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THE GOLDEN THREAD




BLESSING THE LIGHTS

from the ptuntinn hy Louis Connnl. in the possession of Mis. Herbert Cshen.

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THE GOLDEN
THREAD



S. DAVIS fif M KAYE



HUMPHREY M1LFORD
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

LONDON, EDINBURGH, GLASGOW
TORONTO, MELBOURNE, CAPB TOWN, BOMBAY




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PRtNTBD 1921 IN GREAT BRITAIN BY R CLAY AND SONS, LTD ,
BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.



CONTENTS



PAGB

THE GOLDEN THREAD . 7

THE BIBLE 12

THIS HOLY BOOK 15

ABRAHAM . 16

ABRAHAM AND ISAAC . . 21

STORIES OF ABRAHAM'S YOUTH 27

THE HAND DIVINE 30

ESAU AND JACOB 31

JACOB . . .41

JACOB AND LABAN ... .45

JOSEPH .49

BEAUTIFUL HANDS . ... 66

IN THE LAND OF EGYPT 67

MOSES ...... ..,.._._. .73

STORIES ABOUT MOSES ...... . .110

THE SHEPHERD WHO SANG BEFORE, A KING 113

PSALM XXIII . . . . 118

DAVID AND GOLIATH 119

THE HOLY SABBATH 127

REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY 132

THE LOVELIEST BIRTHDAY PARTY 134

A JEWISH HOME 142

SHABUOTH 144

THE LORD IS GOOD .149

STORIES FROM THE TALMUD . 150

A FAREWELL . . . 159

SUCCOTH . .160

EVENING HYMN , . 166




THE GOLDEN THREAD

THE WONDER STORY OF THE WORLD

IN all parts of the world there live numbers
of Jews. They obey the laws of the land in
which they live, and they do the same kind of
work as other people. But in their faith they
are different. They keep together as one
people, believing in the same God and pray-
ing to Him in their own way. We all want
to know where they came from and what it
is that keeps them together. We shall tell
you something of their story in these pages.

The story of the Jews runs like a golden
thread woven into the history of mankind.
It is the wonder story of the world. It is the
story of a people which has been kept alive
through the ages, while the mightiest of



8 The Golden Thread

nations have passed away; it is the story
which tells how men came to know about
God; it is the story of ourselves.

The history of the Jews begins in the
ages of long, long ago, with the life of a
great man who knew of the true God long,
long ago in the dim past long, long ago
when the people prayed to idols of wood
and stone, and to fire and to animals; and
when wickedness filled the earth.

This man was Abraham. From him the
knowledge passed to his son Isaac, and from
Isaac to his son Jacob, who was also called
Israel. He was the father of the Israelites,
the name by which we were known after the
time of Jacob. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
are called our forefathers. God promised
them that their offspring or families w r ould
grow in numbers until they became a great
nation, and that He would give them the land
of Canaan to be their own.

You will read in this book how Jacob and
his family went to live in Egypt, and how,
as the years rolled on, the family grew into
a nation. You will read how these people
were made to work as slaves, and how they



The Wonder Story of the World 9

were led forth to freedom by the greatest
leader in history, Moses, who taught them
to love God and do right.

After many years the Israelites settled
down in the land that had become their own.
It was a good land, a land of mountains and
green hills and pleasant valleys, of brooks
and streams and flowing rivers, of forests
and pastures, of fruit gardens, vineyards and
golden cornfields ; and the heart of the Jew
has ever turned to it with love and longing.

The Israelites tilled the soil and kept sheep
and cattle. Their first rulers were called
Judges. Later on they had kings, one of
whom was King David. They had fine cities.
The chief one was Jerusalem. In this city
one of the kings named Solomon set up a
great building known as the Temple, where
people came together to serve God.

We speak of the land given by God to His
people as the Holy Land. It is also known
as Palestine.

The Israelites were also called Hebrews.
They spoke the language which we use when
we pray, and which every child should learn,
in order to understand the beautiful prayers.



10 The Golden Thread

After a time many enemies rose up against
the Israelites, who fought hard to keep their
land safe and free. In the end they were
attacked by the Romans who made them-
selves masters of the country. Many Israel-
ites were killed or taken as slaves, and many
others made their homes in new countries.
This was nearly two thousand years ago.
Since then they have spread over the whole
world.

