Arrival of the Leader of a Strange Tribe
Jesus had already taught these pagans for some time, when I saw approaching a caravan on camels. It paused and remained standing at some distance while an old man, a stranger and the leader of the tribe, dismounted and drew near. He was attended by an aged servant whom he very highly respected, and both stood still at a little distance from the assembly. No one noticed them until the Lord’s discourse was ended and He, with the disciples, had retired to the tent to take some refreshment. Then the stranger was received by Mensor, and shown to a tent. He afterward went with his old servant to the priests and told them that he could not believe Jesus to be the promised King of the Jews, because He treated with them so familiarly. The Jews had as he well knew, he continued, an Ark wherein was their God, and to it no one dare approach, consequently this Man could not be their God. The old servant also gave utterance to some erroneous conceptions of Mary; still both he and his master were good people. This King too had seen the wonderful star, but he had not followed it. He spoke much of his gods, whom he held in high esteem, and told how gracious they were to him, and that they brought him all kinds of good luck. He related also an incident that happened during a war which he had lately waged, and in which his gods had helped him and his old servant had brought him a certain piece of news. This King was of lighter complexion than Mensor, his clothing was shorter, and the turban round his head not so large. He was very much attached to his idols, one of which he always carried about with him on a camel. It was a figure with many arms, and with holes in its body in which could be placed the sacrifices offered it. He had some women in his caravan, which consisted of about thirty persons. As for himself, he was a very simple-minded man. He looked upon his old servant as an oracle, indeed he honored him even as a prophet. The latter had induced his master to make this journey, that he might show him, as he said, the Greatest of all the gods, but Jesus did not appear to answer his expectations. What the Lord said of compassion and beneficence pleased him greatly, for he was himself very charitable. He declared that he looked upon it as the greatest crime to neglect human beings for the sake of the lower animals. A meal was afterward prepared for the stranger, but at which Jesus was not present, I did not see Him even conversing with him. The King’s name sounded like Acicus. The old servant was an astrologer, He was clothed like a prophet in a long robe with a girdle that had many knots around it. His turban had numerous white cords and knots pendent from it. They looked as if made of cotton, and he wore a long beard. The royal stranger and his followers were of fairer complexion than the natives of these parts, among whom they were going to sojourn for some time. The women and their other followers they had left behind near the women’s tents. They had come a two days’ journey. I did not see Jesus conversing with them, but I heard Him say that they would come to the knowledge of the truth, and He praised the King’s compassion for men. I heard names that sounded like Ormusd and Zorosdat. The husband of Cuppes was a son of Mensor’s brother. He had, when a youth, accompanied his uncle to Bethlehem. He and Cuppes were of a yellowish-brown complexion, and both were descendants of Job.
Jesus still taught after nightfall in and around the temple. The whole place was brilliantly illuminated, the temple itself a blaze of light. The inhabitants of the whole region were gathered together, old and young, men and women. Upon the first command of Jesus, they had removed the idols. But I now saw something in the temple that I had not before noticed. Up in the roof, I saw a whole firmament of shining stars, and in between were reflected little gardens and brooks and bushes, which were placed up high in the temple and illumined with lights. It was a most wonderful contrivance, and I cannot imagine how it was done.
Jesus Leaves the Tent city of The Kings, and Goes to Visit Azarias, The Nephew of Mensor, in the Settlement of Atom
Jesus left the tent city of the Kings before daybreak when the lamps were still burning. They had arranged for Him a festive escort such as had welcomed Him, but He declined the attention and would not even accept a camel. The disciples took with them only some bread and some kind of liquor in flasks. The aged Mensor earnestly entreated Jesus to remain longer with them. He laid the crown that he wore on his turban at Jesus’ feet, and offered Him all that he possessed. His treasures were deposited under a grating in the floor of his tent, as in a cellar. They lay there in bars, lumps, and little heaps of grains. Mensor wept like a child. The tears rolled like pearls down his brownish yellow cheeks. His ancestor Job had the same complexion. It was a very delicate, shining brown, not so dark as that of the people near the Ganges. All wept and sobbed on parting.
