herself, and this her only son."
" What crimes didst thou or thine commit to merit such
" None, rny lord and king."
" Is not this the boy who years ago v/as being offered up
" Tis true, oh, king," said Helah, drooping her head.
ASA PH. 117
" But the great Jehovah saved him, blessed be His
name!" cried Asaph, with fervor.
The princes and councilors stood aghast, and a murmur
went through the assembly; but the king smiled and said:
" Tis well; thy life shall not again be put in jeopardy.
Take thine inheritance with thy mother. I, the king,
shall see that justice, though tardy, is still administered in
He raised his scepter as a sign the audience was ended,
and Asaph and Helah, bowing low, left the chamber.
The princess met them in the porch; she knew by the
expression of their faces that their petition had been
granted. Embracing Ilelah, she said in a low tone:
" Peace be with thee." Then turning to Asaph: " And
may Jehovah pour His blessings on your heads."
SHAL MAl S FEAST.
THE good Shalmai had awaited them at the entrance to
the palace. Asaph had been a true friend to him in his
time of need, providing him with much food, and a milk
ing goat, so he was very anxious to know the result of
their visit to the king.
" Ah, all is well; and thou art free!" he cried as soon
as he saw them. " Now thy son dare hold up his head
before all the world, undisguised and undismayed.
Young master, thy faith in the God of Israel has been
rewarded. Wilt please you both to come to thy servant s
house; he has a little feast prepared. Oh, say not nay,
for thy servant hath set his heart upon this thing!"
Helah looked at Asaph.
" Shall we not thus give thanks, my son?"
Asaph s heart had gone out to the old man, so he said :
" Yes, my mother, it is meet a little joy should fall to
thy lot, and thanks to thee, my father, for thy thoughtful-
It was a pleasant walk to Shalmai s house. The people
on the streets seemed so happy save those who had lost
loved ones by the cruel invaders, and they greeted Ilelah
and Asaph with smiles; the romantic story of their dis
guise and restoration to their patrimony had spread swift
ly over the city, and many recognized in Asaph the beau-
ASA PH. 119
tiful boy who had escaped the fires of Moloch. So the
news of their approach passed from mouth to mouth, and
many gathered at the corners and greeted them on their
way, Asaph bowed with simple dignity, but Helah smiled,
and when old-time acquaintances grasped her hand
and bid her welcome to their houses; her heart was glad;
she felt at home again.
Shalmai was a magnificent specimen of the tribe of Dan
hair long, a beard that reached below his waist, and as
soft and shiny as the silk of Damascus, piercing black
eyes, and a most fascinating smile; he would have attract
ed attention in any age or country. His friends also
greeted him, now that he was no longer a poor man, and
also wore a good garment.
So their progress was a continual ovation, the women
and maidens occasionally throwing flowers in their path,
and little green boughs.
llaggith, coming from the market-place, caught sight of
them, her cheeks flushed, and she ran swiftly until she
stood by Asaph s side.
"Ah! the fish-boy, so white and beautiful! 1 suspected
a mystery! Art art thou a prince?" she asked, softly.
"1 am naught but what thou seest," he replied, turn
But Haggith walked along with the crowd, and when
she saw the other maids throw flowers, she emptied her
basket in his path, forgetting the beating she would re
ceive for not having either them or the money to give her
At length they reached the house; it was a delightful
120 AS A PH.
spot, for the street was wider here, and the houses not so
close together, being the outskirts of the city.
At the door stood Shalmai s wife and daughter to wel
come them. As they entered, he said:
" Peace be with you all."
" And Jehovah s blessing!" replied old Sara.
Then Shalrnai took the basin and pitcher from Adah s
hand, and bending his knee, he removed Helah s and
Asaph s scandals, and washed their feet, then he poured
water over their hands and wiped them with the towel the
maiden held ready.
Asaph looked bewildered and flushed with a gentle
" It is an old custom of our fathers," llelah whis
The feast was spread, and Asaph and his mother were
given the places of honor, on divans placed at the middle
of the table, with a soft mat for their feet, their sandals
being at the door.
A roast lamb, whole, as at the Passover, was in the cen
ter, decked with flowers as an unusual honor then
around it were placed white wheaten cakes and succulent
vegetables, oil cakes with much spice, and figs and dates
pressed into little circular masses. Cl rapes with their
green leaves, and milk and honey, and tall graceful pitch
ers of wine completed the feast.
