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The Story of the Greeks

Page: 109

Finally Jad-du´a, the high priest, had a vision, in which an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and told him what to do. In obedience to this divine command, he made the Le´vites put on their festal garments, and then, dressed in his priestly robes, he led them down the hill to meet the advancing conqueror.

When Alexander saw the beautiful procession, headed by such a dignified old man, he quickly got down from his horse, knelt before Jaddua, and worshiped the name written on his holy vestments.

His officers, astonished at this unusual humility, finally asked him why he did such honor to a foreign priest. Then Alexander told them of a vision he had had before leaving Macedon. In it he had beheld Jaddua, who bade him come over to Asia without fear, as it was written that the Persians would be delivered into his hands.

Walking beside the aged Jaddua, Alexander entered the holy city of Jerusalem and the courts of the temple. Here he offered up a sacrifice to the Lord, and saw the Books of Daniel and Zech-a-ri´ah, in which his coming and conquests were all foretold.


XCIX. THE AFRICAN DESERT.

After staying a few days in Jerusalem, Alexander continued on his way to Egypt, which he quickly conquered also. Here he founded a new city at the mouth of the Nile, and named it Al-ex-an´dri-a, after himself. It was so favorably located, that it soon became[Pg 245] an important town, and has continued so even till the present day.

Then, having heard that there was a famous temple in Lib´y-a, dedicated to Jupiter, Alexander resolved to go there and visit it. The road lay through an African desert, and the journey was very dangerous indeed.

The soldiers toiled painfully along over the burning sand, in which their feet sank up to the ankles. The blazing African sun fell straight down upon their heads, and made them stagger and grow faint with the heat.

From time to time a hot wind, the simoom, blew over the desert, raising great clouds of dust, and choking men and horses as it rolled over them like a torrent, burying them under its shifting waves.

The horses died from thirst and fatigue, for such animals are not fit for travel in the desert. The only creature which can journey comfortably over the dreary waste of the Sa-ha´ra is the camel, whose stomach is made in a peculiar way, so that it can drink a large quantity of water at a time, and store it up for future use.

Undaunted by fatigue or danger, Alexander pressed onward. Like his soldiers, he suffered from heat and thirst; and like them, too, he was deceived by the mirage.

This is an optical effect due to a peculiar condition of the desert atmosphere. The traveler suddenly sees trees, grass, and running water, apparently a short distance before him. He hastens eagerly forward to lie in the shade, and to plunge his hot face and hands in the refreshing stream; but when he reaches the spot where he saw water and trees, there is nothing but sand, and he sinks down exhausted and cruelly disappointed.[Pg 246]


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