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AMONGST all peoples, and in all ages, there has lingered a belief possessing peculiar powers of fascination, that in some unknown region, remote and unexplored, there existed a glorious and happy land; a land of sunshine, luxuriance, and plenty, a land of stately trees and beauteous flowers,—a terrestrial Paradise.
A tradition contained in the sacred books of the Parsis states that at the beginning of the world Ormuzd, the giver of all good, created the primal steer, which contained the germs of all the animals. Ahriman, the evil spirit, then created venomous animals which destroyed the steer: while dying, there sprang out of his right hip the first man, and out of his left hip the first man’s soul. From him arose a tree whence came the original human pair, namely Mâshya and Mashyôî who were placed in Heden, a delightful spot, where grew Hom (or Haoma), the Tree of Life, the fruit of which gave vigour and immortality. This Paradise was in Iran. The woman being persuaded by Ahriman, in the guise of a serpent, gave her husband fruit to eat, which was destructive.
The Persians also imagined a Paradise on Mount Caucasus. The Arabians conceived an Elysium in the midst of the deserts of Aden. The pagan Scandinavians sang of the Holy City of Asgard, situated in the centre of the world. The Celts believed an earthly Paradise to exist in the enchanted Isle of Avalon—the Island of the Blest—
“Where falls not hail or rain, or any snow,
Nor even wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadow’d, happy, fair, with orchard lawn
And bowery hollows.”
The Greeks and Romans pictured to themselves the delightful gardens of the Hesperides, where grew the famous trees that produced Apples of gold; and in the early days of Christendom the poets of the West dreamt of a land in the East (the true Paradise of Adam and Eve, as they believed) in which dwelt in a Palm-tree the golden-breasted Phœnix,—the bird of the sun, which was thought to abide a hundred years in this Elysium of the Arabian deserts, and then to appear in the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis, fall upon the blazing altar, and, pouring forth a melodious song from or through the orifices of its feathers (which thus formed a thousand organ-pipes), cremate itself, only to rise again from its smoking ashes, and fly back to its home in the Palm-tree of the earthly Paradise. The Russians tell of a terrestrial Paradise to be sought for on the island of Bujan, where grows the vast Oak tree, amidst whose majestic branches the sun nestles to sleep every evening, and from whose summit he rises every morning.
The Hindu religion shadows forth an Elysium on Mount Meru, on the confines of Cashmere and Thibet. The garden of the great Indian god Indra is a spot of unparalleled beauty. Here are to be found an umbrageous grove or wood, where the gods delight to take their ease; cooling fountains and rivulets; an enchanting flower-garden, luminous flowers, immortalising fruits, and brilliantly-plumed birds, whose melody charms the gods themselves. In this Paradise are fine trees, which were the first things that appeared above the surface of the troubled waters at the beginning of the creation; from these trees drop the immortalising ambrosia. The principal tree is the Pârijâta, the flower of which preserves its perfume all the year round, combines in its petals every odour and every flavour, presents to each his favorite colour and most-esteemed perfume, and procures happiness for those who ask it. But beyond this, it is a token of virtue, losing its freshness in the hands of the wicked, but preserving it with the just and honourable. This wondrous flower will also serve as a torch by night, and will emit the most enchanting sounds, producing the sweetest and most varied melody; it assuages hunger and thirst, cures diseases, and remedies the ravages of old age.
The Paradise of Mahomet is situated in the seventh heaven. In the centre of it stands the marvellous tree called Tooba, which is so large that a man mounted on the fleetest horse could not ride round its branches in one hundred years. This tree not only affords the most grateful shade over the whole extent of the Mussulman Paradise; but its boughs are laden with delicious fruits of a size and taste unknown to mortals, and moreover bend themselves at the wish of the inhabitants of this abode of bliss, to enable them to partake of these delicacies without any trouble. The Koran often speaks of the rivers of Paradise as adding greatly to its delights. All these rivers take their rise from the tree Tooba; some flow with water, some with milk, some with honey, and others even with wine, the juice of the grape not being forbidden to the blessed.
We have seen how the most ancient races conceived and cherished the notion of a Paradise of surpassing beauty, situate in remote and unknown regions, both celestial and terrestrial. It is not, therefore, surprising that the Paradise of the Hebrew race—the Mosaic Eden—should have been pictured as a luxuriant garden, stocked with lovely flowers and odorous herbs, and shaded by majestic trees of every description.
