the children of the house, since the latter cast salvation far from them.
During a pause in the instruction, Jesus took a mouthful to eat and drink, and the people entertained themselves on what they had just heard. Meanwhile some pagan philosophers drew near to Jesus and questioned Him upon some points not understood by them, also about something that had been transmitted to them by their ancestors as coming from Elias, who had been in these parts. Jesus gave them the desired information, and then began teaching upon Baptism, also of prayer, referring for His text to the harvest and their own daily bread. Many of the pagans received most salutary impressions from Jesus’ instructions and were led to reflections productive of fruit. But others, finding His words not to their liking, took their departure.
And now I saw a great number of Jews baptized at the baptismal well, the waters of which Jesus blessed. Three at a time stood round one basin. The water in the ditches reached as high as the calf of the leg.
Jesus Goes to the Jewish City
Jesus afterward went with His followers and some of the Doctors to the separate Jewish city, about one half-hour to the north. He was followed by many of His late audience, and He continued to speak with several little groups. The route led over some more elevated places below which lay meadows and gardens. Here and there were rows of trees, and again some solitary ones, high and dense, up which the traveler might climb and find a shady seat. The view extended far around on several little localities and fields of golden wheat. Sometimes the road ran along broad, naked walls of rock, in which whole rows of cells had been hewn out for the field laborers.
Outside the Jewish city stood a fine inn and pleasure garden. Here Jesus’ own party entered, while He bade the rest of His escort return to their homes. The disciples washed Jesus’ feet, then one another’s, let down their garments, and followed their Master into the Jewish city. During the foot-washing, I saw near the inn on one side of the highroad that ran along the city, long, light buildings like sheds, in which were a great number of Jewish women and maid servants busied in selecting, arranging, and carefully preserving the fruits which female slaves, or domestics, carried thither in baskets from the gardens around. The fruits were of all kinds, large and small, also berries. They separated the good from the bad, made all kinds of divisions, and even laid some wrapped in cotton on shelves one over another. Others were engaged in picking and packing cotton. I noticed all the housewives lowering their veils as soon as the men appeared on the high-road. The sheds were divided into several compartments. They looked to me like a general fruitery, where the portion intended for the tithes and that for alms were laid aside. It was a very busy scene.
Jesus went with His party to the dwelling of the rabbis near the synagogue. The eldest rabbi received Him courteously, though with a tinge of stiff reserve in his manner. He offered Him the customary refreshments’ and said a few words upon His visit to the island and His far-famed reputation, etc. Jesus’ arrival having become known, several invalids implored His help, whereupon, accompanied by the rabbis and the disciples, He visited them in their homes and cured many lame and paralyzed. The latter, with their families, followed Him out of their houses, and proclaimed His praise. But He silenced them and bade them go back. On the streets He was met by mothers and their children, whom He blessed. Some carried sick children to Him, and He cured them.
And so passed the afternoon away till evening, when Jesus accompanied the rabbis to an entertainment in His honor, which entertainment was likewise connected with the beginning of the harvest. The poor and the laboring people were fed at it, a custom which drew from Jesus words of commendation. They were brought from the fields in bands and seated at long tables, like benches of stone, and there served with various viands. Jesus, from time to time, waited on them Himself with the disciples, and instructed them in short sentences and parables. Several of the Jewish Doctors were present at the entertainment; but, on the whole, this company was not so well disposed, not so sincere as the Jews around Jesus’ inn near Salamis. There was a tinge of pharisaism about them and, after they had become heated, they gave utterance to some offensive remarks. They asked whether He could not conveniently remain longer in Palestine, what was the real object of His visit to them, whether He intended to stay any time among them, and ended by suggesting that He should create no disturbance in Cyprus. They likewise touched upon diverse points of His doctrine and manner of acting which the Pharisees of Palestine were in the habit of rehearsing. Jesus answered them as He usually did on similar occasions, with more or less severity according to the measure of their own civility. He told them that He had come to exercise the works of mercy as the Father in Heaven willed Him to do. The conversation was very animated. It gave Jesus an opportunity for delivering a stern lecture in which, while commending their goodness to the poor and whatever else was praiseworthy in them, He denounced their hypocrisy. It was already late when Jesus left with His followers. The rabbis bore Him company as far as the city gate.
The Pagan Priestess Mercuria. The Pagan Literati
When Jesus had returned to the inn with the disciples, a pagan came to Him and begged Him to go with him to a certain garden a few steps distant, where a person in distress was waiting to implore His assistance. Jesus went with the disciples to the place indicated. There He saw standing between the walls on the road a pagan lady, who inclined low before Him. He ordered the disciples to fall back a little, and then questioned the woman as to what she wanted. She was a very remarkable person, perfectly destitute of instruction, quite sunk in paganism, and wholly given up to its abominable service. One glance from Jesus had cast her into disquiet, and roused in her the feeling that she was in error, but she was without simple faith, and had a very confused manner of accusing herself. She told Jesus that she had heard of His having helped Magdalen, as also the woman afflicted with the issue, of whom the latter had merely touched the hem of His garment. She begged Jesus to cure and instruct her, but then again, she said perhaps He could not cure her as she was not, like the woman with the issue, physically sick. She confessed that she was married and had three children, but that one, unknown to her husband, had been begotten in adultery. She had also intercourse with the Roman Commandant. When Jesus, on the preceding day, visited the last named, she had watched Him from a window and saw a halo of light around His head, which sight very powerfully impressed her. She at first thought that her emotion sprang from love for Jesus, and the idea caused her anguish so intense that she fell to the ground unconscious. When returned to herself, her whole life, her whole interior passed before her in so frightful a manner that she entirely lost her peace of mind. She then made inquiries about Jesus, and learned from some Jewish women of Magdalen’s cure, also that of Enue of Caesarea-Philippi, the woman afflicted with the issue of blood. She now implored Jesus to heal her if He possibly could. Jesus told her that the faith of that afflicted woman was simple; that, in the firm belief that if she could touch only the seam of His garment she would be cured, she had approached Him stealthily and her faith had saved her.
