Translated from the Third German Edition
Rev. George H. Schodde
Preface; The Place; The Morning; Noon; Mincha; The Evening
The following pages are an effort to give, within the space of a day, a vivid picture of the Galilean activity of Jesus. The historical data are taken from the gospels, but consist not only of what is there narrated, and which can be made clear and elucidated by all the means of exact exegetical science and research in biblical antiquities, but embrace also many features that have hitherto been but little noticed, but which can be drawn out by comparison, combination, and conclusions. The description of the localities in their present appearance is based, although not exclusively, on the works of Robinson; their reproduction in their older form on the notices scattered in Josephus, the Talmud, and the Midrashim, for which the author was not restricted to those already collected by Reland, Lightfoot, Schwarz, and Neubauer. The illustrations of the circumstances of the times and of the life of the people are in no wise the work of fiction; they are throughout drawn from the oldest Jewish literature as their sources.** The notes added by Delitzsch by way of appendix to the German edition, indicating the sources or giving further illustrations, have been, for the most part, omitted, as the specialist will resort to the original in any case, and the general reader will not need the notes. In a number of cases, however, the contents of the notes have been worked into the text itself.With these words characterizing this magnificent little book, the author, Professor Franz Delitzsch, recognized by all as the leading Old Testament scholar of the world, sent it out for the first time in the summer of 1870. Since then two new editions have been called for, and the venerable Nestor of German theologians has given it the finish of his continued biblical and Palestine studies. Delitzsch is a Christian, a scholar, and a poet. These three leading features of the almost myriad-minded Leipzig professor are most harmoniously blended in the little volume here translated. It is as truly an historical picture of a busy day in Christ's life as could possibly be drawn; it is written with a poetic fervor that holds the attention and interest to the end; it is written with such a glowing love for the Saviour and faith in His salvation, that it warms and enkindles the heart of all who peruse these pages. Thank God that Christian science and the Christian Church still have such noble men to serve their cause as Franz Delitzsch!
To follow out the events of the past and to reproduce them with all the vividness of lifethis is the true art of the historian. And to portray the life of antiquity on the basis of the bare facts of the records in such a manner that we are, as it were, made contemporaries, and placed in the midst of the surroundings, customs, and habits of a peoplethis is the art of the archaeologist. But if to this process is joined the imagination, which, with the help of a thorough research of the past, fills out the accounts that traditional history hands down in fragmentary form, and enlarges them into pictures of history and of customs, there results from this a mixture of fact and fiction. But the fiction also will be truth, if what it contributes is not without rhyme or reason, but has been drawn out by a long spiritual communion with the individuals to be portrayed and with their people and their age. Bacon, on one occasion, calls the historian an inverted prophet. He is, in case he does not look at the past superficially, but seeks rationally to explain the past to himself and to others, a seer who looks backward. Especially such pictures of the past which are to be represented to our eyes in all their surroundings must not only be drawn, but, after a thorough study of the whole matter, they must become a portion of the mental personality.
Understanding our task in this sense, let us make the western shore of the Sea of Gennesaret, along the lower border of Galilee, the home of our thoughts for a short time. No other inland water on the whole earth enjoys such a fame as does this Sea of Gennesaret. The basin in which it lies was formed in the secondary period of the earth's formation. The basalt on the western shore ends in the heights which surround it on the north, just as the basalt ground of the Plain of Esdrelon begins in the eastern, northern, and southern hills, where almost thirty places for the exit of basalt streams can be seen. The whole depression of the valley, of which the basin of this sea forms a part, lies far below the level of the sea, and down at the Dead Sea it descends to such a depth that there is scarcely another depression on the surface of the earth as deep as this. In this valley, which, like the ditch around a fortress, separates Western Palestine, the real Canaan, the land of Israel in the narrow sense of the word, from East Palestine, the Jordan flows, coming from the foot of Mount Hermon, and running through the Sea of Galilee, as the Rhine does through the Sea of Constance, and the Rhone through the Lake of Geneva, to end its course in the Dead Sea. From the place where the Jordan, after winding its way through the Baticha plain, empties into the sea, its course can be followed for quite a distance. Then it disappears entirely, and in a scarcely perceptible manner the bulk of water which has received it moves southward. Even the climate of the northern half of the western shore, together with the Plain of Gennesar, is about as warm as is that of Egypt. The climate of the southern half, where the hills descend abruptly, is still warmer, and the region around Jericho lying beyond the mouth of the Jordan has the climate and vegetation of a tropical country, so that the palm-trees, which in most parts of Palestine are found only as ornamental trees, here (as also along the coast south of Gaza) bear ripe fruit. It is a characteristic of the Holy Land that within comparatively small limits it unites the greatest variety of land formations and land peculiarities.
But what century, what period of history shall we select in order to make ourselves at home on the western shore of the Galilean Sea? Which of the great historical events that followed almost in a stream the course of time on these few miles of sea coast will fascinate us? This will be seen when we have started on the way, and have walked through this land, so richly blessed with attractions by nature and by history, following the example of my dear friend, David Hefter, who brought me from there a now dried-up, but still pretty, palm branch; and as, later, in 1876, my friends, Professors v. Orelli and Kautzsch did, who there revelled in the sight of those localities, which, as they themselves, when returning home, wrote in a letter from the harbor at Larnaca, had been made all the dearer to them by this little book of mine. And thus I have in spirit travelled with one of my friends, with whom I am united in the love of the Lord and of His chosen people, and these wanderings I shall now repeat with him, after having been taught sharper observation and more faithful reproduction of the impressions received through the instructions of those friends to whom I express my gratitude in the introductory words to this book.
In coining from Jerusalem and up the Jordan Valley we meet at the southwestern extremity of the sea, where the Jordan leaves it, the hill of Kerak, almost entirely surrounded by water, and beneath this hill a dam resting upon arches over marshy ground, the remnants of a ten-arched bridge across the Jordan. It is the bridge of Sennabris, where the Roman legions encamped before they, under the leadership of Vespasian and his son Titus, made their entrance into the city of Tiberias, situated about one and a quarter hours farther up. Here, also, it was that, in the days of the Crusades, Baldwin I was defeated. After a walk of twenty-five minutes on the path that forces its way between Kerak and the rugged descent of the hills bordering upon the lake, we pass by some ruins called "Kadish"; and, having gone on three quarters of an hour farther, we will find ourselves in the vicinity of Tiberias.
The road runs along close to the hills on a narrow level coast tract, and the region is void and almost entirely without vegetation. Before we reach the city, we pass its famous hot springs. These formerly were in the corporate limits of the city proper, which at that time extended down so far, but has now shrunk together to miserable dimensions. Before us lies the old and the new bathing-house, and the arched basin, from which the water of the principal spring, of medium warmth, with a strong sulphur smell, is conducted to the new bathing-house. An accurate chemical analysis has as yet not been made; but doubtless, when made, it will confirm the opinion of the similarity of the waters, which are now used considerably, with the sulphur springs of Aix-la-Chapelle. That the old Tiberias did extend down to these springs, we can see yet, by the ruins of old foundations and walls, and by the granite columns still lying around.
In order to reach the "Tabaria" of the present day, we go northward for half an hour farther on the same level. There beyond the baths it lies, in a narrow valley, at the foot of a rather abruptly ascending hill. How often this Tiberias has changed masters! It has stood under the control of the West-Roman emperors, of the East-Roman emperors, of the Califs, of the Crusaders, of the Turks, and a short time under Napoleon Bonaparte. But no destruction by war has equalled the horrors of January 1st, 1837, when an earthquake killed about seven hundred persons, one fourth of all its inhabitants, and buried them under the ruins of their houses. In the Roman wars the city suffered but very little. It bore the name of the Emperor Tiberius. The Emperor Nero had presented the place to Agrippa, King of Judea, and when Vespasian encamped with his three legions on the southern border of the sea, the city threw aside its revolutionary leaders and begged for mercy. Saved in this way, Tiberias became for the following centuries the centre and gathering-place for all those agitations which aimed at the self-preservation of the Jewish people in their spiritual unity and greatness. But in another respect it was the place where Judaism reached its lowest stage. After the Sanhedrin had been deprived of its hall of assembly in the temple at Jerusalem, it wandered, as the Talmud says, from place to place, until it finally went down from the Galilean capital of Sepphoris to the deep valley city of Tiberias. Among the signs which are represented to accompany the advent of the Messiah, according to the statements of the Talmud, is also this, that Galilee shall be devastated, and that the waters of the Jordan which pour out of the grotto of Paneas shall be changed into blood. When the Romans undertook to besiege Jerusalem, they had already subdued Galilee, and transformed it into a mighty waste of dead bodies and ruins. The sign had been fulfilled, but, nevertheless, the Jews transferred the Messianic hope to the future and connect it with Tiberias. From Tiberias, they say, Israel shall be delivered; in Tiberias the great Sanhedrin will again be recalled, to life and then depart to the temple; in Tiberias the resurrection of the dead will take place forty years earlier than elsewhere. With this wealth of history and story which we find at Tiberias, we might feel tempted to stay in this city. The Sea of Galilee, which is considered to be the chosen one of God among the seven of the Holy Land, has received one of its names from this city. In spite of all this, we must go farther on. Adieu, Tabaria; "shetoba reijathah," thy appearance is beautiful, as is the meaning of thy name. Neither the grave of Rabbi Akiba, nor the grave of Moses Maimonides, nor all thy famous graves can keep us. We will go farther on, seeking life among the living and not among the dead.
On following the road still farther up along the sea, we leave the lowlands of Tiberias, and pass beyond the base of the hill, which extends almost down to the very shore. After having gone on a good half hour the road becomes wider, and we enter a small triangular plain near the sea, into which the Wadi Amwas empties, through which there is ah easy ascent to the country farther back toward Mount Tabor. Here we pass along for a distance over a level tract filled with shrubbery of oleander and castor-oil plants, and here and there also a nebek tree (Zizyphus lotus). Still farther on the hills again extend down to the water's edge, covered to half their height with grass and occasional shrubbery, and from there on ascending in almost perpendicular masses of rocks to the tops.
Not far from Tiberias, says Josephus, hot springs are found near a place called Emmaus. These are the springs that still bubble forth here; although not as hot as formerly, they are still tepid, and are now called "Ujun-el-Fulije" being found near the water's edge where the valley of Amwas ends in the sea. When Vespasian, in the beginning of the Jewish war, had entered Tiberias from the south, it having petitioned for his mercy, he tore down a part of the wall on the south side of the city in order that his legions might not crowd and press each other. He encamped his three legions, between Tarichea and Tiberias, in this plain of Emmaus, and from here he advanced farther upward, in order to subjugate Tarichea, which was strongly fortified by the rebels. The battle against this city, which has now disappeared, leaving not a single trace behind, was one of the most horrible scenes in the tragic destruction of the Jewish people. By means of the many boats which they had in their possession, the sea apparently gave them a safe protection in the rear; and on the land side the well-known Josephus, who later became the historian of this war, the friend of his people only in so far as it was productive of honors for himself and did not endanger his life, had to some extent fortified the place. But after Titus, who had been sent by his father, Vespasian, as the general-in-chief, had conquered the undisciplined troops of Tarichea in open field of battle, he was himself the first to gallop into the city. It was captured and taken without opposition, for the inhabitants desired peace, and deserted the fanatics who were clamoring for war. The Romans, however, butchered without distinction those that were armed and those that were not; and, as a great number of the inhabitants had fled to their boats and were going hither and thither on the sea, Vespasian caused rafts to be made in all haste to pursue them, and sent his troops out on these. As the boats were but poorly manned, there could be no thought for contest in regular battle order. The stones which they threw rebounded on the iron coats-of-mail worn by the soldiers. Whenever a boat came near a raft, the former was sent to the bottom, or the Roman sprang upon it and killed the refugees. Those who attempted to escape the swords and spears by swimming, were hit by arrows or were caught by the rafts. If they tried to catch hold of these, their hands or heads were struck off. The boats which held out the longest were surrounded, and the people in them were either then and there at once slain, or they were killed as soon as they reached the shore. According to Josephus, the number who were slain in Tarichea or on the sea was sixty-five hundred. The Sea of Gennesaret looked like a great pool of blood, and the shores, for a long time, were strewn with wrecks and dead bodies which decayed in the hot sun and filled the air with pestilence.
The location of this Tarichea is about the same as that of Magdala, unless, possibly, Tarichea is the heathen name of the Jewish Magdala. After leaving Tiberias an hour's walk, we come to a plain which is encircled by hills; and, in the south of this, where this plain is shut off by the hills that run down into the water, we find Magdala, formerly a rich and luxurious city, but now shrivelled down to a miserable village. It is impossible to hear of this Magdala on the Sea of Galilee (Megdel el- Ghuwer) mentioned, and still less to see it, without thinking of that woman, from whose soul that One, whom she took to be the gardener of Joseph of Arimathea, removed the misty cloud with the single word "Mary," so that, with the cry "Rabbuni" she fell at His feet and worshiped Him. But however much Magdala, on account of this remembrance, may fascinate us, it is not the place where we are to abide; for, higher than disciple and pupil stands for us the Master.
A quarter of an hour west of Magdala the deep defile of the Wadi-el-Haman i.e., Valley of the Doves, opens to our view. The caves in the rugged and rocky walls on both sides of this valley, in which now the Syrian domestic dove hides its nests from the hawks that also in great number make their homes here, were formerly united to form one grand fortress. At this place a large number of bold adventurers had established themselves in the days of King Herod, and defied the Roman and Idumean power. Herod conquered them in battle, and destroyed them by letting his strongest men in baskets down along the side of the rocks into the caves. The adventurers, however, all preferred death to submission; one of them killed his seven children, calling one after the other to the mouth of the cave. When Herod, by a motion of his hand, appealed to him to cease, he cursed the Idumean robber of the Jewish throne, and at last killed also his wife and threw all the bodies down the rocky abyss, throwing himself down after them. More pleasing memories are called up by the ruins of Irbid, the old Arbel, which we reach from this defile by climbing briskly for a quarter of an hour. In this place, which was once famous for its grain trade and its manufactory of twine, was born Nittai, the Arbelite, so famous in the history of the Sanhedrin, whose motto was: "Depart a great distance from a wicked neighbor, and do not make common cause with the evil ones, and hold fast to the hope of a righteous retribution." Here on the edge of the hill, which looks into the valley and toward Magdala, on one occasion Rabbi Chija, who had come from Babylon, and Rabbi Simeon ben-Chalefta, who was a native of Sepphoris, were walking up and down before sunrise, and were speaking of the sad fate of their people, which they had suffered in the recent unfortunate rebellion of the pseudo-Messiah Bar-Cocheba and in the suppression of the revolution by the Emperor Hadrian. Just then "the hind of the morning dawn appeared" (that is, the first rays of the morning sun, which are compared by the Semitic peoples to the horns of deer or of a gazelle), burst open in the Eastern sky. "Birabbi" began Rabbi Chija, stopping Rabbi Simon with this title of honor, and pointing to the rising morning sun: "This is a picture of the deliverance of Israel. Small and unseeming it begins, as the prophet says (Micah 7:8). When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me; but it will grow with constant power, as Mordecai sat first in the doors of the palace, in order to hear news of Esther, but afterward rode upon a proud steed clothed in royal purple, as a light and joy of his people" (Esth 2:21, 8:15,16). But has not the sun of deliverance already risen? And have not actually, as Psalm 22 shows, its first rays been tinged with red? Therefore we again take our staff in hand, and after having drawn for our mental eye the picture of the city and the old Jewish synagogue that stood where some of these columns of Arbel now lie, we descend into the plain.
We are again in the Gennesar Valley, properly so-called, where in olden times, before war after war had devastated the country around the sea, its beauty was almost paradise-like. Here it was where Elisha ben-Abuja, of Jerusalem, the talented teacher of the law, is said to have received the germ of disagreement with the Jewish religion, which was ripened into the poisonous fruit of total apostasy by the diligent reading of Greek, and especially of gnostic writers. He was a man who had become the miserable slave of truly demoniacal vices through his insatiable but godless thirst for wisdom, and whom Meir Letteris, in his beautiful Hebrew translation of Goethe's "Faust," has, by a fortunate hit, made to take the place of the German Doctor. If you find a bird's nest, says a Mosaic law (Deut 22:6,7), you can take the young, but not the mother; but the latter you must first scare away in order to ease her sad loss, so that it may be well with you and you may live long. Elisha, however, on one occasion sat in the Gennesar Valley, and was explaining the law, when the following took place: A man ascended to the top of a palm-tree and took away a bird's nest with both the mother bird and her brood, and came down in safety with them. He saw another, who had waited until the Sabbath had ended, ascend to the top of a palm-tree and take the young birds while he let the mother fly. The second one, when descending, was bitten by a serpent and died. "Where, now," says Elisha, "is the promised prosperity and long life, upon which the latter could count, but not the former?" Such and similar experiences caused him to doubt God's justice and truth. His only support was Rabbi Meir, who did not tire of learning even from the apostate, and of exhorting him to repentance. He interrupted his discourse in the Midrash-house in Tiberias, when he heard that Rabbi Elisha, notwithstanding that it was the Sabbath, was riding through the city, and ran after him to learn from him, and, if possible, to bring him to rights again. He stood at the bedside of the dying man, and brought him who had considered himself irredeemably lost, at least to tears; and when a flame of fire burst out of the grave of the apostate, the story runs that in order to extinguish it, Rabbi Meir threw his mantle over it, and called out to the dead with the words of the Book of Ruth: "Sleep through this night (i.e., of death), and when He (namely, God) will deliver thee with the dawn of the morning, then may He do so; but if He will not deliver thee, then I, as the Lord liveth, will deliver thee. Rest, then, until the dawn of the morning." This is the same Rabbi Meir who, when he was dying in Asiah, said to those standing around: "Bring my coffin down to the shore of the sea that it may be washed by the waves which wash the Holy Land"; and in the consciousness that he was a saint, or even more, he added: "Tell to the inhabitants of the land of Israel that here their anointed One (Messiah) lies." But, enough of these stories, that have penetrated even to Asia Minor, and which are told us by the palm-trees of Gennesar. We still go on, for memories of a Teacher invite us who had a greater right to such an exalted consciousness than had Rabbi Meir.
