Saturday, 5 March 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 43.

The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
Mosaic from the late second century CE villa at Perl-Nennig near Trier in Italy, showing a hydraulus together with a curved Roman trumpet or "cornu.
The officials of the Temple were divided into various grades. The pontiff himself had an assistant called the Sagan, who aided him in his functions and took his place if he were unable to attend. Some writers think Caiphas' father-in-law, Annas, was the Sagan at the time Christ was put to death.

Two officials called the Katholikin, "universal rulers," with the chief treasurer, and another leading overseer, had seven Ammarealin under them, who looked after the Temple gates, as well as three Gizbarin, "under-treasurers," and these fourteen men formed a committee called the " Council of the Temple," which regulated everything relating to the services.

These were also called the " elders of the priests," the "chief priests," the "counsellors," etc. These were the men of the Temple, who, led by Judas, went with the Temple guards down to Gethsemane to arrest Christ, and spurred on the people to demand his death in Pilate's Pretorium.

Next to these officials were the " heads of the courses," who went on duty in their turn for a week. Then came fifteen overseers, who called the priests to their duties, closed or opened the great gates and other doors, looked after the Temple guards, blew the trumpets, directed the choirs, took care of the musical instruments, drew lots every morning to see who among the course serving that week were to be on duty that day, provided the birds for sacrifice, examined animals, placed seals on those found without blemish, and looked after the meat-offerings and drink-offerings. There was a Temple physician, for the priests, having to minister barefoot, suffered from the cold and diseases of the feet and bowels. Another super intended the making of the proposition bread, another had charge of the manufacture of the great veils, and another supervised the making and care of priestly vestments, etc. These men had numerous subordinates under them, so that thousands were continually employed in the Temple.

These officials and the people of the city lived on the Temple, and it was their only means of support, both for themselves and families. This support came from twenty-four sources, ten were derived from the Temple itself, its sacrifices and revenues, four from Jerusalem, and ten from the other parts of the Holy Land. The priests had a part of the sin-offerings and of the trespass-offerings, the public peace-offerings, the leper's log of oil, the pro position bread, the two loaves of Pentecost, the Omer at the Passover, and what was left of the meat-offerings. In Jerusalem they had the first-born of every beast, the Biccurim, wheat, fruits, etc., a part of the thank-offerings, the skins of the victims sacrificed and the Nazarite's goat. Coming from the land, they had the tithe of the tithe, the heave offering of the dough from which the wafers of the proposition bread were made, the first of every fleece when the sheep were sheared, the priest's due of meat, the redemption money of the first-born son and of the ass, the " holy field of possession," what had been vowed to God, the property of strangers, or of any one who renounced Judaism, anything stolen after the death of the person robbed, with the fifth additional. But a small portion of the flesh of the victims and offerings were totally consumed on the great altar as holocausts. The rest, with the gifts and sacrificial offerings belonged to the priests and Levites, and they with their families, and a host of menials lived on the sacrifices and offerings according to God's directions.

The Scribes and Pharisees had fatted for centuries on these offerings, had lived on things forced from a deeply religious people, had become filled with that frightful avarice, still found in Jerusalem, and when Christ denounced them for these things he roused them to the highest fury.

The Temple was a vast slaughter-house, in which countless innocent victims were slain, and offered to the Lord by priests and Levites eating their flesh to foretell the frightfully atrocious and terrific death of Christ, daily eaten by priest and people in our churches.

David formed the priests and Levites into two choirs, he and Solomon, his son, composed sacred songs of praise to Jehovah for them, and these Psalms, " Songs of praise," added to the wealth and splendor of the Temple services. During the Sabbaths and great Feasts, five-hundred priests and as many Levites ministered. The Levites sang basse, the youths tenor, and the little boys the soprano, all standing on the steps of the Nicanor Gate. The priests formed another choir on the steps of the great gate leading to the inner Priests' Court, while the sacrifices were being offered, and the grand Liturgy carried on. Writers tell us of the Temple organ, the bellows of elephant hide, which sustained the singing, and Jewish writers say it could be heard in Jericho, fifteen miles down in the deep Jordan valley. But this is an exaggeration, we must be very careful in accepting statements of Talmudic and Jewish writers.

The organ, run by water, called the hydraulus, was invented by Ctesibius of Alexandria about two hundred and fifty years before Christ. Philo of Byzantium, who flourished two hundred years before our Lord, and other writers of that time tells us this. His pupil Hero, 1 and Vitruvius, 2 who died fifteen years before Christ, give us a minute description of the instrument. One of these organs was lately discovered in the ruins of Carthage having fifty-seven pipes ranged in three banks with a keyboard, and keys like the organs of our day. Ancient writers give drawings and specifications of these organs, which show that they were played like our organs. We see no reason for doubting the Jewish writers who mention the Temple organ.

1 In his book Pneumatica.

In his Tretis, De Architectura, Book X.