My Palestine Recollections. 5. The City That Men Call the Perfection of Beauty

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WE took leave of our fellow-travelers, and at 6:30 my companion halted his horse, and addressing me, said, “What do you see before you?” It was Jerusalem. There were Zion and Moriah. No temple of Jehovah, but the Mosque of the Khalif Omar. Still it was Jerusalem, although “trodden down by the Gentiles,” until, yes, “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:2424And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)).
We arrived at the house of Mr. Audi Azam, a Christian manufacturer, dwelling on Mount Zion. We knocked at the outer gate, and soon the faithful household servant, Monsoul by name, came to the wicket, and being assured as to who we were, he opened the gate, took charge of our horses, and announced our arrival to good Mr. Azam. He in turn soon appeared, when the oft-told Oriental greetings were enacted, of falling on the neck (alternately over the right and left shoulder) and exchanging the kiss of peace. Not long after, kind Mrs. Azam was also introduced, and her voice could afterwards be heard (like Sarah’s in the inner tent) calling to Monsoul to assist her in the hospitable preparations going on for our refreshment and entertainment. Then at the table, without interrupting the conversation, our well-beloved Gaius, Mr. Azam, gave his orders by a movement of his hand, which the eyes of Monsoul, constantly watching, interpreted aright, and brought the fresh dishes or the water, the coffee, or whatever his master saw to be required. This recalled the beautiful use of the figure in Ps. 123:2, “Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God.”
In the accompanying sketch which I made of the reception vestibule of Mr. A.’s house, one of the servants is shown partaking of the meal after the master and guests have first been filled (Luke 17:88And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? (Luke 17:8)). There is in Acts 12:12-1712And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. 13And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. 14And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 15And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. 16But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. 17But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place. (Acts 12:12‑17), an account of which, I believe, the sketch affords an appropriate illustration. The little wicket in the large outer gate at which a man is shown to be entering is sometimes spoken of as the “Needle’s Eye.” For anyone to enter by it he must needs stoop (may we say become as a little child?), while for the entry of a camel the larger gate (within which the wicket is framed) must needs be thrown open. The passage from the wicket to the door of the house will be seen to be a portion of the garden covered with the vine trained on a trellis.
If in thought we substitute for the figures shown in the sketch, the company described in the above verses, gathered together praying for Peter, and imagine the wicket to correspond with the door of the gate at which Peter knocked, we can recognize the path under the trellis of vines as corresponding with the ground crossed and re-traversed by the damsel named Rhoda, when she brought word how Peter stood before the gate, and when they would not believe the good news, “she constantly affirmed that it was even so.” The trellis of vines brings Cant. 2:3, Micah 4:44But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. (Micah 4:4), and other precious scriptures to mind.
T. T.