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And the High Priest offered not to help him, but sate with his fine, dry smile, upon his lofty throne of gold and ivory, one patient hand reached out- “My son,” said he, at length, “I must hasten to take this into the Hall of Polished Stones, where sits the Sanhedrim. Wilt thou not reach to me the locket ?”
Thereupon Samson gave a mighty pull, and the chain brake, and he reached out hastily a hand that was all trembling for sheer joy and with happiness at the thought of what Leah, who was also Berith and Amahnah, Enooth and Machashebethel, would say, when that her husband had become a priest accepted in the great Hall of Polished Stones. And he handed the locket to the High Priest.
And the outstretched hand-a slim, old, tapering, august and imperious hand-opened and then closed upon the locket. The hand carried the locket nearer unto the aristocratic eyes.
So smote the knees of Samson one against the other, and his heart beat fast, and his neck trembled and his back bowed low, and all his soul was filled with awe and joy, and yet with great fear also, because of the trial which now was come upon him. “A priest, a priest, a priest !” he shouted in his heart steadfastly, “a priest in the Temple of the Lord God, even El-Shaddai, a priest unto Jehovah, and for all this world !!
And he was not, for a certain time, able, by any manner of means, to look up higher than the High Priest 's lean, imperious hand. Yet, when he could look up higher, he saw that the wonderful eyes were gazing upon the locket with a strange and curious steadfastness. Therefore Simon could no longer contain himself, but cried aloud: “Open, O Father, and show to mine eyes both the parchment and the pearls!"
But the High Priest said unto him, with confidence: "Be not afraid. The pearls that are in the locket, my son, they are wholly invisible, save to El-Shaddai, the Lord. Thou art not to blame for thy failure of understanding, but the pearls are metaphorical only. By 'pearls' we mean the authentication of a perfect body, perfect soul, and perfect spirit-which three things (in addition to his genealogy) a priest to Jehovah must surely show. Chiefly we care about the genealogy."
He took and opened the locket, very well understanding the secret of its spring.
And he removed the parchment, and scanned it again and yet again, while his brows grew darker and darker, and his small eyes blazed with sacred lightnings.
He looked for a time at Samson-Solomon most earnestly. Once
again the young priest could no longer contain, but brake forth in an inarticulate cry. Said he, hoarsely whispering : “My locket ! Give me back my locket!”
” The High Priest said, “Follow me into the Hall of Polished Stones.”
Then followed him Samson of Cyrene into the Hall, and before the Sanhedrim, and was like unto a drunken man for swaying.
And the High Priest passed the locket round about the members of the great court, as these did sit in judgment. And they each and all did gaze upon the parchment, and none did speak. The locket was handed back unto Annas.
Who thereupon took it, and flung it against the pavement at the young man's feet, shouting : "Jestest thou so with the High Priest? Thou art not Samson-Solomon of Cyrene, but Simon of anywhere and nowhere; for thy favors they go to shameless harlots and idolatry."
Samson gave a cry and rushed to save his locket. Taking it up, said he to the Sanhedrim: “Is there not in this court one single judge that will hear me! For see! there is surely some mistake. The Chazzan at Cyrene did certainly give unto my keeping this locket. Nay, he did fasten the very chain about my neck. Said he to me then, 'Thou art one of the Lord's priests; for behold thou comest of the tribe of Levi, the family of Aaron, and the course of Jedaiah-art therefore also of the family of him that is High Priest in Jerusalem. I beg of you, therefore, O judges, that ye will not thus summarily dismiss me, but look with kindness and with patience yet a little further into these my claims."
Then one that was in the court, that was kinder than any of the others, said unto him: “Hast thou not thyself at some time looked into this locket?"
“Never, O Father. Never have I so much as touched the secret spring.”
“Hast thou, then, not some time lent thy locket out!” “Nay, nor would ever think of doing so."
“Hast thou not, then, at any time, let some other hand than thine intermeddle with this, the spring of its opening ?"
“By no means, Father; oh by no means.” Then said he, trembling and in a great chill: “By benevolent wile the Rabbi Azrikam once saved it for me, O Father, taking it from my bosom and wearing it on his own, till I, a wanderer, did return from being with a strange and subtile woman."
Then once again he could contain no more, but brake forth, spite
of his wishes, into a grievous lamentation : “My pearls! My pearls ! My title to the priesthood!”
Said the man that was kinder than any of the others: “Let be thy pearls, fellow: thou hast no genealogy.-Whom hast thou married ?"
“Amahnah, the Child of God."
“Very true. And so, even if thou thyself didst ever come into the priesthood, even then thy children could not so do, for the blood of their mother would be unknown to us."
“But Betah—her genealogy–he must have known-he insisted that I marry her-he knew many things-he must have known--this Betah,"
“Call thou not upon Betah, for I have spoken."
But Simon prayed them, and supplicated them that they would not be overharsh with him. “As for myself,” said he, “it may happen that I shall be able to set you forth my genealogy in some other way. There may be copies of these things. Is not there here a copy, here in Jerusalem! It was once said unto me- Is there not a copy even here, in this very Temple-perchance both of mine own genealogy and of her that lieth in my bosom Betah must have sent- There must be many secrets,"
But the High Priest: "I speak as official Israel, and I do hereby declare unto thee that I am indeed glad of this excuse to be rid of thee forever, thou who art humble and ignorant and unknown. We have not thy genealogy. Believest thou that such as we could, in any case, consort, But get hence! I have sober business!”
