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Evening

EVENING.

IT was a hot and sultry day. At noon the streets of Capernaum were almost entirely deserted. But now the sun's rays fell more obliquely and were less scorching, for the heat was dispersed by a gentle breeze from the north-east. Hermon with his snowcovered head had nodded a friendly salutation to Tabor and the land of Gilead. Men, women, and children

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swarmed out of the houses, of whose existence at the present time there is no other evidence but ruined foundations and overturned walls. The people streamed towards the beautiful synagogue built in the Herodian style of architecture, whose pillars and blocks of stone with their rich sculptures,* now lying in confused masses amid brambles and thorns, show to us this day that the

* See the photographic views of this field of ruins in Dixon, The Holy Land. Captain Wilson has also published large photographs of the Lake of Genesaret and its surroundings, including the ruins of Tell Hum. Dalton, who has published beautiful Travel-Pictures of the East, agrees with Thomson (the American author of the book, The Land and the Book), and Wilson, and Zeller, a missionary in Nazareth, that Tell Hum of the present day is the ancient Capernaum.

wealthy city by the lake may well have been proud of it and thankful also to the well-known centurion in the gospel, who had built or restored it.*

The city, which was inclined towards the lake, formed an oblong square, of which the south - eastern long parallel ran along the shore, and the synagogue was situated nearly in the middle. "Abba," said a boy in a low tone to his father as they were passing the house of Simon, "will Rabbi Jeschu come to the synagogue to - day?" "Perhaps," he replied, " but do not call him rabbi; he is a risen prophet. John was Elijah, and he has in him the soul of Elisha." f

* Luke vii. 5. The expression does not necessarily imply building; it may also be understood of finishing, restoration, renovation.

fMatt. xvi. 14.

"If only this man * would spare us his presence to-day," said a man to his wife in passing, and who, not to provoke the wrath of her husband, made no other reply than, " Do not speak thus."

In one of the streets which led to the wharf, an almsgatherer joined a ruler of the synagogue and said, "Have you heard of what occurred this morning in the house of Simon the fisherman?" "Not heard of it!" he replied; "the two rabbis are furious and demand satisfaction from the leaders of the congrega■ tion, and really we dare not allow our teachers to be thus publicly put to shame by a layman." "But did they

*Thus they called him, and even yet those who do not wish to pronounce his name with their lips.

not deserve it? " said the former. "He saw very plainly that they came as spies, and then he swept them out like leaven." * "O Sir Abraham!" exclaimed the officer of the synagogue, "are you also already leaning towards both sides? You also are inclining to the Nazarene, and is it not written, Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned " ? f The almscollector was alarmed that he had spoken so boldly. "Mar Lazar" said he, to repair his want of discretion, "we must not leave the ignorant masses to their own guidance. It is always better for one of us to be present. A gabba (collector) must be everywhere in order to know his people." * Jewish proverb. Prov. vi. 27.

The colonnade of the synagogue and the place before it was crowded with people. The whole congregation, or as many of them as were present, was outside of the house of God. Many walked up and down alone, others by twos or threes. They spoke of the news of the day, and were anxiously looking for Jesus, for often as they saw him, they were never satisfied, and always awaited his coming with as much solicitude as though they had never seen him before.

In the vestibule were the two deeply insulted rabbis in earnest conversation with some church - officers. Several, prompted by curiosity, joined die circle, and their attention was visibly divided between what was going on without and that within. "With your leave, you leaders of the congregation," said one of the rabbis, "you will soon show whose honor is most cherished by you — that of your teachers or that of this ignorant fellow?" "If he only had not settled himself down in Capernaum!" replied one of the leaders; "we are in terrible perplexity." "Not only that," added the other, "but there is a higher power to whom we must give account; it is that which makes us timid." "How," shrieked the second rabbi, "you are still leaning towards both sides! Do you not know what the law says, 'If thy brother, the son of thy mother, .... entice thee to serve other gods, thine eye shall not pity him, neither shalt thou spare him' ?" * * Deut. xiii. 6.

Upon this, one standing upon the threshold exclaimed, "He is not an idolater; he honors the God of Israel by his words and works." "No, it is not so; he deserves not only excommunication but something worse, for he makes himself God," cried out both the rabbis as with one voice.

"You do not understand him," replied the man, and then turning to those standing outside, he exclaimed, "Men of Capernaum, these Jerusalemites have come here to bribe us to become the murderers of this innocent man!" The crowd around these men grew larger when the two rabbis withdrew, and, uttering execrations upon the ignorance of the Galileans, entered the synagogue.

Just at this time the attention of all those in the colonnade, and in the open place before it, was enchained by the appearance of Jesus. A crowd of children preceded him, and another followed him. Thefr behavior amid all the emulation of curiosity was more timid than bold. They did not venture to approach too near, and they spoke more by signs than words. But the crowd in front of him, having reached the public square, lifted up the shout of triumph, "He is coming! he is coming !" and rushed tumultuously towards the gate of the synagogue, there to secure a favorable position to gratify their curiosity. The multitude of men and women in the place became suddenly