We are told, in the second chapter of Genesis, that at the beginning of the world “the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden,” and that out of this country of Eden a river went out “to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.” These “heads” or rivers are further on, in the Biblical narrative, named respectively Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates. Many have been the speculations as to the exact site, geographical features, &c., of Eden, and the Divinely-planted Paradise in its midst, and the subject has been one which has ever been fruitful of controversy and conjecture. Sir John Maundevile has recorded that the Garden of Eden, or Paradise, was enclosed by a wall. This old Eastern traveller tells us that although, in the course of his wanderings, he had never actually seen the land of Eden, yet wise men had discoursed to him concerning it. He says: “Paradise Terrestre, as wise men say, is the highest place of earth—that is, in all the world; and it is so high, that it toucheth nigh to the circle of the moon. For it is so high that the flood of Noah might never come to it, albeit it did cover all the earth of the world, all about, and aboven and beneathen, save Paradise alone. And this Paradise is enclosed all about with a wall, and men wist not whereof it is; for the walls be covered all over with moss, as it seemeth. And it seemeth not that the wall is stone of nature. And that wall stretcheth from the South to the North, and it hath not but one entry, that is closed with fire burning, so that no man that is mortal he dare not enter. And in the highest place of Paradise, exactly in the middle, is a well that casts out the four streams which run by divers lands, of which the first is called Pison, or Ganges, that runs throughout India. And the other is called Nile, or Gyson, which goes through Ethiopia, and after through Egypt. And the other is called Tigris, which runs by Assyria, and by Armenia the Great. And the other is called Euphrates, which runs through Media, Armenia, and Persia. And men there beyond say that all the sweet waters of the world, above and beneath, take their beginning from the well of Paradise, and out of the well all waters come and go.”
Eden (a Hebrew word, signifying “Pleasure”), it is generally conceded, was the most beauteous and luxuriant portion of the world; and the Garden of Eden, the Paradise of Adam and Eve, was the choicest and most exquisite portion of Eden. As regards the situation of this terrestrial Paradise, the Biblical narrative distinctly states that it was in the East, but various have been the speculations as to the precise locality. Moses, in writing of Eden, probably contemplated the country watered by the Tigris and Euphrates—the land of the mighty city of Babylon. Many traditions confirm this view: not only were there a district called Eden, and a town called Paradisus, in Syria, a neighbouring country to Mesopotamia, but in Mesopotamia itself there is a certain region which, as late as the year 1552, was called Eden. Some would localise the Eden of Scripture near Mount Lebanon, in Syria; others between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, to the west of Babylon; others, again, in the delightful plains of Armenia, or in the highlands of Armenia, where the Tigris and Euphrates have their rise. An opinion very generally held is, that Eden was placed at the junction of several rivers, on a site which is now swallowed up by the Persian Gulf, and that it never existed after the deluge, which effaced this Paradise from the face of a polluted earth. Another theory places Eden in a vast central portion of the globe, comprising a large piece of Asia and a portion of Africa, the four rivers being the Ganges, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Nile. Dr. Wild, of Toronto, is of opinion that the Garden of Paradise embraced what we now call Syria. The land that God gave to Abraham and his seed for ever—the Land of Promise, the Holy Land—is the very territory that constituted the Garden of Paradise. “Before the flood,” says the reverend gentleman, “there was in connection with this garden, to the east of it, a gate and a flaming sword, guarding this gate, and a way to the Tree of Life. On that very spot I believe the Great Pyramid of Egypt to be built, to mark where the face of God shone forth to man before the Flood; and the Flood, by changing the land surface through the changing of the ocean bed, changed the centre somewhat, and threw it further south. It is the very centre of the earth now where the Pyramid stands, ... and marks the place where the gate of Eden was before the Flood.”
The Tree of life.
Whatever may have been the site of the land of Eden or Pleasure, Moses, in describing Paradise as its garden (much as we speak of Kent as the Garden of England), doubtless wished to convey the idea of a sanctuary of delight and primal loveliness; indeed, he tells us that “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” This Paradise was in the middle of Eden, and in the middle of Paradise was planted the Tree of Life, and, close by, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Into this garden the Lord put the man whom He had formed, “to dress and to keep it,” in other words to till, plant, and sow.
