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[On Saturday, February 10 th, 1821, Catherine Emmerich, who was ill at the time, was worried by material cares about where she was to live. She fell asleep full of these cares, but soon woke up quite happy. She said that a good friend of hers who had lately died (a pious old priest) had just been with her and had comforted her. ‘How wise that wise man now is, and how well he can now speak! He said to me: “Do not be anxious about a dwelling for yourself; take care only that you are swept and garnished within to receive Our Lord when He comes to you. When Joseph came to Bethlehem, he sought a lodging for Jesus, not for himself, and swept the Cave of the Nativity till it was beautifully clean.” ’ She told of several other profound utterances of this friend, all characteristic of one who knew her temperament so well. She added that he said to her: ‘When St. Joseph was told by the angel to flee into Egypt with Jesus and Mary, he did not worry about a dwelling-place, but set off at once as he was told.’ As she had seen something of the flight into Egypt the year before at this time, the writer thought that this was happening again, so asked her: ‘Was it today that Joseph started for Egypt?’ She answered very clearly and decisively: ‘No, the day he started on the flight was what is now February 29 th.’]
1. THE AGE OF THE CHILD JESUS DURING THE FLIGHT TO EGYPT.
[Unfortunately there was no opportunity of obtaining precise information from her about this, as she was very ill during these communications. Once she said: ‘The Child may well be more than a year old, I saw Him playing about by a balsam-bush at one of the halting-places on the journey, and sometimes His parents led Him by the hand for a little way.’ Another time it seemed to her that Jesus was nine months old. It must be left to the reader to conjecture the age of Jesus from the various circumstances of Catherine Emmerich’s account, and in particular from a comparison with the age of the little John the Baptist, which seems to confirm the theory of Our Lord being nine months old.]
2. NAZARETH. THE HOUSE OF THE HOLY FAMILY.
[Sunday, February 25 th:] I saw the Blessed Virgin doing knitting or crochet work. She had a roll of wool fastened at her right hip and she held in her hands two needles (of bone, I think) with little hooks. One must be half a yard long. The other is shorter. The needle is prolonged beyond the hook, and it is round this prolongation that the thread is looped to make the stitch in working. The part already knitted hangs down between the two needles. She did this work standing or sitting beside the Infant Jesus lying in a basket. I saw St. Joseph plaiting long strips of yellow, brown, and green bark to make panels for screens or for walls and ceilings. He had a store of these panels lying on top of each other in a shed near the house. He wove various patterns into them—stars, hearts, and other things. I felt sorry for him; he had no idea that he would soon have to flee into Egypt. The Blessed Virgin’s mother comes regularly every day to visit her; it is nearly an hour’s walk from her house.
I had a view of Jerusalem, and saw Herod having numbers of men summoned, as when soldiers are called up with us. These were led into a large courtyard and given clothes and weapons. They wore something like a half-moon on one arm. They carried spears and short broad swords like chopping knives. They wore helmets, and many of them had wrappings tied round their legs. All this must have been connected with the Massacre of the Innocents. Herod was in a very uneasy frame of mind.
3. JERUSALEM. HEROD’S PREPARATIONS FOR THE MURDER OF THE CHILDREN.
[February 26 th:] I still see Herod exceedingly uneasy, just as he was when the three kings asked him about the newborn King of the Jews. I saw him taking counsel with several old scribes, who read from very long parchment scrolls, fastened on rods, which they had brought with them. I saw, too, that the soldiers who had been given new clothes two days ago were sent to Bethlehem and to various places round Jerusalem. I think they were sent to occupy the places whence the children were to be brought by their unsuspecting mothers to Jerusalem. The soldiers were intended to prevent any insurrection when the reports of the massacre reached the children’s homes.
4. HEROD PLACES SOLDIERS IN VARIOUS PLACES SURROUNDING JERUSALEM.
[February 27 th:] Today I saw Herod’s soldiers who had started yesterday from Jerusalem arriving at three places. They came to Hebron, Bethlehem, and another place, lying between those two in the direction of the Dead Sea. I have forgotten its name. The inhabitants had no idea why these soldiers had been sent to them and were somewhat disturbed. Herod was crafty; he kept his own counsel and sought in secret for Jesus. The soldiers stayed in these towns for some time; then, when Herod completely failed to find the child born in Bethlehem, he massacred all the children under two years of age.
5. PERSONAL NOTES: PRAYER DURING THE SEASON OF THE MARTYRDOM OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS.
[This evening at dusk Catherine Emmerich fell asleep and after a few minutes said, without any apparent reason: ‘God be thanked a thousand times that I came at the right moment! What a blessing that I was there! The poor child is saved; I prayed that she should bless and kiss it, and after that she could no longer have thrown it into the pond.’ The writer, on hearing this sudden exclamation, asked,’ Whom do you mean?’ She continued: ‘It is an unfortunate girl who has been seduced. She was going to drown her newborn child not far from here. During the last few days I have besought God so earnestly that no poor innocent child should die without being baptized and blessed. I prayed thus because the time of the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents is drawing near. I adjured God by the blood of His first blood-witnesses. One must profit by the times and seasons, and every year. When the rosebuds open in the garden of the Church Triumphant, one must pluck them on earth. God has heard my prayer and enabled me to help the mother and her child. Perhaps one day I shall see that child.’ This is what she said immediately after her vision, or rather after the action she took in spirit. Next morning she said: ‘My guide took me quickly to M. Near there I saw a girl who had been seduced who had just given birth to her child behind a bush. She carried it in her apron towards a deep pond on which green scum was floating, meaning to throw the child into the water. I saw a tall dark figure beside her from which a dreadful kind of light was thrown; I think it was the evil one. I went close up to her, praying with my whole heart, and saw the dark figure withdraw. Then she took the child and kissed and blessed it, after which she could no longer bring herself to drown it. She sat down again, weeping most terribly and not knowing where to turn. I comforted her and gave her the idea of going to her confessor and begging him to help her. She did not see me, but her guardian angel gave her this advice. Her parents were, I think, far away. She seemed to belong to a middle-class family. ]
6. NAZARETH. ST. ANNE AND HER MAID BRING FOOD TO THE HOLY FAMILY.
[February 27 th:] This evening I saw Anna and her eldest her house to Nazareth with the maidservant who was related to her—the one she had left with the Blessed Virgin in Bethlehem after Christ’s birth. The maid had a bundle hanging at her side, and carried a basket on her head and another in her hand. They were round baskets, and you could see through one of them. There were birds in them. They were taking provisions to Mary, who did no house-keeping and was provided for by Anna.
7. NAZARETH. A LOOK AT THE LIFESTYLE OF THE HOLY WOMEN.
[February 28:] This evening I saw Anna and her eldest daughter with the Blessed Virgin. Mary Heli had with her a sturdy little boy four or five years old, her grandson, the eldest son of her daughter Mary Cleophas. Joseph had gone to Anna’s house. I watched the women sitting there, talking confidentially to each other, playing with the Infant Jesus and pressing Him to their breasts or giving Him to the little boy to hold in his arms. Women are always the same, I thought; it was all just as it is with us today.
Mary Heli lived in a little village some three hours to the east of Nazareth. Her house was almost as good as her mother’s: it had a walled courtyard with a fountain and pump. You trod on something beneath it, and water poured out at the top into a stone basin. Her husband was called Cleophas, and her daughter Mary Cleophas, who was married to Alpheus, lived at the other end of the village.
In the evening I saw the women praying. They stood before a little table covered with a red-and-white cloth and standing against the wall. A scroll lay on this table, which the Blessed Virgin unrolled and hung up on the wall. A figure was embroidered on it in pale colors; it looked like a dead man in a long white cloak, wrapped up like a child in swaddling-bands. The head was wrapped in the cloak, which was wider round the arms. The figure held something in its arms. I had already seen this figure at the ceremony in Anna’s house, when Mary was taken to the Temple. It reminded me then of Melchizedek, for he seemed to have a chalice in his arms; but another time I thought it represented Moses. A lamp was burning during the prayer. Mary, with her sister beside her, stood in front of Anna. They crossed their hands on their breasts, folded them, and then extended them. Mary read from a scroll lying before her, unrolling it as she read. They prayed in a particular tone and rhythm which reminded me of the chanting in the convent choir.
8. NAZARETH. AN ANGEL WAKES JOSEPH TO FLEE.
[The night of Thursday, March 1 st, to the morning of Friday, March 2 nd:] They are gone. I saw them start forth. Joseph came back early in the morning of yesterday, Thursday, from Anna’s house. Anna and her eldest daughter were still here in Nazareth. They had all only just gone to bed when the angel came to warn Joseph. 147147 Since Matthew alone gives the account of the Magi and of the Flight into Egypt, and Luke alone that of the Presentation, it is not easy to decide the exact order of events. According to AC the Magi came to Bethlehem before the Presentation, and the angel’s warning came to Joseph at Nazareth some time after it. If Jesus was by then nine months old. In this case the words of Matt. 2.13, “And after they [the Magi] were departed, behold an angel . . .”, refer to the passage of over seven months and a removal to Nazareth. This interval between the visit of the Magi and the Flight into Egypt certainly offers an explanation of a chronological problem. (SB) Mary and the Infant Jesus had their bedroom to the right of the hearth; Anna’s was to the left, and her eldest daughter's room was between hers and Joseph’s. These rooms were compartments divided off and sometimes roofed by wicker screens. Mary’s room had yet another curtain or screen dividing it off. The Infant Jesus lay on a rug at her feet, and she could pick Him up without getting out of bed.
I saw Joseph in his room lying on his side asleep with his head on his arm. I saw a shining youth come up to his bed and speak with him. Joseph sat up, but was heavy with sleep and lay down again. The youth took his hand and pulled him up, when Joseph came to his senses and got up, on which the youth disappeared. Joseph then went to the lamp burning in front of the fireplace in the center of the house and lit his own lamp at it. He knocked at the Blessed Virgin’s room and asked whether he might come in. I saw him go in and speak with Mary, who did not open the screen before her bed; then I saw him go to his donkey in the stable, and afterwards into a room where all kinds of things were kept. He prepared everything for their departure. As soon as Joseph had left the Blessed Virgin’s room, she got up and dressed for the journey, before going to her mother and telling her of God’s commands. Anna got up, as did Mary Heli and her little boy, but they let the Infant Jesus go on sleeping. For these good people God’s Will came first of all; sad at heart though they were, they hastened to make all preparations for the journey before allowing themselves to give way to the sorrow of parting. Anna and Mary Heli helped to get everything ready for the journey. Mary did not take nearly so much with her as she had brought from Bethlehem. They packed up nothing but a moderate-sized bundle and a few blankets, which were taken out to Joseph to be loaded on the donkey. Everything was done quietly and very quickly, as was proper for a journey undertaken secretly after a warning at dead of night. When Mary fetched her Child, she was in such haste that I did not even see her wrap Him in fresh swaddling clothes. Then came the farewells, and I cannot describe how moving it was to see the distress of Anna and her eldest daughter. They embraced the Infant Jesus with tears, and the little boy, too, was allowed to take Him in his arms. Anna embraced the Blessed Virgin again and again, weeping as bitterly as if she were never to see her more. Mary Heli flung herself onto the ground in tears.
