Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

6

following passages of Maimonides. The reverence of the sanctuary rests on an affirmative precept. • For it is said, Ye shall reverence my sanctuary.

You are not, however, to reverence the sanctuary "itself, but him by whom the reverence of it has been

enjoined. What, then, is the reverence due to it? " That no one enter the mountain of the house with a

staff, with shoes on his feet, with a coat that has pockets, or with dusty feet. It is unnecessary to • state, that it is not lawful to spit upon the mountain ' of the house, but that any accidental excretion of - saliva is to be received in the garment. Nor may

any one take the mountain of the house for a tho'roughfare, so as, after having entered at one gate, to

go out at another, and thereby shorten his road; .but he must go round it on the outside, nor ever - enter it but for the sake of performing duty. And a little after: 'When a person, after having performed - any service, withdraws from the sanctuary, he shall

not turn his back towards the temple, but he shall * retire by gentle steps sideways till he shall have left the sanctuary. Thus also the guards of the temple, and the stationary men, and the Levites after having returned in the same manner from the desk in 'which they have read the prayers, ought to retire from the sanctuary. But reverence for the sanctuary likewise includes all the following things. That no one carelessly shake his head before the eastern gate of the sanctuary, called Nicanor, because it is situated opposite to the holy of holies : that every person, who enters the sanctuary, walk ' with all the modesty in his power. But the reverence itself is, that every one stand before the Lord God, because it is said, Mine eyes and mine heart

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

' shall be there continually: and that he walk with awe, reverence, and fear; because it is said, In the house of our God we will walk with trem

bling.'*

tuary. This

[ocr errors]

VIII. Because the inner sanctuary was an emblem of the highest heaven, and the special seat of the Divine majesty, therefore every part of the temple was esteemed by the Jews more or less holy, in proportion to its greater or less proximity to that sanc

appears

from the following passage of Maimonides, which I the more readily transcribe, because it expresses the estimate which the Jews formed of all places. The whole land of Israel is more holy than all other lands. But what is its holiness ? From it they bring a homer of the har

vest, two loaves at Pentecost, and the first fruits;t ' which they bring not from other lands. Cities sur'rounded with walls are more holy than the rest of 'the land; because from them lepers are excluded, nor is a dead body ever buried in them, except by the consent either of seven magistrates or of all the

citizens. But if a dead body has been carried out • of any such city, it is not lawful to carry it back,

even though all the citizens consent to it. Jerusa' lem is more holy than other walled cities; because

the minor sacrifices and tithes are eaten within its precincts. The mountain of the house is more holy than Jerusalem; because neither men nor women labouring under an issue, nor women during the seasons of purification, are allowed to enter it. But a dead body may be carried into it, and it is therefore unnecessary to state that access is likewise permitted to a person defiled with a dead

* Beth Habecbira, c. 7. + Levit. xxiji.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

body. The intermural is more holy than the moun'tain of the house; because strangers and persons ' defiled with a dead body, or polluted by forbidden ' intercourse, are not allowed to enter it. The court

of the women is more holy than the intermural; ' for no access is permitted to any one on the same day in which he has been washed on account of ' impurity. But this prohibition is only by a decree of the Sanhedrim. For a person who has been ' washed on account of impurity is permitted by the

law to enter into the camp of the Levites on the · day of his ablution.* Nor is he guilty of a crime, · who enters into the court of the women when he is defiled with a dead body. The court of Israel is more holy than the court of the women; for there no one can lawfully enter, who wants any expiation. ' The court of the priests is more holy than the court of Israel; for it is never entered by Israelites except for the sake of performing some duty, such as 'to lay hands upon a victim, to make a confession of ' sins over it, to slay it, or to wave the divided inėmbers. That part of the court of the priests which lies between the porch and the altar, is more holy than the other part of it; for it is not to be entered by priests with any blemish, with the head covered, or with torn garments. This aggravated the crime of those who murdered Zacharias there. 'The temple is more holy than that part of the court ' of the priests which lies between the porch and the altar; for there no one is lawfully admitted but with washed hands and feet. The inner sanctuary ' is “more holy than the temple; for it is unlawful for any one to enter there except the high priest

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

# Levit. xvi. 28.

* alone, and even for him except only on the day of ' expiation, at the precise time appointed for that ser'vice. This interior sanctuary, as Abarbinel himself has observed, * was an image of the highest heaven. Here was the propitiatory or mercy seat, as the divine footstool : here were the cherubim, as the celestial ministers; between whom God is said to have dwelt, † and whence he promised to deliver his oracles. It is no wonder therefore, that so sacred a place was shut against all but the high priest alone, who was the principal advocate and intercessor with God on behalf of the people.

IX. The same custom was followed by the heathens in many of the temples of their gods. Some

fanes,' says Minutius Felix, "are allowed to be en. tered once in a year: some are never permitted to ‘be seen at all.' Thus also Pausanias in Bæot.) says of the temple of Cybele; “They deem it lawful to open the temple one day in every year, and no more.' And in the same book, respecting the temple of Eurynomene: 'On the same day in every year

they open the temple of Eurynomene; but it has ' not been appointed for them to open it at any other 6 time.' Thus also (in secund. Eliac.) of the temple of Pluto: 'It is opened once in every year; but then

no one is permitted to enter, except the priest.” The same author (in Arcad.) relates that the temple of the equestrian Neptune was always shut against every person. Thus it appears to have been the opinion of heathens, that temples rightly dedicated were mansions and habitations of the gods, and were filled with their divinity; and that for this reason they qught seldom or never to be entered by men.

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]

+ Psal. lxxx. i. xcix. I, Exod. xxv. 29.

* Ad Levit. xvi.

54

CHAPTER IV.

The Ministers of Sacrifices. MANY writers, both Jews and Christians, suppose that in the early ages of the world the priesthood was one of the privileges of primogeniture; and they adduce several arguments in support of their opinion. The first is, that all the first born of the Hebrews were devoted to God, who by a special claim called them his own.* And those whom God declares to be his and sacred or devoted to him, they apprehend to have been priests. Their next argument is, that the Levites, who were ministers of religion, were devoted to God instead of the first born, and substituted in their room; so that whatever character was conferred upon the Levites after their substitution in the room of the first born, that character must have been sustained by the first born as long as they held their original place. This is thought to be implied in the statement, that Moses employed young

men” to offer sacrifices;t where the appellation of "

young men” is supposed to indicate their being some of the first bom.—Their last argument is, that Esau, for having undervalued and sold his right of primogeniture, is stigmatized with the character of a profane person."I The reason of this is concluded to be, that by bartering the privilege of his birth-right for a mean consideration he deprived himself of the priesthood, which was acting the part of a profane person.

II. But notwithstanding the plausibility of these arguments, I think it is possible to answer them and

+ Exod. xxiv. 5.

I Heb. xii. 16.

• Num. viii, 17.

« AnteriorContinuar »