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THE JEWS IN JERUSALEM.
valley with "the ascent" thus spoken of it will adequately explain the astonishment with which it was regarded.
A little farther along the western wall we come to the Wailing-place of the Jews. It is close to the Jewish quarter—the foulest, most squalid and wretched part of the city. The masonry here is the finest, and in the best preservation, of any part of the inclosure. Many of the stones are twentyfive feet in length, and apparently have remained undisturbed since the time of the first builder. Here the Jews assemble every Friday to mourn over their fallen state, especially their exclusion from “the holy and beautiful house,” where their fathers worshipped God. Some press their lips against crevices in the masonry as though imploring an answer from some unseen
presence within, others utter loud cries of anguish. Here is one group joining in the prayers of an aged rabbi ; yonder another sitting in silent anguish their cheeks bathed in tears. The stones are in many places worn smooth with their passionate kisses. The grief of the new-comers is evidently deep and genuine. But with the older residents it has subsided into little more than a mere ceremonial observance and an empty form. But in either case the scene is strangely affecting, leading back our thoughts to the self-invoked curse of eighteen hundred years ago~"His blood be on us, and on our children.”
The northern wall has nothing to detain us, except the Pool of Bethesda,
If we adopt Mr. Fergusson's theory as to the site of the Temple, a line running through the Altar and the Holy of Holies would cut the middle of the Wailing-place.
? Matt. xxvii. 25.
so called, but of which the identification is doubtful. There are still traces of what may have been “the five porches,” but the pool is now little more than a pit or ditch choked with filth and ordure, and, only after heavy rains containing a little stagnant, fetid water.
We now enter the Temple area and find ourselves in an inclosure of extraordinary beauty. In spring and early summer the turf is of a brilliant green, enamelled with a profusion of wild flowers, and dotted over with trees, most of them cypresses, many of which are of great size. The birds, free from molestation, are exceedingly tame. Doves and sparrows are
especially numerous, reminding us of the words of the psalmist, when longing, yea, even fainting for the courts of the Lord : “the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.”; Cloisters, colonnades, fountains, cupolas and shrines, are seen here and there within the spacious area. But the eye is arrested and detained by a marble platform from the centre of which rises one of the most exquisite domes in the world. This is the Kubbet es Sakhrah, “the Dome of the Rock," better known to Europeans as the MOSQUE OF OMAR, “next after Mecca the most sacred, John v. 1-.
2 Psa. Ixxxiv. 2, 3.
RESERVOIRS AND SUBSTRUCTIONS BENEATH THE TEMPLE.
- - --next after Cordova the most beautiful of all Moslem shrines.". There are several other mosques within the Temple area, but none that claim special notice except the one at the south end—that of El Aksa. This is a large building, the date and original purpose of which, however, is involved in much obscurity.
The rock itself is honey-combed with excavations, most of them cisterns or conduits. Some of these are supplied with water from Solomon's Pools beyond Bethlehem. The aqueduct may yet be traced along the edge of the Wady Urtas. It is said that, in addition to the water brought from a distance, there are natural springs within the rock itself ; this, however, is doubted. From whatever source the supply was derived, it was so abundant that it was never known to be exhausted. In some of these vast underground reservoirs which I visited, I found the water to be deliciously cold, sweet and clear. It was in reference to these inexhaustible stores from which the priests drew so plentifully, that our Lord, “in that great day of
the feast ... stood and cried, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and | drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly | shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.”.
Among the subterranean chambers is one dedicated to the Lord Issa or Jesus. Here according to Mohammedan tradition he was born ; his cradle is shown, and the chapel, for such it is, is regarded as one of peculiar sanctity.
Beneath the southern end of the area is an extraordinary series of substructions which used to be called Solomon's stables, and were believed to have been erected for that purpose by the magnificent king. Their real design is obvious, though when and by whom they were built cannot be determined. The Temple area is constructed on the summit of Mount Moriah. As the hill sloped downward on the east, west, and
SUBSTRUCTIONS UNDER THE SOUTHERN END
OF THE TEMPLE AREA. south it was necessary to level the top to secure a plane surface. But on the southern side of Ophel, the descent was rapid. To have secured a level platform here, it would have been
"So Dean Stanley. It is difficult to compare objects so entirely dissimilar. For my own part I should be disposed to give the preference to the Mosque of Omar.
• John vii. 37-39. It has been often said that the main reservoir was immediately beneath the Altar of Burnt Offering. This, though probable, cannot be affirmed absolutely in our present uncertainty as to where the altar really stood.
necessary to cut away so much from the summit as seriously to have reduced its height. These arches were, therefore, built up from beneath. The sam method was adopted at Rome to enlarge the level area of the Palatine.
In what part of the extensive area thus formed did the Temple stand ? It has been commonly assumed that the marble platform in the centre marks the site, and that the Mosque of Omar stands over the spot occupied by the altar or the Holy Place. This view, however, is not without its difficulties. The mosque incloses a mass of rock sixty feet in length, fifty-five in breadth, and standing up about fifteen feet above the earth around it. Now we know that the Temple was built upon the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite. But this mass of rock with its inequalities of surface could scarcely have been a threshing-floor. It has been said that probably the rock
was cut away around it, leaving this portion untouched. But this explanation is equally inconsistent with the facts of the case. For the rock is unhewn, and only in one or two places bears marks of the chisel. Besides which, if it had stood within the precincts of the Temple it could hardly have escaped mention, yet neither the Scriptures, the writings of Josephus, nor those of the Talmudists allude to it. Where could it have stood ? What purpose could it have served ? Its size is fatal to the theory that it was in the most Holy Place, which was a small chamber. It is possible that being inclosed by plates of brass and by an inclined plane or Alights of steps it formed the core of the altar of burnt-offerings. Standing on the summit and in the centre of the ridge of Moriah, it is the likeliest place for the site of
1 2 Sam. xxiv. 18-25. 2 Chron. iii. 1.
? The late Emmanuel Deutsch told me that he had found one reference to it in the Talmud; but his lamented death prevented his giving me further information on the subject.