Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 2

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Judas Iscariot


 his birth, he was abandoned on the water's edge. But being found by some rich people with no children of their own, they cared for the child and bestowed upon him a liberal education. Later on, however, he turned out to be a bad boy and, through some kind of knav­ery, fell again to the care of his mother, who assumed the charge for pay. It is in my mind that the hus­band of his mother, becoming acquainted with the boy's origin, had cursed him. Judas received some wealth from his illegitimate father. He was possessed of much wit. After the death of his parents, he lived mostly in Iscariot with his Uncle Simeon, the tan­ner, and helped him in his business. He was not as yet a villain, but loquacious, greedy for wealth and honor, and without stability. He was neither a prof­ligate nor a man without religion, for he adhered strictly to all the prescriptions of the Jewish Law. He comes before me as a man that could be influ­enced as easily to the best things as to the worst. With all his cleverness, courteousness, and obliging­ness, there was a shade of darkness, of sadness, in the expression of his countenance, proceeding from his avarice, his ambition, his secret envy of even the virtues of others.

He was not, however, exactly ugly. There was some­thing bland and affable in his countenance, though at the same time, something abject and repulsive. His father had something good in him, and thence came that possessed by Judas. When as a boy he was returned to his mother, and she on his account was embroiled in a quarrel with her husband, she cursed him. Both she and her husband were jugglers. They practiced all kinds of tricks; they were sometimes in plenty and as often in want.

The disciples in the beginning were favorably inclined toward Judas on account of his obliging ways, for he was ready even to clean their shoes. As he was an excellent walker, he made at first long journeys in the service of the little Community. I never saw


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 him work a miracle. He was always full of envy and jealousy and, toward the close of Jesus' career, he had become weary of obedience, of the wandering life of the disciples, and of the—to him—inexplicable mys­tery that surrounded the Divine Master.

In the center of Meroz was a beautifully constructed fountain, the water of which was conducted through pipes from the neighboring mountain, at a little dis­tance to the north of the city. There were five gal­leries around the well, each of which contained a reservoir. Into these reservoirs the water of the well could be pumped. In the outer gallery of all were lit­tle bathing houses, and the whole place could be closed. Here to these galleries around the well had numbers of very sick persons belonging to the city, some of them considered incurable, been brought on beds. The worst were placed in the little bathing houses in the outside circle. Meroz, abandoned, des­pised, and helpless, possessed an astonishing num­ber of sick, dropsical old people, paralytics, and sufferers of all kinds. Jesus, accompanied by the dis­ciples, Judas excepted (he had not yet been presented to Jesus), went into the city. The Pharisees of the place and some strangers who had come from a dis­tance were present. They took their stand at the cen­ter of the fountain where they could see all that went on. They appeared astonished and even somewhat scandalized at the miracles of Jesus. They were old people grounded in their own opinion, who had lis­tened to previous accounts of such wonders with wise shakes of the head, smiles, and shrugs, giving cre­dence to none of it. But now they beheld with sur­prise and vexation those seriously affected, those incurables of their own city, by whose deep-seated maladies they hoped to see Jesus' healing power set at naught, taking up their beds and going off to their homes with songs of praise for their perfect cure. Jesus preached, instructed and consoled the sick, and gave Himself no trouble about the Pharisees. The

Judas Joins the Disciples


 whole city resounded with joy and thanksgiving. This lasted from early morn till nearly noon.

Jesus and the disciples now returned to their inn by the western gate of the city. On their way through the streets, some furious possessed, that had been allowed to leave their place of confinement, cried after Jesus. He commanded them to be silent. They instantly ceased their cries and threw themselves humbly at His feet. Jesus cured them and admon­ished them to purify themselves. From the inn He went to the hospital of the lepers a short distance from the city, entered, called the lepers before Him, touched them, healed them, and commanded them to present themselves before the priests for the cus­tomary purifications. Jesus did not allow the disci­ples to follow Him into the leprous hospital. He sent them up to the mountain where, after healing the lepers, He was to deliver an instruction.

