JERUSALEM THROUGH THE AGES
|By Shachar Ben Avraham
Following are excerpts from several books and newspaper articles dating from 333 through the 1800's that deal with Jerusalem, Palestine, its inhabitants and the condition of the land. This will give you, the reader, a glimpse into a viewpoint held down through the ages of Jerusalem. These were written mainly from a Christian viewpoint, and you may detect some anti-semitism in some of them.
I present them to you to give you a glimpse into the past.
1. THE ANONYMOUS PILGRIM OF BORDEAUX (333 A.D.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/ofm/pilgr/bord/10Bord01MapEur.html
There are in Jerusalem two large pools (piscinae) at the side of the temple (ad latus templi), that is, one upon the right hand, and one upon the left, which were made by Solomon; and further in the city are twin pools (piscinae gemellares), with five porticoes, which are called Bethsaida ( John 5:2-18). There persons who have been sick for many years are cured; the pools contain water which is red when it is disturbed . There is also here a crypt, in which Solomon used to torture devils
Here is also the corner of an exceeding high tower , where our Lord ascended and the tempter said to Him, 'If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence.' . And the Lord answered, 'Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God, but him only shalt thou serve.' Matt 4:1-11). There is a great corner-stone, of which it was said, 'The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner.' ( Matt 21:42; cfr. Ps 118:22). Under the pinnacle (pinna) of the tower are many rooms, and here was Solomon's palace. There also is the chamber in which he sate and wrote the (Book of) Wisdom; this chamber is covered with a single stone. There are also large subterranean reservoirs for water and pools constructed with great labour. And in the building (in aede) itself, where stood the temple which Solomon built, they say that the blood of Zacharias (Matt 23:35; cfr. Luke 11:51) which was shed upon the stone pavement before the altar remains to this day. There are also to be seen the marks of the nails in the shoes of the soldiers who slew him, throughout the whole enclosure, so plain that you would think they were impressed upon wax. There are two statues of Hadrian, and not far from the statues there is a perforated stone [pct.21], to which the Jews come every year and anoint it, bewail themselves with groans, rend their garments, and so depart. There also is the house of Hezekiah King of Judah.
Also as you come out of Jerusalem to go up Mount Sion, on the left hand,  below in the valley, beside the wall, is a pool which is called Siloe ( John 9:1-11) and has four porticoes; and there is another large pool outside it. This spring runs for six days and nights, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, it does not run at all, either by day or by night [ftn.1]. On this side one goes up Sion, and sees where the house of Caiaphas the priest was ( Mt 26:57-68), and there still stands a column against which Christ was beaten with rods [ftn.2]. Within, however, inside the wall of Sion, is seen the place where was David's palace. Of seven synagogues which once were there, one alone remains; the rest are ploughed over and sown upon, as said  Isaiah the prophet ( Is 1:2.4-8; Michah 3:9-12).
From thence as you go out of the wall of Sion, as you walk towards the gate of Neapolis, towards the right, below in the valley, are walls, where was the house or praetorium of Pontius Pilate ( Matt 27:11-33). Here our Lord was tried before His passion. On the left hand is the little hill of Golgotha where the Lord was crucified ( Matt 27:33-37).  About a stone's throw from thence is a vault (crypta) wherein His body was laid, and rose again on the third day ( Matt 27:57-60; 28:1-10). There, at present, by the command of the Emperor Constantine [pct 22] (iussu Constantini), has been built a basilica, that is to say, a church (dominicum) of wondrous beauty [pcts 23-24], having at the side reservoirs (excepturia) from which water is raised, and a bath behind in which infants are washed (baptized).
Also as one goes from Jerusalem to the gate which is to the eastward, in order to ascend the Mount of Olives, is the valley called that of Josaphat. Towards the left, where are vineyards, is a stone at the place where Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ ( Matt 26,36-50); on the  right is a palm-tree, branches of which the children carried off and strewed in the way when Christ came ( Matt 31:8). Not far from thence, about a stone's-throw, are two notable tombs of wondrous beauty; in the one, which is a true monolith, lies Isaiah the prophet, and in the other Hezekiah, King of the Jews.
From thence you ascend to the Mount of Olives, where before the Passion, the Lord taught His disciples ( Matt 24-25). There by the orders of Constantine a basilica of wondrous beauty has been built. Not far from thence is the little hill which the Lord ascended to pray, when he took Peter  and John with Him, and Moses and Elias were beheld [ftn.3] ( Matt 17:1-8).
A mile and a half to the eastward is the village (villa) called Bethany. There is a vault (crypta) in which Lazarus, whom the Lord raised, was laid ( John 11:1-44) [pct.25].
From Jerusalem to Jericho (Ariha) [pct.26] - miles xviii.
On the right hand side, as one descends from the mount, behind a tomb, is the sycamore tree into which Zacchaeus climbed that he might see Christ ( Luke 19:1-10). A mile-and-a-half from the town is the fountain of Elisha. Formerly if any woman drank of it she did not bear children. Beside it lies an earthenware vessel. Elisha threw salt into it, and came and stood over the fountain and said, 'Thus saith the Lord, I have cleansed these waters, and if any woman drink of this fountain she shall bear children.' ( 2 Kings 2,1-22).
