SECTION I ALEPH Birth and Early Life of Mary, Mother of Jesus Chapter 1 Palestine. Birth of Mary, Joachim's feast. Mary is blessed by the priests. His prophecy. Mary abides in the temple. Is betrothed to Joseph. 1. Augustus Cæsar reigned and Herod Antipas was ruler of Jerusalem. 2. Three provinces comprised the land of Palistine: Judea, and Samaria, and Galilee. 3. Joachim was a master of the Jewish law, a man of wealth; he lived in Nazareth of Galilee; and Anna, of the tribe of Judah, was his wife. 4. To them was born a child, a goodly female child, and they were glad; and Mary was the name they gave the child. 5. Joachim made a feast in honour of the child; but he invited not the rich, the honoured and the great; he called the poor the halt and the lame, the blind, and to each one he gave a gift of raiment, food or other needful thing. 6. He said, The Lord has given me this wealth; I am his steward by his grace, and if I give not to his children when in need, then he will make this wealth a curse. 7. Now, when the child was three years old her parents took her to Jerusalem, and in the temple she received the blessings of the priests. 8. The high priest was a prophet and a seer, and when he saw the child he said, 9. Behold, this child will be the mother of an honoured prophet and a master of the law; she shall abide within this holy temple of the Lord. 10. And Mary did abide within the temple of the Lord; and Hillel, chief of the Sanhedrim, taught her all the precepts of Jews, and she delighted in the law of God. 11. When Mary reached the age of womanhood she was betrothed to Joseph, son of Jacob, and a carpenter of Nazareth. 12. And Joseph was an upright man, and a devoted Essenes. SECTION II BETH Birth and Infancy of the Harbinger, and of Jesus Chapter 2 Zacharias and Elizabeth. Prophetic messages of Gabriel to Zacharias, Elizabeth and Mary. Birth of John. Prophecy of Zacharias. 1. Near Hebron in the hills of Judah, Zacharias and Elizabeth abode. 2. They were devote and just, and every day they read the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms which told of one to come, strong to redeem; and they were waiting for the king. 3. Now, Zacharias was a priest, and in his turn he led the temple service in Jerusalem. 4. It came to pass as Zacharias stood before the Lord and burned the incense in the Holy Place, that Gabriel came and stood before his face. 5. And Zacharias was afraid; he thought that some great evil was about to come upon the Jews. 6. But Gabriel said, O man of God, fear not; I bring to you and all the world, a message of good will, and peace on earth. 7. Behold, the Prince of Peace, the king you seek, will quickly come. 8. Your wife will bear to you a son, a holy son, of whom the prophet wrote, 9. Behold, I send Elijah unto you again before the coming of the Lord; and he will level down the hills and fill the valleys up, and pave the way for him who shall redeem. 10. From the beginning of the age your son has borne the name of John, the mercy of the Lord; his name is John. 11. He will be honoured in the sight of God, and he will drink no wine, and from his birth he will be filled with Holy Breath. 12. And Gabriel stood before Elizabeth as she was in the silence of her home, and told her all the words that he had said to Zacharias in Jerusalem. 13. When he had done the service of his course, the priest went home, and with Elizabeth rejoiced. 14. Five months passed by and Gabriel came to Mary in her home in Nazareth and said, 15. Hail Mary, hail! Once blessed in the name of God; twice blessed in the name of Holy Breath; thrice blessed in the name of Christ; for you are worthy, and will bear a son who shall be called Immanuel. 16. His name is Jesus, for he saves his people from their sins. 17. When Joseph's daily task was done he came, and Mary told him all the words that Gabriel spoke to her, and they rejoiced; for they believed that he, the man of God, had spoken words of truth. 18. And Mary went with haste to tell Elizabeth about the promises of Gabriel; together they rejoiced. 19. And in the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth did Mary tarry ninety days; then she returned to Nazareth. 20. To Zacharias and Elizabeth a son was born, and Zacharias said, 21. Most blessed be the name of God, for he has opened up the fount of blessings for his people, Israel. 22. His promises are verified; for he has brought to pass the words which holy prophets spoke in olden times. 23. And Zacharias looked upon infant John, and said, 24. You shall be called the prophet of the Holy One; and you will go before his face, and will prepare his way. 25. And you will give a knowledge of salvation unto Israel; and you will preach the gospel of repentance and the blotting out of sins. 26. Behold, for soon the Day Star from on high will visit us, to light the way for those who sit within the darkness of the shadow-land, and guide our ways to the feet of peace. Chapter 3 Birth of Jesus. Masters honour the child. The shepherds rejoice. Zacharias and Elizabeth visit Mary. Jesus is circumcised. 