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
On Titus' Arch in the upper part of the Roman Forum are sculptured figures of the golden candlestick, and the golden mortars in which the incense was bruised. The candlestick stood to the south, at the priests' left hand, at the north was the table of proposition bread, and between them, facing the great veil, before the awful Holy of Holies, was the gold altar of incense. It was about eighteen inches square, and three feet high, and had " horns," at each corner forming a cross. The table was of solid gold, and the four edges were surrounded with a gold balustrade to prevent the coals and incense from falling off. In the middle below the table suspended from the four feet was a massive gold crown.
The incense burned on this altar was prepared of the four materials mentioned in Exodus xxx. 34, and the Kabbis say seven other materials were mixed with them. A small quantity of Ambra, and a herb which gave out a dense smoke, and salt were added. The Abtinas, family had preserved the secret of making this mixture and enjoyed the monopoly. The greatest care was used in thoroughly bruising and mixing the incense, three hundred and sixty-eight pounds being made at once, about half a pound being used at the morning, and the same at the evening service. Incense thus mixed was a type of Christ filled with the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Ghost, (Isaias xi. 2) and the smoke ascending up before the Lord each day from the Holies, and on the great day of the Atone ment from the Holy of Holies, showed forth Jesus Christ in heaven offering the prayers of the Saints in the heavenly Eternal Sanctuary. (Apoc, iv)
Deep silence falls on the vast congregation, Caiphas, gives the sign, and the priest alone within the Holies lays the burning coals on the altar, and places the incense on them, and the smoke and beautiful perfume fill the sacred building. The priest bows deeply down before the awful majesty of God dwelling behind the great veil in the Holy of Holies, and prays as he reverently walks backward. (Tamid VI, 8 ) Then from every lip of the vast congregation of priests, Levites and people of Israel, rose the murmur of prayer, as with bowed heads and clasped hands they said:
"True it is that thou art Jehovah, our God, and the God of our fathers; our King, and the King of our fathers; our Saviour and the Saviour of our fathers; our Maker and the Rock of our salvation, our Help and our Deliverer. Thy name is from everlasting, and there is no God beside thee. A new song did they that were delivered sing to thy name; by the seashore together did all praise and own thee as King, and say Jehovah shall reign who saveth Israel.
"Be graciously pleased, Jehovah, our God, with thy people Israel, and with their prayer. We praise thee, who art Jehovah, our God, and the God of our fathers, the God of all flesh, our Creator, and the Creator from the beginning. Blessing and praise be to thy great and holy name, that thou hast preserved us in life and kept us. So preserve us and keep us, and gather the scattered ones into thy holy courts to keep thy statutes, and to do thy good pleasure, and to serve thee with our whole hearts, as this day we confess thee, Blessed be the Lord unto whom belongeth praise.
"Appoint peace, goodness, and blessing; grace, mercy, and compassion for us, and for all Israel, thy people, Bless us, O our Father, all of us as one, with the light of thy countenance. For in the light of thy countenance hast thou, O Jehovah, our God, given us the law of life, and loving mercy, and justice, and blessing, and compassion, and life, and peace. And may it please thee to bless thy people Israel at all times, and at every house with thy peace. May we and all thy people Israel be remembered and written before thee in the book of life, with blessing, and peace, and support. Blessed be Thou, O Jehovah, who blessest thy people Israel with peace."
The prayers having ended, the priest who had trimmed the seven-branched candlestick again enters the Holies and lights the two lamps on it left unlit from the beginning. With the incensing priest, he takes his place on the top of the,steps leading from the Priests' Court to the Holies. The great organ, the Magrephah, sounds, (Maimonides.) the other two priests, who had assisted the incensing priest, still carrying the vessels of their ministry, gather on the top of the steps leading up to the Holies and he on whom the fourth " lot " had fallen, ascends the steps leading to the great altar from the south, and they hand him the pieces of the sacrificed lamb. Each piece he offers to the Lord in the form of a cross. He lays his hands on them with a prayer and throws them on the fire. He arranges them in order to imitate the living animal and sprinkles them with the blood. The fire burns and roasts them till they resemble the flesh of Jesus Christ flagellated and consumed with the fire of the Holy Ghost, when he lay dead to fulfil these striking types and figures of Himself.
Now all these priests on the steps hold up their hands like Moses praying, forming with them a cross as the celebrant praying at our altars, and the high priest Caiphas with all the other priests pray, saying:
"Jehovah bless thee, and keep thee. May the Shekinah show his face to thee and have mercy on thee. May Jehovah turn his countenance to thee and give thee peace." (Numb. vi. 24-36.)
The people: " Blessed be Jehovah, God, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting."
At the dread name of Jehovah they all cover their faces with the ends of the prayer-shawls and prostrate themselves. Now they bring the meat-offering, mixing oil with it, and salting it as the law directed, and, lay it on the fire. They offer the high-priest's daily offerings of twelve cakes broken in halves, twelve half cakes are offered in the morning, and the other twelve half cakes were for the evening sacrifice. Now the appropriate drink-offering is poured out at the foundations of the altar, the music begins again during the singing of the Psalm which closed the service.
The priests, who stood at the right and left of the marble table, where the fat of the sacrifices was laid at the north of the great altar, blow .three blasts on their silver trumpets—the first signifying the Kingdom of God, the second blast God's Providence over the world, and the last, the last Judgment. (Baracoth. 12, 2.) Not less than two nor more than one hundred and twenty priests could take part in this ceremony, the latter being the number who took part in the dedication of the first Temple. (II. Paralip. v. 12.)
The priests and Levites now take their places, the first in the Priest's Court facing the people towards the east, standing around the great altar and on the steps leading up to the Holies, and the Levites crowd the steps of the Nicanor Gate facing the priests towards the west. When Caiphas gave the signal, the priests moved towards the one who struck the cymbals, and thus they began the psalm of the day, with the organ leading, and the musical instruments playing. Sons of Levites with their high treble voices, young men singing tenor, their fathers sustaining with their deep bass, formed the choir. It was like the plain chant of our churches, to which it gave rise.