Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 2

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Jesus in the Synagogue


 by Jesus.

The whole country was discussing the execution in Jerusalem of certain adulterers from Galilee who had been denounced by the Herodians. They dwelt upon the fact that sinners in humble life were brought to justice while the great ones went free; and that the accusers themselves, the Herodians, were adherents of the adulterous Herod who had imprisoned John for reproaching him with his guilt. Herod became dispirited. I saw the execution of the adulterers mentioned above. Their crimes were read to them, and then they were thrust into a dungeon in which was a small pit. They were placed at its edge. They fell upon a knife which cut off their heads. In a vault below waited some jailers to drag away the lifeless trunks. It was some kind of a machine into which the condemned were precipitated. It was in this same place that James the Great was exe­cuted at a later period.

On the following day Jesus was again teaching among the harvesters when Andrew, James, and John arrived. Nathanael was at his house in the suburbs of Gennabris. Jesus informed His disciples that He would next go through Samaria to the place of bap­tism on the Jordan. The well of Dothain, at which Joseph was sold, was not far from the field in which Jesus was then teaching.

The people of the place asked whether or not they did rightly in supporting the poor, crippled laborers that could no longer work. Jesus answered that in acting thus they acquitted themselves of a duty, but they should not pride themselves upon it, otherwise they would lose their reward. Then He entered the huts of the sick, cured many of them, bade them attend the instruction and return to their work. They obeyed, praising God.

Jesus then went to the synagogue in Gennabris for the Sabbath. Gennabris was as large as Munster, and about one hour's distance from the mountain


Life of Jesus Christ

 upon whose heights lay the harvest field in which Jesus had last taught. It was situated toward the east on a slope covered with gardens, baths, and plea­sure resorts. On the side by which Jesus arrived, it was defended by deep ditches of standing water. After half an hour Jesus and the disciples reached the walls and tower gates of the city precincts, where were gathered many disciples from the country around. With about twelve of them, Jesus entered the city, where numbers of Pharisees, Sadducees, and especially Herodians had assembled for the Sabbath. They had undertaken with crafty words to entrap Jesus in His speech. They said among themselves that such a project would be more difficult to carry out in small places, since in such Jesus was more daring, but among them the thing could be easily managed. They congratulated themselves beforehand, quite sure of the success of their plans. The crowd present, having been intimidated by these enemies of Jesus, held their peace and made no manifesta­tion upon Jesus' arrival. He entered the city quietly, and the disciples washed His feet outside the syn­agogue. The Doctors of the Law and the people were already assembled inside. They received Him coolly, though with some hypocritical demonstrations of respect, and permitted Him to read aloud and inter­pret the Scriptures. He opened at Isaias 54, 55, 56, from which He read and explained some sentences, treating of God's establishing His Church, of what it cost Him to build it, of the obligation of all to drink of her waters and, though without money, to go and eat of her bread. Men, said Jesus, sought earnestly to satisfy their hunger in the synagogue, but no bread was there to be found. The Word come forth from the mouth of God—namely, the Messiah—should accomplish His work. In the kingdom of God, that is, in the Church, strangers and Gentiles should, if they had faith, labor and bear fruit; Jesus called the Gentiles eunuchs because, unlike the Patriarchs,

Jesus in the Synagogue


 they had not concurred in the lineage of the Mes­siah. He applied numerous texts of the Prophet to His Kingdom, to the Church, and to Heaven. He com­pared the Jewish teachers of His own day to dumb dogs which, instead of keeping guard, think but of fattening themselves, of eating and drinking immod­erately. By these words He meant the Herodians and Sadducees who, lurking in secret, attack people with­out barking, yes, even assault the pastors of the flock. Jesus' words were very sharp and incisive.

Toward the close of His discourse, He read from Deuteronomy 11:29, of the blessing upon Garizim and the curse upon Hebal, and of many other things con­nected with the Commandments and the Promised Land. These different passages Jesus applied to the Kingdom of God.