The silly woman again asked Jesus how He could have known that Enue touched Him and that He healed her. She did not comprehend Jesus or His power, although she heartily longed for His assistance. Jesus rebuked her, commanded her to renounce her shameful life, and told her of God the Almighty and of His Commandment: “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” He placed before her all the abominations of the debauchery (against which her nature itself revolted) practiced in the impure service of her gods; and He met her with words so earnest and so full of mercy that she retired weeping and penetrated with sorrow. The lady’s name was Mercuria. She was tall, and about twenty-five years old. She was enveloped in a white mantle, long and flowing in the back but rather shorter in front, which formed a cap around the head. Her other garments also were white, though with colored borders. The materials in which the heathen women dressed were so soft and clung so closely to the form that the latter could readily be traced by the eye.
The whole morning of the following day was devoted by the disciples to baptizing at the fountain, and I saw Jesus teaching both here and at the waterworks. His instructions were given principally in parables on the harvest, the daily bread, the manna, the Bread of Life that was to be given them, and the one, only God. The laborers were sent to the harvest in groups, and I saw Jesus instructing them as they passed before Him. The people here encamped under tents were also Jews, who had come hither especially on Jesus’ account. They had brought their sick with them on beasts of burden, and now today they were placed on litters under awnings and trees in the vicinity of the place of instruction. Jesus cured about twenty lame and palsied.
On reaching the waterworks, He was accosted by several men, learned pagans, who had been present at His instructions of the preceding day. They begged for an explanation upon several points, spoke of their divinities, especially of one goddess that had risen here from the sea, and of another represented in their temple under the form of a fish. This latter was named Derketo. They questioned Him also about a story circulating among the Jews and connected with Elias. It was to this effect, that Elias once saw a cloud rising out of the sea, which cloud was, in reality, a virgin. They would like to know, they said, where she had descended, for from her was to proceed a King. One that was to do good to the whole world. Now, according to calculation, it was time for this to happen. With this story they mixed up another concerning a star that their goddess had let fall upon Tyre, and they asked whether that could be the cloud of which they had spoken.
One of them said that there was a report current of an adventurer in Judea who was making capital of Elias’ cloud and the circumstance of the fulfillment of time, in order to proclaim himself king. Jesus gave no intimation that He was the One in question, though He said: “That Man is no adventurer, nor does He proclaim what is false. Many untruths are spread against Him, and thou who now sayest these things, hast joined in calumniating Him. But the time has now come for the Prophecies to be fulfilled.” Jesus’ interrogator was an evil-minded man, a great tattler. He dreamed not, when talking with Jesus, that he was in the presence of Him whom he was slandering, for he had heard of Jesus only in a general way.
These men were philosophers. They had some intimation of the truth mixed up with faith in their own divinities, which they tried again to explain away by various interpretations. But all the personages and idols which they wanted to explain had, in the course of time, become so mixed up and confused in their minds that even the cloud of Elias and the Mother of God, of whom they knew nothing at all, had to be dragged by them into the general confusion. They called their goddess Derketo the Queen of Heaven. They spoke of her as of one that had brought to earth all that it had of wisdom and pleasure. They said that her followers having ceased to acknowledge her, she prophesied to them all that would befall them in the future; also that she would plunge into the sea and reappear as a fish to be with them forever. All this, they added, had actually come to pass, etc. Her daughter, whom she had conceived in the sacred rites of paganism, was Semiramis, the wise and powerful Queen of Babylon.
How wonderful! While these men were thus speaking, I saw the whole history of these goddesses, as if they had really risen before me and were still alive. I felt impatient to disabuse the philosophers of their gross errors. They appeared to me so astonishingly silly in not seeing them themselves that I kept thinking: “Now, this is so distinct, so clear that I’ll explain it all to them!” Then, again, I thought: “How dare you talk about such things! These learned men must know better than you!” and so I tormented myself during that conversation of several hours.
