A NEW ORDER OF THINGS
 THE time is the evening of a day in the early autumn of the
year 174 B.C. There has been a great festival in
Jerusalem. But it has been curiously unlike any
festival that one would have expected to be held in
city. The people have not been crowding in from the
country, and journeying from their far-off places of
sojourn among the heathen, to keep one of the great
feasts of the Law. Nothing could be further from the
thoughts of the crowd that is streaming out of this new
building which stands close under the walls of the
Temple. What would they who built the Temple some two
and a half centuries before have thought of this
intruder on the sacred precincts? It is not difficult
to imagine, for the new erection is nothing more or
than a Circus,
 built and furnished in the latest Greek fashion, and
the spectacle which the crowd has been enjoying, or
pretending to enjoy—for it is strange to all, and
distasteful to some—is an imitation of the
Things then, we see, have been curiously changed. Even
the city has almost lost its identity. It is no longer
the capital of the Jewish nation, but the chief town of
an insignificant province in the Greek kingdom of
Syria, one of the fragments into which the great
dominion of Alexander had split some hundred and fifty
before. We shall understand something more about this
marvellous change if we listen to a conversation that
going on in one of the houses that adjoin the Temple.
"Well, Cleon, you will allow that our little show
to-day has been fairly successful. We are but novices,
know; barbarians, I am afraid you will call us. But we
hope to improve. You Greeks are wonderful teachers. You
can give in a very short time a quite marvellous
appearance of refinement to the merest savages. And we
that; you would not call us savages, my dear friend."
"Savages! The gods forbid that such insolent folly
should ever come from my tongue! You have a most
taste in art, my dear Jason. Our own Callias—he
is our first connoisseur at Athens; you must
me mention him—would not disdain to have some of
the little things which you have about you here in his
 And, as he spoke, Cleon looked round the room, which,
indeed, was very handsomely furnished in the latest
taste. The walls were covered with tapestry, showing on
a purple ground a design, worked in silver and gold,
which represented the triumphant return of the Wine-god
from his Eastern campaigns. At one end of the room
stood a sumptuously-carved bookcase, filled with
volumes adorned by the most skilful binders of
bookcase was flanked on either side by a pedestal
statue, one displaying the head of Hermes, the other
of Athené. On a sideboard were ranged twelve silver
goblets, on which had been worked in high relief the
labours of Hercules. But probably the most precious
object in the room—at least in its master's
a replica, about half the size of life, of the statue
that we know as the "Dying Gladiator." It was the work
a sculptor of Pergamum, a special favourite of the
art-loving dynasty of the Attali. It had been purchased
the enormous sum of half a talent of gold;
and Jason had thought himself especially fortunate in
being allowed to secure it on any terms. The Pergamene
artist was bound, in consideration of the handsome
payment which he received from his royal patron, not to
execute commissions for strangers, and it was only as a
special favour, and not till a heavy bribe had been
 paid to some influential personage in the court, that
the rule had been relaxed in favour of Jason.
And who, it may be asked, was Jason?
Jason was the Jewish high priest, the successor of
Aaron, of Eleazar, of Jehoiada, of Hilkiah, and as
these worthies of the past in appearance, in speech, in
ways of thinking, as it is possible to conceive. His
costume, in the first place, was that of a Greek
exquisite. He wore a purple tunic, showing at the neck
crimson under-shirt, and gathered up at the waist with
a belt of the finest leather, clasped with a design in
silver, which showed a dog laying hold of a fawn. His
knees were bare, but the shins were covered with silk
leggings of the same colour as the tunic, against which
the gold fastenings of the sandals showed in gay
relief. His hair was elaborately curled, and almost
dripping with the richest of Syrian perfumes. The
forefinger of the left hand showed the head of Zeus
finely carved on an amethyst, that of the right was
by a sapphire ring with the likeness of Apollo.