One of the Herodians stepped up to Him and very respectfully begged Him to say a word upon the num­ber of those that would enter His Kingdom. They thought to entrap Him by this question, because on the one side, all by circumcision had a share in the Kingdom; and on the other, while rejecting many of the Jews, He had spoken even of Gentiles and eunuchs as having a part in it. Jesus did not give them a direct answer. He beat around and at last struck upon a point that made them forget their for­mer question. To another question put to Him, His answer consisted of a series of interrogations: How many of those that had wandered in the desert entered the land of Canaan? Nevertheless, had not all gone through the Jordan? How many really entered into possession of the land? Had they con­quered it entirely, or were they not obliged to share it with the Gentiles? Would they not one day be chased out of it? Jesus added, moreover, that no one should enter into His Kingdom excepting by the nar­row way and the gate of the Spouse. I understood that by this were signified Mary and the Church. In the Church we are regenerated by Baptism; from


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 Mary was the Bridegroom born, in order that through her He might lead us into the Church, and through the Church to God. He contrasted entrance by the gate of the Spouse with entrance through a side door. It was a similitude like unto that of the Good Shep­herd and the hireling (John 10:1 et seq.). He added that entrance is permitted only by the door. The words of Jesus on the Cross before He died, when He called Mary the Mother of John and John the son of Mary, have a mysterious connection with this regeneration of man through His death.

Not having succeeded that evening in ensnaring Jesus, His enemies resolved to postpone further attempts until the close of the Sabbath. It is indeed wonderful! When Jesus' enemies were concocting their schemes, they could boast of how they would catch Him and pin Him down in His doctrine; but as soon as He presented Himself before them, they could bring nothing against Him; they were amazed and almost persuaded of the truth of His words, though at the same time full of rage.

Jesus quietly left the synagogue. They conducted Him to a repast with one of the Pharisees, where, too, they could neither attack nor surprise Him. He spoke here a parable of a feast to which the master of the house had invited the guests at a certain hour, after which the doors were closed and tardy corners were not admitted.

The repast over, Jesus went with the disciples to sleep at the house of another Pharisee, an upright man and an acquaintance of Andrew. He had hon­estly defended those disciples, among them Andrew, who, in consequence of what had happened at the Pasch, had been brought before the court of justice. He had lately become a widower. He was still young, and soon after he joined the disciples. His name was Dinocus, or Dinotus. His son, twelve-years-old, was called Josaphat. His house was to the west and out­side the city. Jesus had come to Gennabris from the

Herod's Anxiety


 south. He had descended the cultivated neighboring heights of Dothain, which lay more to the south than Gennabris, and then secretly turned back to the lat­ter city. The Pharisee's house was on the west side, as I have said, while Nathanael's was on the north toward Galilee.

I saw today that Herod, after John's judicial hear­ing, sent officers to the tumultuous people. They were commissioned to deal very gently with them, to tell them not to be disquieted on John's account, but peaceably to return to their homes. The officers assured them that John was very well and kindly treated. They said, moreover, that Herod had indeed changed his prisoner's cell, but it was only that he might have him nearer to himself. In disobeying the orders given them to disperse quietly, they might cast suspicion upon their master and render his imprisonment more painful. They should therefore go home at once, for he would soon resume his work of baptizing. The messengers from Jesus and John arrived just as Herod's officers were haranguing the crowd, and they too having delivered similar mes­sages, the people scattered by degrees. But Herod was a prey to the greatest anxiety. The execution of the adulterers in Jerusalem had reminded the pub­lic of his own adulterous marriage. They murmured loudly over John's imprisonment for having spoken the truth and maintained the Law, according to which those poor criminals had been put to death in Jerusalem. Herod had moreover heard of Jesus' mir­acles and discourses in Galilee, and it had also reached his ears that He was now coming down to the Jor­dan to teach. He was in great dread lest the excited populace might thereby be still more stirred up. Under the influence of these feelings, I saw him calling a meeting of the Pharisees and Herodians, to deliber­ate upon some means of restraining Jesus. The result of the conference was that he sent eight of the mem­bers to give Jesus to understand in the most deli­cate


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 manner possible that He should confine Him­self, His miracles, and His teaching to Upper Galilee and the far side of the lake; that He should not enter Herod's dominions in Galilee, and still less that part of the country around the Jordan under his jurisdic­tion. They were to intimidate Him with the exam­ple of John, since Herod might easily feel himself constrained to make Him share John's captivity. This commission started for Galilee that same day.