They have often been treated cruelly. Much
that is false has been said about them.
Often people have tried to make them give
up their religion. Even to-day in some
countries their lives are hard and bitter.
But all through the ages they have kept to
their faith. They have ever formed one
brotherhood that nothing could break, for
it was held together by the hand of the living
God.

Many years ago, England and France, and,
earlier still, Holland, gave the Jews equal
freedom with the rest of the people of those
lands. America has always welcomed them,
because it was ever a free country.

The Jews have served their rulers bravely,



The Wonder Story of the World 11

faithfully and well, giving them their best in
work, in ideas and in courage.

The wonder story is not yet finished. It
is for us to see that the future shall match
the glory of the past.

A new chapter is beginning at the time when
this book is being written. A great war has
just finished, and, led by the English, the
great nations of the world have agreed that
the Jews shall have the right once more to
a safe home in the Holy Land, the ancient
land of their forefathers.




A ROMAN PROCESSION CARRYING THE SPOILS OF THE TEMPLE

(From the Arch of Titus, Rome)



THE BIBLE

THE BEST BOOK IN THE WORLD

WHAT are the things that have kept the
Jews together through all the ages, through
times of gladness and sorrow, through times
of good and ill fortune, through times of
peace and war ? They are our belief in the
one true God, our ideas of right and wrong,
the knowledge of our great history, and our
customs and our ways of life.

All these things flow from a book of which
we Jews are proud, for it is the best book
in the whole world. It has been written by
Jews and it is called the Bible, or the Book
of Books, as we sometimes speak of it. So
much of our lives is bound up with it, that
we are often called the " People of the Book."

It is not really a single book, but a whole
set of books in one . It was written in Hebrew ,
the language spoken by the Jews, and was
put together when they lived in the Holy
Land. It was written when most of the

12



The Bible 13

people of the world prayed to idols, and
thought chiefly of hunting and robbing and
fighting and killing. Yet it is full of ever-
lasting wisdom and full of the noblest and
best thoughts ; for all that is in it has come
from the spirit of God.

The first part is called the " Five Books
of Moses." This gives the history of the
Israelites until the death of Moses, and tells
how God made Himself known to His people.
It also contains the God -given laws under
which the Israelites lived, and which have
guided our lives ever since.

Other parts of the Bible give the history of
the times after Moses.

But, besides this, there are in the Bible
the writings of holy men called Prophets.
They were filled with God's spirit and could
see into the future. They urged the people
to do what was right. They wrote down
messages that came to them from God, in
words that were full of poetry and beauty.
Often they were the bearers of awful words
of warning.

There are other writings in this book, such
as the Proverbs, which contain much wisdom ;



14 The Golden Thread

and the Psalms, which are the best and the
holiest and the most beautiful songs ever
written.

We have always loved and treasured this
book, for it is a Jewish book. We read it
in the Synagogue and in our homes. Many
parts of it are used in our prayers. It cheers
us in our lonely hours ; it gives us help and
comfort in times of trouble ; it leads us in
the paths of kindness, peace and rest.

This book became known to other peoples.
It has been translated into every language.
It is the gift of the Israelites to mankind.

All over the world, in the towns and in
the villages and in the lonely country places,
among the mountains and the hills and in the
valleys, in the palaces of kings and in the
homes of the lowly, in the far-off settlements
and on the ships that cross the trackless
ocean, this Book is to be found. Its clear
message rings out over the whole world.
It brings hope and help and comfort and
love and peace to all hearts.



This Holy Book



15




THIS HOLY BOOK







THIS holy book I'd rather own,
Than all the gold and gems

That e'er in monarchs' coffers shone,
Than all their diadems.

The soul has never found relief
In glittering hoards of wealth ;

Gems dazzle not the eye of grief,
Gold cannot purchase health.

But here a blessed balm appears

To heal the deepest woe,
And those who read this book in tears,

Their tears shall cease to flow.

Adapted from Horatius Bonar.






ABRAHAM

THE FIRST TRUTH OF THE JEWISH RELIGION

ABRAHAM, the first Hebrew, was not born
in the Holy Land, but in a land far away
from it, called Ghaldea. His father's name
was Terah.

His family, and the people among whom
he lived, knew nothing of the true God. They
believed in many gods and bowed down to
idols of wood and stone.