His speech was Greek. Hebrew of course he knew, both in
its classical and its conversational forms; but he was
as careful to conceal his knowledge as an old-fashioned
Roman of his time would have been careful to hide the
fact, if he had happened to know any language besides
his own. His very name, it will have been observed, had
been changed to suit the new fashion which he was
 to set to his countrymen. Really it was Joshua—no
dishonourable appellation, one would think, seeing that
had been borne by the conqueror of Canaan, and by the
most distinguished of the later high priests. But it
not please him, and he had changed it to Jason.
As for his ways of thinking, these will become evident
enough if we listen to a little more of his
"And you think, Cleon," he went on—Cleon was a
Greek adventurer who gave himself out as an Athenian,
was shrewdly suspected of coming from one of the
smaller islands of the Ćgean—"you think that our
"Admirably, my dear Jason," answered the Greek, who
really had thought them a deplorable failure, but who
valued too much his free quarters in the high priest's
sumptuous palace to give a candid expression of his
"You see we had great difficulties to contend with.
You can hardly imagine, for instance, how hard I found
to persuade our young men to run and wrestle naked.
They quoted some ridiculous nonsense from the Law, as
could be bound nowadays by some obsolete old rules that
no sensible person would think for a moment of
You saw, I dare say, to-day that I was
 obliged to allow some of them to wear a loin-cloth.
They positively refused to come into the arena without
Well, we shall educate them in time. They must learn to
admire the beauty of the human form, unspoilt by any of
the trappings with which, for convenience sake, we are
accustomed to conceal it. I don't despair of having a
school of art here some day—not rivals, my dear
Lysias, of your glorious Phidias and Praxiteles, but
humble imitators, whom yet you won't distain to
"But, my dear sir, you forget the Commandment. 'Thou
shalt make to thyself any graven image.' "
The speaker was a young man who had hitherto taken no
part in the conversation. He also had a Hebrew name and
Greek. His father, a rich priest who claimed descent
from no less a person than the prophet Ezekiel, had
called him Micah; but he had followed the fashion, and
dubbed himself Menander. Still, Greek ways and habits
di not sit over-easily upon him. Fashion has often a
singular power over the young; but it could not quite
drive out the obstinate patriotism of the Jew. He
could still sometimes be scandalized at the
Hellenism of the high priest; and he was so scandalized
now. The Commandment was one of the things which he
had learnt at his mother's knee, and which he had
 when, at the age of twelve, he had been regularly
admitted to the privileges of a "son of the Law."
"My dear Menender," broke in the high priest, "what can
you be thinking about? I had hoped better things of
you. You do discourage me most terribly. 'No graven
image or likeness of anything that is in heaven or
Was there ever anything so hopelessly tasteless? Why,
this is the one thing that has checked all growth of
among us? And without art where is the beauty of life?
Now tell me Menander, did you ever see anything so
hideous as the Temple? There is a certain splendour
about it—or was, till I had to strip off most of
for purposes of state—but of beauty or taste not
a scrap. You, Cleon, have never seen the inside of it.
you have lost nothing. It would simply shock you after
your lovely Parthenon. Bells and
that any moulder could make—and sham columns, and
everything as bad as it can be. And then the dresses!
should see—though I should really be ashamed if
you did see it—the absurd costume that some of
them would make
me wear as high priest. Anything more cumbrous and
clumsy could not be. A man can hardly move in it; and
for showing any of the proportions of the
figure—and I take it that dress is meant to
reveal while it seems to
hide them—one might as well be wrapped up in
 "Did you ever wear it?" asked Cleon.
"Once, and once only," answered Jason. "That was on the
day when I was admitted to the office. You see it had
to be done. Some of my enemies—and I am afraid
that I have enemies after all that I have done for this
ungrateful people—might have said that things
were not regular without it, and when one has paid
of gold for the office, it would be rank folly to risk
it for a trifle. But I have never worn it since, and
never mean to again. I did design something much
lighter and neater, worthy the Greek fashion, but with
tinge—it would be well to have a tinge—of
our own in it; but it did not please the elders when I
showed it to
them, a bigoted set of fools!"
