Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 2

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 limited. Ramoth was built in terraces on a hill behind which, in a little vale flanked by a steep, rocky wall, was the quarter of the city inhabited by the pagans. They had a temple. One could always recognize their abodes by the figures erected on the roofs. On the roof of this temple was a whole group. The central figure wore a crown and stood in a reservoir or foun­tain, holding a basin in its hand. Around it were sev­eral figures of children dipping up the water and pouring it from one to another until at last it fell into the basin held by the middle finger.

The cities in this region were more beautiful, more neatly built than the old Jewish ones. The streets were laid off in the form of a star, all verging to a central point, and the extremities were rounded, thus making the circumference assume something of a zigzag form, as did also the city walls. Ramoth-Galaad was formerly a city of refuge for criminals. (Deut. 4:43, Jos. 20:8). There was a large solitary building in which they were lodged, but at the time of Jesus' visit it had fallen to ruin and appeared to be no longer used. They made tapestry here, embroidered with fig­ures of all kinds of animals and flowers, partly for trade, and partly for the use of the temple. I saw numbers of women and young maidens working at it in long tents. The costume of the people resembled more the patriarchal style, and they were very clean. Their clothing was of fine wool.

Jesus assisted at a solemn memorial feast of the sacrifice of Jephte's daughter. He went with His disciples and the Levites to a beautiful open square outside the city to the east where preparations for the festival had been made. The inhabitants of Ramoth-Galaad were already assembled and ranged in large circles. Here were still the hill and the altar upon which Jephte's daughter was immolated. In front of it was a semicircle of grassy seats for the maidens, and nearby were seats for the Levites and magistrates of the city. All went in a long and orderly


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 procession to their places. The young girls of Ramoth and many from the neighboring cities assisted at the feast in robes of mourning. One young girl, clothed in white and veiled, personated Jephte's daughter herself. A troop of others clad in somber robes, their faces veiled to the chin and wearing black, fringed sashes on the forearm, represented her lamenting companions. Tiny girls scattering flowers and play­ing on little flutes mournfully headed the proces­sion in which three lambs were led. The ceremonies were long and of the most touching nature. They comprehended different parts, chanting, religious instructions, and representations of the sad drama, while Psalms and songs commemorative of it were sung. The maiden that personated Jephte's daugh­ter was comforted and lamented in chorus by her companions, though she herself was sighing only after death. Among the Levites also in some of the choirs of singers, there seemed to be held a con­ference upon the heroine's fate; but she presented herself before them and in earnest words begged to be allowed to accomplish the vow. They made use of different rolls of writing in the different scenes, some parts being recited from memory, others read from the rolls.

Jesus took an active part in the celebration. He personated the supreme Judge, or High Priest, and besides the speeches assigned His role, He delivered instructions before and during the ceremonies. Three lambs were sacrificed in memory of Jephte's daugh­ter, their blood sprinkled around the altar, and the roasted flesh given to the poor. Jesus gave the young maidens some words of instruction on the danger of yielding to vanity. I understood from it that Jeph­tias would have been liberated had she not been so vain.

The feast lasted until afternoon. During the whole celebration, the maidens successively replaced one another in personating Jephtias. As soon as one fin­ished

Feast of Jephte's Daughter


 her part, the next in order rose from the stone seat upon which she had been sitting in the midst of the circle, retired with her into a tent nearby, and assumed the costume of the victim, that worn by her at the moment of immolation.

The tomb of the young heroine was on a neigh­boring hill, and on it the lambs were sacrificed. It was a four-cornered sarcophagus opening on top. When the fat of the lambs and the other portions to be sacrificed were almost consumed, what was left of the victims was introduced slantingly into the open­ing, that with the ashes it might fall into the tomb. When the lambs were slaughtered, I saw the blood sprinkled around the altar, and the maidens putting, with a little rod, a drop of it on the end of the long, narrow veil hanging over their shoulder. Jesus said: "Jephtias! Thou shouldst have thanked God in the retirement of thine own home for the victory He had granted thy people. But becoming vain and seeking praise as a hero's daughter, thou didst with frivo­lous ornaments and festive sounds go forth boasting before the other daughters of the land."