The way is charming. Oleander trees in blossom cover the road on the right and on the left like wreaths of roses. With their fragrance is mingled the exquisite aroma of the white blossoms of the nebek. From the inclosures of the gardens and melon-fields we see the smiling opuntias, which are either native here or have been brought from America, and which look like flickering flames of fire with their large green leaves surrounded by the yellow blossoms. And to our right we hear the soft murmuring of the sea, in which the azure heavens and the golden sun are reflected. Filled with such feelings, we, after a walk of a good quarter of an hour, come to "Ain-el-mudauwara," hidden behind the trees and bushes and inclosed by a low round wall. It is the large basin of a fountain, beautiful and full of fish, which, after watering the plain, empties into the sea; and in order to secure a bird's-eye view of this Gennesar Valley, we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of ascending the hill that rises behind this fountain. Arriving at the top, we are not a little surprised to see a man sitting at the outer edge of the hill. The long black coat of taffeta tells us at once that it is a Polish Jew; the long white, blue-edged tallith, which he has thrown over him (and which has a golden border above where it lies upon the head), shows that he is praying; and, as he is holding this prayer-veil over his breast, he looks neither to the right nor to the left, but only directly in front of him toward the sea. I try to wait until he has completed his prayer, but as he never seems to end, I approach him, and touch him on the shoulder, and salute him with the words: "Peace be unto you, and unto the whole house of Israel, peace!" He springs up joyfully, and, after he has looked at us steadily for a few moments, he says, hesitatingly: "Are you children of my people?" His eyes beneath his bushy brows, which are as white as his beard, look at us so confidence-inspiring and so full of intense contemplation, that I feel tempted to embrace him, and cry out enthusiastically: "No; but we are friends of Israel, and those who look and long for the consolation of Jerusalem. And because we are such, and consider every inch of the Holy Land of great importance, you must tell us why you are sitting here; why you are praying here, and what you are gazing at?" "It is a great secret," he says, "which you desire to know; but I will not keep it from you, for God has brought us together and you have opened my heart. I have been for fifty years the Rabbi of a congregation in Volhynia, and have written nothing, but have read and investigated all the more. Since the days of my boyhood, when I began to read Rashi on the Pentateuch and the Targums and the Talmuds, no story of the ancient records has so fascinated me and filled my mind as that of the fountain of Miriam (beerah shel Mirjam). After I had come as a pilgrim here to Tiberias, in order to die at the bosom of my home and to be buried in the sacred soil, my first question was, Where is the fountain of Miriam? Nobody knew it, or they gave me false information, because they did not want to appear to be ignorant. But, as the Jerusalem Talmud says, that he who would find it must stand in the middle door of the old synagogue of Serugnin and look straight before him, I asked the Jews and the Nazarenes and the Ishmaelites, Where is Serugnin? But they all answered that they had never heard of a place with such a name. I then concluded never to rest until I had found the mysterious fountain; and there is no favorable outlook above on the hills and below in the valley where I have not stood for a long time, arid inquiringly have looked toward heaven, and have searchingly gazed out upon the sea. I know of all the marks of identification: a small block of rocks, shaped like a beehive, round, perforated like a sieve. But it lasted a long time before I finally saw in reality the realization of my life's dream, and enigma and mystery before me. It was on the first of Elul, last year, when the waters, in consequence of continued droughts, were at a low stage. See, he said, taking us to the edge of the hill where he had been sitting, the rock itself at the present stage of the water is hidden from view, but there, a little on this side of the middle current, where the Jordan water in mingling with the sea creates a small eddy, and sometimes throws up bubbles, there is the fountain of Miriam the prophetessPeace be to her!"
We must here add by way of explanation that the fountain of Miriam cannot be known to the ordinary Bible reader, because it is the creation of fable. "We read in Scripture that when Miriam died at Kadesh-Barnea, the people began to murmur for water (Num 20:1,2), and elsewhere in the Scriptures, that the people were in a miraculous manner supplied with water from the rocks. Fable has drawn the conclusion from this, that on account of the services rendered by Miriam to the children of Israel during the forty years in the desert, she was accompanied over hill and valley with a rolling rock that constantly threw out water. To this Miriam fountain, which is represented to have been taken away from the people a short time after the death of Miriam, and then to have been given to them again, are referred the words in Numbers 21:17, "Then sang Israel this song, Spring up, O well, sing unto it!" At the death of Moses this fountain disappeared, God hid it in the middle of the Sea of Tiberias, but in such a manner that he who looked northward toward the sea from the top of the hill of Jishimon, in the country of Moab, could always recognize it in the shape of a small sieve. This story is very old, is widely spread, and has impressed itself so deeply upon the minds of the people that it is considered as a special proof of piety to have seen a Miriam fountain at this or that place.
"But," I ask my honest old friend, "why are you sitting here covered with your tallith, and are looking so steadfastly toward this Miriam fountain, which you think you have discovered?" "Have you ever been in Merom?" he asks. "Yes," I said, "and we have there stood at the grave of Rabbi Simeon bar-Jochai." "Then you will know," he continued, "that the Caballa (tradition) says, that here where the deliverance from Egypt came to a close in the sinking of the fountain-rock, the future salvation will begin!" "Do you know," I said, "that the Miriam fountain is also mentioned in the holy writings of the Christians?" "You are mistaken," he cried; "the Sea of Galilee is mentioned in the Gospels, but not the fountain of Miriam." "But the Apostle Paul," I said, in return, "who sat at the feet of the Rabbi Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel, says in his first letter to the Corinthian Christians (10:1-4): 'Our fathers who passed under the cloud through the sea all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them'; and to this the apostle adds: 'And the rock, this Miriam fountain, was Christ,' the One of whom Isaiah (28:16) says: 'Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious stone of a sure foundation.' But now we must part; you are searching for the signs of the Mosaic deliverance, and we are following in the wake of the Messianic deliverance, which has made its beginning in truth and reality at this God-chosen sea."
After we have left him, it is a question whether we want to take a look at the large perennial Rabadija Brook, which, like the Mudauwara Brook, empties into the Sea of Gennesaret. It runs only a little to the north from here; but, as there are no historic memories connected with it, we will continue our journey on the lower road, which runs along the foot of the hills, and there where these again approach almost to the very edge of the water and the valley comes to an end, we come to an old dilapidated halting-place, built of basaltic tufa, from which the Damascus road branches off up the hill. It is the Chan Minje. Having gone from here to the Ain-et-Tin (the fig-fountain), near by, whose name is derived from a large old fig-tree standing near, we find, after proceeding two and a half hours, that the smaragd carpet of luxuriant green surrounding this beautiful fountain is so inviting, that we must take a rest here and refresh ourselves by the sea air which has been mixed with the fragrance of this excellent pasture land. South of the Chan we find some ruins which reach down to the shore of the sea. Evidently an ancient town was situated here. Might it have been Capernaum? Robinson and many who follow him are of this opinion. Sepp thinks he has proved by irrefutable arguments that Minje is to be connected with the word Minim, or heretics, which is the name the Jews gave to the Christians. Keim, in his"Life of Christ" (1873), accepts this view. It is true that Capernaum of all other places could have been called Minim. But the name "Minim city" is nowhere mentioned, and, in fact, the name Minje is applied to this Chan first in the year 1189, in an Arabic biography of Saladin. The word Minje is the Greek Mone or Moni (stopping-place or station), which through the medium of the Coptic passed into the Arabic. But to look for Capernaum near Chan Minje is to be rejected, for this reason, that the unanimous testimony of tradition claims that the whole western coast of the Sea of Gennesaret belonged to the tribe of Naphtali. But, according to Matthew 4:13, Capernaum lay on the border of Zebulun and Naphtali, and hence, farther north, there where, on the northern edge of the sea, the districts of Zebulun meet the districts of Naphtali extending down from the hills of Naphtali and the Merom Sea. But some old city undoubtedly stood at this Chan. Some of these people dwelling around this fig-fountain on one occasion went in a south-westerly direction inland to Sepphoris, in order to make a visit of congratulation to a famous man at that place; and it is narrated that Rabbi Simeon ben-Chalefta, whom we mentioned farther up, when speaking of Arbel, was surrounded by a crowd of unruly children at the city gate of Sepphoris. These would not let him go until he had danced in their presence. One of my companions exclaims: "This fig-tree reminds me of the story of Hadrian and the man a hundred years old. The emperor on one occasion was travelling in the district of Tiberias, and called out to an old man who was engaged in planting young trees: 'Old man, old man, work of that sort should be done in the morning, and not in the evening, of life!' The old man said: 'I was a worker in my young days, and will continue to be such in my old years; the result lies in God's hands.' 'Do you, then, believe,' says the emperor, 'that you will enjoy the fruits of these trees?' 'Possibly,' he said, 'if God considers me worthy of this; if not, then I am only doing for my descendants what my ancestors did for me.' Thereupon the emperor exclaimed: 'If you live to gather the fruit, I command you to inform me of it.' After several years the old man with a basket of figs appeared at the imperial palace. Hadrian commanded him to sit down upon a golden chair, and ordered his basket to be emptied, and to be filled with gold coins, saying to his astonished servants: 'He has honored his Creator; shall I not honor him?' But when another man in this neighborhood, urged on by his wife, also brought the emperor a basket of fine figs in the hope of a royal reward, the emperor gave orders that the bold-faced man should stand all day long at the entrance to his palace, and that every one who entered or left the palace should throw one of his figs into his face. When he returned, his greedy and ambitious wife did not even pity him, but scornfully said: 'Go and tell your mother how glad you were that they were only figs and not paradise apples, and that, too, ripe figs; for, if this had not been the case, you would have presented a pretty appearance when you returned home!' . . . But, brethren, we are not here to tell pretty stories and look at beautiful scenery. We are here to hunt for the Jesus city, the Messiah city, the city on the sea near to the borders of the Gentiles, the place where the words of the prophet Isaiah (9:2) were fulfilled: "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
There is no road farther along the shore which we could follow; there is only an old aqueduct, which in older times helped to water the northern portion of the Plain of Gennesar, or gutter cut into the rocks and running along the shore. We will then take our course over the rocky hills which close in the Valley of Gennesar to the north. On our right we see the motion of the blue sea, and before us in the distance Mount Hermon raises his white peak in the blue atmosphere. The magnificent view fills our souls with awe. After a walk of a quarter of an hour we have reached the low ground of Tabigha, with its fountains of water covered with reeds, which flow in several arms into the sea. After we have crossed these watercourses, we become more talkative, and the conversation turns on that which the Talmud and Midrash say about Capernaum. It is considered as a chief seat of the "Minim" (i.e., heretics, or Jewish Christians), and what the Jews say concerning these is nothing better than were the stories which the heathen invented about the early Christians. One, at least, of these fictions of the Jews is tragico-comical. Chanina, the nephew of Rabbi Joshua, it is said, went to Capernaum. The Christians of that place then persuaded him to ride through the city upon an ass on the Sabbath day. Having regained his thoughts, he fled to his father's brother, Rabbi Joshua, who anointed him with a salve and cured him of the witchcraft, but said to him: "Since the ass of those wicked people has betrayed you to act foolishly you can no longer dwell in the Holy Land." He then went to Babylon and died there in peace. The "ass of the wicked ones" which had brayed at him was the preaching concerning the crucified One. The nearness to our goal hastens our steps. In one hour more we are on the great waste of ruins known as Tell Hum, and pass by some oleander trees, and go through grass and undergrowth to the surprisingly grand ruins of old Capernaum. The ruins of Chorazin, in a westerly direction among the hills, are equally grand, and those of Gamala (el Husn) yonder on the other side are considerably grander; but the black basalt blocks and white rocks which lie scattered here in Tell Hum awakened much stronger and more vivid impressions. For here it was that the One sent of God, without an equal, made His abiding-place, in order to proclaim from this strong place the religion of love, amid the miracles of love, for the deliverance from the bonds of the old covenant. How terribly have His threats against the ungrateful and unbelieving city been fulfilled! The black and the white stones of the ruined houses are like the memorial stones of those who have descended into the region of the dead (Matt 11:23); and the black, miserable Arab huts on this field of the dead remind us of the words of the prophet (Isa 5:17): "The waste places of the fat ones shall wanderers eat." We, however, in this region of the dead recall to mind the Prince of Life who once lived here, and who thereby exalted Capernaum to the skies. Here, yes here, we cry as with one voice, We will tarry and will not go farther, until these ruins have again been built up in our souls, and until we have seen Him who once dwelt here, walked among these houses, and in this synagogue revealed Himself by His wisdom and His power to perform miracles, as the Founder of a new era.
"Now we are here, my father," said a little ten-year old girl who was leading an elderly man by the hand. And when she had gone a few steps farther, she cried out: "How fortunate we are to find the seat in front of the house still unoccupied." In saying this she hastened toward the bench, and drew her father after her. Reaching it, she pressed him to sit down upon the seat, saying: "God be thanked who has helped us so far!" "But," said he, "is this really the house where He lives?" "How could I be mistaken in it, since I have often forced myself through the crowds up to this very house in order to hear the blessed words of His mouth." "But," he continued, "is He at home and not abroad?" "We must hope," said she, "that we have been rightly informed. But remain seated here, and I will go and look around a little."
It was the time of the change of the middle night-watch to the third; the starry heavens glittered in all the glories of a diadem enshrined in diamonds and precious stones. The little girl took her stand some distance from the house, whose outlines were clearly seen in the starlight, and looked intently with her large eyes, particularly toward the one room upon the flat roof (the upper room), which was dimly lighted. When she saw the shadow of a figure appear at the perforated window, she uttered a cry and sank upon her knees, and bent her face to the ground. In this prayerful attitude she continued, until the voice of her father, crying, "Peninnah, Peninnah! why are you leaving me alone?" again aroused her.
In the mean while the space in front of the house was becoming more and more alive. From different directions were heard in the silent night air the dull sound of the steps and voices of new-comers. Here came a man carrying his child upon his back, whose suffering head was hanging down over his shoulder; there came two who were carrying a third in a hammock, and as they, before they bring him to the much-longed-for house, let him down upon the ground once more, he is heard lamenting about the hardness of his bed. From the east side of the sea, where the road which comes from Damascus and goes to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea runs along the Sea of Galilee, a camel is seen coming, accompanied by an older and a younger man, and which, in the woman's saddle, is carrying a thickly-veiled and decrepit woman. Led and carried, more and more sick persons arrive, until the place in front of the house has become like a hospital in which the cries of pain uttered by the sufferers, mingling with the subdued and often rather rough voices of their attendants, create a dull din. Peninnah was compelled to use all the fire of her eyes to retain the seat for herself and her father. All tried, sometimes with threats and pushes, to secure a place near the entrance door. And as often as a sign of life was visible within the house, all became excited and the noise was suddenly hushed.
The shadow which Peninnah had seen at the window was not His shadow. When the early dawn took a reddish hue, a man in a blue tallith (cloak) and a pale red tunic came down from the upper part of the city, and passed through the narrow streets. His countenance was as pale as the sudor which covered His chin and forehead. The night watchman, when he saw Him, stepped reverently to the side, and trembled through and through when, with a gentle greeting, His eyes, filled with love and deep earnestness, met his. After standing for a while, as if spellbound, he followed Him at a distance as quietly as possible. He whom he followed hastened, or rather moved along with inaudible steps. He was plainly and poorly rather than richly clothed; He walked rather bent forward than perfectly erect; He made the impression of a man who in his heart was carrying a heavy burden, but who was carrying it willingly and not by compulsion. The gentle majesty of an exalted sufferer hovered over Him. As He turned the corner and saw the multitude of sufferers, He, indeed, for a moment as it were recoiled; but looking upward with a countenance drawing in and sending forth heavenly light, He was at once again collected and stepped forward. The multitude, seeing Him, turned in an instant from the house and toward Him, and all stretched out their arms in petition and intercession to Him. "Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the Lord!" cried out an old man, who stood in front, who had himself experienced the healing power of this miraculous Physician, and now was constantly bringing other sick people to Him. Out of almost fifty throats a variety of greetings met the longed-for Helper, accompanied with gestures imploring assistance. Here one voice cried out: "Rabbenu" (O thou, our Rabbi); there another, "Marana" (Our Lord); or another, "Shelicha Dishmaja" (Messenger of Heaven); another, "Mikwe Israel" (Hope of Israel), and the suffering woman on the camel, whom father and brother had brought from Bethsaida Julias, stretched out her arms from behind her veils, and in a hoarse and shrill voice cried: "Malcha Meshicha" (O King Messiah). Her cry sounded like the voice of spirits in this confusion. The impression this all made upon Him was clearly confusing. With a motion of the hand and a ruddy gleam overspreading His countenance, He quieted the commotion and restored silence. Those of the sick who still had control of their limbs then threw themselves in a row upon their knees before the door of the house, but the path which, had been left for Him to pass through between them was very narrow, because all were anxious to get as near to Him as possible. He passed through slowly and only by steps, and His whole appearance showed the intensity of His feelings and His work. To the right and to the left they greedily caught hold of the ends of His tallith; they kissed them and drew them as near as possible to the locality of their suffering. But, in spite of this pressing and pulling from both sides, His person was not molested by any overboldness. In reverence-inspiring majesty He stood there, attracting, and at the same time overawing, in the midst of a crowd of people. Whenever His hands, which He extended to both sides, could not be reached by any of the badly afflicted farther off, He bent over to him and laid His hand upon his own, and spoke some words to him in an undertone. The nearer He approached the house, the greater became the excitement, especially among those behind Him. The ecstasy of those who felt a new life coursing through their members, and through their souls as well as through their bodies, broke out in words of exulting gratitude. And when one raised his voice in the words of the Psalmist: "Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone doeth wonders," the whole multitude, as though it were a congregation assembled in the house of worship, answered: "Blessed is the glorious name of His kingdom forevermore!"