On the way the disciples were met by Judas Iscar­iot, and when Jesus again joined them, Bartholomew and Simon Zelotes presented him to Jesus with the words: "Master, here is Judas of whom we have spo­ken to Thee," Jesus looked at him graciously, but with indescribable sorrow. Judas, bowing, said: "Mas­ter, I pray Thee allow me to share Thy instructions." Jesus replied sweetly and in words full of prophetic meaning: "Thou mayst have a place among My dis­ciples, unless thou dost prefer to leave it to another." These were His words or at least their purport. I felt that Jesus was prophesying of Matthias, who was to fill Judas' place among The Twelve, and alluding also to His own betrayal. The expression was more com­prehensive, but I felt that such was the allusion.

They now continued the ascent of the mountain, Jesus teaching all the while. On the summit was gathered a great crowd from Meroz, from Ataroth off to the north, and from the whole region around. There were also many Pharisees from these places, Jesus had some days previously announced the sermon by


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 means of the disciples. He preached in vigorous terms of the Kingdom, of penance, of the abandonment in which the people of Meroz lived, and He earnestly exhorted them to arise from their sluggishness. There was no teacher's chair up here. The preacher took his stand on an eminence, surrounded by a trench and a low wall, upon which the listeners leaned or stood.

The view from this point was very beautiful and extended. One could see over Samaria, Meroz, The­bez, Machmethat, and away over the whole country around. Mount Garizim, however, was not in view, though the towers of its ancient temple were visi­ble. Toward the southeast, the horizon stretched off to the Dead Sea and eastward over the Jordan to Gilead. To the north in an oblique direction rose the heights of Thabor, the view further extending in the direction of Capharnaum.

When evening closed, Jesus informed His hearers that He would teach there again in the morning. A great many of the people slept on the mountain under tents as they were at so great a distance from home. Jesus and the disciples went back to the inn near Meroz. All along the way Jesus taught of the good employment of time, of salvation so long looked for and now so near, of abandoning their relatives in order to follow Him, and of helping the needy. Arrived at the inn, He dined with the disciples. While on the mountain, He had caused to be distributed to the poor the money that the disciples had brought with them from Capharnaum. Judas regarded that distri­bution with a covetous eye. During the meal at the inn, Jesus continued His instructions, and indeed after it far into the night. Today, for the first time, Judas sat at table with the Saviour and spent the night under the same roof with Him.

Sermon on the Mount


6. Sermon on the Mountain Near Meroz. The Daughters of Lais

Next morning Jesus went again to the mountain and there during the whole forenoon delivered a grand discourse similar to that known as the Sermon on the Mount. The multitude present was great, and food was distributed: bread and honey, along with fish taken from the ponds fed by the little brooks that watered the region. Jesus had by means of the disciples procured provisions for the poor. Toward the end of the discourse, He alluded again to the one talent that, as children of the handmaid, they had received and buried, and He inveighed severely against the Pharisees for their hatred toward them, asking why they had not long ago led these people back to the truth. His words vexed the Pharisees, and they began to retort. They reproached Jesus for allowing His disciples so much liberty, especially on the score of fasting, washing, purifications, the Sab­bath, the shunning of publicans and the different sects. It was not in this way, they said, the children of the Prophets and the Scribes used to live.

Jesus replied in the words of the Commandment of fraternal love: "Love God above all things and thy neighbor as thyself. That is the first Commandment!" and He told the disciples that they should learn to practice it, instead of covering up its abuse by means of exterior practices. Jesus spoke somewhat figura­tively; consequently, Philip and Thaddeus said to Him: "Master, they have not understood Thee." Then Jesus explained Himself quite significantly. He commiser­ated the poor, ignorant, sinful people whom they, the Pharisees, with all their outward observance of the Law, had allowed to go to destruction, and He ended by boldly declaring that they who acted so should have no part in His Kingdom. He then went down the moun­tain to His inn, which was one-half hour from the scene of the sermon and another from the city. He met


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 all along the way, on litters under tents, a great num­ber of sick of all kinds patiently awaiting His coming. Many of them had come too late for the first cures. They belonged to the country far around. Jesus cured them, addressing to them at the same time words of consolation and exhortation to a change of life.

