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demned to forfeit all his goods to the priests, for sacred uses. It occurred at a season of the year corresponding with our March. Every master of a family went up to Jerusalern, and carried a lamb or a kid to the temple. Each animal must be examined by priests, and pronounced perfectly unblemished. The lamb was then slaughtered in the court of the temple. A row of priests stood ready with gold and silver vials, into which some of the blood was poured and passed up to the altar; empty vials being continually passed down. The priest, who stood nearest to the altar, sprinkled the blood upon it. The fat of the inwards and the kidneys were consumed as a burnt-offering; and while they were burning, bands of Levites sang Psalms. Each master of a family caused the body of his lamb to be conveyed to the place where he intended to sup, and there it was roasted whole. When all were seated at the table, a vessel of red wine and water was prepared. The master of the feast pronounced a blessing over it, drank, and passed it round to each member of the company. Then they all washed their hands, saying: “Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and hast commanded us concerning the washing of our hands." Then they ate bitter herbs, reminding each other that they did it in remembrance of their bitter bondage in Egypt. Psalms were sung by singers provided for the occasion. Then the master of the feast took two loaves of unleavened bread, brake them in pieces, ate a portion himself, and passed the remainder to all present. Before they parted, a Psalm was sung, beginning and ending with Hallelujah, which means Praise to the Lord. At the Feast of the Passover, it was customary to release some prisoner, who was under sentence of death.
The next day began the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It continued seven days, during which special sacrifices of animals were offered every day, in addition to the customary sacrifices. On the first day, every man was required to send a bullock, or other animal, to the temple for sacrifice. On the second day, they brought offerings of the first fruits of their barley-harvest, which was ripe at that season. Each man cast a handful of barley into the fire on the altar, and the remainder was left for the priests. Until this ceremony had been performed, the people did not reap their harvests, or partake of them.
People from all the tribes of Israel came up to Jerusalem in their best attire, to attend this great festival of eight days, commencing with the Passover. Every master of a house came up to the temple with his Paschal lamb on his shoulder, or had it carried before him by servants. In the days of Jewish prosperity, a million of human beings often assembled there. All the environs of the city were covered with tents; for though the most unbounded hospitality prevailed, it was impossible to accommodate all the strangers in houses. The number of cattle brought from afar was so great, that the hills round Jerusalem were covered with them, and every blade of grass was devoured, Some preferred to buy animals on the spot, and this led to the establishment of a great cattle-market in the outer courts of the temple, from which priests and Levites obtained considerable revenue. There were likewise chests and tables for money-changers, who sat there to receive pay for things purchased to offer in the temple; likewise to take the redemption money, which every Israelite paid for the life of his first-born son. These Levites demanded a fee for changing money, which in process of time led to great extortion.
When seven times seven days had passed, after the wave-offerings from their barley-harvest, a festival of thanksgiving was held for the ripened wheat. It was called Pentecost, meaning the fiftieth, because it occurred fifty days after barley-harvest. It was instituted in commemoration of the promulgation of the Law on Mount Sinai. All the men of Israel were required to come up to the temple with loaves of bread and sheaves of wheat. These were waved before the Lord, and reserved for the priests. Bullocks, rams, lambs, and kids, adorned with flowers and fillets, were brought for burnt-offerings. Priests sprinkled the blood of these animals on the altar, waved the fat of the inwards before the Lord, toward the four winds of heaven, and then burnt them on the altar, while priests blowed on silver trumpets, and Levites sang Psalms. Certain portions of the meat were reserved for the priests, and the remainder made a feast for those who offered the sacrifice. This festival continued seven days, but the first was observed with most solemnity. The poor rejoiced at this season, for reapers were ordered not to glean the fields clean, and not to go back to pick up a sheaf they had dropped.
Six months after the Passover, a great festival was held in gratitude for the ripened grapes and olives. On this occasion, also, all Israel were required to come up to the temple. They came in long procession, bringing abundant offerings of fruit, leading a fat ox for sacrifice, with his horns gilded, and head crowned with a garland of olive leaves. Bands of singers and musicians preceded them. As they approached Jerusalem, workmen left their shops, and magistrates went forth to meet them, exclaiming: “0, our brethren, ye are welcome !" Every one, even the king, carried on his shoulder a basket of offerings up to the court of the temple. Turtle doves, wreathed with flowers, were fastened to the baskets, to be offered in sacrifice. The fruits belonged to the courses of priests at that time in service. This festival was called the Feast of Tabernacles, because all the people dwelt in booths, or tabernacles, to commemorate the time when they lived in tents in the wilderness. The booths were made of green boughs, so slightly woven that the rain could descend through them, and sun or stars could be plainly seen.