A blessing was asked by the venerable Shalmai, then he
broke the bread, and giving a piece to each, the meal
It was indeed a feast to Asaph, who had never sat at
ASA PH. 121
table before with any other save his mother and little
Elia; and Shalmai was well versed in the ancient history
of their nation, and his conversation was like a stream of
light to the mind of Asaph.
" The Hebrews are a stiff-necked people. Jehovah s
strong hand chastised them again and again to keep them
in the right path, but at every temptation they turned
aside to idolatry and all manner of evil. The great God
had permitted their offering to Him of the blood ad fat
and flesh of animals because the heart of man in his grati
tude or in his petitions for favors, must give gifts, and
this people imitating the example of the nations around
them, were offering their gifts to idols, so He commanded
them to bring them to Himself instead for Jeremiah our
prophet has said that God did not require sacrifice of ani
mals, but obedience. So also Hosea hath said, Oh, Is
rael, return unto the Lord thy God. Take with you
words. Say unto Him, Take away all iniquity and re
ceive us graciously; so will we render the calves of our
These words sunk deep in Asaph s mind, to be often
pondered on in after times.
As Helah listened to the old man, all her childhood
came before her like a dream long forgotten, that comes
back with a word, the scent of a flower, or a strain of
music, and she rejoiced that she had once been permitted
to sing in the holy Temple, and worship the true God in
the reign of the good Josiah, and from this day she turned
no more to idolatry.
When the feast was ended and they had purified them-
selves, they went into the court, and sitting on rugs en
joyed the beautiful fountain and the trees and flowers that
grew around it. The birds sung sweetly, and the bees
hummed drowsily; the scene was one of peaceful beauty.
At length the time came for their departure, and Shal-
" When the sword shall come upon Jerusalem, make
this thy home, good master, and bring thy mother at the
first alarm. "
" Remember, thou wilt be most welcome," said the
aged Sara; but Adah stood silent and blushing with down
The whole family accompanied them some distance on
their way, and then left them with many blessings.
Helah and Asaph went to their cave; they would dwell
in no one s house till their own was completed.
Every day for many weeks they came to Jerusalem and
watched the walls of their habitation slowly arise. The
young king had ordered it to be built even more beautiful
than it was at first.
Jehoiakim was well loved by his people for his kindness
and his thoughtful measures for their good; but he turned
not from worshiping many idols, so God was not with
him, and his reign was short.
ASA PH. 123
JEHOIAKIM TAKEN CAPTIVE.
THREE months had scarcely passed away, when the city
was again in a state of wild alarm, for again Nebuchad-
nezzar s vast army surrounded Jerusalem.
Spies had reported that Jehoiakim was meditating re
venge for the cruel murder of his father, and Nebuchad
nezzar, who was in the full flush of his ambition to extend
his kingdom from the Euphrates to the Nile, could not
brook that the least of his vassals should rebel against his
authority, but still having the siege of Tyre to occupy his
attention, he sent commanders with his army, but he him
self did not come.
From the highest point of the Temple, to which Jere
miah had taken him, Asaph beheld the Chaldeans and
their many allies, swarming from the north-west, and on
their nearer approach spreading over the level plateau to
the north, thence down the valleys of Jehosaphat and
Ilinnoa, they were countless, and covered the earth till it
looked like one moving mass.
How could one little city, weakened by luxury and for
saken by God, defend herself against this vast multitude
of bitter, hasty men? And his mother and the princess,
would they fare as well in this second invasion as they had
before? He could fight, but what had King Jehoiakim
decided to do? The gates of the city were doubly barred
and locked; had he known it in time, he could have taken
them to the cave, but now Just then he saw the prin
cess ascending the stairs that led up from the city of David,
as he hastened down from the great height where he stood,
and met her at the New Gate. After the usual greetings
4 I have come to ask Jehovah s help for my poor
brother, and for our unhappy people. "
So they joined Helah, who was already on her knees.
After they had prayed, and wet the marble floor with their
tears, they arose, and Asaph said :
" Oh, princess, disguise thyself as one of Jerusalem s
poor, so will my mother and myself, and bring thy slave
to carry thy little treasures, and we will abide with the
venerable Shalmai till all danger is past."