But Abraham was wiser. When he looked
at the wonders of Nature, the sun, the moon,
the stars, the trees, the flowers, and the birds,
and when he thought of the light following

16



Abraham 17

the darkness and the darkness following the
light, he saw how foolish it was to believe
that images had any power over the world.
He saw that the world must have a Maker,
and that there must be one Mind and one
Spirit which ruled over all. He thus found
out for himself the first truth of the Jewish
religion, that there is one God, the Maker
of the heavens and the earth and the sea and
all that is in them.

When, too, he beheld the beauty of Nature
and saw how wonderfully everything fitted
in with our lives, he knew that God was a
God of kindness, and there grew up in his
heart a great love for his Maker. He would
have nothing to do with the false gods of
his people.

It would have been easier for him to do
the same as the people around him, but he
was brave. He followed the call of his own
heart, even though he stood alone. It must
have been hard for him to tell his neighbours
and his family, that what they did was not
right. They were much bound up with
their idols, and would hardly listen to him.
Abraham must have been unhappy about it,



18 The Golden Thread

but he kept to his own straight path. He
did not falter in his faith and in his love
of God.

When he was already an old man, seventy -
five years of age, a wondrous change came
into his life. God Himself appeared to
Abraham and bade him leave his home and
go to a new country, the Land of Canaan.
God also told Abraham that he would have
children and grandchildren and great-grand-
children, and in time his family would grow
into a nation to which God would give the
Land of Canaan. This nation would be a
blessing to all the people of the earth.
Indeed, Abraham was chosen to be the
father of a great people which was to teach
all the nations of the world the truth about
God.

The task was not a light one. Though he
was old, he had to tear himself away from
his country. But the hardest task becomes
easy when it is born of faith and love.
Abraham at once obeyed. Taking with him
his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot, he set
out for an unknown country to begin a new
life among strangers.



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HE SET OUT FOR A NEW COUNTRY



20 The Golden Thread

Both Abraham and Lot owned many sheep
and oxen and servants, and it was a big
company that went with Abraham. When
he came to Canaan, he wandered from place
to place, to find grass-lands for his cattle.
He went north and south and east and west.
He viewed the pastures and the hills and the
plains and the streams.

Now that he was away from his home, it
was easier for him to speak out the truth
that was in him. Strangers are often more
ready to listen to a man than the people
who have known him all their lives. Wher-
ever he set up his tent as he went through
the land, he taught the people about the true
God.

It is not only Abraham whom God has
called to go forth and bring blessings to
others. He calls every one of us at some
time. We may not really hear His words,
but we feel them in our hearts. Like
Abraham, we must ever be ready to obey
the Divine call.




ABRAHAM AND ISAAC

THE LOVE OF GOD THAT WAS PERFECT

ONE day, Abraham was sitting at the door
of his tent in the heat of the day and he saw
three men coming towards him. He wel-
comed them with gentle words and invited
them to sit down and rest, while cool water
from a well was brought to them so that
they could wash and refresh themselves. He
then had a nice meal served to them. This
they ate as they sat in the shade of a tree
just outside his tent.

The men were really angels or messengers

21



22 The Golden Thread

of God. They had come with the glad
news that Sarah would soon have a son.
She herself was in the tent, and when she
heard the words, she laughed at the idea
of having a little boy of her own after she
had grown so old.

But in time a dear little boy was born.
Abraham called him Isaac, which is the
Hebrew word for "laughing." This son
was everything in the world to Abraham.
In him were bound up all the hopes for
the future. As he grew up, it was seen that
he was a worthy son of his great father.

When Isaac had grown into a lad, strong
and true, loving and lovable, it was God's
wish that Abraham should go through a
trial; a trial so great and so awful, that the
wonder of it would be echoed through the
ages ; a trial that was to show his children's
children for ever, a trust and a faith and a
love of God that were perfect.

If there is one thing which we hold dearer
than our own lives, it is the life of our best-
beloved. Abraham's trial was no less than
to be asked to give up the life of his beloved
son, Isaac.



Abraham and Isaac 23

God called to him and said, " Take now
thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou
lovest, and offer him up as a burnt offering
upon one of the mountains of which I will
tell thee."

Although his heart was near to breaking,
Abraham spoke no word of complaint. His
one thought was to obey and he did not falter.

