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on all sides with covered walks or porticoes, resting upon a double row of columns. In the middle a circular roof rested upon four pillars, and beneath it was the pulpit or reading desk. The people stood upon the open space, which was covered with an awning, and in rainy weather took shelter in the porticoes, one of which was set apart exclusively for the women. The people sat in the western part of the building, with their faces towards the temple, the elders in the opposite part, with their faces to the people. The seats of the elders were considered as more holy than the others, and are spoken of as the "chief seats in the synagogues."
The synagogue was already full when they entered. The reader and expounder of the law sat behind the desk. Before him lay
the rolls of the law, which had just been taken from the ark or chest provided for it behind the seats of the elders. Beside the reader, there was also the ruler of the synagogue, who maintained order, a gatherer of alms, and a servant. The service began by praising God. The reader then went up to the rolls, and read a passage from the law in
Hebrew, and then interpreted it into the SyroChaldaic dialect, which was at that time spoken by the people. The passage which he read was from the prophecy of Isaiah: "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." And when he had closed the book he sat down. Then Selumiel, as any one who chose, not excepting even strangers, might stand up and teach, rose and addressed the assembly.
"Of whom," said he, "speaketh the prophet this? of himself, think ye, or of some other? Surely never did any language such as this find fulfilment in any of our ancient prophets. But this Scripture has been fulfilled, and in your ears. Ye men of Israel, hear these words. In Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know, in him this Scripture was fulfilled. He
preached to the poor; he healed the brokenhearted; he delivered the captives of disease and sin; he restored sight to the blind; he bound up the wounded; he proclaimed repentance and the kingdom of heaven at hand. And though, being delivered by the determinate counsel of God, our rulers took him, and by wicked hands crucified and slew him, yet God raised him up, having loosed the pains of death, by which it was not possible he could be holden, and hath made that same Jesus, both Lord and Christ."
The whole audience was moved; some believed, some mocked, some said, "We will hear thee again of this matter." When the assembly broke up, Selumiel led the little boys through the corner gate without the city wall. The face of the country here was rugged, but the city was more accessible on this part than on any other. Turning down towards the south, they leisurely pursued their way along the hills and dales that skirted the western border of the city. They now approached the Mount of Suffering.
Calvary, or Golgotha (a skull) received its name from its being a place of execution, and the
spot where the dead bodies of malefactors were sometimes exposed unburied. There was nothing to distinguish the spot, but here and there a skull or other bone, which the vultures and beasts of the forest had spared. It was with mournful steps that they ascended the hill.
"Here," said Selumiel, breaking the silence which they had observed, "here our blessed Saviour once fainted under the burden of that "accursed tree,' on which his limbs were soon to be suspended. Here he was led as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. When reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him who judgeth righteously."
They had now reached the summit of the hill. There needed but little imagination in them to conceive of the whole scene of the crucifixion as it actually occurred. The two roads from Bethlehem and Joppa met just at the foot of the hill. From thence it was that the passers by wagged their heads and reviled him; while the priests from the wall witnessed his agonies, and uttered the profane taunt, "He trusted in God, let him deliver him
now if he will have him."
"If thou be the
Christ, come down now from the cross, and we will believe on thee."
With deep emotion and tears, Selumiel described to them the mournful scene. He told them of the malice and bitter envy of the Jews, the indifference and cold cruelty of the Roman soldiers, the anguish of Jesus when he exclaimed, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani, and the divine compassion that breathed in the prayer, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
"But why do I attempt to repeat to you," said Mr. Anderson, "his tender and thrilling description of that scene! Go into your
closets, my dear boys, and read upon your knees the twenty-seventh chapter of Matthew, and if the love of a Saviour has ever touched your hearts, you will need no other description of the Death of JESUS.
"I have now finished the story of Selumiel and his scholars. After spending several ́ weeks at Jerusalem, and visiting all the scenes sacred in Jewish or Christian history, they returned to their native city, and enjoyed