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of thy husband, be thou free from the curse of this bitter water, and let it not harm thee. But if thou hast gone aside to another and hast been defiled, then may Jehovah make thee a curse among thy people, and bring on thee all the curses which are written in his law."*
Sulamith thus adjured, answered firmly, supported by the power of God, Amen, Amen. And the murmur of Woe! woe! rolled deeper and more awfully along the ranks of men and women.
The priest now wrote the curses on a roll. Helon took the barley meal from the basket, placed it in a sacred vessel, and gave it into his wife's hands. Her look met his and pierced him to the heart, and roused from the stupor in which he had been sunk during the preceding part of the ceremonial, he made his way through the people, and rushed down from the temple-hill. A pause of a few moments ensued, and then the priest, laying his hand under the hand of Sulamith, waved the offering of
jealousy in the customary form before Jehovah, then took it from her, carried it to the altar of burnt-offering, and, ascending it, mixed the meal with salt, and burnt it in the fire. He then descended again to the gate of Nicanor, took the roll, and washed the writing with the water in which the dust of the sanctuary had been mixed. The assembled crowd stood in deep and breathless attention. The priest reached to Sulamith the vessel which contained the water of cursing : she took it, lifted her eyes towards the holy of holies, and drank it off. There was a stillness as of death amongst all who stood around, as if they were conscious of the presence of Jehovah, to clear the innocent or punish the guilty
Sulamith stood in the midst of the people, firm, and with her looks fixed on the holy of holies; all eyes were directed towards her, and watched what would be the effect of the draught. But when they saw that she was unharmed by it, and that God had justified her from the accusations of her enemies, they burst into a cry of joy, and Hallelujah resounded from the temple to the city. Selumiel rushed to his daughter, and folded her in his paternal arms. With shouts of triumph and exclamations, “ Blessed be Jehovah, she is innocent!” they accompanied her into the inner court of the temple, where the priest formally pronounced her acquittal. Thronging around her, all offered her their congratulations. Her hair was braided anew, her turban, her veil, her jewels were restored to her, and the dark garments of mourning exchanged for festal attire. Sulamith descended from the temple with modest and downcast looks. Iddo, who had heard the shouts of joy and had rightly interpreted them, opened his gates and received her. The people who had accompanied her remained long assembled on the open place before the Water-gate.
But where is Helon? When he had fled from the temple, overpowered by the look of Sulamith, he wandered about, shunned as one frantic by all who observed him, and unconscious whither he was going, till his feet carried him to the grave of his father in the valley of Jehoshaphat, where, exhausted by fatigue and
strong excitement, he fell before the sepulchre and remained long insensible. Longer might he have remained, but that he was roused from his stupor by voices which cried, He is here, he is here! He opened his eyes and saw Iddo, who had come out with several others to seek him. Iddo embraced him, repeating to him, She lives, she is guiltless ! while Helon, like one awakening from a dream, scarcely understood the meaning or the reference of the words. When fully restored to the consciousness of what had passed, joy, remorse, and shame rushed in such a torrent upon his mind, that he would have fallen again to the earth if they had not supported him. In this state they led him home.
THE DAY OF ATONEMENT.
SULAMITH was waiting for her husband at the door, surrounded by her friends. As he entered she threw herself at his feet, and implored his forgiveness for the uneasiness which she had caused him. He raised her up, and then throwing himself on his face before her, implored her forgiveness with a look which penetrated her soul. To ask pardon in words was beyond his power. The friends conducted them to the inner court. Sulamith placed herself beside Helon, and endeavoured to tranquillize him, but he sat with eyes fixed upon the ground. He could scarcely even rejoice in the acquittal of his wife, so bitter was the remembrance that it was by him she had been