It was not yet midnight when they left the house. Anna and Mary Heli accompanied the Blessed Virgin on foot for a short part of the way from Nazareth, Joseph following with the donkey. The way led towards Anna’s house, but rather more to the left. Mary carried the Infant Jesus, wrapped in swaddling clothes, before her in a sort of sling, which went round her shoulders and was fastened behind her neck. [Please refer to Figure 21.] She wore a long cloak which wrapped both herself and the Child, and a big square veil, fastened round the back of her head and hanging in long folds beside her face. They had not gone far when Joseph came up with the donkey, which was carrying a skin of water and a basket with several compartments containing little loaves of bread, small jugs, and live birds. The baggage and blankets were packed round the side-saddle, which had a foot-rest hanging from it. They embraced again with tears, and Anna blessed the Blessed Virgin, who then seated herself on the donkey, led by Joseph, and they started off.
[While Catherine Emmerich was describing the grief of Anna and Mary Heli, she wept copiously herself, saying that in the night, too, when she saw this vision, she could not help shedding many tears.]
9. NAZARETH. THE HOLY WOMEN PUT THINGS IN ORDER AND LEAVE JOSEPH’S HOME.
[March 2 nd:] Early in the morning I saw Mary Heli with her little boy going to Anna’s house and sending the master of the house and a manservant to Nazareth, after which she went to her own house. I saw Anna putting everything in order in Joseph’s house and packing away many things. In the morning there came two men from Anna’s house; one of them was dressed in nothing but a sheepskin, and had on his feet thick sandals strapped round his legs. The other had a long robe on; he seemed to me to be Anna’s present husband. They helped to arrange everything in Joseph’s house, and to pack up what was movable and take it to Anna’s house. 148148 According to this account Joseph evidently intended to give up the house at Nazareth, and presumably to carry out his plan of moving to Bethlehem (cf. AC, p. 78 , and n. 128, p. 119 ). All this helps to explain why we get the impression from Matt. 2.22-23 that Joseph really wanted to settle in Judea but came to Nazareth almost faute de mieux. (SB)
Figure 21. The holy family flees from Nazareth.
During the night of the Holy Family’s flight from Nazareth, I saw them passing through various places and resting in a shed before dawn. Towards the evening, when they could go no farther, I saw them stopping at a village called Nazara in the house of people who lived apart and were rather despised. They were not proper Jews, and their religion had something heathen about it. They worshipped in the Temple on Mount Garizim, near Samaria, approached by a difficult mountain path several miles long. 149149 Clearly the despised Samaritans, cf., e.g., John 4.9, 20 (where their worship on Mount Garizim is mentioned). (SB) They were oppressed by many hard duties, and were obliged to work like slaves at forced labor in the Temple at Jerusalem and other public buildings. These people gave a warm welcome to the Holy Family, who remained there the whole of the following day. On their return from Egypt the Holy Family once more visited these good people, and again when Jesus went to the Temple in His twelfth year and returned thence to Nazareth. 150150 Fifteen years after Catherine Emmerich’s death, when the writer was putting together her account of the Flight into Egypt, he wondered why the Holy Family should have remained in Nazara a whole day. It was only then that he discovered that the Sabbath began on the evening of March 2nd, 1821, so that the Holy Family must have kept it in secret here, though Catherine Emmerich made no mention of this. (CB)
This whole family later received baptism from John and became followers of Jesus. This place is not far from a strange town, high up, the name of which I can no longer remember. I have seen and heard the names of so many towns in this district, among them Legio and Massaloth, between which, I think, Nazara lies. I believe that the town whose situation I thought so strange is called Legio, but it has another name as well. 151151 The identification of Nazara, Legio, and Massaloth is uncertain, but they are probably in the hill country south of the Vale of Esdrelon, and are so placed by Fahsel. (SB)
10. THE GROVE OF MOREH. ABRAHAM’S TEREBINTH TREE.
[Sunday, March 4 th:] Yesterday, Saturday evening, at the close of the Sabbath, the Holy Family traveled on from Nazara through the night, and during the whole of Sunday and the following night I saw them in hiding by that big old terebinth tree where they had stopped in Advent on their journey to Bethlehem, when the Blessed Virgin was so cold. It was Abraham’s terebinth tree, near the grove of Moreh, not far from Shechem, Thanath, Shiloh, and Aruma. The news of Herod’s pursuit had spread here, and the region was unsafe for them. It was near this tree that Jacob buried Laban’s idols. Joshua assembled the people near this tree and erected the tabernacle containing the Ark of the Covenant, and it was here that he made them renounce their idols. Abimelech, the son of Gideon, was hailed here as king by the people of Shechem. 152152 The Biblical references to all these places are given supra, p. 80 . (SB)
11. THE HOLY FAMILY RESTS BY A STREAM.
[March 5 th:] This morning I saw the Holy Family resting in a fertile part of the country and refreshing themselves beside a little stream where there was a balsam bush. The Infant Jesus lay on the Blessed Virgin’s knees with His little feet bare. Incisions had been made here and there in the branches of the balsam shrub, which had red berries, and from these incisions a liquid dripped into little pots hanging on the branches. I was surprised that these were not stolen. Joseph filled the little jugs, which he had brought with him with the balsam juice. They ate little loaves of bread and berries which they picked from the bushes growing near. The donkey drank from the stream and grazed near by. On their left I saw Jerusalem high up in the distance. It was a very lovely scene.
12. JUTTAH. ELIZABETH TAKES JOHN INTO THE WILDERNESS.
[March 6 th:] Zechariah and Elizabeth had also received a message warning them of imminent danger. I think the Holy Family had sent them a trusty messenger. I saw Elizabeth taking the little John to a very hidden place in the wilderness, a few hours’ distance from Hebron. 153153 The story of Elizabeth’s concealing the boy John the Baptist is found in Protev. 22, but with a typical addition in the fanciful detail of the mountain splitting to receive them into hiding. (SB) Zechariah accompanied them for only a part of the way, to a place where they crossed a small stream on a wooden beam. He then left them and went towards Nazareth by the way which Mary followed when she visited Elizabeth. I saw him on his journey to Nazareth, where he is probably going to obtain further details from Anna. Many of the friends of the Holy Family there are much distressed at their departure. Little John had nothing on but a lamb’s skin; although scarcely eighteen months old, he was sure on his feet and could run and jump about. Even at that age he had a little white stick in his hand, which he treated as a plaything. One must not think of his wilderness as a great desert of waste sand, but rather as a desolate place with rocks, caves, and ravines, where bushes and wild fruits and berries grew. Elizabeth took the little John into a cave in which Mary Magdalen lived for some time after Jesus’ death. I cannot remember how long Elizabeth remained here hidden with her young child, but it was probably only until the alarm about Herod’s persecution had subsided. She then returned to Juttah, about two hours’ distance away, for I saw her escaping again into the wilderness with John when Herod summoned the mothers with their little sons up to two years of age, which happened quite a year later.
[Catherine Emmerich, who had up to this point communicated pictures of the Flight day by day, was here interrupted by illness and other disturbances. On resuming her story a few days later she said:] I cannot distinguish the days so clearly now, but will describe the separate pictures of the Flight into Egypt as nearly as possible in the order in which I remember seeing them.
13. EPHRAIM BY THE MAMBRE WOODS.
I saw the Holy Family, after they had crossed some of the ridges of the Mount of Olives, going in the direction of Hebron beyond Bethlehem. They went into a large cave, about a mile from the wood of Mambre, in a wild mountain gorge. On this mountain was a town with a name which sounded like Ephraim. I think that this was the sixth halting-place on their journey. I saw the Holy Family arriving here very exhausted and distressed. Mary was very sad and was weeping. Everything they needed was lacking, and in their flight they kept to by-ways and avoided towns and public inns. They spent the whole day here resting. Several special favors were granted to them here. An angel appeared to them and comforted them, and a spring of water gushed forth in the cave at the prayer of the Blessed Virgin, while a wild she-goat came to them and allowed herself to be milked. A prophet used often to pray in this cave, and I think Samuel came here several times. David kept his father’s sheep near here 154154 David kept his father’s sheep near Bethlehem: 1 Kings ( Sam.) 17.15. Bethlehem is about twelve miles from Mambre. (SB) ; he used to pray here, and it was here that he received from an angel the order to undertake the fight against Goliath. 155155 In her general description of the Flight into Egypt she forgot to mention this refuge of the Holy Family. The description given above is taken from her daily account of Our Lord’s ministry, at the time when, after His baptism, He visited with some of His disciples all the places near Bethlehem where His Mother had been with Him. She saw Jesus, after His baptism by John, which she described on Friday, Sept. 28th, 1821, staying in this cave with His disciples from Oct. 8th to Oct. 9th, and she heard Him speak of the graces given in this place and of the hardships and difficulties of the Flight into Egypt. He blessed this cave and told them that one day a church would be built over it. On Oct. 18th she said: ‘This refuge of the Holy Family was later called Mary’s place of sojourn, and was visited by pilgrims who were, however, ignorant of its real history. Later only poor people lived there.’ She gave a precise description of the place, and some time afterwards the writer found to his great astonishment an account by the Minorite friar Antonio Gonzalez of his journey to Jerusalem (Antwerp, 1679, Part I, p. 556), in which he stated that he had been in a ‘village of Mary’s’, a short mile on the left of the road from Hebron to Bethlehem, where she had taken refuge on the Flight. It was, he said, on a hill, and a church with three vaults and three doors was still standing there, with a picture on its wall of Mary and her Child on the donkey, led by Joseph. Below the hill on which stood the village and church was a beautiful spring of water, known as Mary’s fountain. All of this agrees with the place described by Catherine Emmerich. Arvieux says in the second volume of his Memoirs (Leipzig, 1783): ‘Between Hebron and Bethlehem we came through the village of the Blessed Virgin, who is said to have rested here during her Flight.’ (CB)
