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build a room more regular; and the whole is so firm and entire, that it may be called a chamber hollowed out of one piece of marble. From this room you pass into six more, one within another, all of the same fabric with the first. Of these the two innermost are deeper than the rest, having a second descent of about six or seven steps into them. In every one of these rooms, except the first, were coffins of stone placed in niches in the sides of the chambers. They had been at first covered with handsome lids, and carved with garlands; but now most of them are broken to pieces by sacrilegious hands. The sides and ceilings of the rooms were also dropping with the moist damps condensed upon them ; to remedy which nuisance, , and to preserve these chambers of the dead polite and clean, there was in each room a small channel cut in the floor, which served to drain the drops that fell constantly into it."
To these sepulchres, and their interior chambers, one within another, the wise man, by a bold and striking figure, compares the dwelling of a lewd woman: “Her house is the way to hades ;" her first or outer chamber is like the open court that leads to the tomb, “ going down to the chambers of death ;" her private apartments, like the separate recesses of a sepulchre, are the receptacles of loathsome corruption; and he calls them in allusion to the solidity of the rock in which they are hewn, the “ long home" (oby n2) beth olam, the house of ages.
The higher such sepulchres were cut in the rock, or the more conspicuously they were situated, the greater was supposed to be the honour of reposing there. “Hezekiah was buried in the chiefest,” says our translation ; rather, in the highest part “ of the sepulchres of the sons of David,” to do him the more honour. The vanity of Shebna, which so much displeased the Lord, was discovered in preparing for himself a sepulchre in the face of some lofty rock : “ What hast thou here, and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre here, as he that heweth him out a sepulchre on high, and that graveth a habitation for him in a rock." Several modern travellers mention some monuments still remaining in Persia of great antiquity, which gave them a clear idea of Shebna's pompous design for his sepulchre. They consist of several tombs, each of them hewn in a high rock near the top; the front of the rock to the valley below, , being the outside of the sepulchre, is adorned with carved work in relief. Some of these sepulchres are about thirty feet in the perpendicular from the valley.' Diodorus Siculus mentions these ancient monuments, and calls them the sepulchres of the kings of Persia. The tombs of Telmissus, in the island of Rhodes, which Dr. Clarke visited, furnish a still more remarkable commentary on this text. They “ are of two kinds ; the first are sepulchres hewn in the face of perpendicular rocks. Wherever the side of a mountain presented an almost inaccessible steep, there the ancient workmen seem to have bestowed their principal labour. In such situations are seen excavated chambers, worked with such marvellous art, as to exhibit open façades, porticoes with Ionic columns, gates and
• The covers of the stone coffins at the ancient Gamala are ornamented in the same way. Buckingham's Trav. vol. ii, p. 257.
p Maundrell's Journey, p. 116-118.
9 Isa. xxii, 16.
r Morier's Trav. vol. i, p. 66. s Potter's Grecian Antiq. vol. ii, p. 219. * Lib. i, cap. 4, p. 156 ; et lib. xvii, cap. 71.
doors beautifully sculptured, in which are carved the representation as of embossed iron work, bolts and hinges of one stone.
66 The other kind of tomb is the true Grecian soros, the sarcophagus of the Romans. Of this sort there are several, but of a size and grandeur far exceeding any thing of the kind elsewhere, standing in some instances upon the craggy pinnacles of lofty precipitous rocks. Each consists of a single stone, others of still larger size, of more than one stone. Some consist of two masses of stone, one for the body or chest of the soros, and the other for its operculum; and to increase the wonder excited by the skill and labour manifested in their construction, they have been almost miraculously raised to the surrounding heights, and there left standing upon the projections and crags of the rocks, which the casualties of nature presented for their reception.”
