161. Rabbinnical Legend.


There is a strange Rabbinnical Legend concerning the Messiah, from the Beresith Rabba.

The good father Ely, of happy memory, was travelling on that day when the Sanctuary was destroyed, and he heard a voice from heaven saving, the holy of holies,.. the house of the sanctuary is going to destruction; and at that Ely thought all the world would perish. But he past on, and found the sons of men tilling the earth and sowing their seed, 323and he said unto them, The most high God is incensed against his people, and will destroy his holy habitation and reduce his children to captivity, under the yoke of the idolaters, and yet behold ye are taking thought for this temporal life! But with that the voice which he had heard before came again upon him, saying, Let them be, for the Saviour of Israel is now born. And he asked, where is he? and the voice answered, in Bethlehem of Judaea. And he went there and found a woman sitting upon the floor of her house, and her new-born babe lying before her all bloody; and he said unto her, Daughter, hast thou brought forth a man child, yea, verily, said she, And what means it, he asked, that he is thus bloody? she answered and said, A great evil hath befallen, for on the day when he was born the sanctuary was destroyed. And he said, My daughter be not dismayed, but take thought only how to breed him up, for from his hand shall proceed great 324salvation to all Israel, whereat she was comforted, and began carefully to nurse him. And Ely left her and went his way, and after five years he bethought him and said within himself, I will return and see whether the Saviour of Israel be bred up after the manner of kings, or after the manner of angels, who are destined for the service of God. And he went straightways to the house of the woman, whom he found at her door, and he said unto her, Well my daughter how fareth it with the child? She answered, Master, said I, not truly that it would be ill done to breed him up, because on the day that he was born the sanctuary was destroyed? But this is not all, he hath feet and he walketh not, he hath eyes and he seeth not, he hath ears and he heareth nothing, he hath a mouth and he speaketh not; behold him lying there, and moving no more than a stone. And while Ely was communing with her, behold there arose a wind from the four corners of the world 325and carried away the child into the great sea, whereat Ely rent his garments, and began to tear his hair and his beard, saying, Alas, the salvation of Israel is lost! But the daughter of the voice, that is to say, the revelation, came again upon him and said, Not so Ely, for he must remain four hundred years in the great sea, and eighty in the vault of smoke with the children of Korah, and as many more at the gate of Rome, and the remainder of the years he shall pass through all the great cities, till the end of the appointed time.


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