14. SOUTH OF HEBRON. JOHN SENDS THE THIRSTING JESUS A SPRING OF WATER.
From this cave they journeyed southwards for seven hours, with the Dead Sea always on their left hand. Two hours after leaving Hebron they entered the wilderness where little John the Baptist was in hiding. 156156 None of the many details of the life of the young John the Baptist in the desert are found in any available document. (SB) Their way led them only a bow-shot’s distance from his cave. I saw the Holy Family wandering through a sandy desert, weary and careworn. The water-skin and the jugs of balsam were empty; the Blessed Virgin was greatly distressed, and both she and the Infant Jesus were thirsty. They went a little way aside from the path, where the ground sank, and there were bushes and some withered turf. The Blessed Virgin dismounted, and sat for a little with the Child on her knees, praying in her distress. While the Blessed Virgin was thus praying for water like Hagar in the wilderness, I was shown a wonderfully moving incident. The cave in which Elizabeth had hidden her little son was quite near here, on a wild rocky height, and I saw the little boy not far from the cave wandering about among the stones and bushes as if he were anxiously and eagerly waiting for something. I did not see Elizabeth in this vision. To see this little boy roaming and running about in the wilderness with such confidence made a great impression on me. Just as beneath his mother’s heart he had leaped up at the approach of his Lord, so now he was moved by the nearness of his Redeemer, thirsty and weary. I saw the child wearing his lamb’s-skin over his shoulders and girt round his waist, and carrying in his hand a little stick with a bit of bark waving on it. He felt that Jesus was passing near and that He was thirsty; he threw himself on his knees and cried to God with outstretched arms, then jumped up, ran, driven by the Spirit, to the high edge of the rocks and thrust with his staff into the ground, from which an abundant spring burst forth. John ran before the stream to the edge, where it rushed down over the rocks. He stood there and watched the Holy Family pass by in the distance. 157157 Catherine Emmerich heard Our Lord Himself relate this touching incident in her visions of Our Lord’s ministry. It was on January 14 th (Tuesday, the 26 th day of the month Thebet) of the third year of His ministry, in the house of John’s parents at Juttah, in the presence of the Blessed Virgin, Peter, John and three trusty disciples of the Baptist. A carpet had been spread out before them, which had been worked by Mary and Elizabeth after the Visitation: it had been embroidered with many significant texts. Our Lord was speaking with comforting words of the Baptist’s murder, which had taken place on the 20 th of the month Thebet (Jan. 8 th) at Herod’s birthday feast at Machaerus. He spoke much about John on this occasion and said that He had only seen him twice in the flesh; that time on the Flight to Egypt and the second time at His baptism. (CB)
The Blessed Virgin lifted up the Infant Jesus high in her arms, saying to Him, ‘Look! John in the wilderness! ’. And I saw John joyfully leaping about beside the rushing water, and waving to them with the little flag of bark on his stick. Then he hurried back into the wilderness. After a little time the stream reached the travelers’ path, and I saw them crossing it and stopping to refresh themselves at a pleasant place where there were some bushes and thin turf. The Blessed Virgin dismounted with the Child; they were all joyful. Mary sat down on the grass, and Joseph dug a hollow a little way off for the water to fill. When the water became quite clear, they all drank, and Mary washed the Child. They sprinkled their hands, feet, and faces with water. Joseph led the donkey to the water, of which it drank deeply, and he filled his water-skin. They were all happy and thankful; the withered grass, now saturated with water, grew straight again, and the sun came out and shone on them. They sat there refreshed and full of quiet happiness. They rested for two or three hours in this place.
15. NEAR ANIM. THE LAST INN IN THE REGION OF HEROD.
The last place where the Holy Family sheltered in Herod’s territory was not far from a town on the edge of the desert, a few
hours’ journey from the Dead Sea. Its name sounded like Anem or Anim. They stopped at a solitary house which was an inn for
those traveling through the desert. There were several huts and sheds on a hill, and some wild fruit grew round them. The
inhabitants seemed to me to be camel-drivers, for they kept a number of camels in enclosed meadows. They were rather wild
people and had been given to robbery, but they received the Holy Family well and showed them hospitality. In the neighboring
town there were also many disorderly people who had settled there after fighting in the wars. Among the people in the inn
was a man of twenty called Reuben.
The first mention by Catherine Emmerich of this inn was in her account of Christ’s ministry. On Oct. 8th after His baptism
Our Lord came here alone from the Valley of the Shepherds. He converted Reuben and healed several sick people while His disciples
waited for Him in the cave of refuge near Ephraim. He taught at the places where the Holy Family had rested and taken food,
and explained to the inhabitants that the grace given to them now was the fruit of the hospitality shown by them to the Holy
Family. On His journey between here and the cave near Ephraim He passed by Hebron. A place called Anim or Anem, nine miles
south of Hebron in the district of Daroma, is mentioned by Jerome and also by Eusebius. (CB)
Anim is mentioned among the hill cities of Judah in Jos. 15.50, together with Juttah (Douay Jota) in 55 and Hebron in 54. (SB)
16. NIGHT TRAVEL. THE HOLY FAMILY STARTLES SNAKES AND FLYING LIZARDS.
[March 8 th:] I saw the Holy Family journeying in a bright starlit night through a sandy desert covered with low bushes. I felt as if I were traveling through it with them. It was dangerous because of the numbers of snakes which lay coiled up among the bushes in little hollows under the leaves. They crawled towards the path, hissing loudly and stretching out their necks towards the Holy Family, who, however, passed by in safety surrounded by light. I saw other evil beasts there with long black bodies, short legs, and wings like big fins. They shot over the ground as if they were flying, and their heads were fish-like in shape. I saw the Holy Family come to a fall in the ground like the edge of a sunken road; they meant to rest there behind some bushes.
I was alarmed for the Holy Family. The place was sinister, and I wanted to make a screen to protect them on the side left open, but a dreadful creature like a bear made his way in, and I was in terrible fear. Then there suddenly appeared to me a friend of mine, an old priest who had died lately. He was young and beautiful in form, and he seized the creature by the scruff of its neck and threw it out. I asked him how he came to be here, for surely he must be better off in his own place, to which he replied: ‘I only wanted to help you, and shall not stay here long.’ He told me more, adding that I should see him again.
17. MARA (?). AN INHOSPITABLE DESERT.
The Holy Family always traveled a mile eastwards of the high road. The name of the last place they passed between Judea and the desert sounded very like Mara. It reminded me of Anna’s home, but it was not the same place. The inhabitants here were rough and wild, and the Holy Family could obtain no assistance from them. After this they came into a great desert of sand. There was no path and nothing to show their direction, and they did not know what to do. After some time they saw a dark, gloomy mountain-ridge in front of them. The Holy Family were sorely distressed, and fell on their knees praying to God for help. A number of wild beasts then gathered round them, and at first it looked very dangerous; but these beasts were not at all evil, but looked at them in just the same friendly way as my confessor’s old dog used to look at me when he came up to me. 159159 The apocryphal Ps-Matt. 18-19 includes details of wild beasts in the desert on the way to Egypt, but the account is very fanciful and tells how they wagged their tails in reverence, and so forth, and how the Child Jesus spoke to the creatures and comforted His mother. (SB) I realized then that these beasts were sent to show them the way. They looked towards the mountain and ran in that direction and then back again, just like a dog does when he wants you to follow him somewhere. At last I saw the Holy Family follow these animals and pass over a mountain-ridge into a wild and lonely region.
18. THE ROBBERS HUT. THE ROBBERS BECOME FRIENDLY.
It was dark, and the way led past a wood. In front of this wood, at some distance from the path, I saw a poor hut, and not far from it a light hanging in a tree, which could be seen from a long way off, to attract travelers. This part of the road was sinister: trenches had been dug in it here and there, and there were also trenches all round the hut. Hidden cords were stretched across the good parts of the road, and when touched by travelers rang bells in the hut and brought out its thieving inhabitants to plunder them. This robbers’ hut was not always in the same place, it could be moved about and put up wherever its inhabitants wanted it. 160160 The encounter with robbers occurs in the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, 23, where the robbers Titus and Dymachus are the future thieves at the Crucifixion. According to AC it was at the robbers’ hut that a boy was cured of leprosy by being washed in Our Lord’s bath-water, and this boy (nameless) became the Good Thief at the Crucifixion (infra, p. 146 ). The same Arabic source has the episode of the bath-water on three occasions (17, 31, 32). In the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, 10, the Good Thief is called Dismas (his traditional name), and the Bad Thief Gestas (or Gistas). (SB)
When the Holy Family approached the light hanging in the tree, I saw the leader of the robbers with five of his companions closing round them. At first they were evilly disposed, but I saw that at the sight of the Infant Jesus a ray, like an arrow, struck the heart of the leader, who ordered his comrades to do no harm to these people. The Blessed Virgin also saw this ray strike the robber’s heart, as she later recounted to Anna the prophetess when she returned. 161161 We quote the whole of this incident, as well as many others of the Flight into Egypt, from the accounts given by Catherine Emmerich of the conversations with Jesus of Eliud, an aged Essene, who accompanied Our Lord on His journey from Nazareth to be baptized by John. Eliud said that Anna the prophetess had told him that she had heard of this incident from the Blessed Virgin. (CB)
The robber now led the Holy Family through the dangerous places in the road into his hut. It was night. In the hut was the robber’s wife with some children. The man told his wife of the strange sensation that had come over him at the sight of the Child. She received the Holy Family shyly, but was not unfriendly. The travelers sat on the ground in a corner, and began to eat some of the provisions which they had with them. The people in the hut were at first awkward and shy (quite unlike, it seemed, their usual behavior), but gradually drew nearer and nearer to the Holy Family. Some of the other men, who had in the meantime stabled Joseph’s donkey, came in and out, and eventually they all became more familiar and began to talk to the travelers. The woman brought Mary little loaves of bread with honey and fruit, as well as goblets with drink. A fire was burning in a hollow in a corner of the hut. The woman arranged a separate place for the Blessed Virgin, and brought at her request a trough with water for washing the Infant Jesus. She washed the linen for her and dried it at the fire. Mary bathed the Infant Jesus under a cloth. The man was very much agitated and said to his wife: ‘This Hebrew child is no ordinary child. He is a holy child. Ask his mother to allow us to wash our leprous little boy in his bath-water, perhaps it will do him good.’ As the woman came up to Mary to ask her this, the Blessed Virgin told her, before she had said a word, to wash her leprous boy in the bath-water. The woman brought her three-year-old son lying in her arms. He was stiff with leprosy and his features could not be seen for scabs. The water in which Jesus had been bathed seemed clearer than it had been before, and as soon as the leprous child had been dipped into it, the scales of his leprosy fell off him to the ground and the child was cleansed. The woman was beside herself with joy and tried to embrace Mary and the Infant Jesus, but Mary put out her hand and would not let her touch either herself or Jesus. Mary told the woman that she was to dig a well deep down to the rock and pour this water into it; this would give the well the same healing power. She spoke long with her, and I think the woman promised to leave this place at the first opportunity. The people were extremely happy at the restoration of their child to health, and showed him to their comrades who came in and out during the night, telling them of the blessing that had befallen them. The new arrivals, some of them boys, stood round the Holy Family and gazed at them in wonderment. It was all the more remarkable that these robbers were so respectful to the Holy Family, because in the very same night, while they were housing these holy guests, I saw them seizing some other travelers who had been enticed into their lair by the light and driving them into a great cave deep in the wood. This cave, whose entrance was hidden and grown over by wild plants so that it could not be seen, seemed to be their real dwelling-place. I saw several boys in this cave, from seven to nine years of age, who had been stolen from their parents; and there was an old woman who kept house there. I saw all kinds of booty being brought in—clothes, carpets, meat, young kids, sheep, and bigger animals too. The cave was big and contained an abundance of things.
