Monday, 7 March 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 44.

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
Holy of Holies
The Levites gathered on the Nicanor Gate steps, the priests on the staircase leading to the Porch of the Holies, or surrounding the " Table of the fat," all looking up the courts toward the Holy of Holies.

The leading priests began the services, first they blew three blasts on the silver trumpets, a short one, then three again, called the Thekiah, Theruah and again the Thekiah, as the Jewish writers tell us. "An alarm in the midst of a plain note before and after it," symbolical of the Kingdom of God, Divine Providence, and the Last Judgment. Then the great Temple gates were opened. Three times they sounded these notes, the first being a notice to get ready, the second to open the gates and the last for the singers to begin the Psalm of the day. The Psalms were always sung in three sections. This is the way they began.

One pair of brass cymbals gave the sign to begin, the Nevel or lute of ten strings gave the tone, the music was sustained by the Kinnor, "the harp," the Shophar sounded, the flute notes rose, the other instruments were played, while the great Magrephah, " the organ," sustained the singers. At the end of Psalm and prayer, the whole assembly of Israel responded with a mighty Amen, " Let it be so." Hallelujah, " Praise Jehovah," Hosanna, etc. The whole service, Psalms, prayers and responses were in the ancient Hebrew, which among the people had become a dead language since the Captivity. The hymns had been composed for special occasions, and many of the prayers have been lost, although the Jews hold that some of them are still used in the synagogue services of our day. The ancient prayers of the Jewish Prayer-book are very beautiful.

After each section the priests blew three blasts, and the people bowed down and worshiped. They worshiped standing, but at the name of Jehovah, they all prostrated themselves on their faces on the ground. 1

The Levites sang the verse as far as the star in our breviaries, when the priests took up the refrain, and that is why one verse or anthem seems in thought like the other or first part of the verse. On Sabbaths the " Song of Moses" was sung and on the great Feasts Moses' Canticle was added. The hymns of praise were heard all over the city, and during the services every Jew turned his face towards the Temple and worshiped Jehovah.

David invented or introduced most of the musical in struments used in the Temple, and Josephus says that Solomon provided 2 forty thousand harps and lutes, as well as two hundred thousand silver trumpets, but perhaps this is an exaggeration. Although only fifteen instruments are mentioned in the Bible, and five of these are given in the Pentateuch, the Jewish writers mention thirty-six as being used in the Temple. The melody was simple and sweet, the human voice bearing the principal part, the instruments only accompanying the vocal singing. Music had not been studied and developed as it is today. It was very much like the Plain Chant of the Church, to which it gave rise in the early ages. The Orientals, even in our time, sing in a way similar to the Jews in the Temple.

Such was the world-famed Temple restored by Herod as the Hebrew books describe it. Though the Jewish writers seem to exhaust words in telling of its splendors, the Talmud has not a word of praise of Herod I., who spent forty-six years and millions in its restoration. At the time of Christ it was not entirely finished. It was perhaps the most magnificent temple then standing and it was celebrated all over the known world. Even pagans respected its holiness, and Greek and Roman offered victims and offerings for sacrifices. Day by day victims were immolated on its altar for the health and blessing of the Roman emperor.

Types of Christ in Temple rites given in the Talmud coming down from Moses' day, are striking. The Day of the Atonement, still kept by the Jew in all his wanderings, the high priest officiated, five hundred priests and as many Levites waiting on him. He alone could carry out the ceremonial, for he foretold the Son of God alone atoning for the sins of the world. (Levit. xvi.)

The high priest vests this day, not in golden purple robes of Israel's glorious feasts, but in simple, spotless white linen, to typify the sinless Christ divesting himself of the glory he had with the Father before the world was, and offering his human nature for the sins of the members of his race.

Seven days before the feast, the high priest leaves his house, lest his wife might defile him, and takes up his abode in the Palhedren, " The Lord's Chamber," in the Temple. Another priest was chosen to take his place if he fell sick or became defiled. Because, as the Talmud tells us, the Shekina, the cloud, covered Sinai's top for six days, and on the seventh God spoke to Moses from the cloud and gave him the Ten Commandments.

Frequently he must bathe, for Christ and his apostles took a bath before celebrating the Last Supper, preparing for his death. Spotless, stainless must be the vestments of this day to shadow forth the sinless Christ. Jewish history tells us that one time a little saliva fell on the high priest's robe which was a great calamity for him, and another took his place.

1 Fourteen prostrations.

Antiq. B, viii., C. Hi. 8.