In the very centre of Paradise, in the midst of the land of Eden, grew the Tree of Life. Now, what was this tree? Various have been the conjectures with regard to its nature. The traditions of the Rabbins make the Tree of Life a supernatural tree, resembling the world- or cloud-trees of the Scandinavians and Hindus, and bearing a striking resemblance to the Tooba of the Mahomedan Paradise. They describe the Tree of Life as being of enormous bulk, towering far above all others, and so vast in its girth, that no man, even if he lived so long, could travel round it in less than five hundred years. From beneath the colossal base of this stupendous tree gushed all the waters of the earth, by whose instrumentality nature was everywhere refreshed and invigorated. Regarding these Rabbinic traditions as purely mythical, certain commentators have regarded the Tree of Life as typical only of that life and the continuance of it which our first parents derived from God. Others think that it was called the Tree of Life because it was a memorial, pledge, and seal of the eternal life which, had man continued in obedience, would have been his reward in the Paradise above. Others, again, believe that the fruit of it had a certain vital influence to cherish and maintain man in immortal health and vigour till he should have been translated from the earthly to the heavenly Paradise.
Dr. Wild considers that the Tree of Life stood on Mount Moriah, the very spot selected, in after years, by Abraham, whereon to offer his son Isaac, the type, and the mount to which Christ was led out to be sacrificed. As Eden occupied the centre of the world, and the Tree of Life was planted in the middle of Eden, that spot marked the very centre of the world, and it was necessary that He who was the life of mankind should die in the centre of the world, and act from the centre. Hence, the Tree of Life, destroyed at the flood, on account of man’s wickedness, was replaced on the same spot, centuries after, by the Cross,—converted by the Redeemer into a second and everlasting Tree of Life.
Adam was told he might eat freely of every tree in the garden, excepting only the Tree of Knowledge; we may, therefore, suppose that he would be sure to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Life, which, from its prominent position “in the midst of the garden,” would naturally attract his attention. Like the sacred Soma-tree of the Hindus, the Tree of Life probably yielded heavenly ambrosia, and supplied to Adam food that invigorated and refreshed him with its immortal sustenance. So long as he remained in obedience, he was privileged to partake of this glorious food; but when, yielding to Eve’s solicitations, he disobeyed the Divine command, and partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, he found it had given to him the knowledge of evil—something of which he had hitherto been in happy ignorance. He had sinned; he was no longer fit to taste the immortal ambrosia of the Tree of Life; he was, therefore, driven forth from Eden, and lest he should be tempted once again to return and partake of the glorious fruit of the immortalising tree, God “placed at the east of the Garden of Eden cherubims and a flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life.” Henceforth the immortal food was lost to man: he could no longer partake of that mystic fruit which bestowed life and health. Dr. Wild is of opinion that the Tree of Knowledge stood on Mount Zion, the spot afterwards selected by the Almighty for the erection of the Temple; because, through the Shechinah, men could there obtain knowledge of good and evil.
Some have claimed that the Banana, the Musa paradisiaca, was the Tree of Life, and that another species of the tree, the Musa sapientum, was the Tree of Knowledge; others consider that the Indian sacred Fig-tree, the Ficus religiosa, the Hindu world-tree, was the Tree of Life which grew in the middle of Eden; and the Bible itself contains internal evidence supporting this idea. In Gen. iii. 8, we read that Adam and Eve, conscious of having sinned, “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.” Dr. Wright, however, in his Commentary, remarks that, in the original, the word rendered “trees” is singular—“in the midst of the tree of the garden”—consequently, we may infer that Adam and Eve, frightened by the knowledge of their sin, sought the shelter of the Tree of Life—the tree in the centre of the garden; the tree which, if it were the Ficus religiosa, would, by its gigantic stature, and the grove-like nature of its growth, afford them agreeable shelter, and prove a favourite retreat. Beneath the shade of this stupendous Fig-tree, the erring pair reflected upon their lost innocence; and in their conscious shame, plucked the ample foliage of the tree, and made themselves girdles of Fig-leaves. Here they remained hidden beneath the network of boughs which drooped almost to the earth, and thus formed a natural thicket within which they sought to hide themselves from an angry God.
