« הקודםהמשך »
in the vicinity of a rivulet. Toward the upper end of this enclosure, the traveller is shown among the many wonders to which tradition, ignorance, and credulity in this country, attach the credence due only to historic record, a large, square chamber, sunk in the earth, partly excavated in the rock upon the side of the hill, and partly built of masonry. It is arched at top, and there were formerly on the outside a number of small cupolas, like the tops of furnaces, with a hole in the centre of each, through which were let down the dead bodies to the vault beneath ; much in the same manner as is practised in Naples, at the present day. A tradition existed that the earth in the bottom of this cavern was possessed of some extraordinary destructive or corrosive power; for it was said to completely consume the bodies thrown into it in twenty-four hours; and on account of this supposed quality, ship-loads of it were in former years exported from Jaffa to Europe. This tomb has been figured in the rare work of Sandys, who described it in 1610. The cupolas at top somewhat resembled those upon the Roman tomb represented by Montfaucon as erected over the Curatii, at Albano. The dead continued to be interred in this vault up to the days of Maundrell, who says, “looking down through these holes we could see many bodies under several degrees of decay, from which it may be conjectured that this grave does not make that quick dispatch with the corpses committed to it, which is commonly reported.” Some few bodies were also to be seen in it at the time of Dr. Richardson's visit, but their condition proved
as Judas was now dead, applied the field thus bought for the burial of strangers, i. e. Jews from foreign parts, or others who visiting Jerusalem, had died there. Though this case is possible, yet the passage will bear a very consistent interpretation without the assistance of this conjecture ; for, in ordinary conversation, we often attribute to a man what is the consequence of his own actions, though such consequence was never designed nor wished for by himself; thus we say of a man embarking in a hazardous enterprise, he is gone to seek his death ; of one whose conduct has been ruinous to his reputation, he has disgraced himself ; of another who has suffered much in consequence of his crimes, he has purchased repentance at a high price, &c. &c. All these, though undesigned, were consequences of certain acts, as the buying of the field was the consequence of Judas's treason."
TOMB DISCOVERED BY THE AUTHOR.
how little reliance was to be placed upon the boasted sarcophagous properties of the place. It is now in a state of complete dilapidation ; one side is a ruin ; the cupolas have been demolished; and its only occupants, when we visited it, were owls, bats, and cockroaches.
This tomb has been generally described as that which was bought with the blood-money that was returned by Judas Iscariot. It is pointed out as such by the priests and guides, and the belief in its identity seems to have gained strength from its having been permitted to remain uncontradicted, and traveller after traveller has repeated the tale, till it is believed by all. But the architecture, the small stones of which it is built, and the very mortar with which they are connected, all testify against the absurdity of this opinion; and prove that it cannot possibly be coeval with the Christian era. It is of a character totally different from all other eastern tombs, and the similarity in external appearance to the Roman, and in purpose to the Neapolitan, is very remarkable. A date, however, of three centuries later has been assigned to it by Sandys. “In the midst whereof,” says he, when describing this field, “a large square room was made by the mother of Constantine ; the south side walled with the natural rock, flat at top, and equal with the upper level, out of which rise certain little cupolas open in the midst to let down the dead bodies ;" but then it must be remembered that every spot connected with the traditionary history of Jerusalem has been attributed to the Empress Helena.
Having heard a rumour of a tomb that had been lately discovered and opened by the Arabs, in this vicinity, and it being reported that some human remains were found in it, I rode out one evening during our sojourn in Jerusalem, to examine the place, accompanied by two of my companions, Mr. W. Meiklam and Mr. A. Finlay. A little higher up in the cliff that rises from the cavern erected by the Roman Empress, within the ground denominated the Aceldama, and in the neighbourhood of the painted chambers and that excavation called the tomb of Isaiah, some Arabs, when at work in the place, accidentally discovered the doorway of a tomb carved out of the solid rock, which had been concealed by a heap of rubbish, over which the soil had accumulated so as to completely conceal the entrance. Such was the account given to me by credible witnesses in Jerusalem. This entrance
TOMB DISCOVERED BY THE AUTHOR.
at the time of our visit was still partly concealed by brambles, stones and dirt, so that but one half of the doorway was visible, as in the annexed view.
