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of his headship over this world, and none among us in the Land durst try to answer such a question. Let us therefore leave it as a riddle that cannot be interpreted, for even the hills hereby have ears and the rocks may find voices."
“Thou hast caught it in the crook," answered Gheburah. He spake even lower, as he said: “But hearken, and I will tell thee what I myself beheld three days ago, when I had taken the first flock of the year to the Temple, and had come back over the Tyropean bridge. There was a man in the Street of the Coppersmiths, that took a rabbi by the throat, and said unto him: 'Sirrah, thou hast not yet paid thy poll-tax.' And he dragged him off to prison."
Then spake up a yet elder shepherd, saying: “But what is that? Only yesterday I saw a Jewish widow over Jericho way, which could not pay the taxes on her home. And the soldiers cast her rudely out, crying: 'Thou bitch of a Jewess!' and they scourged her so that she fell and knew nothing.
"A neighbor took her in, and comforted her, and gave her in the charge of his wife-though he himself is but an am-ha-aret."
“Hast thou not heard,'' put in then Gheburah, “that one-a rabbi from Bethlehem at that-went unto Jerusalem, and protested as against these things."
“And what responded Pilate?” asked the eldest shepherd.
"'Do ye not yourselves consume your widows' houses ?' Thus said he. And also, 'Behold the Pharisees among you, love they not the homes of widows and of orphans and of all that are desolate?'”
“What answered the rabbi?”
"He parted his garment and tore his hair, and cast dust on his head, and came away, accursing.'
“Was he guilty of these things ?” "He was guilty. Woe is Israel !"
“Woe is Israel indeed!” said Simon, softly. Then, balling his great fists: “Would that Messiah were come.
“Hath He not come?” cried Gheburah, as his eyes brightened, and the lines grew deep and strong about his face.
Simon, seeing that the man's heart was stirred, let his crook fall, and stood over against him, listening.
“Hath He not come?" cried again Gheburah. Then, with the voice of a trumpet: “He hath come!"
An echo arose from the way of Bethlehem, in some or another hill, shouting triumphantly: "He hath come!”
And all the shepherds ceased to speak, looking in turn over Bethlehem way.
And a yet more distant echo rejoiced from a hill in the way of Jerusalem, "He hath come."
The silence of the shepherds continued until Gheburah, in a voice of true conviction, declared again to Simon, as if these matters were something which should never be forgot: “He hath come. Yea, He hath come. By the God of Israel, Israel shall be revenged.”
Said a yet elder shepherd, “Behold! The sheep stray. They are frightened at thy voice, O Gheburah.” And he went off calmly with his crook in the way toward Jerusalem, calling: “Sheep, sheep, sheep! She-e-e-p! Sheep, sheep!”
And here came all the lamblings back, bounding and capering about him with little crisp, loving voices.
Oh the sadness and the affection of those voices !
And Ohab (for such was his name) brought the sheep together at the brook. And he stood in the midst of the sheep, which crowded and bleated all about him.
And Simon noted the difference in the face of Ohab, him that attended the sheep lovingly, and the surly countenance of Gheburah. For over the eyes of Ohab the years had drawn a little mist, a tender veil, behind whose softnesses the old, sweet spirit dreamed, losing itself in God, But when the man awakened and became more attentive unto his surroundings, then the mists of the body cleared away, the eyes grew brightly tremulous, like twin stars, and the inward life of holy communion shone out plainly unto the world. But Gheburah had all the time brightly observant eyes. And he guarded the sheep more closely than did Ohab, yet not by any means better. For behold! even the old rams loved Ohab, and the tiny lamblets skipped and danced not only when he played on pipes or tabret, but even at the sound of his voice.
And now the sheep were gathered all about Ohab.
And one that was called Ivveleth (or “Levity'') a far younger shepherd, said to Ohab: "Would, O Ohab, that I loved these little creatures as thou dost. But how sad are the voices of the sheep! It liketh me not, a shepherd's life; there is in it no gayety. The wide wilderness is sad, and sadder the weary waste beyond it-sad, sad. And the sound of the winds as they speak in the tree-tops and the grasses, it also is sad. Yet I know not what, in any other calling, I should be able to do. So I stay a shepherd.”
And, at this, Gheburah seeing that one of the sheep did nibble at another's ears and caused that they should bleed, gave a loud, fierce cry, and hurled his crook among the sheep.
And they fled panic-stricken, some in one way, some in another. Until the gentle Ohab, calling, calling, still from the same very
spot where he had stood in the midst of them, began to gather the sheep together again.
But Ivveleth, restless and full of antic follies, ran out after the sheep, attempting to chase them in with comical sweeps of the arms.
And the sheep ran faster and faster.
And coming at length to the top of a hill, where a great rock was, a wolf shot out from the shadow of the rock and seized a lambling with its teeth and made away.
Then tears came into the eyes of Ohab. He placed his little pipes to his lips and played softly.
And the sheep that were left, after a time of running again, came back to the place whereon the gentle shepherd stood.
And Ohab entered the sheep into the fold, making fast the door.
And, on another day, while the shepherds watched their flocks, Simon said to Gheburah: “Thou saidst, not very long ago, that
“ Messiah had come. Hath He come, or wast thou jesting ?”
