J. H. (Joseph Holt) Ingraham.

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1 L 9O


The Prince of
The House of David

Rev. J. H. Ingraham.

Chicago and New York:

Rand, McNally & Company,




My Dear Father: My first duty, as it is my
highest pleasure, is to comply with your com
mand to write you as soon as I arrived at Jeru
salem ; and this letter, while it conveys to you in
telligence of my arrival, will confirm to you my
filial obedience.

I will not fail to write you by every caravan
that leaves here monthly for Cairo; and if there
are more frequent opportunities, my love for
you, dear father, and sympathy for you in your
separation from me, will prompt me to avail my
self of them.

My journey hither occupied many days, Rabbi
Ben Israel says seventeen, but although I kept
the number up to ten, I soon became too weary
to keep the account When we travelled in
sight of the sea, which we did for three days, I


enjoyed the majesty of the prospect, it seemed so
like the sky stretched out upon the earth. I
also had the good fortune to see several barges,
which the Rabbi, who was always ready to grat
ify my thirst for information, informed me were
Roman galleys, bound some to Sidon and others
into the Nile; and after one of these latter, as it
was going to you, I sent a prayer and a wish.
Just as we were leaving the seashore to turn off
into the desert, I saw a wrecked vessel. It looked
so helpless and bulky, with its huge black body all
out of the water, that it seemed to me like a great
sea-monster, the Behemoth, stranded and dying;
and I felt like pitying it. The Rabbi gave me to
understand that it had come from Alexandria,
laden with wheat, bound for Italia, and been cast
ashore in a storm. How terrible a tempest must
be upon the sea! I was in hopes to have seen a
Leviathan, but was not gratified in the wish. The
good Rabbi, who seemed to know all things,
told me that they seldom appear now in the Mid
dle Sea, but are seen beyond the pillar of Her
cules at the world's end.

At Gaza we stopped two days. We entered
the gateway of which Samson carried away the
gates, and I w r as shown the hill two miles to the
south-east where he left them. Many other
places of interest were shown me, especially the
field, which our path led across, where he put to
flight the Philistine hosts with much slaughter.
A lion's cave was also pointed out to me, out of
which came the lion which Samson slew, and
upon which he made his famous riddles.


The dry well into which the ten Patriarchs
lowered the Prince Joseph, their brother, was
also shown me by our Arab guide, and the rock
on which the Ishmaelites told down the pieces
of silver. I fancied the old Arab related the oc
currence with more elation than was needful, as
if he took pride in perpetrating the fact that our
noble ancestor had once been the purchased
slave of theirs. I noticed, several times during
the journey, that the Ishmaelites of Edom in our
caravan took every occasion to elevate their own
race to the disparagement of the sons of Israel;
indeed, Aben Hussuff, our white-bearded chief
of the caravan, in a wordy discussion with Rabbi
Ben Israel at Isaac's well, where we encamped,
would have it that Isaac was the son of the bond
woman, and Ishmael the true heir, but disinher
ited and cast out through the wiles of the bond
woman, who would have her own son the
inheritor. But, of course, I was too well
instructed in the history of my fathers to give
heed to such a fable; though the Arabs all took
part with their chief, and contended for the truth
of what he asserted as warmly and zealously as
the learned Rabbi did for the truth of his own

The morning of the last day of our journey we
caught sight of the Sea of Sodom and Gomor
rah, at a great distance to the east. How my
pulse quickened at beholding that fearful spot so
marked by the wrath of Jehovah! I seemed to
see in imagination the heavens on fire above it,
and the flames and smoke ascending as from a


great furnace, as on that fearful day when they
were destroyed, with all that beautiful surround
ing plain, which we are told was one vast garden
of beauty. How calm and still lay now that
sluggish sea beneath a cloudless sky! We held
it in sight many hours, and once caught a
glimpse of the Jordan north of it, looking like a
silver thread; yet, near as it appeared to be, I was
told it was a good day's journey for a camel to
reach its shores.

j After losing sight of this melancholy lake, the
glassy sepulchre of cities and their countless
dwellers, our way lay along a narrow valley for
sometime, when, all at once, on reaching an
eminence, Jerusalem appeared, like a city risen
out of the earth, it stood before us so unexpect
edly; for we were still, as it were, in the desert;
yet so near on the side of our approach does the
desert advance to its walls, that it was not two
miles off when we beheld it.

