Tuesday, 29 March 2016

The tragedy of Calvary. Part 61.

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

The chief of the course, with the heads of families, used to recline on couches in the Beth-ha-Moked, where it was warm. It was built partly in the Choi, for no one but a Prince of the royal house of David was allowed to sit down in the Priest's' Court of the Temple proper. The "captain of the Temple " made his rounds from time to time during the night, and if he caught any one sleeping he would set fire to his garments. In the early morning all the priests and Levites took a bath in the great brazen cauldron, for no one could serve till he had bathed. Underground passages led to the high priest's private bath-rooms. At the rising of the sun, the priests stationed on Mount Olivet would blow their trumpets, and at the sound the captain of the Temple knocked on the doors saying: " All ye who have washed come and cast lots. (1 Mishna Tamid, I. i. 2.)

It is still dark, and each carrying a torch or candle, they follow the superintendent through a wicker gate and there divide—one band goes to the east, the other to the west, on an examination tour, till they meet in the chamber, where the high priest's daily meat-offering is prepared, where they report "All is well, All is well." There a band is detailed to prepare the high priest's offerings, while the rest pass into the Hall of Polished Stones to draw lots for the priests to officiate that day. Around the superintendent they stand in a circle, he removes the miter of one to show that he will begin counting from him, and they all hold out one or more fingers and the superintendent calls out a number, say seventy, counting fingers, and the one on whose finger the number seventy falls is chosen.

In former days any one, or the first priests who came, carried out the service. But once two rushing up the stairs, one pushed the other off and broke his leg At another time while two were running into the Temple, one priest stabbed the other to death. Then the Beth Din established the custom of choosing them by lot. God punished David for numbering the people, and so they counted by fingers.

Priests of the first lot cleaned the ashes from the great altar, "the Ariel," the thirteen priests chosen by the second lot cleaned the altar in the Holies, cared for the lamps of the great gold candlestick, sacrificed the victims and prepared the offerings of wine and oil. Those of the third lot offered the incense with the officiating priest, while those chosen by the fourth lot, nine to twelve forming this band, took the victims to the great altar on Sabbaths and Feasts. The victims might be killed, skinned or cut up by laymen, for lay Romans and Edumeans scourged and crucified Christ.

Preliminaries over, the priests again gather for the second " lot," to choose the priest to lead the service that day. He chooses twelve assistant priests to stand beside him, and sends a priest to mount the " Temple tower," from whence the demon asked Christ to cast himself down. (Matt. iv. 5.) Mounting the tower as the day dawns, he hears the trumpets blown by the watchers on Olivet, returns and reports:

"The morning shineth already."
"Is the sky lit up as far as Hebron ?" 

If so the preparations for the morning service begin. Hundreds of beeswax candles are lighted, each with a prayer. The Women's Court was brilliantly illuminated on Sabbaths and Feasts. ( Says the Mishna, Jer. Suk. 55, 53 a.) Jewish writers say this light foretold " the coming days of the Messiah." The Midrash explains that the light of the seven-branched candle stick ever burning in the Holies, typified the Messiah, who would " kindle for them the Great Light," " the Light of the nations." The Midrash calls him: "the Lord our righteousness," " the Branch," " The Comforter," " the Shiloh," " the Compassion," "the Enlightener." This is why Simeon said of the Child Jesus presented in the Temple: " A light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel." (Luke ii. 32.) St. John writes " And the life was the light of men, and the light shineth in darkness." (John i. 4, 5.) and the prophets foretold him as the "Light," the Messiah who was to come.

The Rabbis taught that God gave Moses the law relating to the Phylacteries, or Tephillin, on Mount Sinai, that these laws and customs had come down to them by tradition. They held them to be more sacred than the gold plate bearing the ineffable words of, " Holy to Jehovah," worn by the high priest on his forehead when pontificating. For while the gold fillet on his brow held engraved the sacred name only once, the parchment in closed in the leathern capsule of the Phylactery contained the name Jehovah twenty-three times; that the rules regarding the wearing of them were given before the Aaronic priesthood was established, that the command to wear them equaled all the other commandments, and that God Almighty and the angels wore them in heaven. (Bar. 6 A.) We know how Christ reproved them for their exaggerations relating to the Phylacteries. (Matt, xxiii. 5,)

The men of the congregation brought their Phylacteries, the strict Pharisees wearing very large ones, displayed in an ostentatious manner, to show how pious they were. Now the men put on their Phylacteries on their heads, tying the leather bands or strings around the brows in the form of the Hebrew letter Tau, forming a cross, and letting them fall down behind like the bands or ribbons of the bishop's miter, to which perhaps they gave rise Now they bind the other Phylactery on their left arm, so the capsule with the prayer will be above the elbow next the heart. (Matt. xiii. 5, etc.) These were the " Prayer Fillets," or the "Tephillin, worn by every strict Jew all down the centuries till our day. The band was wound seven times around the left arm, and three times around the two middle fingers of the left hand. Some hold that this Phylactery on the left hand gave rise to the maniple on the left arm when saying Mass in the Latin, Greek and other Rites.

Putting the Phylactery on the head they all recited this prayer: "Blessed art Thou, our God, King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments, and hast commanded us to lay the Tephillin."

Winding the Retsuah, the long leather strap, around the arm and fingers they say:

"And I will betroth thee unto me forever, yea I will betroth thee unto me in justice, and in judgment, and in loving kindness, and in mercy. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness, and thou shalt know the Lord."

Then they all vest themselves with the prayer-shawl, called the Tallith, which gave rise to the stole in the Christian Church. It was like a narrow band placed on the neck and shoulders with the ends hanging down in front; these ends had tassels of colored strings woven in a mystic manner. The little strings on the stole are a survival of the " borders" on the vestment worn by the Jews. These prayers also gave rise to the prayers the celebrant says when putting on the vestments before Mass. Each Jew recited the following words.

"I here enwrap myself in this fringed robe, in the fulfilment of the command of my Creator, as it is written in the Law, They shall make them fringes upon the corners of their garments through their generations. And even as I cover myself with the Tallith in this world so may my soul deserve to be clothed with a beauteous spiritual robe in the world to come, in the garden of Eden. Amen."