Next morning Jesus again taught in the synagogue and without much contradiction, for His enemies had resolved to wait for the afternoon instruction when they might attack Him all together. He again chose His texts alternately from Isaias and Deuteronomy. Occasion offered to speak of the worthy celebration of the Sabbath, and He dwelt upon it at length. The sick of Gennabris had been so intimidated by the threats of the Herodians that they did not dare to implore Jesus to help them.

Jesus spoke also in the synagogue of the embassy sent by Herod to lie in wait to catch Him in His speech. "When they come," said He, "ye may tell the foxes to take word back to that other fox not to trou­ble himself about Me. He may continue his wicked course and fulfill his designs in John's regard. For the rest, I shall not be restrained by him. I shall continue to teach wherever I am sent in every region, and even in Jerusalem itself when the time comes. I shall fulfill My mission and account for it to My Father in Heaven." His enemies were very much incensed at His words.

In the afternoon Jesus and the disciples left the house of Dinotus the Pharisee, to take a walk. When they reached the gate near which was Nathanael's house, Andrew went in and called him out. He came and presented to Jesus his cousin, a very young man to whom he intended to resign his business, in order to follow Jesus uninterruptedly. I think he attached himself to Jesus irrevocably at that time.

Jesus' Enemies


After their walk, they entered the city at the side upon which the synagogue was situated. About twelve poor day laborers, sick from hard work and priva­tion, having heard of the cure of cases like their own effected by Jesus in the harvest field, had dragged themselves from the country to the city in the hope of receiving a similar favor. They had stationed them­selves in a row outside the synagogue, ready to cry to Jesus for help as He passed. Jesus approached, and said to them in passing some words of comfort. To their entreaties to help them, He bade them have patience. Close behind Him followed the Doctors of the Law, who were enraged that these strangers had dared petition Jesus for a cure since up to this time they had succeeded in restraining the sick of the city from a similar proceeding. They roughly repulsed the poor, miserable creatures, telling them under cloak of a good intention that they must not excite trou­ble and disturbance in the city; that they must take themselves off right away, for Jesus had important questions to treat with themselves; there was now no time for Him to busy Himself with them. And as the poor men could not retire quickly enough to suit their wishes, they had them removed by force.

In the synagogue Jesus taught chiefly of the Sab­bath and its sanctification. The Commandment to that effect was contained in the passage from Isaias read on that day. After teaching some time, He pointed to the deep moats around the city near which their asses were grazing, and asked: "If one of those asses should fall into a moat on the Sabbath day, would ye venture to draw it out on the Sabbath day in order to save its life?" They were silent. "Supposing it was a human being that fell in, would ye venture to help him out?" Still they were silent, "Would ye allow salvation of body and soul to be meted out to yourselves on the Sabbath day? Would ye permit a work of mercy to be performed on the Sabbath day?" Again they were silent. Then said Jesus: "Since ye


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 are silent, I must take it for granted that ye have nothing to oppose to My doctrine. Where are those poor men who implored My help outside the syna­gogue? Bring them hither!" As they whom He addressed showed no inclination to obey, Jesus said: "Since ye will not execute My orders, I shall have recourse to My disciples." At these words, His ene­mies changed their minds, and sent messengers to seek for the sick men. Soon the poor creatures made their appearance, dragging in slowly. It was a piti­ful sight. There were about twelve of them, some lame, and some so frightfully swollen with dropsy that even their puffed-up fingers stood wide apart from one another. They entered rejoicing and full of hope, although they had shortly before departed very sad, on account of the rebuff received from the Doc­tors of the Law.