I cannot, my dear father, describe to you my
emotions on beholding the Holy City! They
have been experienced by millions of our people
they were similar to your own as you related
them to me. All the past, with its mighty men
who walked with Jehovah, came up to my mind,
overpowering me with the amazing weight.
The whole history of the sacred place rushed to
my memory, and compelled me to bow my head,
and worship and adore at the sight of the
Temple, where God once (alas, why does He no
longer visit earth and His Holy House?) dwelt
in the flaming Shechinah, and made known the


oracles of His will. I could see the smoke of the
evening sacrifice ascending to the skies, and I
inwardly prayed Jehovah to accept it for thee
and me.

As we approached the city several interesting
spots were pointed out to me, and I was
bewildered with the familiar and sacred
localities which I had known hitherto only by
reverential reading of the Prophets. It seemed
to me that I was living in the days of Isaiah and
Jeremiah, as places associated with their names
were shown me, rather than in the generation to
which I properly belong. Indeed, I have lived
only in the past the three days I have been in
Jerusalem, constantly consulting the sacred
historians to compare places and scenes with
their accounts, and so verify each with a holy
awe and inward delight that must be felt to be
understood; but, dear father, you have yourself
experienced all this, and therefore can under
stand my emotions.

We entered the city just before the sixth hour
of the evening, and were soon at the house of
our relative Amos, the Levite. I was received
as if I had a daughter's claim to their embraces ;
and with the luxuries with which they surround
ed me in my gorgeously furnished apartments, I
am sure they meant to tempt me to forget the
joys of the dear home I had left.

The Rabbi Amos and his family all desire to be
commended to you. As it is his course to serve
in the Temple, I do not see much of him, but he
seems to be a man of piety and benevolence, and



greatly loves his children. I have been once to
the Temple. Its outer court seemed like a vast
caravansera or market-place, being thronged
with the men who sell animals for sacrifice,
which crowded all parts. Thousands of doves
in large cages were sold on one side, and on
another were stalls for lambs, sheep, calves, and
oxen, the noise and bleating of which, with the
confusion of tongues, made the place appear like
anything else than the Temple of Jehovah. It
appears like desecration to use the Temple thus,
dear father, and seems to show a want of that
holy awe of God's house that once characterized
our ancestors. I was glad to get safely through
the Bazaar, which, on the plea of selling to sacri-
ficers victims for the altar, allows, under color
thereof, every other sort of traffic. On reaching
the women's court I was sensible of being in the
Temple, by the magnificence which surrounded
me. With what awe I bowed my head in the
direction of the Holy of Holies! I never felt
before so near to God! Clouds of incense
floated above the heads of the multitude, and
rivers of blood flowed down the marble steps of
the altar of burnt offering. Alas ! how many in
nocent victims bleed every morning and evening
for the sins of Israel! What a sea of blood has
been poured out in the ages that have passed!
What a strange, fearful mystery, that the blood
of an innocent lamb should atone for sins I have
done! There must be some deeper meaning in
these sacrifices, dear father, yet unrevealed to us.
As I was returning from the Temple I met


many persons walking and riding, who seemed
to be crowded out of the gate on some unusual
errand. I have since learned that there is a very
extraordinary man a true prophet of God, it is
believed by many, who dwells in the wilderness,
fifteen miles eastward, near Jordan, and who
preaches with power unknown in the land since
the days of Elijah and Elisha. It is to see and
listen to this prophet that so many persons are
daily going out from Jerusalem. He lives in a
cave, feeds on plants or wild honey, and drinks
only water, while his clothing is the skin of a
lion; at least, such is the report. I hope he is a
true prophet of Heaven, and that God is once
more about to remember Israel ; but the days of
the Prophets have long passed away, and I fear
this man is only an enthusiast; but his influence
over all who listen to him is so remarkable, that
it would seem, and one has almost the courage
to believe, that he is really endowed with the
Spirit of the Prophets.