Jesus left the city by the side upon which stood the temple, and passed the magnificent tent of the converted Cuppes, who ran forward with her children to meet Him. Jesus drew the children to Himself and spoke to the mother, who cast herself prostrate at His feet in tears. Mensor, the priests, and many others escorted Jesus, walking at His side two and two in turn, Jesus and the disciples carried staves. When Mensor and the priests reached home, it was already dark. Lamps were burning everywhere and all the people were gathered in and around the temple, kneeling in prayer or prostrate on the ground. Mensor announced to them that everyone who was not willing to live according to the Law of Jesus, and who did not believe in His doctrine, should leave his dominions. There were people here of a complexion still darker than Mensor. His tent city, with its temple and the burial place of the Kings, was the metropolis of the star worshippers, but at some hours’ distance in the surrounding district there were other tent settlements.
Jesus journeyed eastward. He took up His first night quarters in a shepherd village belonging to Mensor’s tribe and at about twelve hours from his tent castle. He slept with His disciples in a circular tent, whose sleeping places were separated from one another by movable screens.
Next morning Jesus left before the inhabitants were awake, I saw Him arrive at a stream that was too wide to ford, in consequence of which He turned His steps northward along its banks until He came to a spot that could be easily crossed. Toward evening He arrived at some huts, built either of moss or earth, near which was an uncovered well surrounded by a rampart. Here He and His companions washed their feet and, without a reception from anyone, turned into a hut made of leafy branches and there slept during the night. This hut was round with a pointed roof. It was open on all sides and appeared to be formed of twisted branches and moss; around it was a closely woven hedge to keep off wild animals. This region was very fruitful. I saw most beautiful fields bordered by rows of thick, shady trees, and at the corners where the trees met were dwellings, not tents like Mensor’s, but round huts woven of branches. The inhabitants of this region were of a sunburnt complexion; their skin was not so rich a brown as Mensor’s. They were clad very much like the first star worshippers whom Jesus had met on this journey. The women wore wide pantalets and over them a mantle. The people appeared to be engaged in weaving. From tree to tree, far apart from each other, were stretched pieces of stuff and thread, and many were busy working upon them at the same time. The whole length of the fields, the trees were trimmed in ornamental form, and seats were arranged up in the branches.
At the first dawn of morning, when the stars were still to be seen in the sky, several people went to the hut, but when they saw Jesus and the disciples still upon their couches, they drew back full of awe and prostrated on the ground. They had toward morning received through a courier from Mensor the news of Jesus’ coming, but they did not know that He was already among them. Jesus arose, girded His white undergarment, threw on the mantle which the disciples used to carry in a bundle on their journeys, and after He had prayed with the youths and they had washed His feet, He stepped out of the hut to where the people were lying prostrate on their faces, and bade them not to be frightened at Him. Then He went with them to their temple, a great, oblong building with a flat roof upon which one could walk. It had two railings on the roof, and by them I saw some people gazing at the sky through tubes. In front of the temple was the closed fountain, esteemed sacred by the natives, and a pan of coals. The latter was raised a little above the ground, so that one could see under it. All around the temple were places for the people, separated from one another by bars. The priests that I saw wore long, white garments, trimmed from top to bottom with many-colored laces, and a broad girdle with a long end upon which were glittering stones and an inscription in letters. From their shoulders hung strips of leather, to which little shields were attached. When Jesus reached the temple, He called one of the priests down from the roof where he was observing the stars. The lord of this pastoral settlement, a paternal nephew of Mensor, came forth from the temple to greet Jesus and hand to Him the peace branch. Jesus took it and passed it to Eremenzear, who handed it to Silas who, in turn, gave it to Eliud. Eremenzear again received it and bore it into the temple, followed by Jesus and the rest of the party. Here they found a little round altar upon which stood a cup without a handle, something like a mortar. In it was a yellowish pap, into which Eremenzear stuck the branch. This latter was either dried or artificial. It had leaves on both sides, and it seems to me that Jesus said it would become green. The images in the temple were enveloped as with a covering, or mask of very light, stiff material. A teacher’s chair had been erected in the enclosure of the temple, and there Jesus taught. He questioned His hearers, as if they were children, upon all that He said. The women stood far in the background. The people were very childlike and accepted everything willingly. Jesus spent the greater part of the day in teaching, and that night accepted hospitality from the lord of the settlement, whose dwelling consisted of several stories. It was a circular edifice with outside steps running around it. Above the door was fastened an oval shield of yellow metal, upon which were inscribed the words, “Azarias of Atom.” Azarias had not been able to live upon good terms with Mensor, and hence the latter had divided with him the pasture grounds; but after Jesus’ visit, he changed for the better. The interior of his dwelling was very beautiful, fitted up with fine colored carpets and tapestry, and communicating by a covered tent corridor with the apartments of his wife.