Jesus explained to the philosophers the confusion and absurdity of their idolatrous system. He related to them the history of Creation, of Adam and Eve, of the Fall, of Cain and Abel, of the children of Noe, the building of the Babylonian Tower, the separation of the bad and their gradual falling away into godlessness. He told them that these wicked people, in order to restore their relations with God from whom they had fallen, had invented all kinds of divinities and had by the evil one been seduced into the grossest error; nevertheless, the Promise that the seed of the women should crush the serpent’s head was interwoven with all the poetry, customs, and ceremonies of their necromantic art. It was in consequence of this faint idea they had of the Promise that so many personages had from time to time appeared with the vain design of bringing salvation to the world; but they had given to it instead still greater sins and abominations drawn from the impure source from which they themselves had sprung. He told them about the separation of Abraham’s family from the rest of mankind; the education of a special race for the guarding of the Promise; the guidance, direction, and purification of the Children of Israel; and He concluded by telling them about the Prophets, about Elias and his Prophecies, and that the present time was to be that of their realization. Jesus’ words were so simple, so convincing and impressive that some of the philosophers were greatly enlightened, while others, returning to their mythical accounts, were again entangled in their mazes. Jesus spoke with the philosophers until nearly one o’clock. Some of them believed and reformed their lives. These men were wrapped up in their apparently learned elucidations of all sorts of foolish and perplexing questions. Jesus had, however, let a ray of light fall upon their soul, when He proved to them that to the fallen race of mankind and their history there always remained a trace, more or less correct, of God’s designs upon men. He showed them how they, living as they did in a kingdom of darkness and confusion, had caught at the manifold improprieties and abominations of idolatry which, in the midst of their folly, still offered the external glamour of lost truth; but God, in His mercy toward mankind, formed from a few of the most innocent a nation from which the fulfillment of the Promise was to proceed. Then He pointed out to them that this time of grace was now arrived, that whosoever would do penance, amend his life, and receive Baptism, should be born anew and become a child of God.
Before this interview with the philosophers and immediately after the Baptism, Jesus had sent away Barnabas and some other disciples to Chytrus, a few hours distant, where the family of Barnabas dwelt. Jesus had with Him only the disciple Jonas and another disciple from Dabereth, when He went one half hour westward from Salamis to a rich, fertile region wherein lay a little village whose inhabitants were busied with the harvest. They were chiefly Jews, for their fields lay on this side of the city. The country was very lovely, and agriculture was pursued in a manner different from ours. The grain was raised on very high ridges like ramparts, between which were grazing grounds surrounded by numerous fruit trees, olive trees, and others. They were full of cattle which, though penned up, could graze in the shade, and yet do no harm to the crops. These low meadows were likewise a sort of reservoir for dew and water. I saw a great many black cows without horns; oxen, humpbacked, heavy-footed, and very broad-horned, used as beasts of burden; numerous asses; extraordinarily large sheep with bushy tails; and, apart from the rest, herds of rams, or horned sheep. Houses and sheds lay scattered here and there. The people had a very beautiful school and a place for teaching in the open air, also a Doctor of the Law among them; but on the Sabbath they used to go to the synagogue in Salamis near Jesus’ inn.
The road was very beautiful. As soon as ever the harvesters espied Jesus (they had already seen Him in the synagogue and at the Baptism), they left their work and their tools, cast off the piece of bark that they wore on their head as a protection from the sun’s rays, and, hurrying in bands down from the high ridges, bowed low before Him. Many of them even prostrated on the ground. Jesus saluted and blessed them, after which they returned to their labor. As Jesus drew near the school, the Doctor, who had been apprised of His coming, went out with some other honorable personages to meet Him. He bade Him welcome, escorted Him to a beautiful well, washed His feet, removed His mantle, which was then shaken and brushed, and presented Him food and drink.
Jesus, with these people and others who had come from Salamis, went from field to field, here and there instructing the reapers in short parables upon sowing, harvesting, the separation of the wheat from the tares, the building of the granary, and the casting of the ill-weeds into the fire. The reapers listened to him in groups, and then returned to their work, while Jesus passed on to another band.
The men used a crooked knife in reaping. They cut off the stalk about a foot below the ear, and handed it to the women standing behind to receive it. The latter tied the ears into bundles and carried them away in baskets. I saw that many of the low ears were left standing, and that poor women came along afterward, cut them and gathered up the fallen ones as their portion. These women wore very short garments. Their waist was wound with linen bands, and their tunic tucked up around the body forming a sack, into which they put the ears they gleaned. Their arms were uncovered, the breast and neck concealed by linen bands, and the head veiled, or simply protected by a chip hat, according as they were married or maidens.
Jesus went on in this way walking and teaching for about a half-hour’s distance, and then returned to the well near the school. Here He found a collation set out on a stone table for Himself and companions. It consisted of a thick sauce, honey, I think, in shallow dishes; long sticks of something from which they broke off little scraps and laid them on their bread, little rolls of pastry, fruits, and little jugs of some kind of drink. The well was extremely beautiful. Back of it was a high terrace filled with trees. One had to descend many steps to get to the well cistern, which was cool and shady. The female portion of the Doctor’s family dwelt at some distance from the school. They were veiled when they brought the viands for the repast. Jesus gave instructions on the In the evening, the reapers assembled in the school, where Jesus explained the parables He had related to them in the fields, and taught also of the manna, of the daily bread, and of the Bread from Heaven. He went afterward with the Doctor and others to visit the sick in their huts, and cured several of the lame and dropsical, who lay mostly in little cells built at the back of the houses. He thus visited a lady afflicted with dropsy. Her tiny apartment was only sufficiently large to accommodate her bed. It was open at her feet, thus allowing her to look out upon a little flower garden. The roof was light and could be raised to afford her a glimpse of the sky. Some men and women went with Jesus to the sick lady’s hut. They removed the screen, and Jesus thus accosted the invalid: “Woman, dost thou desire to be relieved?” To which she answered humbly: “I desire what is pleasing to the Prophet.” Then Jesus said: “Arise! Thy faith has helped thee!” The woman arose, left her little cell, and said: “Lord, now I know Thy power, for many others have tried to help me, but could not do it.” She and her relatives offered thanks, and praised the Lord. Many came to see her, wondering at her cure. Jesus returned to the school.