“A pillared shade
High over-arched, with echoing walks between.”—Milton.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The Tree of Knowledge, in the opinion of some commentators, was so called, not because of any supernatural power it possessed of inspiring those who might eat of it with universal knowledge, as the serpent afterwards suggested, but because by Adam and Eve abstaining from or eating of it after it was prohibited, God would see whether they would prove good or evil in their state of probation.
The tradition generally accepted as to the fruit which the serpent tempted Eve to eat, fixes it as the Apple, but there is no evidence in the Bible that the Tree of Knowledge was an Apple-tree, unless the remark, “I raised thee up under the Apple-tree,” to be found in Canticles viii., 5, be held to apply to our first parents. Eve is stated to have plucked the forbidden fruit because she saw that it was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and that the tree which bore it was “to be desired to make one wise.”
According to an Indian legend, it was the fruit of the Banana tree (Musa paradisiaca or M. sapientum) that proved so fatal to Adam and Eve. We read in Gerarde’s ‘Herbal,’ that “the Grecians and Christians which inhabit Syria, and the Jewes also, suppose it to be that tree of whose fruit Adam did taste.” Gerarde himself calls it “Adam’s Apple-tree,” and remarks of the fruit, that “if it be cut according to the length oblique, transverse, or any other way whatsoever, may be seen the shape and forme of a crosse, with a man fastened thereto. My selfe have seene the fruit, and cut it in pieces, which was brought me from Aleppo, in pickle; the crosse, I might perceive, as the forme of a spred-egle in the root of Ferne, but the man I leave to be sought for by those which have better eies and judgement than my selfe.” Sir John Mandeville gives a similar account of the cross in the Plantain or “Apple of Paradise.” In a work by Léon, called ‘Africa,’ it is stated that the Banana is in that country generally identified with the Tree of Adam. “The Mahometan priests say that this fruit is that which God forbade Adam and Eve to eat; for immediately they eat they perceived their nakedness, and to cover themselves employed the leaves of this tree, which are more suitable for the purpose than any other.” To this day the Indian Djainas are by their laws forbidden to eat either Bananas or Figs. Vincenzo, a Roman missionary of the seventeenth century, after stating that the Banana fruit in Phœnicia bears the effigy of the Crucifixion, tells us that the Christians of those parts would not on any account cut it with a knife, but always broke it with their hands. This Banana, he adds, grows near Damascus, and they call it there “Adam’s Fig Tree.” In the Canaries, at the present time, Banana fruit is never cut across with a knife, because it then exhibits a representation of the Crucifixion. In the island of Ceylon there is a legend that Adam once had a fruit garden in the vicinity of the torrent of Seetagunga, on the way to the Peak. Pridham, in his history of the island, tells us that from the circumstance that various fruits have been occasionally carried down the stream, both the Moormen and Singalese believe that this garden still exists, although now inaccessible, and that its explorer would never return. Tradition, however, affirms that in the centre of this Ceylon Paradise grows a large Banana-tree, the fruit of which when cut transversely exhibits the figure of a man crucified, and that from the huge leaves of this tree Adam and Eve made themselves coverings.
Certain commentators are of opinion that the Tree of Knowledge was a Fig-tree—the Ficus Indica, the Banyan, one of the sacred trees of the Hindus, under the pillared shade of which the god Vishnu was fabled to have been born. In this case the Fig-tree is a tree of ill-omen—a tree watched originally by Satan in the form of a serpent, and whose fruit gave the knowledge of evil. After having tempted and caused Adam to fall by means of its fruit, its leaves were gathered to cover nakedness and shame. Again, the Fig was the tree which the demons selected as their refuge, if one may judge from the fauni ficarii, whom St. Jerome recognised in certain monsters mentioned by the prophets. The Fig was the only tree accursed by Christ whilst on earth; and the wild Fig, according to tradition, was the tree upon which the traitor Judas hanged himself, and from that time has always been regarded as under a bane.
The Citron is held by many to have been the forbidden fruit. Gerarde tells us that this tree was originally called Pomum Assyrium, but that it was known among the Italian people as Pomum Adami; and, writes the old herbalist, “that came by the opinion of the common rude people, who thinke it to be the same Apple which Adam did eate of in Paradise, when he transgressed God’s commandment; whereupon also the prints of the biting appeare therein as they say; but others say that this is not the Apple, but that which the Arabians do call Musa or Mosa, whereof Avicen maketh mention: for divers of the Jewes take this for that through which by eating Adam offended.”