1. The time was nearly due for Jesus to be born, and Mary longed to see Elizabeth, and she and Joseph turned their faces toward the Judean hills. 2. And when upon their way they came to Bethlehem the day was done, and they must tarry for the night. 3. But Bethlehem was thronged with people going to Jerusalem; the inns and homes were filled with guests, and Joseph and his wife could find no place to rest but in a cave where animals were kept; and there they slept. 4. At midnight came a cry, a child is born in yonder cave among the beasts. And lo, the promised son of man was born. 5. And strangers took the little one and wrapped him in the dainty robes that Mary had prepared and laid him in a trough from which the beasts of burden fed. 6. Three persons clad in snow-white robes came in and stood before the child and said, 7. All strength, all wisdom and all love be your, Immanuel. 8. Now, on the hills of Bethehem were many flocks of sheep with shepherds guarding them. 9. The shepherds were devout, were men of prayer, and they were waiting for a strong deliverer to come. 10. And when the child of promise came, a man in snow-white robe appeared to them, and they fell back in fear. The man stood forth and said, 11. Fear not! behold I bring you joyful news. At midnight in a cave in Bethehem was born the prophet and the king that you have long been waiting for. 12. And then the shepherds all were glad; they felt that all the hills were filled with messengers of light, who said, 13. All glory be to God on high; peace, peace on earth, good will to men. 14. And then the shepherds came with haste to Bethlehem and to the cave, that they might see and honour him whom men had called Immanuel. 15. Now, when the morning came, a shepherdess whose home was near, prepared a room for Mary, Joseph and the child; and here they tarried many days. 16. And Joseph sent a messenger in haste to Zacharias and Elizabeth to say, The child is born in Bethlehem. 17. And Zacharias and Elizabeth took John and came to Bethlehem with words of cheer. 18. And Mary and Elizabeth recounted all the wonderous things that had transpired. The people joined with them in praising God. 19. According to the custom of the Jews, the child was circumcised; and when they asked, What will you call the child? the mother said, His name is Jesus, as the man of God declared. Chapter 4 Consecration of Jesus. Mary offers sacrifices. Simeon and Anna prophesy. Anna is rebuked for worshipping the child. The family returns to Bethlehem. 1. Now, Mary took her son, when he was forty days of age, up to the temple in Jerusalem, and he was consecrated by the priest. 2. And then she offered purifying sacrifices for herself, according to the custom of the Jews; a lamb and two young turtle doves. 3. A pious Jew named Simeon was in the temple serving God. 4. From early youth he had been looking for Immanuel to come, and he had prayed to God that he might not depart until his eyes had seen Messiah in the flesh. 5. And when he saw the infant Jesus he rejoiced and said, I now am ready to depart in peace, for I have seen the king. 6. And then he took the infant in his arms and said, Behold, this child will bring a sword upon my people, Israel, and all the world; but he will break the sword and then the nations will learn war no more. 7. The master's cross I see upon the forehead of this child, and he will conquer by this sign. 8. And in the temple was a widow, four and eighty years of age, and she departed not, but night and day she worshipped God. 9. And when she saw the infant Jesus she exclaimed, Behold Immanuel! Behold the signet cross of the Messiah on his brow! 10. And then the woman knelt to worship him, as God with us, Immanuel; but one, a master, clothed in white, appeared and said, 11. Good woman, stay; take heed to what you do; you may not worship man; this is idolatry. 12. This child is man, the son of man, and worthy of all praise. You shall adore and worship God; him only shall you serve. 13. The woman rose and bowed her head in thankfulness and worshipped God. 14. And Mary took the infant Jesus and returned to Bethlehem. Chapter 5 Three magian priests honour Jesus. Herod is alarmed. Calls a council of the Jews. Is told that prophets had foretold the coming of a king. Herod resolves to kill the child. Mary and Joseph take Jesus and flee into Egypt. 1. Beyond the river Euphrates the magians lived; and they were wise, could read the language of the stars, and they divined that one, a master soul, was born; they saw his star above Jerusalem. 2. And there were three among the magian priests who longed to see the master of the coming age; and they took costly gifts and hastened to the West in search of him, the new-born king, that they might honour him. 3. And one took gold, the symbol of nobility; another myrrh, the symbol of dominion and of power; gum-thus the other took, the symbol of the wisdom of the sage. 4. Now when the magians reached Jerusalem the people were amazed, and wondered who they were and why they came. 5. And when they asked, Where is the child that has been born a king? the very throne of Herod seemed to shake. 