The Hebrew tragedy - PDF by Claude Reignier Conder

The Hebrew tragedy 

The Hebrew tragedy
The Hebrew tragedy


A broad grey river runs fast to the south, between white marl banks, under a dappled April sky. On either hand are plains with young grass and flowers. 

Across the river swings a rude raft floated on goat-skins blown up with air, and on it sits the chief with his family — his wife and nephew. The long dark robe, the shining sword and spear, the gold arm-band, the olive skin, and black eyes and beard, betoken an Arab prince. The blue-gowned princess wears on her forehead the silver rings and pendants of her a dowry, and anklets of gold, bracelets of gold, and earrings set with gems contrast with the simple sweeping garb. 

The camels and asses, sheep and goats are ferried over by slaves; the long black tent is spread on the Syrian fields, where the flocks and herds begin to pasture. And thus this little family have become Hebrews — they who have “ come across ” the Euphrates to explore a new land in the west. What is it to us, four thousand years later, that such a crossing should be remembered? 

Many a tribe more powerful and numerous had crossed before. Amorites and Canaanites and pig-tailed Hittites had already passed over and had settled in corn plains or on the cool mountains of Lebanon. Even then they were driving their chariots to war, and carving the figures of winged gods — eagle-headed, lion-headed, or treading on the lion and the bull- — out of the black basalt blocks for their temples.

Kings of Babylon and of Elam had brought already their armies of horse and foot across the Euphrates, had levied tribute as far as the Great Sea to the west and the desert to the south. They had occupied the olive yards and vineyards of fruitful land, had cut down cedars in Lebanon, and had quarried granite in Sinai. The wanderings of an Arab family in such an age were of little account. 

They passed by walled cities and tillage, and sought out the flat plains, on the borders of settled lands, where wells must be dug, but where pasture for flocks could be found. Chronicles did not record their deeds, though tradition preserved their names and magnified their acts. 

You may hold in your hand today the very letters of brick which were written for Amraphel, in the days of his pride; but you will seek in vain for any records of Abraham. Mankind does not foresee what are the greatest events of the age, so silent and so small is the beginning of the new growth. A little seed is dropped on the ground, and the snows cover it, and the ice seems strong and lasting as stone, but the spring comes, and the sturdy shoot breaks through and grows tall. 

The winds vex it, and it bends but never breaks, and so becomes a mighty tree under the shadow of which men rest. And the tree grows old and fails, till the. stock is fit only for the fire, and its tale is told — unless it has borne fruit and the forest of its offspring covers in the parent bole. So history does not witness the birth of a new thought, a new truth, against which all at first strive, with the icy chill of neglect, and with tempests of hatred, until its summer comes and its fruit-time. 

The thoughts of men are full of the power of some strong tyrant who has slain and seized the prey. He is the wild beast set on earth to teach the deer that they must not grow fat and slothful in their pastures. But he in whose heart a new truth is born is a bird of the air, singing above the heads of men. They may stone it and shoot at it and share it, but some there ever are who will rejoice in its song.

The chief who founded the Hebrew race was, in the eyes of his children, one of these — a man, they said, to whom God spoke, and taught him a new truth, which the passionate genius of the race was to surround with every beauty of song and story, and which was to bind them together as distinct from other men. 

We may seek for the birth of this thought in other lands and among other races. We may trace its growth among Greek thinkers, or in Egyptian psalms, but nowhere will it be found as pure and as ancient as among the Hebrews. In an age when men thought themselves surrounded by countless spirits, by great gods of heaven, earth, and hell, of the wind, the sun, the moon, and the sea, the Hebrew knew that God was One, maker of heaven and earth and ruler of all therein.


II. CONQUEEOES . . . .23
IV. KINGS . . . . .57
V. PEOPHETS . . . . .88
VI. EXILES . . . . .113
VII. PEIESTS . . . . .123
IX. RABBIS . . . . .157

the book details :
  • Author: Claude Reignier Conder 
  • Publication date: 1880
  • Company: Galashiels, Scotland: K. Cochrane

  • Download 10.8 MB
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