"Oh! 1 can not forsake my brother; he is kind and
gentle. I would bo by his side in his great trouble. Is
not this as Jehovah would wish it?"
" Little princess, listen to me. Thy brother will only
bo impeded in what he desires to do by many around him
claiming his protection. Thy brother has done no wrong,
and the King of Babylon, being so convinced, can not find
it in his heart to do so gentle a young man harm; but
thou art a maiden, very young and fair, and the soldiers
are cruel men, and fearless of the great Jehovah, they
might do thoe such wrong that death were preferable. So
disguise thyself and come wit!) us. When Jerusalem is at
peace again, thou shalt return to thy brother. I will wait
for thee at the palace gate,"
Ilelah added her entreaties, so at last she consented, and
hastened away to get ready.
$ $ $ $ * * *t*
Jehoiakim sat in council . with his princes, rulers, and
wise men, and when they saw how hopeless it would be to
light against this vast horde, he said:
" 1 would not that my people should meet with such
cruel deaths as these men, angered by resistance, would
put them to; my eyes could not endure to see this fair city
of the mountains laid waste and devastated even to the
ground. I will open rny gates, as Jeremiah counseleth, and
tell great Babylon 1 have not rebelled against his power/ *
Then the council broke up, and messengers were sent
outside the walls to demand an audience.
They soon returned and communicated their message to
the king, who immediately commanded all the gates of
Jerusalem to be opened wide.
Elia, hearing this, quickly put on a disguise, and gath
ering her jewels and a little stuff, put them in the hands
of Cleo, and together they hastened to the palace gate.
Ilelah and Asaph were awaiting them. She informed them
of all she had heard, and then they proceeded hurriedly to
the house of Shalmai.
They were warmly welcomed by all the family, and
when they were informed who Elia was, they prostrated
themselves before her and vowed to protect her with their
When Asaph had thus placed them in safety, he went,
still in disguise, to the principal gate to watch events.
" It will all be well/ he thought, " for has not Jere
miah said we shall stay in our own land if we serve the
King of Babylon?"
Then his heart fell as he thought how, relying on these
words, the gates had been opened once before and the king
had been cruelly murdered, and many of the choicest peo
ple of the city with him, and many taken away captive.
He believed in Jeremiah, yet could not understand how
his prophesying and what really came to pass could be so
The gates were opened; the king, his mother, wives,
princes, and officers, went forth to meet the commanders
sent by the great Nebuchadnezzar. He surrendered on
condition that they would respect their persons and do
them no injury, and that beautiful Jerusalem should suffer
no harm. The commanders gave their oaths to that
effect, and did not enter the city, but they remained in the
vicinity with much of their army.
Jerusalem was in a miserable state of uncertainty, the
commerce and industrial pursuits of the people were
almost entirely neglected, and the internal improvements
of the city were at a stand-still.
But this was soon ended, for before many months the
commanders broke their oaths, entered Jerusalem, bound
the king, and took him to Babylon, together with his fam
ily, princes, officers, and servants, together with ten thou
sand of the principal people, seven thousand men of war,
and one thousand citizens, a part of these being from the
adjacent country. They also took all the treasures of gold
and precious stones, and beautiful furnishings of the king s
palaces and houses, and what pained the older people to
the heart the magnificent, valuable, sacred things be
longing to the holy Temple.
Then Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiakim s uncle, Mata-
niah, King of Judah, and changed his name to Zedekiab.
lie bound him in oaths that he would serve him faithfully,
and not change the form of government, but keep the
kingdom for him, and make no allegiance with his enemy,
Thus, half of the city and the surrounding villages were
carried into captivity, amid the lamentations of those who
were left behind.
A SEASON OF PEACE.
PEACE once more settled upon poor, widowed Jerusa
lem. The people went looking mournful and sad, afraid
to lament aloud, or even to take any pleasure in life.
Helah s house was but just finished when Zedekiah be
gan his reign, so she, together with Asaph, had lived with
the hospitable Shalmai, but she had insisted on providing
at least a portion of the subsistence of the family.
" Lest we feel too dependent, good Shalmai," she had
said, and so he had let her have her way.