6. And Herod sent a courtier forth to bring the magians to his court. 7. And when they came they asked again, Where is the new born king? And then they said, While yet beyond the Euphates we saw his star arise, and we have come to honour him. 8. And Herod blanched with fear. He thought, perhaps, the priests were plotting to restore the kingdom of the Jews, and so he said within himself, I will know more about this child that has been born a king. 9. And so he told the magian priests to tarry in the city for a while and he would tell them all about the king. 10. He called in council all the Jewish masters of the law and asked, What have the Jewish prophets said concerning such a one? 11. The Jewish masters answered him and said, The prophets long ago foretold that one would come to rule the tribes of Israel; that this Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. 12. They said, The prophet Micah wrote, O Bethlehem Judea, a little place among the Judean hills, yet out of you will one come forth to rule my people, Israel; yea, one who lived in olden times, in very ancient days. 13. Then Herod called the magian priests again and told them what the masters of the Jewish law had said; and then he sent them on the way to Bethlehem. 14. He said, Go search, and if you find the child that has been born a king, return and tell me all, that I may go and honour him. 15. The magians went their way and found the child with Mary in the shepherd's home. 16. They honoured him; bestowed upon him precious gifts and gave him gold, gum-thus and myrrh. 17. These magian priests could read the hearts of men; they read the wickedness of Herod's heart, and knew that he had sworn to kill the new born king. 18. And so they told the secret to the parents of the child, and bid them flee beyond the reach of harm. 19. And then the priests went on their homeward way; they went not through Jerusalem. 20. And Joseph took the infant Jesus and his mother in the night and fled to Egypt land, and with Elihu and Salome in ancient Zoan they abode. Chapter 6 Herod learns of the supposed mission of John. The infants of Bethlehem are massacred by Herod's order. Elizabeth escapes with John. Because Zacharias cannot tell where his son is hidden, he is murdered. Herod dies. 1. Now, when the magian priests did not return to tell him of the child that had been born a king, King Herod was enraged. 2. And then his courtiers told him of another child in Bethlehem, one born to go before and to prepare the people to receive the king. 3. This angered more and more the king; he called his guards and bid them go to Bethlehem and slay the infant John, as well as Jesus who was born to be a king. 4. He said, Let no mistake be made, and that you may be sure to slay these claimants to my throne, slay all the male children in the town not yet two years of age. 5. The guards went forth and did as Herod bade them do. 6. Elizabeth knew not that Herod sought to slay her son, and she and John were yet in Bethlehem; but when she knew, she took the infant John and hastened to the hills. 7. The murderous guards were near; they pressed upon her hard; but then she knew the secret caves in all the hills, and into one she ran and hid herself and John until the guards were gone. 8. Their cruel task was done; the guards returned and told the story to the king. 9. They said, We know that we have slain the infant king; but John his harbinger, we could not find. 10. The king was angry with his guards because they failed to slay the infant John; He sent them to the tower in chains. 11. And other guards were sent to Zacharias, father of the harbinger, while he was serving in the Holy Place, to say, The King demands that you shall tell where is your son. 12. But Zacharias did not know, and he replied, I am a minister of God, a servant in the Holy Place; how could I know where they have taken him? 13. And when the guards returned and told the King what Zacharias said, he was enraged and said, 14. My guards, go back and tell that wily priest that he is in my hands; that if he does not tell the truth, does not reveal the hiding place of John, his son, then he shall die. 15. The guards went back and told the priest just what the king had said. 16. And Zacharias said, I can but give my life for truth; and if the king does shed my blood the Lord will save my soul. 17. The guards again returned and told the king what Zacharias said. 18. Now, Zacharias stood before the alter in the Holy Place engaged in prayer. 19. A guard approached and with a dagger thrust him through; he fell and died before the curtain of the sanctuary of the Lord. 20. And when the hour of salutation came, for Zacharias daily blessed the priests, he did not come. 21. And after waiting long the priests went to the Holy Place and found the body of the dead. 22. And there was grief, deep grief, in all the land. 23. Now Herod sat upon his throne; he did not seem to move; his courtiers came; the king was dead. His sons reigned in his stead.