Copyright
A. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) Walsh.

Mary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus online

. (page 19 of 40)
Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 19 of 40)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the widowers among the people, and let each bring his rod.’

“In truth here is refreshment! If all weddings were contrived under the
wisdom of older heads, there would be fewer mad marriages.” Rizpah swayed
back and forth as she spoke. She was remembering, now, the curse of
Harrimai that day in Gerash, long years before. She thought him a monster
then, but now she was enshrining him in mind by the Angel of the Lots.

“Shall I go on, mother?”

“Go on.”

“He to whom the Lord shall show a sign, let him be husband of Mary,” read
Miriamne.

“Ah, the Lord would not trust the youths to draw! He knows that a man is
like to harass the life out of one woman before he learns to care for
another rightly. God was good to Mary in hedging her in to a widower if
needs be that she must marry.”

Rizpah did not sway back and forth now; she sat erect and laughed
bitterly.

[Illustration: By Raphael.

THE MARRIAGE OF MARY AND JOSEPH.]

Miriamne continued:

“There were many splendid youths who rejoiced to be permitted
to bring their wands.”

“Oh, ho! then they were suffered to draw for the girl? But what
matter—the Angel of Lots presided! He’d not let the youths succeed!”
Again Rizpah laughed, and as mockingly as before.

Miriamne again read:

“After prayer each deposited his almond tree with the aged
Temple priest. In the early morning they anxiously sought the
verdict. It was found that all the rods were dead, except
that of Joseph, the son of Jacob, the son of Mathan; but his
blossomed as that which, ages before, confirmed miraculously
the priesthood of Aaron’s sons. Then there appeared another
miracle, for as Joseph reached forth his hand to take his
blooming branch, there issued from among its luxurious
blossoms, miraculously, a white dove, dazzling as snow. For
a moment the dove gracefully suspended itself in the air,
turning its eyes from one to another of the competitors; then
it alighted on Joseph’s head. ‘Thou art the person chosen to
take the Virgin and keep her for the Lord,’ said the priest,
solemnly, to Joseph. All the rivals responded ‘Amen,’ and then
the dove flew away toward heaven. Joseph was thirty-three years
old, of pleasing countenance, very modest, graceful, and of
comely figure, and a widower.

“When all was told to Mary she modestly replied: ‘I knew it,
for the Lord has been with me.’ Zacharias told Mary that Joseph
was a true, honest Jew, a carpenter by trade, and trained by a
father who fully believed the adage of Rabbins, which said that
‘He who would not make his son a robber makes him a mechanic.’
‘Besides this,’ said the Temple priest, ‘thy espoused one is
like thyself, of the royal _house of David_. The blood of
twenty kings mingle in the veins of you both. God grant that to
that house of David there soon be born another, greater than
all before, to deliver our holy nation from foreign masters.’
Mary made no reply, but as a blush of hopefulness passed over
her face, she looked very earnestly toward heaven and seemed
to be repeating the prayer of the priest to the All Father. The
formal betrothal then took place. Joseph presented his chosen
bride a small token of silver, saying: ‘If thou consentest to
be my bride, accept this.’ She took it, smiling affectionately,
and then the witnesses signed the usual Jewish compact, which
read as follows:

“‘I Joseph, said to Mary, daughter of Jehoikim, become my wife
under the law of Moses and Israel. I promise to honor thee; to
provide for thy support; thy food and thy clothing; according
to the custom of Hebrew husbands, who honor their wives, as
is befitting. I give thee at once thy dowry and promise thee
besides nourishment, and clothing, and whatsoever shall be
necessary for thee, also conjugal friendship, a thing common to
all nations of the world. Mary consents to become the wife of
Joseph,’ The two signed the document.”

“See Miriamne, the Jews were wise; they made the husbands do most of the
promising. They knew that the wives would be all wifely without such
pledging.” And Rizpah again bitterly laughed.

“Shall I proceed?”

“Yes, oh, proceed; it’s a Jewish poem.”

