« AnteriorContinuar »
18 360. FESTIVAL OF THE PURIFICATION OF THE TEMPLE.
ing of water,” etc. is used tropically to denote generosity, or a free, liberal-minded act or character.
$ 359. Of the Feast of Purim.
THIS FESTIVAL was introduced by Mordecai in the reign of Xerxes, to commemorate the deliverance of the Jews from the cruel designs of Haman. It was celebrated on the 14th or 15th day of the last month, viz. ADAR or March, and was called PURIM, a Persian word, which signifies lot ; because Haman ascertained in this way, (by lot,) the day, on which the Jews were to be destroyed, Est. 3: 7. 9: 26.
It was also called for reasons, which will be obvious to every one, Mordecai's day, 5 Mapdojairn ruépa, 2 Macc. 15: 36.
It is stated by the Talmudists, that some of the Jews were opposed to the celebration of this festival, which will be easily credited, when it is remembered, that it resembled the festivals of Bacchus.
The Book of Esther was read in the synagogues on the occasion, and whenever the name of Haman occurred, all clapped their hands, and struck with their fists and with mallets on the benches, and cried out, “ Let his memory perish.”
Anciently, the Jews, on the return of this festival, were in the habit of erecting crosses on their houses, in memory of Haman's crucifixion ; but these having been interdicted, (Cod. Theodos. Tit. 12. c. 2.) they substituted some other sign in their stead. They send messes of meat to each other, etc. and spend the day in the utmost conviviality.
§ 360. On the Festival ENCAENIA, OTHERWISE CALLED THE FDS
TIVAL OF THE PURIFICATION OF THE TEMPLE.
The temple was profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes in the year 167, and was purified in the year 164 before Christ. Its dedication, at the time of its being purified, was celebrated eight days with many sacrifices, beginning at the 25th of the month KISLEV or December. This dedication was converted into an anniversary, which was called by various names, viz. ENCAEnis, šyraivia the days of the dedication of the altar, αι ημέραι εγκαινισμού του
Avolasinplov; and likewise the purification of the temple, xataDlouÒS toŨ ispoū, 1 Macc. 4: 52–59. 2 Macc. 10: 1--8. John 10: 22. It is mentioned by Josephus, Antiq. XII. 7, 6, 7. by the name góra, because the Jews lighted their houses with many candles on those days, as indications of the return of peace and joy. Consult Josephus contra Apion. II. 39.
OF SACRED PERSONS.
$361. Of the Jews, CONSIDERED AS A HOLY PEOPLE.
The posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were selected and set apart to preserve and transmit the true religion. They were, in this way, consecrated to God, and on this ground, were called Holy Divine, and were considered, as sustaining the relation of priests to the Supreme Being, and as being entitled to be called a sacerdotal nation or nation of priests, Exod. 19: 6. Lev. 11: 44, 45. 19: 2. 20:26. Deut. 7: 6. 14: 2, 21. 26: 19. 28: 9. .
Being thus set apart or sanctified, it was very frequently urged upon them to maintain a purity of heart and conduct, corresponding with their calling and the title which they bore, and as they were called a Holy people, to be the possessors of holiness. [Accordingly we find such exhortations addressed to them, as the following ; sanctify yourselves, therefore, and be ye holy, for I am the Lord, your God. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them ; I am the Lord, which sanctify you.”] Lev. 19: 2. 20: 7, 8, 26. 11: 45. Exod. 20: 20, 21. etc.
But the more recent Jews, inflated with the title of Holy peo
362. PERSONS EMPLOYED IN RELIGIOUS DUTIES.
pel, despised and hated all other nations, and denominated them profane and sinners, Eph. 2: 14, 15. 1 Thess. 2: 15, 16. comp. Tacitus, Hist. V: 5. Matt. 9: 10, 11. Luke 5: 8. Gal. 2: 15–17.
The Holiness of the Jewish nation, as the word is to be understood in its original application, i. e. their separation and consecration to the worship of the true God, was a thing, that continued or was perpetual, although it was often the case, that there existed at the same time a great corruption of morals. This accounts for the fact, that the Rabbins sometimes denominate the most wicked of the Hebrew kings holy. That is to say, they give such a sense to the term, as to make the words holy and Is. raelite mean the same thing.
This appellation came at length into use among Christians, who are denominated by the Apostles, not only disciples, maintai, not only brethren, udehqoi, and those who are in the same way, i. e. partakers in the same religious feelings, but are likewise frequently denominated holy or saints, öylot, Acts 9: 41. 26: 10. Rom. 1: 7. 8: 17. 12: 13. 15: 25, 26. 16: 2, etc.