When the festive ceremonies were ended, all retired to a pleasure garden nearby where arbors and tents had been erected and an entertainment prepared. Jesus took part in it. He placed Himself at the table at which the poor were fed, and related a parable. The maidens ate in the same tent, but separated from the others by a screen about three feet high. Lying at table, one could not see over it, though to one standing, it did not obstruct the view. After the meal Jesus with the Levites, the disciples, and many others returned to the city, where numbers of sick were patiently awaiting His coming. He cured them, as well as some lunatics and others afflicted with melancholy. He taught in the synagogue, taking for His subject Jacob and Joseph and the selling of the latter to the Egyptians. He said: "One day another also shall be sold by one of His brethren. But He


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 will pardon His penitent brethren and in the time of famine feed them with the Bread of Eternal Life." On that same evening, some of the pagans outside the city accosted the disciples very humbly, asking them whether they too might hope to share in the great Prophet's teachings. The disciples informed Jesus of their desire, and He promised to go to them in the morning.

Jephte was the natural son of an idolatrous mother. Driven by his father's legitimate children from Ramoth, called also Maspha, he lived in the neigh­boring land of Tob. He joined some military adven­turers and led a life of brigandage. His pagan wife died young, leaving him an only daughter, who was beautiful and extraordinarily talented, but rather given to vanity. Jephte was an exceedingly rash, absolute, and determined man, eager for victory, and strongly wedded to his own word. He was more like a pagan hero than a Jew. He was an instrument in the hand of God. Fired with desire to conquer and rule the land from which he had been expelled, he made that solemn vow to offer to the Lord as a holo­caust the first one that should come out of his own house on his victorious return. He dreamed not that it would be his only daughter; as for the rest of his family, he had no love for them.

Jephte's vow was not pleasing to God; neverthe­less He permitted it, decreeing that its fulfillment should be a chastisement upon both father and daughter and cut off the posterity of the former from Israel. His daughter would perhaps have been per­verted by the success and elevation of her father; but as it was, she did penance during two months and died for God. It is probable that she also influ­enced her father to a better way of thinking and made him more faithful to God. The daughter went out followed by a long train of maidens with songs and flutes and timbals to meet her father. It was at a whole hour's distance from the city that she met

History of Jephte


 him, still she was the first whom he saw belonging to his own family. When she discovered her misfor­tune, she entered into herself and asked for a reprieve of two months, that she might retire into solitude to prepare by penance for her sacrifice, and to mourn with her companions over her virginal death, which would deprive her father of posterity in Israel. With several of her young companions she went into the mountains opposite the valley of Ramoth, where for two months she dwelt under a tent in prayer, fast­ing, and sackcloth. The maidens of Ramoth took turns in staying with her. She mourned especially her van­ity and thirst for glory. The rulers held council as to whether she could be freed from death, but it was not possible since her father had sworn a solemn oath. It was consequently a vow that could in nowise be commuted. I saw too that the daughter herself desired its fulfillment, and petitioned for it in words both wise and touching.

Her sacrifice was accompanied by every mark of grief, her companions chanting songs of mourning around her. She was seated on the same spot upon which the memorial feast was celebrated. Here again a council was held for the purpose of delivering her from death, but stepping forward, she expressed her wish to die, just as I had seen at the feast. She was clothed in a long, white garment that closely enveloped her from the breast to the feet; but from her head to her breast she wore a transparent, white veil through which could be seen her face, neck, and shoulders. She walked courageously to the altar. Her father hurried from the scene without bidding her adieu. Then she drank something red from a vessel presented her. I think it was something to render her unconscious. One of Jephte's warriors was deputed to give the deathblow. His eyes were bandaged as a sign that he did not incur the guilt of murder, since he would not see the blow that was to kill the vic­tim. She was then laid on his left arm, and he pierced