When the Sabbath began, Jesus withdrew with His disciples in order to celebrate it as He had done in the tent city of the Kings.
The Wonderful Cure of Two Sick Women
While Jesus was celebrating the Sabbath with the disciples in the open hut in which He had passed the first night, I saw the sick wife of Azarias seeking her cure before an idol. The lady had many children, and I saw in her apartments several other women, maidservants perhaps. Back from the fireplace and in a corner between the apartments stood a slab, or table, supported on columns. On it was a beautiful pedestal pierced on all sides with holes and covered with a little ornamental roof of leaves and foliage. The pedestal supported an idol in the form of a sitting dog with a thick, flat head. It was resting upon some written pages which were fastened together with cords in the form of a book, one of its forepaws raised over it as if drawing attention to it. Above this idol arose another, a scandalous-looking figure with many arms. I saw priests bringing in fire from the pan near the temple and pouring it under the hollow figure of the sitting dog, whose eyes began to sparkle, and from his mouth and nose immediately issued fire and smoke. Two women conducted Azarias’ wife (who was afflicted with an issue of blood) up to the idol and placed her upon cushions and rugs before it. Azarias himself was present. The priests prayed, burnt incense, and offered sacrifice before the idol, but all to no purpose. Flames shot forth from it, and in the dense black smoke issued horrible doglike figures that disappeared in the air. The sick woman became perfectly miserable. She sank down faint and exhausted like one in a dying state, saying “These idols cannot help me! They are wicked spirits! They cannot longer remain here, they are fleeing from the Prophet, the King of the Jews, who is amongst us. We have seen His star and have followed Him! The Prophet alone can help me!” After uttering these words, she fell back immovable and, to all appearances, lifeless. The bystanders were filled with terror. They had been under the impression that Jesus was only an envoy of the King of the Jews. They went immediately to the retired hut in which He and the disciples were celebrating the Sabbath, and respectfully begged Him to go to the sick woman. They told Him that she had cried out that He alone could help her, and they informed Him likewise of the impotence of their idols.
Jesus was still in His sabbatic robes, the disciples also, when they went to the sick woman, who was lying like one at the point of death. In earnest, vehement words, Jesus inveighed against idols and their worship. They were, He said, the servants of Satan, and all in them was bad. He reproached Azarias for this, that after his return from Bethlehem, whither as a youth he had accompanied the Kings, he had again sunk so deep into the abominations of idolatry. He concluded by saying that if they would believe in His doctrine, would obey the Commandments of God, and would allow themselves to be baptized, He would in three years send His Apostle to them, and He would now help the lady. Then He questioned the latter, and she answered: “Yes, I do believe in Thee!” All the bystanders gave Him the same assurance.
The screens had been removed from around the tent, and a crowd of people were standing by. Jesus asked for a basin of water, but bade them not to bring it from their sacred fountain. He wanted only ordinary water, nor would He use their holy water sprinkler. They had to bring Him a fresh branch with fine, narrow leaves. They had likewise to cover their idols, which they did with fine, white tapestry embroidered in gold. Jesus placed the water on the altar. The three disciples stood around Him, one at either side, right and left, and the third behind Him. One of them handed Him a metal box from the wallet that they always carried with them. Several such boxes of oil and cotton were placed one above the other. In that which the disciple handed to Jesus, there was a fine, white powder, which appeared to me to be salt. Jesus sprinkled some of it on the water, and bent low over it. He prayed, blessed it with His hand, dipped the branch into it, sprinkled the water over all around Him, and extended His hand to the woman with the command to arise. She obeyed instantly, and rose up cured. She threw herself on her knees and wanted to embrace His feet, but He would not suffer her to touch Him.
This cure effected, Jesus proclaimed to the crowd that there was another lady present who was much more indisposed than the first and who, notwithstanding, did not ask His help. She adored not an idol, but a man. This lady, by name Ratimiris, was married. Her malady consisted in this, that at the sight, the name, or even the thought of a certain youth, she fell into a sort of fever and became ill into death. The youth, meanwhile, was perfectly ignorant of her state.1 Ratimiris, at the call of Jesus, stepped forward greatly confused. Jesus took her aside, laid before her all the circumstances both of her sickness and her sins, all which she freely acknowledged. The youth was one of the temple servers, and whenever she brought her offerings, which he was charged to receive, she fell into that sad state. After Jesus had spoken awhile with her alone, He led her again before the people, and asked her whether she believed in Him and whether she would be baptized when He would send His Apostle hither. When she, deeply repentant, answered that she did believe and that she would be baptized, Jesus drove the devil out of her. The evil one departed in the form of a spiral column of black vapor.