The Pomegranate, Orange, Corn, and Grapes have all been identified as the “forbidden fruit;” but upon what grounds it is difficult to surmise.
After their disobedience, Adam and Eve were driven out of Paradise, and, according to Arabian tradition, Adam took with him three things—an ear of Wheat, which is the chief of all kinds of food; Dates, which are the chief of fruits; and the Myrtle, which is the chief of sweet-scented flowers. Maimonides mentions a legend, cherished by the Nabatheans, that Adam, when he reached the district about Babylon, had come from India, carrying with him a golden tree in blossom, a leaf that no fire would burn, two leaves, each of which would cover a man, and an enormous leaf plucked from a tree beneath whose branches ten thousand men could find shelter.
The Tree of Adam.
There is a legend handed down both by Hebrews and Greeks, that when Adam had attained the ripe age of 900 years, he overtaxed his strength in uprooting an enormous bush, and that falling very sick, and feeling the approach of death, he sent his son Seth to the angel who guarded Paradise, and particularly the way to the Tree of Life, to ask of him some of its ambrosia, or oil of mercy, that he might anoint his limbs therewith, and so regain good health. Seth approached the Tree of Knowledge, of the fruit of which Adam and Eve had once partaken. A youth, radiant as the sun, was seated on its summit, and, addressing Seth, told him that He was the Son of God, that He would one day come down to earth, to deliver it from sin, and that He would then give the oil of mercy to Adam.
The angel who was guarding the Tree of Life then handed to Seth three small seeds, charging him to place them in his father’s mouth, when he should bury him near Mount Tabor, in the valley of Hebron. Seth obeyed the angel’s behests. The three seeds took root, and in a short time appeared above the ground, in the form of three rods. One of these saplings was a branch of Olive, the second a Cedar, the third a Cypress. The three rods did not leave the mouth of Adam, nor was their existence known until the time of Moses, who received from God the order to cut them. Moses obeyed, and with these three rods, which exhaled a perfume of the Promised Land, performed many miracles, cured the sick, drew water from a rock, &c.
After the death of Moses, the three rods remained unheeded in the Valley of Hebron until the time of King David, who, warned by the Holy Ghost, sought and found them there. Hence they were taken by the King to Jerusalem, where all the leprous, the dumb, the blind, the paralysed, and other sick people presented themselves before the King, beseeching him to give them the salvation of the Cross. King David thereupon touched them with the three rods, and their infirmities instantly vanished. After this the King placed the three rods in a cistern, but to his astonishment upon going the next day for them, he discovered they had all three firmly taken root, that the roots had become inextricably interlaced, and that the three rods were in fact reunited in one stem which had shot up therefrom, and had become a Cedar sapling,—the tree that was eventually to furnish the wood of the Cross. This reunion of the three rods was typical of the Trinity. The young Cedar was subsequently placed in the Temple, but we hear nothing more of it for thirty years, when Solomon, wishing to complete the Temple, obtained large supplies of Cedars of Lebanon, and as being well adapted for his purpose cut down the Cedar of the Temple. The trunk of this tree, lying with the other timber, was seen by a woman, who sat down on it, and inspired with the spirit of prophecy cried: “Behold! the Lord predicts the virtues of the Sacred Cross.” The Jews thereupon attacked the woman, and having stoned her, they plunged the sacred wood of the Temple into the piscina probatica, of which the water acquired from that moment healing qualities, and which was afterwards called the Pool of Bethesda. In the hope of profaning it the Jews afterwards employed the sacred wood in the construction of the bridge of Siloam, over which everybody unheedingly passed, excepting only the Queen of Sheba, who, prostrating herself, paid homage to it and prophetically cried that of this wood would one day be made the Cross of the Redeemer.
Thus, although Adam by eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, came to know that which was evil, and could no longer be permitted to partake of the fruit or essence of the Tree of Life, yet, from its seeds, placed in his mouth after death, sprang the tree which produced the Cross of Christ, by means of which he and his race could attain to eternal life.
According to Prof. Mussafia, an authority quoted by De Gubernatis, the origin of this legend of Seth’s visit to Paradise is to be found in the apocryphal gospel of Nicodemus, where it is stated that the Angel Michael refused to give the oil of mercy to Seth, and told him that Christ would one day visit the earth to anoint all believers, and to conduct Adam to the Tree of Mercy. Some of the legends collected by the Professor are very curious.