“Thereupon Joseph placed a jeweled ring upon Mary’s fourth
finger, with a smile and a blush, saying, the ‘physicians
say, my beloved, that a nerve and a vein, reaching the heart
together, lay close to the surface of that finger.’ And she
understood and was happy. A benediction was pronounced, and
then the espoused pair were ready to depart to Joseph’s
house. He was to be the guardian of the maiden from that
hour forth. The hereditary servants of the families took
up the line of march, bearing flaming torches; immediately
after these followed a procession of women, richly garbed
and wearing golden tiaras and pearl bedecked girdles. Behind
these attendants of the virgin, followed a goodly company of
dexterous musicians and singers, discoursing rapturously the
significant canticles of Solomon. As the latter went on from
time to time they broke out of the line of march and disported
themselves in the eastern star-dance, saying as they did so, to
one another, ‘the morning stars sang at creation; the dawn of a
new home coming by love, is next to creation the most joyous
of all events.’ So the dancers went on, and as they rejoiced
in poetic motions, they thought of the stars which yet tremble
as if with the thrilling of that first delight they shouted.
Of all, the sweet orphan girl now companioned was the center.
She was bedecked with costly jewels, the glad tributes of those
that loved her; over her was the significant veil, and, so
beneath the wedding canopy, she entered Nazareth to be a wife.
Her sky had become very bright, for hers was a heart that took
exquisite joy from the honeyed petals of affection’s flower.
No bride ever more fully entered into that supreme state, the
all exalting, entrancing, expanding, thrilling period of new
married life. She went forward in the proud consciousness that
her weakness had overcome a giant, and that while she lead a
royal captive, she was supremely happy in her utter bestowal of
her all upon the one only man now became almost next to God in
the temple of her soul.”

Miriamne paused, and Rizpah wept a little.

“Shall I go on or pause, mother?”

“Go on, dear.”

“But you weep, are you ill?”

“Oh, no, except in memory. This is sweet sorrow, that beats us back and
forth; contrasting dark endings with bright beginnings; heaven high
hopings with black disappointments, and happy lives with our own, all
interwoven with miseries. I walked once in the sweet illusions of bridal
days, but an utter widowhood came before death called. That’s the worst
bereavement.”

“But some marriages are all happiness, are they not?” queried the
daughter.

“Some, but not many. That’s the rule. Most of them begin well enough, but
wedded mates are not as wisely tender as lovers; they too soon entomb all
their joys in graves of selfishness and lust. So then the dove flies from
the blossom of espousal never to return.”

“Perhaps, such as they did not love enough to begin with and so
separated?”

“Some who would die for each other before marriage, would die to be quit
of each other, after. Hence the brood of suicides, and that blackest
crime of all, murder, which often raises its treacherous, cruel head
within the marriage chamber.”

“How comes this error, trouble, horror?”

“In wedding bodies, without consents or courtings of the souls, if those,
who, though mismated, happen to join lives, were only wise, they might
yet be happy, growing together. But read more daughter.”

“In the fullness of time, the angel Gabriel, known amid the
Seraphim as God’s champion, the chosen of Jehovah and His
messenger of comfort and sympathy from heaven to man, was
commissioned to carry the glorious news to earth. He spread
his rainbow pinions, and with his own radiance to lighten his
course, passed from the confines of the august court of the
Divine Presence, the companionship of his fellow archangels,
Michael, Raphael, Uriel, to go out across the planet-lightened
realms of everlasting space. His course was watched with
throbbing interest by the spirits of mercy appointed for
ministering to man. Gabriel sped on, with sweeps of power which
almost devoured distances, nor paused to bask for a moment in
the many-colored lights of the golden and silvery shielded
planets or constellations that he passed in his rapid flight.
The wheeling suns and rushing worlds, marching and charging
along the shoreless oceans of eternal space, had no splendors
nor powers with which to challenge his high mission; though
theirs was grand, his was grander. He traveled at love’s
behest, on mercy’s work, to carry to this little earth, rolling
along, mostly in shadows, the mandate of glory, the news of
heaven’s great saving device. He bore proclamation in its
substance and its realizations forever the manifold wisdom of
God; the wonder of all who know to think or reason. And so that
voyage passed into the pages of history and the records of
eternity as well.

“Mary, whom Gabriel sought, was engaged in evening prayer as
was her wont, with her face toward Jerusalem’s Temple.”

Miriamne paused; she perceived that she had arrived at a part of the
manuscript which Father Adolphus had marked with a red line to remind her
it was from his Christian Bible. She feared to read this portion to her
mother.

“Read on, daughter, the words are precious; they are as songs in the
night to my soul.”

Miriamne continued:

“And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city
of Galilee, named Nazareth,

“To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of
David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

“And the angel came in unto her and said, Hail! thou art highly favored,
the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

“And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her
mind what manner of salutation this should be.

“And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor
with God.

“And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and
shalt call his name JESUS.”

Miriamne read the last word “Joshua.”