It represents a Doric pediment, supported by rude pilasters, with some remains of floral embellishments carved upon the architrave, such as I before noticed as being characteristic of Hebrew sculpture; the whole hewn out of the rock, from which it stands out in good relief, as exhibited in the above sketch, which I made upon the spot.
The most remarkable circumstance connected with this façade was its door, which struck me the moment I saw it, as being totally different from that of any other tomb that I had ever seen or read of, except one at Petra, and one described by Irby and Mangles at Bysan near Tiberias. It is formed of a single slab of stone, and moves on horizontal pivots that run into sockets cut in the pilasters at top, in the manner of a swinging hinge ; similar to that which is sometimes seen in the doors of cottages in this country. The lower part of it had been, I was informed, broken
INTERIOR OF THE TOMB.
off by the Arabs in order to effect an entrance. It is the only outside door of a'tomb that I have ever seen in situ, and it differs from all others in not having been formed for concealment, or for being completely closed when the body was deposited within ; but was evidently made for the purpose of being opened occasionally. Having entered beneath this ponderous portal and lighted our candles, we were greatly surprised to find ourselves within a tolerably sized hall of an oblong shape, cut with great precision out of the rock, but without ornament or adornment of any kind whatever.
Curious to relate, the whole of this tomb afforded a most striking illustration of its appropriateness to describe the character of the self-righteous Scribes and Pharisees; and showed the forcible application of the language used by the Saviour when denouncing their hypocrisy; “Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but within are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness."* At the end, and on either side of the hall a number of doors led into inner apartments, as shown in the accompanying cut.
* Matt. xxiii. 27. Dr. Shaw supposed that the whited sepulchres mentioned by our Lord were the same as the Mohammadan marabuts; but these I am inclined to believe are of a date more recent that the Christian
HUMAN REMAINS FOUND IN IT.
Each of these chambers was a small oblong crypt, about seven feet long; on either side of which was a trough or sarcophagus, hewn like all the rest of the tomb out of the solid rock, and raised about three feet from the floor, and in all of them were quantities of human bones lying without order or regularity, but in a state of most astonishing preservation. The edges of these troughs were in many places chipped and broken, as if from long use; and the whitewash had not only coated these parts, but had actually spotted several of the bones that lay low down in the bottoms of the troughs. These bones were piled in layers, and as each trough contained several, the whitewash must have been used subsequently to some of the bodies being placed within them. This whitewash (which is the only instance of the kind that has yet been discovered of that ancient Jewish custom) was in a most extraordinary state of perfection; and, from the number of layers that could be seen, on picking it off the wall, it was evident that it had been frequently renewed. Such was the appearance this tomb presented when we examined it; and such I was informed was its state when discovered shortly before.
But the most remarkable feature in this catacomb was, that each set of crypts, that is, those on the three different sides, contained the remains of distinct and separate races of mankind, as shown by the skulls found in the trough of each. Thus all the crypts upon the right-hand side contained crania of the same characters, shape, and appearance, whereas all those upon the opposite, left-hand side, were of a shape the very reverse, and in the end or central compartments I found skulls totally different from either. In this end of the apartment, however, the crania were more mixed, and not at all so decided as those in the two other sets of chambers that I have mentioned. But, although I searched with some care, I could not find a single instance of the skulls of one side being mixed up with those of the other two; all were perfectly distinct and separated from each other. Now, none of these curious heads belonged to the Jewish race, for not
* Could it have been a tomb of this description that is mentioned in Jeremiah, (chap. xxvi. v. 23.) where the prophet says that Jehoiakim, when he slew Urijah, " cast his body into the graves of the common people.”