silent, as though they were expecting a festal procession. And as Jesus now turned the corner of the street which led to this public square, all eyes were fastened upon him. The crowd of children which followed him lost themselves behind the row of spectators, and tried to secure some prominent position to see him when he entered the synagogue. The two ranges of spectators formed a sort of lane through which he passed. All those before whom he had passed now mingled in one mass and became a growing retinue every step he took. Kindness this time irradiated the usual melancholy expression of his countenance. He looked neither upwards nor downwards, but straight before him; but as often, either from the right or the left, a sincere scheldm, or ischar* (according to the more Grecian mode of salutation), was heard, he turned himself sidewards and acknowledged it by a wonderfully gracious lighting up of his face. The tongue of many was bound by the uncontrollable power of the impression which his majestic presence made upon them. Others remained dumb, because they did not wish to draw any line of communication between themselves and the courageous stranger, the possessor of supernatural powers. A venerablelooking old man muttered in his hearing the usual salutation when a king was seen, "Blessed be thou, Lord our God, King of the world, who hast granted unto men to partake of thy * Lightfoot on Matt, xxviii. 9.

glory!" and a ragged beggar kneeled before him as he passed, and kissed the hem of his garment. The larger of the children who had secured places at the gate, had in part lifted their little brothers and sisters upon their shoulders, that they might have a better view of the great miracle-man. Some, more bold, had climbed up the columns and window-cornices. The nearer he approached, the more silent became the young people, but the little ones perched upon the shoulders of their brothers could not be prevented from shouting and other boisterous demonstrations. "The Nazarene!" exclaimed a little girl whilst pointing towards him, and almost touched the band around his head. Undisturbed by this childish curiosity and unhindered, he entered the house of God, but so much greater was the press behind him, when he had crossed the threshold.

The eyes of the dense crowd sought for him in vain. For as soon as he had entered the synagogue, he immediately turned to the left and sat down upon one of the most distant seats by the wall, just opposite to the sacred shrine which concealed the Law behind a splendid purple-blue curtain bordered with gold. But the sun seemed better instructed as to his position, for the evening rays shining down through the tall windows appeared to seek his face with predilection, and rendered to the assembled multitude the same service which the miraculous star did to the wise men. The rabbi officiating at the pulpit before the shrine prayed with an unusual devotion. An extraordinary sanctifying influence proceeding from the person of One pervaded the whole sacred service. As at present, the psalm was chanted at the beginning. "Does he pray with us?" asked nearly all. Profoundly absorbed in his own thoughts, he sat there with his look steadily fixed upon the receptacle of the Law, but his lips moved, and the devotion of the congregation was mightily elevated by this communion in prayer. When the schemone esre (the prayer of the eighteen benedictions) with the benediction aboth (the fathers) began, and the following words were uttered, "Thou who rememberest the mercy shown to the fathers, and sendest a redeemer {goel) to children's children for thy name's sake in love," the eyes of the assembly were directed towards him, for if by far not all of them regarded him as this redeemer, yet they all knew that he considered himself as such. When the techinna (the penitential prayer) came, and the reader fell upon his face on the steps of the sacred shrine, Jesus also inclined his head and hid his face with his left arm, as did all those present. When the final kaddisch was intoned, he raised his head, and his countenance shone, so that one of those who believed in him whispered to his neighbor, "Behold the king in his beauty!" * With the words of * Is. xxxiii. 17.

Proverbs,* "Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked when it cometh," the vesper liturgy came to an end. His eyes now swept over the congregation and encountered the piercing gaze of the two Jerusalemites. He withstood their defiant stare and compelled them to lower it by the tender ardor of his own look. One of them muttered, "The evil eye of this magician killeth."

The women in their distinct gallery were in a very uneasy state of mind during the whole service. It was not long before the presence of Jesus gave occasion to a most shocking interruption of the worship. A man possessed with a demon had risen during the * Prov. iii. 25.

silent prayer and cried out, "Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God."* Those who had heard and seen this could not possibly forget the thrilling shriek, and the distortions of countenance and bodily convulsions amid which it was uttered. Although Jesus had at that time, by the exercise of his power, silenced the demon and subdued his influence over the wretched sufferer, yet the cure was effected under such violent manifestations that the remembrance of it was more terrible than beneficial.

But the vesper service of the syna* Mark i. 24.

gogue of that day passed without any interruption, and the wonder-worker of the morning sat silent and unassuming amid the members of the congregation, and would have preferred to escape from the assembly unobserved. But when the worship was concluded they all remained in their places for some time. On several previous occasions Jesus had stood up in the synagogue to teach, and his teaching had excited the astonishment and admiration of the hearers, for he taught, as the evangelists express it,* as one having authority and not as the scribes, that is, he did not confine himself to the explanation of a few passages of Scripture according to certain rules of interpretation, * Mark i. 21.

but, in the consciousness of being himself a messenger of divine revelation, he superadded a new revelation, and showed from the whole of the sacred Scriptures that this new revelation was a fulfilment of the old. The people anxiously waited some time to see whether he would ascend to the reader's place, and teach. But he did not. Neither did he leave the synagogue immediately. The two Jerusalemites passed out before him and remained standing outside to see whatever else might occur. When the assembly broke up, Jesus tried to go out unobserved, but that was not possible. The people stood back timidly and reverentially, and thus made an open passage for him. But a youth advanced towards him and in a low and trembling tone asked, "Lord, hast thou no word for us to-day?" "Come down to the lake soon after sundown," he replied in an equally subdued tone. Scarcely had he escaped from the view of the crowd, than the word went from mouth to mouth, " This evening, down at the lakeshore!"