“ At Macri, the tombs are cut out of the solid rock, in the precipices towards the sea. Some of them have a kind of portico, with pillars in front.In these they were almost plain. The hewn stone was as smooth as if the artist had been employed upon wood, or any other soft substance. They most nearly resemble book-cases, with glass doors. A small rectangular opening, scarcely large enough to pass through, admits a stranger to the interior of these tombs; where is found a square chamber, with one or more receptacles for dead bodies, shaped like baths, upon the sides of the apartment, and neatly chiselled in the body of the rock. The mouths of these sepulchres had been originally closed by square slabs of stone, exactly adapted to grooves cut for their reception; and so nicely adjusted, that when the work was finished, the place of entrance might not be observed. Of similar construction were the sepulchres of the Jews in Palestine, and particularly that in which our Lord was buried.”
* Trav. vol. ii, p. 215. See also Maurice's Indian Antiq. vol. iii, p. 97.
u “ The sides of the mountains,” near Petra, the capital of the Nabatæi, “ covered with an endless variety of excavated tonibs and private dwellings, presented altogether the most singular scene we had ever beheld : and we must despair to give the reader an idea of the singular effect of rocks tinted with the most extraordinary hues, whose summits present us with nature in her most savage and romantic form, while their bases are worked out in all the symmetry and regularity of art, with colonnades, and pediments, and ranges of corridors adhering to the perpendicular surface.” Irby and Mungle's Trav. p. 414-423. Ecl. Rev. for Jan. 1824.
“ Many of these have the appearance of being inaccessible ; but by dint of climbing from rock to rock, at the risk of a dangerous fall, it is possible to ascend even to the highest. They are fronted with rude pillars, which are integral parts of the solid rock. Some of them are twenty feet high. The mouths of these sepulchres are closed with beautiful sculptured imitations of brazen or iron doors, with hinges, knobs, and bars.”
This intelligent traveller visited a range of tombs of the same kind on the borders of the lake of Tiberias, hewn by the earliest inhabitants of Galilee, in the rocks which face the water. They were deserted in the time of our Saviour, and had become the resort of wretched men, afflicted by diseases, and made outcasts of society; for these tombs are particularly alluded to in the account of a cure performed upon a maniac in the country of the Gada. renes.
The tombs at Naplose, the ancient Sichem, where Jo
The tombs at Gamala are still used as dwellings by the poor. Buckingham's Trav. vol. ii, p. 290.–The subterranean apartments cut in the rocks which are to be seen in the neighbourhood of Alexandria, Niebuhr thinks must have been chiefly used for the same purpose. Trav. vol. i, p. 234.
seph, Joshua, and others, were buried, are also hewn out of the solid rock, and are durable as the hills in which they are excavated. Constituting integral parts of mountains, and chiselled with a degree of labour not to be conceived from mere description, these monuments suffer no change from the lapse of ages; they have defied, and will defy, the attacks of time, and continue as perfect at this hour, as they were in the first moment of their completion.*
The tombs of the lower orders are constructed of stone, at a small distance from their cities and villages, where a great extent of ground is allotted for that purpose. Each family has a particular portion of it walled in like a garden, where the bones of their ancestors have remained for many generations; for, in these enclosures, the graves are all distinct and separate, having each of them a stone placed upright both at the head and feet, inscribed with the name of the person who lies there interred; while the intermediate space is either planted with flowers, bordered round with stone, or paved all over with tiles. The graves of more wealthy citizens are further distinguished by some square chambers, or cupolas, that are built over them." The sepulchres of the Jews were made so large, that persons might go into them. The rule for making them is this; he that sells ground to his neighbour, to make a buryingplace, must make a court at the mouth of the cave, six feet by six, according to the bier and those that bury. It was into this court, that the women, who visited the sepulchre of our Lord, entered. Here they could look into the sepulchre, and the several graves in it, and see every thing within. The words of the sacred historian are:
* Dr. Clarke's Travels in Turkey, &c. vol. ii, p. 242-256, and 463, 512, 513.
* Shaw's Trav, vol. i, p. 395.