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GROTTOS IN THE VALLEY OF HINNOM.
mediately beneath it was long noted as a place desecrated by the idolatrous worship of Tophet and Molech. Sandys states that, from the church of the Arminians on Mount Sion, he “descended into the valley of Gehinnon, which divideth Mount Sion from the Mountain of Offence; so called, for that Solomon by the persuasion of his wives here sacrificed to Chamock and Molech ; but now by the Christians called the Mountain of Ill Council, where they say the Pharisees took council against Jesus, whose height yet shows the relics of no mean buildings.”
Toward the eastern extremity of this valley, and in the side of the hill that forms the eastern elevation of the Mountain of Offence, are the sepulchres of the sons of David, that I noticed before; and also those discovered by Dr. Clarke. Among these there is one pointed out as the tomb of Isaiah, who, tradition says, was sawn asunder at the Oak Rogel, beside the well where Nehemiah is reported to have discovered the sacred fire on the return from the captivity, probably the En Rogel of the sacred writers. These places are pointed out near the spot where the watercourses of Gihon and Kedron unite in the neighbouring valley. There is here also another crypt called the cave of the apostles, on the walls of which are some remains of fresco, in a very tolerable state of preservation ; and it is placed among those which contain the Greek inscriptions before alluded to, particularly that of the word “Sion.” I am inclined to think, however, that those sepulchral grottos, which contain paintings and Greek inscriptions, were used as small oratories or chapels during the times of persecution, some hundred years ago ; and at a period subsequent to the establishment of the Greek church ; for the style of the painting is undoubtedly that of the modern Grecian -a style whose peculiarities are so obvious and remarkable, as to prevent its being mistaken for any other; and the inscription, with a cross before it, is in all probability coeval with the date of of such use. These many-chambered sepulchres are all hewn out of the solid rock ; but they invariably correspond to the type of the eastern tomb, having horizontal benches for the bodies ranged along the sides.
At the foot of this hill, where it rises from the valley, is pointed out the Aceldama, or Field of Blood, said to be that purchased by the Jewish priests with the thirty pieces of silver that Judas had received for betraying his Master, but which he after
THE FIELD OF BLOOD.
wards returned in remorse. The transaction is thus recorded by the evangelist :-“Then Judas which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, what is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, it is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took .counsel, and bought with them the potter's field to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called The Field of Blood, unto this day.” (Matth. xxvii. 3—8.) This same transaction is thus noticed in the Acts of the Apostles—“Now this man (Judas) purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem ; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama,* that is to say, The Field of Blood.”—(Acts, i. 18, 19.) This Field of Blood still retains its name, and is called in every language, and by every people within or about Jerusalem, Jews, Christians, and Mohammadans—Aceldama. It is not far distant from the stream of Gihon ; and at the period of our visit, there were still the marks and remains of bricks and pottery-ware in the adjoining ravine ; a place always likely to be used for their manufacture, as it contains the clay suited for such purposes, and was
* “ Aceldama—This proper tongue was not the Hebrew, for that had long ceased to be the proper tongue in Palestine; it was a sort of ChaldaioSyriac which was commonly spoken. The word in the Syriac version is Chacal-demo, and literally signifies the field of blood, because it was bought by the price of the life or blood of the Lord Jesus."— Adam Clarke.
The same learned commentator thus reconciles the discrepancy of the account of the same transaction, given in Acts and in Matthew :-“ Probably Judas did not purchase the field himself, but the money for which he sold his Lord was thus applied. See Matt. xxvii, 6–8. It is possible, however, that he might have designed to purchase a field or piece of ground with this reward of his iniquity, and might have been in treaty for it, though he did not close the bargain, as his bringing the money to the treasury proves; the priests knowing his intention might have completed the purchase, and,
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