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 AMONG those who watched the approach of Judas and his host to
Jerusalem were two men, one in extreme old age,
the other numbering, it would seem, about fifty years.
They wore the priestly garments, old indeed and
threadbare, but still clean and showing many signs of
careful repair. Theirs was a strange history. For two
years they had been in hiding in the city. When
Apollonius had filled the streets of Jerusalem with
murderers had sought with especial care for all priests
and Levites. To them at least no mercy was to be shown.
These two men—Shemaiah was the name of the elder
of the two, and Joel that of the younger—had
death from the soldiers of Apollonius. They had taken
refuge—so close was the pursuit—in a
garden, the gate of
which happened to be open, and had hidden themselves in
the bushes till nightfall. Where they were, who or of
 race was the owner of the house, whether they were
likely to meet with more mercy from his hands than they
could expect from the soldiers, they knew not. But that
hiding-place was their only chance, and in their
desperate strait they snatched at it. While they were
debating in whispers whether they should throw
on the compassion of this unknown person, they
saw—for it was a moonlight night—the figure
of a woman walking
down a path which passed close by their hiding-place.
They could see from her features, which the brilliant
moonlight of the East lighted up, that she was a
countrywoman of their own, and they resolved to appeal
for protection. Shemaiah, whose age and venerable
appearance would, they judged, be less likely to alarm,
himself on the ground at her feet. She started back in
"Lady," he said, "I see that you are a daughter of
Abraham. Can you help two servants of the Lord that
far escaped from the sword of the Greeks?"
She was reassured by a nearer view of the speaker. "Who
are you?" she said. "Speak without fear, for there is
no one to harm you."
Shemaiah told his story.
"And your companion," said Eglah—for that was the
woman's name—"where is he?"
The old man called to Joel, who came forth at his
bidding from his hiding-place.
 Eglah stood for a few minutes buried in thought. Then
"As I hope that the Lord will have mercy on me and
pardon my sin, so will I help you even to the giving up
my life. But I am not worthy that you should come under
my roof. Now listen to my story. When
Lord reward him for the evil that he has done to His
people!—came to this city, I was seized and sold
slave. And a certain Greek soldier, Glaucus by name,
the captain of a company, bought me in the market. He
compassion on me, and dealt honourably with me, and
made me his wife after the fashion of his people. And I
consented to live with him, though I knew that it was a
sin for a daughter of Abraham to be wife unto a man
that was a heathen. But alas! sirs, what was I to do?
for I was a weak woman, and there was no one, to help
Should I have slain him in his sleep, as Judith slew
Holofernes? Once I thought to do so, and I took a
in my hand, but when I saw him I repented. Whether it
was fear or love that turned me I know not. That I was
afraid I know, for the very sight of the steel made me
tremble. And I must confess that I loved him also, for
he had been very kind and gentle with me; and there is
not a goodlier man to look at in all Jerusalem."
"Be comforted, my daughter," said Shemaiah, whose years
had taught him a tolerance to which
 his younger companion had, perhaps, scarcely attained.
" 'Tis at least no sin for a wife to love her husband."
"Then you do not think me so wicked as to be beyond all
hope?" cried poor Eglah, eagerly.
"Nay, my daughter," said the old man; "you were in a
sore strait, and all women are not as Judith was."
"Then you will not refuse to come into my house? I have
a large cellar where you can lie hid. 'Tis under the
ground, indeed, but airy and dry, and you can make
shift to live there. And I will feed you as best I may.
husband has an open hand, and never makes any question
as to the money that I spend upon the house, and he
not know what I have done. I judge it best to keep the
thing from him, not because I fear that he would betray
you—for he is an honourable man and kindly, but
it would go hard with him, being an officer in the army
King, if it should be discovered that he knew it."
And so for two years Shemaiah and Joel had inhabited
the cellar in Eglah's house. Glaucus, the husband, was
just the kindly, generous man whom his wife had
described. Once or twice he had terrified her by some
remark about the rapidity with which the provision
purchased for the house disappeared. "When we dine
my darling," he said, on one occasion, "you eat what
would be scarce enough for a well-favoured fly;
 but I am glad to think that you are hungry at other
times." "O husband," she said, "there are many poor of
own people, and I cannot deny them." She hoped as she
said it that the falsehood would not be counted as
another sin against her.
"Nay, nay, darling," said the good-natured man. "Give
as much as thou wilt. Thank the gods and his Highness
King I have enough and to spare."
Glaucus, though allowed to lie in his own house, had,
of course, to spend much time upon his military duties,
was, consequently, often away. During his absence Eglah
could bring out the two prisoners from their
underground lodging, and allow them to enjoy the fresh
air of the garden, which, happily, was not overlooked.
She gave them the best food that her means would
procure, and at the same time took pains, as has been
keep their garments scrupulously clean and neat. On the
whole they passed the time of their captivity in
tolerable comfort, and without much injury to their
health. Latterly they had been cheered by the tidings,
always given to them at the very earliest opportunity
by their hostess, of the successes of Judas. Within the
last few days Glaucus had told his wife that a
decisive battle was expected, that it would probably be
at Beth-zur, and that if her countrymen won it, there
was nothing that could hinder them from taking
 Glaucus, who held a command in the garrison of the
fort, had not been with Lysias at Beth-zur, but he had
late on the evening of the day of the result of the
battle and had, of course, told it to his wife, and she
turn had communicated it to her inmates. They had been
scarcely able to sleep for joy, and had eagerly waited
for news of the conqueror's approach. Evening was come,
and Eglah had not paid them the accustomed visit. The
house was curiously silent; all day not a sound of
voices or steps had reached their ears. And now the
had become unbearable. "Go forth," said Shemaiah to his
younger companion, "go forth, and bring me word again."
Joel crept out of his retreat. The streets were
deserted; but the fortress was crowded. The garrison
thickly clustered on the walls, and with them were many
inhabitants of the city. It was easy to guess that what
Glaucus had foretold had happened. Judas was on his way
to take possession of Jerusalem, and all who had
compromised themselves by resisting him, had either
fled from the place altogether or had taken refuge in
fort. He returned to Shemaiah with a description of
what he had seen, and the two at once hastened down to
walls to greet the deliverers.
The sun was near its setting when they entered the
city. Without turning to the right or left, though many
have been consumed with
 anxiety to hear the fate of kinsmen and friends, they
marched to Mount Sion. It was an hour of triumph, the
fruition of hopes passionately cherished through many a
dark day of sorrow. To stand once more in the place
which God had chosen to set His name there, how
glorious. But it had its bitterness, as such hours will
for it was a miserable sight that greeted them.
Nothing, indeed, had been done of which they had not
There was nothing that they might not have expected or
foreseen. Yet the actual view of the holy place in its
dismal forlornness overpowered them. It was as if the
sight had come upon them by surprise. "When they saw
Sanctuary desolate and the altar profane, and the gates
burnt with fire, and shrubs growing in the courts as in
a forest or one of the mountains, and the chambers of
the priests pulled down, they rent their clothes, and
made great lamentations, and cast ashes upon their
heads, and fell down flat to the ground upon their
To repair this ruin, to put an end to this desolation,
to purify the place which had been so shamefully
polluted, was the first duty of the deliverers. But
that the work might be done in peace it was necessary
the fortress of Acra, to use military language, should
be masked. A strong force was told off to perform this
duty; the rest would lend their aid to the great work of