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370Chapter 3.

At the same time there appeared a young man on the mountains to Joachim while he was feeding his flocks, and said to him:  Why dost thou not return to thy wife?  And Joachim said:  I have had her for twenty years, and it has not been the will of God to give me children by her.  I have been driven with shame and reproach from the temple of the Lord:  why should I go back to her, when I have been once cast off and utterly despised?  Here then will I remain with my sheep; and so long as in this life God is willing to grant me light, I shall willingly, by the hands of my servants, bestow their portions upon the poor, and the orphans, and those that fear God.  And when he had thus spoken, the young man said to him:  I am an angel of the Lord, and I have to-day appeared to thy wife when she was weeping and praying, and have consoled her; and know that she has conceived a daughter from thy seed, and thou in thy ignorance of this hast left her.  She will be in the temple of God, and the Holy Spirit shall abide in her; and her blessedness shall be greater than that of all the holy women, so that no one can say that any before her has been like her, or that any after her in this world will be so.  Therefore go down from the mountains, and return to thy wife, whom thou wilt find with child.  For God hath raised up seed in her, and for this thou wilt give God thanks; and her seed shall be blessed, and she herself shall be blessed, and shall be made the mother of eternal blessing.  Then Joachim adored the angel, and said to him:  If I have found favour in thy sight, sit for a little in my tent, and bless thy servant.16211621    Gen. xviii. 3.  And the angel said to him:  Do not say servant, but fellow-servant; for we are the servants of one Master.16221622    Rev. xix. 10.  But my food is invisible, and my drink cannot be seen by a mortal.  Therefore thou oughtest not to ask me to enter thy tent; but if thou wast about to give me anything,16231623    Judg. xiii. 16. offer it as a burnt-offering to the Lord.  Then Joachim took a lamb without spot, and said to the angel:  I should not have dared to offer a burnt-offering to the Lord, unless thy command had given me the priest’s right of offering.16241624    Faustus the Manichæan said that Joachim was of the tribe of Levi (August. xxiii. 4, Contra Faustum).  As belonging to the tribe of Judah, he had not the right of sacrifice.  And the angel said to him:  I should not have invited thee to offer unless I had known the will of the Lord.  And when Joachim was offering the sacrifice to God, the angel and the odour of the sacrifice went together straight up to heaven with the smoke.16251625    Comp. Judg. xiii. 20.

Then Joachim, throwing himself on his face, lay in prayer from the sixth hour of the day even until evening.  And his lads and hired servants who were with him saw him, and not knowing why he was lying down, thought that he was dead; and they came to him, and with difficulty raised him from the ground.  And when he recounted to them the vision of the angel, they were struck with great fear and wonder, and advised him to accomplish the vision of the angel without delay, and to go back with all haste to his wife.  And when Joachim was turning over in his mind whether he should go back or not, it happened that he was overpowered by a deep sleep; and, behold, the angel who had already appeared to him when awake, appeared to him in his sleep, saying:  I am the angel appointed by God as thy guardian:  go down with confidence, and return to Anna, because the deeds of mercy which thou and thy wife Anna have done have been told in the presence of the Most High; and to you will God give such fruit as no prophet or saint has ever had from the beginning, or ever will have.  And when Joachim awoke out of his sleep, he called all his herdsmen to him, and told them his dream.  And they worshipped the Lord, and said to him:  See that thou no further despise the words of the angel.  But rise and let us go hence, and return at a quiet pace, feeding our flocks.

And when, after thirty days occupied in going back, they were now near at hand, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Anna, who was standing and praying, and said:16261626    Comp. Acts ix. 11.  Go to the gate which is called Golden,16271627    This is the Beautiful gate of Acts iii. 2, to which, according to Josephus, there was an ascent by many steps from the valley of Kedron. and meet thy husband in the way, for to-day he will come to thee.  She therefore went towards him in haste with her maidens, and, praying to the Lord, she stood a long time in the gate waiting for him.  And when she was wearied with long waiting, she lifted up her eyes and saw Joachim afar off coming with his flocks; and she ran to him and hung on his neck, giving thanks to God, and saying:  I was a widow, and behold now I am not so:  I was barren, and behold I have now conceived.  And so they worshipped the Lord, and went into their own house.  And when this was heard of, there was great joy among all their neighbours and acquaintances, so that the whole land of Israel congratulated them.

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