The nearer He came, the more agitated Peninnah became in her expectancy. Her form rose higher and higher, and she watched every one of His motions with a devouring look. And when the eyes of the Lord fell upon the child, who was standing at the door of the house like a statue decorating the entrance, it seemed that a glowing dawn was beginning to cover her pale face, and she chanted with a voice clear as silver: "The Lord killeth, and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: He bringeth low, and He also lifteth up" (1 Sam 2:6,7). She at first sang almost tremblingly, and only when she saw no sign of disapproval in His face, she became firmer and bolder. "Is He soon coming?" asks the old man, whose left hand was expectantly and tremblingly lying in the right hand of his daughter. "We must wait yet," she answered; "but a glance which He has given me promises us good." "Blessed are you, my daughter," he cried; "you have the name of Peninnah and the heart of Hannah; your song was to me like the voice of the turtle-dove which announces the coining of spring." The healing of the blind man seemed really destined to be the very last. Approaching the girl, He asked her: "What is thy wish, Peninnah?" She answered: "Lord, that my father may see Thee and Thy works." He then took hold of the old man by the back part of his head, bent him over nearer to Himself, and said, speaking toward his eyes: "The Lord killeth and maketh alive. Be it unto thee according to the confession of thy daughter!" All this had happened within the space of several moments, and the hands of the father and of the daughter, outstretched in gratitude, no longer reached Him, as He had disappeared through the door, which had been unlocked and was only closed. Peter, behind the door, had, as far as possible, been a witness of this early work of the Lord in the pursuit of His calling. But also the words: "O heavenly Guest of sinful mankind," with which he saluted Him, scarcely reached His ears, for He hastened through the inner part of the house toward the steps which led to the upper chamber. Entering His room there, He tottered to the couch at the side of the wall, and broke down as under the burden of the many sicknesses and sufferings which He had taken upon Himself from the sufferers.
The sun was already rising in full splendor; the birds were chirping in the thick foliage of the mulberry-tree which covered the house; a thrush was cradling herself on the highest limb of a palm-tree that overshadowed the place like a sentinel, and sang her morning hymn; while below, at the well, at which the principal street of the town, running from north-west by north toward south-east by south, ended, the maidens were gossiping about the miraculous healings which had taken place in the front of the house during the past night. The whole place was on this day alive earlier than usual. The rejoicing of those that had been healed and of their companions had disturbed many in their morning dreams, and had excited their curiosity. Many of the strangers had sought and found admission at the homes of their relatives and friends; and also the owners of the pundics (inns) found today early but welcome guests. In that house, however, which at that time formed the spiritual centre and height of Capernaum, a deep silence prevailed. Those that lived there, although awake for a long time, moved around very quietly; for they knew that the Master had all night long been watching and praying in solitude; and that, upon His return, He had found much and hard work to be done. But above, on the platform of the house, Peter stood, some distance from the parapet, in order not to be seen by anybody in the place which had become alive so early. It was a beautiful morning, and no air was stirring. Quiet, like a sleeping child, the sea lay there in the lap of the encircling mountains whose peaks were gilded by the red globe of the rising sun. The waters rose and fell, like the bosom of one breathing gently, and only occasionally were they agitated by the quick jump of a fish which was unwise enough to betray its presence to the osprey. The vessels that are sailing in the distance look like white specks, and only make grander the impression made by the widespread expanse of water; and here and there something glitters in the air, appearing and disappearing quickly. These were the nets which the fishermen threw out of the rear end of the boats, forming a wide circle, and thus descending into the water. Peter had an open eye for this life and activity in the midst of the silence reigning around. He, the active and experienced fisherman, knew this sea through and through. Now, however, he saw in it a picture of the great ocean of life, into which he in the future, after the Sun of Righteousness had risen over it, was to throw his nets. Then, looking up in prayer to God, he directed his eyes to the south, toward the region of the Dead Sea, where, in the Moabitic and Gaditic regions, the terrible and steep fortress Machaerus lay, in which the great and much-beloved prisoner was held, to whom he owed the beginnings of a better knowledge. Turning his eyes away again, he directed them to Bethsaida, his birth-place, from which he had come with his brother to live in this house of his mother-in-law in Capernaum; and he greeted in spirit his parents and friends at that place, wishing them faith in the Saviour of Israel, whom he, although unworthy, had been privileged to receive into his family. When he, then, as he was about to descend, glanced over the parapet, he saw that a number of men had already assembled themselves in the vicinity of the house, and were waiting for the first opportunity to hear the great Teacher; and he noticed at the same time that a scribe was engaged in angry discussion with those around him. "Why," cried he, "are you seeking instruction and help from this unauthorized person, and not from those who are appointed for this, our Rabbis and priests? Be warned: He heals the bodies, but He poisons the souls. He is a Shed (demon) in human form, and will drag you with Himself into the pit out of which He has come forth." Shuddering and enraged, Peter heard this. With great difficulty he restrained himself from hurling a suitable answer down at the man, and in silence he descended to the room in which the members of his family were assembled for the morning meal and were awaiting him.
It was a one-story house, but by no means poor in character. The three sides of the plastered, four-cornered centre room, which we will call the court, contained living-rooms and storage-places. Above, in the upper room, was the place for guests. When Peter had entered the family room on the first floor, he immediately asked: "Has He not yet made His appearance?" And when this was answered in the negative, he turned to his mother-in-law and said: "Please go up, beloved, and knock softly at the door, and see if you can persuade Him to come down; for He certainly is in need of bodily nourishment after such exertions, in order to continue His labors." When she had ascended and asked for admission, she said to Him: "Lord, we would not like to break bread unless Thou hast pronounced the blessing." He thereupon arose, and allowed her to precede Him, while He followed. The table companions consisted of Peter, his wife, his mother-in-law, his brother Andrew, and their exalted Guest. "Now relate something, My brethren," He said, while they were eating. Those present hesitated and halted. "Have you heard nothing from Machaerus?" He continued asking. "O my Lord," they cried, "the thick walls of that fortress can as little be penetrated as the gates of hell!" "But I," continued Andrew, "may, perhaps, relate what I saw yesterday at the toll-house of Matthew. A Syrian merchant caravan, crossing the Jordan up there at Bethsaida Julias, halted there, and one of the men, who lives at Edessa, related that King Abgar had commanded him and others to make closer inquiries concerning the miracle-worker and Galilean teacher." "Yes," answered Jesus, "Jerusalem is the place where the Messiah shall be exalted as a standard for the nations, but Syria is the land which will be the first to rally to this standard. But, tell Me, what was that quarreling which I heard so early this morning under My window?" Peter told the affairas much as he had heard of it. "There, you see," He said, "what I have to expect." We are on all sides surrounded by the spies of the Sanhedrin and of the Pharisee crowd of Jerusalem. Amid such conversation the meal was finished. He then arose, went to the entrance of the house, opened the door, and addressed the people who were there assembled in considerable number: "Do ye desire to hear the Word of life, then enter, as Isaiah hath said: 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price'" (Isa 55:1).
The house was not a grand one, but it was roomy and well arranged. After passing through the entrance-door they came into the court, which in this case was not covered with cloth or with vines, as was usually the case; but it was roofed over. After Jesus had invited those assembled around the door to enter, He returned before the people that followed into the court, and took His position in front of the cisterni.e., the marble water-basin in the middle of the court and preached the Word of God to the multitude that was fast becoming a solid mass around Him, concerning the salvation that had been promised and now had appeared. The crowd became greater and greater in the course of time, so that the first floor and in front of the house was entirely filled with people. Just then four men made their appearance, of whom two and two, relieving each other, were carrying a totally lamed man lying in a hammock. It could be seen that they had travelled a great distance, and had already borne the heat of the morning's toil. They came too late to gain admittance to Jesus; it was absolutely impossible to force a passage through this mass of men. They accordingly went around the house, and fortunately found a ladder set up against the rear. which was just high enough to take them up on the platform. When the sick man's consent had been gained to have himself transported up this ladder, they tied him tight to the bed with the ropes of the hammock. Two of them went above, and the two others lifted and raised the sick man up so far that those above could draw him up the rest of the distance. After he had reached the top, the other two also went up on the roof. When they were all up, one of them descended a few steps down the roof-steps, in order to see what was to be done. He heard from here the voice of Jesus. In deep silence the multitude stood around Him; His rich voice filled the room. The effect of His words was electric and chained the attention, for His whole soul was in them, and His countenance and His personality spoke with them. The one who had descended listened and looked and forgot everything else. The sick man began to ask impatiently: "What is to become of me?" When the three had called their companion back again, all four agreed that it would be impossible to take the sick man down these narrow stairs. "Nothing else can be done," they said, "except to take off the roof, and to let him down in that way. But we are laying our hands on another man's property, and besides it is a dangerous venture." "Let me down," cried the sick man; "I will be satisfied if I can only lie at His feet, be it dead or alive; and all damages which we may do we will fully repay." In the middle of the flooring there was a square, made of bricks, which were laid together, mosaic-like, in order to make a figure decorating the floor. But this square was intended not only for an ornament of the roof, but also for light and ventilation. In the rainy season in winter it was closed, and in this condition it happened to be now, although the rainy season was over, and with the Passover time, especially along the sea, spring in all the glory of a resurrected life had made its appearance. When the four carriers had taken away the bricks, it appeared that these were lying on a plank with a ring, which could be opened like a trap-door. The rafters of the building proved to offer a space which was just large enough, and none too large to let the sick man down, still bound to his bed. The four-cornered opening had intentionally been made just above the cistern in the court, and it seemed possible to let the sick man down in such a manner that he would land just back of the speaker, and would lie directly in front of Him, when He should turn around.
The poor invalid allowed them to do with him what they wanted, and his four friends were really anxious to secure deliverance for him, and they were also sure that among men there was only One who could help him. This only One was Jesus of Nazareth, in whom they, as at that time thousands, were persuaded that the God of salvation had Himself \ visited His people. The four were the neighbors and friends of the sick man, and had done their best to encourage and relieve him in his pain. The invalid belonged to that small class of men who look first of all to God. He would have endured his sufferings gladly, if he had not (we know not for what reason) seen in them a merited punishment from God. Just as the thought that God had rejected him would have converted a wealthy and luxurious life into a hell on earth, thus, too, this thought made his terrible sufferings which chained him almost as dead, though alive, to his couch, all this doubly bitter. He had become entirely incapable of hoping for anything better; and that even Jesus would cure him in body and soul, he did not venture to hope. But he knew that He was the only One who had the power to help him; and, although he considered himself entirely unworthy of any help, he nevertheless determined, either for death or life, to hear the Word of God from the mouth of the One sent by God.
The ropes by which the invalid was lowered were scarcely long enough, and the four men were compelled to bend over so far that they were almost lying on their stomachs in order to reach down far enough. Before this the noise in uncovering the roof had attracted the attention of the assembly below; but the eloquent and fascinating power of the orator had not allowed this to cause an interruption. But when the hammock appeared over the heads of the assembly, blank astonishment at first seized them, which found expression at last in the cry: "Rabbi, Rabbi; they are letting a sick man down behind Thee!" "See," said Jesus, looking upward, "their faith! Assist them with your love; take hold of the invalid, so that he may not fall!" Thereupon the men who stood near Jesus at the cistern reached out their arms and took hold of the hammock. And as the ropes were not long enough to let it down to the ground, they untied them, and with their own hands laid the sick man, together with his bed upon which he was lying, at the feet of Jesus. The feeling of expectancy which this incident had awakened in the assembly was remarkable; for whenever Jesus had on previous occasions healed the sick, He had done so as silently and as unobserved as possible, and generally in such a manner that only the sick and their nearest friends were present. For He intentionally avoided enkindling the unspiritual fire of popular enthusiasm, and in this manner to cause the flame of hatred against the Pharisees, which had for a long time been glimmering secretly, to burst forth. He did not desire that His main reputation should be that of a miraculous healer, but He endeavored to be the object of faith as a Saviour, who was ready willingly to endure all the sufferings which His Father would lay upon Him; but He would not of His own will draw these on. Now, however, when all at once an apparently incurable invalid was laid down before Him in the presence of many witnesses, a problem was imposed upon Him whose solution the dense multitude around Him were awaiting with deep anxiety. Will He solve it, and how will He do it? Such were the questions which could be read upon all the inquiring faces around.
"Man, what is thy wish?" He asked, in a determined voice, of the unknown man who had so suddenly interrupted His sermon, and who had by no word of address or petition appealed to Him. The sick man was silent, but his breast rose and fell; his whole body trembled, and his eyes, whose upward glance was riveted on Jesus, with heavy weeping, gushed forth a stream of tears. He, of whom those who stood near Him testified that He could penetrate the innermost thoughts of men, saw that He had before Him here a man to whom bodily health was not the highest good. His groanings were self-accusations; his trembling was fear of the Holy One; his weeping was begging for grace. Therefore the Lord rejoiced, because He could on this occasion seize the evil by the roots, and could begin the restoration from within. His heart was opened; his face became bright; his voice became mellow; and, with an expression in which exalted self-consciousness, deeply sympathetic condescension and undoubting certainty were harmoniously united, He said: "Be of good cheer, My son; thy sins are forgiven thee." These words had an effect upon the invalid such as when the winds scatter the clouds and the blue azure appears, or as when a heaven-sent shower refreshes a plant almost withered in the torrid earth. The feeling of possessing grace came over him; the peace of God penetrated his soul; his features became smooth and bright; his eyes looked in gratitude up to the Comforter, and in his tears his joy was reflected, as is the sun in the pearly dewdrops. But while these consoling words were giving new life to the sick man, there were hidden in them for Him who spoke them the germs of death.
The liturgy of the law knew of a purification pronounced by the prieste.g., of the lepers; but not of a declaration of purity from sin through the priest. In general, Judaism knew nothing of an absolution pronounced through the medium of men. Isaiah, in the sixth chapter of his prophecies, is absolved by a seraph; and Zechariah, chapter three, by the angel of the Lord; but in both prophetic visions there is a special command of the Lord to this effect, which the heavenly messengers carry out. For the forgiveness of sins is a right belonging exclusively to God; and whenever one creature pronounces the other free and delivered of his sins, it cannot be done by the authority of the speaker himself, but only through authority from God. It can therefore be easily understood why the words of Jesus addressed to the paralytic aroused surprise and astonishment in those that were present. Their effect upon several of the company was also another than this. Back in the last row of people, on a side bench, sat several Tannaim (scribes), who were excited to a wonderful degree by these words, and moved from one side to an other on their seats, shook their heads, and gesticulated with their hands. Jesus understood their angry faces and conduct. The accusation which they had thereby raised against Him was nothing less than that He was a blasphemer.
It was a most important turning-point in the life of Jesus; for the condemnation of Jesus as a blasphemer, which those scribes pronounced in their hearts, was the beginning of the prosecution which several years later was to be brought to such a tragic end in Jerusalem. Those gentlemen in the rear of the court thought they could observe what was going on without being noticed; but in this they were disagreeably disappointed when they were compelled to learn that they were the ones who were being watched, and that His all-penetrating eye had seen even through the thoughts of their hearts. They were indignant at the assumptions of this man, who, without having attended a "Beth-ha-Midrash" (house of instruction), and without being able to show up a "Horaah" (certificate showing a right to teach), had ventured to become a teacher. And now they were compelled to submit to the disgrace of being pointed out before all the people, when He directed toward them His eyes with their piercing fire, so offensive to their innermost souls, and asked them: "Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?" (Matt 9:4).
He had already come to the conclusion that He could not hope to leave a wholesome impression on those who looked upon Him as a layman animated solely by a morbid selfishness, and who, contrary to all right, had assumed the duties of a teacher, and was making the people rebellious against their lawful instructors. He knew well that these men drew only poison out of His words; that they were gathering material for the purpose of destroying His usefulness forever; and that they could not be cured of taking offence at His person, because they had purposely steeled their hearts against Him. But He did not fear them; He took up the battle which they offered Him, by suddenly dragging them upon the battle-ground, and putting those who were secretly planning an attack, upon the defence. "For which is easier," He says, "to say to the paralytic: (Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say: 'Arise and go!'" Since they judged according to what they heard and saw, the former would, of course (although it appeared blasphemous to them), be easier than the latter; for the former is a word whose effects are invisible, and in which deception could be practised; but in the latter case, unless the speaker would put Himself to shame, a visible result must take place as proof to those present. Without waiting for their answer, He continued, turning to the paralytic: "But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power to forgive sinsarise, and take up thy bed, and go to thy house."
The men sitting on the bench bent their heads in confusion and anger, and looked intently upon the ground. A deep and breathless silence prevailed in the whole assembly. All eyes were fixed on the sick man, and the four men above, several of whom were looking through the opening, while the others were standing upon the stairs, were all eye and ear for what was taking place below. The word of power from Jesus was for what they had labored; but it had unexpectedly taken such a turn, that it had confused them as does a sudden thunder following quickly upon lightning. The sick man had indeed heard the sound of the words, but he lacked the will to obey them. The powers of nature, which the miraculous power of these words had called into life, exerted themselves gradually, and the eye of Jesus, intently fastened upon the invalid, followed the effect of the words step by step. The numbness began to loosen; the muscles began to show life; feeling and the power to move returned; and when he felt that his members, which heretofore had been without feeling and motion, were again obedient to his will, he raised himself up, astonished at himself, little by little, and with increasing self-confidence, until he finally stood erect before Him, and, stretching out his hands to Jesus, sank upon his knees, and worshiped Him. But Jesus stepped back, and pointed to the bed. He took his bed by the four corners, folded it, held it in front of himself, so that he could still look straight at Jesus, stepped backward, without taking his eye from his Deliverer, through the crowd that made room for him, until he reached the street.