Above the same fountain  is the house of the harlot Rahab, to whom the spies came, and she hid them( Jos 2:1-21; Heb 11:17-40), and alone was saved when Jericho was destroyed. Here stood the city of Jericho, round whose walls the children of Israel circled with the Ark of the Covenant, and the walls fell down ( Jos 6:1-25). Nothing is to be seen of it except the place where the Ark of the Covenant stood, and the twelve stones which the children of Israel brought out of Jordan ( Jos 4:1-24). There Jesus, the son of Nave (Joshua the son of Nun), circumcised the children of Israel and buried their foreskins ( Jos 5:2-9).
2. THE PILGRIMAGE OF ARCULFUS IN THE HOLY LAND ABOUT THE YEAR A.D. 670
Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society. Translated and Annotated BY THE REV. JAMES ROSE MACPHERSON, B. D. LONDON: 24, Hanover Square, W. 1895
I--THE SITUATION OF JERUSALEM, THE GATES OF THE CITY, THE YEARLY MARKET, THE SITE OF THE TEMPLE, THE ORATORY OF THE SARACENS, THE GREAT HOUSES.
AS to the situation of Jerusalem, we shall now write a few of the details that the sainted Arculf dictated to me, Adamnan; but what is found in the books of others as to the position of that city, we shall pass over. In the great circuit of its walls, Arculf counted eighty-four towers and twice three gates, which are placed in the following order in the circuit of the city: The Gate of David, on the west side of Mount Sion, is reckoned first; second, the Gate of the Place of the Fuller(1); third, the Gate of St. Stephen; fourth, the Gate of Benjamin; fifth, a portlet, that is a little gate, by which is the descent by steps to the Valley of Josaphat; sixth, the Gate Thecuitis.
This then is the order round the intervals between those gates and towers: from the above-mentioned gate of David it turns towards the northern part of the circuit, and thence towards the east. But although six gates are counted in the walls, yet of those the entries of three gates are more commonly frequented; one to the west, another to the north, a third to the east; while that part of the walls with its interposed towers, which extends from the above-mentioned Gate of David across the northern brow of Mount Sion(2) (which overhangs the city from the south), as far as the face of that mountain which looks eastwards, where the rock is precipitous, is proved to have no gates.
But this too, it seems to me, should not be passed over, which the sainted Arculf, formerly spoken of, told us as to the honour of that city in Christ: On the fifteenth day of the month of September yearly, an almost countless multitude of various nations is in the habit of gathering from all sides to Jerusalem for the purposes of commerce by mutual sale and purchase. Whence it necessarily happens that crowds of various nations stay in that hospitable city for some days, while the very great number of their camels and horses and asses, not to speak of mules and oxen, for their varied(3) baggage, strews the streets of the city here and there with the abominations of their excrements. the smell of which brings no ordinary nuisance to the citizens and even makes walking difficult. Wonderful to say, on the night after the above-mentioned day of departure ;with the various beasts of burden of the crowds, an immense abundance of rain falls from the clouds on that city, which washes all the abominable filths from the streets, and cleanses it from the uncleannesses. For the very situation of Jerusalem, beginning from the northern brow of Mount Sion, has been so disposed by its Founder, God, on a lofty(4) declivity, sloping down to the lower ground of the northern and eastern walls that that over abundance of rain cannot settle at all in the streets, like stagnant water, but rushes down, like rivers, from the higher to the lower ground : and further this inundation of the waters of heaven, flowing through the eastern gates, and bearing with it all the filthy abominations, enters the Valley of Josaphat and swells the torrent of Cedron and after having thus baptized Jerusalem, this over abundance of rain, always ceases. Hence therefore we must in no negligent manner note in what honour this chosen and glorious city is held in the sight of the Eternal Sire,(5) Who does not permit it to remain longer filthy, but because of the .honour of His Only Begotten cleanses it so quickly, since it has within the circuit of its walls the honoured sites of His sacred Cross and Resurrection.
But in that renowned(6) place where once the Temple had been magnificently constructed, placed in the neighbourhood of the wall from the east, the Saracens now frequent a four-sided house of prayer, which they have built rudely, constructing it by raising boards and great beams on some remains of ruins: this house can, it is said, hold three thousand men at once.
Arculf, when we asked him about the dwellings of that city, answered: `I remember that I both saw and visited many buildings of that city, and that I very often observed a good many great houses(7) of stone through the whole of the large city, surrounded by walls, formed with marvellous skill.' But all these we must now, I think, pass over, with the exception of the structure of those buildings which have been marvellously built in the Holy Places, those namely of the Cross and the Resurrection as to these we asked Arculf very carefully, especially as to the Sepulchre of the Lord and the Church constructed over it, the form of which Arculf himself depicted for me on a tablet covered with wax.(8)
3. DIARY OF A JOURNEY THROUGH SYRIA AND PALESTINE
Nasir-i Khusrau. Translated and with a preface by Guy Le Strange. London: Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, 1893. ABU MU'IN NASIR, the son of Khusrau, was born at a village in the neighbourhood of Balkh in the year 1003 A.D. (394 A.H.), and claimed to be descended, in the eighth degree, from Imam Ali ar Riza, whose tomb, at the present day is shown in the Shrine at Mash-had.
From Tripoli, which is by the seashore, to the Holy City is fifty-six leagues; and from Balkh to the Holy City, eight hundred and seventy-six leagues. It was the 5th of Ramadan, of the year 438 (5th March, 1047 A.D.), that I thus came to the Holy City; and the full space of a solar year had elapsed since I set out from home, having all that time never ceased to travel onward, for in no place had I yet sojourned to enjoy repose. Now, the men of Syria, and of the neighbouring parts, call the Holy City (Bait al Mukaddas) by the name of Kuds (the Holy); and the people of these provinces, if they are unable to make the pilgrimage (to Mekkah), will go up at the appointed season to Jerusalem, and there perform their rites, and upon the feast day slay the sacrifice, as is customary to do (at Mekkah on the same day). There are years when as many as twenty thousand people will be present at Jerusalem during the first days of the (pilgrimage) month of Dhu-l Hijjah; for they bring their children also with them in order to celebrate their circumcision.