A pagan widow of Naim, called Lais, was also here waiting for Jesus. She had come to implore His aid in behalf of her two daughters, Sabia and Athalia. They were in a fearful manner possessed by the devil, and were at home in Naim confined to their respec­tive apartments. They were perfectly furious. They dashed themselves here and there, they bit their own flesh, and struck wildly around them; no one ven­tured to approach them. At other times their mem­bers were contracted by cramps, and they fell to the ground pale and unconscious. Their mother, ac­companied by handmaids and menservants, had come to Jesus for help. She was waiting at a distance eagerly desirous of His approach, but to her disap­pointment, she saw Him always turning to others. The poor mother could not restrain her eagerness, but cried out from time to time as He drew near: "Ah, Lord, have mercy on me!" but Jesus appeared not to hear her. The women near her suggested that she should say: "Have mercy on my daughters!" since she herself was not a sufferer. She replied: "They are my own flesh. In having mercy on me, He will have mercy on them also!" and again she uttered the same cry. At last Jesus turned and addressed her: "It is proper that I should break bread to the children of My own household before attending to strangers." The mother replied: "Lord, Thou art right. I will wait or even come again, if Thou canst not help me today, for I am not worthy of Thy assistance!" Jesus had, however, finished His work of healing, and the cured, singing canticles of praise, were going off with their beds. Jesus had turned away from the disconsolate mother and appeared about to retire. Seeing this,

Lais of Naim


 the poor woman grew desperate. "Ah!" she thought, "He is not going to help me!" But as the words flashed through her mind, Jesus turned toward her and said: "Woman, what askest thou of Me?" She cast herself veiled at His feet and answered: "Lord, help me! My two daughters at Naim are tormented by the devil. I know that Thou canst help them if Thou wilt, for all things are possible to Thee." Jesus responded: "Return to thy home! Thy daughters are coming to meet thee. But purify thyself! The sins of the par­ents are upon these children." These last words Jesus spoke to her privately. She replied: "Lord, I have already long wept my sin. What shall I do?" Then Jesus told her that she should get rid of her unjustly acquired goods, mortify her body, pray, fast, give alms, and comfort the sick. She promised with many tears to do all that He suggested, and then went away full of joy. Her two daughters were the fruit of an illicit connection. She had three sons born in lawful wed­lock, but they lived apart from their mother, who still retained property belonging to them. She was very rich and, notwithstanding her repentance, lived, like most people of her class, a life of luxury. The daughters were confined in separate chambers. While Jesus was speaking with their mother, they fell uncon­scious, and Satan went out of them in the form of a black vapor. Weeping vehemently and quite changed, they called their female attendants, and informed them that they were cured. When they learned that their mother had gone to the Prophet of Nazareth, they set out to meet her, accompanied by many of their acquaintances. They met her at about an hour's distance from Naim and related all that had hap­pened to them. The mother then went on to the city, but the daughters with their maids and servants pro­ceeded straight forward to Meroz. They wished to present themselves to Jesus who, they had heard, was going to teach there again the next morning. During the healing of the sick, Manahem, the blind


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 disciple of Korea, who had been restored to sight and whom Jesus had sent on a message to Lazarus, returned from Bethania with the two nephews of Joseph of Arimathea. Jesus gave them an interview. The holy women had sent by them money and gifts of various kinds to Jesus. Dina the Samaritan had visited the holy women at Capharnaum, bringing with her a rich contribution. Veronica and Johanna Chusa had also visited Mary. On their return journey they called to see Magdalen, whom they found very much changed. She was depressed in spirits, her folly appar­ently undergoing a struggle with her good inclina­tions. The holy women took Dina with them to Bethania. There was at this epoch a rich, aged widow who joined Martha's little band and gave all she pos­sessed for the benefit of the young community.