Spellbound by fear and astonishment, all were silent while this took place. But when the man restored to health had departed, cries of wonder and enthusiasm broke forth, first in subdued tones, but gradually becoming louder. "We have never seen anything like this." "We have seen incredible things to-day." In this way one cried to the other, who assented to what was said. A venerable old man, who was one of the leading citizens of Capernaum, sought to express the sentiment that appeared in these mingled voices of enthusiasm, by turning to the benches which the scribes had taken but now had secretly deserted, by crying aloud: "Blessed be God, who hath given such power to men!" These words referred to Him who called Himself the Son of Man; and they praised God for the power which through this one man He had given to mankind. The heart of the people was yet in a healthy state, and had not been corrupted by the false leaders, but re-echoed faithfully the impressions received by it.
The names of the scribes who on this occasion had accused Jesus of blasphemy are not recorded in the three synoptic gospels. The Midrash to Ecclesiastes 7:28 may have contained them. Under the wicked woman, of whom the preacher is here speaking, the old teachers of the synagogue understand heresy (minuth), and in this sense the Midrash on this passage says on the words: "Whosoever is pleasing to God will escape it," that examples of this are Chanenja ben-Ittai and Rabbi Joshua; and on the words: But the sinner shall be taken by her" (Eccles 7:26), that this refers to the men at Capernaum.
"The men of Capernaum?"but by no means all; for there was lacking yet a great deal that all the inhabitants of that city which Jesus honored by making it the scene of His Galilean activity had been caught in the net of the Gospel concerning the coming of the kingdom of God. Only too many had become rooted in their every-day life, and were taken up entirely by the affairs of the world, than that the words of Jesus should awaken their desire to hear more, and His deeds arouse their curiosity. For, in their leisure hours (and many enjoyed an abundance of these), they much preferred to parade up and down the public highway, to open conversations with travellers going by, to inquire of them for the latest news, or to gaze by the hour at the sea, watching the incoming and outgoing boats with their men and loads, or to sit in the public inn with their mug of Italian wine, criticising the last year's wines from Lebanon and Moab, as also the newest government decrees of King Herod Antipas, or Herod Philip. They were satisfied to accept Jesus as a miraculous physician for the sick, but congratulated themselves that they did not need Him. The one or the other even shook his head, and thought that something was wrong about the whole affair. Those who on this morning had crowded around Jesus were of a better type. We have reason to believe that they, even if they were not all impelled by a longing for salvation, were yet driven to Him by a motive higher than of this world merely. When they with astonished gaze had followed the man to the door, and with their cries of surprise had again turned to Jesus, He had disappeared from His position at the basin. He had taken advantage of the confusion which the miracle had created to make His way through the mass of men and to hasten up the back stairs. Arriving there He sank upon His knees. The applause, in which, besides a number of tones of the right ring, He had recognized even more that were not, had offended Him, and the adventure with the scribes pictured to His mind His bloody end. He collected Himself through prayer until the multitude had dispersed. Only when all had become quiet below did quietness enter His soul. Then He arose, stepped out of His room into the hall in front; and when He had there gained the composure necessary for His purpose, He went down the stairs and entered the family room, where the faces of the two women, mother and daughter, lighted up with joy. They were reading the psalm of the day. "Read on," He said, "and read aloud, so that I can hear." A little later the four men who had carried the paralytic came in, and brought, as a token of their gratitude, a basket of roses (which, in that region, where the climate is too hot for roses, are a rarity), with an edge around it of narcissus and hyacinths and blue-blossomed squills. "Take these," they said to the wife of Peter, "and decorate the chamber of our Master and Helper with them!" But she assured them that He declined all such presents, and that He had strictly commanded her not to accept any. Thereupon they emptied the basket, and scattered the roses on the place in front of the house. The children of the city came and stood around this artificial garden. And when a voice out of the house cried out to them: "Take them," they made wreaths of the roses and squills, narcissus and hyacinths, and ran in great joy, crying out to those at home: "See here, flowers from the Jesus-house!"
Toward noon Simon and Andrew, having finished their first half day's work, returned. "What does this mean?" asked Andrew, when he saw the flowers scattered in front of the house. "Have you not read," answered Simon, "what Zechariah says (6:12): 'Behold, the Man whose name is the Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord?'" "But," continued Andrew, "there is such an abundance of flowers, as though the chuppa (the marriage-bower) of a king's son had been erected here." "Well," says Simon, "is He not a king? When our wise men say these Rabbis are kings, is He not all the more a king whose words and deeds are as much exalted over theirs as the heavens are above the earth?" "Yes, indeed," says Andrew, "His soul can have come from nowhere save from the throne of glory. Do you not feel as I do ? When I see Him before me only mentally, I cannot restrain myself for love, and I fall upon His neck and kiss Him. But when I see Him bodily, I tremble at His presence, as though I were in danger of touching the holy ark in the holy of holies. And when He takes my hand into His, my whole body trembles, the ground disappears from beneath my feet, and I seem to be suspended between heaven and earth."
The two men had been busy out on the lake from early morn. Now they laid aside their girdles and washed their hands, for the noon meal was ready. Jesus was called, and pronounced the blessing. He did not seem to be a guest in this house, but rather its Master. Those assembled were silent and waited until He began the conversation. "And now, My brethren," He began, "add zest to our appetites, and tell us how you fared to-day." "Lord," said Peter, smiling, "the fish were more willing to go into our nets than the buyers were to take them out. Our lot was the best of all, and yet not the most valuable. We offered for sale breams, barbels and perch, in great number, at low prices; but we could see that the people who came to buy thought with the adage, 'A fat piece, but a thorn is in it.' They seemed to be afraid of our fish, just as if these were heretical and full of witchcraft." "Have ye not read," said Jesus, "what is said in Psalm 119:91: 'All things are Thy servants?' The fish are better servants of God than is mankind." "Yes," began Andrew, "we would have sold out sooner if the market master and several scribes had not been standing by, who scrutinized closely all who bought of us." "But you have certainly sold out, have you not?" asked Jesus. "Yes, Lord," answered the two brothers together. Then Andrew was silent, while Peter alone continued to narrate that the man of the royal household, who owed the deliverance of his son to Jesus, had often helped them out of a similar difficulty, and had saved them from waiting too long for customers.
"Then you finished your market business at a not very late hour?" said Jesus; "what have you been doing since?" "We went down to our boats, in order to take a chomer of wheat from Chorazin which had been sold to Bethsaida. Then five men came running down toward us who had been inquiring up and down the shore for us. The one cried: 'It is well that we have found you, for I am your debtor; I owe my health to your exalted Guest, but at the cost of the roof of your house.' After he had explained the matter to me, he pressed a coin of gold into my hand, but I refused to accept it, until I should know what the repairing of the house would cost. Then his countenance fell, and he asked: 'Would you be willing to take us over, so that we can take the shortest road to Bethsaida Julias?' Most assuredly, I said, 'if you hurry, and we will even consent to take the ordinary fare for the trip.' Thereupon they ran back a piece, and afterward entered the boat with their baggage. Among this was a hammock, and a rosebush with budding roses, taken up with the roots (a rarity around the sea), of which the healed man said: 'I intend to plant this in a well-prepared bed in front of my house, and the roses which it will produce shall be called only by the name of Miracle Roses of Capernaum.' The wind came from the west, and our boat sailed along almost without the use of the rudder, and we soon came to our destination. It was a lovely trip; for the five men could not hear enough of Thee, Lord. It was a good thing that there were two of us, so that we could relieve each other in narrating."
This conversation at the table was interrupted by a singular incident. Mary, the mother of Jesus, had, indeed, on one occasion before this been at Capernaum (John 2:12); but since that time every month of separation had increased her yearning for her son. In her spirit she was constantly with Him; but, since His public ministry, the sympathy of her heart had not found the wished-for response. Even the sentiments of her immediate surroundings did not fully harmonize with hers. All the more diligently did she employ the spare moments which she could gain from the duties of a large household to work for Him. She prepared linen clothing for Him, and rejoiced in anticipation that she would possibly be able to take these things to Him herself. Such an opportunity had presented itself just at the right moment. A wealthy friend of her family, belonging to those few who had recognized in Jesus the One sent by God, had some business to attend to in Tiberias, which was at that time a great business and commercial centre; and he intended from there to make a visit to Capernaum, in order to hear once again the Word of truth from the mouth of the great Nazarene. He told Joseph of this, adding that he would not only gladly take Mary with him, but would consider it an honor to do so. He could easily make the journey to Tiberias, which was a distance of seven hours, on foot, while his beast of burden was at her service; and he would also see to it that she should be brought back again in safety. Mary heard this with joyful agitation, and a petitioning look at her husband readily secured his permission. As they desired to arrive at Capernaum about noon, her escort was ready to start between the ninth and the tenth hour i.e., about three and a half hours before sunrise. The man walked rapidly, and the animal seemed not to feel any weight. When they went by the grain-fields and flower-beds of Kefar-Kenna, the village above was yet lying in deep sleep. From there the way went on one arm of the plain Battauf, and from here gradually ascended to the water-shed, which is marked by the village Lubije. At sunrise they had come to the birth place of the Apostle Judas Thaddaeus, which was on a hill covered with fig and olive-oil trees. And when, after taking a short rest, they arrived at two wells up on the ridge of a hill, the first view of the dusky sea, lying sparkling in the sunshine, burst upon their view. When they were near it, passing by the south side of Karn Hattin, the rocky mass with its dark peaks, at the foot of which it is said that the Sermon on the Mount was delivered, they began to meet people from the neighborhood, who could inform them that Jesus was in Capernaum, and had on that morning performed a number of miracles. In order to go directly to Tiberias they did not descend through the Valley of Doves (Wadi Hamam) by way of the wheat village (Kefr Hattin) but went by way of the Emmaus Valley (Amwas), which ends at the sea near Tiberias. At Tiberias it happened that Mary found a boat which had just come from Capernaum and was to return at once. The fishermen were at first brusque, but, after they had looked at her, they became quieted and reverent.
It was Simon's wife who first heard the gentle knock at the door of the house. She arose, looked through the wooden window-bars, and sprang back astounded, crying out with great joy: "Mary of Nazareth!" Scarcely had she said this, when Peter sprang up and hastened after her. He opened the door, and took hold of Mary's hand, looking at her with intense earnestness, saying: "Blessed be she that cometh!" and with his left he took the bundle which she was carrying. Returning the salutation, she asked in a voice that indicated her anxiety and fear of hearing a negative answer: "Will I find Jesus here?" "Yes, in truth, mother of my Lord," answered Peter, and at the same moment Jesus came, followed by the others, who allowed Him to precede them, and remained a few steps behind Him. For a long time Mary held Him in her embrace, which He did not refuse; and her hot tears flowed down upon His breast, tears of deep joy and grief at the same time. "Peace be unto thee, peace be unto thee, My dear mother," said Jesus, pressing His lips upon the crown of her head. Then He supported her by the arm, and conducted her into the room, where first the women saluted each other with loud expressions of joy, followed by Andrew, who approached, feeling more than he could express, and whose hand she pressed all the more heartily. But when the women were beginning to ask how it happened that Mary had at this time of the day been able to get to Capernaum, Peter interrupted them, and said: "Why do you permit our friend to stand so long? She must be tired after her long journey. Be seated, lady, beside our Master, and break bread with us, so that you may refresh yourself, and honor us. We would like to be able to offer you something better than salted fish; but, Hannah (calling to his wife), bring in some grapes and figs, such as are yet to be had at Nazareth, so that our guest may be able to taste of the blessings of the Gennesar land."
When they were all seated at the table. Jesus Himself asked her in whose company and in what way she had come. And when in her joy at again seeing her son she forgot to eat, He urged her to partake. And when He added that after the meal she should go up with Him to His chamber, she gave Him a look of the deepest gratitude; and the others, who knew well why and had so long remained silent, felt encouraged to speak. "How happy ye are," began Mary, "who have this beautiful and large and picturesque sea constantly before your eyes, whose waves, after my long ride on the ass, have so gently but quickly brought me into your midst, and how beautiful is this city! Its houses are visible from a long distance, and are seemingly swimming on the water." "Yes, Capernaum is beautiful," answered Simon, "and never was it more beautiful than it now is, when it is really, as its name signifies, the city of the Comforter and of consolation. But the majority of the inhabitants think of nothing further than of a delicious fowl and of old wine." "But Nazareth also," interrupted Andrew, "is not to be despised. We see the sea here; but you, when you ascend the hill, have also a view of the sea. I will never forget the evening when from there I saw the glorious sun. descend behind Mount Carmel and the Bay of Akko into the sea." "You are right, Andrew," said Jesus; "I, too, can never forget that hill; it has become for me what Sinai was for Moses." "Already from His boyhood days," continued Mary, "that was His favorite place; and when I missed my child and Joseph went to hunt Him, he seldom looked for Him there in vain." When the conversation had in this way been opened, inquiries were made concerning the individual members of Mary's family. "How is Joseph getting along," exclaimed Simon; "he who has so faithfully guarded the tender shoot (Isa 11:1), which has now grown into the Tree of Life?" Then questions were asked concerning the brothers and sisters of Jesus. And the women thought that they, too, could now take a part in the conversation. They asked concerning the outward prosperity, but also concerning the attitude which they now assumed toward Jesus. Mary, well knowing that she was in the dearest family circle, spoke openly; His countenance by turns becoming bright and dark. Whenever she began to speak, all were silent and followed with intense interest her rather slowly and carefully selected and considered words. It was interesting to notice how the light and shadow of what she related produced corresponding feelings in the hearts of those that listened. Jesus, however, merely listened. He left His mother to the friends who were entertaining her, and rejoiced to see her received with such marked affection.
When the meal had been concluded, which on this occasion lasted considerably beyond the usual time, Jesus arose, and, with covered head, spoke words of thanks. After this Mary also thanked her kind friends. Then she followed the beck of Jesus, and with Him went to His chamber, where Peter, as she heard, had already taken what she had brought with her. When she now had Him alone with her, and had reached the goal of her journey, she embraced Him, but instead of kissing Him, as she had done in her thoughts a thousand times at home, she hid her head on His shoulder, and He bent down over her. Amid strong agitation of her body, she burst out in violent weeping. She wept only, but did not speak; she clung to Him, and did not let Him go. Then, after awhile, Jesus said: "Mother, be calm, and sit down at My side, and tell Me why thou art weeping so." And when they were sitting, she began, holding His hand in hers and looking into His eyes, to speak, and said: "I rejoice that I at last have Thee again, and weep because I will soon not have Thee any more." "Dost thou then know," answered Jesus, "how soon or how late I shall leave this world?" "Oh, my child!" answered Mary, "do not the paleness of Thy countenance and the transparency of Thy hands tell me that Thou art wearing out Thy strength. And if Thou dost not wear out Thyself (I am, indeed, only a woman, and confined to the four walls of my house), how would it be possible not to see through the hatred of Thy enemies, which grows from day to day, and that they have sworn long ago to slay Thee!" "But yet," said Jesus, "has not a large number of the people come over to My side, who will thwart the plans of the enemy?" "Yes," said Mary, "the power of Thy sermons, Thy boldness over against those in authority, and the novelty of Thy whole appearance have enthused many for Thee; but this favor of the people is like a brook which the showers rapidly fill, but which soon disappears again. "Thou art right, O blessed among women," answered Jesus; "the majority of this people do not seek a salvation from their sins, but from entirely different burdens. And, when the time to decide comes, they will desert Me cowardly, faithlessly, and ungratefully. Thy look into the future does not deceive me, but even the enmity and infidelity of men must serve the plans of God, to carry out which I have come into this world. My path goes down into an abyss at which I shudder; but I obey, without consulting My own will, the God that is in Me, be it upward or downward." With these words, His face, which for some moments had been dark, brightened up as though transfigured, as the divine power within Him came to the foreground. Mary, drawing in all the rays of His countenance, felt herself filled with a trembling of heavenly bliss. A long pause ensued. Mary was silent; but, as always, she was engaged in prayer with her whole heart. "Beautiful," thus spoke her soul that was in deep communion with God, "was the rising sun, beautiful the green inclosure, beautiful the blue sea, beautiful this love-feast in the charming circle of friends, but more beautiful than all is He. What an hour this is! My eyes have seen the King in His beauty" (Isa 33:17).
"And now what does My mother say?" asked Jesus, breaking the silence. She reached out her hand toward His brow, but did not touch it, and cried: "Blessed art Thou who sayest: 'Lo, I am come; I delight to do Thy will, O my God!'" (Psa 40:8,9). "And blessed," He continued, taking hold of her hands, "is she who subjects her will to the will of her Creator, and who is not affrighted at the sight of the sword which shall pierce her soul. But, tell me, what is in that bundle there with which thou hast loaded down thyself?" The change to this question was abrupt, and Mary was compelled to collect her thoughts before she could answer. "What is sweeter for a mother," she began, "than to work for her dear child? and what would be more painful for her than to be compelled to give to other women the care for him who has lain under her heart? The bundle contains different kinds of linen garments which Thou wilt have need of; not, indeed, of a very fine texture, which our poverty is not able to secure, but substantial and neat, and everything cut, sewed, and prepared by my own hands. My thoughts are always with Thee, but never with greater pleasure than when my hands are doing something for Thee." When she opened her treasure and took out each single garment, and told its purpose, Jesus exclaimed repeatedly: "How well thou hast provided for Me! How diligently thou hast labored! This is more than I need, and more than I can use. This is good and plenty enough for the wedding of a son who is preparing to take his bride with him to a distant land." She knew well how little her presents were worthy of this praise, but she rejoiced, because He was pleased. The cheeks of her who was yet to suffer so much had for a long time not seen such a ruddy hue.
