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J.E RUS AL E M.
-- Ove feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.” Drawn by an irresistible attraction, pilgrims flock hither from the very ends of the earth. The crumbling walls, the squalid filthy streets, the mouldering ruins, are regarded with a profound and reverential interest by millions of mankind, such as no other spot on earth can excite. To the Jew it is the centre alike of his patriotism and his religion. The Christian remembers that here the Son of God was crucified for the TOMB OF ABSALOM. sins of the world. The Mohammedan, retaining in a mutilated and distorted form the great facts of Jewish and of Christian Scripture, and adding to them the legends of his own prophet, regards Jerusalem as second, and hardly second, in sanctity to Mecca itself. Nowhere else are the representatives of such various nationalities to be found as in this meeting-place of the three great monotheistic faiths which have spread so widely over the habitable globe. Jews who have travelled on foot from Poland or Morocco, may be seen weeping outside the Temple walls. Greeks, Latins, Armenians, Copts, kneel side by side with worshippers from America, from Australia, and from every nation in Europe. Nubians, Hindoos, Affghans, Persians, Tartars, Arabs, prostrate
* The etymology of the word Jerusalem is much disputed. “The vision of peace,” “the inheritance of peace,” “the soundation of peace,” all have their advocates. Others understand it as compounded of Jebus-salem, i.e., Salem of the Jebusites. Throughout the Moslem world it is now known as El-Auds, the holy city, or as El Aouds ess. Shereof, the holy, noble city. Herodotus is thought to have referred to it as Cadytis. In this case, as in so many others throughout
Palestine, the modern Arabic name is simply a return to a more ancient one.
themselves before the sacred rock whence their prophet commenced his fabled
the name of Salem, near the ancient Shechem. The sacrifice of Isaac he
* Joshua x. 1.
that the city rose into prominence. In his day it was regarded as an impregnable stronghold. The Jebusites, confident in the strength of their
position, treated the attacks of the besiegers with derision, and placed upon
their walls the blind and the lame, as an adequate garrison, “thinking, David cannot come in hither. . . . Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion.” Stung by the taunt, and incited by the promise of the king. Joab stormed the citadel and received the command in-chief of the army as a reward of his desperate exploit. David, who had hitherto reigned in Hebron, now removed his capital to Jerusalem. The reasons for this are obvious. At Hebron he was isolated from the great bulk of his subjects; Jerusalem, though not central, was yet not very remote from the Northern tribes; it was on the frontier of his own tribe of Judah and partly within that of Benjamin, whose allegiance he thus secured. Military considerations were even more decisively in favour of the new capital. Nor must we overlook the Divine guidance which thus prepared the way for the erection of the Temple on the chosen and favoured spot. Little did the rude rough soldier, when “getting up by the gutter and smiting the Jebusites,” think for what mighty events he was preparing the way. The city fortified by David, enriched and adorned by Solomon,” has continued, with varying fortunes, to occupy the same spot to the present day. Its continuity, however, like that of the human body, is a constant sequence of destruction and reconstruction, ever perishing yet ever renewed. In addition to the corroding insluence of time and the destructive agencies of
earthquake and fire, it has suffered yet more severely from the violence of
man. Perhaps no city in the world has undergone so many or such disastrous sieges. Roman, Persian, Saracen, Christian, Turk, have succeeded one another in the work of devastation. Again and again it has been laid utterly waste, and continued for years to be desolate and forsaken.
The result of this long succession of destructive agencies is, that of ancient Jerusalem scarcely a trace or vestige remains. The city of David and Solomon lies buried far beneath the ruins of edifices which have succeeded it. It is even difficult to say, with certainty, that we can find undoubted remains above the soil of the city of Herod. The great Tyropoean valley which divided Zion from Acra has been filled up with débris, leaving only a slight depression. We cannot even trace the line of the ancient walls except where they ran along the edge of the ravine, which bounds the city on the east and south. The whole topography of Jerusalem is hence involved in the utmost confusion. The most elementary facts as to the localities indicated by the inspired narrative, have been for years the theme of keen and angry dispute. Whilst the controversial literature on the subject might fill a moderately-sized library, we seem almost as far from a satisfactory settlement of the question as ever.
* 2 Sam. v. 6-8. 1 Chron. xi. 4–6. * 2 Sam, v. 9. 1 Kings x. 27.
The general outline of the country and the great natural features of the landscape are, indeed, distinct and unmistakable. The mountains round about Jerusalem, the valleys which encompass it, and the ridge on which it stands, remain as they were in the days of the patriarchs and prophets and apostles. Looked at from any of the surrounding heights, we feel no difficulty in identifying the objects which meet our view. The scene which lies outstretched before us from the summit of the Mount of Olives, has
been so truthfully and graphically sketched by Lady Strangford, that we cannot do better than reproduce her description: “Let us sketch in slightly what we see: the bare hill to the south of the city, with one miserable wind-worn tree on its brow, is the Hill of Evil Counsel (where Caiaphas and the elders are said, upon no authority, however, to have takefi counsel together)." It is rocky and irregular, sloping off to the west and dying down in the Plain of Rephaim. On the north, long ridges of low barren hills or plains, stony and bare, though dotted with
* Matt. xxvi. 3.