From all the countries of the Greeks, too, and from other lands, the Christians and the Jews come up to Jerusalem in great numbers in order to make their visitation of the Church (of the Resurrection) and the Synagogue that is there; and this great Church (of the Resurrection) at Jerusalem we shall describe further on in its proper place.
The country and villages round the Holy City are situated upon the hillsides; the land is well cultivated, and they grow corn, olives, and figs; there are also many kinds of trees here. In all the country round there is no spring water for irrigation, and yet the produce is very abundant, and the prices are moderate. Many of the chief men harvest as much as 50,000 Manns weight (or about 16,800 gallons) of olive-oil. It is kept in tanks and in pits, and they export thereof to other countries. It is said that drought never visits the soil of Syria. I heard from a certain person, on whose word I can rely, that the Prophet--peace be upon him, and the benediction of Allah!--was seen in a dream by a saintly man, who addressed him, saying, `O Prophet of God, give me assurance for ever of my daily bread;' and the Prophet--peace be upon him!--replied: `Verily it shall be warranted unto thee, even by the bread and oil of Syria.'
I now purpose to make a description of the Holy City. Jerusalem is a city set on a hill, and there is no water therein, except what falls in rain. The villages round have springs of water, but the Holy City has no springs. The city is enclosed by strong walls of stone, mortared, and there are iron gates. Round about the city there are no trees, for it is all built on the rock. Jerusalem is a very great city, and, at the time of my visit, there were in it twenty thousand men. It has high, well-built, and clean bazaars. All the streets are paved with slabs of stone; and wheresoever there was a hill or a height, they have cut it down and made it level, so that as soon as the rain falls the whole place is washed clean. There are in the city numerous artificers, and each craft has a separate bazaar. The mosque lies at the (south) east quarter of the city, whereby the eastern city wall forms also the wall of the mosque (court). When you have passed out of the mosque, there lies before you a great level plain, called the Sahirah,* which, it is said, will be the place of the Resurrection, where all mankind shall be gathered together. For this reason men from all parts of the world come hither to make their sojourn in the Holy City till death overtakes them, in order that when the day fixed by God--be He praised and exalted!--shall arrive, they may thus be ready and present at the appointed place.
O God! in that day do Thou vouchsafe to Thy servants both Thy pardon and Thy protection! Amen. O Lord of both worlds!
At the border of this plain (of the Sahirah) there is a great cemetery, where are many places of pious renown, whither men come to pray and offer up petitions in their need. May God--be He praised and glorified!--vouchsafe unto them their desires. Grant unto us also, O God, our needs, and forgive our sins and our trespasses, and have mercy upon us, O most Merciful of the merciful!
Lying between the mosque and this plain of the Sahirah is a great and steep valley, and down in this valley, which is like unto a fosse, are many edifices, built after the fashion of ancient days. I saw here a dome cut out in the stone, and it is set upon the summit of a building. Nothing can be more curious than it is, and one asks how it came to be placed in its present position. In the mouths of the common people it goes by the appellation of Pharaoh's House.* (* The building alluded to is the so-called Tomb of Absalom, down in the Kedron Valley, just below the S. E. angle of the Haram Area. At the. present day also it goes by the name of Tanturah Fira'un, of Pharaoh's Cap.)
The valley of which we are speaking is the Wadi Jahannum.** (This Valley of Gehenna is not the Jewish valley of that name, but the Valley of Kedron or Jehoshaphat (see note 4 to p. 4) of Mukaddasi)
I inquired how this name came to be applied to the place, and they told me that in the times of the Khalif Omar--may Allah receive him in grace!--the camp (of the Muslims, who had come up to besiege Jerusalem) was pitched here on the plain called Sahirah, and that when Omar looked down and saw this valley, he exclaimed, `Verily this is the Valley of Jahannum.' The common people state that when you stand at the brink of the valley you may hear the cries of those in Hell which come up from below. I myself went there to listen, but heard nothing.
Going southward of the city for half a league, and down the gorge, you come to a fountain of water gushing out from the rock, which they call the 'Ain Sulwan (the Spring of Siloam). There are all round the spring numerous buildings; and the water therefrom flows on down to a village, where there are many houses and gardens. It is said that when anyone washes from head to foot in this water he obtains relief from his pains, and will even recover from chronic maladies. There are at this spring many buildings for charitable purposes, richly endowed; and the Holy City itself possesses an excellent Bimaristan (or hospital), which is provided for by considerable sums that were given for this purpose. Great numbers of (sick) people are here served with potions and lotions; for there are physicians who receive a fixed stipend, and attend at the Bimaristan.
