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In a subsequent communication, Dr. Prichard concludes his observations upon the skulls, by saying, “The information you give as to their locality is very curious, and the circumstance that strangers were probably buried there, accounts for the diversity in the forms of these skulls."
From all the concurrent circumstances connected with this tomb—its being situated on the site of the acknowledged Field of Blood; the appearance of its external architecture, particularly its door, which differs from all other sepulchres we have yet heard of, except those at Petra and Bysan, in being formed for occasional opening; from its curious internal hall and chambers ; the remarkable human remains found in them, so perfectly different and distinct one from another ; and these belonging to foreign nations, and not to Hebrews—I conceive there is a strong probability, almost amounting to presumptive proof, that this sepulchre was one of the tombs, if not the actual one, purchased with the thirty pieces of silver to bury strangers in, and from that circumstance receiving the name of ACELDAMA, or FIELD OF Blood.
The Jews— Their Character in Jerusalem-Number-Benjamin of Tudela-Means of Subsistence
-Their Love for the City-Patriotism--Transportation of their bones—Their language Synagogue --Ancient Customs-Present State and Prospects--A Touching Seene-HopeLeperg-Houses-Female Inhabitants-Their Amusements--Missionaries- The English Church -The Different Sects of Christians - The Latin Fathers-A Pharmacy-Greeks-ArmeniansTheir Convents-Door of the Holy Sepulchre-Copts Their History and Customs Effects of the Conscription--An Arab's Love-Pool of Bethesda-Its remarkable Masonry-Tomb of David--A Prussian Prince-A Navigator of the Dead Sea-Irish Travellers--Eastern Shepherds - Bethlehem - Its Beautiful Females-Convent - Place of the Nativity--EthamSolomon's Cisterns-Aqueduct-Visit to Bethany-Sepulchre of Lazarus-Return to Ramla
Sirocco_Climate of Palestine-An Adventure-How to catch a Mule-Reflections on the East-Its Wonders and present Prospects-Proceed to Europe.
The Jews inhabit a particular portion of the southern part of the city, the Harat-el-Youd, between the foot of Sion and the enclosure of the Mosque of Omar, and are not the least interesting of the objects presented to the traveller in the Holy City. This extraordinary people, the favoured of the Lord, the descendants of the patriarchs and prophets, and the aristocracy of the earth, are to be seen in Jerusalem to greater advantage, and under an aspect, and in a character, totally different from that which they present in any other place on the face of the globe. In other countries the very name of Jew has associated with it cunning, deceit, usury, traffic, and often wealth. But here, in addition to the usual degradation and purchased suffering of a despised, stricken, outcast race, they bend under extreme poverty, and wear the aspect of a weeping and a mourning people ; lamenting over their fallen greatness as a nation, and over the prostrate grandeur of their once proud city. Here the usurer is turned into the pilgrim, the merchant into the priest, and the inexorable creditor into the weeping suppliant. Without wealth, without traffic, they are
supported solely by the voluntary contributions of their brethren throughout the world.
I think I am warranted in stating, that the number of Jews now in Jerusalem is greater than at any other period of modern times. The population of any eastern city is with great difficulty accurately ascertained, owing to the total absence of statistical or municipal tables, as well as to the immense floating population, hundreds arriving at night, and passing out in the morning; besides, here, the number of pilgrims varies daily. The entire resident population of the city is about 30,000; of which 8,000 are Jews; 8,000 Christians ; 10,000 Mohammadans; and about 4,000 foreigners, or partial residents, including the garrison. This, however, is by many considered too much, some estimating the total population at so few as eleven or twelve thousand.
As a rough guess would but little approximate to the truth, and as many contradictory accounts have been published of the number of Jews resident in Jerusalem, I used every means of procuring correct information on this subject. The Latins, and the Jewish 'rabbis themselves, whom I severally consulted, both agreed in stating, that the number is greater now (1837) than at any other period in latter times of which they have any record; and that, at the lowest calculation, it amounted to the number I have stated.