When the Pharisees invited Jesus to a dinner, they asked Him whether His disciples, young, inexperi­enced men, some of them quite rustic and unaccus­tomed to the society of the learned, should also be invited. Jesus answered: "Yes! For whoever invites Me, invites the members of My household also; and he that rejects them likewise rejects Me." At these words, they bade Him bring the disciples with Him. All repaired to the public house in the city, where Jesus still taught and explained parables.

The property upon which Lazarus had established the inn near Meroz, consisted of a beautiful field and numerous orchards interspersed with charming groves. Some of his servants lived there to attend to the fruit and provide for its sale. At this time they had charge also of the inn. At the last meeting of Jesus with Lazarus at Ennon, it had been agreed that Jesus should tarry for some time in these parts. The holy women had, in consequence, come thither to get the inn in order, and the people around the country had been notified to expect Jesus.

On the following morning, before going again to the mountain, Jesus taught at the fountain in Meroz,

Lais of Naim


 and again reproached the Pharisees for the little care they took of the people. After that He ascended the mountain and delivered an instruction similar to that known as the Sermon on the Mount. Before taking leave of the people, He once more gave an explana­tion of the buried talent. Some of His hearers had already been three days encamped on the mountain. Those in need had been placed apart from the rest and were provided with food and other necessaries by the disciples. Judas' uncle, Simeon of Iscariot, a devout, old man, dark complexioned and vigorous, entreated Jesus to go to Iscariot, and Jesus promised to do so. When He went down the mountain, He found some sick awaiting Him. They were still able to walk. Jesus cured them. This took place on the road bet­ween the inn and Lazarus' property, at a little dis­tance below the place where the disciples had distributed food to the people.

On the same spot upon which the pagan woman Lais of Naim had knelt yesterday at Jesus' feet pray­ing for her sick daughters, were today those daugh­ters, now both cured, awaiting the coming of Jesus. They were named Athalia and Sabia, and were accom­panied by their maids and men servants. With all their attendants, they cast themselves down before Jesus, saying: "Lord, we esteemed ourselves unwor­thy to listen to Thy instructions, therefore we waited here to thank Thee for freeing us from the power of the evil one." Jesus commanded them to rise. He com­mended their mother's patience, humility, and faith, for as a stranger she had waited until He had bro­ken bread to His own household. But now, He con­tinued, she too belonged to His household, for she had recognized the God of Israel in His mercy. The Heavenly Father had sent Him to break bread to all that believed in His mission and brought forth fruits of penance. Then He ordered the disciples to bring food, which He gave to the maidens and all their attendants—to each a piece of bread and a piece of


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 fish—delivering to them at the same time an instruc­tion thereon full of deep significance. After that He went on with the disciples to the inn. One of the maidens was twenty, the other five and twenty years old. Their sickness and the confinement in which they lived had made them pale and wan.

7. Jesus in Iscariot and Dothan. Cure of Issachar

Next morning Jesus left the inn with the disciples and journeyed eastward to Iscariot, distant not quite an hour. On the swampy ground of a deep ravine stood a row of houses, about twenty-five, near a stream of water black and full of reeds. Here and there it was dammed so as to form pools for tanning. Very frequently this water failed, and then they had to let in other sources. The cattle for slaughter belong­ing to Meroz were pastured around these parts. When needed in Meroz, they were slaughtered here, then flayed, and the hide handed over to the tanners of Iscariot. The ravine in which the little place lay was directly to the north of Machmethat. The tanner's trade, on account of the odors attending it, was held in detestation by the Jews. Although for tanning the hides of the slaughtered cattle pagan slaves and oth­ers of the most despised races were needed, yet in Meroz they dwelt apart from the other inhabitants. In Iscariot no calling was carried on but tanning, and it seemed to me that most of the houses of this place belonged to old Simeon, the uncle of Judas.