Here they ate, drank, and slept, during the whole festival; only invalids, women, and children, were exempted from the obligation. Some erected booths in the court-yards of their houses, or on the roofs. They tied palm-branches together, intertwined with threads of gold or silver, and carried them in their hands every day of the feast, whithersoever they went. They entered the court of the temple
daily, and waved their palm-branches toward the altar, shouting: “Hosanna! O Lord. send us prosperity.” Meanwhile, the trumpets sounded. On the seventh day, called the Day of Psalms, they all walked seven times round the altar, waving their palm-branches, while trumpets sounded, and Levites sang “Hosanna!" Then priests brought a golden tankard filled with wine and water, and poured it out at the foot of the altar, a libation to the Lord. Again the people waved their branches, trumpets sounded, musicians played, and Levites joined in a chorus of hosannas. In the evening, the court of the temple was brilliantly lighted, Levites played on harps and cymbals, while the people, including doctors of the Law, members of the Sanhedrim, and other dignified officers, sang, danced, and leaped about, with lighted torches in their hands, till the night was far spent. When it was ended, the priests bore a testimony against Sun-worshippers, by passing out at the east gate of the temple, and turning toward the west, to repeat these words: “Our fathers, who were in this place, turned their faces toward the east, where the sun rises, and turned their backs
upon the temple of the Lord. But as for us, we turn our faces toward God, and worship him.” This festival continued eight days. The last was called the Feast of Ingathering; when they brought to the temple oblations of wine, and oil, and threshed wheat. When these were presented, Psalms of thanksgiving were sung in full chorus, with trumpets and bands of music. No man was allowed to require any work from his servants on that day. Moses enjoined that scattered fruit should not be picked up, and that bunches of grapes should be left hanging, for the benefit of those who had no vineyards of their own. Some were doubtless niggardly in their obedience; but it is probable there always existed many kind hearts, who delighted in this delicate mode of conferring obligation, without the embarrassment of receiving thanks. Moreover, the selfishness of devout believers urged them to the same result, for giving to the poor was regarded as one form of offering to the Lord; and Hebrew theology always taught that God rewarded his worshippers with external prosperity, in proportion to their devotional zeal. During the Feast of Tabernacles, prayers were offered for all people in the world, and seventy bullocks were sacrificed for the seventy nations, which Jews supposed comprised all the inhabitants of the earth. They were designated by the common term Gentiles, which simply means the nations. From the time of Joshua to the captivity in Babylon, the people neglected to live in booths during this festival, though Moses expressly enjoined it; but after their return from exile, Ezra restored the ancient usage.
Jews, in common with most Asiatic nations, believed that the world was created in autumn; therefore they dated their year from that time. On the day of the first new moon of the year, they held a new year's festival, called the Feast of Trumpets. No man was allowed to require work from his labourers on that day; and the provisions for food were more abundant than usual. It was customary to serve up a ram's head, in memory of the ram slain instead of Isaac. At sunrise, they offered thanks, saying: “Blessed be God who has hitherto preserved us in life, and brought us unto this time.” Then the priests began to blow trumpets, and continued blowing them by turns, until sunset.
Every new moon was observed as a festival. Men were stationed on all the heights and watch-towers, to announce when the moon began to show itself above the horizon. As soon as the high priest heard the tidings, he said: " “The new moon is hallowed;" and the Sanhedrim, who were assembled for the occasion, replied: "It is hallowed." Fires were kindled on all the hills, and messengers sent in every direction, to remind people that the Feast of the New Moon must be celebrated. At such times, in addition to the sacrifices daily offered in the temple, they slaughtered two bulls, seven lambs, and a kid, for sin-offerings.
Nine days after the Festival of Trumpets, they observed a very severe national fast, called the Great Day of Expiation. During this interval of nine days, they prepared