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in sight of the wall and towers, Selumiel repeated the words of the psalm,
"Walk about Zion, go round about her!
That ye may tell it to the generation following.
They had now reached the palace of SoloThis had once been the most magnificent and splendid palace of the east. But it had been so often plundered, and time had so injured it in some parts, and so frequent repairs had been made, that it retained none of its original glory. It had occupied thirteen years in building. A causeway had been made over the valley of Cheesemongers, which separated Zion from Mount Moriah. In it was a vast hall for public business, called, from its cedar pillars, the house of the forest of Lebanon. It was one hundred and seventyfive feet long, eighty-seven and a half in width, and fifty feet high. The roof was supported by four rows of cedar columns. There were three rows of windows on each side. Besides this hall, there were others, porches, women's apartments, &c., and the whole was surrounded with spacious and elegant gardens.
The kings of Judah had ever been ambitious to preserve and adorn this splendid palace; and Herod the Great, whose temple was in some respects more splendid than Solomon's, had lavished immense sums in enlarging and adorning this ancient palace. When Selumiel visited it, it was surrounded by a wall thirtyfive feet high, which was adorned by towers at equal distances, and by spacious barrackrooms, with one hundred beds each. It was paved with every variety of rare marble. The chambers were countless, adorned with all kinds of figures, the richest furniture, and vessels of gold and silver. There were numerous cloisters and squares within of beautiful verdure; around were groves and avenues, with fountains, and statues pouring out the water.
"There," said Selumiel, "once dwelt the richest and most voluptuous monarch of the east; he, in whose reign, silver was in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar trees as sycamores;' whose commerce with the east was with Ophir, and whose merchandise was brought from Tarshish, on the west. There dwelt the man who made himself great
works, and builded him houses, and planted him vineyards, and made him gardens and orchards, and pools of water, and got him servants and maidens, and men-singers, and women-singers, and the delights of the sons of men, musical instruments, and that of all sorts, and withheld not his heart from any joy, and, when he looked upon all that his hands had wrought, exclaimed, 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'
Learn wisdom then,
my dear boys, from the experience of Solomon. Covet not riches, nor honours, nor pleasures but like him, in his youth and innocence, choose wisdom; for wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom, and with all your gettings, get understanding. O that Solomon had obeyed the exhortation of his father, which he has recorded in the fourth chapter of Proverbs. Then might he have been saved from that awful apostasy, and those dreadful abominations that marked the close of his reign. Its effects you have already witnessed in the valley of the son of Hinnom."
The scenes they had witnessed were calculated to make a deep impression on the
minds of the boys, of the instability and vanity of earthly things. Selumiel improved the opportunity of inculcating upon them the importance of seeking wisdom and knowledge in preference to every thing else. He related to them many interesting anecdotes respecting the wisdom of Solomon, which the Jews had carefully recorded. Among others he related the following, which is recorded by the Rabbins in the Talmud, and which, whether it be true or not, is so beautiful, that I will repeat it :
"The power of Solomon had spread his wisdom to the remotest parts of the known world. Queen Sheba, attracted by the splendour of his reputation, visited this poetical king at his own court; there, one day to exercise the sagacity of the monarch, Sheba presented herself at the foot of the throne; in each hand she held a wreath; the one was composed of natural, the other of artificial flowers. Art had exquisitely emulated the lively hues of nature; so that at the distance it was held by the queen for the inspection of the king, it was deemed impossible for him to decide, as her question imported, which wreath was
the production of nature, and which the work of art. The sagacious Solomon seemed perplexed; yet to be vanquished, though in a trifle, by a trifling woman, irritated his pride. The son of David, he who had written treatises on the vegetable productions from the cedar to the hyssop,' to acknowledge himself outwitted by a woman, with shreds of paper and glazed paintings! The honour of the monarch's reputation for divine sagacity seemed diminished, and the whole Jewish court looked solemn and melancholy. At length an expedient presented itself to the king; and it must be confessed worthy of the naturalist. Observing a cluster of bees hovering about a window, he commanded that it should be opened; it was opened; the bees rushed into the court, and alighted immediately on one of the wreaths, while not a single one fixed on the other. The baffled Sheba had one more reason to be astonished at the wisdom of Solomon."
"Are any remains of the palaces of Solomon and David to be seen still on Mount Zion?" inquired William Appleton.
None," replied Mr. Anderson. "The fol