Judas was very dear and quite useful to his old uncle in his leather trade. Sometimes he dispatched him with asses to purchase raw hides, sometimes with prepared leather to the seaport towns, for he was a clever and cunning broker and commission merchant. Still he was not at this time a villain, and had he overcome himself in little things, he would not have fallen so low. The Blessed Virgin very often

Jesus in Iscariot


 warned him, but he was extremely vacillating. He was susceptible of very vehement, though not last­ing repentance. His head was always running on the establishment of an earthly kingdom, and when he found that not likely to be fulfilled, he began to appro­priate the money entrusted to his care. He was there­fore greatly vexed that the worth of Magdalen's ointment had not passed as alms through his hands. It was at the last Feast of Tabernacles in Jesus' life­time that Judas began to go to the bad. When he betrayed Jesus for money, he never dreamed of His being put to death. He thought his Master would soon be released; his only desire was to make a lit­tle money.

Judas was, here in Iscariot, very obliging and ready to serve; he was perfectly at home. His uncle, the tanner Simeon, a very busy and active man, received Jesus and the disciples at some distance from the place, washed their feet, and offered the customary refreshments. Jesus and the disciples visited his house where were his family, consisting of his wife, his chil­dren, and his servants.

Jesus paid a visit to the opposite side of the place where, in the midst of a field, was a kind of plea­sure garden in which the tabernacles were still stand­ing. All the inhabitants of the place were here assembled. Jesus taught upon the parable of the sower and the different kinds of soil. He exhorted the peo­ple to let the instructions they had heard from Him on the mountain near Meroz find good soil in their hearts.

Jesus afterward, with the disciples and Simeon's family, took a little repast standing. During it old Simeon begged Him to admit Judas his nephew, whom he praised in many ways, to a participation in His teachings and His Kingdom. Jesus responded in pretty much the same terms as He had used toward Judas himself: "Everyone may have a share therein, provided he is resolved not to relinquish his portion


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 to another." Jesus performed no cures here, for the sick had already been healed on the mountain.

Jesus and the disciples went from Iscariot back toward the west almost as far as the inn. Then turn­ing to the north, they traversed the valley having the mountain upon which Jesus had taught to the left, turned somewhat northwestwardly, then again to the north, and journeyed along a low mountain terrace toward Dothan, which could be seen lying low in the eastern vale of the plain of Esdrelon. To the east rose the mountains above, and to the west lay the valley below it.

Jesus was accompanied by three troops of men who, having been present at His instructions on the mountain, were now returning in bands to their homes for the Sabbath. When one party left Him, another came up to bear Him company. It was almost three hours from the inn to Dothan, a place as large as Munster. I had a vision in which I saw that it was here that the soldiers sent by Jeroboam to seize Eliseus were struck blind. Dothan had five gates and as many principal streets; it was traversed likewise by two highways. One of the latter led from Galilee down to Samaria and Judea; the other came from the opposite side of the Jordan and ran through the valley of Apheca and Ptolomais on the sea. Trade in wood was carried on in Dothan. On the mountain chain around here and near Samaria there was still much wood; but across the Jordan near Hebron, and at the Dead Sea, the mountains are quite bare. I saw in the neighborhood of Dothan much work going on under tents in the preparation of wood. All sorts of beams for the different parts of ships were put into shape, and long, thin slats were prepared for wicker partitions. Outside the gates on the highways that crossed each other in Dothan were several inns.

Jesus went with the disciples to the synagogue, where a crowd was already assembled, among them many Pharisees and Doctors. They must have had

Jesus in Dothan


 some intimation of Jesus' coming, for they were so polite as to receive Him in the court outside the syn­agogue, wash His feet, and present to Him the cus­tomary refection. Then they conducted Him in and handed Him the roll of the Law. The sermon was on the death of Sara, Abraham's second marriage with Ketura, and the Dedication of Solomon's Temple.

The Sabbath instructions over, Jesus went to an inn outside the city. There He found Nathanael the bridegroom, two sons of Cleophas and His Mother's eldest sister, and a couple of the other disciples who had come hither for the Sabbath. There were now about seventeen disciples with Him. The people from the house on Lazarus' estate near Ginaea, where Jesus stopped recently when He went to Ataroth, were also here to celebrate the Sabbath.

