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Wilson, acting on behalf of the Palestine Exploration Fund, caused a line of shafts to be sunk due westward from this point, and discovered a series of piers upon which other arches had rested, so that we have here the remains ; of a bridge which ran across the valley connecting the Temple with the city. We learn from Josephus that the valley was spanned by a bridge leading from the Temple to the palace. All subsequent researches have tended to establish the conclusion at which Robinson arrived, that “This arch could only belong to THE BRIDGE, and it proves incontestably the antiquity of that portion of the wall from which it springs.” The only difficulty in the way of
ascribing this great work to Solomon or his immediate successors is that the principle of the arch was not then known. A more thorough acquaintance with Egyptian architecture, however, proves that this statement is not strictly true. Examples of the arch, though rare, may yet be found in buildings of undoubted antiquity. In the narrative of the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon we read that, “When she had seen . . . his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her." : This seems to be spoken of as the climax of all the wonders which were shown her. If we may venture to identify the arched bridge across the
1 i Kings X. 4, 5.
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, 1 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.
2 Psa. Ixxxiv. 2, 3.