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THE JEWESS OF PEREA.
BY ANNA M. HEFFERNAN.
Day was fast declining into one of those beau- , From her birth she had been accustomed to tifully tranquil evenings, which seem to belong rank and wealth ; beloved and cherished by peculiarly to Eastern skies. The softened her people, with whom she had lived in Perea, rays of the setting sun yet lingered above the on the banks of Jordan. On the first approach mountains of Judea, casting a broad flood of of the Romans, she had fled to Jerusalem, with golden light across the diversified scenery of the little property she had been able to secure the intervening country, and gilding with ra in her hasty flight. Of this she had been diance the domes and minarets of the once robbed by the rapacious guards; and Zophar, beautiful and magnificent city of Jerusalem the beloved one of her youth, the chosen of her still beautiful in its shaded gardens, murmur. heart, was sacrificed, while striving to preserve ing fountains, surrounded by green hills and his wife from insult and injury. Through the undulating plains, consecrated by many sacred shades of night, with strength borrowed from memories.
her undying love, the heroic woman bore For days the Roman troops had besieged the him to the banks of the Jordan, and bathed his city, while famine and desolation reigned within brow in its cool waters, and strove to stay its walls. Piteous were the sounds of sorrow the fast gushing life-blood. But in vain. The and lamentation that rent the air--grief for angel of death stood beside Zophar, and the the dead and dying, and fearful anticipations of shadow of his presence fell upon the brow of a worse fate for the survivors. Before the por the wounded man. tals of their dwellings the inhabitants had pros- “Mara,” he breathed softly, “ once more trated themselves, clothed in sackcloth and lay my head upon thy bosom, ere I enter the ashes, bowing when too late before the throne dark valley. I feel the touch of death upon of their outraged Jehovah, beseeching that his my heart, and my sight grows dim, that I canwrath might be stayed, and the wings of the not see thee, light of my eyes. Jehovah prodestroying angel no more overshadow their tect thee and our little one, and soon reunite land. But deeper fell the shadows of night, and us in paradise.” darker became the woes of the children of Poor Mara! her grief was indeed terrible, as Israel, the onced favored of the Most High. she bent over the lifeless form of her beloved. Resistance and prayers were alike fruitless ; But there was no time for tears, if she would the soldiers had entered the city, and violence preserve his body from the rude soldiery. With and bloodshed became universal. Weakened trembling hands she hollowed a bed in the by starvation, the inhabitants made but a slight sand and placed all that remained of her Zophar effort to repel the enemy; and in the streets within it. She dared not trust herself with a and on the house-tops were slaughtered old and look, but hastily filling up his grave, she bowed young, women and their little ones; that it herself on it, until hearing some one approachmight be fulfilled which was written of the ing, she directed her steps towards the city, and prophets :
entered it as the light of morning was first visi"Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee ; in
ble in the east. making thee desolate, because of thy sins. For her wound Still young, and exceedingly beautiful, with is incurable : for it is come unto Judah ; it is come unto the
her child of a year old, she sought and obtained gate of my people, even to Jerusalem." " And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the
shelter in an obscure abode outside the city, north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the where she had remained for a year, until the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.”
time when war and famine had completed the Outside the suburbs of the city, in a misera woes of Jerusalem. ble hut, dwelt Mara, the daughter of Eleazer.! From morn until eve had she sat, with droop