Jesus commanded them to stand in a line, and it was touching to see the less afflicted placing those worse than themselves in front, that Jesus might cure them first. Jesus descended a couple of steps and called the first up to Him. Most of them were paralyzed in the arms. Jesus silently prayed over them, His eyes raised to Heaven, and touched their arms, gently stroking them downward. Then He moved their hands up and down, and ordered them to step back and give thanks to God. They were cured. The dropsical could scarcely walk. Jesus laid His hand on their head and breast. Their strength instantly returned, they were able to retire briskly, and in a few days the water had entirely disappeared.

During this miraculous healing the people began to press forward in crowds, among them many other poor, sick creatures who, uniting their voices with those of the cured, proclaimed aloud the praises of God. The concourse was so great that the Doctors of the Law, filled with shame and rage, had to give place to the people, and some of them even left the synagogue. Jesus went on instructing the multitude

The Harvest Banquet


 until the close of the Sabbath. He spoke to them of the nearness of the Kingdom, of penance and con­version. The Scribes with all their opposition and cunning had not another word to say. It was extremely ridiculous to see those men, who had so loudly boasted to one another, not once daring to open their mouths. They could not in even the least thing carry their point against Jesus, they could not answer even His simplest question.

After the Sabbath, a great banquet was spread in one of the public pleasure resorts of the city. It was intended to celebrate the close of the harvest, and Jesus with His disciples was invited. The guests were made up of the most distinguished citizens of the place, also many visitors to the city, and even some rich peasants. At several tables, laden with the prod­ucts of the harvest, all kinds of fruit and grain and even poultry were eaten. Whatever had yielded an abundant crop was here represented with profusion. The flocks also yielded their share to the en­tertainment. Some of the animals were roasted ready to be eaten, while others were slaughtered and ready for cooking, as symbols of abundance.

The first places had been assigned to Jesus and His disciples, notwithstanding which, a haughty Phar­isee had put himself foremost. When Jesus went to the table, He asked him in a low voice how he had come by the place that he occupied. The Pharisee replied: "I am here because it is the praiseworthy custom of this city for the learned and distinguished to sit first." Jesus responded: "They that strive after the first places upon earth, shall have no place in the Kingdom of My Father." The Pharisee, quite ashamed, resigned the seat for a lower one, though at the same time he tried to make it appear that he did so on an inspiration of his own. During the repast Jesus spoke of some things regarding the Sabbath, especially of that passage of Isaias 58:7: "Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the


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 harborless into thy house," and asked whether it was not customary at such feasts, feasts of thanksgiving for a plentiful harvest, to invite the poor as guests and let them take part. He expressed His surprise at their having omitted that custom. "Where," He asked, "are the poor?" "Since," He continued, "ye have invited Me, have given Me the first place, have made Me the Master of your feast, it behooves Me to see about the guests that have a right to be present. Go, call in those people that I cured, and bring all the rest of the poor!" But as they were in no hurry to fulfill Jesus' commands, His disciples hastened out and collected the poor in all the streets. They soon came trooping in, and Jesus and the disciples gave up their seats to them, while the Scribes, one by one, slipped out of the hall. Jesus, the disciples, and some right-minded people among the guests served the poor at table. When their meal was over, they divided among them all that was left, to the great joy of the recipients. Then Jesus and His followers returned to the house of Dinotus the Pharisee on the west side of the city, and there rested.

The next day crowds of sick from Gennabris itself and from the country around came to the house at which Jesus was staying, and He devoted the whole morning to their cure. They were mostly paralyzed in their hands and dropsical. The son of the Phar­isee Dinotus, at whose house Jesus was stopping, was about twelve years old, and was named Jos­aphat. When his father gave up all to follow Jesus, he accompanied him. The Jewish boys wore a long tunic gored on both sides, buttoned in front and laced down to the feet. When more grown, they exchanged the long tunic for a shorter one like those of their elders, and bound their limbs in something like pan­taloons. When the boys' tunic was girded at the waist, it hung in gathers; but it was usually worn flowing like a loose shirt, though often it was tucked up a little. When Jesus took leave of Dinotus, He pressed



 him to His Heart, and the man shed many tears.

