But while standing there I saw a poor man enter and put down his pack and kneel beside his burden on the hard floor of that cathedral. And tears of deep emotion came into my eyes, as I said to myself: “There is a soul worth more than all the material surroundings. That man will live after the last pinnacle has fallen, and not one stone of all that cathedral glory shall remain uncrumbled. He is now a Lazarus in rags and poverty and weariness, but immortal, and a son of the Lord God Almighty; and the prayer he now offers, though amid many superstitions, I believe God will hear; and among the Apostles whose sculptured forms stand in the surrounding niches he will at last be lifted, and into the presence of that Christ whose sufferings are represented by the crucifix before which he bows; and be raised in due time out of all his poverties into the glorious home built for him and built for us by ‘Him who maketh the Seven Stars and Orion.’”
“Behold, the half was not told me.”—I kings x: 7.
Solomon had resolved that Jerusalem should be the center of all sacred, regal, and commercial magnificence. He set himself to work, and monopolized the surrounding desert as a highway for his caravans. He built the city of Palmyra around one of the principal wells of the East, so that all the long trains of merchandise from the East were obliged to stop there, pay toll, and leave part of their wealth in the hands of Solomon’s merchants. He manned the fortress Thapsacus at the chief ford of the Euphrates, and put under guard everything that passed there. The three great products of Palestine—wine pressed from the richest clusters and celebrated all the world over; oil which in that hot country is the entire substitute for butter and lard, and was pressed from the olive branches until every tree in the country became an oil well; and honey which was the entire substitute for sugar—these three great products of the country Solomon exported, and received in return fruits and precious woods and the animals of every clime.
He went down to Ezion-geber and ordered a fleet of ships to be constructed, oversaw the workmen, and watched the launching of the flotilla which was to go out on more than a year’s voyage, to bring home the wealth of the then known world. He heard that the Egyptian horses were large and swift, and long-maned and round-limbed, and he resolved to purchase them, giving eighty-five dollars apiece for them, putting the best of these horses in his own stall, and selling the surplus to foreign potentates at great profit.