"But your worship is very fine, I am told," said the
"Very tasteless, very tasteless," answered the
high-priest, "the singing and music as rude as
possible. I tried
to improve them when I first came into office. When I
was at Antioch I saw some very pretty performances in
groves of Daphne, and I wanted to remodel our
ceremonies on something of the same lines. Of course I
transplant them just as they were: you will guess that
there were one or two things that would hardly do here.
I am not strait-laced, as you know, but there are
limits. However, it all came to nothing. Our people are
clumsy and obstinate. So the
 only thing will be to let these antiquated ceremonies
die out by degrees."
Micah broke in at this point. Disposed as he was to
follow Jason's lead, this was going too far. "Surely,
dear sir, if you take away from us all that is
distinctive, where will be our reason for existence?
is said, we are not Greeks and never can be Greeks; and
if we cease to be Jews, what are we?"
"Jews! my dear fellow," cried the high-priest, "why do
you use the odious word? We are not Jews, we are
Antiochenes. Do you know that I paid five talents to
the treasurer of Antiochus for license to use the name?
For Heaven's sake, let us have our money's worth. By
the way," he went on, turning to Cleon, "when does your
Olympian festival next take place?"
"In two years' time," said the Greek.
"I propose to send an embassy with a handsome present
for your great temple. I should like to establish
friendly relations with your people at the
head-quarters of your race. Do you think it is possible
Menon—you saw him in the stadium just
now—might be allowed to run? It would take all
that your athletes know to
"Quite impossible. He could hardly make out a Greek
pedigree, I suppose?"
"No; he could not do that. But would not money smooth
 "It could not be. Money will do most things with us, as
it will elsewhere, but not that. A man must show a pure
"But the embassy can go?"
"Certainly," replied the Greek, with a smile; we are
ready to take gifts from any one. But—excuse my
the suggestion—is it quite wise to run counter to
your people's prejudices in this way? Couldn't they get
agitation against you?"
"My dear Cleon, I feel quite easy on that score. I made
the highest bid for the place, and it is mine, just as
much as this ring is mine."
"But might not some one outbid you? I have heard of
such things being done."
"Outbid me? Hardly. I have squeezed the uttermost
farthing out of the people to pay the purchase-money
tribute, and I defy my rivals, with all the best will
in the world, to beat me. Why, my fellows, the
tax-gatherers, are the most ingenious rascals in the
world for putting on the screw. I make them bid against
each other when I put the taxes up to auction, and they
really go to figures that I should not have thought
possible. And then, after all, they manage somehow or
other to get a handsome margin of profit for
I know the scoundrels always seem to have a great deal
more money than I have."
Menander, somewhat revolted at his friend's levity,
rose to take leave. "Stop a moment," said Jason,
 "I have a little commission for you, which will give
you a pleasant outing and a score or two of shekels to
in your pocket."
"Well, the shekels will be welcome. Those are very
charming fellows, those Greek friends of yours," he
addressing Cleon, "but they have the most confounded
luck with the dice that I ever knew. But what is it,
that you want me to do?"
"I want to do a civil thing to our friends at Tyre. You
know that we do a very brisk trade with them, and a
little bit of politeness is never thrown away. Well,
next month they have the great games of Hercules, and I
want you to take a present to the Governor, and, as you
will be there, just a trifle—a silver tripod, or
something of the kind—for Hercules himself. The
Tyrian people would take it amiss, I fancy, if you went
Micah—for at the moment he felt much more like a
Micah than a Menander—flushed all over. "I take a
the idol at Tyre! You must be joking; but, with all
respect, sir, it is a joke which I do not appreciate."
"Come, my dear Menander," said the high priest, with a
laugh, "why all this fuss? You must excuse me for
so, but you are really a little stupid this morning.