The Friday Mosque (which is the Aksa) lies on the east side of the city, and (as before noticed) one of the walls of the mosque (Area) is on the Wadi Jahannum. When you examine this wall, which is on the Wadi, from the outside of the mosque, you may see that for the space of a hundred cubits it is built up of huge stones, set without mortar or cement. Inside the mosque (Area) it is level all along the summit of this wall. The (Aksa) mosque occupies the position it does because of the stone of the Sakhrah. This stone of the Sakhrah is that which God--be He exalted and glorified!--commanded Moses to institute as the Kiblah (or direction to be faced at prayer). After this command had come down, and Moses had instituted it as the Kiblah, he himself lived but a brief time, for of a sudden was his life cut short. Then came the days of Solomon--upon him be peace!--who, seeing that the rock (of the Sakhrah) was the Kiblah point, built a mosque round about the rock, whereby the rock stood in the midst of the mosque, which became the oratory of the people. So it remained down to the days of our Prophet Muhammad, the Chosen One--upon him be blessings and peace!--who likewise at first recognised this to be the Kiblah, turning towards it at his prayers; but God--be He exalted and glorified!--afterwards commanded him to institute, as the Kiblah, the House of the Ka'abah (at Mekkah).* The description of the rock will be given below, in its proper place. Now, it was my desire to obtain the measurements of the (Haram Area round the) mosque; and I said to myself, First I will come exactly to know the place in all its aspects, and see the whole thereof, and afterwards will I take the measurements. But after passing some time in the Noble Sanctuary, and examining it, I came on an inscription upon a stone of an arch in the north wall (of the Haram Area), not far from the Dome of Jacob (Kubbat Ya'kub)**--on whom be peace! In this inscription the length of the Haram Area was set down at seven hundred and four cubits (arsh), and the breadth at four hundred and fifty-five cubits, of the royal measure.**** The royal ell (gez-i-malik) is the same as that which is known in Khurasan as the Gez-i-Shaigan (the King's Ell), and is equivalent to one and a half of the (common) cubits (arsh), or a fraction the less.**** The area of the Noble Sanctuary is paved with stone, the joints being set in lead.
(As we have said before) the Haram Area lies in the eastern part of the city ; and through the bazaar of this (quarter) you enter the Area by a great and beautiful (Dargah or) gateway, that measures thirty ells in height, by twenty across. This gateway has two wings, in which open halls, and the walls of both gateway and halls are adorned with coloured enamels (Mina), set in plaster, cut into patterns, so beautiful that the eye becomes dazzled in contemplating them. Over the gateway is an inscription, which is set in the enamels, giving the titles of the Sultan (who is the Fatimite Khalif) of Egypt, and when the sun's rays fall on this it shines so that the sight is bewildered at the splendour thereof. There is also a great dome that crowns this gateway, which is built of squared stones.* Closing the gateway are two carefully-constructed doors. These are faced with Damascene brass-work, which you would take to be gold, for they are gilt, and ornamented with figured designs. Each of these doors is fifteen ells in height, by eight ells across. The gateway we have just described is called the Bab Daud (the Gate of David)**--peace be upon him! After passing this gateway (and entering the Haram Area), you have on the right two great colonnades (riwak),** each of which has nine-and-twenty marble pillars, whose capitals and bases are of coloured marbles, and the joints are set in lead. Above the pillars rise arches, that are constructed, of masonry, without mortar or cement, and each arch is constructed of no more than five or six blocks of stone. These colonnades lead down to near the Maksurah (or main building of the Aksa Mosque)*** On your left hand (as you enter the Gate of David), and towards the north, there is likewise a long colonnade, with sixty-four arches, supported by marble pillars. In this part of the wall there is also a gate called Bab as Sakar (the Gate of Hell).****
The greater length of the Haram Area extends from north to south, but if the space occupied by the Maksurah (or Aksa Mosque) be deducted, the shape of the court is square, with the Kiblah point lying towards the south.
In the north part (of the Haram Area) is a double gateway, the gates of which are side by side, each being seven ells across by twelve high. This gateway is called the Bab al Asbat (the Gate of the Tribes). When you have passed this gateway, there is still another great gateway in the breadth of the Haram Area (which is the north wall) in the portion running eastward.* There are here three gates side by side, of a like size to the Bab al Asbat, and they are each fashioned in iron, and adorned with brass, than which nothing can be finer. These (three) gates they call the Bab al Abwab (the Gate of Gates), for the reason that, whereas elsewhere the gateways are only double, there is here a triple gateway. Running along the north part of the Haram Area, and between the two gateways just mentioned, is a colonnade, with arches that rest on solid pillars; and adjacent thereto a dome that is supported by tall columns, and adorned with lamps and lanterns. This is called Kubbat Ya'kub (the Dome of Jacob)**--peace be upon him!--for at this spot was his place of prayer.
And further, along the breadth (or northern wall) of the Haram Area is a colonnade, in the wall of which is a gate that leads to two cloisters (daryuzah), belonging to the Sufis, who have their place of prayer here, and have built a fine Mihrab (or oratory). There are always in residence a number of Sufis, who make this (oratory) the place of their daily devotions, except on Friday, when they go into the Noble Sanctuary, in order to attend the service of prayer therein. At the north (west?) angle (rukn) of the Haram Area is a fine colonnade, with a large and beautiful dome. On this dome there is an inscription, stating that this was the oratory (Mihrab) of Zakariyya,* the prophet--peace be upon him!--for they say that he was wont to continue ceaselessly in prayer at this spot. In the eastern wall of the Haram Area there is a great gateway (This is the so-called Golden Gate.) skilfully built of squared stones, so that one might almost say the whole was carved out of a single block. Its height is fifty ells, and its width thirty; and it is sculptured and ornamented throughout. There are ten beautiful doors (dar) in this gateway (set so close), that between any two of them there is not the space of a foot. These doors are all most skilfully wrought in iron and Damascaii brass work, set in with bolts and rings. They say this gateway was constructed by Solomon, the son of David--peace be upon him!--to please his father. When you enter this gateway facing east, there are on your right-hand two great doors. One of them is called Bab ar Rahmah (the, Gate of Mercy), and the other Bab at Taubah (the Gate of Repentance); and they say of this last that it is the gate where God--be He exalted and glorified!--accepted the repentance of David--upon whom be peace! Near this gateway is a beautiful mosque.*** In former times it was only a hall (dahliz), but they turned the hall into a mosque. It is spread with all manner of beautiful carpets, and there are servants especially appointed thereto. This spot is greatly frequented of the people, who go to pray therein, and seek communion with God--be He exalted and glorified!--for this being the place where David--peace be upon him!--was vouchsafed repentance, other men may hope to be turned likewise from their sinfulness. They relate that David--peace be upon him!--as he crossed the threshold to enter this building, had, through divine revelation, the joyful news that God--glory and praise be to Him!--accepted of his repentance; and thereupon David halted at this spot and worshipped. And I, Nasir, also stationed myself to pray here, and besought of God--be He praised and glorified!--to give me grace to serve Him and repent of my sins.