ing head and clasped hands, gazing listlessly , swift blow-one stifled cry—and still the child out, unheeding the distant sounds of tumult slept on! from the city, or the cries of hunger, and The vast city lay shrouded in darkness--the shrieks for mercy, which the breeze of evening work of carnage for awhile had ceased : sated wafted mournfully past her dwelling. Alas! with horrors, the soldiers dispersed about the for two days the unhappy woman had not city in bands, to pillage whatever came within tasted food, and death was creeping slowly on. their reach. For a while a deathlike stillness Not a morsel of bread found she wherewith to prevailed, only broken by the distant carousal allay the piercing cravings of hunger. And a of the troops, or a groan of agony froin among fate more dreadful than death she would meet, the heaps of dying and dead that strewed the did she venture out to seek food for herself or lanes and by-ways! Yet over all this suffering child. Suddenly she started up, and casting and woe, the moon shed down her glorious light aside the long dark hair that half veiled her into garden and grove, and the placid waters of face and bosom, stood beside the couch where Jordan reflected on their bosom the innumeraslept her child. “ My baby, my darling one," ble stars of heaven; and the soft evening she murmured, “ pearl of my heart, thy mother breeze, bearing perfumes from the Mount of is faint and weary. The wings of the destroy Olives, swept soothingly over the desolate city ing angel overshadow our dwelling, and his of Jerusalemn, as though it might bring the sword has entered my soul. Thou, too, art balm of healing on its wings. Some half inwasted and cry for food, that I, wretched one, toxicated soldiers were passing the dwelling of cannot give thee. Why shouldst thou live? the woman of Judea. They entered her abode, Why not die now? Perhaps, ere an hour, the and seating themselves, commanded her to soldiers of the inhuman Cæsar will be here, bring forth the food she had prepared for herand tear thee asunder before thy mother's eyes, self. herself a victim of like cruelty. One slight Silently she bowed her head, and prepared blow and it would be all over, and thou wouldst | to do their bidding; and when the table was rejoin thy father. Ah! methinks this knife garnished, unheeding their coarse jests, or alwould pierce thy bosom more tenderly, sent by lusions to her beauty, she said unto them, “ Eat! thy mother's hand, than would the murderer's This is the remnant of the meal of a Jewish steel. (! Jerusalem and Judea, that now mother, who for the transgressions and desolasuffer for their transgressions against the Holy tion that have come upon her people, has been One of Israel! my name shall become unto forced to slay for food her own son! Nay, you a reproach ; my fate will be repeated by start not! mine own hand hath done this! our oppressors with fear and trembling. O Eat; for I have partaken of it myself. Why Jehovah, hear! O Jehovah, forgive! hearken do ye turn pale, and place your hands upon and do for thine own sake. O my God! for your weapons ?-are ye Roman soldiers, and the city and people called by thy name, in yet pretend to be more tender and delicate than cline thine ear and hear. Open thine eyes and a woman-or to possess greater compassion behold our desolations, and our great evil. For than a mother ? Thus would I feed you! thus under the whole heaven hath not been done, would I do with every child, ere they should as has been done unto Jerusalem.
become slaves to the Roman yoke! Yet a little "Food! yes; the inhuman wretches asked while, and the proud usurper shall feel the for food; and when I had it not to give, struck chains wherewith he has fettered my people ! me to the ground-me, a noble Jewess, who Yet a little while, and ye shall become divided, abhors their accursed race. They shall have and your glory and power will be but shadows their request, aye, they shall have a sumptuous l of things that were ! Go, tell your tyrant feast, fit for their imperial tyrant, the great Cæsar that — "one of the soldiers sprang Cæsar!"
forward to seize her with the intention of putSadly, but without tears, the wretched wo ting her to death. She eluded his grasp, and man, thus goaded on to desperation, gazed on drawing a knife from her bosom, quick as her sleeping child, all unconscious of its thought she aimed a blow at the man's breast, impending fate. Not one embrace did she and drawing it instantly out, pierced her own permit herself. Now it must be done; now, heart, and fell dead! Horror-struck at this while it slumbers : how could she, should it fearful tragedy-accustomed as they were to wake, and smile, and call her mother! One / scenes of bloodshed and violence-the soldiers
The Moslem writers are fond of marvellous | med in those fundamental notions of the Jewish details concerning the birth and mission of their and Christian religion which he afterwards inprophet. The least that can be said concern corporated into his own. He began his work ing Mohammed is, that he was an extraordinary of imposture about the close of the sixth cenman. He seemed intuitively to perceive that tury, and brought to his aid the most unbending the world was ripe for bold imposture, and he resolution, splendid talents, and that intuitive forthwith set himself to the accomplishment of insight into the weaknesses of men, which enhis wicked idea.
