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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

Those "Religious Festivals"

Those "Religious Festivals".

"Life was a joy and one round of religious festivals."

Thus writes Lieut.-Col. W. Maitland Woods in his racy description of Old Palestine, in the July "K.O.C." With this assurance from our distinguished and witty Senior Chaplain, I turned a new to my Old Testament. I would regale and refresh and purify myself in this narrative of happy, holy revels. I dipped at random. And such a feast! We who dwell in Palestine to-day are indeed dull, conventional, joyless dogs by comparison with the gay and festive old jews. We compainn of a war which for four all the Apparently the Jews fought all, or nearly all the time. In Judges we are told, as a matter of unusual interest, that "the land had rest 40 years. Again, in Kings, we read, "and they continued three years without war between Syria and Israel". In such intervals the customary gaiety and religious festivities were given a brief respite, while the merry-makers got their wind.

But on most of the pages of the old Book the joyous practices were in full, unlicensed fling, What a hilarious hour when Jericho, then "the city of plam trees", fell before the trumpets of the festive priests, and the tribes of Joshua utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword." That was the common fate of the luckless defen-ders of cities which obstructed the way of the gentle old Jew. The priests prayed, the walls were pierced, and then all made merry. In their gay and religious hours, they drank blood as we drink wine.

Again; "And the children of Israel slew of the Syrians an hundred thousand footmen in one day". A most ecstatic carnival! One could give hundreds of examples of it. Take the Lord's injunction to Saul in the pursuit of the Amalekites; "Utterly destroy all that they have and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass". Great sport for the Amalekites! Old Saul did the job pretty thoroughly so far as the Amalekites! ere concerned, but he spared and looted the succulent young live stock, and there was serious trouble about it. There gaiety took many quaint turnings. Saul, in a freakish moment, gave his daughter Michal to the trusty David "that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be againt him". and David, grown a little older, and gayer perchance with the years, sneaked Uriah's pretty wife, Uriah being away at the time in a big fight at Amman. Reports of our Divorce Courts at Amman. Reports of our going Courts tell that similar nasty work is on in this war But David showed the higher sense of humour possessed by the ancient Uriah and rounded off the incident by having assault put into the forefront of battle in the final and killed. Amman (2 sticky job, as we know), festival", he married the amidst a fitting "religious he married the fickle widow. prompted by the there was the spritely Judith, who, prompted by the sufferings of her beseiged city and inspired by superb humour, replaced "the garment of her widowhood", with the most alluring raiment and went and feigned gracious-host ness to Holo fernes, the commander of the hostile nost. Poor Holofernes "took great, delight' in her anb drank much more wine than he had Drunk at any time in one day since he was born Unluckily, he overdid his drinking and slept; and with her fauchion Judith "smote twice upon his neck with all her might, and she took away his head from him........and put it in her bag of meat".

Almost every chapter descriptive of the Jews-in palestine tells of such "joy" and religious-festivel". it is of such "joy" and "religious festival is a picture hard and cruel and blooay if often rich in beauty and wisdom. with christ tenderness came to Palestine only lingered but and then, from what we see to-day. lingered but a little while.