He rose up in the morning before the dawn
and set out on the journey with Isaac and two
men-servants.

They went through miles and miles of
rough country, ever climbing as they strug-
gled towards the mountain top. Abraham
had plenty of time to change his mind.
Twice did the sun set on the hills, the golden
western sky turning into twilight grey and
then into the cold darkness of the night.
Three times the grey morning broke out of
the darkness of night and turned again to
gold as the day dawned. On, on they went.
In the sunshine or in the darkness, Abraham
never turned from his purpose.

On the third day they came in sight of the
mountain top. Abraham left the two men-
servants behind while he and Isaac went



24 The Golden Thread

forward. He wanted to be alone with his
beloved son in the last holy moments.

Isaac took up the wood, which he slung
across his shoulders, and in his hands he
carried a small pan of fire and a knife. When
he looked at these things he was puzzled and
said-

" My father, I see the fire and the wood,
but where is the lamb for the burnt offering ? "

Abraham turned his head away, for he
was troubled. He could not bear to tell
Isaac what was to happen.

" My son," he replied, " God will find for
Himself a burnt offering." So they went
on together.

They came to the top and there Abraham
built an altar. With trembling hands he
bound Isaac and laid him upon the wood
on the altar. Then he put forth his hand for
ahe knife to slay his son.

Just then an angel of the Lord called to
him from heaven, "Abraham, Abraham,
lay not thine hand upon the lad. Now I
know that thou fearest God, seeing that
thou hast not kept back thy son, thine only
son, from Him."



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THERE ABRAHAM BUILT AN ALTAR



26 The Golden Thread

The trial was finished. It was a happy
relief to the sorely tried father. He set his
son free. At that moment he noticed a ram
caught by its horns in the bushes near by,
and he offered it up in place of his son.

God now told Abraham once more that
his family would become a great nation, not
only itself to be blessed, but bringing a
blessing to the whole world.

If we wish to understand something of
the meaning of this story, let us think
of a golden ornament fresh from the hands
of its maker. He takes it to a hall where
its purity is tested and a mark is stamped
upon it. The maker knows of its purity.
For him the hall-mark matters little, but
it shows all who see it how pure is the
gold of which the ornament is made.

In the same way God Himself knew Abra-
ham's heart, but He proved Abraham and set
His seal on him for ever, so that all who
came after him would know how great was
the soul and how perfect was the faith of
him who was the first of the race chosen
by God to be His own people.



STORIES OF ABRAHAM'S YOUTH

THE Jews have other ancient books besides
the Bible. In one of them we read about
Abraham, and how, when he was young, his
thoughts were led to the true God.

Once, on a lovely summer day, Abraham
tried to look at the sun, but it was so bright
that his eyes were dazzled. It seemed so
wonderful, that he said to himself, "Perhaps
the sun is the God of the world."

In the evening the sun passed away and
the twinkling stars came into the heaven,
shedding their soft beautiful light. As he
looked at them in the far-away, never-
ending spaces, Abraham wondered whether
the stars were the gods of the world. Yet
when the dawn broke, the stars faded away
and the sun came forth again in all its glory.

Another evening, Abraham watched the
moon, which turned the whole earth to silver
as it sailed slowly across the skies, and he
then asked himself whether the moon was
God.

He spent much time in thinking of these

things. At last he saw that neither the sun

27



28 The Golden Thread

nor the stars nor yet the moon were gods ;
but that there was one Spirit which set
them all in motion and ruled over the whole

\

Universe.



Abraham's father, Terah, was a maker of
idols. He kept them in a large room.
Men and women came to pray to them and
even to make offerings to them. Others
would come to buy idols for themselves.

One day Terah left his son to take care of
the idols. As Abraham looked round, he
thought how foolish people were to pray to
these images of wood and stone.

He took a hammer and knocked off the
heads and hands and feet of all except one.
Then he put the hammer into the hand of
this idol and waited for his father to return.

Of course Terah was very angry when
he saw what had been done. He asked
Abraham to tell him what had been the cause
of it. Abraham pointed to the idol with the
hammer in its hand and said, " That idol
did it ! " Now Terah knew very well that
an idol could not use its hands, and so he
began to see the folly of praying to an image.