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 her throat with a short, sharp weapon. She had no sooner drunk the red liquid than it produced its effect, for she was perfectly unconscious when laid on the warrior's arm. Two of her young companions, who also were in white and appeared to act as bridesmaids, caught the blood in a dish and poured it on the altar. She was afterward enveloped by her com­panions in a winding sheet and laid at full length on the altar, the upper surface of which was grated. A fire was kindled below and, when her garments were burned and the whole looked like a blackened mass, some men raised the grate with the corpse upon it. They rested the grate upon the edge of an open tomb nearby, and then gently raising the grate, let the body slide down into it. The tomb was then closed. It was still to be seen even in Jesus' time.

The companions of Jephtias and many of the assis­tants steeped their veils and handkerchiefs in her blood, while others gathered up the ashes of the holo­caust. Before Jephtias made her appearance in her sacrificial habiliments, her young companions had retired with her into a tent where she bathed and was prepared for the ceremony.

It was to the north of Ramoth, over two hours' dis­tance in the mountains that Jephtias and her com­panions met her father. They were mounted upon little asses adorned with ribands and hung with tin­kling bells. One rode in front of Jephtias, one on either side, and the rest followed with songs and music. They sang the canticle of Moses upon the defeat of the Egyptians. As soon as Jephte descried his daughter, he rent his garments and became in­consolable. Jephtias herself did not give way to grief, but learned with calmness the fate that awaited her.

When she and her companions left her father's house for the wilderness, taking with them such food only as was allowed for a fast, Jephte spoke to his daughter for the last time. This was in a certain manner the beginning of the sacrifice. At the moment

Sacrifice of Jephtias


 of parting, he laid his hand, as was customary in offering sacrifice, upon his daughter's head with the simple words: "Go forth! Thou wilt never have a spouse!"—to which she responded: "No, I shall never have a spouse!"—and he never again spoke to her. After his daughter's death, Jephte had a beautiful monument erected in Ramoth and a little temple built over it. He ordered a memorial festival to be annually celebrated on the anniversary of his daugh­ter's immolation as a remembrance of his sad vow and a warning to others against such rashness. (Judges 11:39-40).

Jephte's mother was a pagan who had been con­verted to Judaism. His wife was the daughter of a man born from the illicit union of a Jew with an idolatress. On his expulsion from his native place, his daughter did not accompany him. She remained in Ramoth where, meanwhile, her mother died. When, in time of danger, Jephte was recalled to Tob by his compatriots, he did not return into the city of his birth. He assembled the people and concerted mea­sures with them in the camp outside of Maspha. His own home and his only daughter he did not see. When he made that vow, he never thought of her, but of his other relatives who had repudiated him, and therefore God punished him.

The feast lasted four days. Jesus with His disci­ples visited also the pagan quarters in Ramoth. The people met Him with marks of reverence at the head of their street. Not far from their temple was an open-air space used for public discourses. Several of the sick and aged had been brought thither, the for­mer of whom Jesus healed. They that had solicited a visit from Him appeared to be learned men, priests, and philosophers. They knew about the journey of the Three Kings, and of their having seen the birth of the King of the Jews in the stars, for they, too, had a similar expectation and were likewise engaged in the observation of the stars. Not far from here


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 was a kind of observatory similar to that in the land of the holy Three Kings, and from it they gazed at the stars. They had long sighed for instruction, and now they received it from Jesus Himself. He spoke to them of very profound mysteries, even of the Most Holy Trinity. I heard these words that especially astonished me: “There are three that give testimony: the water, the spirit, and the blood, and these three are one.” He spoke of the Fall of man, of the promised Redeemer, of the guidance of mankind, of the Del­uge, of the passage through the Red Sea and the Jordan, and of Baptism. He told them that the Jews had not obtained entire possession of the Promised Land, that many heathens still dwelt therein, but that He was now come to take possession of all that remained and unite it to His Kingdom—not, how­ever, by the sword, but by charity and grace. His words made so deep an impression upon many of His hearers that He sent them to Ennon to be bap­tized. Seven aged men that could no longer travel, Jesus allowed to be baptized at once by two of the disciples. A basin was brought and placed before them while they stood up to the knees in the water in a bathing cistern near at hand. Above the basin was placed a railing upon which they could lean. Two of the disciples laid their hands on the neo­phyte's shoulders while Mathias, a disciple of John, poured on their heads, one after another, water from a shell at the end of which was a handle. Jesus dic­tated to the disciples the form of words they should use. The old men were clothed in beautiful white garments, all very neat and clean.