I saw, on that day at Salamis, Mercuria the sinner walking up and down her apartments, a prey to deep sadness and disquietude. She wept, wrung her hands, and, enveloped in her veil, often threw herself on the floor in a corner. Her husband, who appeared to me not very bright, thought like her maids that she had lost her mind. But Mercuria was torn by remorse for her sins; her only thought, her constant dream, was how she could break loose from her bonds and join the holy women in Palestine. She had two daughters of eight and nine years, and a boy of fifteen. Her home was near to the great temple. It was large with massive walls and surrounded by servants’ dwellings, pillars, terraces, and gardens. They called upon her to attend the temple, but she declined on the plea of sickness. This temple was an extraordinary building full of columns, chambers, abodes for the pagan priests, and vaults. In it stood a gigantic statue of the goddess, which shone like gold. The body was that of a fish, and the head was horned like a cow. Before it was another figure of less stature, upon whose shoulders the goddess rested her short arms, or claws. The figures stood upon a high pedestal, in which were cavities for the burning of incense and other offerings. The sacrifices in the goddess’ honor consisted even of children, especially of cripples. Mercuria’s house became subsequently the dwelling of Costa, the father of St. Catherine. Catherine was born and reared in it. Her father descended from a princely race of Mesopotamia. For certain services, he was rewarded with large possessions in Cyprus. He married in Salamis a daughter of the same pagan priestly family to which Mercuria belonged. Even in her childhood, Catherine was full of wisdom, and had interior visions by which she was guided. She could not endure the pagan idols, and thrust them out of sight wherever she could. As a punishment for this, her father once put her in confinement.
The cities in these regions were not like ours, in which the houses stand apart. The buildings of those pagan cities were enormous, with terraces and massive walls in which, again, abodes for poorer people were constructed. Many of the streets were like broad ramparts, and were planted with trees. Under these thoroughfares were found the abodes of numbers of people. Great order reigned in Salamis. Each class of inhabitants had its own street. The school children also I saw for the most part in one particular street, and there were others set apart for the beasts of burden. The philosophers had one large edifice of their own. It was surrounded by courtyards, and I saw them promenading in the street that belonged to them. Wrapped in their mantles, they walked in bands four or five abreast, and spoke in turn. They always kept to one side of the street in going, and to the other in returning. This order was as a general thing observed in all the streets.
The square with the beautiful fountain, in which the Commandant held his interview with Jesus, was much higher than the adjacent streets. To reach it, one had to mount a flight of steps. Around this square were arcades filled with shops. To one side was the marketplace, near which were rows of dense, pyramidal-shaped trees up which one could mount and sit in their bowerlike foliage. The Commandant’s palace fronted on this square.
Jesus Teaching in Chytrus
On the following morning, Jesus again went through the harvest fields instructing the laborers. A remarkable fog hung over the country the whole day, so dense that one could scarcely see his neighbor, and the sun glimmered through it like a white speck. The fields ran northeastwardly between the rising heights until they terminated in a point. I saw innumerable partridges, quails, and pigeons with enormous crops. I remember also to have seen a kind of thick, gray, ribbed apple, the pulp streaked with red. It grew on wide spreading trees, which were trained on trellises.
Jesus taught in parables of the harvest and the daily bread, and He cured several lame children who lay on sheepskins in a kind of cradle, or trough. When some of the people broke out in loud praise of His teaching, Jesus checked them with words something like these: “Whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not (that also which he thinketh he hath), shall be taken away from him.”
The Jews of this place had doubts upon divers points, upon which Jesus instructed them. They feared to have no part in the Promised Land, they thought that Moses had had no need to cross the Red Sea, and that there was no reason for his wandering so long in the desert since there were other and more direct routes. Jesus met their objections with the reply that they could get possession of the Kingdom of God, and that there was no need, it was true, for so long a sojourn in the desert. He challenged them, since they disapproved such proceedings in Moses, not to wander around themselves in the desert of sin, unbelief, and murmuring, but to take the shortest road by means of penance, Baptism, and faith. The Jews of Cyprus had intermarried freely with the pagans, but in such contracts the latter always became converts to Judaism.
On this walk of instruction through the harvest fields, Jesus and His companions reached the highroad which, running a couple of hours to the west of Salamis, connected the port on the northwestern coast of Cyprus to that on the southeast. Here stood a very large Jewish inn, and at it Jesus and His followers stopped. Not far off stood sheds and an inn with a well for the pagan caravans. The highway was always swarming with travelers. There was no female at the inn; the women dwelt apart by themselves. Jesus had just washed His feet and taken some refreshments when the disciples, who had tarried in Salamis baptizing, arrived. Jesus’ companions now numbered twenty, He continued to teach out in the open air the people coming home from their work. They brought to Him some sick laborers who could no longer earn their bread. As they believed in His doctrine, Jesus cured them and bade them resume at once their daily labor.