Farewell, dear father, and let us ever pray for
the glory of Israel. Your affectionate



My Dear Father: The excellent Rabbi, Ben
Israel, has just made known to me his intention
of returning to Egypt to-morrow, and has wait
ed upon me, to inquire if I had any commands
to entrust him with, for my friends in Alexan
dria. Instead of this letter, which he will be the
bearer of to you, I would rather commit myself a
second time to his care, and instead of placing
this parchment in your hand, let him lay your
child again upon your bosom. But it is by your
wish, dear father, that I am here, and though I
sigh to behold you once more, I will try to be
content in my absence from you, knowing that
my discontent would cause sorrow to bow down
your gray hairs.

So far as a daughter can be happy from the
home of her youth, I have everything to render
me so. The good Rabbi Amos in his kindness
recalls your own mild and dignified countenance,
and Rebecca, his noble wife, my cousin, is truly


a mother in Israel. Her daughter Mary, my
younger cousin, in her affectionate attachment
to me, shows me how much love I have lost in
never having had a sister. It is altogether a
lovely household, and I am favored by the God
of our fathers in having my lot, during my exile
from my home on the banks of the beautiful
Nile, cast in so peaceful and holy a domestic

The street in which we dwell is elevated, and
from the roof of the house, where I love to walk
in the evening, watching the stars that hang over
Egypt, there is commanded a wide prospect of
the Holy City. The stupendous Temple, with
its terraces piled on terraces of dazzling marble,
with its glittering fountains shooting upward
like palm trees of liquid silver, with its massive
yet beautiful walls and towers, is ever in full
sight. The golden arc, that spans the door which
leads into the Holy of Holies, as it catches the
sunbeams of morning, burns like a celestial cor
onet with an unearthly glory. I dare not gaze
steadily upon that holy place, or imagine the
blinding splendor within, of the visible presence
of Jehovah, in the Shechinah once present there.

Yesterday morning I was early on the house
top, to behold the first cloud of the day-dawn
sacrifice rise from the bosom of the Temple.
When I had turned my gaze towards the sacred
summit, I was awed by the profound silence
which reigned over the vast pile that crowned
Mount Moriah. The sun was not yet risen; but
the east blushed with a roseate purple, and the


morning star was melting into its depths. Not
a sound broke the stillness of the hundred streets
within the walls of Jerusalem. Night and si
lence still held united empire over the city and
the altar of God. I was awe-silent. I stood
with my hands crossed upon my bosom and my
head reverently bowed, for in the absence of man
and his voice I believed angels were all around
in heavenly hosts, the guardian armies of this
wondrous city of David. Lances of light now
shot upwards and across the purple sea in the
east, and fleeces of clouds, that reposed upon it
like barks, catching the red rays of the yet un-
risen sun, blazed like burning ships. Each
moment the darkness fled, and the splendor of
the dawn increased; and when each instant I ex
pected to see the sun appear over the battle-
mented heights of Mount Moriah, I was thrilled
by the startling peal of the trumpets of the
priests: a thousand silver trumpets blown at
once from the walls of the Temple, and shaking
the very foundation of the city with their mighty
voice. Instantly the house-tops everywhere
around were alive with worshipers! Jerusalem
started, as one man, from its slumbers, and, with
their faces towards the Temple, a hundred thous
and men of Israel stood waiting. A second
trumpet-peal, clear and musical as the
voice of God when He spake to our
father Moses in Horeb, caused every knee
to bend, and every tongue to join in
the morning song of praise. The murmur of
voices was like the continuous roll of the surge


upon the beach, and the walls of the lofty Tem
ple, like the cliff, echoed it back. Unused to
this scene, for we have nothing like this majesty
of worship in Alexandria, I stood rather as a
spectator than a sharer, as it became thy
daughter to have been, dear father. Simul
taneously with the billow-like swell of the
adoring hymn, I beheld a pillar of black
smoke ascend from the midst of the
Temple, and spread itself above the court
like a canopy. It was accompanied by a blue
wreath of lighter and more misty appearance,
which threaded in and out, and entwined about
the other, like a silvery strand woven into a sable
cord. This latter was the smoke of the incense
which accompanied the burnt sacrifice. As I
saw it rise higher and higher, and finally over
top the heavy cloud, which was instantly en
larged by volumes of dense smoke that rolled
upward from the consuming victim, and slowly
disappeared, melting into heaven, I also kneeled,
remembering that on the wings of the incense
w r ent up the prayers of the people; and ere it
dissolved wholly, I entrusted to it, dear father,
prayers for thee and me!

