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"Great, indeed," exclaims Samuel, "and impressive to behold must be the solemnity sustained by the sacerdotal functions of so many

thousand priests. Truly may our Doctors say that he has never seen joy who has not seen the gladness of the Feast of Tabernacles." After this reflection Samuel draws Zachary's attention to the fact that he has not yet explained the priests' division into families. "The service of the week is divided," resumes Zachary, "among the various families which constitute a course or Mishmar. If the course on duty consists of five families, three serve each one day of the week, and two each two days; if of six families, five serve each one day, and one two days; if of eight families, six serve each one day, and the other two jointly on one day, or if lastly of nine families, five serve each one day, and the four others serve in pairs on two days. All the particulars regarding the weekly service are arranged by the Sarim or princes of the courses, and the Rashim or heads of the families. For as Mishmar denotes a whole course, and Beth-Ab a single family belonging to the course, so Rosh-Hammishmar and Rosh-Beth-Ab signify the chief of a course and of a family respectively." "Malachy's command," observes Samuel, "that the priests' lips should keep knowledge, and that all should seek the law at his mouth has not been neglected by thee; being about to enter the number of messengers of the Lord, I must endeavor to follow thy good example not less than thy verbal instructions. But it pains me exceedingly to see thee so weak and feeble. Thy ill-health seemed to all of us a sufficient excuse for not going up to the Temple." "Son," says Zachary, "the time of our Temple-service is a sacred time. The Law enjoins that priests come up to Jerusalem at the due seasons, properly washed and attired. While actually on service in the Temple, we are not allowed to drink wine, either by day or by night. The families of the course in attendance at Jerusalem which are not actually on duty, are also prohibited the use of wine except by night. Those priests who stay away, or are prevented from going up to Jerusalem at the time prescribed, must meet in the synagogues of their district, and pray and fast each day of their week of service, except on the sixth, the seventh and the first. For the Sabbath-joy prevents a fast not only on the day itself but also on the day preceding and following

it. How then can I exempt myself from Jehovah's special service, when the whole course of Abijah fills the holy places of the Lord, and sings morning and evening the canticles of our fathers?" "Ezra tells us," here interrupts Samuel, "that only four courses of priests returned from the Babylonian captivity: the children of Jedajah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three; the children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two; the children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven; the children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen (Ezra 2:36-39). Thou didst tell me a short while ago that our priestly clan has not been legally adopted instead of Abijah's course which did not return from Babylon. How then can we belong to the course of Abijah?" "Only the children of Jedajah, Immer, Pashur and Harim, numbering in all four thousand two hundred and eighty-nine men returned with Zerubbabel from Babylon," explains Zachary. "But Nehemiah (12:1-7) mentions as many as twenty-two chiefs of the priests at the time of Zerubbabel and Jeshua. The same classes of divisions are met with at the time of Jeshua's successor Jojakim the high priest (Neh 12:12-21). Even some eighty years later the above four families comprised the whole body of the priesthood, as we learn from Ezra (10:18-22) who is believed to have brought two more courses of priests with him from Babylon. Shortly after, Nehemiah (10:3-9) enumerates twenty-one heads of priests, but only fourteen of these names are identical with the names of the previous lists. The organization of the priestly courses must, therefore, have undergone certain modifications in those times, so that the tradition of our fathers regarding this matter is in keeping with the records of the Ketubim." "What thou sayest, Mar," interrupts Samuel, "renders it still more evident that without adoption the members of our course could never have been said to belong to Abijah. Or must I assume that Abijah's return from Babylon is one of the modifications delivered to us by the tradition of the fathers?" "Only four courses of service came back from the exile, my son," eagerly responds Zachary, "viz.: Jedajah, Harim, Pashur and Immer. But the prophets that were among them arose and made twenty-four lots and put them into an urn. And Jedajah came up and drew five lots, which, including himself, would make six. And Pashur came and drew five lots, which, including himself, would

made six. And Immer came and drew five lots, which, including himself, would make six. And Harim came and drew five lots, which, including himself, would make six. Then heads of the courses of service were appointed. And the courses were divided into houses. And there were courses consisting of five, six, seven, eight or nine houses (Jer. Taanith, 4, fol. 68). The ancient names were also given to the twenty-four new courses thus formed; thus we are only in name of the course of Abijah, though really we do not belong to that family, even by legal adoption."