What nonsense to talk about idols! The Greek heroes are
really the same as our own. Hercules is nothing more or
less than Samson
 under another name. You will find in every country the
legend of some strong man who goes about killing wild
beasts and slaying his enemies, and doing all kinds of
wonders; and it does not become an enlightened man like
yourself to fancy that our hero is anything better than
another nation's hero. However, think the matter over.
If you don't choose to go there are plenty who will,
and Tyre, I am told, is still worth seeing, though, of
course, it is nothing like what it was."
At this moment a servant burst somewhat unceremoniously
into the room.
"How now, fellow?" cried the high priest, "Where are
your manners? Don't you know that I have company and am
not to be interrupted?"
"Pardon, my lord," said the man, in a breathless,
agitated voice, "but the matter is urgent. Your nephew
is dying, and has sent begging you to come to him."
"Asaph dying!" cried the high priest, turning pale.
"How is that?"
Asaph had been one of the performers in the exhibition
of the day. A light weight, but an exceedingly active
and skilful wrestler, he had entered the lists with a
competitor much stronger and heavier than himself. The
struggle between the two athletes had been protracted
and fierce and had ended in a draw. There had been two
bouts, but in neither had this or that antagonist been
 to claim a decided success. In each, both wrestlers had
fallen, Asaph being uppermost in the first, but
underneath in the second. On rising from the ground he
had complained of severe internal pains; but these had
seemed to pass away, and he had been conveyed in a
litter to his mother's house. After a brief interval
pains had returned with increased severity; vomiting of
blood had followed, and the physician had declared that
the resources of his art were useless. The poor
lad—he was but a few months over
twenty—sent, in his agony, for
his uncle the high priest. It was a forlorn
hope—for how could such a man give
comfort?—but it was the only one
that occurred to him.
No one was more conscious of the incongruity of the
task thus imposed upon him, the task of administering
consolation and comfort to the dying, than Jason
himself. His first impulse was to refuse to go. But to
would not only cause a scandal, but would also be the
beginning of a family feud. And Jason, though selfish
hardened by base ambitions, was not wholly without a
heart. He had some affection for his sister, a widow of
large means, whose purse was always open to him when he
wanted help, and Asaph—or Asius, as he preferred
call him—was his favourite nephew, possibly his
successor in his office. He felt that he must go, but
with a miserable sinking of heart that he felt it.
 "Lead on," he said to the slave, "I will follow. You,
my friends, must excuse me."
The worldly priest might well have dreaded to enter the
house of woe to which he had been called.
The unhappy mother met him at the door. "Oh, Joshua!"
she cried, the foolish affectation of the Greek name
being forgotten in the hour of trouble. "Can you help
us? My dear Asaph is dying, and he is terribly
about his sins. You are high-priest. Have you not some
power to do him good?"
"Take me to him," said Jason, "I will do all that I can
The unhappy lad was lying on a couch, the deathly
pallor of his face showing with a terrible contrast
the rich purple of the coverlet. His eyes were wide
open, and there was a terror-stricken look in them that
inexpressibly painful to witness. As soon as he saw his
uncle, he burst forth in tones of agonized entreaty. "I
have sinned; I have sinned; I have followed in the ways
of the heathen, and, see, my God hath called me into
judgment. Help me! help me! Save me from the fire of
The high priest strove to say something; but his
faltering lips seemed to refuse to do their office.
"Speak! speak!" cried the young man. "It was you who
told me to go into the arena. You
 said there was no harm in it; you encouraged me, and
now you desert me. O help me!" and his voice, which had
been raised to a loud, angry cry, sank again to low
tones of entreaty. "You are high priest; you surely can
something with the Lord. Pray for me to Him. Quick!
quick! the evil ones are clutching at me!" and, as he
spoke, he turned his eyes with a fearful glance as if
he saw some terrible presence which was invisible to
His uncle, more unhappy than he had ever been before in
his life, stood in dumb despair. It seemed impossible
to mock this wretched creature with words in which he
did not himself believe. And, indeed, the words
themselves seemed to have fled altogether from his
memory. At last, with a tremendous effort, he summoned
some of the words, once familiar to his lips, but which
had not issued from them for years. It was what we know
as the fifty-first Psalm in our psalter that he
began—"Have mercy upon me, O God, after Thy
according to the multitude of Thy mercies do away mine
offences." He began with a faltering and uncertain
voice, which gathered strength as he went on. The dying
man listened with an eagerly-strained attention, and
the words seemed to have some soothing effect upon him.