Dothan was a beautiful, well-built old city, very agreeably situated. In the rear, though at a consid­erable distance, arose a mountain chain, and in front it looked out upon the delightful plain of Esdrelon. The mountains of this region are not so steep and rugged. Peak rises above peak, and the roads are better. The houses were of the old style, like those in David's time. Many had little turrets on the cor­ners of the flat roofs capped by large domes, or cupo­las, in which an observer could sit and view the surrounding locality. It was from such a cupola that David saw Bethsabee. There were also on the roofs galleries of roses and even of trees.

Jesus entered many of the fore courts of the dwellings, where He found sick whom He cured. The occupants standing at their doors implored Him to come in, which He did accompanied by two of the disciples. They also in different places begged the disciples to intercede for them, which they accord­ingly did. Jesus went likewise to the place in which the lepers abode, separated from all others, and there He healed the sufferers. There were many lepers in this city. It may have been on account of their


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 frequent communication with strangers for trading purposes, for besides the trade in wood, the inhabi­tants of Dothan carried on other branches of indus­try. They imported carpets, raw silk, and similar goods which they unpacked and again exported.

I saw goods like the above at the house of the sick man whom Jesus was entreated by Nathanael to visit. Nathanael lived at his house. It was a very ele­gant looking dwelling surrounded by courtyards and open colonnades, and situated not far from the syn­agogue. The occupant was a wealthy man of about fifty years named Issachar, who was suffering from dropsy. Notwithstanding his miserable condition, Issachar had a few days previously to the coming of Jesus espoused a young woman named Salome, aged twenty-five years. This union was according to legal prescription analogous to that of Ruth and Booz—it gave Salome the right to inherit Issachar's property. The evil tongues of the city, especially the Pharisees, found great fault with this marriage, which at once became the general talk. But Issachar and Salome put their trust in Jesus, for at His last visit to this part of the country, they had recommended their affairs to Him.

The family had been long acquainted with Jesus, even during the lifetime of Salome's parents, for Mary and Joseph when journeying from Nazareth to visit Elizabeth had found hospitality with them. This hap­pened shortly before the Paschal solemnity. Joseph went with Zachary from Hebron to Jerusalem for the feast, after which he returned to Hebron and then went home leaving Mary there. Thus had Jesus, while still in His Mother's womb, received hospitality in this house, to which He now came thirty-one years later as the Saviour of mankind, to discharge in the person of their sick son the debt of gratitude He owed to the goodness of the parents.

Salome was the child of this house and the widow of Issachar's brother, Issachar himself being the wid­ower

Issachar and Salome


 of Salome's sister. The house and all the prop­erty were to revert to Salome, for neither she nor Issachar had had children by the previous union. They were childless and the only descendants of an illustrious race. They had espoused each other trust­ing to the merciful healing power of Jesus. Salome was allied to Joseph's family. She was originally from Bethlehem, and Joseph's father was accustomed to call her grandfather by the title of brother, although he was not really his brother. They had a de­scendant of the family of David among their forefa­thers who, I think, was also a king. His name sounds like Ela. It was through respect to this ancient friend­ship that Mary and Joseph were there entertained. Issachar was of the tribe of Levi.

Upon His entrance into the house Jesus was met by Salome, her maids, and the other servants of the household. Salome cast herself at Jesus' feet and begged her husband's cure. Jesus went with her into the chamber of the sick man, who lay covered up on his couch, for he was dropsical as well as paralyzed on one side. Jesus saluted him and spoke to him words full of kindness. The sick man was very much touched and gratefully acknowledged the salutation, though he could not rise. Then Jesus prayed, touched the sufferer, and gave him His hand. Instantly the sick man arose, threw another garment around him, and left his bed, when he and his wife cast them­selves at Jesus' feet. The Lord addressed them a few words of exhortation, blessed them, promised them posterity, and then led them out of the chamber to their assembled household, who were all filled with joy. The miraculous cure was kept a secret all that day.

