Page images
PDF
EPUB

gardens were of the most delicious kind. They were also guarded by a dragon.

Pan, a Greek divinity who presided over shepherds and the country. He was represented as having a goat's feet, horns, and shaggy hair. His name means all or universal. Hence he was regarded as the symbol of Universal Nature.

the Graces, fabulous beings, represented by the Greeks as three in number, attendants of the goddess of beauty and bestowing all loveliness and favour.

the Hours were represented as presiding over the changes of time and especially the seasons.

field of Enna.-Enna was a mountain and town in Sicily. Near it, Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres goddess of Corn, was carried down to the regions of the dead by Pluto, here called "gloomy Dis." Proserpine became his queen, whilst her mother was represented as searching for her daughter over the whole world.

THE LAST AGONY OF THE JEWS.1

JERUSALEM, A.D. 70. 1. Through the streets of the upper town, amidst trembling sorrowing groups, taking leave of the armed son or brother going forth to death, or bewailing the corpse which had been just returned to them, ruffian bands on all sides being intent on violence and spoliation, through this, which was yet the most tranquil part of the city we may make our way to the upper stories of one of the three huge solid towers that rose above the wall on that western side.

2. Thence far as the eye can reach even to the flanks of Gibeon is the Roman camp extended. In the distance we may descry, coming up from seaward, the long provision trains laden with an abundance that mocked

1 Inserted from Drew's Scripture Lands, by permission of Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co. (100)

х

the lean and haggard groups whom we have just left in the streets below, and awoke the curses of the armed men among whom we should be standing. Or, on the other side, hastening away from these scenes of sorrowful depression and going across the bridge that spans the hollow, which was then choked with hideous tokens of the suicidal ruin and devastation, we might reach the temple courts and the spacious colonnades.

3. There, the shout, the trumpets, the clang and thunder of the engines betoken the focus of the energy that maintains the struggle. But passing through it and making our way amongst those fierce and glaring forms to one of the upper ramparts of Antonia, we look down on the

open ground immediately beneath. There are the covered engines with their huge missiles ever and anon darkening the air; and there, too, is the approaching compacted band of the assailants, their shields and helmets in broad and splendid surface protecting them as they advance in mighty and invincible, because in disciplined energy, calmly steadfast even in the very desperation of their valour.

4. Beyond, on the gently rising ground now bared of all the forest wood that again had thickly covered it, there are long ranges of tents and pavilions, stretching far and wide, as though a new city of warriors had suddenly uprisen on the slopes and ridges of the northern hills. Again, turning towards the east in the clefts of Olivet, at its roots and on its long sides sloping downward to the Kedron, the armed companies extend themselves. There is the same panoply of war, there are the same firmly compacted bands, breathing and shouting valour, now pressing forward in the assaults on the north, now driving back up the slopes opposite their quarters the daring men who so often, and with such dire effect, sallied forth on that side of the city.

5. And on all that vast magnificent array—so we should have been assured as we made our way to gaze on it from one side of the city to the other—the Messiah was about to lay the hand of His Omnipotence to break and to crush it. Any hour, nay, even this very hour or the next He might be expected to appear. He had appointed His advent at this very crisis, and was it not worth even all this strife and suffering to hold His chosen seat, His future throne, until He came.

6. Their expected victims, on the other hand, were not unaware of the feelings with which they were regarded.

Standing on the summit of the eastern mount they could, therefore, understand why, amidst all the famine and hideous tumult, the smoke of the daily sacrifice yet rose up in front of them, darkening the snowwhite sanctuary. And they must in consequence have looked on the reckless infuriated men who scowled and yelled defiance from the walls, and who raged against them with such frantic desperation as men possessed, against whom it were vain to contend in personal encounter.

7. It was on this account that at length Titus “dug the trench” which again “encompassed the city on every side,” making an exit from its beleaguered walls impracticable. This hastened the inevitable catastrophe. The wretched people hemmed in by this enclosure were now obliged by the summer heat to throw the corpses of their slain companions down into the steep ravine adjacent to the sepulchres, into which they had no longer access upon the south. Nor could any reinforcements now enter the city to supply the places of those taken from them. There was a slow and sure diminution of their forces daily by the Roman missiles; and another not less rapid by famine and intestine strife, for hunger and mutual rage were still allied on the Roman side, in the very

midst of them. 8. Meanwhile the engines advanced nearer and in emulous daring the scaling ladders were ascended. Now the foot of the Roman was on the walls. Antonia rocked and shook, and at length fell under a succession of ponderous shocks; and in less than three months from the day when the first stones were hurled into the rebellious city, the legions had gained a position within its huge and massive bulwarks.

9. Immediately the outer court of the temple was filled by them; they there thronged the colonnades, sheltering themselves from the fierce heats of the open, glaring sky; and the haunts of learned converse, of devout and lofty meditation, now resounded with the fierce and exultant shoutings of the conquerors, and with the heavy din and clatter of the engines that were dragged into the enclosure for a shattering assault on the walls of the inner court, which even yet resisted them.

10. We reach, at length, in the souls of the environed group within that enclosure, the central crisis of all those horrors, as each shock of the ponderous engine smote on them like the last strokes of the hour of doom. True, they said, the daily sacrifice had been suspended. Yet still the inner sanctuary of Messiah the “courts of His own people” were secure; they were not yet defiled by the tread of the invader! Was not this then the very hour of deliverance? They looked up, but the heavens calm in their eternal stillness opened not; they listened in the intervals of the assault for the rush of His chariot wheels, for the tramp of the angel legions He would send for their deliverance!

11. How happy was the lot who were removed from all those horrors in comparison with that of those

[ocr errors]

who survived, and who still occupied the upper town. Once more, on that same station, at the east end of the great bridge where Agrippa had formerly harangued them, Titus himself advanced, and summoned them as they crowded to listen to him on the other side of Zion to surrender. From their station on that hill, they could see every circumstance of the destructive work which had just been wrought on the temple.

12. Across the ravines already heaped and glutted with the huge blocks which the engines had dislodged, it was. now easy, with the masses that had been loosened by the fire, and which the policy of war made it incumbent. on them to overthrow, to make a pathway broad and high enough for the operations which soon placed the upper city also in the hands of the conqueror.

13. Execution and slavery disposed of the wretched survivors. And now the whole extent of the dismantled city was added to the Roman camp. The imperial eagle rose above its hills and towers: the effigy of Vespasian was upreared. Over the whole scene which had so lately resounded with demon uproar, there was silence, that was only broken by the upheaving, and overthrow into the surrounding hollows of all the solid masonry, on which the strength and skill and the resources of two generations had been consumed in raising it into a structure that was meant to be as lasting as the world. They “laid it even with the ground and left not one stone upon another." Once again Jerusalem became a heap of ruins.-G. S. Drew.

Questions on the lesson :-What scenes were witnessed in the streets of the upper city? How far was the Roman camp seen to, extend? What were seen on the way from the sea? What effect, did the sight produce on those who witnessed the trains ? What, could be heard in the temple courts? From the Tower of Antonia

« PreviousContinue »