I saw that Mary slept little that night; she sat still on her couch most of the time. They left early in the morning, well supplied with provisions. The people of the place accompanied them a short way, and led them past many trenches on to the right road. When the robbers took leave of the Holy Family, the man said with deep emotion: ‘Remember us wherever you go.’ At these words I suddenly saw a picture of the Crucifixion, and saw the Good Thief saying to Jesus, ‘Remember me when You shall come into Your kingdom’, and recognized in him the boy who had been healed. The robber’s wife gave up this way of life after some time, and settled with other honest families at a later resting-place of the Holy Family, where a spring of water and a garden of balsam shrubs came into being.
19. THE WILDERNESS. SNAKES AND FLYING LIZARDS.
After this I again saw the Holy Family journeying through a desert, and when they lost their way, I again saw various kinds of creeping beasts approach them, lizards with bats’ wings and snakes, but they were not hostile and seemed only to want to show them the way. Later on, when they had lost every trace of their path and direction, I saw them guided by a very lovely miracle; on each side of the path the plant called the rose of Jericho appeared with its curling leaves surrounding the central flower and the upright stalk. They went up to it joyfully, and on reaching it they saw in the distance another plant of it spring up, and so throughout the whole desert. I saw, too, that it was revealed to the Blessed Virgin that in later times the people of the country would gather these flowers and sell them to passing strangers to gain their bread. (I saw this happening afterwards.) The name of the place sounded like Gase or Gose [? Gosen]. Then I saw them come to a place called by a name like Lepe or Lape [? Pelusium]. There was a lake there with ditches, canals, and high embankments. They crossed the water on a raft with a sort of big tub on it in which the donkey was put. Mary sat with her Child on a piece of timber. Two ugly, brown, half-naked men with flattened noses and protruding lips ferried them over. They passed only the outlying houses of this place, and the people here were so rough and unsympathetic that the travelers went on without speaking to anyone. I think that this was the first heathen town. They had been ten days in the Jewish country and ten days in the desert.
I now saw the Holy Family on Egyptian territory. They were in flat country, with green pastures here and there on which cattle were feeding. I saw trees to which idols had been fastened in the shape of infants wrapped in broad swaddling-bands inscribed with figures or letters. Here and there I saw people thick-set and fat, dressed like the cotton-spinners whom I once saw near the frontiers of the three kings. I saw these people hurrying to worship their idols. The Holy Family went into a shed; there were beasts in it, but these went out to make room for them. Their provisions had given out, and they had neither bread nor water. Nobody gave them anything, and Mary was hardly able to feed her Child. They did, indeed, endure every human misery. At last some shepherds came to water the beasts at a closed spring, and at Joseph’s urgent request gave them a little water. Then I saw the Holy Family going through a wood, exhausted and helpless. On coming out of it they saw a tall, slender date palm with its fruit growing all together like a bunch of grapes at the very top of the tree. Mary went up to the tree with the Infant Jesus in her arms, and prayed, lifting the Child up to it; the tree bowed down its head to them, as if it were kneeling, so that they were able to pick all its fruit. 162162 The palm-tree that bowed appears (on the Flight) in Ps-Matt. 20, but there the little Jesus is figured as addressing the tree and also commanding it to straighten itself afterwards. (SB) The tree remained in that position. I saw a rabble of people from the last town following the Holy Family, and I saw Mary distributing the fruit from the tree among the many naked children who were running after her. About a quarter of an hour from the first tree they came to an unusually big sycamore tree with a hollow trunk. They had got out of sight of the people who were following them, and hid in the tree so as to let them pass by. They spent the night here.
20. THE DESERT. A SPRING ARISES FROM MARY’S PRAYER.
Next day they continued through waste and sandy deserts, and I saw them sitting on a sand-hill quite exhausted, for they had no water with them. The Blessed Virgin prayed to God, and I saw an abundant spring of water gush forth at her side and run in streams on the ground. Joseph leveled a little sand-hill and made a basin for the water, digging a little channel to carry off the overflow. They refreshed themselves with the water and Mary washed the Infant Jesus. Joseph watered the donkey and filled the water-skin. I saw tortoises, and ugly creatures like big lizards coming to drink at the water. They did the Holy Family no harm, but looked at them in a friendly way. The stream of water flowed in a wide circle, disappearing again in the ground near its source. The space which it enclosed was wonderfully blessed: it soon became green and produced the most delicious balsam shrubs, which grew big enough to give refreshment to the Holy Family on their return from Egypt. Later it became famous as a balsam garden. A number of people came to settle there; amongst them, I think, the mother of the leprous child who had been healed in the robbers’ den. Later I had visions of this place. A beautiful hedge of balsam shrubs surrounded the garden, in the middle of which were big fruit trees. Later a deep well was dug there, from which an abundant supply of water was drawn by a wheel turned by an ox. This water was mixed with the water from Mary’s well so as to supply the whole garden. The water from the new well would have been harmful if used unmixed. It was shown me that the oxen who turned the wheel did no work from midday on Saturday till Monday morning.
21. HELIOPOLIS, OR ON.
After refreshing themselves here they journeyed to a great city called Heliopolis or On. It had wonderful buildings, but much of it had been laid waste. When the children of Israel were in Egypt, the Egyptian priest Potiphera lived here, and had in his house Asenath (the daughter of Dinah of the Shechemites) whom Joseph married. 163163 Joseph married Asenath: Gen. 41.50. (SB) Here also Dionysius the Areopagite lived at the time of Christ’s death. The city had been devastated by war, but numbers of people had made themselves homes in the ruined buildings.
The Holy Family crossed a very high bridge over a broad river which seemed to me to have several arms. They came to an open place in front of the city-gate, which was surrounded by a kind of promenade. Here there was a pedestal, thicker below than above, surmounted by a great idol with an ox’s head bearing in its arms something like a child in swaddling-bands. The idol was surrounded by a circle of stones like benches or tables, and people came in crowds from the city to lay their offerings on them. Not far from this idol was a great tree under which the Holy Family sat down to rest. They had rested there for only a short time when there came an earthquake, and the idol swayed and fell to the ground. 164164 The idol falling when the Holy Family reached Egypt is mentioned in Ps-Matt. 23 (all the idols) and in the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, 10, Cf. supra, p. 29 and n. (SB) There was an uproar among the people, and a crowd of canal-workers ran up from near at hand. A good man who had accompanied the Holy Family on their way here (I think he was a drain-digger) led them hurriedly into the town, and they were leaving the place where the idol had stood when the frightened crowd observed them and began assailing them with threats and abuse for having been the cause of the idol’s collapse. They had not, however, time to carry out their threats, for another shock came which uprooted and engulfed the great tree till nothing but its roots showed above ground. The gaping space where the idol had stood became full of dark and dirty water, in which the whole idol disappeared except for its horns. Some of the most evil among the raging mob were swallowed up in this dark pool. Meanwhile the Holy Family went quietly into the city, and took up their abode near a great heathen temple in the thickness of a wall, where there were a great number of empty rooms.
[Catherine Emmerich also communicated the following fragments of visions of the subsequent life of the Holy Family in Heliopolis or On:]
Once at a later time I came over the sea to Egypt, and found the Holy Family still living in the great devastated city. It is very extensive, and is built beside a great river with many arms. The city can be seen from afar, standing high up. In many places the river flows underneath the buildings. The people cross the arms of the river on rafts which lie there in the water ready for use. I saw quite astonishingly huge buildings in ruins, great masses of solid masonry, halves of towers, and whole, or nearly whole, temples. I saw pillars as big as towers, with winding staircases outside. I saw high tapering pillars completely covered with strange figures, and also a number of big figures like reclining dogs with human heads.
The Holy Family lived in the galleries of a great stone building supported at one side by short thick pillars, some square, and some round. People had built themselves dwellings against and under these pillars; above the building ran a road with much traffic on it; it passed a great heathen temple with two courts. In this building was a space with a wall on one side of it and on the other a row of short thick pillars. In front of this Joseph had constructed a light wooden building, divided off by wooden partitions, for them to live in. I saw them there all together. The donkeys were there, too, but separated by screens such as Joseph always used to make. I noticed for the first time that they had a little altar against the wall, hidden behind one of these screens—a little table covered with a red cloth and a transparent white one over it. There was a lamp above it, and they used to pray there. Later I saw that Joseph had arranged a workshop in his home, and also that he often went out to work. He made long staffs with knobs at the end, and little low round three-legged stools with a handle at the back to carry them by. He also made baskets and light wicker screens. These were afterwards smeared with some substance which made them solid, and were then used to make huts and compartments against and in the massive masonry of the walls. He also made little light hexagonal or octagonal towers out of long thin planks, ending in a point crowned by a knob. These had an opening and could be used to sit in like sentry-boxes. They had steps leading up to them. I saw little towers like these here and there in front of the heathen temples, and also on the flat roofs. People sat inside them. They were perhaps sentry-boxes, or little summer-houses used to give shade.