Then the Lord laid His arm around her shoulder, and when He had led her back to the couch at the wall, and had taken His seat near her, He began: "Now go on and tell Me further about what thou didst mention at the table. Does the city upon the hill continue to be white without and dark within?" "Today, my Son and Master," answered she, "they are as hostile to Thee as they were when they attempted to hurl Thee down the mountain" (Luke 4:29). "And is Mary yet," He continued, "as a lily among the thorns?" "Yes, Lord," was her answer, "the daughter of Eli continues to be the favorite object of slanderous tongues; but she lives so retired that the thorns hurt her but little." "And thy husband?" He continued; "they doubtless treat him less harshly because he is of the seed of David." "Oh, no," she answered; "as he is nothing but a carpenter, he is regarded in the eyes of the people as having committed a crime, because he has not rejected as a bastard Thee, who was sent to him from heaven." At these words the countenance of Jesus was enclouded, and Mary was frightened at herself, as though through her words she had defiled that which was holy; and as if to smooth the matter over, she added: "But the secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and such disgrace is an honor to us." "It is indeed so," He continued; "but are My sisters and brothers also so much above the defamations of the revilers as are their parents?" Mary looked down sadly, and said to the Lord, anxiously selecting her words: "Lord, in this slander not one of them joins; they all honor and love Thee; but Thou art going too far for them, and they are frightened at Thy opposition to the existing order of things; they cannot make themselves to understand that their firstborn brother is the Messiah of Israel." "How," he said, surprised; "are James and Jude also no further than this?" "Yes, my Lord," she answered, "these two stand nearest to me. Whenever we converse about Thee, they always take my part. When I left, they cried out after me to greet Thee, and to ask Thee to pray for them." "This I will do," He said, "this Galilee is a land of the shadow of death, and he who has for a long time been in prison can only slowly accustom himself to the light of the sun."
Conversing in this manner for about an hour, He arose, saying: "Now, mother, I must leave thee; the Mincha (evening prayer) time is approaching, and My calling directs Me to seek the lost sheep of the house of Israel." "And am I yet one of these?" she asked. "No," He answered; "thou knowest the Shepherd of Israel, and canst say with Shulamite, 'My friend is mine and I am His.'" "But since Thou art going around through the land," she said, "I but seldom get to see Thee; and how happy I am when I do see Thee!" "Thou wilt yet see Me often," He said, in return; "but joy without grief the sight of Me will not be to thee until we meet in the other world." "Yes," she answered, "I must train my soul to give Thee up for this world; but what is easy for Thee through Thy divine power is hard for me, who am nothing but a weak mortal." "And I know," He continued, "what it is that will draw thee down again to the ground after God hath so exalted thee, but only for the purpose of keeping and strengthening thy soul in its longings for that which is above." These words did her good; she felt that He had penetrated her soul. "Let us go, then," she said; "and do not for my sake alone use up the time which belongs by rights to the many." He then kissed her forehead, and said: "Depart in peace, and remain yet as long as thou canst here in Capernaum with this beloved family. I hope to see thee again, even if not just as I see thee at this hour. Thou standest in need of a strengthened faith, but it is only a short time yet, and thou wilt speak as did the prophetess Miriam: 'Sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea'" (Exo 15:21).
It was a hot day. During the hours of noon the streets of Capernaum had been almost entirely deserted. Now the sun's rays were beginning to incline and were less scorching, especially as on this day the heat was tempered by a soft, cooling wind, from which it could be felt that Mount Hermon, with his snow-clad brow, was sending a friendly greeting to the country of the Tabor and of Gilead. Men, women, and children came in swarms out of the houses, of whose existence now only the masses of ruins give testimony, and hastened toward the synagogue, built in the Herodian style of architecture, whose columns and marble blocks, now lying scattered around in ruins, covered with heavy thorn bushes and burning red oleanders, still tell us plainly that the wealthy little city along the lake could be proud of this building, and grateful to the centurion in the Gospel who had erected it. The city which sloped so gradually down to the sea formed a lengthened square, whose southern edge lay along the water, and the synagogue stood at the water's edge. "Abba," said a little boy softly to his father, when they were passing the house of Simon, "will Rabbi Jeshu come into the synagogue today?" "It may be," answered he, "but you must not call Him Rabbi; for He is a prophet who is risen again. John was Elias; and He has in Him the soul of Elijah." "If only that man will not bother us today," said a man farther on to his wife, who did not answer him, except to say: "Do not talk in this way!" in order not to excite the wrath of her husband. In one of the streets which terminated on the wharf, an alms-gatherer (gabba) joined one of the officials of the congregation (parnas), saying: "Have you heard of what happened today in the house of Simon?" "How would it be possible not to have heard it," was the answer; "the two Rabbis are raving, and demand satisfaction from the officers of the congregation. And in truth we dare not suffer our teachers to be publicly put to shame in this way by a layman." "But did they not deserve it?" said the other. "He saw very well that they had come as spies, and then He cleaned them out like leaven." "O God of Abraham," said the officer of the congregation, "are you already inclining to two sides? Are you, too, running after the Nazarene? And yet it is written (Prov 6:27): 'Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?'" The alms-gatherer was frightened at himself that he had spoken so boldly. "Mar Lazar," he said, to make good again his lack of wisdom, "we must not leave the uneducated masses to themselves; one of us must be with them. A Gabba must be everywhere in order to know his people."
The colonnade of the synagogue and the open place in front of it was swarming with people. The whole congregation, as many of them as had already arrived, was without the house of God. Many were walking up and down by themselves, others by twos or threes, and they were telling each other the news of the day, and looked expectantly for Jesus. For, however often they had seen Him, they could not be satisfied, and always awaited Him with anxiety as though they had never seen Him before. In the vestibule, however, the two aggrieved Rabbis were engaged in animated conversation with several officers, to whom a number of people associated themselves out of curiosity, and whose attention was divided between what was going on without and what was transpiring within. "Excuse us, ye leaders of the congregation," said one of the Rabbis; "but will you soon decide whose honor is more sacred to you, that of your teachers or that of this am haarez (ignorant man)?" "If He had only not selected Capernaum as His abiding-place," answered one of the officers. "We are in a sorry plight." "Not only this," said the other; "but there is One higher than the high (Eccl 5:8), to whom we must give an account, and this it is that makes us hesitate." "How," fairly screamed the second Rabbi, "are you also inclining to two sides? Do you not know what is written in the law (Deut 13:6-8): If thy brother, the son of thy mother, entice thee to serve other gods, thy eye shall not spare him, and thou shalt not pity him, and shalt not conceal him?" Just then one of those that were listening near the door cried out: "By God, He is no idolater; He honors the God of Israel through His works and words." "No; He deserves not only the ban, but something worse; for He makes Himself to be a God," cried the two Rabbis as out of one mouth. "Ye do not understand Him," answered the other; and turning to those standing without, he cried: "Ye men of Capernaum, these Jerusalemites have come down to make us the murderers of innocent blood." The excitement constantly increased, and the two Rabbis withdrew, disappearing into the synagogue, crying woe over the ignorance of the Galileans concerning the law.
At the same time the attention of all in the colonnade and on the open place was directed toward Jesus, who was now approaching. A crowd of children were running in front of Him and others followed. Their deportment in all this zeal of curiosity was rather hesitating than bold. They did not venture to touch Him, and spoke to each other rather in signs than in words. But those that ran ahead, when they had come at the open place, cried out triumphantly: "He comes! He comes!" and hastened, as in a race, to the doors of the synagogue, in order to find good places to satisfy their curiosity. The men and the women in the open place also became silent at once, and each one took a stand as though a festive train was expected. And when Jesus turned the corner of the street that led to the synagogue, all eyes were riveted on Him. The crowd of children that followed Him disappeared in the nearest rows of those looking on, and sought to get ahead of the others in order to see Him when He entered the synagogue. The two rows of sightseers formed, as it were, a guard of honor, through which He passed. All of those whom He had passed stepped together, and thus His following grew step by step. He looked neither upward nor downward, but straight forward; and as often as to the right or left He heard a hearty shelam (greeting) or jischar (mayest Thou prosper), He turned His eyes aside and answered by a wonderfully benign brightening up of His countenance. The tongues of many were bound by the power of the impression made. Others remained silent, because they did not want to have any connection formed between themselves and the bold innovator who was endowed with such supernatural power. A venerable old man murmured, when he saw Jesus coming, the Baracha (blessing) which was to be pronounced when a king approaches. "Blessed be Thou, Lord our God, King of the world, who hast given man a portion of Thy glory." And a beggar in rags waited on his knees for Him to pass, and kissed the hem of His garment. Of the larger children, among those that were standing at the portal, some had taken their smaller sisters and brothers upon their shoulders, so that they might be better able to see the wonderful Man. Some, more bold than the rest, had climbed up the columns and upon the window-sills. The nearer He came the quieter the young folks became; but the little ones on the shoulders of the others would not keep quiet or still. "The Nazarene," cried a little girl, pointing her finger toward Him, and almost touching His head-dress. In no wise disturbed by this childish curiosity, and obstructed by nobody, He entered the house of the Lord, but the crowd behind Him became all the more compact after He had entered.
The eyes of those pressing in after Him sought Him in vain; for, having entered the synagogue, He at once turned to the left, and took a seat on one of the farthest benches along the wall, opposite the sanctuary, which behind a rich purple and gold embroidered curtain concealed the book of the law. The sun, however, seemed to be better informed as to His whereabouts, for its evening rays streaming through the high windows seemed to seek out His countenance with especial favor, and rendered for those present the same service that the Star of Bethlehem had for the wise men of the East. The "Sheliach Zibbur" (leader in prayer), on the "Duchan" (platform), in front of the sanctuary, prayed with a fervency beyond that which he was wont to do. A power of especial consecration, going out from the person of the great One, permeated the whole service. As is yet the case now, the services were opened with the psalms. "Is He praying, too?" was the question asked by all. Steady, with His eyes directed toward the place where the law was, and in deep contemplation, He sat there; but His lips were moving, and the feelings of the congregation were much heightened by the consciousness of this communion of prayer with Him. When the "Shemone Esre" (the prayer of the eighteen benedictions) was opened, with the benediction Aboth, and the words were uttered: "O Thou that rememberest the grace given to the fathers (Aboth), and bringest a Saviour (goel) to the children of their children, for Thy name's sake in love," all eyes were turned to Him; for, even if they were far from regarding Him as this Saviour, they nevertheless all knew that He considered Himself to be this Saviour. When the "Tachanun" (prayer of penitence) was to be spoken, and the leader was bowing his head before the sanctuary, He, too, bowed His head, and, like the whole congregation, hid His face in His left arm. When the "Kaddish" (holy) was being chanted at the close, He raised His head and His countenance shone, so that one who believed in Him whispered to his neighbor: "Is not this the glory of the Shechinah?" (John 1:14). "With the words: "May great peace from heaven and life come over us and over all Israel, and speak ye, Amen," the Mincha liturgy drew to a close. His eyes at this point glanced over the congregation, and met the look of hatred on the faces of the two Jerusalemites. He endured the glance firmly, and compelled them to cast their eyes down through the mild fire of His eyes; and one of these men murmured: "The evil eye of this sorcerer kills!"
Up in the women's gallery, where the women sat, removed from the sight of the men, and took part in the worship, the feeling during the whole service was one of painful anxiety. For it was only a short time ago that the presence of Jesus had been the occasion of an awful and terrible interruption of the service. One possessed of a devil had arisen during the silent prayer, and cried out: "Cease; 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" (Mark 1:24). Whoever had heard and seen this episode could never forget the terrible screams, and the contortions of face and members in the afflicted man. Jesus had, indeed, on that occasion, through the word of His power, driven out the demon, and compelled him to silence; but the healing also had taken place amid great and wonderful phenomena, and the remembrance of this was more terrible than agreeable. The evening services in the synagogue on this occasion, however, passed by without any interruption, and the miracle-worker of the morning sat in the midst of the "Kehilla" (congregation) of the city quietly and modestly, and as one of their neighbors, and He would have preferred to have disappeared at once from the midst of the assembly. But, after the services had come to an end, they all remained for a little while yet in their places. Frequently before this, Jesus had arisen to teach in the synagogue at Capernaum, and His manner of teaching had filled His hearers with astonishment; for He taught, as the Evangelists tell us, as one having authority, and not as the scribes i.e. , He did not confine Himself to interpret and apply the different portions of Scriptures according to fixed rules of interpretation, but, in the consciousness of being Himself the Mediator of a divine revelation, He had opposed to the old revelation a new revelation, and had shown from the whole Scriptures that this new revelation was the completion of the old. In this way the people waited yet a while anxiously, to see if He would ascend the "Bima" (the reading-desk), and would begin to teach. But He did not do it. But neither did He leave the synagogue. The two Jerusalemites went out ahead, and stood without on one side, in order to be able to see what would happen now. When, then, the assembly closed, He endeavored to depart without being seen; but this He found impossible. Reverently the people stepped back and made room for Him. A young man, however, stepped up to Him, and asked Him in a subdued and trembling voice: "Lord, Thou hast not spoken any word of God to us this day." "Come down to the sea," He answered, also in a subdued voice, "soon after the setting of the sun." But scarcely had He disappeared from the synagogue, when the word went around from mouth to mouth: "This evening, late, down on the lake front."
Capernaum is now a field of imposing ruins, extending down to the sea, and buried under grasses, shrubs, thistles, and undergrowth as high as a man. These ruins are called "Tell Hum." The word "tell" is frequently met with in the names of places to designate an elevation, either a natural elevation, as, e.g., a single hill, or one made by the hands of men, as a heap of ruins. "Hum" is an abbreviation from Nahum, for Capernaum means Nahum's village. This abbreviation was probably already in vogue in the older vernacular of the people, for they have also abbreviated "Nechunja" in Palestine into "Chunja." It is also possible that the word assumed this form in the mouth of the Arabs. For them, however, the word "hum" has no special meaning. It is not an Arabic proper name; nor is a herd of camels called thus in Arabic, but rather el-haum (el-hom). Instead of Tell Hum we also hear the name "Der Hum" (cloister of Hum), from the opinion that the principal ruins are those of an old cloister.
From the ruins the country rises northward for half an hour, so that the city, seen from a distance, seems to be lying against a hill. A steep and arduous path, which winds itself along in a narrow valley going in a north-westerly direction, takes the traveller, after a walk of an hour, to a little spring, called "Bir Keraze." Around about lies the field of ruins called "Khirbet Keraze" which are much similar to the ruins of Tell Hum, only more imposing, and are noticeable in the distance by the high columns of black rock the remains of old buildings. The original form of these old ruins can be reconstructed from the remains with more probability than can those of Tell Hum. There are still standing several well-preserved squares of mason-work, of old and small houses. The walls are, as a rule, constructed out of basaltic rocks, which are found in abundance in the surrounding hills. The columns in the middle of the building support the roof, which was, apparently, flat. The ruins of the synagogue can also still be recognized. Capitals of the Corinthian kind, made of hard basalt, show that it was an imposing building. And what a beautiful site this city occupied! The city was, in part, built in the depression in which the waters of the winter rains poured down from here to Tell Hum, in part on projecting rocks, from which a grand view of the sea and of the mountains encircling it on the other side could be gained. And it was here that the synagogue, built of basaltic stone, stood. Here, where now its black ruins stand in grim silence, surrounded by desolation and confusion, there reigned at the time into which we are trying to transfer ourselves a wealth of smiling life of man and nature. All Galilee was at that time tilled with cities and villages, of which Josephus, in his autobiography (chap 45) mentions more than two hundred. Even the smallest numbered its inhabitants by the thousands. No part of the country was uninhabited; everywhere inventive industry had utilized the whole land; and, according to Josephus' history of the Jewish war (III, 3), it looked like one great orchard. From that day on, on which transpired what has here been narrated, but a few decades passed, and war had already commenced its work of devastation in this magnificent land. Earthquakes, like that of January 1st, 1837, at which in Safed alone about five thousand people were killed, have contributed their share to transforming opulent cities into piles of ruins, and luxuriant fields into deserts. In this manner, the way from Capernaum to Keraze is now so covered with stone and grass that it scarcely can be found without a guide. Formerly it was, notwithstanding its steep ascent, a comparatively easy and well-preserved road, used a great deal by man and beasts of burden. The hour's walk is soon over. As we turn around and look backward, eye and soul find pleasure in the contemplation of the magnificent blue sea, and arriving above, we are surprised at finding Chorazin lying in part in the upper valley, surrounded by golden wheat-fields, and in part on projecting rocks above the valley. Here at the railing of the synagogue, built on the highest point, Jesus undoubtedly often had stood, deeply intent in watching man and nature at His feet; or, with a heartfelt appeal to Heaven, observing the passing crowds. For this Chorazin He often and gladly visited in His journeys through the Gennesaret districts and their surroundings, but without noticeable success; for in grouping Chorazin with Bethsaida and Capernaum, He cries out, in looking over His work in Galilee: "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes" (Luke 10:13). The judgment with which He threatened both of them has caused them to disappear, with even fewer remains than Capernaum; namely, first, Chorazin, which lay in ruins in the days of Eusebius, and then Bethsaida on the sea, whose location is as yet only a matter of conjecture.
After Jesus had left the synagogue, He desired, even if only for a short time, to be alone. He endeavored to leave Capernaum by the nearest way, and walked about a quarter of an hour upward to the spring that was in the valley leading up to Chorazin, but without following it farther where it turns to the left. He wanted to keep the sea and the city in sight.
He loved to be alone, in order to commune, without interruption on the part of men, with the God from whom He came, and from whom He had derived His spiritual life. The world of nature did not disturb Him; for He understood the divine thoughts of the Creator that were hidden in it, and every creature reminded Him of God's Word in the Holy Scriptures. The waterless wadi that He saw spoke to Him in the words of Job (6:15): "My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, as a channel of brooks that pass away." And the lily which He saw bidding defiance to the thicket of thorns in the midst of which it grew, banished these sad thoughts with the words of Sulamith (Song 6:3): "I am My beloved's, and My beloved is mine; He feedeth His flock among the lilies." The worm on the ground interrupted His steps, whispering to Him in begging tones (Psa 22:6): "But I am a worm, and no man"; and the basalt rocks on the way whispered to Him (Psa 27:5): "He shall keep Me secretly in His pavilion: in the covert of His tabernacle shall He hide me." There was no object in nature that was not full of instruction for Him. Hence, it was all the more natural for Him to employ objects in nature as illustrations of His teachings, in these lonely walks the parables He employed took shape in His mind. The creatures told Him not only of God's Word; He saw everywhere in nature and in the doings of the world reflections of the secrets of God's kingdom.