Then Jesus gave an instruction to the people in general, taking for His subject chastity and mar­riage. To the women He spoke especially of obedi­ence, of humility, and the education of their children. These people were well-disposed. They conducted Jesus most affectionately back to the Jewish quar­ter, where He went to the synagogue and healed the

Jephtias' Monument


 sick that He found before it. The Levites were not well pleased at Jesus' having visited the heathens. In the synagogue, where Jephte's festival was still being celebrated, Jesus taught of the call of the Gen­tiles. He said that many of them would rank higher in His Kingdom than the children of Israel, and that He was come to unite with the rightful possessors of the Promised Land, by grace, instruction, and Bap­tism, the idolaters whom the Israelites had not expelled. He spoke also of Jephte's victory and vow.

While Jesus was preaching in the synagogue, the maidens were celebrating their feast at the monu­ment that Jephte had erected to his daughter. It had been rebuilt, and every year at the recurrence of the festival was beautified by the contributions of the young girls. It stood in a round temple with an open­ing in the roof. In the center of this temple was a smaller one of the same form. It consisted of a kind of cupola supported by columns, in one of which was concealed a staircase leading up to it. Around the cupola wound a spiral walk upon which was a rep­resentation of the triumphal procession of Jephtias, the figures being the height of a child. This piece of workmanship was of light material, but shining like polished metal. The base supporting it was of open work, through which the figures appeared to be gaz­ing down into the little temple. The top of the cupola was crowned by a circular, metal platform from which a kind of ladder, consisting of a pole with projecting rods on either side, led up to the roof of the exterior temple. From this roof the view over the city and surrounding country was very extended. The plat­form at the top of the ladder was wide enough to allow two girls holding on to the pole to make a turn around it hand in hand. A pedestal in the center of the smaller temple supported a white marble figure of Jephte's daughter seated on a chair of the same material, just as she appeared before her immola­tion. Her head reached to the first coil of the spiral shaped


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 cupola. Around the base of the statue, there was space enough for three men to walk abreast.

The columns surrounding the little temple were connected together by beautiful grates. The exterior was of stone veined in different colors. The coils of the cupola varied in degrees of whiteness from bot­tom to top, the upper ones of the purest white.

In the temple around this monument, the young girls now celebrated Jephtias' feast. The maiden's statue held a handkerchief to the eyes with one hand as if shedding tears, while the other hanging listlessly at her side held a flower or broken branch. The young girls' celebration was conducted with order. Sometimes they stretched curtains from the outer circle of the temple to the interior of the mon­ument and took their places in little groups apart to pray and sigh and mourn in silence, their eyes fixed on the statue. Sometimes they sang together in chorus, sometimes in alternate choirs. Again, they passed two by two before the statue, strewing flow­ers, adorning it with wreaths and, as if to console Jephtias, chanting hymns on the shortness of life. I remember the expressions: "Today for me! Tomor­row for thee!" Then they sang the praises of Jeph­tias' fortitude and resignation, lauding her highly as the price of their victory. Then they mounted in groups by the serpentine walk up to the top of the cupola where they sang triumphal songs. Some went up to the roof of the exterior temple, looked out over the country as if to catch a glimpse of the conquer­ing hero, and pronounced the fearful vow. The pro­cession then returned lamenting to the monument, mourned over the young virgin, and consoled her on the privation of the privileges of maternity. The exer­cises were interspersed with canticles of thanksgiv­ing to God and reflections upon His justice, the various scenes being accompanied by very touching pantomimes, expressive by turns of joy, grief, and devotion. A grand entertainment was prepared for

Jesus Leaves Ramoth


 the young girls in the temple. I saw them not reclin­ing at one table, but sitting in tiers of three, one above another, all around the temple, with little round tables at their side. They sat cross-legged. They had all kinds of wonderful dishes and viands made up into figures-for instance, that of a lamb lying on its back and filled with fruit and other eatables.

