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fell off; all this belonged likewise to the poor and the stranger.
4. “When thou cuttest down thy harvest in thy field, and hast forgotten a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow; that the Lord thy God may bless thee and all the works of thy hands.'
5. When thou beatest thy olive-tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.'
6. “At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thy increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: and the Levite, because he has no part nor inheritance with thee, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, who are within thy gates, shall come and shall eat and be satisfied, that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the works of thy hand which thou doest.'
If a man borrowed money in times of need, the creditor was not permitted to demand interest for the loan, lest the poor man be still more hopelessly entangled in want and led into ruin. And if a garment were given as a pledge for the money, it was to be returned before sunset, for, says the merciful lawgiver, that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall be sleep? And it shall come to pass that when he cries to Me, I will hear him, for I am compassionate.'
The ninth commandment, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour,' was developed with particular care. No unfounded report was accepted; perjury was forbidden as a heinous crime. In cases of hidden or insufficiently proved offences, which could, for this reason, not be made amenable to the law, the honest witness was to raise his voice fearlessly for the assertion of truth. Judicial impartiality was in all cases to be
rigidly maintained : even the poor were not to be sheltered or favoured by a false and misplaced compassion.
In some instances, the very laws of property were converted into precepts of morality. The property of man was to be sacred in the eyes of his neighbour, and no private enmity was to interfere with the rigid observance of this principle. Thus, in the words of the Bible: “If thou meet thy enemy's ox or his ass erring about, thou shalt surely bring it back to him.'_ If thou seest the ass of him that hates thee, lying under its burden, forbear to leave it to it: thou shalt leave it only with him.'
We now arrive at one of the most characteristic and important parts of the Mosaic legislation—that which refers to the Sabbath year and the year of jubilee. The Sabbath itself, specially enjoined in the fourth commandment, was repeated and enlarged upon in the later laws of Sinai; it was, besides, made the foundation of the peculiar civil arrangement that every seventh year was to be instituted as the Sabbath year' or “year of release.' The Israelites were essentially an agricultural people; all their wealth was in the soil which they tilled, and in the flocks and herds that grazed on their pastures. For six years, the land was theirs for sowing and planting, for reaping and gathering in; but in the seventh year, which, as it were, was the Lord's and not the husbandman’s, the fields, the vineyards, and the olive groves were to rest; the produce which they brought forth spontaneously, belonged for common use to the proprietors, the servants, the poor, the stranger, and the beasts. No debts were exacted in the seventh year except from strangers, and all pledges were to be redeemed. In fact, it was the year of goodwill, of kindness, of charity, when men acknowledged that the earth with all its wealth was the Lord's, and that they were only sojourners and strangers upon it. Like the Sabbath, it tended to purify the mind from selfishness
and worldliness, to instil into the heart a feeling of love and benevolence, and to ennoble the faith in God by practical virtue.
The beautiful ideas implied in these institutions were still further carried out, in a manner that entered even more deeply into the national life of the people. As the years rolled on, and when the Sabbath year had been repeated seven times, that is to say, after every forty-nine years, the year of jubilee' was to be held. The fiftieth year, devoted to rejoicing, and ushered in by the solemn blast of the trumpet, proclaimed universal liberty. All persons were restored to their original condition in which they were placed by the Divine Law and by the first distribution of the land. Every slave was freed, every pledge restored, every debt cancelled. Every hired servant and poor bondman might return to his own family and to the possessions of his fathers. In that year also the land was the Lord's, and men might neither sow nor reap.
The Mosaic legislation constantly brought the Israelites and the land they inhabited into direct relation with their Creator; and this principle appears nowhere more strikingly than in the Hebrew festivals.
Most of them celebrated special or historical events, and were designed to recall the love and mercies of a bountiful God. But they were besides connected with the chief epochs of the agricultural year. They were solemnized in the spring-time, summer, and autumn, at the beginning and end of the corn-harvest, and at the conclusion of the ingathering of fruit. On each of these festivals the Israelites were called upon to attend at the Temple of Jerusalem. There the fruits of the earth were laid before the altar, and the pious and grateful husbandman poured forth his song of thanksgiving and of praise to the Almighty who had blessed the labour of his hands. But the voice of the past was heard again in the voice of the present,
and to the gratitude for the ever-recurring mercies of God was added the tale of the redemption from Egyptian bondage and other trials.
The first of these festivals was the feast of Passover, solemnized for seven days from the fifteenth day in the month of Nisan, the first month in the year, when the land of Palestine is bright with the ripening corn. It was to be kept for seven days in commemoration of the release from Egypt. The Israelites were, during that period, to eat unleavened bread only, as their forefathers had been compelled to do when they accomplished their hasty flight. It was the anniversary of their nation's birth, of the last faint clank of their chains, of their first note of freedom. And in order to impress the importance of this festival, it was decreed that, if any member of the chosen nation were debarred, whether on account of a journey, or sickness or mourning, from celebrating it at the appointed time, he was to keep it on the fifteenth day of the following or second month, and this was termed the second Passover.' It marked the commencement of the summer crops. Ripened by the hot eastern sun, the corn, in the month of April, is ready to be cut; therefore the first sheaf of ripe barley was presented by the priest on the second day of Passover as a firstfruitoffering. The paschal lamb and other ceremonials connected with the festival have been mentioned before (p. 136).
Seven full weeks after the feast of Passover, the second great festival was celebrated, the feast of Pentecost, which was in truth the festival of the harvest. It fell in the loveliest season of the year, when, from the shores of the Mediterranean to the heights of Judea and northward to the fertile plains of Samaria and Galilee, the land of Palestine smiles fair in summer beauty; when a deepblue and cloudless sky arches over the purple vineyards and
the dark olive-groves. Then the husbandman, who had gathered in his harvest of wheat, repaired to the Temple of God to praise and glorify Him for His bounty. It was a great and solemn rejoicing, shared by the entire nation, the servant, the stranger, the bondman; it was the season for feasting, for joyful assemblies, for public games and dances.
Tradition, without depriving this holiday of its beautiful and intimate connection with nature, adds to it a spiritual significance, and considers it as a commemoration of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai ; and at present, when offerings at the Temple are impossible, and the Jews are scattered through all climes, the latter meaning is almost exclusively associated with the days of Pentecost.
The feast of Tabernacles was appointed for seven days from the fifteenth day of the seventh month, later called Tishri. It marked the end of the autumn, when the rainy season, which corresponds with our winter, is about to commence. It was the harvest of the vine and the olive, the ingathering of the fruit so needful and delicious. It was indeed a fitting moment for another, perhaps the greatest, festival of gratitude to the Lord. But like the two other chief festivals, it had a twofold meaning; besides its agricultural character, it was intended to keep alive the memory of the Divine protection so mercifully bestowed upon the Israelites during their forty years' wanderings in the desert. And in order to bring that remembrance constantly and vividly before the people, they were commanded during the seven days of the festival to live in Tabernacles, as their fathers had done in the wilderness. They were to build for themselves booths, and to adorn them with branches of the palm-tree, twigs of the myrtle, willows of the brook, and the fragrant citron, thus filling their temporary habitations with the types of the varied productions of the soil. There, in the still eastern night,