Said Gheburah: “I jested not, for these mine eyes did see Him. But may those orbs be forever accursed that I have seen Him not again. Oh, all my life is bitterness that I have seen Him-seen Jehovah and seen Him not again with javelin and sword.”
He stood for a very long time, looking in the way of Jerusalem. Then his eyes softened, and he said to Ohab: “But thou, O Ohab, thou hast also seen, and yet art not bitter. Say therefore unto Simon the story. May he not be bitter when he hath heard it."
Looked Ohab (whose name meaneth “Love,” but “Gheburah” “Force,” or “Violence'') in the way toward Bethlehem. And the mist that was often in his eyes cleared away. He said in a low, sweet, considering tone: “We were here among the sheep, Gheburah, Ivveleth and also I. The night was very sweet and still. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon us, and the glory of the Lord shone round about us: and we were sore afraid. And the angel said unto us, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from us into heaven, that Ivveleth, Gheburah and I, said each unto each, 'Let us go now unto Bethlehem, and behold the child.'
“And we came with haste, and found a woman, Mary, and her husband, Joseph, which had come to the city of David for to be taxed. And their babe was lying in a manger.
“And when we had seen the child, we told abroad all those things which the angel had declared unto us. And all that heard did marvel greatly. We returned therefore, glorifying and praising God for all the things that we had heard and seen, as it was told unto us.
“And lo! on another day there came wise men from the East, which were guided by a star, and which had passed by the way of Jerusalem. And seeing the young child with His mother, they fell down and worshipped Him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto Him gifts, gold, and frankincense and myrrh.”
Simon of Cyrene, pondering these matters, thought: "Shall I see thee yet, Adonai, and in the flesh?” After a time: “Nay, little babe, thou wast too humble, I fear." He recalled his own rejection at the hands of Annas, the High Priest. “The High Priest said," quoth Simon, as he recollected, “I am indeed glad of this for an excuse that thou has lost thy genealogy. For thou art humble,
— humble and very unknown."
Then said Simon to Gheburah, “Thinkest thou truly that this could have been Messiah q”.
Gheburah answered and said unto him, “I sometimes believe and sometimes not. For that was many, many years ago, and, as yet, I have seen no sword.'
And Amahnah and Simon went, each Sabbath, with phylacteries on their arms and foreheads, unto the little synagogue in Bethlehem. It stood in the highest quarter of the town, where two ways met, and, rising from its roof, a golden pole. Round the building was a porch of slender Ionic columns, to show (together with the pole) that the place was a house of teaching and of prayer.
Over the door of the entrance were a seven-branched candlestick and a pot of manna, lightly cut in the lintel-stone. And the proselytes might not go in, but hung about the door within the porch.
And when they twain had entered into the synagogue, then were Simon and his “Covenant” made separate and apart, each from each. For behold! Amahnah was constrained to enter the court for women, which was boarded off and set to itself with lattices, but into the court of the men went Simon. And the heads of all the men were covered. But both the women and the men, as they sate, did face Jerusalem. And the floor was strewn with mint for a purification and a sweet smell.
Now at the opposite end of the room was a platform, or bima, and at the edge thereof which was nearest to the congregation, a
reading desk, or migdal ez. Behind this desk the reader stood and read, while the preacher ever sate beside him.
At the back part of the bima hung the veil, above it, the everburning lamp. Nearby was the eight-branched candlestick, and, back of the veil, the ark, wherefrom the Chazzan, at the proper time, got out the great rolls of the Law, presenting them to the readers.
Betwixt the bima and the common portion of the congregation were “the chief seats” of the synagogue, whereon the rulers of the synagogue-rabbis, Pharisees, men of might and majesty—sate, facing, with sternness and appropriate repose, the am-ha-arets, or commoner portion of the people.
How often did Simon of Cyrene sit in that commoner portion of the congregation, wailing his own deep ignorance of the Law-wholly resolving that, come what might, he would, on a day, get him a place among the Pharisees, a "chief seat in the synagogue!" But first of all, a knowledge of the Law! Why should he try to remain a Sadducee? His priesthood was a jibe, a jest. Yet he stayed for long, at heart, a Sadducee and a priest. His soul was more in the Temple than in the synagogue.
But how were the synagogue services not impressed and stamped on the mind of Simon of Cyrene, so that, in after years, when they were for him only things of the long gone past, the Sabbath program of that village house of prayer would come up into his mind, would not be wholly neglected!
First arose from among "the chief seats" some important reader, and went up on the bima. There, standing behind the migdal ez, he pronounced an opening prayer. Then he recited the Shema, and having gone and stood before the ark, he led in prayers a while (pronouncing the eighteen eulogies, the "tephillah"). Then the Chazzan pulled aside the veil, and, lifting the lid of the ark and taking up one of the parchments of the Law, delivered it to the reader for to read.
And the reader, whenas he had returned to the lectern, read the lesson of the day. And the lesson was in Hebrew. Therefore, beside him stood the meturgeman, the interpreter, turning the Hebrew into Aramaic, either phrase by phrase or sentence by sentence. And often as many as seven of them that had sate in "the chief seats of the synagogue” would go up behind the lectern, and, in turn, read.
Then the preacher, the “darshan,” sitting, prosed away for hours, and “taught” the people.
And sometimes did Simon listen eagerly, and again he slipt down