Stories of Abraham's Youth 29

The news of this deed came to the ears of
the King, whose name was Nimrod. He also
prayed to idols. He sent for Abraham and
said

44 You must pray to the images."

44 1 will not," said Abraham.

44 Then pray to fire," said the King.

44 Would it not be better to pray to water ?
Water can put out fire." said Abraham.

44 Very well," answered Nimrod, 44 pray to
water."

Abraham then said, 44 Why should I not
pray to the clouds ? They give us water."

The King said he was willing that Abraham
should worship the clouds.

44 Why not pray to the wind ? " went on
Abraham. 44 See how strong is the wind,
and how it drives the clouds across the
sky."

44 Very well," answered Nimrod, 44 pray
to the wind."

Then Abraham said in a firm voice

44 O King, I will pray neither to the idols,
nor to the fire, nor the water, nor the clouds,
nor the wind. I will pray only to the Almighty
Who made them all. He is the true God."



30 The Golden Thread




xne neno Divine s *

heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament
showeth His handiwork. PSALM xix.

SOON as the evening shades prevail

The moon takes up the wondrous tale,

And nightly to the listening earth

Repeats the story of her birth ;

Whilst all the stars that round her burn,

And all the planets in their turn,

Confirm the tidings, as they roll,

And spread the truth from pole to pole. . .

For ever singing as they shine,

" The Hand that made us is Divine."

J. Addison.




ESAU AND JACOB

PART I. A HASTY BARGAIN

WHEN Isaac grew to manhood, he married
a God-fearing woman from among his kins-
folk. Her name was Rebekah. They had
two sons, named Esau and Jacob.

The brothers were not at all alike. Esau
was a wild, careless fellow. He liked
nothing better than to take his bow and
arrow and follow the track of the deer
over the hills and through the woods and
hunt it down. He gave no thought to the
future, so long as he had enough for his
wants at the time. There have ever been
boys like him. They leave the comfort of
a home to seek adventures in the wild
places of the world. They are good-natured
and lovable, quick to get angry, and quick
to forgive, but they are not always the
best fitted to carry out some great work in
life, which needs steadiness and patience.

Esau married a woman of a people who had

idols for their gods, and he brought sorrow

31



32 The Golden Thread

to his mother and father. Yet Isaac loved
this happy-go-lucky son very dearly. He
had always loved the scent of the fields.
He loved too, the venison, as we call the
flesh of the deer, which Esau often brought
to him when he came home from hunting.

Jacob was different from his brother. He
loved his home and seldom wandered away
from the pastures around the tents where he
lived. He was always ready to do as he
was told, and to help in looking after
the flocks and the herds of his father. His
life was one of peace and quietness. He
was ever thoughtful of the future. He was
often with his mother, and it is no wonder
that Rebekah loved Jacob as much as Isaac
loved Esau.

Esau being the elder, had the right to be-
come the chief of the family when Isaac died.
This meant, also, the right to have all that
belonged to his father his flocks and his
herds and his tents. On him should have
fallen the duty of bringing up his family in
such a way as to lead it on to the future great-
ness promised by God. But we see that
he was not the best fitted for this high duty.



Esau and Jacob



33




One day he came home from hunting,
feeling very tired and hungry. He found
Jacob cooking some food and asked for some
of it to eat. Jacob saw the chance of making
Esau give up his birthright, that is, all his
rights as elder brother. So he said

" Sell me first your birthright."

Esau, thinking only of his want of food,
agreed. He said, " I am nearly dying of
hunger, and what good will the birthright
do for me ? "

We are not told what price Jacob paid for



34 The Golden Thread

the birthright, but the bargain was not a
fair one. It was forced on Esau when he
was faint and hungry.

It was wrong of Jacob to make profit out
of his brother's hunger. But he must have
seen how unfit Esau was to become the head
of the family. Esau might have been ready
at a future time to give up all that he had,
perhaps to a stranger, in return for some-
thing that he wanted at once. In this way
he would lose all that had been saved up by
Abraham and Isaac. Things like this happen
in some families even in these days.

The lesson to us is clear. If we do not
prize a precious gift, we have no right to it.
It is sad to think that there are many people
like Esau who turn away from the gifts of
God, for the sake of food, or clothes, or
pleasures, which soon pass away. Esau did
not understand the value of his birthright


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