Jesus with Nathanael, Andrew, James, Saturnin, Aristobolus, Tharzissus, Parmenas, and about four other disciples, went between two to three hours southward through the valleys. They spent the night under an empty shed belonging to the harvesters, on a declivity between two cities. The one on the left was called Ulama; that to the right was, I think, named Japhia. The distance between Ulama and Tarichaea was about the same as between Gennabris and Tiberias. The city to the right was less elevated than Bethulia, and was at a good distance from it, but to one far away, the mountain between them not being visible, Bethulia appeared to rise above and directly behind Japhia. The locality seemed to lie quite near to Jesus' route as He journeyed along, but the road soon made a bend that hid it from sight.

That field in which Jesus instructed the harvesters was the very same in which Joseph met his brethren with their herds, and the long four-cornered well the same into which he was let down.

12. Jesus in Abelmahula

Next morning Jesus left the shed under which He had passed the night, and journeyed with His disci­ples about five hours to the south. It was almost two o'clock when they reached the little city Abelmahula, where the Prophet Eliseus was born. It lay on one of the heights of Mount Hermon, its towers rising to the summit of the mountain ridge. It was only a cou­ple of hours from Scythopolis, and to the west ran the valley of Jezrael. With the city of Jezrael itself, Abelmahula lay in a straight line. Not far from Abelmahula, and nearer the Jordan, was the town of Bezech. Samaria was several hours to the south­west. Abelmahula was in or upon the confines of Samaria, but inhabited by Jews.

Jesus and His disciples sat down on the resting


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 place outside the city, as travelers in Palestine were accustomed to do. Hospitable people from the city used then to take them to their houses for enter­tainment. And thus it happened now. Some people going by recognized Jesus. They had seen Him once before when He was journeying through these parts at the feast of Tabernacles. They hurried into the city and spread the news. Soon out came a well-to-do peasant with his servants, bringing to Jesus and the disciples bread and honey and something to drink. He invited them into his house, and they followed him. They having arrived there, he washed their feet and provided them with fresh garments while their own were being shaken and brushed. Then he or­dered a repast straightaway to be prepared, and to it he invited several Pharisees with whom he was on good terms. They soon made their appearance. The host showed himself hospitable and friendly to a degree, though he was a rascal in disguise. He wanted to be able to boast before the people of the city that he had entertained the Prophet in his house, and to offer to the Pharisees an opportunity to sound Jesus. They thought they could do that better when alone with Him at table than in the synagogue before the people.

But hardly was the table set when all the sick of the place, all that were able to be moved, appeared before the house and gathered together in the court­yard—to the great displeasure of the owner, as well as of the Pharisees. The former hurried out to drive them away, but Jesus, turning from the table with the words: "I have other food after which My soul hungers," followed, His disciples after Him, and began curing the sick. There were among them several pos­sessed who set up a shout after Jesus. He cured them with a glance and a word of command. Many others were lame in one or both hands. Jesus passed His hand down their arms and raised them up and down. On the head and breast of the dropsical He laid His

Jesus Cures the Sick


 hand. Others were consumptive, others were covered with small, though not infectious sores. Some He ordered to bathe. To others He commanded certain works, and told them that they would be perfectly well in a few days. Far in the background, and lean­ing against the wall for support, stood several women afflicted with an issue of blood. They were veiled and, in their shame, ventured only now and then to cast a sidelong glance toward Jesus. When they raised a fold of their veil for this purpose, the countenance disclosed bore signs of suffering. At last Jesus approached them, touched and cured them, and they cast themselves at His feet.