abled him easily to lead them where he chose. The stories told of Mohammed from his I do not propose to give an extended account birth to his death, savor of more than Oriental of this great impostor, but have given this brief extravagance. Those wicked spirits who had outline as prefatory to a description of Mostationed themselves in the various constella hammed's journey to heaven, an event which tions and signs of the zodiac, to find out what is chronicled by Moslem writers with the was transpiring in heaven, at the prophet's greatest reverence. A cave near Mecca was birth were suddenly and forever dislodged, the place of interview between the prophet and and shorn of their power to animate idols and the angel Gabriel, whose first appearance was utter prophecies on the earth. A large lake so glorious that Mohammed fainted. The ansuddenly was dried up, so that a city was built gel saluted him with this flattering announcethere; the sacred fire of the Persians, having ment, “ () Mohammed, thou art the Apostle of burned without intermission more than a thou God, and I am Gabriel !” sand years, was extinguished miraculously; His journey to heaven is set down as having and a tremendous earthquake also occurred, occurred in the tenth year of his mission. The when the great event, the prophet's birth, took singular extravagances here detailed are gathplace! When Mohammed was twelve years ered from various sources, and the narrative old, the monk Sergius asserted that he saw will be made out as far as possible in the lanaround the boy's head a luminous cloud, pre. guage of the Koran and Mohammedan chronserving him from the intense heat of the sun, iclers. The principal facts are derived from and the seal of prophecy was also to be seen the Universal History, a work so bulky and between his shoulders. Kissing the boy's gar rare as to be confined almost entirely to our ment the monk said to Mohammed's uncle, large libraries. " Depart with this child, and take care that he On a certain night Gabriel and another andoes not fall into the hands of the Jews ; for gel accosted Mohammed, who was lying on the your nephew will one day become a very ex ground near Mecca. A noted author assures traordinary person."
us that Gabriel forthwith opened the prophet's This monk without doubt instructed Moham heart, and washed from it the black drop of
original sin. In the place of this he inspired of angels. The third heaven was made of anthat same heart with wisdom and faith, and other kind of iron, and the greatest curiosity the then returned it to the breast of Mohammed. prophet saw here, was an angel of such size
The angel now expanded his seventy pairs of that the distance between his eyes is seventy wings and carried the honored man to the thousand days' journey. It was the Angel of beast Al Borak, which had conveyed on his Death, and he was writing in a book constantly back all the prophets of God when sent to some names and blotting out others. David, execute some urgent command. Mohammed Solomon and Joseph were also seen here. says this beast was smaller than a mule and The fourth heaven is made of very fine silver, larger than an ass, and white as milk. His but some assert it to be made of emeralds. face was like a man's, and he had jaws like a Here the prophet was greeted very affectionatehorse. His eyes were extremely brilliant. ly by Enoch, and he saw an angel whose His movements were rapid as lightning, and proportions were so great as to reach from he was said to have a rational soul.
one heaven to the next. He spends his When the prophet approached this animal to time in weeping and lamentation, for the sins mount, he commenced a furious kicking, and and miseries which men bring on themselves. would not suffer him to mount, until Gabriel The fifth heaven Mohammed found built of very addressed him thus, “ Stand still, O Borak, and fine gold, and here Aaron and Moses met him; be obedient to Mohammed, for a greater favorite the latter recommended himself to the prophet's of God never got on thy back.” After some prayers. The sixth heaven" was a precious altercation, and some pledges on the part of stone." The Mohammedans commonly assert the prophet, he was suffered to mount, and in that Moses met the prophet here, calling him the twinkling of an eye was carried to Jerusalem. brother, and weeping at sight of him. His On his arrival there he found Abraham, Moses, reasons for weeping were, that a mere stripling and Jesus, with a great number of prophets and succeeding him should bring to Paradise more saints, who all saluted him, and went to prayer of his own nation than there were happy Iswith him. By a ladder of light he ascended to raelites. John the Baptist also met the prothe first heaven, leaving Al Borak at Jerusalem. phet, having in this particular become vastly Gabriel still accompanied him. The gates of "preferred before” Jesus. the first heaven opened to them. This heaven The seventh heaven was composed of " diwas made of pure silver, and the prophet was vine light," but some say its substance was red not a little surprised to find stars pendant by | hyacinth. Here Mohammed saw one of the larchains of gold from this silver canopy as large gest angels created. This angel had sevenas mountains. The angels occupy these stars ty thousand heads; each head had seventy as watch towers, to defend heaven from the thousand faces, each face had seventy thousand approach of evil spirits. Here dwells Adam, tongues, and each tongue spake seventy thousand the parent of our race, a decrepit old man, who languages, with all which this singularangel was respectfully saluted Mohammed as the best of uttering the praises of Allah the Almighty. the prophets, and begged his powerful inter Here he met Abraham, so highly honored as to cession with God. He saw many angels there be elevated to the Lote Tree, beyond which no also, but nothing more curious than a cock, mortal man is allowed to go, except the prophet white as snow, of such prodigious size that with of Allah. Gabriel himself could accompany his head he touched the second heaven, although Mohammed no further, and now he is committhis was five hundred years' journey from the ted to the care of the angel Israfil, whose wonfirst. Some Mohammedan writers carry this drous capacities are much greater than the story still further, and assert that this cock angel of seventy thousand heads. This one roaches from the first to the seventh heaven, has a million heads, each head a million faces, although each is distant from the other five each face a million mouths, each mouth a milhundred years' journey. At any rate there lion tongues, and each tongue a million lanwere angels without number who reverently guages, all of which are incessantly used in regarded this greatest son of earth now passing praising God. among them.