Toward evening a caravan of Arabs arrived. They had with them, as beasts of burden, oxen yoked in couples. On two poles across their backs, they carried immense bales of goods that rose high above their heads. In narrow parts of the road they went one behind the other, still keeping their burden between them. I saw asses and camels also laden with bales of wool. These Arabs were from the region in which Jethro had dwelt. They were of a browner complexion than the Cypriotes, and had come hither with their goods in ships. In the mining districts through which they passed, they bartered some of their goods for copper and other metals, and they were now pursuing their course southward along the highroad, in order again to embark for home. The beasts bore the heavy metal in long chests, the packages smaller than usual on account of their weight. I think the metal was in bars, or long plates. Some of it was already wrought into various vessels and kettles, which I saw, in packages round and of the form of a cask. The women were exceedingly industrious. During their journey, whether walking or riding, they occupied themselves in spinning, and whenever they encamped, they set to work at weaving covers and scarves. They could, in consequence, maintain themselves on the journey and renew their own clothing. They used for their work the wool packed on the beasts of burden. While spinning, they fastened the wool to their shoulders, spun the thread with one hand and wound it on the spindle which they turned in the other. When the spindle was full, the thread was wound off upon a bobbin that hung at their girdle.
When these people had unloaded and cared for their beasts, they saluted Jesus and begged to be permitted to hear His doctrine. He commended them for their industry and took occasion from it to ask the question, for whom was all their trouble, for whom all their labor. From this He went on to speak of the Creator and Preserver of all things, of gratitude to God, of God’s mercy toward sinners and lost sheep that wander around not knowing their Shepherd. He taught them in mild and loving words. They were touched and rejoiced, and wanted to bestow all kinds of presents upon Him. He blessed their children and left them. With His companions He then directed His steps more to the north toward Chytrus, situated between four and five hours from this place and about six from Salamis. The way now became hilly.
I saw here in the country olive trees and cotton trees, also a plant from which I think they make a kind of silk. It did not look like our flax, but rather like hemp, and it furnishes a long, soft thread. But most conspicuous of all was a little tree with quantities of beautiful yellow flowers, most charming to behold. Its fruit was almost the same as that of the medlar, or persimmon; it appeared to me to be saffron. To the left, one had a beautiful view of the mountains covered with high forests. Cypresses were numerous, also little resinous bushes of delicious fragrance. Here too among the mountains descended a little stream that in one part formed a waterfall. Still farther on and higher up, there was on one side of the mountain a forest, on the other, the naked soil over which wound a path, and on either side were caves extending into the mountain. Out of these were mined copper and some kind of white metal like silver. I saw the miners boring into them, also from above. The metal must have been smelted on the spot, and that with a certain yellow something of which there was a whole mountain in the neighborhood. The workman kneaded the melted mass into great balls and then allowed them to dry. I heard it said on that occasion that the mountain sometimes caught fire.
After four hours’ journey, Jesus reached an inn more than half an hour from Chytrus. All along the road, mines were still to be seen. Here Jesus and His companions halted and the father of Barnabas, along with some other men, received the Lord and extended to Him the usual acts of kindness. Jesus rested here and taught, after which He took a light repast with His companions.
Chytrus lay on a low plain. Jesus approached it from the side upon which were the mines. The population was made up of Jews and pagans. All around the city stood numerous single buildings. It looked like country workshops connected by gardens and fields.
I was very much troubled at the little fruit arising from Jesus’ great fatigue and labor in Cyprus. It was so small that, as the Pilgrim told me, nothing was known of that journey, no mention was made of it in Scripture, not even of Paul and Barnabas’ labors there. Then I had a vision concerning it, of which I remember the following details: Jesus gained five hundred and seventy souls, pagans and Jews, in Cyprus. I saw that the sinner Mercuria and her children delayed not to follow Him, and that she brought with her great wealth in property and money. She joined the holy women; and at the first Christian settlements between Ophel and Bethania, made under the deacons, she contributed largely toward the buildings and the support of the brethren. I saw also that in an insurrection against the Christians (Saul not yet being converted) Mercuria was murdered. It was at the time when Saul set out for Damascus. Soon after Jesus’ departure from the island, many pagans and Jews with their money and valuables left Cyprus and journeyed to Palestine, and little by little, transferred thither all their wealth. Then arose a great outcry among other members of these families who had not embraced Jesus’ doctrine. They looked upon themselves as injured by the departure of their relatives, and they scoffed at Jesus as an impostor. Jews and heathens made common cause together, and considered it a crime even to speak of Him. Many persons were arrested and scourged. The pagan priests persecuted those of their own belief, and forced them to offer sacrifice. The Commandant who had had an interview with Jesus was recalled to Rome and deposed from his office. They even went so far as to send Roman soldiers to take possession of the ports so that no one could leave the island. They did not remain long, but on their departure they took with them some of the inhabitants.
On the way to Chytrus, Jesus instructed the miners in separate bands. Some of the mines were rented by pagans; others, by Jews. The laborers looked very thin, pale, and miserable. Their nude bodies were protected in several places with pieces of brown leather, in which they were encased like turtles in their shells. Jesus took as the subject of His instruction the goldsmith, who purifies the ore in fire. The heathens and Jews were working on different sides of the road, so both could listen at the same time. There were some possessed, or grievously disturbed creatures that had to be bound with cords even when at work, and as Jesus drew near, they began to rage and cry. They published His name, and cried out to know what He wanted with them. Jesus commanded them to be silent, and they became quiet. Some Jewish miners now came forward complaining that the pagans had opened mines under the road in their district, thus encroaching upon their rights, and they begged Him to decide the point between them. Then Jesus directed a hole to be bored near the boundary through the part belonging to the Jews, and the workmen came to the pagan mines. There were found heaps of white, metallic scraps, I think zinc or silver, which had tempted the pagans to overstep their limits. Jesus gave an instruction upon scandal and ill-gotten goods. The pagans were convicted, for the facts witnessed against them. But as the magistrate was not on the spot, nothing could be done, and the pagans withdrew muttering their dissatisfaction.