The whole crowd set up shouts of joy and intoned hymns of thanksgiving. The Pharisees inside had closed all the doors and windows of the house. They sat down to table vexed and disappointed, but jumped up from time to time to peep through the lattice. The work of healing went on for so long that, when they wanted to go home, they were forced to pass through the courtyard filled with the sick, the cured, and the exulting crowd. The sight stabbed them to the very heart. The crowd became at last so great that Jesus had to take refuge in the house until they had dispersed.

It was already dusk when five Levites presented themselves to invite Jesus and the disciples to pass the night in the schoolhouse over which they presided. The guests of the pharisaical peasant took leave of him with thanks for his hospitality. Jesus gave him a short exhortation before leaving, and made use of an expression similar to those He had used among the Herodians, something about foxes. But the man preserved his friendly exterior. Jesus and the disci­ples partook of a little luncheon in the schoolhouse. They slept in a long corridor on which carpets had been spread, their couches separated from one another by movable screens. There was a boys' school in one part of the building, and in another, young


Life of Jesus Christ

 pagan girls desirous of embracing Judaism received thorough instruction. This school was in existence even in Jacob's time. When Jacob was persecuted in diverse ways by Esau, Rebecca sent him secretly to Abelmahula where he owned herds and servant, and dwelt in tents. Rebecca established there a school for the young Canaanite girls and other Gentile maid­ens. Like Esau, his children, his servants, and oth­ers of Isaac's family intermarried with these Gentiles. Rebecca, who held such alliances in abhorrence, had the young girls that desired it instructed in this school in the customs and religion of Abraham. The ground on which the school was built belonged to her.

Jacob long remained hidden at Abelmahula. When Rebecca was questioned as to his whereabouts, she used to answer that he was far away herding flocks for strangers. At times he returned secretly to see her, but on Esau's account she had to keep him hid­den. Jacob dug a well near Abelmahula, the same by which Jesus had been seated before entering the city. The people held it in great reverence and always kept it covered. He had also made a cistern in the neighborhood. It was long, four-cornered, and had a flight of steps leading down into it. Later on, Jacob's abode became known. Rebecca noticed that, like Esau, her younger son was likely to espouse a Canaanite wife, so she and Isaac sent him to her native place to his Uncle Laban, where he served for Rachel and Lia.

Rebecca had established the school so far from her own home in the land of Heth because Isaac had so many quarrels with the Philistines, who did all in their power to ruin him. She had confided the direction of the school to a man from her own coun­try, Mesopotamia, and to her nurse who, I think, was his wife. The young girls dwelt in tents and were instructed in all that a wife in a migratory household of the pastoral times ought to know. They

Rebecca's School at Abelmahula


 learned the religion of Abraham and the special duties of wives of his race. They had gardens in which they planted all kinds of running vines, such as gourds, melons, cucumbers, and a kind of grain. They had very large sheep whose milk was used for food. They were taught also to read, but this as well as writing came very hard to them. The writing of those days was done in a very strange way on thick brown tablets, not on rolls of skin as in later times, but upon the bark of trees. I saw them peeling it off, and burning the letters into it. They had a lit­tle box full of zigzag compartments, which I saw shining on the surface, and filled with all kinds of metal signs. These the writer heated in a flame and burnt one after another into the bark tablet. I saw the fire in which they heated the metal. It was the same as that used for boiling, roasting, and baking, also for giving light. Upon seeing it used in this last way, I thought: "They do indeed place their light here under a bushel." In a vessel, whose form reminded me of the headdress that many of the pagan idols wore, there burned a black mass. A hole was bored in the middle of it, for the passage of air, perhaps. The little round towers encircling the ves­sel were hollow, and into them some part of the cook­ing could be placed. Over the pan of coals, something like a cover was turned upside down. It was taper­ing toward the top and pierced by a number of holes. On this, too, was a circle of little towers in which things could be warmed. All around this bushel-like cover were openings with sliding screens. When they wanted light, all they had to do was to open one of these little windows and the glare from the flame shone forth. They always opened them toward the quarter from which no draught came, a precaution very necessary in tents. Below the coal pan, was a little place for ashes in which they could bake flat cakes, and on top of the whole arrangement water could be boiled in shallow vessels. This they drew


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 off for bathing, washing, and cooking. They could also broil and roast on these stoves. They were thin and light, could be carried on journeys, and easily moved from place to place. It was over such stoves that the metal letters were heated before being burnt into the tablets of bark.