An Austrian legend records that the Angel Michael gave to Eve and her son Seth a spray with three leaves, plucked from the Tree of Knowledge, with directions to plant it on the grave of Adam. The spray took root and became a tree, which Solomon placed as an ornament in the Temple of Jerusalem, and which was cast into the piscina probatica, where it lay until the day of Christ’s condemnation, when it was taken out and fashioned into the Cross on which He suffered.
A German legend narrates that Eve went with Seth to Paradise, where she encountered the serpent; but the Angel Michael gave her a branch of Olive, which, planted over the grave of Adam, grew rapidly. After the death of Eve, Seth returned to Paradise, and there met the Angel, who had in his hands a branch to which was suspended the half of the Apple which had been bitten by his mother Eve. The Angel gave this to Seth, at the same time recommending him to take as great care of it as of the Olive planted on Adam’s grave, because these two trees would one day become the means of the redemption of mankind. Seth scrupulously watched over the precious branch, and at the hour of his death bequeathed it to the best of men. Thus it came into the hands of Noah, who took it into the Ark with him. After the Deluge, Noah sent forth the dove as a messenger, and it brought to him a branch of the Olive planted on the tomb of Adam. Noah religiously guarded the two precious branches which were destined to be instrumental in redeeming the human race by furnishing the wood of the Cross.
A second German legend states that Adam, when at the point of death, sent Seth to Paradise to gather there for him some of the forbidden fruit (probably this is a mistake for “some of the fruit of the Tree of Life”). Seth hesitated, saying as an excuse that he did not know the way. Adam directed him to follow a tract of country entirely bare of vegetation. Arrived safely at Paradise, Seth persuaded the angel to give him, not the Apple, but simply the core of the Apple tasted by Eve. On Seth returning home, he found his father dead; so extracting from the Apple-core three pips, he placed them in Adam’s mouth. From them sprang three plants that Solomon cut down in order to form a cross—the selfsame cross afterwards borne by our Saviour, and on which He was crucified—and a rod of justice, which, split in the middle, eventually served to hold the superscription written by Pilate, and placed at the head of the Cross.
A legend, current in the Greek Church, claims the Olive as the Tree of Adam: this, perhaps, is not surprising considering in what high esteem the Greeks have always held the Olive. The legend tells how Seth, going to seek the oil of mercy in Paradise, in consequence of his father’s illness, was told by the angel that the time had not arrived. The angel then presented him with three branches—the Olive, Cedar, and Cypress: these Seth was ordered to plant over Adam’s grave, and the promise was given him that when they produced oil, Adam should rise restored to health. Seth, following these instructions, plaited the three branches together and planted them over the grave of his father, where they soon became united as one tree. After a time this tree was transplanted, in the first place to Mount Lebanon, and afterwards to the outskirts of Jerusalem, and it is there to this day in the Greek Monastery, having been cut down and the timber placed beneath the altar. From this circumstance the Monastery was called, in Hebrew, the Mother of the Cross. This same wood was revealed to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba, and Solomon therefore ordered it to be used in the foundation of a tower; but the tower having been rent in twain by an earthquake which occurred at our Saviour’s birth, the wood was cast into a pool called the probatica piscina, to which it imparted wonderful healing qualities.
There is another somewhat similar Greek legend, in which Abraham takes the place of Adam, and the Pine supersedes the Olive. According to this version, a shepherd met Abraham on the banks of the Jordan, and confessed to him a sin he had committed. Abraham listened, and counselled the erring shepherd to plant three stakes, and to water them carefully until they should bud. After forty days the three stakes had taken the form of a Cypress, a Cedar, and a Pine, having different roots and branches, but one indivisible trunk. This tree grew until the time of Solomon, who wished to make use of it in the construction of the Temple. After several abortive attempts, it was at length made into a seat for visitors to the Temple. The Sibyl Erythræa (the Queen of Sheba) refused to sit upon it, and exclaimed: “Thrice blessed is this wood, on which shall perish Christ, the King and God.” Then Solomon had the wood mounted on a pedestal and adorned with thirty rings or crowns of silver. These thirty rings became the thirty pieces of silver, the price of Judas, the betrayer, and the wood was eventually used for the Saviour’s Cross.
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