She proceeded:

“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the
Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.

“And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom
there shall be no end.

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a
man?

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon
thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also
that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of
God.”

“Hold! hold!” cried Rizpah. “What is this? the faith of the Nazarene?”

Miriamne was awed. She feared she had proceeded too far; but quickly
remembering an explanation of Father Adolphus, replied: “Be content,
mother, I read but that that appears in our holy prophets, Isaiah, the
poetic and vehement; his words you so much prize have here an echo.”

Rizpah gazed at her daughter, with a puzzled, questioning expression for
a moment, and then sententiously said, “Read on.” She was alert, though
severe. Her curiosity was ruling, but her prudence was conserved, at
least in her own mind. The daughter was anxious, but could not retreat;
she knew she must read further or make a futile effort to explain her
reluctance. The two were a study; each afraid of the other: each anxious
to aid the other to truth; both on guard, and, while professing to be all
love for each other, attempting to move forward to a fuller fellowship by
indirection. The outlines of the cross were appearing in that household,
and never was there to be complete accord until there it ruled all hearts.

Miriamne continued to read, but confined herself chiefly to notes made by
the old priest on the margin of her manuscript.

“Presently Joseph, the affianced husband of Mary, discovered
that his beloved was to become a mother. At first the discovery
was like a dagger in his heart, for as yet the marriage had
not been consummated. It was a crisis of great import and
trial to husband and wife. Joseph, though now a plain man and
a mechanic, carried in his veins the noblest blood of his
race, being descendant of the ancient kings and in the line of
Solomon and David. Besides that, he had all the abhorrence of
the better Jews for adultery, that their awful law of death as
its penalty, implied.”

“Did he help the mob to stone her?” cried Rizpah.

Miriamne was startled by her mother’s angry earnestness.

“Oh! we’ll see.”

She continued reading:

“He met his affianced in the evening on her return from
Hebron’s rosy hills, whither she had gone to visit her
kinswoman, the mother of John, by name Elizabeth. The interview
of those two noble women had prepared Mary to tell her
betrothed all that troubled and rejoiced her. When her espoused
met her privately and for the last time, as he intended, he
found her sweetly, serenely singing, as was her wont, a Davidic
psalm. He was at first astonished, not knowing how she could
be so happy under such stigma as seemed to rest upon her. His
patrician blood was roused, and for a moment he was ready
to denounce her to the Sanhedrim as an adulteress. Then he
looked at her, pitifully, questioningly. It could not be, he
meditated, that one so young could be so depraved as to sing
God praises, being a criminal. She must be insane! He tore
himself from her presence, but instantly returned when she
called out: ‘Joseph, God knows all; touch not His anointed.’

“‘Woman!’ he cried ‘explain! explain! Thy seeming sin hangs
scorpions over my eyes, and turns my heart to ashes. Thy
calmness is a wonderment!’

“Then Mary quietly recited to him the wondrous story of
Gabriel’s visit.

“Joseph was pale, and reverently attentive; but still the
sadness of his countenance betokened his incredulity.

“Mary, self-possessed, confident in her own integrity,
continued: ‘For three months I have been secluded with my
kinswoman, Elizabeth. She knows I saw no man, and thou canst
testify of the manner of my living since our espousal; but
I got words from God, at Hebron. When I first went into my
kinswoman’s house.”

“Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

“And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among
women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

“And whence _is_ this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

“For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears,
the babe leaped in my womb for joy.

“And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of
those things which were told her from the Lord.”

“No sooner had Elizabeth finished that salutation, than the
Spirit of the Most Holy Ghost possessed me and I, thus, without
premeditation prophetically said:

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.

“And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

“For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from
henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

“For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name.

“And His mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

“He hath shewed strength with his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the
imagination of their hearts.

“He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low
degree.

“He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent
empty away.

“He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy.

“As He spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.”[2]

“I tarried until Elizabeth’s son was born. He is to be the
herald of mine! Joseph was amazed. The wisdom and stately
character of her _magnificent_ description and ascription were
unaccountable. But he doubted still her integrity. Yet his
wrath was softened into pity a little. He hesitated, and then,
_being a just man and not willing to make her a public example,
was minded to put her away privately_.”