The people of Canaan had black hair and were darker than Abraham and his countrymen, who were of a ruddy, olive complexion. The costume of the Canaanite women was different from that of the daughters of Israel. They wore a wide tunic of yel­low wool down to the knee. It consisted of four pieces which could be drawn together by a running string below the knee, thus forming a kind of wide pan­talet. It was not bound around the upper part of the limbs like that of the Jewish women, but its wide folds fell front and back from the waist to the knee. The upper part of the body was covered with a sim­ilarly doubled lappet that fell over the breast and back. The pieces were bound together on the shoul­ders, forming a sort of wide scapular, likewise open on both sides and fastened around the waist with a belt, above which it hung loose like a sack. The whole costume from shoulder to knee looked like a wide sack bound at the waist and ending abruptly below the latter. The feet were sandaled and the lower limbs wound crosswise with straps, through the open­ings of which the skin could be seen. The arms were covered with pieces of fine, transparent stuff which, by several shining metal rings, were formed into a sleeve. They wore on the head a pointed cap of lit­tle feathers, from the top of which hung something like the crest of a helmet ending in a large tuft. These people were beautiful and well-made, but much more ignorant than the Children of Israel. Some of them had long mantles also, narrow above and wide below. The women of Israel wore over a kind of ban­dage wrapped around the body a long tunic, and lastly a long gown fastened in front with buttons.

Rebecca's School


 They wound their heads in a veil or with several rows of ruffs, such as are worn nowadays around the neck.

I saw that they studied in Rebecca's time the reli­gion of Abraham: the creation of the world, about Adam and Eve and their entrance into Paradise, Eve's seduction by Satan, and the Fall of the first man and woman by their violation of the abstinence com­manded them by God. By the eating of the forbid­den fruit arose sinful appetites in man. The young girls were taught also that Satan had promised our first parents a divine illumination and knowledge, but that after sin they were blinded. A film was drawn over their eyes; they lost the gift of vision they had possessed. Now they had to labor in the sweat of their brow, bring forth children in pain, and with difficulty acquire the knowledge of which they had need. They learned, too, that to the woman a son was promised who should crush the serpent's head. They were taught about Abel and Cain and the latter's descendants, who became degenerate and wicked. The sons of God, seduced by the beauty of the daughters of men, formed unions with them from which sprang a mighty, godless race of giants, pow­erful in enchantment and the art of magic, a race that discovered and taught to others all kinds of pleasure and false wisdom, all that buried the soul in sin and tore it away from God, a race that had so seduced and corrupted men that God resolved to destroy them all with the exception of Noe and his family. This people had fixed their principal abode on a high mountain range up which they ever pressed higher and higher. But in the Deluge that mountain was submerged, and a sea now covers its site. They (the scholars of Rebecca's school) learned also all about the Deluge, about Noe's escape in the ark, about Sem, Cham, and Japhet, about Cham's sin, and the reiterated wickedness of men at the Tower of Babel. They were told of the building of that Tower,


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 of its destruction, of the confusion of tongues, and of the dispersion of men now become enemies to one another. All this recalled to the youthful minds of the scholars the impiety of the giants on that high mountain, those wicked, powerful men, those deal­ers in witchcraft, and they saw the fatal consequences of unions forbidden by the Law of God. Necromancy and idolatry were practiced likewise at the Tower of Babel.

