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BOOK III. DIVINE ASSISTANCE

CHAPTER XIX

THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING

YEA, Samson of Cyrene married Abaddone, sister of Shikkuts and worshipper of Baal.

For behold, the woman was comely, albeit a slattern. And she would go forth unto Samson in the fields, the when he had newly finished communing with Jehovah, and all his soul was filled with longing both to hear the voice of God and to see God. And, at such times, she would talk to Samson concerning Baal, and mingle the delights of religion with the delicacies of lust.

And Samson dwelt in the house of Abaddone, both of her and of her filthy brother, Shikkuts. And he lived but little according to the ways of his prophets.

There was indeed a certain good man, known as Morah (or “Grief”), whose face was like unto the face of Jeremiah and of them that were with him and before him. He sought, at divers times, to speak unto Samson-Solomon concerning his wickedness. On a day, he did just manage to come anigh Samson.

Said he then unto the young man, “Bless me, O my Son, for I come in the name of Adonai."

But Samson, instead of blessing, cursed him.

Then asked Morah, “Why hast thou not, O priest, Amahnah with thee?"

Samson answered and said unto him, “I have my wife, who suiteth me well enough. As for this Amahnah, I know not who she is.

But Morah came yet nigher up unto him. And he declareth, Thou knowest very well that Abaddone hath many another husband living. Thou knowest also very well who Amahnah is, the Purpose of God. And she bringeth thee earthly blessings as well as a heavenly reward-so be that thou wilt hearken unto me. See! I have here from that woman a little letter which she hath written to me, not to thee. And yet, still, she encloseth moneys, which, she saith, are all for the fruits of thy pastures. And she saith also that, by the friends of Jeezer, she hath learned that that holy man is dead."

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Samson saith unto him, "Jeezer that former prophet? Is he dead !!

Morah moaned in a great heaviness: "Hast thou not, Sweetly Chosen, one little tear to shed over such a prophet as Jeezer?"

Samson flew into a rage, saying: “Get out of my way. If I I choose to hear again from Amahnah, I will tell thee. And if I come into need for her temporal blessings, then also will I tell thee. Meanwhile, thou art a brazen and a solemn fool. I go into peace.

Morah lifted up his voice after the young man, and wept. Saith he, “I am well called Morah, for behold I am merely 'Grief.' But thou, O Samson-Solomon, art thou not forever lost? A great punishment shall come upon thee. Thou shalt be confined for an age. A helper from above will be necessary unto thee and unto us all. Messiah, Messiah! come soon.

And on many other days did Morah seek to come up with SamsonSolomon, meaning to say to him many sweet things and precious concerning his priesthood. But that perverse and obdurate young man would nowise hearken, but went away from him quickly.

And, in later years, when Jehovah had sent upon his servant, Samson, the very great punishment which the prophet had predicted, then made Morah a grievous, if divinely beautiful, Lamentation. And the words which he uttered, are they not extant until this day?

But Ophidion was busy, in these earlier times, in far distant parts. For behold, the Jew had shapen, as it were, a habit of idolatry, and Ophidion, knowing this, left the failure to his own devices.

Now, on a certain day, Abaddone, having learned from SamsonSolomon concerning his deep abhorrence of the Mocker, Trivialis, said unto her man: "Accursed be the day I became thy wife—thou

" who art a sluggard in revenge.'

Said Samson, “I am in doubt as to what I should do." And he told her the dream he had had within another dream, wherein he had thought that the Mocker had stolen the sacred locket from his breast, and that, having slain the man, he found in his fingers not indeed a locket, but a venomous serpent, while the treasure still was safe upon his own breast.

But Abaddone said, “A pestilence seize upon thee for a fool. Wilt thou harbor brotherly thoughts of this thine enemy, who is also enemy unto thy God and unto my god ?”

Samson told her of the little kindly acts which Trivialis had done for him.

She laughed more scornfully. “What sort of priest art thou these days! Pah! I did esteem thee when thou struckest my brother in

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the fields, and all but brake him to pieces. Lovest thou Jerusalem and the Temple that is on Moriah, and yet wilt not so much as smite a scorner thereof? And the scorner scorned thee also, and yet thou hast not stricken him.

Then Samson asked her with all humility what it was he should do.

“Now," said she, "thou beginnest to speak like a true man. Hast thou not heard, in any way at all, where that Mocker is that did scorn thee and God, that thou mayest find him and punish him?"

Nay.

Then,” said she, “I have a plan. My brother and I do know the captain of a ship, and he goeth about the world. A Roman he is and hard. His name, Ardelio, or ‘Busy-body.' Say unto him the knowledge thou wouldst have, and he will find it, yea though he have to bring it from the uttermost corners of the earth."

As Abaddone said, so did Samson.

And Ardelio promised to bring news about Trivialis, so that Samson of Cyrene might have upon his enemy a sufficient revenge.

But, on a day, came Abaddone once again to Samson, saying: “The gods confound thee for an impious wretch. What hast thou done of late in the way of religion ?” Samson said, “I have observed the Sabbath-so much I know.”

