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RESERVOIRS AND SUBSTRUCTIONS BENEATH THE TEMPLE.
the feast ...
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 unders ground 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
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 I'NDER THE SOUTHERN END 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 same 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 flights 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.
SITE OF THE TEMPLE.
the Temple, yet the difficulties, in the way of placing the Temple over it, are very great.
Another theory propounded by Mr. Fergusson and ably supported by Messrs. Lewin and Sandie, finds the Temple site on the south or south-west of the Haram area. But this theory is likewise beset with great difficulties. For the threshing-floor must then have been in a deep hollow, contrary to the invariable practice of the Easterns, who constructed them on the tops of hills where the wind might winnow the grain as it fell from the ears. Besides which, the language of the psalmist and prophets implies that the Temple stood on an elevated site ; they speak invariably of going up to the house of the Lord. It is true that the southern end of the Temple area is now on the same level with the rest, but this is secured by the vast substructions which have been built up from the valley below ; and it can hardly be pretended that the threshing-floor of Araunah occupied this artificial elevation ; nor has any reason been suggested why, with the whole ridge of Moriah to choose from, a site should have been selected which either buried the Temple in a hollow, or required an amount of work below the surface greater than that above it to bring up the platform to the necessary level.
The startling theory of Mr. Fergusson as to the site of the Holy Sepulchre demands brief notice here. He maintains that the Mosque of Omar is the Basilica of Constantine, that the mysterious rock which it incloses is that of which the evangelist speaks, and that a cave about fifteen feet square in the side of the rock is the very cave in which our Lord was entombed. His argument, to which full justice cannot be done in a brief summary, may be thus stated. He pledges his professional reputation that the Kubbet es Sakhrah is a building of the date of Constantine, that it is not and never could have been intended for a mosque, that it does not possess a single characteristic of Saracenic architecture, but that in its main features it is identical with the sepulchral basilica of Diocletian, at Spalatro, a type which Constantine is likely to have followed. The Golden Gate he regards as the grand entrance from the eastern side to the area of the basilica, and maintains that it is of the same style and date with the Dome of the Rock. Assuming the accuracy of his theory that the Temple occupied the south-western angle of the present area, he shows that there was ample space for the crucifixion and entombment to have taken place here without trenching upon the Temple precincts, from which it was then separated by a deep fosse or valley, now filled up. He then seeks to show that the indications of the Gospel narrative, the statements of Eusebius, and the language of early pilgrims agree in fixing upon this as the true site of the burial and resurrection of our Lord. The absence of any tradition pointing to this spot, and the fact that for nearly a thousand years the site of the sepulchre has been supposed to be where the church now stands, he explains by the statement that after the rock with its dome had been appropriated by the Mohammedans, the Christians were
banished for a long period from the city ; even on their return they were not
allowed approach the Holy Place. A new church in another site was therefore built for the use of the pilgrims, around which the legends sprang up in mediæval fa
shion, so that what was at first a mere myth or pious fraud, came at last to be accepted as an historical fact.
There is much that is attractive in this theory, and it is supported by a great weight of argument and learning. But it will hardly bear the test of examination. The Basilica of Constantine was not built over the sepulchre, but near it ; the Kubbet es Sakhrah incloses and covers the rock. Constantine's building was destroyed by Chosroes 11., and the church that rose upon its site suffered the same fate under El-Hakem. This, therefore, cannot be it. Constantine constructed a colonnade eastward from the church, at the end of which was an agora, or market-place. The Kubbet es Sakhrah is so near the eastern wall over the Valley of the Kedron that space cannot be found for this arrangement.
Whilst, therefore, the site of the sepulchre must, in my judgment, be sought somewhere on this side of the city, I cannot accept Mr. Fergusson's identification as accurate or sustained by facts. It is with reluctance that we yield ourselves to the conclusion that exact knowledge is, for the present at least, beyond our reach. Most eagerly and gratefully should we welcome any
means of determining the spot so endeared by hallowed memories and associations.
But our very ignoLJustine dez
rance may have been designed or permitted for wise
purposes. A superstitious, an almost idolatrous, worship has been fostered by pilgrimages to the holy places. We shall do well to remember the conversation by Jacob's