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rabbi, who was imprisoned in a dungeon with a scanty allowance of food and water. One day, a part of the water being accidentally spilled, he chose to use the small quantity that remained for his washings, at the hazard of perishing with thirst, rather than to drink what was left and omit his usual purifications. Well might these observances be characterized as a yoke too heavy to be borne, Acts xv. 10. These “divers washings” are censured by the apostle Paul, Heb. ix. 10, among other ceremonial rites to which the Jews clung with extreme pertinacity.

M'Caul refers to these endless distinctions, with which the observance of the simple precept to wash the hands is encumbered, as a decided proof that the rabbinical commands are a religion of men's making. This is the first observance with which the Jew begins his day ; but there are so many points to be observed, that scarcely any Jew can be sure he has observed them all, and yet, let it be remembered, that, if they fail in any one point, the hands are considered as unwashed, consequently they are unfit for prayer or to eat particular sorts of bread. Take another example : “All bread that has salt in it requires washing of hands after it, lest perhaps it might be the salt of Sodom, or salt of the same nature, and a man might pass his hands over his eyes and become blind.” Another precept declares, that in washing, a man must pour water on his hands three times, for an evil spirit rests upon them before washing, which will not depart till the water has been poured three times. Those who despise these washings are considered as excommunicated, liable to fall into poverty, and to be rooted out of the world. Nay, to neglect in this instance is declared to be as guilty as to break the seventh commandment. These were some of the precepts by which the scribes and Pharisees imposed burdens too heavy to be borne, making the law of God a terror and a cruel imposition; from this bondage our Lord set them free. Yet, even at the present day, these observances are enforced among the Jews, and they falsely declare, “ Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe! who hath sanctified us with his commandments, and commanded us to cleanse our hands." But under the Old Testament and the Mosaic dispensation we find Samuel expressly declaring; “ Man looketh on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart," 1 Sam. xyi. 7.

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The observance of the sabbath, or the rest of the seventh day, being especially enjoined by one of the ten commandments, it will come most properly under notice as one of those laws, except that notice may here be taken of the ceremonial or ritual services and observance of that day.

It is evident, from many passages in Scripture, that this day was not usually kept holy to the Lord as it should have been. There were many who considered it a burden, because it debarred them from their usual pursuits; who, as Amos states, viii. 5, longed for the time when the sabbath should be gone, that they might continue their fraudulent traffic; or, as Isaiah denounces, lviii. 13, sought their own pleasure on that day. How similar are the evil desires and the evil practices of men in every age! After the captivity, more attention was paid to the outward observance; and the book of Nehemiah (see x. xiii. particularly the latter chapter) shows the active measures taken by that ruler, to hinder the people of the land from compelling, or inducing the Jews to break the sabbath by trading, as well as to prevent the Jews themselves from pursuing their ordinary labours on that holy day. But it is possible to err by going into one extreme as well as another; it was so with the Jews. Before the captivity, the sabbath was neglected, 2 Chr. xxxvi. 21, Neh. xiii. 18; afterwards the outward observance became superstitious. When the Maccabees first took up arms against their oppressors, the Jews carried their observance of the sabbath so far, as to allow their enemies to attack and massacre them without resistance on that day ; but Mattathias explained to his countrymen that this could not be right, and from that time the Jews fought in their own defence on the sabbath, although they would not on that day attack their foes. In more than one instance, their enemies took advantage of this forbearance; as late as the time of Pompey, that Roman general took Jerusalem by pushing forward the works of the siege on the sabbath; on that day placing his engines, and battering the walls in places which could not have been approached had the Jews fought against him.

In the days when our blessed Lord was upon earth, the privileges of the sabbath were so lost, under the ceremonial additions of the Pharisees, that Christ, as Lord of the sabbath, openly showed his disregard of these traditional innovations, and reverted to the simple and merciful design of the institution, declaring that the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath, Mark ii. 27, 28; Luke vi. 5.