16. Jesus Leaves Ramoth and Goes to Arga, Azo, and Ephron

After assisting at an entertainment given Him by the Levites, Jesus with seven disciples and some peo­ple belonging to Ramoth went northward and crossed the Jabok. After climbing the mountains westward for about three hours, they arrived at the ancient kingdom of Basan and reached a city with two very steep mountains on one side and a long one on the other. It was called Arga and belonged to the dis­trict Argob, in the half-tribe Manasses. An hour and a half or two hours eastward from Arga, near the source of the brook Og, was situated a great city named Gerasa. To the southeast of this and on an elevated site one could see Jabesch-Galaad. The coun­try around was stony. At a distance one might think there were no trees in these parts, but many sec­tions were covered with low, green bushes. The king­dom of Basan commenced here, and Arga was its first city. The family of the half-tribe of Manasses extended a little farther to the south. About an hour northward of the Jabok, I saw a boundary marked off by stakes.

Jesus stayed overnight with His companions about half an hour from the city in a public inn situated on a grand highway that ran from the east toward Arga. The disciples had food with them. In the night when all were asleep, Jesus arose and went alone into the open air to pray. Arga was a large, popu­lous,


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 and extraordinarily clean city. Like most of the cities in these parts where pagans form a portion of the population, it was built in the form of a star, the streets wide and straight. The mode of life was quite different from that observed in Judea and Galilee, the customs being much better. Levites were sent hither from Jerusalem and other localities to teach in the synagogue. They were changed from time to time, for if those sent did not give satisfac­tion, the people had the right to complain, and thus get others. People of bad conduct were not allowed to go at large. They were sent to a place of punish­ment and there detained. The inhabitants did not carryon private housekeeping, that is, they did not prepare their food in their own houses. They had large public kitchens where all was cooked and whither they went either to get their food and carry it to their homes, or to partake of it in halls adjoin­ing. They slept on the roofs of their houses under tents. There were large dyeing establishments in this city, for they were skillful in the art of coloring, pro­ducing especially beautiful violets. The manufacture and embroidery of large carpets were also carried on here with more skill and to a greater extent than in Ramoth. Between the city and the wall ran tent after tent where women sat and worked at long strips of stuff stretched before them. On account of the deli­cate nature of their employments, the people of Arga were famed of old for their exceedingly great clean­liness. Quantities of oil of superior quality were pro­duced around Arga. The olive trees grew in long rows neatly tied to trellises. Down in the valleys toward the Jordan, the people had numbers of camels and excellent pasture grounds. There grew also in this region a precious wood, which was used in the build­ing of the Ark of the Covenant and the table of show­bread. The bark of the tree that produced it was smooth and beautiful, the branches hung like those of the willow, the leaves were like pear leaves, though



 very much larger, green on one side and on the other covered with some gray-colored stuff. It bore berries like the fruit of the dog rose, though larger. The wood was exceedingly hard and tough, and could be split into very fine strips like bark. When dry and bleached, it became firm and beautiful and almost indestructible. The tree contained a very fine pith, which was extracted by incisions so as to leave in the center of the inmost plank only a delicate, red­dish vein. The wood was made into little tables, and used for all kinds of inlaid work. They dealt also in myrrh and other spices, although these did not grow there. They obtained them from the caravans that often unloaded their camels and rested here for weeks at a time. They pressed the spices into balls and prepared them to be used by the Jews in embalming the dead. The cows and sheep of Arga were very large.