May God--be He exalted and glorified!--grant grace to all His servants whom He hath received in favour; and for the sake of Muhammad and his family, the Pure Ones, vouchsafe to all repentance of their sins!
Adjacent to the east wall, and when you have reached the south (eastern) angle (of the Haram Area)--the Kiblah point lying before you, south, but somewhat aside--there is an underground mosque, to which you descend by many steps.* It is situated immediately to the north of the (south) wall of the Haram Area, covering a space measuring twenty ells by fifteen, and it has a roof of stone, supported on marble columns. Here was the Cradle of Jesus. The cradle is of stone, and large enough for a man to make therein his prayer prostrations. I myself said my prayers there. The cradle is fixed into the ground, so that it cannot be moved. This cradle is where Jesus was laid during his childhood, and where He held converse with the people. The cradle itself, in this mosque, has been made the Mihrab (or oratory); and there is likewise, on the east side of this mosque, the Mihrab Maryam (or Oratory of Mary ; and another Mihrab, which is that of Zakariyya (Zachariah)--peace be upon him! Above these Mihrabs are written the verses revealed in the Kuran that relate respectively to Zachariah and to Mary. They say that Jesus--peace be upon Him!--was born in the place where this mosque stands. On the shaft of one of the columns there is impressed a mark as though a person had gripped the stone with two fingers; and they say that Mary, when taken in the pangs of labour, did thus with one hand seize upon the stone. This mosque is known by the title of Mahd 'Isa (the Cradle of Jesus)--peace be upon Him!--and they have suspended a great number of lamps there, of silver and of brass, that are lighted every night.
4. THE PILGRIMAGE OF THE RUSSIAN ABBOT DANIEL IN THE HOLY LAND. 1106-1107 A.D.
Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society.
ANNOTATED BY COLONEL SIR C. W. WILSON, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., F.R.S., R.E. LONDON: 24, HANOVER SQUARE, W. 1895.
The holy city of Jerusalem lies in arid valleys, in the midst of high rocky mountains. It is only on approaching the city that one sees, first, the Tower of David; then, advancing a little, the Mount of Olives, the Holy of Holies, the Church of the Resurrection, in which is the Holy Sepulchre; and, finally, the whole city. About a verst in front of Jerusalem there is a flattish mountain, upon reaching which every traveller dismounts, and, making the sign of the cross, adores the Holy Resurrection in sight of the city.
Every Christian is filled with an immense joy at sight of the holy city of Jerusalem; and tears are shed by the faithful. None can choose but weep when they see the places so ardently longed for, where Christ our God endured the Passion for the remission of our sins; and thus, full of this deep joy, the journey to Jerusalem is continued on foot.
To the left, near the road, there is tile church of the first Martyr, St. Stephen; ...Just here there is a flat rocky mountain which split up at the time of Christ's crucifixion. The place is called 'Gehenna,' and is a stone's throw from the city wall.
After that the pilgrims, full of joy, enter the holy city of Jerusalem through the gate near the house of David; this gate faces towards Bethlehem, and is called the Gate of Benjamin. On entering the city there is a road traversing it, which to the right leads to the Holy of Holies, and to the left to the Holy Resurrection containing the Holy Sepulchre.
XXVI.–THE CITY OF JERUSALEM.
Jerusalem is a large city, protected by very solid walls, and built in the form of a square, whose four sides are of equal length: it is surrounded by many arid valleys and rocky mountains. It is a place absolutely destitute of water; one finds neither river, nor wells, nor springs near Jerusalem, with the exception of the Pool of Siloam. The inhabitants of the town, and cattle, have therefore nothing but rain water for their use. In spite of that corn thrives well in that rocky land which lacks rain; but thanks to the pleasure and mercy of God the crop of wheat and barley is excellent. By sowing one measure, ninety and a hundred fold is reaped.1 Does not God's blessing rest upon this hallowed land? In the neighbourhood of Jerusalem there are plenty of vineyards and fruit-trees; fig-trees, sycamores, olive-trees, carob-trees, and an infinite number of other trees.
5. CANON PIETRO CASOLA'S PILGRIMAGE TO JERUSALEM IN THE YEAR 1494
trans. Mary Margaret Newett. Manchester: The University Press, 1907
On Sunday, the 3rd of August, after Mass, the Moors began to swarm into the hostel where we were, because of a great controversy which had sprung up since our arrival at Rama, between our captain and Abrayno on account of certain unusual extortions Abrayno wanted to make -- and not a few either. For that reason a sermon which Father Fra Francesco wished to preach was prohibited, and thus we were delayed in port longer than usual.