Let us now see how the Jews kept their ceremonial sabbath in the days of our Saviour; considerable information will be obtained thereby relative to several circumstances in the Gospel history. About three on the Friday afternoon began what was called the eve, or the preparation for the sabbath, Mark xv. 42. The people ceased from their daily labour and usual employments, and prepared food for the next day, as no fire ought then to be kindled; they trimmed their beards, and washed their faces, hands and feet; this the rabbis called “ meeting king sabbath.” A little before sunset they lighted what was called the sabbath candle or lamp; the interval, from sunset till three stars were plainly visible, was called “ between the suns," as they were in doubt to which day it belonged. Whoever found that he had inadvertently done any work in that space,


was bound to bring a sin-offering. The reader will recollect that, in Judæa, the time of sunset did not vary so much as in more northern countries, and the approach of darkness is more rapid and decided. This plan of reckoning the day, from one evening to the next, was the custom at that time, being founded on the statement, Gen. i., that the evening and the morning made the first day, and so

We are not called on to adopt this plan now; and the quiet entire change produced by a night's rest is an important separation between the days of labour and the sabbath.

When the sabbath began, they placed food on the table, better than their usual provision, also the sabbath lamp. The master of the house took a cup of wine, and after repeating Gen ii. 1-3, drank it. The rest of the family did the same, and, after washing their hands, began supper. With respect to the lights for the sabbath, one rabbi says, “He that is accustomed to take great care in trimming his sabbath lamp well, will have children who shall be disciples of the wise :” the having a handsome sabbath lamp was represented to be as necessary as providing food. A heathen Roman poet alludes to these customary lights, and the attempts to provide a supper more sumptuous than ordinary, in the following lines :

-But Herod's feast returns !
Now lamps with violet deck'd in rows depend,
And froin each window greasy clouds ascend.
Now the red dish within its circling rim
Beholds the tail of some poor tunny swim.
Now the white earthen vessel swims with wine.

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After returning thanks, the family retired to rest. Early the next morning, they attended the first service at the synagogue, or perhaps at the temple, if they lived in Jerusalem; and on their return home took their breakfast, which was the second sabbath meal. They then went to some teacher who publicly explained the traditions of the elders, or they engaged in religious duties at home. At noon they dined, and the afternoon passed away till the time of the evening sacrifice, about three o'clock, when they again went to the temple, or to a synagogue; after which they returned home to eat their fourth meal, and continued conversing till sunset, when the sabbath ended. Just before that time, a second sabbath lamp was lighted, and the master of the family having given thanks over a

cup of wine, he repeated a passage of Scripture, as Psa. cxvi. 13, or Esther viii. 16, and pronounced a blessing, by way of separation between the sabbath and the working day, then about to begin. The chief circumstance to be noticed as objectionable in these observances is, that on the sabbath the Jews made a point of indulging in food, and invited company more than on any other day; see Luke xiv. l. It is not to be a day of abstinence or fasting, but certainly it should not be a day of gluttony and feasting.

The sabbath was to be strictly a day of rest, except for works of necessity or mercy. That public notice might be given, the minister of the synagogue sounded a trumpet six times from the roof of the building, at the beginning and at the end of the sabbath. Still further to make it a day of rest, the Jews were forbidden to walk more than a sabbath day's journey, a distance of 2,000 cubits, or something less than a mile. This limitation is not found any where in Scripture, but the Jews founded the tradition on Exod. xvi. 29, “Let no man go out of his place on the sabbath day." They consider that the distance at first was twelve miles, that being the extent they assign to the camp in the wilderness, but that after the settlement in Canaan, it was restricted to the shorter distance.

The restrictions of the later Jews with respect to the sabbath day, were numerous, fanciful, and very burden

For instance, they enumerated thirty-nine “primitive ” or general kind of works, from which they made out innumerable others as “derivatives.” To plough was a primitive; to dig was likewise forbidden, but was a derivative: to reap was a primitive; to gather ears of corn was of the same nature as reaping, and so was to pluck fruit. If it was proved that any one had broken these rules presumptuously, he was in danger of being stoned; our Lord therefore, in fact, pleaded for the lives of his disciples, Matt. xii. 1—8. The minute points to which these rules were extended, and the fanciful classification of them, can scarcely be supposed; for instance, to chop herbs was considered the same as grinding. The distinctions as to healing were also very strict. It was lawful to resort to means necessary to save life; but if the disease were of a chronical nature, it was to be endured on that day, rather than prepare medicines or attempt a cure on the sabbath. Our Lord cured the blind man on the sabbath day, not only showing his miraculous power in using means im


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