On the hill-side of Chorazin there stood, to one side of the way, a shady olive-oil tree, which had struck its roots into the ground between the rocks, and had grown a thick crown of foliage. Here the Lord sat down, and, either by accident or otherwise, a troop of doves and turtle-doves crowded together on the limbs above His head. After He had covered His face with His hands for a while, He looked up, and feasted His eyes on the sight that there met His gaze. Quiet and even, only here and there slightly moved by the evening breeze, the blue surface of the sea could be seen down to its southern termination, a picture of that peace which He desired to bring to mankind. The many high strongholds that were built along the hills lining the other shores, especially Gamala, conspicuous at the south end of the sea, with its imposing castles and towers, showed that peace was something that belonged to the future, and that the present was under the supremacy of bloody war. Raising His eyes above these strongholds, they found pleasure in gazing at the high plateau of Golan, which, like the picture of the mysterious supernatural existence, rose above the rocky walls that lined the coast, broken through by mighty crevices, out of which, in the rainy season, great masses of water rushed into the sea. He saw it all, comprehended it all, and reflected on it all.
After gazing and contemplating in this manner for a time, He arose, advanced a few steps, and remained standing at a place from which He could overlook the city which He had chosen. This Capernaum, which glittered in the glory of the setting sun, contained people who had learned to know Him, and now also contained the blessed one who had given Him birth. With joy and sorrow He looked down upon it. His whole calling and life was laid open before His soul at this sight. For the city at the sea, where the districts of Naphtali and Zebulun meet and join, was, in truth, the stronghold which He had chosen for Himself, in order to work from here and change the world's course, and bring it into a new relation to the will of God. He spread out His hands as though blessing it, and cried out in the words of Isaiah's prophecy concerning Capernaum (Isa 8:23, 9:1): "And there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time He brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the latter time hath He made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the nations." "Yea," He continued, "the nation that walks in darkness sees a great light; those that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, a light shines over them. O Father of lights, make Me the light of the nations, as Thou hast made the sun the light of the earth." "But," said a voice within Him, "the sun goes down bloody in order to arise again gloriously." "However this," He answered, "I have come into the world for this purpose, to give My life as a ransom for many." With such thoughts and words He went with quickened steps to the city and down to the sea. Those that met Him stood still for a long time, as if enchanted by the majesty and magnificence of His appearance.
In coming from Nazareth and passing Mount Tabor to the edge of the ridge of hills that descend by a steep grade into the valley above Tiberias, the Sea of Galilee lies before us for the first time almost in its whole length. Then, the thought that this bit of earth, from which the Sun of salvation and the law of the history of the world ex oriente Lux (the light comes from the East) has been fulfilled, fills our hearts with overwhelming feeling. But also aside of the crown of glory that rests upon it on account of its mission in the history of salvation, the clear, pure, and gently moving waters in themselves leave an agreeable and solemn feeling. Of the lakes in Switzerland none are like this one. v. Orelli says: "The Sea of Mur is nearest like it as far as size is concerned, the Sea of Zug in regard to the clearness of its water, the grace of its form and the warmth of its coloring." He and his companion saw it for the first time when they came from Nazareth to the edge of the high hill plateau above Tabarie. Then, after a half hour's steep descent into Tabarie, they could not get enough of the sight viewing it from the roof of the Latin cloister at that place. And when one evening they were bathing in its waters, they experienced how quickly the waters, smooth as a mirror, could suddenly produce the wild waves of a storm. "Above the high rocky hills of the other side quick flashes of lightning were seen once or twice; the thunder could scarcely be heard; the light had a mysterious appearance, and without being able to notice the presence of any wind, the sea, as though moved by the arms of an invisible spirit, became restless. The breakers were regular and loud; they surged until late in the night, so that it seemed as though we were at the ocean's beach."
My two friends saw the sea in the spring, and the impression made on them was for this reason a more favorable one than that received by Robinson, in 1838, on his first trip to Palestine, who saw it in summer, after all the herbage had been withered and not a sail or boat dotted its waters. The sea looks different in summer than it does in spring. How much different from what it is now must have been its appearance at that time when the head of the fisherman's family in Capernaum was entertaining the most exalted Guest that man has ever welcomed to his house, on the day when Jesus was returning from the Chorazin fountain to Capernaum. The mountain wall by which the east side of the sea is encircled rises from one thousand to two thousand feet above the level of the water, and forms a rolling and barren line of hills. These have a dark, though not displeasing, and formerly also an imposing appearance; for in these mountainsthat is, in their middle, between the high table-land of Golan and the shore of the sea a number of small castles were to be seen, among which that of Gamala, with its fortresses and towers, were the most important. Its appearance, before it had fallen into ruins, must have been magnificent; especially when in the light of the full moon. One could see all these castles from the sea-shore, because they lay high and stood out prominently from the hills. And to the imposing appearance was added a feeling of the wildly romantic by the irregular and broken character of the Golan plateau, with its many crevices, through which, in the rainy season, cataracts of wild waters rushed down to the sea. The character of the western shore is entirely different from this. It is marked by sloping hills and rocky cliffs, that encircle the sea, now closely, now somewhat removed, as far north as the hills that there border on the waters, and it is covered with beautiful villages. Here Nature had poured out her horn of plenty, and here the industry and craft of man had drawn from Nature's resources what she may have been inclined to withhold from them. The climate of the lower districts is sub-tropical i.e., it approaches the tropical, but was made milder by the fragrance of the vegetation that covered it from the sea to the top, and which is watered not only by the sweet waters of the sea, but also by the brooks that come pouring down the hill-sides and by springs along the shore. Now, this most famous earthly paradise, by wars and earthquakes, through the uncertainty of holding property, and through the stupidity of man, has been reduced to a mere remnant of its former grandeur. In the Old Testament books the whole western coast of the Sea of Galilee or Tiberias is called "Kinnereth," or" Kinneroth." The Talmud connects these names with the name of the instrument "Kinnor" saying: "As beautiful as is the sound of the Kinnor is the fruit of Kinnereth." And no greater praise can the Talmud give than to say of this fruit that God had not allowed it to grow in Jerusalem, so that people might not come to that city for its sake and not for the purpose of worship. But the true explanation is an easier one. "Kinnor" is an oval musical instrument in the shape of a pear, which in Arabic is called "el-ud," the lute, the name which came with the Arabs to Europe into the Spanish language, and from it into others of Western Europe. The sea actually has the appearance of a lute. And then there was situated along the shore an old city of the tribe of Naphtali called "Kinnereth," or, on the analogy of other names of ancient cities, in the plural "Kinneroth" This town in later times was called "Gennesar," or "Ginnusar," possibly on account of its beautiful gardens; for this name signifies the gardens of the princes, and the city was accordingly the city of the garden of the princes. This city must have been in existence in the Middle Ages, for Estori ha-Parchi, in 1320, according to it, determines the sites of Zereda, Tanchum, and Tiberias. One of the doctors of the Talmud, named Jonathan ben-Charsha, is called "Ish Gennesar" (man of Gennesar), as Judas, the betrayer, is called "Ish Kerijoth" (man of Kerijoth). From this Gennesar the sea took its name, which it had when Christianity was first introduced. The first Book of the Maccabees and Josephus call it the "Genneser sea"; the Gospels, however, call both the sea and the surrounding country by the feminine form "Gennesaret," with the exception of the fourth Gospel, which calls the sea by its youngest name, the Sea of Tiberias, by which it is also known in the literature of the Talmud. The magnificent valley that opens up to the traveller in going from Tiberias to Magdala was called the Gennesar Valley, and, in the stricter sense of the word, the Gennesar country. It is, says Josephus, in his history of the Jewish war (III, 10), as though there were here a rivalry of nature, which was striving to unite opposites into one point, and an actual contest of the seasons, each of which is endeavoring to gain possession of the land. For the ground brings forth all kinds of fruits that apparently cannot grow in the same climate, and does this not only once a year, but almost throughout the whole year. The kings among fruits, the grape and the fig, grow here ten months without interruption, and at their side other fruits ripen all the year round. In these words Josephus praises this land, and other ancient eye-witnesses have lauded the wonderful beauty and fruitfulness of the Gennesar country.
The business and life that at one time covered this inland sea, only about fourteen miles long and seven miles wide, and one hundred and fifty feet deep, has now given way to the silence of a church-yard and is dedicated to great memories. In the division of the country among the tribes, its western shore, as far as Kinnereth, fell to the lot of Naphtali; and, according to a tradition, Joshua had added the condition that every one should be allowed to throw his fishing-hook, but that every net should be taxed, because unlimited fishing with nets, especially with drop-nets, which were allowed to remain in the water overnight, would interfere with navigation. Now, the inhabitants confine themselves to fishing along the shore. Travellers in the present century have seen but few or no boats on the sea. Robinson saw but one, which was bringing wood across from the eastern shore. In those days, however, of which we speak, the sea was thickly dotted with boats, large and small, in which fishermen were plying their vocation day and night, and in which travellers arid goods were carried along the shore or across the lake. Josephus, as commander-in-chief of Galilee, on one occasion organized a blind attack by sea on Tiberias, which had rebelled, and collected in Tarichia no less than two hundred and thirty boats, each manned with four sailors. What an activity and wealth must have been in these cities and villages in the Gennesar country! In looking from the baths at Tiberias toward the city and the sea, we see in the background the mountain of Safed and the snow-covered peak of Mount Hermon, which shuts out all further outlook; and from Tiberias in a north-westerly direction, to the Barida Springs, we see a terraced, smiling land, covered with houses, and extending at least half-way up the hills, behind which the rugged and perpendicular rocks put a stop to the work of man. The view is a great deal like that of the Sea of Zurich, from Zurich to Rapperschwyl.
The ruins of Tell Hum lie on the north side of the sea, one hour's walk from the place where the Jordan empties into the sea, between the steep shore on the one side and the plain forming a fruitful delta on the other. It carries with it a slimy mass, sluggishly and slowly proceeding on its way. The marks of the principal highway go east and west. If the good-sized place here, whose houses, built of basalt stone, were reflected in the sea, is not Capernaum, what other city could it be? Robinson and others, who looked for Capernaum near the Ain-et-Tin (the fig fountain), found some twenty-five minutes walk farther south, cannot answer this question. When Josephus reports that in a battle which he fought with the Romans, near Bethsaida Julias, he fell from his horse, and was badly hurt, and was brought to a place called "Cepharnome" this account agrees well with the site of Capernaum, which was from Bethsaida, which was situated on the eastern side of the mouth of the Jordan, the nearest large city, where Josephus could find physicians and could hope to remain concealed. And when Jesus, after He had been informed of the decapitation of John the Baptist, crossed over with His disciples in a boat to Bethsaida Julias, and the multitude followed Him thither in great crowds on foot, hastening after Him along the shore of the sea (Luke 9:10), this can be best understood, if we suppose that Capernaum was the place from which Jesus departed, and where the multitude had been collected, as this was the centre of His active work, and if this is sought for at no other place than where the ruins of Tell Hum are now found. The disciples also returned to Capernaum after they had witnessed, in Bethsaida beyond the Jordan, the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, and Jesus had gone out from them in order to be alone. A storm, which overtakes the disciples on their homeward journey, threatens them with destruction; but Jesus, walking upon the waters, comes to their assistance, and, contrary to all expectation, they find themselves quickly at their destination at Capernaum. But on the next morning the people saw that the boat which had brought over the Man of wonders was no longer there; and they learned that the disciples had long before sailed away, but that He was not with them. Thinking that Jesus had taken the land road, they entered several boats from Tiberias, which were lying there near Bethsaida, and again it is Capernaum to which they steer in order to find Jesus, and where they do find Him (John 6:16-25). From all these passages we are impressed with the fact that Capernaum lay diagonally across from Bethsaida, and that the chief seat of Christ's work was the land on this and that side of the north end of the lake.
"Beside the mild atmosphere," says Josephus, in his description of the Gennesar country, "this also adds to the fertility, that the ground is watered by a remarkably powerful spring, which the inhabitants call 'Capharnaum.' Many considered it to be a vein of the Nile, because it has fish similar to the Coracinus (so called on account of its raven blackness) in the Sea of Alexandria." Josephus is speaking here of Gennesar in the narrow sense of the word, that charming piece of land which is enclosed on the north at the Chan Minje, and on the south at Megdel by hills extending down into the sea. If this is the district through which the Capharnaum Spring poured its waters, then Tell Hum, which lies one hour farther north of this, cannot be considered as the old Capernaum. But what Josephus says about the spring of Capernaum must first be corrected. For it sometimes happens that a place is named after a fountain found in the neighborhood, as is seen by so many names of places beginning with, the word "Am" (fountain); but that, conversely, a fountain should have a name beginning with the word "kepher" (village) is impossible. The statements of Josephus seem entirely incorrect. But if we understand the statement to mean that the spring was called not Capharnaum, but Ain Capharnaum (spring of the Nahum village), then among the places from Tiberias on and beyond the Chan Minje, no other can be meant than the beautiful and powerful Tabigha fountain; for this lies only half an hour from Capernaum, and could have been called after this city. In going along the narrow shore path to Capernaum, we pass also some other springs, but Tabigha is the only one worth mentioning, and is the most important. The waters of this spring, even where they burst forth, are powerful, and of such bulk that they drive a mill. And even yet the aqueduct is preserved in part, by means of which the waters at one time supplied the whole of the north-eastern part of the Gennesar Plain. In an eight-cornered encasing made of stone, and in part preserved to the present day, the water was carried to a height where it could flow into the aqueduct. A gutter cut into the rocks led it around the projecting mountain, so that it watered the plain. Ain-et-Tin did not serve this purpose, because it lay almost down at the water's edge, and the other water-supplies reached only the southern parts of the plain. But that Capernaum secured its water-supply from Tabigha cannot be accepted; for the water of Tabigha is tepid and brackish i.e., it tastes salty, like ocean water. It is less pleasant to the taste and less fresh than is the water of the lake, which the people of Capernaum had right before them. The water of the Sea of Galilee is, like that of the Nile, excellent for drinking purposes. The qualities which Josephus assigns to it corroborate this; he says it glitters, is clear, sweet, mild, and cool.
We must, on the other hand, not pass over in silence that there is, indeed, a tradition to the effect that the old Capernaum was situated on the north end of the Gennesar country, in the narrow sense of the word, which is now called "el-ghuweir" (ghuwer), and hence near to the present Chan Minje. "Chan" in the East is a name applied to an uninhabited one-story building, which has been built as a place for travellers to remain in over-night; not, indeed, an inn, but rather a structure serving as a stopping-place without charges. But when the Franciscan Quaresmio, of Lodi, in his garrulous book on the "Holy Land," which appeared in two folio volumes in 1639, says in Vol. II, p. 868: "At present we see that where Capernaum once stood are many ruins, and a miserable diversorium, called in Arabic Menich," he meant by this the present Chan Minje, between which and the shore of the sea, beneath a large fig-tree, the so-called fig fountains break forth, and cause the growth of some rich grass along its banks covered with reeds. Robinson and his companions camped here on the 19th of May, 1852, in the midst of magnificent clover-fields. The pile of formless ruins lying only a few steps south of the Chan on a slight elevation, seemingly the remains of a not unimportant place, were at that time grown over by an almost ripe field of wheat. Here there must have been a place in olden times whose size is yet a matter unsettled. The neighboring people have often turned this ground upside down in order to secure building material. At first they found, as we learn from the work on "Palestine," by Professors Ebers and Guthe, fruitful soil, then yellow earth mixed with rocks, and under this the remains of old walls made of carefully-prepared limestone; and, besides this, they found also, near the walls, some potter's ware and other remnants of an old civilization. Was it, perhaps, here where we are to seek the old places "Kefar Tauchumin" or, better, "Kefar Techumin," mentioned in the works of the Palestinian Jews? The name is similar to the name of Capernaum, but signifies "border village," and would correspond with the north end of the Gennesar Valley. The site of Capernaum, the Nahum village, is marked by the much more extensive ruins of Tell Hum. There the French Bishop Arculf saw Capernaum at the end of the seventh century. On his return trip to West Brittany, he described what he saw to the Prior Adamnanus, on St. Columba, one of the Hebrides, as follows: "Those who come from Jerusalem and would visit Capharnaum travel directly toward Tiberias, and then pass by the Sea of Galilee, and the place where Jesus is said to have blessed and broken the bread for the five thousand. From there, upon proceeding along the shore, you arrive in a short time, on the way that goes along the shore, at the seaport Capharnaum. I saw the city from a neighboring mountain, with no wall around it, and confined to narrow limits between the mountain and the sea; it lies extended on a long strip of shore, with a mountain on the north at its back, and runs eastward and westward." This must have been, in truth, a bird's-eye view of Capernaum, when seen from one of the mountains to the south. The slowly ascending ground at its back rapidly changes into a mountain; the city stretches out in width, and its front is formed by the sea, which seems here to come to an end, Antoninus Martyr, who had visited Capernaum a few years earlier, found there a basilica, which included the traditional house of Peter, just as a chapel in Nazareth is said to enclose the traditional workshop and house of Joseph. Down to the time of Constantine, the city of Capernaum was inhabited exclusively by Jews. This emperor, however, allowed a Jewish convert, by the name of Joseph, to erect Christian churches at Capernaum, and other hitherto exclusively Jewish towns. It is possible, even now, to distinguish in the thickets of thorns and grasses the ruins of the basilica from those of the synagogue. The synagogue was, as can yet be plainly seen, seventy-four feet and nine inches long, and fifty-six feet and nine inches wide, and on its south side had three entrances. Amid its limestone ruins are also found capitals of Corinthian columns, and the remains of architraves which at one time supported wooden rafters.