Asaph had drunk the old man s words as dew from
heaven, for Shalmai was a Jew of advanced opinions; he
had studied his religion from the days of Abraham to the
Prophet Jeremiah, thoughtfully praying to God for light
to see into what was obscure or contradictory, so that he
might not offend or violate the law, not of Moses, not of
the judges, who were but fallible men, but of Jehovah him
self. Men s laws that came in conflict with that were to
him as nothing, and he was ready, even with his life, to
obey the God of gods.
The Princess Klia had not been included among the
captives, on account of Asaph s thoughtful ingenuity; now
she was returned to her uncle and his children, who were
glad to welcome her as one from the dead, and her roman
tic story so interested them that they determined that
Asaph should some day be sent for to come to the
Hel ab/s house was now furnished and ready for occu
pancy. So the time came to bid farewell to Shalmai and
the kind Sara and the beautiful Adah.
They sat at their last evening meal together; it was pre
pared with extra care and arranged with unusual beauty,
for was not one of the sons of God about to leave them, to
take away the blessiug of his pure heart, his words of wis
dom, far beyond his years, the religion of his beauty, for
one could not look upon this perfect work, fresh and un-
contaminated as when he came from the hands of his
Maker, without worshiping the being who was capable of
giving such perfection to His children.
As the scar of Moloch had caused the princess to hate
idolatry and turn to the true God, so it caused the family
of Shalmai to detest with utter detestation all the forms of
idol worship that were so prevalent in the land.
Before the meal was finished the venerable Shalmai,
who had eaten scarcely anything, began to chant in a me
lodious voice Solomon s song:
" My beloved is white and ruddy, the chief est among
" His head is as the most fine gold.
" His eyes as the eyes of doves.
" His cheeks are as a bed of spices.
" His mouth is most sweet, yea, he is altogether lovely."
Then the tears filled his eyes and fell down upon his
beard. His voice trembling with emotion, he continued :
" Whither is thy beloved gone, oh, thou fairest among
women? Whither is thy beloved turned aside: "
Then Sara replied, in a, mournful but sweet voice:
" My beloved is gone down into his garden to the bed of
spices, to feed in the gardens and to gather lilies."
Then Adah took up the strain:
" Thou art beautiful, oh, my love, as Tirzah, comely as
Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners!"
Then Shalmai embraced Asaph, wept over him and
blessed him, then they all sung together:
" Oh, God, forsake me not. I will also praise Thee
with the psalter, even Thy truth, oh, my God! Unto
Thee will I sing with the harp, oh, thou Holy One of Is
rael! Let the whole earth be lilled with His glory!
Amen and amen!"
Then Asaph and Ilelah hastened away while the whole
family stood at the door weeping.
For awhile Judah felt secure, for they had become allied
to the most powerful kingdom of the earth, the great
Babylon, and the few fenced cities that yet belonged to it
felt now as if they were indeed protected.
Again the city assumed something of its former pros
perity. Many of the Jews from the distant cities and
plains came to dwell within her walls, and some came be
cause of the Temple to worship there. Merchants came
from Syria; they brought beautiful jewelry, and precious
stones and embroidered and bright-colored cloths. .Da
mascus sent wool and wine and silk, and Sheba spices and
other things, and even peacocks were brought from Tar-
ASA PH. 131
shish. So the fairs and markets were bright and beautiful
and animated once more.
The voice of joy was again heard in the land as time
passed on, and happy bridal processions and music, and
feasting and dancing once more made glad the people.
Asaph had become a scholar in the college of the
prophets, where, besides being taught the true religion,
he was instructed in the languages of the surrounding
nations and the pure ancient Hebrew, that had now be
come very much corrupted, so that one could scarcely read
the Scriptures in the pure language in which they were
first written. He was also initiated in all the forms of
learning that had been gradually introduced into Jerusa
lem by their intercourse with educated foreigners.
Helah was happy. She was a most hospitable hostess,
and her house was frequented by the learned and wise,
and also by those who secretly believed in the God of Is
rael; these were doubly welcomed, and encouraged to
stand firm and not be ashamed of their faith or afraid to
proclaim it in the face of the people.
Shalmai was a beloved guest, and each visit was more
prized than the one before, and Sara and her beautiful
daughter came occasionally.