I saw the Blessed Virgin weaving carpets. I also saw her with other work; she had a stick beside her with a lump fastened to the top of it, but I do not know what she was doing, whether spinning or something else. I often saw people visiting her and the Infant Jesus, who lay in a sort of cradle on the floor beside her. Sometimes I saw this cradle raised on a stand like a sawing-trestle. I saw the Child lying very contentedly in His cradle, sometimes with His arms hanging out on each side. Once I saw Him sitting up in it. Mary sat close by knitting, with a basket at her side. There were three women with her.
The people in this half-destroyed city were dressed just like those cotton-spinning people whom I saw when I went to meet the three kings, except that they wore aprons, like short skirts. There were not many Jews here, and they seemed to live here on sufferance. North of Heliopolis, between it and the Nile, which there divides into many arms, was the land of Gessen. Amongst its canals was a place where a large number of Jews lived. Their religion had become very degraded. Some of these Jews became acquainted with the Holy Family, and Mary made various things for them, in return for which they gave her bread and provisions. The Jews in the land of Gessen had a temple which they likened to Solomon’s temple, but it was very different. 165165 The presence of a Jewish temple built on the ruins of Leontopolis, on the outskirts of Heliopolis, is well known from Josephus (Ant., XIII, iii, 1-4), who explains that it was built by Onias (IV) after his flight from Palestine, c. 170 B.C., ‘like indeed to that at Jerusalem, but smaller and poorer ’. Cf. also BJ, VII, x, 3. (SB)
22. HELIOPOLIS, ON. JOSEPH BUILDS A PLACE FOR JEWISH PRAYER.
I again saw the Holy Family in Heliopolis. They were still living near the heathen temple under the vaulting of the massive walls. Not far off Joseph built a place of prayer in which the Jews living in the city assembled together with the Holy Family. Before this they had had no meeting-place for prayer. The room had a lightly built dome above it, which they could open so as to be under the open sky. In the middle of the room stood a sacrificial table or altar, covered with white and red, and having scrolls upon it. The priest or teacher was a very old man. The men and women were not so strictly separated at their prayers as in the Promised Land: the men stood on one side and the women on the other. I had a sight of the Blessed Virgin visiting this place of prayer with the Infant Jesus for the first time. She sat on the ground leaning on one arm; the Child was sitting before her in a little sky-blue dress, and she put His hands together on His breast. Joseph stood behind her, as he always does here, though the other men and women stand and sit in separate groups on each side of the room. I was often shown how the little Jesus was already growing bigger, and how He was often visited by other children. He could already speak and run quite well; He was much with Joseph, and I think went with him when he worked away from home. He wore a little dress like a shirt, knitted or woven in one piece. Some of the idols fell down in the temple near which they lived, just as the statue near the gate had collapsed on their entry into the city; many people said that this was a sign of the wrath of the gods against the Holy Family, and in consequence they suffered various persecutions.
23. THE MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS.
Towards the middle of Jesus’ second year the Blessed Virgin was told of Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents by an angel appearing to her in Heliopolis. She and Joseph were greatly distressed, and the Child Jesus wept that whole day. I saw what follows.
When the three kings did not return to Jerusalem, Herod’s anxiety decreased to some extent; he was at that time much occupied with family affairs. His anxiety revived again, however, when various reports reached him about Simeon’s and Anna’s prophecies in the Temple at the Presentation of the Infant Jesus. At this moment the Holy Family had been some time in Nazareth.
Under various pretexts he dispatched soldiers to different places round Jerusalem, such as Gilgal, Bethlehem, and Hebron, and ordered a census of the children to be made. The soldiers remained, I think, about nine months in these places. Herod was in the meantime in Rome, 166166 This was recounted while Catherine Emmerich was seriously ill; she mentioned several journeys and other matters connected with Herod’s family, but very obscurely. The statement that Herod had been in Rome in the meantime was the only clear one. Some fifteen years after this communication, the writer reread the history of Herod the Great given by the Jewish historian Josephus, but found no mention of any journey of Herod’s to Rome at this time. (CB) and it was not until soon after his return that the children were massacred. John the Baptist was two years old when it happened, and had again been for some time at home with his parents in secret. Before Herod issued the order that all mothers were to bring before the authorities their male children up to two years old, Elizabeth had been warned by the appearance of an angel and had once more fled into the wilderness with her little son. Jesus was nearly eighteen months old and could already run about. 167167 It has already been observed (n. 148, p. 141 ) that Matt. 2.13, according to AC, involves the passing of over seven months. Here we are told that Jesus was nearly eighteen months old, so that Matt. 2.16, ‘Then Herod perceiving that he was deluded . . . sending killed . . .’, shows the passage of a further nine months to the murder of the Innocents. The Gospel has no details beyond the fact of the massacre. (SB) The children were massacred in seven different places. The mothers had been promised rewards for their fruitfulness. They came from their homes in the surrounding country to the government offices in the various towns, bringing with them their little boys in holiday dress. The husbands were turned back, and the mothers were separated from their children. These were stabbed by the soldiers behind the walls of lonely courtyards; their bodies were heaped together and then buried in trenches.
[Catherine Emmerich communicated her vision of the Massacre of the Innocents on March 8 th, 1821, i.e. a year after her account of the Flight into Egypt, so that it may be presumed that the massacre took place a year later than the Flight.]
This afternoon I saw the mothers with their little sons up to two years of age come to Jerusalem from Hebron, Bethlehem, and a third place. Herod had sent soldiers there, and had later communicated his orders through the authorities of these towns. The women came to the city in separate groups. Some had two children with them and rode on donkeys. They came to the city in joyful expectation, for they thought they were to receive a reward for their fruitfulness. They were all taken into a large building, and the men accompanying them were sent home. This building was somewhat isolated; it was not far from the house where later Pilate lived. It was so enclosed that it was difficult to see from outside what was happening within it. It must once have been a place of execution, for I saw in its courtyard stone pillars and blocks with chains fastened to them, as well as trees which were tied together and then allowed to spring apart so as to tear in pieces the men fastened to them. It was a dark, strong building, and its courtyard was quite as big as the graveyard on one side of Dülmen parish church. A gate led through two walls into this courtyard, which was enclosed by buildings on three sides. To the right and left these were one story high; the center one had two stories and looked like an ancient deserted synagogue. There were gates opening into the courtyard from all three buildings.
The mothers were led through the courtyard into the two side-buildings and there imprisoned. At first I had the impression of their being in a kind of hospice or inn. They became alarmed when they saw themselves deprived of liberty and began to weep and moan, continuing their laments throughout the whole night.
[On the next day, March 9 th, she said:] This afternoon I saw a terrible picture. I saw the Massacre of the Innocents taking place in that house of execution. The big building at the back of the court was two stories high: the lower story consisted of a great deserted hall like a prison or a guard-room; above it was a large room with windows looking down into the courtyard. I saw a number of officials assembled there as if in a court of justice; before them was a table on which lay scrolls. I think Herod was there, too, for I saw a man in a red cloak lined with white fur with little black tails on it. He was wearing a crown. I saw him, surrounded by others, looking out of the window of the room.
The mothers were summoned one by one with their children from the side-buildings into the great hall below the building at the back of the courtyard. As they came in, their children were removed from them by soldiers and taken through the gate into the courtyard, where some twenty soldiers were at the murderous work of thrusting swords and spears into their throats and hearts. Some were children still at the breast, wrapped in swaddling-bands; others were tiny boys wearing long embroidered dresses. They did not trouble to take off their clothes, they ran their swords through their throats and hearts, and then seized their bodies by an arm or leg and flung them onto a heap. It was a ghastly sight. The mothers were thrust back one by one by the soldiers into the great hall. When they saw what was done to their children, they raised a terrible outcry, clinging to each other and tearing their hair. They were so closely packed at the end that they could hardly move. I think the massacre went on until towards evening.
The children’s bodies were afterwards buried in a pit in the same courtyard. Their number was shown to me, but I have no clear recollection of it. I think it was 700, and another number with 7 or 17 in it. The number was explained to me by an expression in which I remember a sound like ‘Ducen’: I think I had to reckon two c’s together several times. 168168 Perhaps this refers to the Roman numeral DCC =700 (AC always saw Roman numerals). She mentions (supra, p. 149 ) that the massacres took place in seven different places, and the Gospel ( Matt. 2.16) indicates a whole district: ‘Bethlehem and all the borders thereof.’ (SB)
I was absolutely horrified by what I had seen, and did not know where it had happened: I thought it was here. It was only when I woke up that I was able gradually to recollect myself. The next night I saw the mothers being taken back by the soldiers to their homes, bound, and in separate groups. The place of the Massacre of the Innocents in Jerusalem was used later as a court of justice; it was not far from Pilate’s judgment seat, but by his time it had been a good deal altered. At Christ’s death I saw the grave of the massacred children fall in and saw their souls appear and depart from thence.
24. THE BOY JOHN ESCAPES AGAIN TO THE WILDERNESS.
I was shown how Elizabeth, warned by the angel, once more fled into the desert with the little John to escape the Massacre of the Innocents.
Elizabeth searched for a long time till she found a cave which seemed to her sufficiently hidden, and then stayed there with the boy for about forty days. When she went home, an Essene from the community on Mount Horeb came to the boy in the wilderness, brought him food, and gave him all the help he needed. This Essene (whose name I keep forgetting) was a relation of Anna of the Temple. He came at first every eight days, then every fourteen; but in a short time John no longer needed help, for he was soon more at home in the wilderness than among men. It was ordained by God that he should grow up in the wilderness without contact with mankind and innocent of their sins. Like Jesus, he never went to school; the Holy Ghost taught him in the wilderness. I often saw at his side a light, or shining figures like angels. The desert here was not waste and barren; many plants and bushes grew in it, bearing many kinds of berries, and among the rocks were strawberries, which John picked and ate as he passed. He was uncommonly familiar with the beasts, and especially with the birds: they flew to him and perched on his shoulders, he spoke to them and they seemed to understand him and to act as his messengers. He wandered along the banks of the streams, and was just as familiar with the fishes. They swam near to him when he called them, and followed him in the water as he went along the bank.
I saw now that he moved far away from his home, perhaps because of the danger which threatened him. He was so friendly with the beasts that they helped him and warned him. They led him to their nests and lairs, and he fled with them into their hiding-holes if men came near. He lived upon fruit, berries, roots, and herbs. He had no need to search long for them; he either knew himself where they grew, or the beasts showed him. He always had his sheepskin and his little staff, and from time to time went still deeper into the wilderness. Sometimes he would go nearer his home. Several times he rejoined his parents, who were always longing for him. I think they must have known about each other by revelation, for whenever Elizabeth and Zechariah wanted to see him, he always came from a long way off to meet them.