Capernaum lay upon a projecting curve of the shore, where it had a natural dam against the sea, which lay a little lower, but which in the rainy season of winter rose higher, owing to the waters that rushed into it from the wadis. The houses were, in part, built so close to the water's edge that their backs were reflected in the water; others stood back farther, and in front of them were either gardens with arbors or places to dry the nets. About in the middle of this street, running along the shore in the old city, where there was offered a good place to unload the boats, was the landing-place where the boats were pulled on shore and unloaded; for Capernaum did not possess an artificial harbor, unless you would call this landing-place a harbor, and the shore road the dam of the harbor. At these places, on the evening of which we speak, there was a remarkable bustle and life. Like wildfire the news had spread that Jesus of Nazareth would this evening appear at the water's edge, and had reached even the neighboring villages. It could, indeed, not be brought to the places on the other side of the sea; for this, the time between the vesper services and the evening was too short. But after one short hour, it was known at Bethsaida and Chorazin; it was also known in the village of dyers, Magdala, and in Arbel, lying half an hour to the west above Magdala, and in the villages at the fig fountain, whose names have now disappeared. From all of these places people came to Capernaum, most of them impelled by curiosity, but some of them by a desire for salvation. Here and there one was seen riding on an ass. This animal, in Palestine, is of a better breed, and more intelligent than in our lands, and is almost as fast as a horse, and faster than the ordinary burden-carrying camel. In Magdala certain men had lifted a sick woman, notwithstanding her strong protests, into a boat. Her old mother, who kneeled at her head, could with great difficulty keep her quiet and contented. The journey, because there was no breeze, was a slow one along the shore. Occasionally, however, one of the two rowers, at the earnest prayers of the mother of the sick woman, stepped into the shallow water, and pulled the boat along by a cord. But where to land the boat? The old woman, as often as the sick companion would suffer her, looked toward heaven for an answer to this question. For the multitude also who stood on the wharf it was an important question where Jesus would take His stand; although many were too careless to ask themselves such a question. One would look at the beautiful and large barbels and sea-mullets which some fisherman had been lucky enough to catch; another was examining lumber brought over from Gamala, which had been hewn in the woods of Gebel Aglun; a third was conversing from the wharf with the steersman of a boat which had been loaded with iron brought overland from Acre, and manufactured in the iron works on the western Lebanon, and cried out to him in the common jargon that consisted of a mixture of Latin, Greek, and Aramaic: "Antiki tabta, prakmatia shapira"i.e., fine fruit, splendid goods! Here and there some were seen getting into boats, and having themselves rowed out to sea, in order to look all over the shore, and be able to go at once where Jesus would take His stand. Those who were walking up and down on the street along the shore, hoped that He would, at least, pass by that way; for that this place, where the boats with the iron and other vessels were being loaded, would not be selected by Him as a place, from which to address the people, was more than probable. But will He go to the right or to the left before the city, and assemble the people there? This was the question that they discussed pro and con in an animated manner.
It was a most beautiful night. The sea was the picture of deep peace. The murmuring of its waves, that broke at short intervals, the pearly foam that appeared and disappeared so rapidly, seemed like the lovely dreams of one softly sleeping. And as one who is journeying into a strange land thinks again of the loved ones at home, from whom he is, indeed, separated in space but not in heart, thus the sun, sinking behind the western mountains, sent his evening greetings to the sea, that slowly and softly was taking its course southward. The rich blue of the waves shone in his golden rays, and the clouds above it reflected all the colors of the precious stones in the breastplate of the high priest. But the mountains above, in themselves reddish and made still redder in the glow of the evening sun, were enveloped, after the sun had gone down, more and more as if by the incense of the evening sacrifice. And on this side a mild breeze mingled all the delicious fragrance of the orchards, groves, and gardens, together with that of the deflebush crowning the shores with a crimson hue, and united them, as it were, into a savory incense-offering. On the windows of the synagogue the sparrows chirped, as though uniting in an evening chorus of praise; here and there a pelican could be seen, which, tired of diving, was flying toward his resting-place on the rocks beyond. Only at the harbor was this solemn silence banished by the mingling of many human voices who cared nothing for it. Those who without were walking up and down, expecting the great Preacher and Man of miracles, could not otherwise than enjoy the peace reflected in nature around. The children running back and forth between them, who were hunting pretty shells, and gathered bunches of red anemones and fragrant cyclamens and other flowers, and here and there made a stone to skip over the surface of the water, gave additional attraction to this evening picture, without injuring it. Much more animated was the scene along the shore toward the mouth of the Jordan than it was in the direction of Magdala. At all events, it was more probable that He would come from Chorazin; and, besides, two women were walking back and forth at this place, of whom it could be expected that they knew whence He would probably come. These were the wife of Peter, and Mary, who had, without difficulty, been persuaded to remain this evening in Capernaum, on which she expected to hear the Word of Life from the mouth of her Son, and to see Him in the midst of His activity. "Possibly we are on the wrong side, at any rate," said Mary. "No," answered her companion," He will certainly come from His favorite place at the Chorazin well; we will not miss Him." "The wife of Simon the fisherman I know," said a man from Chorazin, walking behind the two women, to a man of Capernaum, "but who is that old lady dressed so plainly, yet who is walking with the gait of a noble personage?" "That is Mary, the daughter of Eli," answered the other, "the mother of the Nazarene, who came today to visit Him." The man from Chorazin then hastened in front of the women, but scarcely had he turned around to see Mary's face, when he was compelled to turn away again without satisfying his curiosity. He could, not endure the glance of her eyes.
While the people were in this manner going up and down the shore of the lake in deep expectation, the Rabbis from Jerusalem were in the garden of a country house situated some distance from the city, from the terraces of which the grand view to the northwest upon the mountain of Safed, and farther to the north the snow-capped Mount Hermon could be viewed. The master of the house and a number of the wealthiest and most influential of the citizens of Capernaum, whom he had invited in honor of his guests, and, as he expressed it, to save them from the riotous noise of this evening, sat in an arbor of the garden, filled with palm, banana, balsam, cypress, and castor-oil trees, engaged in animated conversation, while the servants were offering to the guests on silver platters, fine confections and the choicest Gennesar fruit. The conversation for a while was a discussion of the casuistry of the law of the tribes. "I have," said the man of the house, "down in the valley, three huts, in which my fruit-gatherers live. Is it allowed that my children and servants shall eat of the fruits down there without paying tithes?" "They may," answered the men of Jerusalem. "But," continued the man of the house, "in one of the huts the people have commenced to keep house; they have a handmill there and keep chickens." "Such a hut, also, said the Jerusalemites, "need not be tithed." "Take note," said the master of the house to his son, "whosoever abides in a perfume factory, although he does not himself buy or sell it, nevertheless gets his clothes perfumed." "Ye men of Jerusalem are, indeed, happy," exclaimed one of the guests; "for ye sit at the fountain of the law." "Well, then," was the answer, "do not yourselves sever your connection with Jerusalem by running after this Jesus." "Our people," said a wealthy ship-owner, "are as ignorant as the asses." He pronounced the word chamarin so indistinctly that it was uncertain whether he meant asses or sheep. "Yes," said one of the Jerusalemites, in answer to this, "that you are ignorant can be seen even by the jargon you here call language." These words offended the self-respect of the Galileans and caused bad feelings. An old man, who was at least as old as the two Rabbis together, answered quietly and smilingly: "Not so strict, ye gentlemen from. Jerusalem, for Galilee has not only beautiful fields, but also great men. And this Jesus of Nazareth, ye must also confess, is a great Man, even if He is not a learned man (Lamdan), according to your cut." "No, no," they cried, as out of one mouth, "He is a 'Meshummed' (apostate), He is a 'Min' (heretic); He is no better than a 'Goj' (heathen); He is such an 'Am haarez' (plebeian), of which Rabbi Jochanan says that they should be torn asunder like the fish." "Men of Jerusalem," cried the master of the house, in order to restore the social harmony of the company, "do not judge so harshly concerning this Man to whom so many persons, in and around Capernaum, who were sick owe the restoration of their health. You have just come here; observe Him this evening and later; do not jump at conclusions so quickly." The two men felt that they were doing themselves more harm than good by such angry outbursts, and continued: "Men of Galilee, dear brethren, have you not read in the Book of Job (6:26): 'Do ye imagine to reprove words, seeing that the speeches of one that is desperate are as wind?' The zeal for our nation, which needs union now more than ever, has made us harsh. Do not the name Tiberias on this side and of Bethsaida Julias on the other side of this beautiful lake remind you that you are no longer masters in your own country? A garrison consisting of Gentile mercenaries forcibly reminds you that you are servants of Herod, and that he is a servant of the Romans. You must suffer the picture of the Roman Emperor on your golden coin; and every copper coin that is issued has at least his name. Shall we, the sons of free men, be forever slaves? No; our teachers have said: 'Between the present age and the age of the Messiah there is nothing except the rule of the stranger.' When, then, the Messiah comes He will collect Israel around His banners, and will break the yoke of this godless Roman supremacy, and will purify the land of Israel from the abomination of heathendom, the theatres, hippodromes, circuses, and images, which are now found in such abundance from Jerusalem over to Gadara, and from Cisrin (Caesarea) to Beisan (Scythopolis). And now, just look at this Nazarene, and answer if He can be the Messiah, which the Minim of this Capernaum hold Him to be? Just imagine a helmet on His head and a sword in His hand! You cannot do it. He is not the One who is to destroy Rome's power. Instead of uniting the nation, He divides it by His new teachings; and instead of leading them to a war against the worldpower, He preaches contentment with the slavery, and obedience to the tyrants."
This was about the tenor of the speech of the two men, and when the one paused he would be relieved by the other. Compared with the servile obedience of the Romanites and Herodians, who utilized the present for their selfish purposes, and with the Essenes, who lived a retired life of dreams, the patriotic enthusiasm and religious zeal of these disciples of the Pharisees challenged admiration. But when they looked around, anxious to hear what answer they would receive, the whole company was seized with a curiosity that bore them resistless along. Outside on the street, in front of the house, a loud noise was heard. They heard the steps of those hastening by, and the din of many voices, sending over the garden enclosure the words: "He comes! By water! Away, on the Magdala side!" "My worthy guests," said the master of the house, arising, "if you want to see Him, follow me; for if He comes by water, He will pass by near us." The whole company hastened, as though drawn by magnetism, after the master of the house, and took their positions under the alkit, a covered open hall, on an elevation thrown up in the corner of the garden, from where they could have a wide sweep of the water.
It was not long until those that were assembled behind upon the hill saw a grand sight. For them was meant the word which they could not yet appreciate: "Blessed are the eyes which see what ye see"; but we glory also in the favor bestowed upon us, because we can picture to our mind what they saw, and can behold it with the eyes of our souls. The boat that passed bore Jesus and the four older apostles; for Peter and Andrew had waited for Him on the lake with their boat, and James and John had hastened from Bethsaida. Back at the rudder sat Peter, with dignified mien, in which the proud consciousness found its expression that he was allowed to be the entertainer of Him who sat before him. Sitting on the front seat, and steadily gazing at Jesus, Andrew and James divided the gentle waves of the water with their oars, so that the boat, although without sails, flew along as though it had wings. On the middle seat sat Jesus, and at His left the disciple whom He loved. Jesus with His right hand was clasping the right of John, and pressed it to His heart; and John, feeling the pulsations of His heart, had sunk into a deep, blissful contemplation. And He Himself? how did He whom no pen could describe appear? Youth and manhood, mildness and strength, undiminished powers and nameless sufferings, exalted majesty and gentle humility, all these were united in a wonderful manner in His countenance and deportment. Heaven and earth were joined in Him; the heavenly light penetrated through the earthly, and the earthly subdued the power of the heavenly light. He looked differently from what He had done during the day. He was not bent down, and did not look down before Him; but, with raised head and joyous countenance, He looked around Him, sitting like a King in His royal barge; and the many boats that followed Him looked as though they were His fleet. He loved the evening above all the hours of the day. He looked back this evening with satisfaction on His work of the day, which His heavenly Father had given Him to do. He found Himself separated from the world, and yet visible to all the world in His congregation, which was represented in the two apostolic pairs of brothers. He felt a foretaste of the Sabbath into which He would be about to enter when His work would be done. Several rays of the evening sun seemed to have forgotten to depart in order to disappear in the glory of His countenance; just as if to see Him, the full moon, in its purple glow, rose behind the brown hills beyond; a gentle evening zephyr arose, as if to cool the Lord's brow; the sea rose and fell as in a solemn rhythmic measure; the waves that played around His boat threw at Him glittering diamonds. It was an overwhelming sight. As the boat passed by the garden, Peter called the attention of Jesus to the spectators on the pavilion. He looked up with a gracious smile. Then a young man among the guests in the garden cried out: "Elaha de Jisrael, den malca Meshica" (by the God of Israel, this is the King Messiah); and the old sire put the seal upon this cry with the firmly spoken words: "Ihu nihu" (it is He). Thereupon the two Jerusalemites drew as many of their guests as they could down with them, crying: "Turn away your eyes; woe unto you! You are under the spell of a sorcerer!"
On the south side was the landing-place for the boats which had brought lumber from the high plateau of Gola from the eastern side of the sea. To this place the boat containing Jesus was rowed, shooting rapidly past the harbor of Capernaum and past the whole length of the city. When it had arrived at its destination but a few persons were gathered there, who appeared to have come for no other purpose than to examine the lumber and fire-wood collected there. On the other hand, it was rather an accidental good fortune that the vessel bearing the sick woman from Magdala, whose cries could be hushed only with the greatest difficulty by her mother, happened to be lying here. "Lord," said John, "here is work for Thee already." "However this may be," answered Jesus, "I must do the work of Him that hath sent Me. The night will come when no one can work." Scarcely had the woman caught a glance of Him than she at once recognized Him whose identity could not be mistaken, and cried out with heart-piercing words: "O Jesus, our Teacher and Helper, Thou Messenger of the Most Merciful, help my poor child; for the Holy One blessed be He has heard my prayer, that we have found Thee and Thou us." Thereupon Peter, with the assistance of the two others, who were allowing their oars merely to touch the water, guided the boat in such a manner that its side touched closely the side of the other boat. Jesus arose; the woman fell upon her knees; the sick woman tried with all her power to arise and throw herself head foremost over the other side of the boat into the water. The boatman and John, who had jumped into the water, seized her by the arms, and the mother despairingly clung to the long hair-braids of her child, and hid her face in them. Her tears ceased to flow; her thoughts at this decisive hour stood still; her soul was entirely absorbed in prayer, although she did not utter a word. "Whence are these people?" asked Jesus of the boatman. And when He heard that they were from Magdala, He said to His disciples: "Woe unto this Magdala, for it will be converted unto ruins on account of its unchastity. All the rich treasures which it takes down to Jerusalem will not help it; for, as the prophet says, the wages of lewdness she has gathered, and she will become the wages of unchastity." Thereupon He said, "Turn her face toward Me, that I may see it!" This was hard to do, for the sick woman bent her head down as near the water as possible. But John succeeded at last through gentle words. "Mary," He said (for, having turned to the mother, he has quietly asked her name), "do you always want to remain in the power of the demons? See, the Subduer of demons is here before you; look at Him, and you will be healed. We are all praying for you, as did our teacher Mosespeace be unto Himfor his sister (Num 12:13): 'Heal her, O God!' Do not put our prayer to shame. Now is the time, when you can make yourself and your mother happy." These words were effectual; she suffered them to raise her head and turn her face to Jesus. When she saw Him, her whole body was thrown into violent contortions, so that the boat began to rock, and she uttered cries of pain that moved heart and soul, and were heard far out in the sea. Jesus, however, kept His eyes fixed on hers; He looked through her, into her heart of hearts, and melted by His burning glances the seven-fold chain by which her soul was imprisoned. The raving woman became submissive, and it was no longer necessary to hold her. Her agitation quieted down, the contortions of her face and the unsteadiness of her eyes disappeared, a heavy perspiration oozed down from her forehead and mingled with the tears that gushed from her eyes. Her mother made room for her, and, sinking down where she had until now been kneeling, she cried out with a subdued, trembling voice to Jesus: "O Lord, I am a great sinner; is the door of repentance still open for me?" "Be of good cheer, My daughter," He answered, "God hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Thou hast been the dwelling-place of evil spirits; become now a temple of the living God!" And the mother, who cried out to Him: "O thanks unto Thee, thou Comforter of Israel," was interrupted by the words: "Go back now speedily to Magdala, and do not talk much about the affair; but thank God without ostentation." John went back into the boat of Jesus, and soon the other boat sailed away. The two women sat on the middle seat. Mary Magdalene in gratitude embraced her mother, and the two sat together in silence, and looked as though they were transfixed at Jesus, until the shore that constantly receded westward hid Him from view.