How wonderful is our religion! How mys
terious this daily sacrifice, so many hundreds
of years offered up for the sins of our fathers and
of ourselves! How, I have often asked myself
since I have been here, how can the blood of a
heifer, of a lamb, or of a goat, take away sins?
What is the mysterious relation existing be
tween us and these dumb and innocent brutes?


How can a lamb stand for a man before God?
The more I reflect upon this awful subject, the
more I am lost in wonder. I have spoken to
Rabbi Amos of these things, but he only smiles,
and bids me think about my embroidery; for
cousin Mary and I are working a rich gold
border in the phylactery of his next New Year's

The evening sacrifice, which I witnessed yes
terday, is, if possible, more imposing than that of
the morning. Just as the sun dips beyond the
hill of Gibeah, overhanging the valley of Aijalon,
there is heard a prolonged note of a trumpet
blown from one of the western watch-towers of
Zion. Its mellow tones reach the farthest ear
within the gates of the city. All labor at once
ceases! Every man drops the instrument of
his toil, and raises his face towards the summit
of the house of God. A deep pause, as if all
held their breath in expectation, succeeds. Sud
denly the very skies seem to be riven, and shak
en with the thunder of the company of trumpet
ers that rolls, wave on wave of sound, from the
battlements of the Temple. The dark cloud of
sacrifice ascends in solemn grandeur, and some
times heavier than the evening air, falls like a
descending curtain around the Mount, till the
whole is veiled from sight; but above it is seen
to soar the purer incense to the invisible Jeho
vah, followed by a myriad eyes, and the uUer-
ance of a nation's prayers. As the daylight
faded, the light of the altar, hidden from us by
the lofty walls of the outer court of the Temple,


blazed high and beacon-like, and lent a wild sub
limity to the towers and pinnacles that crowned

There was, however, my dear father, last even
ing, one thing which painfully marred the holy
character of the sacred hour. After the blast of
the silver trumpets of the Levites had ceased,
and while all hearts and eyes were ascending to
Jehovah with the mounting wreaths of incense,
there came from the Roman castle adjoining the
City of David a loud martial clangor of brazen
bugles, and other barbarian war-instrunrents of
music, while a smoke, like the smoke of sacrifice,
rose from the height of David's fortified hill. I
was told that it was the Romans engaged in wor
shiping Jupiter, their idol God! Oh, when,
when shall the Holy City be freed from the re
proach of the stranger! Alas, for Israel! Her
inheritance "is turned to strangers, and her
houses to aliens." Well said Jeremiah the
Prophet, 'The kings of the earth and all the in
habitants of the world would not have believed
that the adversary and the enemy should have
entered into the gates of Jerusalem." How truly
now are the prophecies fulfilled, which are to be
found in the Lamentations: 'The Lord hath
cast off His altar, He hath given up into the
hands of the enemy the walls of her palaces: they
have made a noise in the house of the Lord, as in
the day of a solemn feast." For these things I
weep, my dear father; even now, while I write,
my tears drop on the parchment. Why is it so?
Why does Jehovah suffer the adversary to dwell


within his holy walls, and the smoke of his abom
inable sacrifices to mingle with that of the offer
ings of the consecrated priests of the Most High?
Surely, Israel has sinned, and we are punished
for our transgressions. It becomes the land "to
search and try its ways and turn unto God," if
perhaps He will return and have mercy, and re
store the glory of Israel. Our kings are the ser
vants of the Gentiles. Our laws are no more.
Our prophets no longer see visions. God has
gone up in anger, and no longer holds discourse
with his chosen people. The very smoke of the
daily sacrifice seems to hang above the Temple
like a cloud of Jehovah's wrath.

Nearly three hundred years have passed since
we have had a prophet that divine and youth
ful Malachi! Since his day, Rabbi Amos con
fesses that Jehovah has ceased from all known
intercourse with his people and holy house; nor
has He made any sign of having heard the pray
ers or heeded the sarifices that have been offered
to Him in His time! I inquired of the intelli
gent Rabbi, if this would always be thus? He
leplied, that when Shiloh came there would be a
restoration of all things that the glory of Jeru
salem then would fill the whole earth with the
splendor of the sun, and that all nations should
come up from the ends of the world to worship
in the Temple. He acknowledges that we are
now under a cloud for our sins; but that a
brighter day is coming when Zion shall be the
joy of the whole earth.

