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PRAISE to the God of Abraham. The locusts are flown. The land which they found flourishing and verdant as a garden, they have changed to the barrenness of a desert. The cities and the villages, but now so full of people, are become the region of desolation and death. Even the very city and house of God are level with the dust, and the ploughshare has gone over them. And here, upon the hill of Olives, I sit, a living witness of the ruin. By reason of the wonderful compassions of God, which never fail, I am escaped as a bird from the net of the fowler. Yet I take little joy in this. For why should the days of one like me be lengthened out, when the mighty and excellent of the land are cut off? I rather rejoice in this, that the spoiler is gone; the armies of the alien have ceased to devour; and they who are fled, and hidden in caves and dens 1
of the rocks, may come forth again to inhabit the land and build up the waste places. A multitude, which no man could number, have fallen before the edge of the sword, or by famine, and the air is full of the pestilential vapors that steam up from their rotting carcases. But a greater multitude remains; and it may well be that ere many years have passed, they shall fill the land as before, and gathered into one by him who, though long delaying, will come, pay back, and more, the measure they have received. That time will surely come. Even as the Assyrian could not finally destroy, but the hand of the Almighty was put forth, and the city and the temple grew again from their ruins to a greater glory than before, so shall it be now. The Roman triumph shall be short. Messiah shall yet appear; and Jerusalem clothed in her beautiful garments shall sit upon her hills, the joy and crown of the whole earth.
But for me, my eyes shall not behold it. Before that day these aged limbs shall rest in the sepulchres of Beth-Harem, and these walls will have fallen and mingled with the common earth. It is not to-morrow, nor the day after, that the kingdom shall come. Impatient Israel will not wait the appointed hour; she will not remember that with the Lord a thousand years are as a day, and a day as a thousand years. She
will reign to-day or never. It is her mad haste has drawn upon her this wide destruction. Deceivers, and they who have deceived themselves, fools and wicked men, have led her to the precipice, down which she hath fallen, and now lies, as a potter's vessel, broken in fragments. And I, alas, am not clear in the great transgression. The rage which filled the people was in my heart also. I too gave heed to lying words, and bent my knee before him who, in my darkness, seemed to me as in very truth the King of Israel, and bound myself to his chariot wheels. May he, whose compassions are infinite pity and forgive his servant. It is with my soul low in the dust before him, that I turn to the long past, and remember the early errors of my life.
And why will ye of Rome press upon me the unwelcome task? My kinsmen might well forego any pleasure they may reap, for the pain that will be my only harvest. Yet not my only harvest. The memory of the days spent where Judith and Onias dwelt will bring with it pleasant thoughts, if many bitter and self-reproachful also. Happily, of this portion of my life, of which you are chiefly desirous to hear, the record already exists; from which I need but draw in such fragments as shall impart all that I may care to reveal. That
record lies before me just as it went forth from my full heart, and was poured into the bosom of that more than woman, my protecting angel, rather, Naomi the blessed. As the scenes of my earlier life rise before me out of these leaves, distinct as the outlines of these barren hills, so too does the image of my mother come up out of the obscurity of the past, and stand before me, clear and beautiful to the eye as when clothed in flesh. It was to thee, thou true mother in Israel, that I made myself visible and plain to read as a parchment scroll, and from thee in return received those holy counsels, charged with a divine wisdom, which . were a pillar of light to my path; and, had I heeded them, had saved me from every error, as they did from more than I can now remember or recount.
Concerning my birth and childhood in Rome, and the years which preceded my departure for the East, it needs not that I speak; for of that part of my life enough is known, and I can take no pleasure in re-perusing it. From the letters and other writings transmitted to me long since by my mother from Rome, I now draw what shall give you a somewhat living picture of those days in Judea, about which you are chiefly desirous to hear.
I THUS addressed my mother, soon after reaching Cæsarea :
You who know your son so well will not doubt that I took my departure from Antioch with pain. Nowhere since I passed the gates of Rome have I been entertained with such magnificence. Nowhere have the hours proved themselves so short-lived. After the dulness of Athens, and the worse than dulness of Smyrna, Ephesus, and Rhodes, it was refreshing to witness the noise and stir of the mistress of the East. So frequent were the theatres, baths, and porticos, the shows, the games, the combats of wild beasts, that I felt myself almost in the Elysium of my own Rome. What added, too, as you will believe, to my happiness, was this, that I passed everywhere for a Roman of undoubted Roman blood; or, at least, if my descent were seen, with a civility which seems native to these orientals, the knowledge of it was not betrayed by a word or look. I perceive you to smile at this, as also to utter a few