Chytrus was a very stirring place. The inhabitants, pagans and Jews, lived on easy terms with one another as I more than once saw, though the two sects dwelt in different quarters. The pagans had several temples, and the Jews, two synagogues. Intermarriages were very frequent among them, but in such cases the pagan party always embraced Judaism.
Outside the city Jesus was met by the Jewish Elders and Doctors, also two of the philosophers from Salamis, who having been touched by His doctrine, had followed Him thither in order to hear Him again. After they had given Jesus a reception with the customary attentions, foot-washing and refreshments in the house devoted to such purposes, they petitioned Him for the cure of several sick persons who had been longingly awaiting His coming. Jesus accompanied His escort into the Jewish quarter where, in the street before several of the houses, about twenty invalids were lying, whom He cured. Some among them were lame. They were leaning on crutches, which were like frames resting on three feet. The cured and their relatives proclaimed the praises of Jesus, shouting after Him short passages of encomium taken chiefly from the Psalms, but the disciples told them to keep quiet.
Jesus went next to the house of the Elder of the synagogue where several of the literati were assembled, among them some belonging to the sect of Rechabites. These last-named wore a garb somewhat different from the other Jews, and their manners and customs were peculiarly rigorous. Of these, however, they had already laid aside many. They had a whole street to themselves, and were especially engaged in mining. They belonged to that race that settled in Ephron, in the kingdom of Basan, in whose neighborhood also, mining was carried on. Jesus was invited by the Elder to dinner, which he had ordered to be prepared for Him when the Sabbath was over. But as He had promised to dine with Barnabas’ father, He invited all the present guests to accompany Him thither, and begged the Elder to entertain the poor laborers and miners after the synagogue was over with the viands prepared for the dinner.
The synagogue was filled with people, and crowds of pagans were listening on the porches outside. Jesus took His text from the third book of Moses, treating of the sacrifice of the Tabernacle, and from Jeremias, relating to the Promise. He spoke of sacrifices living and dead, answered His hearers’ questions upon the difference between them, and taught on the Eight Beatitudes.
There was in the synagogue a pious old rabbi who had been for a long time afflicted with the dropsy, and who as usual had caused himself to be carried thither to his customary place. As the literati were disputing Jesus on various points, he cried aloud: “Silence! Allow me a word!” and when all were still, he called out: “Lord! Thou hast shown mercy to others. Help me, too, and bid me to come to Thee!” Thereupon Jesus said to the man: “If thou dost believe, arise and come to Me!” The sick man instantly arose, exclaiming: “Lord, I do believe!” He was cured. He mounted the steps to where Jesus stood, and thanked Him, while the whole assembly broke forth into shouts of joy and praise. Jesus and His followers left the synagogue and went to Barnabas’ dwelling. Then the master of the feast gathered together the poor and the laborers to partake of the dinner that Jesus had left them.
The Paternal Home and Family of Barnabas. Jesus Teaching in the Environs of Chytrus
The father of Barnabas dwelt beyond the western limits of the city in one of the many houses there scattered. Chytrus was surrounded by such dwellings, some of which, standing in clusters, formed villages. The house was quite handsome. On one side it was terraced, the walls brown as if painted in oil or smeared with resin-or was that the natural color? On these terraces were plants and foliage. Besides. the terraces the house was surrounded by a colonnade, an open gallery, upon which were beautiful trees. Beyond these were vineyards and an open space full of building wood, all in good order. In it were some trunks of trees extraordinarily thick, and there were all kinds of figures made out of the wood, but all was so well arranged that one could easily walk among them. I think the wood was intended for ship building. I saw too long wagons, but not wider than the wood itself, and provided with heavy iron wheels. They were drawn by oxen yoked far apart. One can see at no great distance from Chytrus a very beautiful forest of lofty trees.
The father of Barnabas was a widower. His sister with her maidservants had a house in the neighborhood; she took care of his household and provided the meals. The pagans that accompanied Jesus, as well as the philosophers from Salamis, did not recline with Him at table, because it was still the Sabbath; but they walked up and down in the open hall, ate from their hand and, standing under the colonnade, listened to Jesus’ teaching. The meal consisted of birds and broad, flat fish, besides cakes, honey, and fruit. There were likewise dishes with pieces of meat twisted into a spiral form and garnished with all kinds of herbs. Jesus spoke of sacrifice, of the Promise, and dwelt at length upon the Prophets.
During the dinner, several bands of poor, half-clad children of from four to six years old made their appearance. They had in little loosely woven baskets some kind of edible herbs, which they offered to the guests in exchange for bread or other food. They seemed to prefer that side of the table at which Jesus and His followers were reclining. Jesus stood up, emptied their baskets of the herbs, filled them from the viands on the table, and blessed the little ones. This scene was very lovely, very touching.