The period is not very distant when the Turkish law permitted no more than 300 Jews to reside within the walls. The celebrated Jewish historian, Benjamin of Tudela, gives a lamentable account of the state of the Jews in Palestine about the middle of the twelfth century: and "we may safely select,” says Milman, in his History of the Jews, “his humiliating account of the few brethren who still clung, in poverty and meanness, to their native land. There is an air of sad truth about the statement, which seems to indicate some better information on this subject than on others. In Tyre, Benjamin is said to have found 400 Jews, glass-blowers. The Samaritans still occupied Sichem ; but in Jerusalem there were only 200 descendants of Abraham, almost all dyers of wool, who had bought a monopoly of that trade. Ascalon contained 153 Jews; Tiberias, the seat of learning and of the kingly patriarchate, but 50. This account of Benjamin is confirmed by the unfrequent mention of the Jews in the histories of the later Crusades in the Holy Land ; and may, perhaps, be
ascribed in a great measure to the devastations committed in the first of these depopulating expeditions.” A vast concourse of this people flocked to Jerusalem at the time that Syria was occupied by the Egyptians; and afterwards, on the conquest of Algiers. Within these two or three years, however, the extreme scarcity of provisions has deterred others from going there, and the number has not been so great as heretofore.
A partial famine was making itself felt among the Jews at the time of our visit, in consequence of the remittances for their support not having arrived punctually. Nor are those who, in the first instance, receive these remittances, free from the strong suspicion of withholding a part for their own private uses. Bread, all kinds of provisions, and even water, were becoming scarce and dear, owing to the increased population within the walls, and the decrease of agricultural population without, to cultivate the soil, and raise the necessaries of life. This decrease arose from the impolitic conscription carried on in this thinly populated country to augment the army of the Basha; and great fears of famine, and its horrors, were entertained. Many poor Jews were then beginning to suffer from hunger, and both they and the Mooslims were, during our stay, observing a solemn fast, and praying for rain to descend on this thirsty land, whose wheat crops were withering for lack of moisture. The army of Ibrahim Basha was entirely supplied with foreign corn.
With all this accumulated misery–with all this insult and scorn heaped upon the Israelite here, more even than in any other country-why, it will be asked, does he not fly to other and happier lands? Why does he seek to rest under the shadow of Jerusalem's wall? Independently of that natural love of country which exists among this people, two objects bring the Jew to Jerusalem ; to study the Scriptures and the Talmud—and then to die, and have his bones laid with his forefathers in the valley of Jehoshaphat, even as the bones of the patriarchs were carried up out of Egypt. No matter what the station or rank—no matter what or how far distant the country where the Jew resides-he still lives upon the hope that he will one day journey Sion-ward. No clime can change, no season quench, that patriotic ardour with which the Jew beholds Jerusalem, even through the vista of a long futurity. On his first approach to the city, while yet within a day's journey, he puts on his best apparel ; and when the first view of it bursts
upon his sight, he rends his garments, falls down to weep and pray over the long-sought object of his pilgrimage ; and with dust sprinkled on his head, he enters the city of his forefathers. No child ever returned home after long absence with more yearnings of affection ; no proud baron ever beheld his ancestral towers and lordly halls, when they had become another's, with greater sorrow than the poor Jew when he first beholds Jerusalem. This, at least, is patriotism. “It is curious,” says the learned author, from whom I have already quoted, “after surveying this almost total desertion of Palestine, to read the indications of fond attachment to its very air and soil, scattered about in the Jewish writings; still, it is said, that man is esteemed most blessed, who, even after his death, shall reach the land of Palestine, and be buried there, or even shall have his ashes sprinkled by a handful of its sacred dust. •The air of the land of Israel,' says one, 'makes a man wise ;' another writes, 'be who walks four cubits in the land of Israel is sure of being a son of the life to come.' "The great Wise Men are wont to kiss the borders of the Holy Land, to embrace its ruins, and roll themselves in its dust. The sins of all those are forgiven who inhabit the land of Israel.' He who is buried there is reconciled with God, as though he were buried under the altar. The dead buried in the land of Canaan first come to life in the days of the Messiah.”—History of the Jews, vol. ïïi.
It is worthy of remark, as stated by Sandys, that so strong is the desire this singular people have always manifested for being buried within these sacred limits, that in the seventeenth century large quantities of their bones were yearly sent thither from all parts of the world, for the purpose of being interred in the valley of Jehoshaphat ; for the Turkish rulers at that time permitted but a very small number of Jews even to enter Palestine. Sandys saw shiploads of this melancholy freight at Jaffa ; and the valley of Jehoshaphat is literally paved with Jewish tombstones.
“ Samaria ! thou art still my home,
And thou ere long shalt be my grave:
There let me sleep, where sleep the brave.
A waste, and not a flower-decked sod;
If but the spirit rest with God.”