25. TRAIN TO MATAREA. AN IDOL FALLS AT THE FAMILY’S PASSING.
After staying in Heliopolis for a year and a half, until Jesus was about two years old, the Holy Family left the city because of lack of work and various persecutions. They moved southwards in the direction of Memphis. When they passed through a small town not far from Heliopolis and sat down to rest in the open porch of a heathen temple, the idol fell down and broke in pieces. (It had the head of an ox with three horns, and there were holes in its body in which sacrifices were placed to be burnt.) This caused an uproar amongst the heathen priests, who seized and threatened the Holy Family. As the priests were consulting together, one of them said that for his part he thought it wise to commend themselves to the God of these people, reminding them of the plagues that had befallen their ancestors when they persecuted the Israelites, and how in the night before their exodus the firstborn had died in every Egyptian house. They followed his advice and dismissed the Holy Family unmolested.
They made their way to Troja, a place on the east bank of the Nile, opposite Memphis. It was a big town, but filthy. They thought of staying here, but were not taken in; indeed, they could not even obtain the drink of water or the few dates for which they asked. Memphis was on the west bank of the Nile, which was here very broad, with islands. Part of the city was on the east bank, and here in the time of Pharaoh was a great palace with gardens and a high tower, to the top of which Pharaoh’s daughter used often to ascend to survey the country round. I saw the place where the child Moses was found among the tall rushes. Memphis was composed as it were of three different towns, one on each side of the Nile, and another called Babylon which seemed to belong to it. This was farther downstream on the east bank. Indeed, in Pharaoh’s time the whole region round the Nile between Heliopolis, Babylon, and Memphis was so covered with canals, buildings, and stone embankments that it all seemed to form one uninterrupted city. Now, at the time of the Holy Family’s visit, it had all become separated with great waste spaces between. From Troja they went northwards down-stream towards Babylon, which was ill-built, dirty, and desolate. They skirted this city between it and the Nile, and retraced their steps for some distance. They went down-stream, following an embankment along which Jesus traveled later, when He journeyed through Arabia to Egypt after the raising of Lazarus before meeting His disciples again at Jacob’s Well at Sychar. They traveled down-stream for some two hours; there were ruined buildings at intervals all along their path. They had to cross a small arm of the river or canal, and came to a place whose name as it was at that time I cannot remember; afterwards it was called Matarea, and was near Heliopolis. 169169 Troja and Babylon near Memphis, and Matarea near Heliopolis or On, are all readily identifiable in the region of the modern Cairo. At Matarea it is said that the ‘Tree of Our Lady’ is still shown. The tree is also mentioned in the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, 24. (SB) This place, which lay on a promontory surrounded by water on two sides, was very desolate. Its scattered buildings were mostly very badly made of palm wood and thick mud, roofed with reeds. Joseph found much work here in strengthening the houses with wattles and building galleries onto them.
In this town the Holy Family lived in a dark vaulted room in a lonely quarter at the landward side of the town, not far from the gate by which they had entered. As before, Joseph built a room in front of the vaulted one. Here, too, when they arrived, an idol fell down in a small temple, and afterwards all the idols fell. Here, too, a priest pacified the people by reminding them of the plagues of Egypt. Later, when a little congregation of Jews and converted heathen had gathered round the Holy Family, the priests handed over to them the little temple where the idol had fallen, and Joseph arranged it as a synagogue. He became, as it were, the father of the congregation, and introduced the proper singing of the psalms, for their previous services had been very disorderly. There were only a few very poor Jews living here in wretched holes and ditches, though in the Jewish town between On and the Nile there were many Jews and they had a regular temple there. They had, however, fallen into dreadful idolatry; they had a golden calf, a figure with an ox’s head surrounded by little figures of animals like pole-cats or ferrets with little canopies over them. These were animals which protected people against crocodiles. They also had an imitation Ark of the Covenant, with horrible things in it. They carried on a revolting idolatrous worship, which consisted of immoral practices performed in a subterranean passage and supposed to bring about the coming of the Messiah. They were very obstinate and refused to amend their lives. Afterwards many of them left this place and came to where the Holy Family lived, not more than two hours’ journey away. Owing to the many dykes and canals, they could not travel direct but had to make a detour round On.
The Jews in the land of Gessen had already become acquainted with the Holy Family in the city of On, and Mary had done much work for them knitting, weaving, and sewing. She would never work at things which were superfluous or mere luxuries, only at what was necessary and at praying garments. I saw women bringing her work to do which they wanted, from vanity, to be made in a fashionable style; and I saw Mary giving back the work, however much she needed the money. I saw, too, that the women insulted her vilely.
26. MATAREA AND ITS POVERTY.
To begin with, they had a very hard time in Matarea. There was great shortage of good water and wood. The inhabitants cooked with dry grass or reeds. The Holy Family generally had cold food to eat. Joseph was given a great deal of work in improving the huts, but the people there treated him just like a slave, giving him only what they liked; sometimes he brought home some money for his work, sometimes none. The inhabitants were very clumsy at building their huts. Wood was lacking, and though I saw trunks of trees lying about here and there, I noticed that there were no tools for dealing with them. Most of the people had nothing but stone and bone knives like turf-cutters. Joseph had brought his necessary tools with him. The Holy Family soon arranged their dwelling a little. Joseph divided the room very conveniently by light wicker screens; he prepared a proper fireplace and made stools and little low tables. The people here all ate off the ground.
They lived here for several years, and I have seen many scenes from Jesus’ childhood. I saw where Jesus slept. In the thickness of the wall of Mary’s sleeping-room I saw a niche hollowed out by Joseph in which was Jesus’ couch. Mary slept beside it, and I have often seen her during the night kneeling before Jesus’ couch and praying to God. Joseph slept in another room.
I also saw a praying-place which Joseph had arranged in their dwelling. It was in a separate passage. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin had their own special places, and the Child Jesus also had His own little corner, where He prayed sitting, standing, or kneeling. The Blessed Virgin had a kind of little altar before which she prayed. A little table, covered with red and white, was let down like a flap before a cupboard in the wall, of which it generally formed the door. In the thickness of the wall were preserved sacred relics. I saw little bushy plants in pots shaped like chalices. I saw the end of St. Joseph’s staff with its blossom, whereby the lot had fallen upon him in the Temple to become Mary’s spouse. It was fixed in a box an inch and a half in thickness. Besides this, I saw another precious relic, but can no longer explain what it really was. In a transparent box I saw five little white sticks of the thickness of big straws. They stood crossed and as if tied in the middle; at the top they were curly and broader, like a little sheaf. [She crossed her fingers to explain and spoke also of bread.]
27. ELIZABETH TAKES THE BOY JOHN AGAIN TO THE WILDERNESS.
During the sojourn of the Holy Family in Egypt the child John must have again stayed in secret with his parents at Juttah, for I saw him at the age of four or five being once more taken into the wilderness by Elizabeth. When they left the house, Zechariah was not there; I think he had gone away beforehand so as not to see the departure, for he loved John beyond measure. He had, however, given him his blessing, for each time he went away he used to bless Elizabeth and John.
Little John had a sheepskin hanging over his left shoulder round his breast and back, fastened together under his right arm. Afterwards in the desert I saw him wearing this sheepskin sometimes over both shoulders, sometimes across his breast, sometimes round his waist—just as it suited him. This sheepskin was all that the boy wore. He had brownish hair darker than Jesus’, and he still carried in his hand the little white staff which he had brought from home before. I always saw him with it in the wilderness.
I now saw him hurrying along hand in hand with his mother Elizabeth, a tall woman with a small face and delicate features. She was much wrapped up and walked quickly. The child often ran on ahead; he was quite natural and childlike, but not thoughtless. At first their way led them northwards for some time, and they had water on their right hand; then I saw them crossing a little stream. There was no bridge, and they crossed on logs lying in the water, which Elizabeth, who was a very resolute woman, ferried across with a branch. After crossing the stream they turned more eastwards and entered a rocky ravine, the upper part of which was waste and stony, though the lower slopes were thick with bushes and fruits, among them many strawberries, of which the boy ate one here and there.
After they had gone some way into this ravine, Elizabeth said good-bye to the boy. She blessed him, pressed him to her heart, kissed him on his forehead and on both cheeks, and started on her journey home. She turned round several times on her way, and wept as she looked back towards John. The boy himself was quite untroubled and wandered on farther into the ravine with sure steps.
As during these visions I was very ill, God granted me the favor of feeling as if I were myself a child in presence of all that happened. It seemed to me that I was a child of John’s own age, accompanying him on his way; and I was afraid that he would go too far from his mother and would never find his way borne again. Soon, however, I was reassured by a voice which said: ‘Do not be troubled. The boy well knows what he is about.’ Then I thought that I went quite alone with him into the wilderness as if he had been a familiar childhood’s playmate of mine, and I saw many of the things that happened to him. Yes, while we were together, John himself told me much about his life in the wilderness. For example, how he practiced self-denial in every way and mortified his senses, how his vision grew ever brighter and clearer, and how he had been taught in an indescribable way, by everything round him.
All this did not astonish me, for long ago as a child, when I was all by myself watching our cows, I used to live in familiar fellowship with John in the wilderness. I often longed to see him, and used then to call into the bushes in my country dialect: ‘Little John with his little stick and his sheepskin on his shoulder is to come to me.’ And often, little John with his little stick and his sheepskin on his shoulder did come to me, and we two children played together. He told me and taught me all kinds of good things, and it never seemed to me strange that in the wilderness he learnt so much from plants and beasts. For when I was a child, whether in the woods, on the moors, in the fields, with the cows, plucking ears of corn, pulling grass, or gathering herbs, I used to look at every little leaf and every flower as at a book. Every bird, every beast that ran past me, everything around me, taught me something. Every shape and color that I saw, every little veined leaf, filled my mind with many deep thoughts. But if I spoke of these, people either listened with surprise or else, more often, laughed at me, so that at last I accustomed myself to keeping silence about such things. I used to think (and sometimes think still) that it must be so with everyone, and that nowhere could one learn better, because here God Himself had written our alphabet for us.
So now, when I followed again in my visions the boy John into the wilderness, I saw, as before, all that he was about. I saw him playing with flowers and beasts. The birds especially were at home with him. They flew onto his head as he walked or as he knelt in prayer. I often saw him lay his staff across the branches; then at his call flocks of bright-colored birds came flying to perch on it in a row. He gazed at them and spoke familiarly with them as if they were his schoolchildren. I saw him, too, following wild animals into their lairs, feeding them and watching them attentively.