“Ha, ha;” laughed Rizpah, bitterly; “I see now, ’tis a beautiful fable
thou art reading! Put her away privately! a man do that under such
circumstances! Bah! rather would a real man parade the woman’s guilt
from the house tops. In truth, to show that he was sinless because he
was such a Nemesis of sin; or to get the pity of light-headed fools, who
would gladly take the place of the discarded! A pretty, baby face can
catch unerringly the man who pities himself well, if she will only gush
with real or affected pity for him. Pity and flatter a man and he’ll be—a
Lucifer! But read it all. This is refreshing; its so absurdly uncommon!”

The girl continued:

“But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord
appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not
to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of
the Holy Ghost.

“And she shall bring forth a son, thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he
shall save his people from their sins.

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of
the Lord by the prophet, saying,

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and
they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with
us.

“Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had
bidden him, and took unto him his wife.”

Miriamne again read “Joshua” for Jesus, but yet felt assured that her
mother was in heart, recognizing the source of the story. Rizpah,
by silence, pretended not to know she was listening to parts of the
Christian Bible, for she was very curious now. Miriamne was willing the
harmless pretense should continue. But they furtively observed each other.

“I see; this is a story based upon some of the Christian’s heresies,”
interrupted Rizpah. “If the stories be so unnatural, I’d never fear their
sacred books!”

Miriamne was rejoiced, for her mother was becoming interested, and that
was nigh being fully persuaded that their home was not contaminated by
the hated Christian’s Bible. Miriamne read again:

“Mary now was contented. She had the approval of God and
her conscience, and that for which her young heart greatly
yearned the approval of the one man of earth whom she loved.
It mattered little to her that few others knew her wondrous
secret. She knew her position was one of peril, and yet she
felt certain God would be with her to the end. The joy of
Joseph was full, and the revulsion of feeling from crushing
shame, to lofty hope was unutterable. A while before he was
ready to die, as he began tearing from his heart its idol,
and attempting to consign her to the tomb like that of death,
forgetfullness. Now he perceived himself elect of God to
defend, vouch for and shelter the woman of women, the highly
favored of Deity.

“And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from
Cæsar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

“And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into
Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was
of the house and lineage of David,)

“To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife.

“And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling
clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in
the inn.”

“How barbarous! They surely could not have been Jews who kept that inn,
or a woman in bearing would have had tender welcome. They must have been
Christians; they are the people whose women blush when carrying little
life, and, as if ashamed, forgetting that God had royally privileged
them, hide themselves. Bah, I’m sick of the thought! I’ve seen Christian
husbands ashamed of their pregnant wives;” so soliloquised Rizpah.

“There were no Christians at the time of these events, mother. But shall
I read of the company Mary had, to comfort her?”

“Yes, do; I’d like to have been there, just to rail at the inn’s folks.”

Miriamne continued,

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field,
keeping watch over their flock by night.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord
shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

“It is said that even the cave, where Mary was, was filled with supernal
light,” remarked Miriamne digressingly.

“I believe it on my word. If angels ever come to earth, it must be surely
to hold glad torches about the couches where beings, to be at last
perchance like themselves, are coming forth to life,” said Rizpah.

“It is thus reported,” continued Miriamne:

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the
king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

“Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his
star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

Miriamne substituted Joshua for Jesus in the reading.

“Joshua, ‘Joshua,’ what ‘Joshua’ is that?”

“Joshua means “deliverer;” this one was to be such; for the rest, I’ve
not before read it, mother.”

“Read on, again,” tritely, Rizpah spoke.

“When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all
Jerusalem with him.

“And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people
together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

“And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by
the prophet,

“And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the
princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule
my people Israel.

“Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them
diligently what time the star appeared.

“And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for
the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I
may come and worship him also.

“When they had heard the king, they departed and, lo, the star, which
they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where
the young child was.

“When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child
with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they
had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and
frankincense, and myrrh.

“And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod,
they departed into their own country another way.”

Miriamne read ‘The Anointed’ where the text said Christ.

“Miriamne, who could these men have been, Rabbins?”

“I think not, mother; I see upon the margin of my ‘_megellah_’ a note
which says, These were light or fire-worshipers of Persia. They, or
rather their ancestors had heard, centuries before, from the Jews,
then their captives, that there was an expectation, based on wondrous
prophecies, that some time, there was to be on earth a man, born of
woman, in character like God and in mission the bringer in of the golden
age. These Magi were seeking that person, like pious pilgrims.”

“Oh, the Messiah. Alas! we all long for His coming!” Then Rizpah fell



Online LibraryA. Stewart (Alexander Stewart) WalshMary: The Queen of the House of David and Mother of Jesus → online text (page 19 of 40)