Sidor som bilder
[ocr errors]

ments the fruits of his labor, lest he should be robbed of his hard earnings by the rapacious soldier. Aside, in a corner, the Arab butcher is slaughtering some animal, suspended by the legs from a wall in ruins: from his haggard, ferocious looks, and bloody hands, you would suppose that he had been cutting the throat of a fellow-creature, rather than killing a lamb. The only noise heard from time to time in the city, is the galloping of the steed of the desert: it is the janissary, who brings the head of the Bedouin, or who returns from plundering the unhappy Fellah.' If this picture be drawn in shades too deep, we may take the following, by Mr. Jolliffe, which is perhaps nearer the sober reality. Having spoken of the impressions which a European would experience at the first view, he adds, 'On entering the town, the magic of the name and all his earlier associations would suffer a still greater violence, and expose him to still stronger disappointment. No "streets of palaces and walks of state," no high-raised arches of triumph, no fountains to cool the air, or porticos to exclude the sun, no single vestige to announce its former military greatness or commercial opulence; but in the place of these, he would find himself encompassed on every side by walls of rude masonry, the dull uniformity of which is only broken by the occasional protrusion of a small grated window.'

The two principal objects of interest within the city are, undoubtedly, the great mosque of Omar on the site of Solomon's temple, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which covers the spot that is now called Calvary, as well as the tomb where Christ is supposed to have been buried. The mosque of Omar, which has been termed the St. Peters of Turkey, rears its heavy sides from the midst of a large vacant space in the eastern part of the city, and sends up its light, airy, splendid dome far above the neighboring wall that rises over the valley of Jehoshaphat. It stands full in the face of the Mount of Olives. The wide area that surrounds it, planted with trees and flowers, and occupying perhaps a ninth of the town in extent, offers a charming contrast to the universal sterility. It is carefully enclosed on all sides. The whole ground is deemed sacred, allowed to be trodden, or even to be touched, only by the followers of the Prophet, and forbidden to the Christians and the Jews. To these, instant death, or instant conversion to Mahommedanism, is the penalty for intrusion. Yet an English physician has had the good fortune to

enter with impunity, not only upon the sacred precincts, but even into the most holy recesses of the mosque itself; and to satisfy himself, and the christian world, that the interior of the building contains nothing which can be compared, for interest, to the scenery without. So many recollections of longdeparted grandeur, of ancient riches and power, seem to crowd around the spot, that few travellers can look upon the site of Solomon's temple unmoved; - what then must be the feelings of the Jew, as he steals along the valley of Jehoshaphat, and, from beneath the shade of the massive wall, lifts his eye to the heights once surmounted by the house of the Lord,' that almost filled this quarter of the heavens! No wonder his tears flow at sight of the change. A glory indeed. still shines in the holy place; but it is the glory of the accursed heathen, and scornful oppressors. It is an affecting circumstance, that the Jews are brought from all quarters of the globe, to be buried in this valley, that their dust may repose under the shadow of the eminence where the temple stood.

[ocr errors]

About the centre of the northern part of the city, not far from midway between the wide enclosure around the great mosque, and the northwestern corner of the town, stands the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with a small court lying before its southern front. It is a large building, or, rather, a consolidated mass of chapels, about two hundred and fifty feet by one hundred and fifty on the ground, and surmounted with two domes. Whether this be, as is pretended, the site of Golgotha, including Calvary and the tomb of our Saviour, there are many doubts; but the tradition of the Catholic Church seems to be traced back, with tolerable distinctness, to an age when the real position of these objects may have been well known. Certain it is, however, that if they indeed. stood here, the limits of the western part of the city have been greatly extended, since the christian era. For Calvary was then without the gate;' whereas, this spot is nearly in the middle of the main body of the present town. To account for the change, it is generally supposed, (it is after all but a conjecture,) that the wall from the north was, in ancient times, drawn inwards, on this quarter, so as just to exclude Golgotha; and that it here formed a sharp angle, suddenly stretching westward again to the modern boundary, and then turning off to the south. It is by no means incredible that such may have been the case, and that the church actually covers the place of


the holy sepulchre. If so, it may likewise include Calvary; for it is evident, from the narrative of the Evangelists, that the scene of the crucifixion and that of the interment, were near together. But the labor of ages has crowded the space with the monuments of a mistaken piety, till it would be folly to look for any of the original traits. What is now called Calvary, presents no appearanee of a mount, though, by the way, that appellation is nowhere given it in Scripture; and the sepulchre has been converted into an elegant Grecian tomb, that rises under the great dome of the church, and is surrounded by sixteen large columns which support the gallery


