A little more light would have enabled him to see the pride that diffused itself over her face.
“Let us imagine the Roman putting us to the challenge. I would answer him, neither doubting nor boastful.”
Her voice faltered; a tender thought changed the form of the argument.
“Your father, O, my Judah, is at rest with his fathers; yet I remember, as though it were this evening, the day he and I, with many rejoicing friends, went up into the Temple to present you to the Lord. We sacrificed the doves, and to the priest I gave your name, which he wrote in my presence- ‘Judah, son of Ithamar, of the House of Hur.’ The name was then carried away and written in a book of the division of records devoted to the saintly family.
“I cannot tell you when the custom of registration in this mode began. We know it prevailed before the flight from Egypt. I have heard Hillel say Abraham caused the record to be first opened with his own name, and the names of his sons, moved by the promises of the Lord which separated him and them from all other races, and made them the highest and noblest, the very chosen of the earth. The covenant with Jacob was of like effect. ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed’- so said the angel to Abraham in the place of Jehovah-jireh. ‘And the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed’- so the Lord himself said to Jacob asleep at Bethel on the way to Haran. Afterwards the wise men looked forward to a just division of the land of promise; and, that it might be known in the day of partition who were entitled to portions’ the Book of Generations was begun. But not for that alone. The promise of a blessing to all the earth through the patriarch reached far into the future. One name was mentioned in connection with the blessing- the benefactor might be the humblest of the chosen family, for the Lord our God knows no distinction of rank or riches. So, to make the performance clear to men of the generation who were to witness it, and that they might give the glory to whom it belonged, the record was required to be kept with absolute certainty. Has it been so kept?”
The fan played to and fro, until, becoming impatient, he repeated the question, “Is the record absolutely true?”
“Hillel said it was, and of all who have lived no one was so well-informed upon the subject. Our people have at times been heedless of some parts of the law, but never of this part. The good rector himself has followed the Books of Generations through three periods- from the promises to the opening of the Temple; thence to the Captivity; thence, again, to the present. Once only were the records disturbed, and that was at the end of the second period; but when the nation returned from the long exile, as a first duty to God, Zerubbabel restored the Books, enabling us once more to carry the lines of Jewish descent back unbroken fully two thousand years. And now- “