The youth’s name was Caisar, and there was something of John in his appearance. He was pure and chaste, a descendant of Ketura and a relative of Eremenzear, who also was from this place. It was for this reason that on their reception, Jesus had given to him the peace branch first. Caisar spoke with the disciples, for he had long had secret presentiments of salvation. He told them several dreams he had had, among others one in which he dreamed that he had carried a great many people through water. The disciples thought that it signified perhaps that he would convert many. I saw that he accompanied Jesus on His departure. Three years after Christ’s
Ascension, when Thomas baptized in these parts, he returned with Thaddeus. Later on he was sent by Thomas to the Bishop of a certain place where, though innocent, he was, to the great joy of his soul, crucified as a robber and criminal.
Jesus taught here until day dawned and the burning lamps went out. He commanded the people to destroy their images of the devil, and reproached them for adoring woman under a diabolical figure, and yet treating their women worse than dogs, which animals they held sacred. Toward morning Jesus retired again into the solitary house in order to celebrate the Sabbath.
I was told why Jesus kept this journey so secret. I remember that He said to His Apostles and disciples that He would go away for a little while only, in order that the public might lose sight of Him, but they knew nothing of the journey. He had taken with Him those innocent boys because they would not be scandalized at His intercourse with the heathens, and would not remark things too closely. He had likewise strictly forbidden them to speak of the journey, on which account one of them said in all simplicity: “The blind man whom Thou didst forbid to speak of his cure, did not remain silent, and yet Thou didst not punish him!” Jesus replied: “That happened for the glory of God, but this would bear fruits of scandal.” I think the Jews, and even the Apostles themselves, would have been somewhat scandalized had they known that Jesus had been among the pagans.
When the Sabbath was over, the Lord called all together again and instructed them. He blessed some water for them and directed them to prepare for Him a chalice like that used by Mensor. Here too as in the former place, He blessed for them bread and the red liquor. In the cup into which Eremenzear upon his arrival had stuck the branch in order to keep it fresh, there was a yellowish-green substance, something like pap, which consisted of the pulp of a plant from which the juice had been expressed. This juice the natives drank as something holy. I saw Jesus the whole night between Saturday and Sunday teaching in front of the temple. He Himself helped to smash the idols, and He told the pagans how they should distribute the value of the metal. I saw Him also, as in Mensor’s land, imposing hands upon the shoulders of the priests, teaching them how to divide the blessed bread, and here as there preparing the beverage. The vessel used here, however, was larger.
Azarias later on became a priest and martyr. The two women also whom Jesus cured here, were afterward martyred like Cuppes. The Lord spoke against a multiplicity of wives, and gave instructions on the married state. The wife of Azarias, as well as Ratimiris, wanted Jesus to baptize them right away. He replied that He could indeed do so, but that it would be inopportune. He must first return to the Father and send the Consoler, after which His Apostles would come and baptize them. They should, He said, live in the desire of Baptism and submission to His will, and such dispositions would, to those that might die in the interim, serve as Baptism. Ratimiris was in fact baptized under the name of Emily by Thomas when, three years after Christ’s Ascension, he visited this country accompanied by Thaddeus and Caisar. They came in a direction more from the south than did Jesus, and it was then that the Kings and their people were baptized.