Issachar invited Jesus and all His followers to stay that night at his house and, after the exercises of the synagogue, to dine with him. Jesus accepted the invitation, and then went to preach in the synagogue. Toward the end of His discourse the Pharisees and


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 Sadducees began to strive against Him. From the explanation of Abraham's marriage with Ketura, He had come to speak of marriage itself. The Pharisees broached that of Issachar and Salome. They declared it insane in a man so sick and old to marry a young woman. Jesus replied that the couple had married in obedience to the Law, and He asked how could they, who held so strictly to the same, blame them. They answered by asking how He could look upon such a union as prescribed by the Law, since so old and sick a man could hope for no blessing on his marriage, consequently such an affair was no other than a scandal. Jesus responded: "His faith has pre­served to him the fruit of wedlock. Do ye set limits to the almighty power of God? Has not the sick man married in obedience to the Law? In trusting in God and believing that He will help him, he has done excellently well. But this is not the cause of your indignation. Ye hoped that this family would die out for want of heirs, and then ye would get their prop­erty into your own hands." Then He cited the exam­ple of many devout old people whose faith had been rewarded with posterity, and said many other things upon the subject of matrimony. The Pharisees were furious, but had not a word in reply.

The Sabbath over, Jesus left the synagogue and, accompanied by the disciples, went to Issachar's, where a grand banquet had been prepared for Him. Jesus, the disciples related to Him, and Issachar him­self sat at one table, while Salome, the wife, came and went doing the honors of the same. The other disciples ate in a side hall. Previously to sitting down Jesus had healed several sick. It was dusk, and the miracles were performed by torchlight outside the synagogue and near Issachar's dwelling, where the sick had gathered. I saw among the disciples Judas Iscariot, Bartholomew, and Thomas, also an own brother and a stepbrother of the last named. Thomas had two stepbrothers. They had come thither for the

Grand Banquet at Issachar's


 Sabbath from Apheca, seven hours distant, and they put up at Issachar's, Thomas being well-known to him on account of his commercial pursuits. Though he had acquaintances among the disciples, he had never yet spoken to Jesus, for he was anything but obtrusive. James the Less also had come from Caphar­naum for the Sabbath, likewise Nathanael, the son of the widow Anna, eldest daughter of Cleophas, who was now living with Martha. Nathanael was the youngest of her sons engaged at Zebedee's fishery. He was about twenty years old, gentle and amiable, with something of the appearance of John. He had been reared in the house of his grandfather, and was nicknamed "Little Cleophas," in order to distinguish him from the other Nathanaels. I learned that on this Sabbath when I heard Jesus say: "Call little Cleophas to Me!"

The entertainment consisted of birds, fish, honey, and bread. There were in this city numbers of pigeons, turtledoves, and colored birds which ran like hens around the houses, and often took flight to the beau­tiful plain of Jezrael. During the meal, Issachar spoke of Mary. He recalled the fact of her having been in that house in her youth, and said that his wife's par­ents had often related the circumstance, telling how young and beautiful and pious she was. He expressed the hope that God, who had cured him through Joseph's Son (he guessed not his Saviour's origin), would likewise give him posterity. All the disciples found hospitality at this house. There were large, open porticos around it on which beds were prepared for them, separated from one another by movable partitions. Of the Dothanites, some were very good, and some very bad. On account of the antique style of its houses, Dothain compared with the other cities in its neighborhood as Cologne with our other Ger­man towns.

Next morning when Jesus and the disciples went to walk outside the city, Thomas approached and


Life of Jesus Christ

 begged Jesus to admit him to the number of His dis­ciples. He promised to follow Him and fulfill all His commands for, as he said, by His preaching and by the miracles he had witnessed, he was convinced of the truth of what John and all the disciples of his acquaintance had said about Him. He begged, also, to be allowed a part in His Kingdom. Jesus replied that he was no stranger to Him and that He knew that he, Thomas, would come to Him. But Thomas would not subscribe to that, He asserted that he had never before thought of taking such a step, for he was no friend of novelty, and had only now deter­mined upon it since he was convinced of His truth by His miracles. Jesus responded: "Thou speakest like Nathanael. Thou dost esteem thyself wise, and yet thou talkest foolishly. Shall not the gardener know the trees of his garden? The vinedresser, his vines? Shall he set out a vineyard, and not know the ser­vants whom he sends into it?" Then He related a similitude of the cultivation of figs upon thorns.