...In consequence of the disputes between the captain and the Moors the pilgrims suffered great hardships, sleeping on the ground, and many fell ill. As well as I could I kept myself on that plank mentioned above.
On Monday, the 4th of August, after a great altercation with that Abrayno often mentioned -- who provoked new ones every hour to extort money -- which was calmed by the intervention of the Prior of Mount Sion, and after the pilgrims had been counted like sheep, at the hour of Vespers, we all -- both those who were well and those who were sick -- left Rama in immense heat. And those dogs compelled us to go a good way on foot in great disparagement of the Christian faith, because we had to pass by a place where they buried their dead. When we had passed that place, with loud shouts and contemptuous acts they made us mount the animals prepared for us by the said Abrayno according to the agreement made at Jaffa. As the sun continually beat down upon us, and as we rode through a plain where there was not a plant as long as a finger, we were consumed with the heat; nevertheless this malady was doctored, though badly, by laying hands on the second sack I mentioned above.
At sunset, when it was rather dark, the Mamelukes, who preceded us as an escort to defend us from the attacks of the Arabs, rode back towards the pilgrims in great haste, saying that they had been assailed by Arabs. They stopped the pilgrims, and it appeared as if they were doing great things for our protection; and that commotion was arranged with ten ducats.
As night fell we began to leave the plain and to ascend, following the Moors who had large lanterns on the tops of long poles, so that we could see for more than half a mile. As we rode thus some trees could be seen, but we could not distinguish what they were. The way was very stony, so that the beaten track could not be recognized. One person went behind the other, and perhaps the animals we were riding knew the way.
An adventure befel me. The Moor to whom my mule belonged had heaped so many sacks on its back, both for feeding the mule and also of the merchandise he was taking to Jerusalem to sell, that I was very uncomfortable, and could hardly move. As the mule had no bridle, but only a cord round his neck, I could not control him; he went where he pleased. Besides this, in the evening the owner put a boy up behind me on the croup, who, he said, was his son. Thus riding, the boy fell asleep and tumbled off the mule, dragging me, the sacks and the pack-saddle to the ground, or rather on to a stone, and I hurt my arm and foot so badly that when I got back to Milan my wounds were not yet healed...
Thus we set out towards Jerusalem by a very stony, mountainous and disagreeable road. By the way a few ancient but ruined houses were to be seen -- habitations for goats. The country seemed to me very bare and wild; there was no fruit to be seen, nor did we come across any beautiful fountains. These are not like the countries of Italy...
When we were all gathered together and counted again we were conducted into the city by certain friars of Mount Sion who had come to meet us, and quartered in the Hospital of St. John, as it is called. When we entered, after asking for a little fresh water, we began to lie down on the ground; then certain persons appointed by the friars gave each pilgrim a carpet to spread on the ground. The magnificent captain was in the habit of lodging with two persons in Mount Sion, which is a good way outside the city; but this Prior, however, in order to appear wiser than his predecessors, had taken him a house within the city near to the Sepulchre. He went there to rest, and then in his goodness he sent to fetch me from the hospital, and made me lodge with him....
As it was on our way, we afterwards saw the Mosque which they say stands on the site of the temple of Solomon. It is a beautiful building to look at from the outside, and strong compared with the greater part of the habitations in Jerusalem. It is wonderful to see the courts -- so well paved with the whitest marble -- which are built around at the base of the Mosque.
When we had seen what the friars wanted us to see -- opening the first and third sacks where it was necessary and where I judged it advisable to do so -- we arrived at the hospital all hot and covered with dust, and took a little repose and also some refreshment, and whoever had a lodging went there. The Prior of Mount Sion now sent to tell the pilgrims that every man must be ready to enter the Holy Sepulchre that evening. But when he wanted to arrange for the entrance with Abrayno, who was the person in authority, he demanded first a thousand ducats. An altercation followed, and in consequence the project of entering the Sepulchre was given up...
... The city of Jerusalem is very ancient. Its first founder was Canaan, the grandson of Ham, son of Noah -- that son as I said who was cursed by his father Noah because seeing him uncovered he mocked him. When the three sons of Noah -- that is, Shem, Ham and Japhet -- divided the world amongst them after the deluge, that part called Judea fell to the progeny of Ham, and in Judea Jerusalem has always bee the chief city.
At first it was called Solyma, and was an insignificant place, but afterwards from time to time it was enlarged, as Rome was. Although it lies between various mountains or rather hills, it seems that there are many flat parts, nevertheless it is in the mountains. As is generally known, Titus Caesar in the second year of the reign of Vespasian destroyed it so completely that no one who looked on the ruins could have imagined that it had ever been inhabited. He did not leave there one stone upon another except in three towers preserved as a record that the Romans had subdued such a great city. I saw the foundations of the said towers; they are very wonderful. They are on the way down from Mount Sion before crossing the torrent Cedron.
After a long time Hadrian caused the city to be re-built and wished it to be called Helias. To judge by the ruins it was not re-built as it had been at first, and he gave it for a habitation to the Christians. Since that time it has been attacked very often -- now by the Saracens, now by the Christians. As all the histories relate, Saint Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, caused all the mysteries of the humanity of Our Lord Jesus Christ to be adorned, but afterwards many of them were destroyed and few remain to us because those Moorish dogs will not permit any restorations to be made.