Jesus Goes to Sikdor, Mozian, and Ur
From Atom, Jesus went first toward the south, then eastwardly through a very fertile region cut up by rivers and canals and planted with fruit trees of various kinds, especially peaches, which grew in long rows. I heard the names Euphrates, Tigris, Chaldar, and I think Dr, the land of Abraham, and that place at which Thaddeus suffered martyrdom were not far distant. Toward evening, Jesus reached a row of flat-roofed houses occupied by Chaldeans. I heard Sikdor as the name of the place in which were established two schools, one for the priests of the country and the other for young girls. The people were not so fully clothed as those of the royal tent city. They wore only blankets over their cinctures, but they were good, and so lowly minded that they thought the Jews alone were the chosen for salvation. They had on a hill a pyramid surrounded by galleries, seats, and immense tubes pointed on high through which they observed the stars. They also predicted future events from the course of animals, and interpreted dreams. Their temple with its forecourt and fountain was oval in form, and occupied the center of the place. It contained numerous metal statues of exquisite workmanship. The principal object of note was a triangular column upon which rested three idols. The first had many feet and arms, the former not in human shape, but like the paws of animals. In its hands it held a globe, a circle, a large ribbed apple on a stem, and bunches of herbs. The face of the figure was like a sun, and its name was Mytor, or Mitras. The second was a unicorn, and it was called Asphas, or Aspax. This animal was represented in the act of using its horn in a struggle against a wild beast that was standing on the third side of the column. It had the head of an owl, a hooked beak, four legs with talons, two wings, and a tail, which last appendage ended like that of a scorpion. Above these two animals, namely, the unicorn and the wild beast, and projecting from one of the sharp edges of the column, stood another figure, which represented the mother of all the gods. Her name was Woman, or Alpha. She was the most powerful of all their divinities, and whoever desired to obtain anything from the supreme god was obliged to plead for it through her. They called her, likewise, the Granary. Out of the figure issued a large sheaf of wheat, apparently growing, which she clasped with both hands. The head was bowed, and on the neck, bent low between the shoulders, rested a vessel of wine. Above the figure hung a crown, and above the crown were inscribed on the column two letters, or symbols, that looked to me like an O or a W. The lesson taught by these images was that the wheat was to become bread and that the wine was to inebriate all mankind.
There was besides in the temple a brazen altar, and what was my astonishment to see upon it, under a revolving dome, a little circular garden railed in with gold wire like a bird cage, and above it the image of a young virgin! In the center of the garden and roofed in by a little temple was a fountain with several sealed basins one above the other. In front of the fountain rose a green vine with a cluster of red grapes, which drooped over a press whose form reminded me of a cross. From the upper end of a tall stem projected a funnel-shaped, self-opening, leathern pouch with two movable arms, through which the juice of the grapes put into it could be pressed out and allowed to flow down below upon the stem. The little garden was about five or six feet in diameter. It was planted with delicate green bushes and little trees, which like the vine and its grapes looked perfectly natural. They owed this symbol to their star gazing, and they had many others that bespoke their presentiments of the Blessed Mother of God. They sacrificed animals, but had a special horror of blood, which they always allowed to run off into the earth. They had likewise their sacred fire and water, their chalice of vegetable juice, and their little loaves, like the people of Atom. Jesus reproved them for their idolatry and for mixing up heavenly predictions and prognostics with Satanic errors. Their symbols, He said, had in them indeed some notions of truth, but they were discordant and filled with Satan. He explained to them the symbol of the garden enclosed. He told them that He Himself was the vine whose sap, whose blood, was to quicken the world, that He Himself was the grain of wheat which was to be buried in the earth thence to rise again. Jesus spoke here much more freely, much more significantly than among the Jews, for these people were humble. He comforted them by telling them that He had come for all mankind, and He commanded them to break up their idols and give their value to the poor. They showed signs of deep feeling when He was about leaving them, and threw themselves at His feet across the path in order to prevent His departure.
Some time after, I saw Jesus with the four disciples resting under a great tree that was surrounded by a hedge. It was in front of a house, from which they had been supplied with the bread and honey that they were eating. They journeyed on the whole of the night. I saw them on a plain walking sometimes over white stones, sometimes over meadows carpeted with white blossoms. On their way, they came across numbers of slender peach trees. At times the Lord paused, pointed around, and said something to the disciples. The country was intersected by numerous streams and canals. As a general thing, Jesus journeyed with extraordinary rapidity. He sometimes travelled twenty hours without interruption. His way back to Judea described a very great curve. I am always under the impression that Eremenzear wrote some details of this journey, though only a few fragments of his account escaped the fire that destroyed the rest.