That,” said she, “is all thou hast done. But listen and give good heed to what I shall say. My brother, which is Shikkuts, and also I, have, together with some of the wiser of our neighbors, determined to see again the mysteries of Baal, which is also Moloch.

"These are to be in secret, and none shall behold, save them which are privileged as thereunto. There standeth, even now, in the wilderness, a brazen image of the Lord, which is Moloch. Within, it is hollow, for the place of a great burning is to be there. His face is that of a calf, and his hands stretch forth like those of a mighty man who openeth them to receive something from a friend.

“And we, the worshippers, will place in his heated arms the choicest of all offerings—the first born of the house of all them which have children. So shall the child have union with the god, and we that stand about shall have much merit with him also.”

Then was Samson aghast at her who had lain in his bosom. Said he, “Moloch is naught, saving as Satan may be behind him. Ye do therefore worship Satan. Let us abhor all these things, and go up unto Jerusalem, and worship the Lord God only, which is El-Shaddai, and which is from everlasting unto everlasting. Baal and Satan, they shall find an end."

She cried, “Fool! Is not any religion just as good as another? Let us worship not in accordance with one alone, but many. And behold there shall come, at the close of the worship of Moloch, those mysteries which gladden the hearts of men and women which have passion. Moreover, I would have a sign. Thy God which is in the Temple at Jerusalem, He giveth no longer any sign. Where is the sheckinah? And none that is born of flesh can in anywise know Him."

"Unless Messiah come.

She laughed. “Messiah will not come. Of that be sure. Have ye not awaited Him, ye Jews, till all the Land is bloody with Roman rule, yea and much longer also ? And ye have not even the sheckinah in the space between the cherubim that have sat these thousand years upon the ark, and still sit, and yet there is no shining in the space which is there between them.

“But the hot face of Moloch laugheth when the children die. And he laugheth yet again when he heareth the rolling of the drums which the people beat that his goodly ears may not perceive the shrieks of children and of parents.”

Then, perceiving that she had made a mistake, she went another way about. So he lay with his head in her lap, as she kissed him mightily. And, for the servant of God, he became vain in his imagination, and his foolish heart was darkened. He longed once more for a sign from heaven, in especial for a god that he could both see and touch.

He therefore gave consent, calling Abaddone “Sweetest Tsyria.She, on her part, said: “In the morning I would that thou wouldest go up to Jerusalem, and let the High Priest see thee. For lo! it is time thou didst in some wise give heed concerning this matter of thy priesthood, having been in the Land long."

Samson, in consequence, said unto her: “It is truly well. I shall be a priest in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, but, in secret, I will worship Baal with thee."

On the morrow, therefore, at earliest cockcrow, he (having been advised by Abaddone to watch for robbers) set out toward Jerusalem.

Nor was he, on this day, in his heart afraid to go up unto the City of the Great King, there to offer himself (who was a worshipper of Baal) unto the High Priest of the Almighty. For behold! his heart was greatly an-hardened.

And as he went along the way, he rejoiced in all the differences (for such was his folly) which he saw between this Land of God's and all the other lands of the world which he had seen, saying: "It is my Land, O Lord. It is thy Land, O Lord. It is the Land of thy people, O Lord God Almighty.” And he felt neither jot nor tittle of unworthiness.

So, passing up the road betwixt the white, flat-topped villages, and the fences built of the unhewn stone of the fields, he fared to the west of Bethlehem, saying: “On a day, I will surely return unto thee, O village of David, and village of the Christ that is to be. And I will herd my sheep and my cattle round about thee, watching from Migdal Eder, and, as my course is called for its turn at service in the Temple, I will betake me unto the City, and there will serve the Lord, my Father, my comfort and my strength. And I will be a Sadducee, as well as priest.'

And he rejoiced to hear, as he passed through villages, the peculiar greetings of his own and God's people. “The blessings of the true God upon thee.” “And to thee and thine the peace of the Lord.”

' “To thee also, till Messiah come." He passed people who wore phylacteries openly, as if they were proud thereof. People who, entering their houses, reached up first and touched the mezuzah, and did not glance round to see if hateful eyes looked.

Sometimes supercilious Pharisees rode past on ass or camel, for the most part solitary, stopping from time to time in the middle of the road to make long prayers with brazen voices. At the corners of their outer robes they had blue fringes, and these were broad and long, on their heads and arms phylacteries, and these were big and bright and stood forth plainly in the sight of all men.

Samson said to one of these Pharisees, “Peace be unto thee, O Holy Father." Whereupon the Rabbi gazed at him with wide, disdainful eyes, saying: “I thank thee, Lord, I am not as this

: man is."

There came two courtly Sadducees on milk-white mules, apparelled in purple and gold, dainty and delicate and very self-possessed, talking excellent Greek. Samson said to them, Peace be unto thee-till Messiah come." They looked up in amazement at the giant striding by, and said not anything to him.

Thought Simon, 'Tis well. For how can they know I too am a Sadducee? Do they wot of my priesthood and locketTomorrow He swallowed his gall.

He was not much northward of the road that runneth toward Bethlehem, when a rude fellow came out from bushes and walked beside him.

“Thou art a Babylonian?“Aye." At Migdal Eder the man departed on his own way-toward the

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