By such teachings were the converted Gentile maidens warned against alliances with idolaters, idle efforts after necromancy and the hidden arts, against the seductions of the world, sensual delights, vain adornments—in a word, against all that did not lead to God. They were taught to look upon such things as tending to those sins on whose account God had once destroyed mankind. They were, on the other hand, instructed in the fear of God, obedience, sub­jection, and in the faithful, simple exercise of all duties devolving upon the pastoral life. They were also taught the Commandments that God gave to Noe, for instance, abstinence from uncooked meat. They learned of God's having made choice of the race of Abraham, to make of his descendants His chosen people from whom the Redeemer was to be born. For this purpose He had called Abraham from the land of Dr, and had set him apart from the infi­del races. They were told of God's sending white men to Abraham, that is, men who appeared white and luminous. These men had confided to Abraham the Mystery of God's Blessing, owing to which his pos­terity was to be great above all the nations of the earth. The transmitting of that Mystery they referred to only in general terms, as of a Blessing from which Redemption should spring. They were told also about Melchisedech's being a white man like those sent to Abraham, of his sacrifice of bread and wine, and of his blessing Abraham. The chastisement inflicted by God upon Sodom and Gomorrha formed a part of

Rebecca's School


 the instruction given.

When Jesus visited the school, the young girls were computing a chronological table upon the coming of the Messiah. All agreed in their reckoning, which brought the result down to their own time. Just at that moment, in stepped Jesus and His disciples, a circumstance that produced a very powerful impres­sion upon the scholars. Jesus took up the subject then engrossing their attention, and explained to them with the utmost clearness that the Messiah was already come, though not yet recognized. He spoke of the unknown Messiah, and of the signs that were to herald His coming, and that had already been ful­filled. Of the words: "A virgin shall bring forth a son," Jesus spoke only in veiled terms, since those children were too young to comprehend them. He exhorted them to rejoice that they lived in a time after which the Patriarchs and Prophets had so long sighed. He dwelt upon the persecutions and suffer­ings the Messiah was to endure, and explained some texts of Prophecy to that effect. He told them to be on the watch for what would take place in Jericho at the approaching feast of Tabernacles. He spoke of miracles, and particularly of the curing of the blind. He made for them also a chronology of the Messiah, spoke of John and of the baptism, asked whether they too wanted to be baptized, and, lastly, related to them the parable of the lost drachma.

The girls sat in school cross-legged, sometimes with one knee raised. Each was provided with a kind of table and bench combined. She leaned sideways against the one, and when writing, supported her roll on the other. They often stood while listening to the instruction given them.

In the house at which Jesus put up there was also a boys' school. It was a kind of orphanage, an insti­tution for the education of children abandoned by their parents. There were some of Jewish parentage who had been rescued from slavery, in which they


Life of Jesus Christ

 had grown up without instruction in the religion of their forefathers. Both Pharisees and Sadducees taught in the school. Little girls also were received, the youngest of whom received instruction from the larger ones.

At the moment of Jesus' entrance into this school, the boys were making some calculation connected with Job. As they could not readily do it, Jesus explained it and wrote it down for them in letters. He also explained to them something relating to mea­sure, two hours of distance or time, I do not now know which. He explained much of the Book of Job. Some of the rabbis at this period attacked the truth of the history therein contained, since the Edomites, to which race Herod belonged, bantered and ridiculed the Jews for accepting as true the history of a man of the land of Edom, although in that land no such man was ever known to exist. They looked upon the whole story as a mere fable, gotten up to encourage the Israelites under their afflictions in the desert. Jesus related Job's history to the boys as if it had really happened. He did so in the manner of a Prophet and Catechist, as if He saw all passing before Him, as if it were His own history, as if He heard and saw everything connected with it, or as if Job himself had told it to Him. His hearers knew not what to think. Who was this Man that now addressed them? Was He one of Job's contemporaries? Or was He an angel of God? Or was He God Himself? But the boys did not wonder long about it, for they soon felt that Jesus was a Prophet, and they associated Him with Melchisedech, of whom they had heard and of whose origin man knows not. Jesus spoke likewise of the signification of salt. He made it clear by a parable, and related that of the Prodigal Son. The Pharisees arrived during Jesus' instructions, and were highly displeased to find Him applying to Himself all the signs and Prophecies quoted by Him in reference to the Messiah.

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 2

This document is: ACE_2_0281

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