On the evening of the second day of their departure from Sikdor, I saw Jesus and the disciples drawing near to a city outside of which rose a hill covered with circular gardens. Most of them had a fountain in the center and were planted with fine ornamental trees and shrubbery. The way taken by the Lord ran toward the south; Babylon lay to the north. It seemed as if one would have to descend a mountainous country to reach Babylon, which lay far below. The city was built on the river Tigris, which flowed through it. Jesus entered quietly and without pausing at the gates. It was evening, but few of the inhabitants were to be seen, and no one troubled himself about Him. Soon, however, I saw several men in long garments, like those worn by Abraham, and with scarves wound round their head, coming to meet Him and inclining low before Him. One of them extended toward Him a short, crooked staff. It was made of reed, something like that afterward presented to Christ in derision, and was called the staff of peace. The others, two by two, held across the street a strip of carpet upon which Jesus walked. When He stepped from the first to the second, the former was raised and spread before the latter to be again in readiness for use, and so on. In this way they reached a courtyard, over whose grated entrance with its idols waved a standard upon which was represented the figure of a man holding a crooked staff like that presented to Jesus. The standard was the standard of peace. They led the Lord through a building from whose gallery floated another standard. It appeared to be the temple, for all around the interior stood veiled idols and in the center was another veiled in the same way, the veil being gathered above it to form a crown. The Lord did not pause here, but proceeded through a corridor, on either side of which were sleeping apartments. At last He and His attendants reached a little enclosed garden planted with delicate bushes and aromatic shrubs, its walks paved in ornamental figures with different kinds of colored stone. In the center rose a fountain under a little temple open on all sides, and here the Lord and the disciples sat down. In answer to Jesus’ request, the idolaters brought some water in a basin. The Lord first blessed it, as if to annul the pagan benediction, and then the disciples washed His feet and He theirs, after which they poured what remained into the fountain. The pagans then conducted the Lord into an open hall adjoining, in which a meal had been prepared: large yellow, ribbed apples and other kinds of fruit; honeycombs; bread in the form of thin cakes, like waffles; and something else in little, square morsels. The table upon which they were spread was very low. The guests ate standing. Jesus’ coming had been announced to these people by the priests of the neighboring city. They had in consequence expected Him the whole day and at last received Him with so much solemnity. Abraham also had received a staff of welcome such as had been presented to Jesus.
The name of this city was Mozin, or Mozian. It was a sacerdotal city, but sunk deep in idolatry. Jesus did not enter the temple. I saw Him teaching a crowd of people on a graded hill surrounded by a wall. It was in front of the temple and near a fountain. He reproved them severely for having fallen into idolatry even more deeply than their neighbors, showed them the abominations of their worship, and told them that they had abandoned the Law. I heard Him referring to the destruction of the Temple in the time of their forefathers, and speaking of Nabuchodonosor and Daniel. He said that they should separate, the believing from the spiritually blind, for there were some good souls among them, and to these He indicated whither they should go. Many of the others were stiff-necked. There was one point that they would not understand, and that was the necessity for abolishing polygamy. The women dwelt in a street to themselves at the extreme end of the city, to which, however, there was communication by shaded walks. They seemed to be held in great con-tempt, and after a certain age the young girls dared not appear in public. No woman of this place saw Jesus. Only the boys were present with the men.
Jesus used severe words toward these people. They were, He said, so blinded, so obstinate, that when the Apostle that He was going to send would make his appearance, he would find them unprepared for Baptism. Jesus would not remain longer with them. As He was leaving the city, a procession of young girls met Him at the gate, chanting hymns of praise in His honor. They wore white pantalets, had garlands around their arms and necks, and flowers in their hands.
From Mozian, Jesus went with His companions across a large field to a village of pastoral tents. He sat down near the fountain, the disciples washed His feet, and some men of the place approached with the branch of welcome and gave Him a glad reception. They were clad in long garments, more like Abraham than any others I had yet seen, and they possessed an astronomical pyramid. I saw no idols. These people appeared to be pure star worshippers and to belong to that race of whom some had accompanied the Kings to Bethlehem. They appeared to me to be only a little band of shepherds, of whom the Superior alone had a permanent dwelling. Jesus ate bread and fruit in his house standing, and drank out of a special vessel. He afterward taught at the well. When He was leaving them, the people threw themselves across His path and entreated Him to remain with them.
