Author of "Ben Hur."
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.…
The herdsmen of Nazareth were ignorant and poor; still they complied with the law, and at ]east once every year went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. In the procession on one such occasion there was a family, the head of which was a plain, serious-looking middle-aged man, with whom the world has since become acquainted as Joseph. His wife, Mary, was then about twenty-seven years of age, gentle, modest, sweet-spoken, of fair complexion, with eyes of violetblue, and hair half brown, half gold. She rode a donkey. James, Joses, Simon, and Jude, full-grown sons of Joseph, walked with their father. A child of Mary, twelve years old, walked near her. It is not at all likely that the group attracted Special attention from their fellow-travellers. "The peace of the Lord be with you!" they would say in salute, and have return in kind. More than eighteen hundred years have passed since that obscure family made that pious pilgrimage. Could they come back and make it now, the singing, shouting, and worship that would go with them would be without end; not Solomon, in all his glory, nor Caesar, nor any, or all of the modern kings, would have such attendance. Let us single out the Boy, that we may try to see Him as He was — afoot like His brethren, small, growing, and therefore slender. His attire was simple: on His head a white handkerchief, held in place by a cord, one corner turned under at the forehead, the other corners loose. A tunic, also white, covered Him from neck to knees, girt at the waist. His arms and legs were bare; on his feet were sandals of the most primitive kind, being soles of ox-hide attached to the ankles by leathern straps. He carried a stick that was much taller than Himself. The old painters, called upon to render this childish figure on canvas, would have insisted upon distinguishing it with a nimbus at least; some of them would have filled the air over its head with cherubs; some would have had the tunic plunged into a pot of madder: the very courtierly amongst them would have blocked the way of both mother and son with monks and cardinals. The Boy's face comes to me very clearly. I imagine Him by the roadside on a rock which He has climbed, the better to see the procession winding picturesquely through the broken country. His head is raised in an effort at far sight. The light of an intensely brilliant sun is upon His countenance, which in general cast is oval and delicate. Under the folds of the handkerchief I see the forehead, covered by a mass of projecting sun-burned blond hair, which the wind has taken liberties with and tossed into tufts. The eyes are in shade, leaving a doubt whether they are in brown, or violet like His mother's; yet they are large and healthfully clear, and still retain the parallelism of arch between brow and upper lid, usually the characteristic of children and beautiful women. The nose is of regular inward curve, joined prettily to a short upper lip by nostrils just full enough to give definition to transparent shadows in the corners. The mouth is small, and open slightly, so that through the scarlet freshness of its lines I catch a glimpse of two white teeth. The cheeks are ruddy and round, and only a certain squareness of chin tells of years this side the day the Magi laid their treasures at His feet. Putting face and figure together, and mindful of the attitude of interest in what is passing before Him, the Lad as I see Him on the rock is handsome and attractive. When the journey shall have ended, and His mother made Him ready for the court of the Temple, He may justify a more worshipful description; we may then see in Him the promise of the Saviour of men in the comeliness of budding youth, His sad destiny yet far in the future.
(Author of "Ben Hur.")
Parallel VersesKJV: Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.