When the speaker came to the words, "Cast me not
away from Thy presence," he clasped his hands together.
At the very moment of the act a strong
 convulsion shook his frame: a stream of blood gushed
from his mouth; in another moment Asaph was dead.
His unhappy mother had been carried fainting to her
apartments, where her maids were endeavouring to
her to consciousness. The high priest was almost glad
that she was in such a state that there could be no
question of attempting to administer to her any
consolation. No one, indeed, could have felt less like
comforter than he did at that moment. As he walked
slowly back to his palace he felt less satisfied with
Greek fashions, for which he had sacrificed the faith
of his fathers, than he had done for many years.
The news that he found awaiting him at home changed the
current of his thoughts. A letter, carried, in Eastern
fashion, by a succession of runners, had arrived from
Joppa. It was as follows:
"Josedech, Chief of the Council of Joppa, to Joshua,
Governor of Jerusalem.
"Know that a swift pinnace has arrived, bringing news
that the fleet of Antiochus the King is on its way
hither. It will arrive, unless it be hindered by
weather or any other unforeseen cause, on the second
us know so soon as shall be possible how the heathen
should be received, whether we shall admit him into the
city, and to whom we shall assign the task of
entertaining him. Farewell."
Jason's face flushed as he read this curt and not very
courteous epistle. "Governor of Jerusalem, indeed!" he
muttered to himself. "So the old bigot
 won't acknowledge me to be high priest. I shall have to
give him a lesson, and teach him who he is and who I
am. 'How the heathen is to be received.'
What is the fool thinking of? As if he could be shut
out of the city if he chooses to come in! Well, I see
plainly enough that there will be mischief here, if I
don't take care. It won't be enough to write. I must
send some of my own people to receive the king.
He pressed a hand-bell that stood on the table. "Send
the letter-carrier here," he said to the servant who
answered the summons. In a few minutes the man
"When can you start back with my answer?" asked the high
"This instant, my lord, if it should so please you."
"And the other posts are ready?"
"Each at his place, my lord."
"And when will the letter be delivered in Joppa?"
"Let me think," said the messenger. "The distance
should be about two hundred and eighty furlongs, and
descends. 'Tis now scarcely the first hour of the
night. I should say that the letter should be there an
Jason at once sat down and wrote his answer:—
"Jason, the High Priest, to Josedech, Chief of the
Council of Joppa, greeting.
I charge you that you do all honour to the most mighty
 glorious lord Antiochus. Let him have of the best, both
in lodging and entertainment, that your city affords. I
doubt not your zeal and goodwill, but that you may not
fail for want of knowledge, I will send certain of my
own people, who will welcome the most august King in
such manner as shall be worthy both of his majesty and
our dignity. Farewell."
The messenger, who had been standing by while this
letter was being written, received the document with a
salute, and placed it in his girdle. A few minutes
afterwards he was on his way.
"And now for the deputation to meet his Highness," said
Jason to himself. "I cannot expect them to get off
quite so quickly as this good fellow. But they must not
start later than noon to-morrow. And now, whom am I to
send? Cleon, of course, and Menander——"
He stopped short and reflected. "It's really very hard
to find a respectable person who is quite free from
bigotry—if, indeed, it is bigotry." For some
minutes he seemed lost in thought. "Send the secretary
to me," he
said, when the servant came. This official soon made
his appearance, and we will leave him and his master to
settle the details of the deputation.
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