On his way to the throne of God he passed The second heaven was made of a sort of over two seas of light and one of dark color, iron, and this is the abode of Noah, John and all of them of immense extent. This space Jesus. Here there was a prodigious number was crowded with cherubims and" spirituals."
Having traversed this amazing space, he ap- | witness in that case, will sufficiently justify all proached God's immediate presence, and heard the particulars of that wonderful event you a voice saying, " 0 Mohammed, advance and shall please to enumerate to them." And sure approach the glorious and powerful God." | enough, when Mohammed told the story to his Ascending higher he saw " a luminous appear uncle and cousin, altogether faithless, they ance of most transcendant brightness, and at strove to dissuade him from publishing it. But the divine command drew so near to the Al he persisted, until a bitter enemy at last heard mighty that he was scarce two bows' length | it, and ridiculed it so keenly that some of the from him." The prophet saw on the right of prophet's followers actually forsook him. His the throne these words in Arabic, " There is no countrymen were on the point of using him God but God, and Mohammed is his Prophet.” harshly, when " the true witness," Abu Becr, Mohammed declares that these same words miraculously and indisputably established its were written on all the gates of the several truth, and thus closed all cavilling mouths. heavens. The Almighty now beneficently To such an extent did he carry his boldness, placed one hand on the prophet's breast and that in one chapter of the Koran God is made the other on his shoulder, and the coldness to swear the whole narration of that journey to pierced through and through him. This pierc be true. ing coldness was succeeded by the most de The speed of Al Borak was great, since he licious sensations and the most perfect pleasure. galloped from Mecca to Jerusalem, a distance
After this the prophet enjoyed a long con of six hundred miles, in the twinkling of an versation with Allah, which was certainly eye. Such speed as that would almost be crowded very full of serious matter. Among sufficient to do what Dr. Beecher once said of other things God expounded the mysteries of the materiality of Gabriel's wings, “had they his law, gave him some special rules by which been material, going at that rate, they would to regulate his conduct and communicate knowl. have been torn to atoms !" It is not a little edge to the people. Many special privileges entertaining to set figures to the distances inwere also conferred on him, among which were, dicated in this wonderful journey. It was five that he should be the most perfect of all men, hundred years' travel from earth to the first should be honored above all men, should be the heaven, and the same distance between the redeemer of all believing on him, should speak several heavens; that is, from earth to the seventh all languages, and exclusively possess the spoils heaven, was thirty-five hundred years' travel. of all nations conquered in war.
This reduced to days gives us the respectable Perhaps not the least singular part of this number of one million two hundred and seventyparcel of extravagances was this. The prophet seven thousand five hundred. Forty miles for received the command to enjoin all his follow a day's travel is surely small enough, which ers to pray fifty times a day, but afterwards on his will make the distance from earth to the Lote descent, meeting the great Jewish Lawgiver, Tree fifty-one million one hundred thousand who told him that such tedious and multiplied miles. Beyond the Lote Tree the prophet with duties could not be exacted, at his persuasion Israfil passed over "infinite tracts of space," he returned to the presence of God and pre but we will not mention this indefinite number, vailed with him to abate the exaction of fifty since we have definite figures enough to deal prayers to five a day. This satisfactorily ar with. He must return as he came. Whether ranged, the honored prophet returned to the the descent was easier than the ascent we do earth the same way he came, accompanied by not know, but one thing is certain, the prophet Gabriel. At Jerusalem he found his milk-white in that eventful night travelled from Jerusalem Al Borak, who now made no resistance, but upward and back again on “a ladder of light,” like a flash of lightning conveyed him back to one hundred and two million, two hundred Mecca.
thousand miles! The distance from Mecca to Mohammed seems to have feared the skep Jerusalem and back again, being only twelve ticism of his followers even, and thus he ad. hundred miles, ought hardly to be mentioned dressed Gabriel : “I apprehend my people will in so large a travel! accuse me of telling lies, if I communicate to Allowing the prophet's night to have been them the particulars of my night-journey to ten hours long, he travelled at the comfortable heaven !" To this Gabriel is said to have re rate of twenty-eight hundred miles a second, or plied, " Abu Becr, O Mohammed, the faithfull one hundred and seventy thousand a minute,