28. HEROD HAS ZECHARIAH CAPTURED, QUESTIONED, AND KILLED. ELIZABETH DIES.
When John was about six years old, Elizabeth took the opportunity of Zechariah’s absence on a journey to the Temple with herds for sacrifice to pay a visit to her son in the wilderness. Zechariah, I think, never went to see him there, so that he might truthfully say, if asked by Herod where his son was, that he did not know. In order, however, to satisfy his intense longing to see John, the latter came several times from the wilderness to his parents house in great secrecy and by night, and stayed there a short time. Probably his guardian angel led him there at the right moment when there was no danger. I saw him always guided and protected by higher Powers, and sometimes accompanied by shining figures like angels.
John was destined to live in the wilderness, separated from the world and from ordinary human food, and to be taught and trained by the Spirit of God. Providence so ordained matters that outer circumstances made him take refuge in the desert to which his natural instincts drew him with irresistible force; from his earliest childhood I always saw him thoughtful and solitary, just as the Child Jesus fled to Egypt as the result of a divine warning, so did John, His precursor, fly to a hiding place in the wilderness. Suspicion was directed to him, too, for there had been much talk in the land about John ever since his early days. It was well known that wonders had attended his birth, and that he was often seen surrounded by light, for which reasons Herod was particularly suspicious of him. He had caused Zechariah to be questioned several times as to the whereabouts of John, but had never yet laid hands on the old man. This time, however, as he was on his way to the Temple, he was attacked by Herod’s soldiers in a sunken road outside the Bethlehem Gate of Jerusalem, from which the city was not yet visible. These soldiers, who had been lying in wait for him, dragged him brutally to a prison on the slope of the Hill of Sion, where later I used often to see Jesus’ disciples making their way up to the Temple. The old man was here subjected to ill-treatment and even torture, in order to force from him a confession of his son’s whereabouts. When this had no effect, he was, by Herod’s soldiers, stabbed to death. 170170 The murder of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, is recounted in Protev. 23, with subsequent portents added. (SB) His friends buried his body not far from the Temple. This was not the Zechariah who was murdered between the Temple and the altar. When the dead came out of their graves at the death of Christ, I saw the grave of that Zechariah falling out of the Temple walls near the praying-room of the aged Simeon, and himself coming forth from it. At that moment several other secret graves in the Temple burst open. On the occasion when that Zechariah was murdered between the Temple and the altar, there were many disputes going on about the descent of the Messiah, and about certain rights and privileges in the Temple of various families. For instance, not all families were allowed to have their children brought up in the Temple. (This reminds me that I once saw in the care of Anna in the Temple a boy whose name I have forgotten; I think he was a king’s son.) Zechariah was the only one among the disputants who was murdered. His father was called Barachiah. 171171 The earlier Zechariah killed near the altar is in 2 Chr. 24.20-21. There is a well-known difficulty in Matt. 23.35, where this Zechariah is called ‘son of Barachiah’, when 2 Chr. gives his father’s name as Joiada. It is generally agreed that the verse in Matt. includes a scribal error, arising from the fact that the much better-known Prophet Zechariah’s father was called Barechiah ( Zech. 1.1), and that the two names were thus linked in the scribe’s memory. This supposition is borne out by the omission of a father’s name in Matt. in Codex Sinaiticus. The parallel in Luke 11.51 has no father’s name. Yet all texts of Matt. before the discovery of Sinaiticus in 1859 include the name, and it is hardly surprising that AC should do so too. (SB) I saw that later the bones of that Zechariah were found again, but have forgotten the details.
Elizabeth came home from the desert expecting to find Zechariah returned from Jerusalem. John accompanied her for some of the way; when they parted, she blessed him and kissed him on the forehead, and he hastened back, untroubled, to the wilderness. On reaching home Elizabeth heard the terrible news of the murder of Zechariah. She grieved and lamented so sorely that she could find no peace or rest at home, and so left Juttah for ever and hastened to join John in the wilderness. She died there not long after, before the return of the Holy Family from Egypt. She was buried in the wilderness by the Essene from Mount Horeb who had always helped little John.
After this John moved farther into the wilderness. He left the rocky ravine for more open country, and I saw him arrive at a small lake in the desert. The shore was flat and covered with white sand, and I saw him go far out into the water and all the fishes swimming fearlessly up to him. He was quite at home with them. He lived here for some time, and I saw that he had made himself in the bushes a sleeping-hut of branches. It was quite low, and only just big enough for him to lie down in. Here and later I saw him accompanied very often by shining figures or angels, with whom he associated humbly and devoutly, but unafraid and in childlike confidence. They seemed to teach him and to make him notice all kinds of things. I saw that his staff had a little cross-piece, so that it formed a cross; fastened to it was a broad band of bark which he waved about in play like a little flag.
A daughter of Elizabeth’s sister now lived in John’s family house at Juttah near Hebron. It was well supplied with everything. When John was grown-up he came there once in secret, and then went still farther into the wilderness, remaining there until he appeared among mankind. Of this I shall tell later.
29. MATAREA. THE HOLY VIRGIN DISCOVERS A SPRING NEAR THEIR HOUSE.
In Matarea, where the inhabitants had to quench their thirst with the muddy water of the Nile, a fountain sprang up as before in answer to Mary’s prayers. At first they suffered great want, and were obliged to live on fruit and bad water. It was long since they had had any good water, and Joseph was making ready to take his water-skins on the donkey to fetch water from the balsam spring in the desert, when in answer to her prayer an angel appeared to the Blessed Virgin and told her to look for a spring behind their house. I saw her go beyond the enclosure round their dwelling to an open space on a lower level surrounded by broken-down embankments. A very big old tree stood here. the Blessed Virgin had a stick in her hand with a little shovel at the end of it, such as people in that country often carried on their journeys. She thrust this into the ground near the tree, and thereupon a beautiful clear stream of water gushed forth.
She ran joyfully to call Joseph, who on digging out the spring discovered that it had been lined with masonry below, but had dried up and was choked with rubbish. Joseph repaired and cleaned it, and surrounded it with beautiful new stonework. Near this spring, on the side from which Mary had approached it, was a big stone, just like an altar, and, indeed, I think it had once been an altar, but I forget in what connection. Here the Blessed Virgin used to dry Jesus’ clothes and wrappings in the sun after washing them. This spring remained unknown and was used only by the Holy Family until Jesus was big enough to do various little commissions, such as fetching water for His Mother. I once saw that He brought other children to the spring, and made a cup with a leaf for them to drink from. The children told this to their parents, so others came to the spring, but, as a rule, it was used only by the Jews. I saw Jesus fetching water for His Mother for the first time. Mary was in her room kneeling in prayer, and Jesus crept out to the spring with a skin and fetched water; that was the first time. Mary was inexpressibly touched when she saw Him coming back, and begged Him not to do it again, in case He were to fall into the water. Jesus said that He would be very careful and that He wanted to fetch water for her whenever she needed it.
The Child Jesus performed all kinds of services for His parents with great attention and thoughtfulness. Thus I saw Him, when Joseph was working near his home, running to fetch some tool which had been left behind. He paid attention to everything. I am sure that the joy He gave His parents must have outweighed all their sufferings. I also saw Jesus going sometimes to the Jewish settlement, about a mile from Matarea. to fetch bread in return for His Mother’s work. The many loathsome beasts to be found in this country did Him no harm; on the contrary, they were very friendly with Him. I have seen Him playing with snakes.
The first time that He went alone to the Jewish settlement (I am not sure whether it was in His fifth or seventh year) He was wearing a new brown dress with yellow flowers round its edge which the Blessed Virgin had made and embroidered for Him. He knelt down to pray on the way, and I saw two angels appearing to Him and announcing the death of Herod the Great. Jesus said nothing of this to His parents, why I do not know, whether from humility or because the angel had forbidden Him to, or because He knew that the time had not yet come for them to leave Egypt. Once I saw Him going to the settlement with other Jewish children, and when He returned home, I saw Him weeping bitterly over the degraded state of the Jews living there.
29.1 THE SPRING AT MATAREA – DISCOVERED BY JOB.
The spring which appeared at Matarea in answer to the Blessed Virgin’s prayers was not a new one, but an old one which gushed
forth afresh. It had been choked but was still lined with masonry. I saw that Job had been in Egypt long before Abraham and
had dwelt on this spot in this place.
The Book of Job gives no clue to the ancestry, offspring. or homeland of Job, and (as AC remarks,
) it is difficult to recognize the true history of Job from it. Job is only mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament as a
just man, together with Noe and Daniel (
Ezekiel 14.14, 16, 20).
Rabbinic lore has, however, many accounts of the circumstances of Job’s family; some texts place Job as a contemporary of Abraham, while others place him earlier or later. There are several accounts of his visit to Egypt. The list of such Rabbinic texts is too great to insert here, but a general account of them will be found in the Jewish Encyclopedia, art. Job, p. 193b. (SB) It was he who found the spring, and he made sacrifices on the great stone lying here. Job was the youngest of thirteen brothers. His father was a great chieftain at the time of the building of the Tower of Babel. His father had one brother who was Abraham’s ancestor. The tribes of these two brothers generally intermarried. Job’s first wife was of the tribe of Peleg: after many adventures, when he was living in his third home, he married three more wives of the same tribe. One of them bore him a son whose daughter married into the tribe of Peleg and gave birth to Abraham’s mother. Job was thus the great-grandfather of Abraham’s mother. Job’s father was called Joktan, a son of Eber. He lived to the north of the Caspian Sea, near a mountain range one side of which is quite warm, while the other is cold and ice-covered. There were elephants in that country. I do not think elephants could have gone to the place where Job first went to set up his own tribe, for it was very swampy there. That place was to the north of a mountain range lying between two seas, the westernmost of which was before the Flood a high mountain inhabited by evil angels by whom men were possessed. 173173 It is remarkable that she said on another occasion that the Black Sea had been before the Flood a high mountain on which evil angels held sway. This seems to show that the mountain range behind which Job’s first dwelling-place was situated must have been the Caucasus. (CB) The country there was poor and marshy; I think it is now inhabited by a race with small eyes, flat noses, and high cheek-bones. It was here that Job’s first misfortune befell him, and he then moved southwards to the Caucasus and began his life again. From here he made a great expedition to Egypt, a land which at that time was ruled by foreign kings belonging to a shepherd people from Job’s fatherland. One of these came from Job’s own country; another came from the farthest country of the three holy kings. They ruled over only a part of Egypt, and were later driven out by an Egyptian king. 174174 The Hyksos or ‘Shepherd Kings’ were foreign rulers in Egypt, c . 1730-1580 B.C., who were finally driven out by a native dynasty. (SB) At one time there was a great number of these shepherd people all collected together in one city; they had migrated to Egypt from their own country.
