A June Day In Jerusalem -- By: Selah Merrill
BSac 31:123 (July 1874) p. 528
A June Day In Jerusalem1
In the last year, or the last but one, of the decade which immediately preceded our era, all Syria and Palestine were watching anxiously for the issue of a frightful tragedy. Mariamne, descended from the royal family of the Maccabees, the loveliest and most noble of the wives of Herod, had already fallen a victim to his dark suspicion. And now he had been led, by intrigue, to suspect also that his two sons by the murdered queen, Alexander and Aristobulus, who were the pride and joy of the people, were plotting against his life. By intimidation he had succeeded in having a tribunal in Berytus, without their being either seen or heard in the court, sentence them to death. And all the world was now asking if a father could possibly allow his own sons to be executed; and especially two so noble and, without doubt, innocent sons as these. At this moment of anxious suspense, let us place ourselves in Jerusalem, and unroll the panorama of the life of a single day there, as it then was.
It is a working-day of the month Sivan, corresponding to our June. The night, cloudless and starry, had given place to the early and long-continuing dawn. The two divisions of the temple-watch, bearing torches, have met near the apartment where the priestly oblation of unleavened cakes is baked, and exchanged signals that all is in order and readi-
BSac 31:123 (July 1874) p. 529
ness. Those priests who have passed the night in sleep, have arisen and bathed, and clothed themselves in the garments of their office. In that stone apartment, of which a half was occupied as a hall for the meetings of the Sanhedrin, the appointments for service for the approaching day have been assigned by lot. The brazen washbowl which has remained during the night submerged in water, has been taken out, and the priests have washed therein their hands and feet. Now peals forth the first morning call for the city lying below; the priests blow with their trumpets, whose clang in the still morning air rings far out into the upper and lower, the old and new city. The Levites, at the command of the chief of the porters, open all the gates of the Temple. The preparations for the morning service, of which the principal ceremony was the daily sacrifice of a lamb, now begin. The altar of burnt offerings is cleansed; the bundles of wood, placed upon the glowing coals that have been raked together, kindle slowly; the musicians bring their instruments and take them from their cases; the guard is released, and the priests and Levites who served on the preceding day are dismissed. All this has taken place by torch-light. Meanwhile, however, the officer appointed to observe the hours notices the approac...
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