When the boat with the women had disappeared, Peter tied his to the post at which the other had been tied. Jesus, however, was lost in thought, and, without looking around, remained seated in the boat. The disciples, also, whose reverence for Him would not allow them to suggest to Him to step out, remained with Him. In the mean while the people of Capernaum, men, women, and children, came in crowds, among them also soldiers of the garrison, sent here by the government of Herod and the Romans, and also a number of strange faces were seen of such as had come even from Syria, the Decapolis, and Northern Galilee, by land, and had on the afternoon of the present day reached their destination. A happy accident had brought also many who had come from Tiberias by the mountain road along the sea, and had taken this street along the shore which they had to pass in order to get to Capernaum; and from the tax-house of Matthew, who at this time had been affected by Jesus' teaching, a number of friends came, who had lodged there, in order to spy out a favorable opportunity to see Jesus. When the place was filled, Peter said softly, hiding his impatience in his words: "Marana werdabbana (our Lord and Master), the people are assembled and are waiting for Thee!" Then Jesus arose. Peter took a board and made a bridge from the boat to the shore. He hastened over himself to make it secure, and to make room for them to land, for at this place those standing on the shore formed a solid mass. Jesus now left the boat, and the three other disciples followed. When He had landed, He said: "Simon Cephas (for thus He addressed him when He needed the assistance of His faithful and energetic help in the affairs of the kingdom of God), I have selected that palm-tree there as a place from which to address the assembly." But it was a difficult thing to get there; for those who had taken their stand near the boats were mostly sick persons, to whom precedence had been given through pity. And scarcely had Jesus placed His foot on the land, when cries for help in many dialects and various salutations greeted His ears: "Rabbi!" "Rabbuni!" "The Holy One of God!" "Son of David!" "Son of God!" sounded through each other; and when Jesus, motioning them away with His hands, said: "Do not interrupt Me; this evening is not to be devoted to the healing of your bodily ills (Matt 8:16), but that you should hear the words of life for your souls," they nevertheless pressed upon Him, so that they might, at least, touch Him (Mark 3:10). And when, finally, with the assistance of His disciples, who quieted the people, each in his own manner, with friendly words, He had made His way to the tree, He gave a sign to the people that they should sit down. It was not a lofty but a neglected and dwarf-like palm, but it offered some shade. The elevation of the ground where He stood was, indeed, only slight, but, after the masses had taken their seats in rows all around Him, it was quite noticeable. The lumber lying around, the women and children had as much as possible taken possession of.
Must we now picture Jesus to us addressing the assembly standing? This idea would be contrary to the accounts in the Gospels, from which especially we are drawing the leading features of our picture. When He delivered the Sermon on the Mount, which contained the leading outlines of the Messianic kingdom over against the fundamental ideas of the Sinaitic law, and which is, in the shape which the Gospel records take in the narrative of Matthew, a model of His way of preaching, He is represented as sitting. This is represented correctly in the old German Gospel poem called the "Heliand." "And silently He sat, and looked at them for a long while with gentle soul and gracious heart. And when He opened His sacred mouth, glorious words flowed therefrom." When Luke (6:17) says that He, after descending from the top of the mountain, walked upon a level place, this means that He halted at such a placenamely, by sitting down. The saddle-like mount "Karn Hattin" which is generally considered as the mountain of the Beatitudes, has two peaks or horns, and the terraces beneath the eastern one are, at least, very suitable to illustrate this. In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus is, indeed, represented as standing in reading the "Haftara" or prophetic lesson for the Sabbath day; but when the book-roll has been closed and given to the "Shammash" (servant of the synagogue), He delivers His address, His "Derasha," sitting; as, in general, the regular "Darshan" or preacher of the synagogue, sat. But by the side of Him stood the Amora, who was His assistant, in order to interpret to the congregation what was spoken (hence called Methurgeman, or interpreter), or to repeat it with a loud voice. And in the temple at Jerusalem, also, Jesus is represented as teaching while seated (John 8:2). And when, on one occasion on the seventh day of the Feast of the Tabernacles, He takes His stand in the temple (John 7:37), and, connecting His thoughts with the sacred practice of carrying water from the pool of Siloam, to pour it over the altar, He cried out to the people: "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink" (John 7:37), this must be regarded as a cry spoken into the noise of the festivities, and not as a public address. Before the feeding of the five thousand and of the four thousand, we find Him sitting upon the mountain (John 6:3; Matt 15:29). And the three Evangelists, whose books are called the Synoptic Gospels, because they are of a like type of Gospel composition, give us in close connection a series of parables as a picture of the Lord's manner of teaching by parables; He is represented as sitting upon the shore of the Sea of Galilee (Matt 13:1), and when the crowd pressed upon Him, and crowded in upon Him, He enters the boat of Simon, and tells him to push it away a short distance from the shore, and preaches from it to the multitude standing upon the shores (Luke 5:3; Mark 4:1). In Capernaum, also, we find Him sitting. While sitting He calls the twelve (Mark 9:35), and, while holding a child that had come there, in His arms, He teaches them concerning the childlike hearts and childlike love. And when His mother and His brethren visit Him in Capernaum, He is in the house, and a crowd of people is sitting around Him (Mark 3:32). This is a similar scene to the one in Ezekiel, when the prophet of the Babylonian exile sits in his home at Tel Abib, and the elders of Israel are sitting before him to listen to the Word of the Lord (Eze 1, passim). The Talmudic tradition says, that from the time of Moses (Exo 18:13, sq.) the teachers sat and the audience stood, and that only from the days of Rabbi Gamaliel (i.e., still previous to the destruction of Jerusalem) the people, also, on account of increasing weakness, sat. We would accordingly be in error were we to think that Jesus addressed the assembly standing. Under this single palmtree lay a natural rock, upon which He had often sat, in order to resign Himself to silent contemplation under the shade of the tree, or to feast His eyes on the sea. The academy at Jabne (Jamnia) was built in the shape of a hippodrome. Sitting upon an ordinary stone, the Rabbi Eliezer ben-Azaria, after the destruction of Jerusalem appointed as patriarch, delivered his addresses. It was, then, nothing extraordinary when Jesus, the extraordinary Rabbi, took His seat on this occasion on the rock and made it His pulpit.
How did He begin? we ask further. How did He address the assembly? The Gospels do not give us any direct information on this subject, for their interest in the form of Jesus addresses is subordinate to their interest in their contents. The words spoken also to the apostles, which we find in the four Gospels, have no special formal addresses, and of the many sermons preached to the people or to a larger circle of disciples (Mark 5:1, sq.; Luke 6:20), we have but one namely, the Sermon on the Mount, which begins with beatitudes, and does not admit of a formal opening. Elsewhere we hear Him addressing Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, over which He utters His cry of woe; and the Pharisees and Scribes, from whose face He tears the mask of hypocrisy with His eightfold woes; and then Jerusalem, the murderess of the prophets, to which, amid tears, He predicts a dire judgment, which she had brought upon herself through her rejection of salvation; but with what words He opened His addresses to the people gathered around Him in the synagogues in Jerusalem, and in the open country, of this we are not informed. We must, then, endeavor to learn it from other sources. When He addresses the women of Jerusalem, who followed Him weeping and lamenting to the place of crucifixion, with the words: "Daughters of Jerusalem" (benoth Jerushalajim) (Luke 23:28), then His address, directed to an audience composed chiefly of the men, would have been, "Sons of Israel" (bene Jisrael), especially as He loved to call His people by the name indicating their mission as the children of God namely, Israel (Matt 8:10, 10:6-23, sqq.); and only once does He namely, when He is speaking to the Samaritan woman call them by the name of Jews, and even on this occasion, not without assigning to the Jews their honor in this regard, saying: "Salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22). And what special shape His address took when directed to the Jews of Galilee, or Judea, or Jerusalem in particular, we can learn from the words of the angel (Acts 1:11), saying: "Men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven?" When the Lord, as He, on an evening such as we are here describing, looked over the people assembled around Him, He probably addressed them as "Sons of Israel, Men of Galilee" (bene Jisrael, anshe ha-Galil).
However, when we attempt to picture to our minds Christ's manner of addressing the people, we must not measure it with the rules of our rhetoric and homiletics. Just as He has taken our flesh and blood upon Himself, though without our sin, thus, too, in His addresses, notwithstanding their new and entirely unique contents, He shows Himself throughout as a member of a Semitic, and, more particularly, of the Jewish people. The Japhetic manner of address is marked throughout by this, that it makes one point the central thought, from which a circle of thought is described, and within this circle radii are drawn in all directions. The Semitic manner, however, adds line to line and point to point, and is content with the inner harmony of spirit and purpose. From the method of thought as practised by the former the thought composition of the latter is distinguished also by this, that the thought seeks to advance from its purely abstract character to some embodiment, and clothes itself either in some figurative form or finds expression in an illustration or parable. He who is acquainted with the Talmud or Midrash knows also that illustration through parables is a characteristic and fundamental feature of the Jewish method of teaching. A natural result of this preference for sententious and picture speech is the brevity of the discourse. The speaker dare not make it long, in order not to overburden the hearer, but he must give him time to think. And as in the case of teachers who are not themselves organs of divine revelation, everything that is offered for the purpose of being received must be drawn from the recognized records of revelation; all these addresses have this in common, that they proceed in part from words of Scripture as their basis, and in part lead to words of Scripture as their outcome. One example may suffice. Based on the words: "He hath clothed me with garments of salvation," taken from the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, from which Jesus took His text in His address in the synagogue at Nazareth, an old address, preserved in a Jewish work, proceeds: "Seven garments the Holy Oneblessed be Hehas put on, and will put on from the time the world was created until the hour when He will punish the whole of wicked Edom" (a figurative expression for the Roman Empire). When He created the world, He clothed Himself in honor and majesty, as is said (Psa 104:1): "Thou art clothed in honor and majesty." Whenever He forgave Israel's sins, He clothed Himself in white; for we read (Dan 7:9): "His garment was white as snow." When He punishes the people of the world, He puts on the garment of vengeance, as is said (Isa 59:17): "He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak." The sixth garment He will put on when the Messiah comes; then He will clothe Himself in a garment of righteousness, for it is said (Isa 59:17): "And He puts on righteousness as a breastplate and an helmet of salvation upon His head." The seventh garment He will put on when He punishes Edom; then He will clothe Himself in Adomi.e., red; for it is said (Isa 63:2): "Wherefore art Thou red in Thine apparel?" But the garment which He will put upon the Messiah, this will shine far from one end of the earth to the other; for it is said (Isa 61:10): "As a bridegroom decketh himself with a garland." And the Israelites will partake of His light, and will speak: Blessed is the hour when the Messiah shall come; blessed the womb out of which He shall come; blessed His contemporaries who are eye-witnesses; blessed the eye that is honored with a sight of Him! For the opening of His lips is blessing and peace; His speech is a moving of the spirits; the thoughts of His heart are confidence and cheerfulness; the speech of His tongue is pardon and forgiveness; His prayer is the sweet incense of offerings; His petitions are holiness and purity. Oh, how blessed is Israel for whom such has been prepared!" For it is said (Psa 31:19): "How great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee!"
This picture of the Messiah is like a mirror-reflection of the appearance of Jesus; like an echo of the Gospel. When the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration experienced the prelude of the glory that is to come, the glittering white light of His garments was not absent (Matt 17:2). But at that time when He was sitting on the rock under the palm-tree, His garments were indeed chaste and choice, but not aristocratic or remarkable in any respect. Upon His head He wore a white sudar, fastened under His chin by a cord, and hanging down backward over His shoulders, and over the tunic which covered the body to the hands and feet. He wore a blue tallith, with bluish white fringe at the four edges, thrown around and over Him in such a manner that the gray and red-striped tunic could be seen only in parts, and only now and then the feet, under which sandals were fastened, were visible.
It is a matter of course that He, who, notwithstanding that He was rich, had become poor for our sakes, would not clothe Himself in genuine purple. Nor in scarlet; this showy red contradicts what the prophet has foretold, saying that He will not cry or shout, nor will His voice be heard on the streets. Herod Antipas sent Him covered with such a showy garment back to Pilate, in order to deride Him. Nor was He clothed in white; for, on the Mount of Transfiguration, His garments became white as snow and white as light; hence they were not white, but colored. Nor was He dressed in black, for He performed His first miracle at a wedding. Black was the dress of those in mourning, of those that were accused, those that were excommunicated, and was so little in general vogue that entirely black shoes were regarded as non-Jewish. Nor can yellow or green be thought of; for nowhere do the old sources concerning Jewish life make any sure mention of these two colors for clothing. Hence we are almost of necessity restricted to blue and red. Blue as the color of the outer garment was in general usage. As the color of the Lord's garments was not left to accident to select, it is quite natural to suppose that He preferred the blue in common usage as the color of heaven made sacred through God's law. The color of His tunic could possibly have been blue; but no color is better suited than the mild red for the coming King of heaven. He did not parade His heavenly origin or royal dignity, neither did He deny them. When, then, a famous artist, in the picture of Christ carrying the cross, paints Him with a blue outer garment and a red tunic, this is entirely in harmony with the mind of Jesus and with His calling and work. For blood is red, and the skies with their transparent, boundless depths are blue. The self-sacrificing love is red; the covenant of grace is blue, which this grace seals. His path was redblood-red; heavenly blue was the goal of His way. The cross was His ladder to the throne of sapphire, and the garment of the royal Lord is colored by the purple of His blood. As the Scriptures say: "Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb 12:2).
When Jesus had taken His seat there under the palm-tree, and His eyes had swept over the assembly, the multitude became more and more quiet, until nothing else could be heard except the gentle breaking of the waves against the shore. And when He began His address with the words: "Bene Jisrael, anshe ha-Galil," He did not speak with a greati.e., loud voice, which He is stated to have done only on two occasionsnamely, when He called Lazarus out of the tomb (John 11:43), and when He lamented upon the cross (Matt 27:46). But in this He was the realization of the idea of the servant of the Lord, of whom Isaiah prophesied that He would not cry out, and His voice would not be heard on the streeti.e., He will not cry out to attract public attention and approbation. His voice was pure, penetrating, measured, melodious. It sounded like the tones of a silver bell through the assembly, from one end to the other; it was impossible not to be fascinated by it. The whole strength of His soul was centred in His words, and the cords of the souls of those around Him were agitated thereby, and whoever did not wilfully resist the influence was compelled to say: "My innermost soul was moved like a zither."
He sat upon the stone under the palm-tree. To His right and to His left stood Simon and Andrew, the sons of Jonah, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee. The multitude sat close to His feet. "Sons of Israel, men of Galilee," He began, "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come. Repent, and believe the Gospel. Moses, your teacherpeace be unto himhas said that the Lord would raise up a Prophet like unto him, and ye should hear Him, and whoever will not listen to this Prophet shall die. Amen, I tell you; whosoever believeth on Me hath eternal life. No one knoweth the Father except the Son, and no one knoweth the Son except the Father, and to whom the Son revealeth it." Then He continued in a raised voice: "Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." And, finally, he said: "Take upon you the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, for the kingdom of heaven is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Give up that which is least valuable, so that ye may gain that which is most valuable. Become wise money-changers, who esteem sacred coin higher than common coin, and, higher than all, the one priceless pearl. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!" We must connect speeches of this kind with the personality of the Speaker, in order to be able to measure the weight of the impression made. Such words forced their way into the hearts of the hearers as though they were spears or nails, and not a few of the utterances of Jesus are found brought into circulation by the Jewish converts, as anonymous words, or ascribed to some other person in the Talmud and Midrashim. But many sayings of the Lord have nothing similar and no imitations. The words so frequently uttered to arouse His hearers to thoughtfulness: "He that hath ears, let him hear!" is entirely peculiar to Him. And the word "Amen" (truly), used at the beginning of sentences to strengthen them, and which in the dialect of the land sounded "amen amena lechon," is unknown to the entire Jewish literature. This amen, found at the opening of the sentence, is a peculiar confirmatory particle of Jesus, so characteristic that Revelation 3:14, on the basis of it, calls Him "the Amen, the faithful and true witness."
In the mean while the last remnants of the evening red had disappeared from the horizon. The full moon had already risen over the mountains on the other side of the lake, so high that her full golden glory was reflected in the water; and on this side, as though born of the evening red, the evening star looked down smilingly, and a refreshing breeze set the palm-leaves in motion. The later part of the evening was disappearing to make room for the first watch of the night. Jesus arose, and, although He was sometimes wont to disappear suddenly from the midst of the multitude (Matt 13:36), He, on this occasion, dismissed them with words of admonition and a salutation of peace (Matt 14:23). Raising His hands to bless them (Luke 24:50), His eye fell upon His mother. After the last words had been spoken, He turned to the left, whispered to John and James, saying: "Take charge of My mother," and disappeared in a southerly direction, proceeding upward, and going over a stony and overgrown way to a hill that sloped gradually down to the water's edge. He loved the solitude of the mountain, and many of the peaks in Galilee and Peraea were for Him places to which He could withdraw and pray, and were thus consecrated as "Bethels" (God's houses). Only when He had arrived at the top, and the turmoil of the world was lying at His feet, did He feel the consciousness of the rest at the completion of the day's work. Without closing Himself toward the outer world, He was entirely absorbed in prayer, and was enjoying a sabbath in His soul. His eye swept over the land and the sea, encircled all with His love, and rested upon the places around about with the greetings of peace. He felt Himself as a centre of a whole world, and sent out the fulness of His sympathy to all sides. He extended His arms, pressed the world to His bosom, fell down with it before God, and offered it, as though through His heart's blood, as an offering unto the Lord. Now He touched His forehead to the ground, and the hair of His head lay upon it as a protecting veil; now He rose with difficulty, and, stretching higher and higher toward heaven, as though lengthening the natural size of His body, He spoke, and was silent, and spoke again. His prayer was a conversation with God. His voice was low, rather lisping than clear. Finally, however, it resounded like the voice of jubilee and of victory, so that it was echoed back by the mountain rocks. Nature around, hitherto steeped in a dead silence, awoke; as though in the middle of the night the day had appeared. The cicadae surpassed each other with their voices; the birds outsang each other; the tops of the trees nodded and rustled in the wind; the brook began, as though it had overcome an obstacle in the way, to murmur more briskly; and the waves of the Gennesar Sea leaped over each other in their effort to reach the western shore, and beat with the voice of thunder against the shores at Capernaum and Tiberias. The mysterious Man of prayer, however, lay in silence, overwhelmed by a feeling of joy upon His face; and, when He had arisen, He walked with rapid steps to the town that was now lying in deep sleep, where the mother-in-law of Peter opened the door when He knocked. "Again, so late, Lord!" she said, looking into His eyes and receiving from them a silent greeting. She preceded Him with a light to His chamber, where, without undressing, He threw Himself upon His couch, and at once sank into a deep sleep. His thoughts closed with the contemplation of God's will; He rested in God's love, and God's peace received Him.
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