Next morning Jesus taught in the rear of Barnabas’ house, where there was a plot of beautiful rising ground furnished with a teacher’s chair. The path leading to it from the house was through magnificent arbors of grapevines. A large audience was gathered. Jesus first addressed the miners and other laborers, then the pagans and, lastly, a great crowd of Jews that had married into pagan families. A great many sick pagans had begged Jesus’ help and permission to hear His instructions. They were mostly laborers, sick and crippled, who lay on couches near the teacher’s chair. Jesus’ instruction to the laborers was on the and the refining of ore by fire; that to the pagans, on the wild shoots of trees and grapevines (which had to be cut away), or the one, only God, the children of God, the son of the house and the servant, and the vocation of the Gentiles. Then He turned to the subject of mixed marriages, which were not to be countenanced lightly, though they might be tolerated through condescension. In the latter case, however, they might be allowed only when there was a prospect of converting or perfecting one of the parties, but never merely for the gratification of sensuality. They could be suffered only when both parties were animated by a holy intention. He spoke, nevertheless, more against than for such unions, and declared them happy who had raised pure offspring in the house of the Lord. He touched upon the serious account the Jewish party would have to render, of the responsibility of rearing children in piety, of the necessity of corresponding with grace at the time of its visitation, and of penance and Baptism.
After that Jesus cured the sick and dined with Barnabas. Accompanied by His friends, He next went to the opposite side of the city, where were numbers of beehives placed at an unusually great distance from one another among the large flower gardens. Nearby were a fountain and a little lake. Jesus here taught and related parables, after which all went into the city to the synagogue, where the instruction on sacrifice and the Promise was concluded.
There were at this time some learned Jews travelling through the country. They put all kinds of cunningly contrived questions to Jesus, but He soon solved them. These men seemed to be actuated by some bad design. Their questions referred to mixed marriages, to Moses and the numbers he had caused to be put to death, to Aaron, the golden calf he had ordered to be made, his punishment, etc.
The next day appeared to be either a feast or a fast among the Jews, for there was morning service in the synagogue, that is, prayer and preaching. That over, Jesus left the city by the north side with all His disciples and some pagan youths. His little band was joined by some Jewish Doctors and several Rechabites, so that there were altogether fully one hundred men. They pursued their journey for about an hour to a place which was the principal seat of the bee-raising industry. Far off toward the rising sun stood long rows of white beehives, about the height of a man and woven, I think, of rushes or bark. They had many openings, and were placed one above another. Every group had in front of it a flowery field, and I noticed that balm grew here in abundance. Each field, or garden, was hedged in, and the whole bore the appearance of a city. One could readily recognize the pagan part of it, for here and there standing in niches were puppets with tails, like those of a fish, curving behind them into the air. They had little short paws and faces not altogether human.
The village itself consisted of many little cottages belonging to the bee proprietors, who kept there the vessels and utensils used in their branch of industry. The inn was a large building with all kinds of dependencies. Rows of sheds, or open halls, crossed one another around the courts in which were numerous trestles and long mats. The steward of this establishment provided for the needs of all that were here employed. He was a pagan. The Jews had their own halls and places for prayer, I think the wax and honey were prepared in the house and under the long sheds. It looked like a house for the general gathering in of the produce. I saw here also many of those little trees whose yellow blossoms are so beautiful. The leaves are more yellow than green, and the blossoms fall so thickly on the ground that they form, as it were, a soft carpet. Long mats were spread beneath the trees to catch them. I saw the workmen pressing the flowers to extract from them some kind of coloring matter. The little trees when young were planted in pots, and then transplanted often into the holes of rocks with earth around the roots. There were similar trees in Judea. I saw here also large plants of flax, from which they drew long threads.
Not far from Chytrus, about half an hour to the north, quite a considerable stream issued from the rock, flowed first through the city, and then watered the region by which Jesus had come. In some places it flowed along freely, in others it was bridged over. I think the water supplies of the Salamis aqueducts were obtained from it. It formed at its source a real little lake. In its waters Baptism was yet to be given, and I think there was some allusion made to it. The number of beautiful wildflowers in this region was surprising. All along the roads stood orange trees, fig trees, currant bushes, and grapevines.
Jesus had come here principally to be able to instruct the pagans without interruption, without disturbance from visitors. This He did all the rest of the day in the gardens and arbors of the inn. His hearers stood or lay stretched on the grass, while He instructed them on the and the Eight Beatitudes. When addressing the pagans, He spoke especially of the origin and abominations of their gods, of the vocation of Abraham and his separation from idolaters, and of God’s guidance over the children of Israel. He spoke openly and forcibly. There were about a hundred men listening to Him. After the instruction, all took refreshments in the inn, the pagans apart. The repast was made up of bread, long strips of goat cheese, honey, and fruit. The proprietor of the house was a pagan, but very humble and reserved in his manners. That evening, the pagans having retired, Jesus instructed the Jews and they prayed together. All spent the night at the inn.
Chytrus was a far more stirring place than Salamis, where all kinds of business and traffic were confined to the port and a couple of streets. Here, however, there reigned great activity. On the side by which Jesus approached the city, there was a great market where cattle and birds were exposed for sale. Near the heart of the city was another market beautiful to look upon. It was very high and all around it, as well as under its lofty arches, hung many different kinds of colored stuffs and covers. The opposite side of the city was occupied almost entirely by the workers in metal and their foundries. The hammering and pounding were so astonishingly loud that one could not hear his own words, although most of the factories were outside the city. They made all kinds of vessels, especially a kind of oval oven large and light, with a little cover and two handles near the top. In manufacturing them, the metal was first bent into shape, and then put into immense ovens, where the molten mass was blown by means of long tubes into the form of the hollow vessel required. They were yellow outside and white within. All kinds of fruit, as well as honey or syrup, were exported in them. When transported over the sea they were placed on a kind of trestle, and on land they were carried by means of poles run through the handles.