OF PERSONS OFFICIALLY EMPLOYED IN DISCHARGING RE
We have spoken, in another place, of the Levites, as being the servants of God in a civil or political capacity, i. e. the servants of God, considered, as the king or ruler of the state. We shall speak of them here, as his servants or ministers in the public ordinances of religion. The Levites were a class of persons, substituted in the place of the first born, who were originally priests by birth, but in the age of Moses yielded their right in this respect, and were ever after to be redeemed from serving at the altar, Num. 3: 5-13, 40_-51. 8: 16–19.
From this tribe, (that of Levi,) Aaron and his posterity were consecrated to the priesthood, to whom a nearer access was given to the throne of God in the Holy of holies, which, in truth, is intimated in the usual name for priests, viz. 7.70, [a word, which is applied to men, who have access to the king, for instance to the sons of David, 2 Sam. 8: 18. comp. 1 Chron. 18: 17. etc.]
The rest of the Levites performed those religious duties, which were of an inferiour kind, but for the more menial em
ployments, such as bringing water and splitting wood, they were allowed servants, who were assigned for the labours of the Sanco tuary.
The high priest sustained the highest office in the tribe, and ranked, as the head both of priests and Levites. Separate duties were allotted to all these, viz. to the menial servants, the Levites, the priests, and the high priest, and the duties of one were not allowed to interfere with those of another.
$363. OF THE SERVANTS WHO WERE ALLOTTED TO THE SANCTUARY.
With respect to the servants, who, subsequently to the time of Moses, were employed about the Sanctuary, and later still were occupied in performing the menial offices, connected with the Temple, it may be remarked, that they had their origin, as a separate class in the community, from a religious practice among the Hebrews, viz. of devoting by a vow themselves, a son, or a servant to services of such a kind. It was in reference to this practice, that the law was enacted, which is recorded in Lev. 27: 18, and which fixed the price, at which a person, who had thus devoted himself, might be redeemed.
In the time of Joshua, the number of the persons, who were employed in the capacity of servants in performing the religious ceremonies, was increased by the accession of the Gibeonites, the Beerothites, the Kephirites, and the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, who were compelled to labour in the same menial occupations, Jos. 9: 23–29. Their number was increased likewise in the age of David and Solomon.
After the Captivity they constituted a very considerable class of the people, and were called, (by an honourary name, that was anciently applied to the Levites,) NETHENIMS, o'ng, (the same with Diano,) a word, which signifies given or decoted, i. e. to the service of the Temple and Sanctuary, Num. 3: 9. 8: 17, 19. 18: 6. Their employment, however it may have been esteemed originally, was eventually considered so respectable, that we find them, after the Captivity, mentioned immediately after the Levites, and as it would seem, placed, in a measure, above the other Israelites, Ezra 2: 54, 58. 8: 20. Neh. 10: 29. 11: 3.
§ 364. Of the Consecration of the Levites.
The Levites were solemnly separated from the rest of the Israelites, and qualified for their official duties by a singular rite.
I. Having washed and shaved the whole body, they brought a bullock with a nieal-offering and oil to the altar for a holocaust, and another bullock for a sin-offering.
II. They were then sprinkled with water by Moses.
III. The leading men of the Israelites laid their hands upon them, and by this ceremony substituted them in their own place, or in that of their first born.
IV. The Levites, in the presence of the priests, prostrated themselves before God or the sacred Tabernacle, in signification, that they offered themselves to his service.
V. Finally, they placed their hands upon the bullocks, and then slew them.
With these ceremonies, the Levites and their posterity were set apart to the service of God, of the priests, and of the tabernacle, Num. 8: 5—22. comp. Acts 13: 2, 3. They were not obliged by law to wear any particular sort of dress. There was this exception, however, viz. that the musicians and singers, in the time of David and Solomon, and also those, who bore the Ark of the Covenant, were clothed in a robe of white linen, 1 Chron. 15: 27. 2 Chron. 5: 12. comp. Josephus, Antiquities, VIII. 3. 8. XX. 9. 6.
§ 365. Of the Duties Of The Levites.
It was the duty of the Levites, to render such assistance to the priests as was required, to keep guard round the tabernacle, and subsequently round the temple. In the journey through the Arabian wilderness, it fell to them to transport the different parts of the tabernacle, and the various sacred utensils, that pertained to it. It was their duty, furthermore, to see, that both the tabernacle and the temple were kept clean, and to prepare supplies for the Sanctuary, such as wine, oil, incense, etc. They had the care of the sacred revenues, and subsequently to the time of David, were required to sing in the temple and to play