Two of John's disciples who had been sent to Jesus by the Baptist had an interview here with Jesus and then returned to Machaerus. They had been present at the sermon on the mountain near Meroz and had witnessed the miracles there performed. They belonged to the disciples that had followed their mas­ter to the place of his imprisonment and had received his instructions outside his prison. They were warmly attached to him. As they had never witnessed any of Jesus' actions, John had sent them to Him that they might be convinced of the truth of what he him­self had told them of Him. He commissioned them to beg Jesus in his name to declare openly and pre­cisely who He was and to establish His Kingdom on earth. These disciples told Jesus that they were now convinced of all that John had announced of Him, and they inquired whether He would not soon go to free John from prison. John, they said, hoped to be released through Him, and they themselves were

Grand Banquet at Issachar's


 longing for Him to establish His Kingdom and set their master at liberty. They thought that would be a more profitable miracle than even His curing the sick. Jesus replied that He knew that John was long­ing and hoping soon to be freed from imprisonment, and that he should indeed be released, but that He should go to Machaerus and deliver John who had prepared His ways, John himself never even dreamed. Jesus ended by commanding them to announce to John all that they had seen and say to him that He would fulfill His mission.

I do not know whether John was aware that Jesus was to be crucified and that His Kingdom was not to be an earthly one. I think that he thought Jesus, after converting and freeing the people, would estab­lish a holy Kingdom upon earth.

Toward noon Jesus and the disciples returned to the city and to Issachar's, where many people were already assembled. The mistress and domestics were busy preparing the noonday meal. Back of the house was a charming spot in the center of which was a beautiful fountain surrounded by summerhouses. The fountain was regarded as sacred, for it had been blessed by Eliseus. There was a handsome chair nearby for the preacher's use and around it an enclosed space with shade trees, in which quite a number might assemble for instructions. Several times in the year, especially at Pentecost, public instructions were given here. There were besides, in the region of the fountain, places with long, stone stalls or narrow terraces, where caravans and the crowds going to Jerusalem at the Paschal time could rest and take refreshments. Issachar's house stood near enough to command a view of the fountain and its surroundings. The arrangements of the resting place and the customs observed there were also super­intended from Issachar's, where a kind of freight business was carried on. The caravans unloaded and unpacked their goods here for Issachar to forward


Life of Jesus Christ

 to other places, and very frequently the merchants and their servants received hospitality at his house, although it was not a public inn. Issachar's business was like that of the father of the bride of Cana in Galilee. The beautiful fountain had one inconvenience. It was so deep that the water could be pumped only with great fatigue. When pumped up, it ran into basins standing around.

There were crowds assembled around the fountain on the invitation of Jesus and Issachar. Jesus, from the teacher's chair, delivered a discourse to the peo­ple on the fulfillment of the Promise, the nearness of the Kingdom, on penance and conversion, and of the way to implore the mercy of God and to receive His graces and miracles. He alluded to Eliseus, who had formerly taught in this same place. The Syrians sent to take him prisoner were struck with blind­ness. Then Eliseus conducted them to Samaria into the hands of their enemies, but far from allowing them to be put to death, he entertained them hos­pitably, restored their sight, and sent them back to their king. Jesus applied this to the Son of Man and the persecution He endured from the Pharisees. He spoke also for a long time of prayer and good works, related the parable of the Pharisee and the Publi­can, and told His hearers that they ought to adorn and perfume themselves on their fast days instead of parading their piety before the people. The in­habitants of this place, who were very much oppressed by the Pharisees and Sadducees, were greatly encour­aged by Jesus' teaching. But the Pharisees and Sad­ducees, on the contrary, were enraged upon seeing the joyous multitude and hearing the words of Jesus. Their rage increased when they beheld Issachar in perfect health going around among the people, joy­fully helping the disciples and his own servants to distribute food to them as they seated themselves along the stone benches. This sight so exasperated them that they stormed violently against Jesus. It

Life of Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich
Vol 2

This document is: ACE_2_0421

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