The king of these shepherds from Job’s country desired a wife for his son from his family’s tribe in the Caucasus, and Job brought this royal bride (who was related to him) to Egypt with a great following. He had thirty camels with him, and many menservants and rich presents. He was still young—a tall man of a pleasing yellow-brown color, with reddish hair. The people in Egypt were dirty brown in color. At that time Egypt was not thickly populated; only here and there were large masses of people. There were no great buildings either; these did not appear until the time of the children of Israel.
The king showed Job great honor, and was unwilling to let him go away again. He was very anxious for him to emigrate to Egypt with his whole tribe, and appointed as his dwelling-place the city where afterwards the Holy Family lived, which was then quite different. Job remained five years in Egypt, and I saw that he lived in the same place where the Holy Family lived, and that God showed him that spring. When performing his religious ceremonies, he made sacrifice on the great stone.
Job was to be sure a heathen, but he was an upright man who acknowledged the true God and worshipped Him as the Creator of all that he saw in nature, the stars, and the ever-changing light. He was never tired of speaking with God of His wonderful creations. He worshipped none of the horrible figures of beasts adored by the other races of mankind in his time, but had thought out for himself a representation of the true God. This was a small figure of a man with rays round its head, and I think it had wings. Its hands were clasped under its breast, and bore a globe on which was a ship on waves. Perhaps it was meant to represent the Flood. When performing his religious ceremonies he burnt grains before this little figure. Figures of this kind were afterwards introduced into Egypt, sitting in a kind of pulpit with a canopy above.
Job found a terrible form of idolatry here in this city, descending from the heathen magical rites practiced at the building of the Tower of Babel. They had an idol with a broad ox’s head, rising to a point at the top. Its mouth was open, and behind its head were twisted horns. Its body was hollow, fire was made in it, and live children were thrust into its glowing arms. I saw something being taken out of holes in its body. The people here were horrible, and the land was full of dreadful beasts. Great black creatures with fiery manes flew about in swarms, scattering what seemed like fire as they flew. They poisoned everything in their path, and the trees withered away under them. I saw other animals with long hind-legs and short fore-legs, like moles; they could leap from roof to roof. Then there were frightful creatures lurking in hollows and between stones, which wound themselves round men and strangled them. In the Nile I saw a heavy, awkward beast with hideous teeth and thick black feet. It was the size of a horse and had something pig-like about it. Besides these I saw many other ugly creatures; but the people here were much more horrible than any of them. Job, whom I saw clearing the evil beasts from around his dwelling by his prayers, had such a horror of these godless folk that he often broke out in loud reproaches of them, saying that he would rather live with all these dreadful beasts than with the infamous inhabitants of this land. I often saw him at sunrise gazing longingly towards his own country, which hay a little to the south of the farthest country of the three holy kings. Job saw prophetic pictures foreshadowing the arrival in Egypt of the children of Israel; he also had visions of the salvation of mankind and of the trials that awaited himself. He would not be persuaded to stay in Egypt, and at the end of five years he and his companions left the country.
There were intervals of calm between the great misfortunes that befell Job: the first interval lasted nine years, the second seven, and the third twelve. The words in the Book of Job: "And while he (the messenger of evil) was yet speaking" mean "This misfortune of his was still the talk of the people when the following befell him." 175175 The phrase ‘while he was yet speaking’ occurs in Job 1.16, 17, 18. The text certainly suggests a quick succession of calamities, but if AC’s statement of intervals of nine, seven, and twelve years between the calamities is correct, it is easier to suppose the story to have been telescoped for the purpose of the drama as we know it, than to interpret the text (as AC suggests) as meaning ‘while it was still the talk of the people’. (SB) His misfortunes came upon him in three different places. The last calamity—and also the restoration of all his prosperity—happened when he was hiving in a flat country directly to the east of Jericho. Incense and myrrh were found here, and there was also a gold-mine with smithies. At another time I saw much more about Job, which I will tell later. For the present I will only say that Job’s story of himself and of his talking with God were written down at his dictation by two trusty servants of his, like treasurers. Their names were Hai and Uis or Ois. 176176 In 1835 the writer heard that the founder of the Armenian race was so named. (CB) This story was preserved by his descendants as a sacred treasure, and was handed down from generation to generation until it reached Abraham and his sons. It was used for purposes of instruction, and came into Egypt with the children of Israel. Moses used it to comfort and console the Israelites during the Egyptian oppression and their journey through the desert, but in a summarized version, for it was originally of much greater length, and a great deal of it would have been incomprehensible to them. Solomon again remodeled it, so that it is a religious work full of the wisdom of Job, Moses, and Solomon. It was difficult to recognize the true history of Job from it, for the names of persons and places had been changed to ones nearer Canaan, and it was thought that Job was an Edomite because the last place where he lived was inhabited long after his death by Edomites, the descendants of Esau. Job might still have been alive when Abraham was born.
29.2 THE SPRING AT MATAREA – ABRAHAM LIVES A LONG TIME BY IT.
When Abraham was in Egypt, he also had his tents beside this spring, and I saw him teaching the people here.
Flavius Josephus (lib. I,
c. 8) and others state that Abraham instructed the Egyptians in arithmetic and astrology. (CB)
Abraham in Egypt: Gen. 12.13. That Lot was with him is shown by 13.1. He pretended that his wife was his sister a second time (20.2) after which the explanation referred to is given (20.12). That Abraham taught the Egyptians is an old Jewish tradition, preserved in Josephus, Ant., I, viii, 2, and there are many Rabbinic stories about his sojourn in Egypt, especially in the Midrash (e.g. Genesis Rabba, XLI and XLIV). (SB) He lived in the country several years with Sarah and a number of his sons and daughters whose mothers had remained behind in Chaldea. His brother Lot was also here with his family, but I do not remember what place of residence was assigned to him. Abraham went to Egypt by God’s command, firstly because of a famine in the Land of Canaan, and secondly to fetch a family treasure which had found its way to Egypt through a niece of Sarah’s mother. This niece was of the race of the shepherd-people belonging to Job’s tribe who had been rulers of part of Egypt. She had gone there to be serving maid to the reigning family and had then married an Egyptian. She was also the foundress of a tribe, but I have forgotten its name. Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, was a descendant of hers and was thus of Sarah’s family. 178178 Catherine Emmerich says elsewhere of Hagar: ‘She was of Sarah’s family, and when Sarah herself was barren, she gave Abraham Hagar for his wife and said she would build from her and have descendants through her. She looked upon herself as one with all the women of her tribe, as if it were a female tree with many blossoms. Hagar was a vessel, or flower of her tribe, and she hoped for a fruit of her tribe from her. At that time the whole tribe was as one tree and each of its blossoms formed part of it. (CB)
Gen. 16.1 simply states that Hagar was an Egyptian. (SB)
The woman had carried off this family treasure just as Rachel had carried off Laban’s household gods, and had sold it in Egypt for a great sum. In this way it had come into the possession of the king and the priests. This treasure was a genealogy of the children of Noah (especially of the children of Shem) down to Abraham’s time. It looked like a scales hanging on several chains from inside a lid. [Please refer to Figure 22.] This lid was made to shut down onto a sort of box which enclosed the chains in it. The chains were made of triangular pieces of gold linked together; the names of each generation were engraved on these pieces, which were thick yellow coins, while the links connecting them were pale like silver and thin. Some of the gold pieces had a number of others hanging from them. The whole treasure was bright and shining. I heard, but have forgotten, what was its value in shekels. The Egyptian priests had made endless calculations in connection with this genealogy, but never arrived at the right conclusion.
Before Abraham came into their country, the Egyptians must have known, from their astrologers and from the prophecies of their sorceresses, that he and his wife came from the noblest of races and that he was to be the father of a chosen people. They were always searching in their prophetic books for noble races, and tried to intermarry with them. This gave Satan the opportunity of attempting to debase the pure races by leading the Egyptians astray into immorality and deeds of violence.
Abraham, fearing that he might be murdered by the Egyptians because of the beauty of Sarah, his wife, had given out that she was his sister. This was not a lie, since she was his step-sister, the daughter of his father Terah by another wife (see Gen. 20.12). The King of Egypt caused Sarah to be brought into his palace and wished to take her to wife. Abraham and Sarah were then in great distress and besought God for help, whereupon God punished the king with sickness, and all his wives and most of the women in the city fell ill. The king, in alarm, caused inquiry to be made, and when he heard that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, he gave her back to him, begging him to leave Egypt as soon as possible. It was clear, he said, that Abraham and his wife were under the protection of the gods.
Figure 22. Family treasure of Abraham -- a genealogy of Noah’s children down to Abraham’s time.
The Egyptians were a strange people. On the one hand they were extremely arrogant and considered themselves to be the greatest and wisest among the nations. On the other hand they were excessively cowardly and servile, and gave way when they were faced by a power which they feared was greater than theirs. This was because they were not sure of all their knowledge, most of which came to them in dark ambiguous sooth-sayings, which easily produced conflicts and contradictions. Since they were very credulous of wonders, any such contradiction at once caused them great alarm.
Abraham approached the king very humbly with a request for corn. He won his favor by treating him as a ruler over the nations, and received many rich presents. When the King gave Sarah back to her husband and begged him to leave Egypt, Abraham replied that he could not do this unless he took with him the genealogy that belonged to him, describing in detail the manner in which it had come to Egypt. The king then summoned the priests, and they willingly gave Abraham back what belonged to him, only asking that the whole transaction might first be formally recorded, which was done. 179179 Gen. 12.20 (literally from the Hebrew): “And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and sent him away, and his wife, and all that belonged to him.” (SB) Abraham then returned with his following to the land of Canaan.
I have seen many things about the spring at Matarea right down to our own times, and remember this much: already at the time of the Holy Family it was used by lepers as a healing well. Much later a small Christian church was built on the site of Mary’s dwelling. Near the high altar of this church one descended into the cave where the Holy Family lived until Joseph had arranged their dwelling. I saw the spring with human habitations round it, and I saw it being used for various forms of skin eruptions. I also saw people bathing in it to cure themselves of evil-smelling perspirations. That was when the Mohammedans were there. I saw, too, that the Turks always kept a light burning in the church over Mary’s dwelling. They feared some misfortune if they forgot to light it. In later times I saw the spring isolated and at some distance from any houses. There was no longer a city there, and wild fruit trees grew about it.
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