My conversation with Rabbi Amos, dear


father, a conversation which grew out of the sub
ject of the Roman garrison occupying the cita
del of David, and offering their pagan sacrifices
by the side of our own smoking altars, led me to
examine the Book of the Prophet Malachi. I
find that after plainly alluding to our present
shame, and reproaching the priests "for causing
the people to stumble," and thus making them
selves "contemptible and base before all na
tions," he thus prophesies: "Behold, I will
send my messenger, and he will prepare the way
before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall sud
denly come to his Temple; and he shall sit as a
refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify
the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and
silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an
offering in righteousness. Behold," adds the
divine seer, "I will send you Elijah the prophet
before the coming of the great and dreadful day
of the Lord."

These words I read to-day to Rabbi Amos
indeed, I was reading them when Rabbi Ben
Israel came in to say that he departs to-morrow.
The excellent Amos locked grave, graver than I
had ever seen him look. I feared that I had
offended him by my boldness, and, approaching
him, was about to embrace him, when I saw
tears were sparkling in his eyes. This discovery
deeply affected me, you may be assured, dear
father; and, troubled more to have grieved than
displeased him, I was about to ask his forgive
ness for intruding these sacred subjects upon his
notice, when he took my hand, and smiling,


while a glittering drop danced down his snow-
white beard and broke into liquid diamonds
upon my hand, he said, "You have done no
wrong, child: sit down by me and be at peace
with thyself. It is too true, in this day, what the
Prophet Malachi writeth, Ben Israel," he said,
sadly, to the Alexandrian Rabbi: "The priests of
the Temple have indeed become corrupt, save
the few here and there! It must have been at
this day the Prophet aimed his words. Save in
the outward form, I fear the great body of our
Levites have little more true religion and just
knowledge of the one God Jehovah, than the
priests of the Romish idolatry! Alas, I fear me,
God regards our sacrifices with no more favor
than He looks upon theirs! To-day, while I
was in the Temple, and was serving at the altar
with the priests, these words of Isaiah came into
my thoughts and would not be put aside: To
what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices
unto me? ' saith the Lord; 'I am full of the burnt
offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and
I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of
lambs, or of he goats. Bring no more vain obla
tions; incense is an abomination unto me; I am
weary to bear them; yea, when ye spread forth
your hands I will hide mine eyes from you;
yea, when ye make many prayers I will not hear;
your hands are full of blood ! Wash you ; make
you clean. Cease to do evil; learn to do well! '

"These terrible words of the prophet," added
Rabbi Amos, addressing the amazed Ben Israel,
"were not out of my mind while I was in the


Temple. They seemed to be thundered in my
ears by a voice from heaven. Several of the
younger priests, whose levity during the sacrifice
had been reproved by me, seeing me sad, asked
the cause. In reply, I repeated, with a voice
that seemed to myself to be inspired, the words
of the prophet. They turned pale and trembled,
and thus I left them."

"I have noticed," said Ben Israel, "that there
is less reverence now in the Temple than when
I was in Jerusalem a young man; but I find that
the magnificence of the ceremonies is increased."

"Yes," responded Ben Amos, with a look of
sorrow; "y es > as the soul of piety dies out from
within, they gild the outside. The increased
richness of the worship is copied from the
Roman. So low are we fallen! Our worship,
with all its gorgeousness, is as a sepulchre white
washed to conceal the rottenness within!"

You may be convinced, my dear father, that
this confession, from such a source, deeply
humbled me. If, then, we are not worshiping
God, what do we worship? If Jehovah of Hosts,
the God of our Fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, hides his face from our sacrifices, and is
weary with our incense, whom does Israel wor
ship? NOUGHT! We are worse off than our
barbarian conquerors, for we have no God; while
they, at least, have gods many and lords many,

Online LibraryJ. H. (Joseph Holt) IngrahamThe Prince of the house of David → online text (page 1 of 30)