As I went about in the city I did not see beautiful dwelling-houses. There are a great number, and they are close together, but they are ugly. All the houses appear to be vaulted and have vaults above vaults. The roofs are flat, and there is little woodwork inside. The more a man wishes to say about this city the less he has to say, except that such a famous city, called by Christians the Holy Place, is a great cavagniaza. There are some very honourable dwellings, though not many. Among the number is the house of the Governor, who, as I said, is Grand Cathibissa, or as they call him the Old Man of the Faith, to whom honour and reverence is paid as if he were a saint...
6. INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL in EGYPT, ARABIA PETRAEA, AND THE HOLY LAND
By An American (J. L. Stephens) Based on the 2nd edition New York: Harper & Brothers, 1837
This over, I followed the janizary, who conducted me around outside the walls and through the burying-ground, where the women were scattered in groups among the tombs, to a distant and separate quarter of the city. I had no idea where he was taking me; but I had not advanced a horse's length in the narrow streets before their peculiar costume and physiognomies told me that I was among the unhappy remnant of a fallen people, the persecuted and despised Israelites. They were removed from the Turkish quarter, as if the slightest contact with this once-favoured people would contaminate the bigoted follower of the Prophet.
The governor, in the haughty spirit of a Turk, probably thought that the house of a Jew was a fit place for the repose of a Christian; and, following the janizary through a low range of narrow, dark, and filthy lanes, mountings and turnings, of which it is impossible to give any idea, with the whole Jewish population turning out to review us, and the sheik and all his attendants with their long swords clattering at my heels, I was conducted to the house of the chief Rabbi of Hebron.
If I had had my choice, these were the very persons I would have selected for my first acquaintances in the Holy Land. The descendants of Israel were fit persons to welcome a stranger to the ancient city of their fathers; and if they had been then sitting under the shadow of the throne of David, they could not have given me a warmer reception. It may be that, standing in the same relation to the Turks, alike the victims of persecution and contempt, they forgot the great cause which had torn us apart and made us a separate people, and felt only a sympathy for the object of mutual oppression. But, whatever was the cause, I shall never forget the kindness with which, as a stranger and Christian, I was received by the Jews in the capital of their ancient kingdom; and I look to my reception here and by the monks of Mount Sinai as among the few bright spots in my long and dreary pilgrimage through the desert.
I had seen enough of the desert, and of the wild spirit of freedom which men talk of without knowing, to make me cling more fondly than ever even to the lowest grade of civilization; and I could have sat down that night, provided it was under a roof, with the fiercest Mussulman, as in a family circle. Judge, then, of my satisfaction at being welcomed from the desert by the friendly and hospitable Israelites.
Returned once more to the occupation of our busy, money-making life, floating again upon the stream of business, and carried away by the cares and anxieties which agitate every portion of our stirring community, it is refreshing to turn to the few brief moments when far other thoughts occupied my mind; and my speculating, scheming friends and fellow-citizens would have smiled to see me that night, with a Syrian dress and long beard, sitting cross-legged on a divan, with the chief rabbi of the Jews at Hebron, and half the synagogue around us, talking of lbraham, Isaac, and Jacob as of old and mutual friends.
With the few moments of daylight that remained, my Jewish friends conducted me around their miserable quarter. They had few lions to show me, but they took me to their synagogue, in which an old white-bearded Israelite was teaching some prattling children to read the laws of Moses in the language of their fathers; and when the sun was setting in the west, and the Muezzin from the top of the minaret was calling the sons of the faithful to evening prayers, the old rabbi and myself, a Jew and a Christian, were sitting on the roof of the little synagogue, looking out as by stealth upon the sacred mosque containing the hallowed ashes of their patriarch fathers. The Turk guards the door, and the Jew and the Christian are not permitted to enter; and the old rabbi was pointing to the diffierent parts of the mosque, where, as he told me, under tombs adorned with carpets of silk and gold, rested the mortal remains of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. ..
... I cannot leave this place, however, without a word or two more. I had spent a long evening with my Jewish friends. The old rabbi talked to me of their prospects and condition, and told me how he had left his country in Europe many years before, and come with his wife and children to lay their bones in the Holy Land. He was now eighty years old; and for thirty years, he said, he had lived with the sword suspended over his head; had been reviled, buffeted, and spit upon; and, though sometimes enjoying a respite from persecution, he never knew at what moment the bloodhounds might not be let loose upon him; that, since the country had been wrested from the sultan by the Pacha of Egypt, they had been comparatively safe and tranquil; though some idea may be formed of this comparative security from the fact that, during the revolution two years before, when Ibrahim Pacha, after having been pent up several months in Jerusalem, burst out like a roaring lion, the first place upon which his wrath descended was the unhappy Hebron; and while their guilty brethren were sometimes spared, the unhappy Jews, never offending but always suffering, received the full weight of Arab vengeance. Their houses were ransacked and plundered ; their gold and silver, and all things valuable, carried away; and their wives and daughters violated before their eyes by a brutal soldiery...