Asaph ascended each day to the Temple, and Elia was
as devout as he, and he never failed to see and speak with
her daily, and there grew up in his heart a tender love for
her that grew with his growth.
Elia s heart was often sad because of her uncle the king;
he was so led away by the wicked men around him, and
was unjust and cruel to the poor, of whom there were now
13 ? ASAPIT.
so many in the city. Many times had she cheered the
poor prisoners who were thrust out from the king s pres
ence by the spears of his guards by a look of pity or a
softly uttered word to the soldiers, who restrained their
brutality while she was by.
" Oh, if my uncle would believe wholly in the great Je
hovah, he could influence our people for good, and Jerusa
lem might yet be taken back into the love of the Holy
One of Israel."
But Zedekiah was weak, and swayed first by his bad
councilors, then by the prophet Jeremiah, back and forth
like a reed shaken by the wind.
One day Haggith went up to the Temple with her fa
ther Zaccur, for sometimes services were held there and
the law expounded, but it was not the fashionable religion.
There she saw Asaph and the princess. She blushed
deeply, but gave Elia a look of hatred, yet she dared not
speak to Asaph, as her father was by her side.
" Now 1 know he comes here I can often see him," she
said to herself, with a happy feeling at her heart. So each
day, when the market was over, she too went to the Tem
It was a strange sight to see Jeremiah speaking and ex
horting and denouncing with a great wooden yoke about
his neck. (The prophets always emphasized their words
by material symbols, leaving nothing to the imagination.)
Seeing him thus ornamented, the people laughed more
than ever, and some said:
" See the crazy seditious fellow; where now are his
prophecies? Poor Comah! he opened the gates, he sub
mitted to the great king, but was he left in his own land?
lla, ha, ha! what a prophet! If thou dost love Nebu
chadnezzar so, why dost thou not go thyself to him?"
80 Jeremiah did little to convert or turn the mass of the
people to the true God. But the king favored the proph
et, and when he was in his presence believed him im
plicitly, arid often requested him to ask of God for him by
the oracle or otherwise. But for fear of his princes and
nobles he did this secretly.
THE PRINCESS IS JEALOUS. ZEDEKIAH REBELS AND
THUS several years passed away, and the Egyptian fac
tion had become stronger and stronger.
One day Hananiah, who was also a prophet, came to
Jeremiah in the Temple, and before all the priests and
people who were assembled there said that God had
broken the yoke of the King of Babylon, and that in two
years the vessels of the house of the Lord would be re
turned, together with Jeconiah (Coniah) and all the cap
tives. Then Jeremiah said:
"Amen! The Lord do so! Nevertheless, hear now
this word that I speak. "
Then he said how the prophets of old had prophesied of
war and pestilence against many countries, but that if
peace came to pass they would know that the Lord had
sent the prophet who foretold it.
Then Hananiah took ofl Jeremiah s great wooden yoke
and broke it to pieces, saying:
" Thus saith the Lord: Even so will I break the yoke
of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, from the neck of all
nations within the space of two full years."
And all the people shouted and rejoiced Jeremiah with
them; and the Egyptian party grew yet stronger.
Asaph wondered why Hananiah had received these good
ASA PH. 135
tidings, and they had not been revealed to his friend Jere
miah; still he was happy at the thought that loved Jerusa
lem would be soon free from her enemies. He rejoiced to
think that the sacred vessels would be so soon returned to
the Temple, and prayed that Jehovah would then be wor
shiped as of old. He had not yet advanced so far in his re
ligion as to feel that old customs and ceremonies were pass
ing aivay, and that God required a less material but more
spiritual worship from his children. He often felt very
sad at the general wickedness around him, and would pray
with tearful eyes for the people s conversion; especially
was he troubled about the king, and poor miserable Hag-
gith, who daily haunted his footsteps, and looked at him
with such beseeching eyes.
" Princess," he said one day, " what thinkest thou the
Levite s daughter desires? She is pale and thin and seems
under the burden of much trouble. "
Elia looked at him searchingly.
" Dost thou not know?" she said.
But Asaph s pure heart was as innocent as a child s; so
he said hesitatingly:
4i IS" ay; but dost thou think her father beats her?"
The princess laughed softly.
" Oh, Asaph, Asaph, thou art indeed one of the sons of
Cod in thy innocence! Dost thou not know she loves