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about 1489 feet long by 995 feet wide; but, as these are wholly of Turkish origin, they have no reference to our present subject. Other travellers have also gained admittance. Among other objects of attention, is a stone on the
top of the wall, impending over a tremendous precipice, on which the Turks believe that Mohammed is to sit at the day of judgment, and to judge the re-embodied spirits, which will then, as they believe, be assembled beneath in the valley of Jehoshaphat.
Perhaps, among all the considerations which have reference to the temple, none is more affecting than the extreme veneration of the Jews for that pile of building. Some of the psalms which were composed during the Babylonish captivity strongly evidence this ; and there are several instances of it in the Old Testament. Afterwards this feeling was heightened to superstitious regard. The law required solemn and holy conduct in all who approached the courts of the Lord to worship therein, and persons were excluded under some circumstances of ceremonial uncleanness; but the Jewish rabbis added many other strictions. Weapons of offence were rightly excluded from the house of God, and no man might enter it even with a staff. This was to teach that, in their worship, it was not
right to lean on any staff but God; and it accounts for our Saviour making and using a whip of small cords to drive out the buyers and sellers, as a staff was not allowed in the courts even for driving the cattle. None were to enter with shoes, or with dust on their feet; nor was it lawful for the worshippers to have money about them, yet we find tables of money-changers placed there! None were to make the courts a thoroughfare, or to use any irreverent gesture; spitting was absolutely forbidden. While attending the service, the worshipper was to stand with his feet even, his eyes cast downwards, and his hands crossed. However weary, he must not sit down in the court of the Israelites, nor in that of the priests. When they departed, they were to go backward till they had left the inner court where the altar stood, and must not quit the temple by the same gate through which they entered. These scruples entertained after the captivity, strongly contrast with the neglect, and worse than neglect, manifested towards the building during the reigns of the idolatrous kings of Judah. The anathemas and penalties de nounced against any one who should enter the courts of the temple, while ceremonially unclean, were most severe.
The least slight towards the temple, real or supposed, excited the bitterest rage of a Jew. Not to mention Paul and Stephen, there is the strongest instance of this in the case of our blessed Lord. The rulers of the Jews seized upon an expression uttered by him some years before, John xi. 19, 20, and misrepresenting his words, gave them the semblance of disrespect to the temple, when they had in vain sought for any other ground of accusation which might influence the people, Mark xiv. 55–58. The mere assertion, though not well supported, that Jesus had been heard to declare he was able to destroy the temple, was considered as impious guilt, too great to be forgiven. And when expiring on the cross under this charge, the same people who, a few days before, had hailed Jesus of Nazareth as the son of id, viewed him with scorn, and taunted him with the words they supposed him to have spoken. Matt. xxvii. 39, 40.
The same typical meaning may be applied to the temple as to the tabernacle ; and as it was supported by a strong foundation, it may further remind us of the sure Foundation, even Christ Jesus, that only Foundation, in reference to whom the inspired apostle declared, “If any man's work
abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward," 1 Cor. iii. 14. And let us remember, that the tabernacle and the temple, in their typical and figurative meaning, were as maps of the gospel land we now inhabit. They represented by shadows, or at best through a glass darkly, truths now clearly set before us. It has been said, the glories of that blessed country then could only be faintly discerned through the smoke of the sacrifices; now the fruitful fields, and refreshing streams, and rich prospects of that heavenly Canaan, are clearly revealed.
Though glorious, O God ! must thy temple have been,
On the day of its first dedication,
On high, on the ark's holy station ;
To minister, standing before thee,
And thy glory made Israel adore thee.
Yet the worship thy gospel discloses,
Far surpasses the ritual of Moses.
But by Him unto whom it was given
Not the cloud, but the brightness of heaven ?
O Lord ! how to worship before thee ;
But in spirit and truth to adore thee !
The ritual services of the Mosaic dispensation required a number of persons, whose time should be devoted to the due performance of the ceremonials. The main principle also of that dispensation required ministers of various ranks and gradations, suitable to the splendour of that peculiar, or national worship, which recognised the presence of Jehovah, dwelling among them as a monarch in his palace. The variety also of the offerings, and the precision with which the attendant ceremonies were to be performed, demanded constant practice, as well as clear instruction in the first instance. All this was provided for, by the selection of one whole family or tribe, whose entire attention should be devoted to sacred things. Here was an important change from the system of the patriarchal dispensation, when the head of the family offered sacrifices, and conducted the worship of those under his charge, and the eldest son assisted in preparing and slaying the sacrifices, and succeeded to the sacred duties, in addition to the authority as ruler of the family. Esau, when he despised his birth-right, and sold it for a mess of pottage, Gen. xxv. 34, gave up his right to officiate in these holy services. Hence he is spoken of by the apostle, Heb. xii. 16, 17, as a profane person.
There is another reason for this selection of one tribe to wait at the altar, Numb. iii. 13. “ Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast." From the context we learn, that God, having appointed Aaron and his family to be the priests under the new dispensation, gave them the whole tribe of Levi, to which Aaron belonged, to assist in the ritual services, instead of the eldest child of every family in Israel. The advantages of such an arrangement are obvious. And the waiting on the priest's office was not the only service for which the Levites were set apart. They were to diffuse religious and moral instruction throughout the nation. This has been already noticed. In the last solemn discourse of Moses, he speaks thus of the double service of the tribe of Levi, addressing himself to the Most High: “ Let thy Urim and thy Thummim be with thy holy one; they have observed thy word and kept thy covenant; they shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law; they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.” Another solemn injunction respecting public instruction had previously been given, Deut. xxxi. 10–13.
All the institutions respecting this tribe were calculated to give them weight and influence in Israel, which, provided they acted according to the Divine injunctions, would be eminently beneficial. The law, or word of God, was committed to them, that they might study its contents, and be able to instruct the people in all its requirements. They were relieved from secular cares. Their habitations were not confined to one district. They had cities in every tribe, but were relieved from the labour and care of cultivating the ground. The tenth part of the produce of the soil, and portions of many of the offerings, were allotted for their sustenance, Numb. xviii. 24; Deut. xiv. 29. Thus, as Graves observes, “ deriving their maintenance from a source