When on the following morning Jesus and His dis­ciples went toward Arga, the Levites and chief men of the city met Him with every mark of respect, con­ducted Him to a tent, washed His feet, and pre­sented Him refreshments. Some of the disciples had gone on before Jesus to apprise the townspeople of His coming. He taught in the synagogue, after which He cured a great many sick, among them numbers of consumptives. He went likewise to many of the sick in their homes. Toward three o'clock a dinner was spread. Jesus dined with the Levites in a pub­lic hall, the dishes having been brought thither from the eating house. In the evening, He taught again in the synagogue, for it was the commencement of the Sabbath. Next morning He gave another dis­course, speaking at length of Moses in the wilder­ness on Mounts Sinai and Horeb, of the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, of the table of show­bread, etc. As the ancestors of His hearers had sent offerings for the same, Jesus alluded to them as symbolical. He exhorted them now, in the time of


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 their fulfillment, to bring heart and soul as an offer­ing by penance and conversion, and He showed them the connection between that offering of their fore­fathers and their own present condition. But I do not remember it. The substance of this discourse was as follows:

While Jesus was speaking, I had an extended and circumstantial vision of the departure of the Israelites from Egypt. I saw that Jethro, the father-in-law, and Sephora, the wife of Moses, dwelt in Arga with the two sons and a daughter of the latter. I saw Jethro with the wife and children of Moses jour­neying to join him on Mount Horeb. Moses received them most joyfully, and related all the miracles wrought by God for the deliverance of His people from Egypt, whereupon Jethro offered sacrifice. I saw too that Moses at this time settled the disputes of all the Israelites himself, but Jethro counseled him to nominate subordinate judges. He then returned home, leaving Sephora and her sons with Moses. I saw Jethro recounting in Arga all the won­ders he had seen, and many were thereby roused to great reverence for the God of the Israelites. Then Jethro sent Moses presents and offerings on camels, to which the Argites had contributed. The presents consisted of fine oil, which was afterward burned before the tabernacle; very fine, long strands of camel's hair for spinning and weaving into covers and curtains; and most beautiful setim wood, which was afterward made into the poles of the Ark of the Covenant and the table for the showbread, I think, too, they sent a species of grain out of which the showbread was made. It was made from the pith of a reed like plant, from which long before I saw Mary making pap.

On the Sabbath Jesus taught in the synagogue from Isaias and from Deuteronomy 21:26. He spoke also of Balac and the Prophet Balaam. I saw many things connected with both, but I cannot now recall

Jesus Instructs the Pagans


 them. That evening in the Sabbath instructions, He related from the Law of Moses, which had previously been read, the history of Zambri and the Madianite stabbed by Phineas (Num. 25:7).

(Here Anne Catherine repeated in an admirable manner, although she had never heard nor read them, a number of the Laws of Moses as set forth in Deuteronomy 21:26. They were those that especially corresponded to her own position in childhood and the ideas peculiar to the occupations connected with it; for instance, the law forbidding one that has found a bird's nest to take the parent birds as well as the young; that which commands the gleanings of the harvest to be left for the poor; that which prohibits pledges to be taken from the poor, or borrowing from them, etc. Jesus touched upon all these points, dwelling at length upon the law that forbids defraud­ing laborers of their wages, because the people of Arga lived by labor, Sister Emmerich was rejoiced when told that all those laws could be found in the Bible, and she wondered at having heard them so correctly.)

The Sabbath over, Jesus went to an inn belonging to the pagans who had sent Him, by the disciples, a most pressing invitation to that effect. He was received with great humility and affection. He instructed them upon the call of the heathens, telling them that He was now come to gain over those that had not been conquered by the Israelites. They ques­tioned Him upon the fulfillment of the prophecy that the scepter should be taken away from Juda at the time of the Messiah, and He gave them an answer full of instruction. They knew the story of the Three Kings, and begged for Baptism. Jesus explained what the ceremony meant, that it was to be for them a preparation for their sharing in the Kingdom of the Messiah. These good pagans were travelers, and had been a couple of weeks at Arga, awaiting the arrival of a caravan. They numbered five families, about


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 thirty-seven souls in all. They could not go to the Baptism at Ennon, for fear of missing the caravan. They asked Jesus where they should take up their future residence, and He indicated to them the place. I never heard Him speaking to the heathens of cir­cumcision, but He always insisted on continence and the obligation of having but one wife.