The next day Jesus again taught at the apiary, the number of His hearers having increased to a couple of hundred. In most convincing terms He again explained to the pagans their errors, and represented the existence of their gods as so very pitiful that they had to explain it by all kinds of significations in order to be able even to endure them themselves. And when, continuing His discourse, He exhorted them to renounce their subtleties, their vain imaginations, their continual efforts in behalf of falsehood, and in simplicity of heart to confine their researches to God and His revelations, some of them who had come thither like travelling literati with staves in their hands, became indignant, and turning off murmuring upon their way. Jesus remarked at this conjuncture: “Let them go! It is better that they should do so than remain to make new gods out of what they have just heard.” He uttered many prophetic words on the desolation that should one day come upon that beautiful region, its cities and temples, and of the judgment that was to fall on all those countries. He said that when idolatry should have reached its height, then would paganism come to naught, and He dwelt long on the chastisement of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem. The pagans took all in better part than did the Jews who, supporting themselves upon their Promises, had always some objections to bring forward. Jesus went through all the Prophets with them, explained the passages relating to the Messiah, and told them that the time for their fulfillment had arrived. The Messiah would arise among the Jews, but they would not own Him. They would mock and deride Him, and when He would assure them He was the One whom they were expecting, they would seize Him and put Him to death. This language was not at all to the taste of many of His hearers, and Jesus reminded them of how they were accustomed to do with their Prophets. He ended by saying that as they had treated the heralds, so too would they act toward the One whom they announced.
The Rechabites spoke with Jesus of Malachias, for whom they entertained great veneration. They told Jesus that they esteemed him an angel of God, that he had come as a child to certain pious people, that he had frequently disappeared for a time, and that no one knew whether he was now really dead or not. They dwelt at length on his prophecies of the Messiah and His new sacrifice, which Jesus explained as relating to the present and the near future.
From the apiary, Jesus went with a large company (which, however, constantly decreased on the road) back again to Barnabas’ home, a journey of several hours. The greater number of His party consisted of young men belonging to the Jewish community, and who were about to embark for Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. Nevertheless, they that remained with Jesus formed quite a considerable band. From thirty to forty pagan women and maidens and about ten Jewish girls were assembled at the entrance of the gardens to do Jesus honor. They were playing on flutes and singing canticles of praise; they wore flowery wreaths and strewed green branches in the way. Here and there also they spread mats on the road over which Jesus was to pass, inclined low before Him, and offered Him presents of wreaths, flowers, aromatic shrubs, and little flasks of perfume. Jesus thanked them, and addressed to them some words. They followed Him to the courtyard of Barnabas’ house, and set their gifts down in the assembly hall. They had adorned everything with flowers and garlands. This reception, though rural and less noisy, was something similar to that tendered Jesus on Palm Sunday. His escort soon returned to their homes, for it was evening.
I was astonished at the costume of the pagan women. The young girls wore curious-looking caps, like the so-called cuckoo baskets that, when a child, I used to weave of rushes. Some were without ornament; others had a wreath twined around them from which innumerable threads with all kinds of ornamentation fell upon the forehead. The lower edge always consisted of a wreath made of worsted or feather flowers. The veil was worn under the hat, or cap. It was in two parts so that it could be opened in front, or thrown up over the hat; in the latter case, it fell behind as low as the neck. They were girdled very tightly, wore a breast piece, and around the neck all kinds of ribands and finery. Their lower dress was very full. It consisted of several skirts of thin material one above the other, and each about a span, or nine inches, longer than the one above it, so that the lowest of all was the longest. The arms were not entirely covered. The dress had no sleeves, only long lappets, and little wreaths were fastened round the arms. The material was of different colors: yellow, red, white, blue, some striped and others covered with flowers. Their hair fell around their shoulders like a veil. It was fastened at the ends with a tasseled string, and thus pre-vented from floating on the breeze. The sandals on their bare feet were bent up into a point at the toe and kept in place by means of laces. The married women’s headdress was not so high as that of the young girls. It had a stiff leaf in front that screened the forehead and descended in a point as far as the nose, and thence curved up above the ears, thus exposing them to view with their pearl pendants. It was open worked and wound with braided hair, pearls, and all kinds of ornaments. They wore long mantles that hung very full in the back. The children with them had no other clothing than a band of some kind of stuff, which, passing over one shoulder, crossed the breast, and was tied around the waist, forming a covering for the middle of the body. These women had awaited Jesus fully three hours.
A repast had been prepared at Barnabas’. But the guests did not recline at table. The food was handed to each on a little board, a wooden waiter, such as had been used on the ship. Many old men were assembled here, among them the old Doctor of the Law whom Jesus had cured in the synagogue. Barnabas’ father was a solid, square-built old man, and one could easily see that he was accustomed to work in wood. The men of those days looked much more robust than those of the present age.
I next saw Jesus seated in the teacher’s chair at the spring outside of Chytrus. He was preparing the neophytes for Baptism, which the disciples conferred, first upon the Jews and then upon the pagans.
Jesus spoke here also with the Jewish Doctors on the subject of circumcision. He said that it should not be imposed upon the converted pagans, unless they themselves desired it. At the same time, the Jews ought not to be expected to allow these converts entrance into the synagogue, for they should avoid scandal. But they should thank God that the pagans, having abandoned their idolatry, were awaiting the hour of salvation. Other mortifications, the circumcision of the heart and of every species of concupiscence, could be imposed upon them. Jesus provided for their instruction and devotions apart from the Jews.