Places without the Walls. To the south of the modern town, and for the most part without the walls, is Mount Zion, the celebrated quarter in which king David held his court. It constituted about a fourth, in extent, of the ancient city, and was the most beautiful division of the whole. Now, it lies utterly desolate, unoccupied ; and except one solitary Turkish mosque, and a small Armenian chapel, no buildings remain. The very ruins have all perished, crumbled into dust, or removed to other places; and wherever a scanty supply of soil can be found, it is wrought by the plough, or cherishes a few stunted shrubs. At the time I visited this sacred ground,' says Dr. Richardson, 'one part of it supported a crop of barley, another was undergoing the labor of the plough, and the soil turned up consisted of stone and lime mixed with earth, such as is usually met with in the foundations of ruined cities. It is nearly a mile in circumference, is highest on the west side, and towards the east falls down in broad terraces on the uper part of the mountain, and narrow ones on the side, as it slopes towards the brook Kedron. . . . . It is considerably higher than the ground on the north, on which the ancient city stood, or that on the east, leading on to the valley of Jehoshaphat; but has very little relative height above the ground on the south and on the west, and must have owed its boasted strength principally to a deep ravine, by which it is encompassed on the east, south and west, and the strong high walls and towers by which it was enclosed and flanked completely round.'

We have before seen that the valley, just mentioned, makes the circuit nearly of the whole city. Beginning at some dis


tance to the north of the present limits, and not far, probably, from the ancient boundary in this quarter, we trace it down towards the south, in a wide dry hollow, till it reaches the northwest angle of the walls, where it has become of considerable depth, with a stony bottom. Thence it runs close under the western wall, rather narrowing and deepening as it proceeds, and growing more rugged, especially after passing the Jaffa gate. This part of it is usually dry; but it must serve as a sort of gutter for the rains that fall. Its course continues southward to the southwest corner of Mount Zion; where it turns short to the east, under the southern border of that eminence. From hence till it bends around northeastwardly to sink into the valley of Jehoshaphat, it bore the famous name of the valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna. In this division, it was somewhat more than a quarter of a mile in length, about one hundred and fifty feet broad, and sixty deep; and these dimensions it still retains. 'The bottom of this ravine is rock, covered with a thin sprinkling of earth, and, in the winter season, is the natural channel for carrying off the water that falls into it from the higher ground; but, on both sides, the rock is cut perpendicularly down, and most probably was the quarry from which the greater part of the stones were taken for building the city. The precipitous edge of the ravine is more covered with earth on the side of Mount Zion than on the other side, which is probably owing to the barbarous custom of razing cities from their foundations, and tumbling both the earth and the stone into the ditch below.' Such is the present state of the valley of Hinnom. At the southeast part of Mount Zion, the eminences recede on either hand, and the valley opens wide; but its narrow bed may still be traced bending around to the northeast, and gradually descending towards the valley of Jehoshaphat. A little distance to the left, on the foot of the eastern slope of Mount Zion, is the celebrated Pool of Siloam, which, from a broken down arch, sends forth a scanty rill to water some gardens that are planted here. A few rods bring us into the vale of Jehoshaphat and to the brook Kedron, which flows down it from the north. During a large part of summer, it is dry; but, in the rainy. season, it pours a torrent, which, on receiving the supply from the channel of Hinnom, passes off to the southeast, in its way towards the Dead Sea.

Looking up the length of Jehoshaphat to the north, we see the Mount of Olives on the right, and the high walls of the city standing on chalky cliffs at the left. The deep bottom of the intermediate space is, on an average, about half a mile across, and of a very desolate appearance. Generally speaking, it is a rocky flat, with a few patches of earth here and there, and filled with tombs, everywhere dug in the rock. Some of them are large, indicating the superior condition of their ancient possessors; but, for the greater part, they are small and of the ordinary size. Standing at the foot of Mount Zion, we see a modern Jewish burying-ground close at hand, on the east bank of the Kedron; and behind us, at the southern end of the valley, is a miserable village of Arab huts. Proceeding northwards, till we arrive opposite the southern wall of the ancient temple, we reach, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, the tombs of Jehoshaphat and Zachariah, and the pillar of Absalom, so called. A little further onwards, is the garden of Gethsemane; an even plat of ground, about fifty yards square, where are shown some old olive-trees, supposed to identify the spot of our Saviour's agony. The general prospect in this valley is thus described by a late writer: 'The western side is a high chalk-cliff supporting the walls of the city, above which you perceive Jerusalem itself; while the eastern acclivity is formed by the Mount of Olives, and the Mount of Offence, so called from the idolatry which oppresses the fame of Solomon. These two hills are nearly naked, and of a dull red color. On their slopes are seen, here and there, a few bleak and parched vines, some groves of wild olive-trees, wastes covered with hyssop, chapels, oratories, and mosques in ruins. At the bottom of the valley you discover a bridge of a single arch thrown across the channel of the brook Kedron. The stones in the Jewish cemetery look like a heap of rubbish at the foot of the Mount of Offence, below the Arab village of Siloa, the paltry houses of which are scarcely to be distinguished from the surrounding sepulchres.'


The Mount of Olives is an object of too much interest to be passed by, without a separate and more detailed account. is part of a ridge of limestone hills, running north and south; and we have already observed, that it lies over directly in front of Jerusalem on the east. With a round, swelling, but rock-bound side, it rises only to a moderate height, and might be more properly termed a hill than a mountain. Of its three

« FöregåendeFortsätt »