These heathens were at once baptized by Saturnin and Judas Barsabas. They stepped into a bathing cistern, and bowed over a large basin in front of it which Jesus had blessed. The water was thrice poured over their head.

All were clothed in white. After the ceremony they presented to Jesus golden bracelets and earrings for the money box of the disciples. Those articles formed the principal part of their commerce. They were changed into money, which by Jesus' orders was dis­tributed to the poor. Jesus taught again in the syn­agogue, cured the sick, and dined with the Levites.

After the meal, accompanied by several people, Jesus went a couple of hours farther on to the north to a little place named Azo, where were many peo­ple gathered for the celebration of a feast commem­orative of Gideon's victory begun that evening. Jesus was received outside the city by the Levites. They washed His feet and offered Him to eat, after which He went into the synagogue and taught.

In Jephte's time, Azo was a fortified city, but was destroyed during the war that called him from the land of Tob. It was in Jesus' time a very clean little place, the houses in one long row. There were no hea­thens in it, and the inhabitants were singularly good, industrious, and well-behaved. They had many olive trees skillfully planted on terraces outside the city, and which they carefully tended. Stuffs were also fabricated and embroidered here. The manner of liv­ing was the same as at Arga. The people of Azo looked upon themselves as Jews of exceptional purity, since they lived entirely apart from the pagans. Every­thing

Gedeon and the Madianites


 was very clean in Azo. The road led down through a gently sloping valley, in which lay the city flanked on the west by a mountain.

When Deborah ruled in Israel and Sisara was slain by Jahel, there lived for a long time at Mas­pha a woman disguised as a man. She was descended from a woman who had survived the destruction of the tribe of Benjamin to which she belonged. This descendant assumed male attire and knew so well how to conceal her sex as to arouse the suspicion of no one. She had visions, she prophesied, and often served the Israelites in quality of spy. But when­ever they employed her in that way, they met with defeat. The Madianites were encamped at that time near Azo, and that woman went out to them in the dress of a distinguished military officer. She called herself Abinoem after one of the heroes present at the defeat of Sisara. She passed unperceived through several quarters of the camp, spying as she went. At last she entered the general's tent and expressed her readiness to deliver all Israel into his hands. She had been accustomed to abstain from wine and to conduct herself with great reserve and circum­spection. But upon this occasion she became intox­icated, and her sex was discovered. They nailed her hand and foot to a plank, and cast her into a pit with the words: "May even her name be here buried with her!"

It was from Azo that Gedeon went out against the camp of the Madianites. Gedeon was a very hand­some, powerful man of the tribe of Manasses. He dwelt with his father near Silo. Israel was in a crit­ical condition at that time. The Madianites and other idolatrous tribes overran the country, laid waste the fields, and carried off the harvest. Gedeon, a son of Joas the Ezrite, dwelling in Ephra, was very brave and liberal. He often threshed his wheat before his neighbors and generously divided it among the needy. I saw him going out at early morn before daybreak,


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 while the dew still lay on the ground, to a very large tree with spreading branches under which his thresh­ing floor lay concealed. The oak covered with its broad branches the wide rocky basin in which it stood. This basin was surrounded by a mound-like wall that reached to the branches of the tree, so that a person standing at the foot of the oak was as if in a large vaulted cave and could not be seen from without. The trunk was, as it were, formed of many single branches wound together. The soil was firm and rocky. Around in the walls were large cavities in which the grain was stored in casks of bark. The threshing was done with a cylinder that revolved on wheels around the tree, and on it were wooden hammers that fell upon the grain. High up in the tree was a seat from which one could see around. The Madianites pitched their tents from Basan down across the Jordan, and even to the very field of Esdrelon. The valley of the Jordan swarmed with grazing camels, which circumstance greatly served Gedeon's purpose. He reconnoitered for several weeks, and with his three hundred men, moved slowly toward Azo. I saw him slipping unperceived into the camp of the Madianites, and listening to what was said in one of the tents. Just at that moment, a sol­dier exclaimed to one of his companions: "I have been dreaming that a loaf of bread fell down the mountain and crushed our tent." The other answered: "That is a bad omen! Gedeon will certainly fall upon us with his Israelites." On the following night, Gedeon and his handful of warriors, with lighted torches in one hand and the trumpets upon which they were blowing in the other, pressed into the camp. Other bands did the same from opposite sides. The enemy became panic-stricken. They turned their swords against one another, while being slain and routed on all sides by the Children of Israel. The mountain from which the bread rolled down, as seen in the soldier's dream, was directly back of Azo and