On departing from this place, Jesus travelled throughout the whole of that night and the following day. Once I saw Him with the disciples taking a little rest by a fountain under a large shade tree. It was a public resting place for travelers, and there Jesus ate some bread and took a drink. The city to which He was going was thirty hours to the south of Mozian, but still on the Tigris. It was called Ur, or Urhi. Jesus reached it on that evening before the commencement of the Sabbath. Abraham was from this region. Jesus went to a well outside the city which was surrounded by large shade trees and stone benches. Here the disciples washed the Lord’s feet and then their own, lowered their girded garments, and entered the city, whose architecture struck me as different from any other I had seen in these parts. The men and women did not appear to live so much apart. There were many towers provided with galleries and tubes for observing the stars, and to them led steps both inside and outside. The people knew from the stars of the Lord’s coming, consequently they had expected Him and taken every stranger for Him. When, therefore, Jesus’ entrance into the city was noticed by some, they hurried to a large flat-roofed house which stood in a large open space, in order to give notice of His arrival. From this house, which appeared to be a school and from which waved a flag, there now issued several men in long garments of one single color, and proceeded to meet Jesus. They were girded with cinctures whose ends hung long and loose, and they wore round caps bordered by a roll of wool, or little feathers, whose strips met on top and formed a plume. The hair could be seen through them. The men prostrated before Jesus, and then led Him and His companions back to the school, which consisted of one immense hall. To it flocked crowds of people. Jesus taught for a short time from an elevated seat at the top of a flight of steps, after which He was conducted to another house in which a meal had been prepared. But Jesus took only a few mouthfuls standing, and then went alone with the disciples into a retired apartment where they celebrated the Sabbath. Next day He taught near a fountain on an open place upon which was a stone seat used for teaching. All the women of the place were present, and so enveloped in their narrow garments that they could scarcely walk. Their caps were like cowls, from which hung two lappets. Jesus spoke of Abraham, and made some severe remarks on the fact of their being sunk in idolatry. There were idolatrous temples here, but the idols were veiled. The Lord did not go into any of them. Thomas did not baptize these people at his first visit to them.
When Jesus left Ur, the people accompanied Him, strewing branches in His way. He journeyed toward the west for a long time, over a beautiful plain which toward the end became sandy, and lastly was covered with Underwood. About noon they reached a well by which they sat down to rest. The remainder of the journey was made through a wood and over cultivated land, until toward evening they arrived at a great, round building encircled by a courtyard and moat. All around stood heavy-looking houses with flat roofs. That of the great building was covered with verdure and even trees, while in the massive wall of the courtyard were the abodes of some poor people. At the fountain in the courtyard Jesus and the disciples washed their feet, as usual. And now, from the round house came forth two men in long garments profusely trimmed with laces and ribands, and wearing feather caps on their heads. The elder of the two carried a green branch and a little bunch of berries, which he presented to Jesus, who with the disciples followed him into the building. In the center of the house was a hall, lighted from the roof, whose fireplace was reached by steps. From this circular apartment, they proceeded around through irregularly shaped rooms opening one into the other, and whose end wall, concave in form, was hung with tapestry, behind which all sorts of utensils were kept. The floor was level, and like the walls covered with thick carpets. In one of these apartments, Jesus and His companions took a frugal repast and drank something from vessels never before used. What the beverage was, I do not know.
After the meal, the master of the house took Jesus all around and showed Him everything. The whole castle was filled with beautifully wrought idols. There were figures of all sizes, large and small, some with a head like that of an ox, others like that of a dog, and a serpent’s body. One of them had many arms and heads, and into its jaws could be put all kinds of things. There were also some figures of swathed infants. Under the trees in the courtyard, stood idols in the form of animals, for instance, birds looking upward, and other animals standing around. These people sacrificed animals, but they had a horror of blood, which they always allowed to run off into the earth. They had, also, the custom of distributing bread, of which the more distinguished among them received a larger portion.
Jesus taught at the fountain in the courtyard, and strongly inveighed against their diabolical worship, though His words were not taken in good part. I saw that their chief was particularly obstinate in his errors. He was irritated at Jesus, and even contradicted Him. Thereupon I heard Jesus telling the people that, as a proof of the truth of His words, on the night of the anniversary of the star’s appearing to the Kings, the idols would fall to pieces, those that represented oxen would bellow, the dogs would bark, and the birds would scream. They listened to His predictions disdainfully and incredulously. This was what Jesus had told all whom He had visited on this journey. In all places at which He stopped on His way into the land of the heathens, He predicted that this would happen. On the holy night of Christmas, I had a vision of this whole journey from the pagan city near Kedar to the tent city of the Three Kings, and thence to this last pagan castle; and everywhere I saw the idols going to pieces, and heard bellowing and barking and screaming from those that represented animals. The Kings I saw at prayer in their temple. Numerous lights burned around the little crib, and it seems to me there was now the figure of an ass standing by it. They, it is true, no longer revered their idols; but those in the form of animals bellowed as a sign that Jesus was really the One to whom the star had led them, a fact still doubted perhaps by some weak in faith.