And attendants took the man, and clad him (as the custom was with all that had failed to establish a claim which they had made unto the priesthood) wholly in black. Then led they him forth, and cast him from the Temple.
And he ran across the bridge of glory which spanned the Tyropean, crying: “Woe is me, oh woe is me!” And went without the walls into the valley of Gehenna,' where the filth of the city was daily gathered, and by firemen consumed.
Now the night had come, and all the valley was filled with red fires and great smoke, so that Samson thought: “It is no marvel they make this place a symbol of hell, and that they call the habitations of the damned 'Gehenna.'” And he saw the firemen, how they
1 Or "Gehinnom."
forked up the filth and placed it on the piles for burning. One of them came unto him, and said in jest: “Art thou also a portion of the filth, O soul in a black garment, and wilt thou be consumed ?" Samson had no heart to smite the man, or yet to revile him, but answered: “Yea, I am filth, for I, a priest of Israel, have been rejected by the High Priest and by the Sanhedrim also. Oh woe is me, is me, is me!"
And he fled to the other wall of the valley, while they that attended the burning cast piles of filth both upon him and after him, and howled their derision. Still he smote them not, but went by the way of the plain of the Rephaim, and fetching a compass round about Migdal Eder, attained to Bethlehem and his home.
O LITTLE PALESTINIAN HOUSE!
Now when first he beheld again Amahnah, Samson could not speak, but only took out his locket from his scrip and gazed upon it ruefully. Then he saw that his rightful name (as he was led to believe) was Simon. And so it was that he came to the later name, that name which he bore forever thereafter, until in his mind sometimes arose a feeling that he had borne it for all time.
But, after he had doffed his garment of rejection, and had burned it, then spake he to Amahnah, and without restraint, of all those things which had fortuned unto him, since, before high day, he had set out for Jerusalem.
Said Amahnah, “Be not downcast, neither heavy at all of heart. Thou hast not lost the priesthood, but only the showing of the title thereof, thy right to claim it. He that did reject thee is not of spiritual, but only official, Israel. But speak unto Parush: have him get thee the attendance of the sheep which are meant for the Temple sacrifices, and which feed round Migdal Eder. For this humble office thou art not any wise disqualified. We shall yet be happy."
Said Simon, “I have not indeed lost all. As thou sayest, I am still truly a priest. And thee, my Purpose of God, I still by me. I will do even as thou dost say, and talk with Parush."
So, on the morrow, Simon went up to Jerusalem again, and saw Parush, and besought him that he, even Simon, the Rejected, might be made a shepherd of the Temple sheep which flocked round Migdal Eder. Parush spake to them that had the supervision of this matter, and, as Simon wished, so it was done. But Parush said to him, “Apt as thou art in the study of the Law, it were better thou leftest the herding of sheep to others, and came up unto the City and dwelt beside me, that I might instruct thee. Better it is to be a Pharisee and a Rabbi than even a Sadducee and a priest. For lo! in all this world and that which is to come, there is nothing that is equal unto the Law. And who is like to the teachers of the Law? There is one of the sayings which saith that a rabbi is to be believed, even should he declare that the right hand is the left or the left hand the right. Each and every scribe (that is, one that is learned in the Law) outweigheth all the common people of the world combined. God himself (for one ensample) loveth to do me honor, and my praises are proclaimed each day in heaven by the angels. Come thou, therefore, and be with me as a Talmid."
But Simon's heart was set upon the sheep, and he went back unto Bethlehem, and became a shepherd of the flocks which herd round Migdal Eder.
On a certain evening, when all the sheep had been gathered and counted at a well-filled brook, and Simon of Cyrene spake at ease with many other shepherds, then fell these to discoursing about the Moches (tax-farmers) and the Gabbai (tax-gatherers). “Accursed be Cæsarea," exclaimed one of the group.
“Yea, thrice over accursed,” said an older, he they called Gheburah. “See what now they levy on us, these Romans. From twelve till sixty-five, both bond and free, we pay the Roman headmoney, and there is no escape. And all our land must give one tenth its grain, one fifth its wine and fruits. Then there be bridge-money and road-money, gate-money also, and taxes on every caravan, a special tax on sheep, taxes on all who come into the Land and all who go out therefrom, and even harbor-taxes thitherward at Joppa. Of old it was counted a great sin for to number the people, but our Roman conquerors, behold they do number us in the Land continually. And why? Only to rob us of everything.'
“Woe is Canaan," cried another shepherd, hard by. "Woe is Palestine," another, far away.
“Ye may well say "Woe,' "" went on Gheburah, “For not only are we robbed, but here is a fearsome question which even the Scribes ask, and yet, Is it lawful to pay tribute unto Cæsar?"
He had lowered his voice, and was now looking carefully about. All the other shepherds too, holding their hands above their eyes, looked over the meadows to the hills. Said Simon, warily: "Cæsar, I understand, hath great jealousy