Gedeon and the Madianites


 it was from there that Gedeon made his attack in person.

The annual commemoration of Gedeon's victory was now being celebrated in Azo. Outside the city was a large oak on a hill and at its foot an altar of stone. Between this tree and the mountain from which the soldier had seen the bread rolling down, the dis­guised prophetess lay buried. This tree was differ­ent from our oaks. It bore a large fruit with a green husk, under which was an exceedingly hard kernel in a little cup like our acorns. The Jews of Azo used these kernels for the tops of their walking sticks. For the accommodation of the large concourse of people, there was from that tree down to the city a whole row of tabernacles made of foliage and adorned with all kinds of fruit.

Jesus and the disciples went with the Levites in procession to the Ark. Five little he-goats, their necks adorned with red wreaths, were led in advance of the cortege. When they reached the oak, they were shut up in little grated caverns cut out of the side of the hill around the tree. Little cakes were also carried thither for sacrifice, and trumpets were blown. Different passages of Gedeon's life were read from rolls, and canticles of victory sung. Then the goats were slaughtered and cut up, several pieces along with some of the cakes being laid upon the altar around which the blood was sprinkled. A Levite blew fire from a tube into the wood lying under the grat­ing of the altar, in memory of the angel's having enkindled Gedeon's sacrifice with a rod. (Jgs. 6:21).

Jesus delivered a discourse to the assembled crowd, and thus the morning passed. In the afternoon He went with the Levites and the principal citizens to a valley south of the city where, around a little foun­tain, were a public bathing place and pleasure gar­den. In a garden apart were the women and maidens playing at games and enjoying themselves. An enter­tainment had been prepared here and, according to


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 an ancient custom, the upper tables were assigned to the poor. Jesus took His place at one of them. He related the parable of the Prodigal Son and told of the calf that his father commanded to be slaugh­tered for him. He passed the night under a tent on the roof of the synagogue, for the people of this place were accustomed to sleep on the roofs.

The feast was continued during the next day. The tabernacles of foliage were intended for the Feast of Tabernacles also, which was to begin in about four­teen days. Next morning Jesus delivered an instruc­tion in the synagogue, and outside the school cured many blind, many consumptives, and several harm­less possessed. After that He partook of a dinner and then left the city, accompanied by the Levites and others, about thirty in all.

The road led first over that mountain from which the soldier had seen the barley loaf rolling down into the camp of the Madianites. (Jgs. 7:13). Then the travelers climbed by a defile over another mountain narrow, long, and high, on the opposite side of which they journeyed northward through the valley for about an hour. They reached at last a pleasant little lake near which rose some buildings belonging to the Levites of Azo. A brook flowed through it and down through the valley into the Jordan. About six hours northeastwardly from this point was Betha­ramphtha-Julias built around a mountain.

Jesus partook of a luncheon by the lake. It con­sisted of roasted fish, honey, bread, and a beverage of balm from a little jug, all of which the party had with them. The lake was about three hours' distance from Azo. All along the route, Jesus had related para­bles of the sower and the stony soil, for it was over such they were then journeying. He also related another of fishes and how to catch them. There were some little boats on the lake fishing with draw nets, the capture being intended for the poor.

An hour and a half distant was Ephron. It could

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 2

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