... That same morning they took me to what they call a part of the wall of Solomon's temple. It forms part of the southern wall of the mosque of Omar, and is evidently older than the rest, the stones being much larger, measuring nine or ten feet long; and I saw that day, as other travellers may still see every Friday in the year., all the Jews in Jerusalem clothed in their best raiment, winding through the narrow streets of their quarter; and under this hallowed wall, with the sacred volume in their hands, singing, in the language in which they were written, the Songs of Solomon and the Psalms of David. White-bearded old men and smooth-cheeked boys were leaning over the same book; and Jewish maidens, in their long white robes, were standing with their faces against the wall, and praying through cracks and crevices. The tradition which leads them to pray through this wall is, that during the building of the temple a cloud rested over it so as to prevent any entrance; and Solomon stood at the door, and prayed that the cloud might be removed, and promised that the temple should be always open to men of every nation desiring to offer up prayers; where-upon the Lord removed the cloud, and promised that the prayers of all people offered up in that place should find acceptance in his sight; and now, as the Mussulman lords it over the place where the temple stood, and the Jews are not permitted to enter, they endeavour to insinuate their prayers through the crevices in the wall, that thus they may rise from the interior to the Throne of Grace. The tradition is characteristic, and serves to illustrate the devoted constancy with which the Israelites adhere to the externals of their faith.
... ABOUT nine o'clock the next morning I was with him, and in a few moments we were sitting in the highest seats in the synagogue, at the foot of Mount Zion. My old friend the rabbi was in the desk, reading to a small remnant of the Israelites the same law which had been read to their fathers on the same spot ever since they came up out of the land of Egypt. And there they sat, where their fathers had sat before them, with high, black, square-topped caps, with shawls wound around, crossed in front, and. laid very neatly; long gowns fastened with a sash, and long beards, the feeble remnant of a mighty people; there was sternness in.their faces, but in their hearts a spirit of patient endurance, and a firm and settled resolution to die and be buried under the shadow of their fallen temple.
By the Jewish law the men and women sit apart in the synagogues; and, as I could not understand the words of exhortation which fell from the lips of the preacher, it was not altogether unnatural that I should turn from the rough-bearded sons of Abraham to the smooth faces of their wives and daughters. Since I left Europe, I had not been in an apartment where the women sat with their faces uncovered; and, under these circumstances, it is not surprising that I saw many a dark-eyed Jewess who appeared well worthy of my gaze; and it is not a vain boast to say, that while singing the songs of Solomon, many a Hebrew maiden turned her bright black orbs upon me; for, in the first place, on entering we had disturbed more than a hundred sitting on the steps; secondly, my original dress, half Turk, half Frank, attracted the eyes even of the men; and, thirdly, the alleged universal failing of the sex is not wanting among the daughters of Judah.
The service over, we stopped a moment to look at the synagogue, which was a new building, with nothing about it that was peculiar or interesting. It had no gold or silver ornaments; and the sacred scroll, the table of the Law, contained in the holy of holies, was all that the pride of the Jew could show. My friend, however, did not put his own light under a bushel; for, telling me the amount he had himself contributed to the building, he conducted me to a room built at his own expense for a schoolroom, with a stone in the front wall recording his name and generosity. We then returned to his house; and, being about to sit down to dinner with him, I ought to introduce him more particularly to the reader. He was a man about fifty-five, born in Gibraltar to the same abject poverty which is the lot of most of his nation. In his youth he had been fortunate in his little dealings, and had. been what we call an enterprising man; for he had twice made a voyage to England, and was so successful, and liked the country so much, that he always called himself an Englishman. Having accumulated a little property, or, as he expressed it, having become very rich, he gratified the darling wish of his heart by coming to Jerusalem, to die and be buried with his fathers in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. But this holy purpose in regard to his death and burial did not make him under-value the importance of life, and the advantages of being a great man now. He told me that he was rich, very rich; that he was the richest, and in fact, the only rich Jew in Jerusalem. He took me through his house, and showed me his gold and silver ornaments, and talked of his money and the uses he made of it; that he lent to the Latin Convent on interest, without any security, whenever they wanted; but as for the Greeks-he laughed, laid his finger on his nose, and said he had in pledge jewels belonging to them of the value of more than twenty thousand dollars. He had had his losses too; and while we were enjoying the luxuries of his table, the leaven of his nature broke out, and he endeavoured to sell me a note for fifteen hundred pounds, of the Lady Esther Stanhope, which he offered at a discount of fifty per cent; a bargain which I declined, as being out of the line of my business.
7. A SKETCH OF THE TRAVELS AND MINISTRY OF ELDER ORSON HYDE
TIMES AND SEASONS. "Truth will prevail." Vol. III. No. 18.] CITY OF NAUVOO, ILL. JULY 15, 1842. [Whole No. 54 A SKETCH Of the travels and ministry of Elder Orson Hyde. Trieste, January 1, 1842.
Jerusalem at this time contains about twenty thousand inhabitants; about seven thousand are Jews, and the remainder mostly Turks and Arabs. It is enclosed by a strong wall from five to ten feet thick, On those sides which are most accessible, and consequently most exposed to an attack, the wall is thickest, and well mounted with cannon; it is from twelve to thirty feet in height. The city is situated at the south-eastern extremity of an inclined plane, with the valley of Kedron on the east, and the vallies [valleys] of Hinnom and Gihon on the south and west, all converging to a point in the valley of Jehosaphat [Jehoshaphat], south-east of the city: from the eastern gate of the city to the top of Mount Olivet, as you pass through the valley of Kedron, is just about one English mile. On the top of this mount you have a fair view of the Dead Sea and river Jordan, which are about fifteen miles in the distance.
8. INNOCENTS ABROAD
About fifteen hundred years before Christ, this camp-ground of ours by the Waters of Merom was the scene of one of Joshua's exterminating battles. Jabin, King of Hazor, (up yonder above Dan,) called all the sheiks about him together, with their hosts, to make ready for Israel's terrible General who was approaching.
"And when all these Kings were met together, they came and pitched together by the Waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.
"And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea-shore for multitude," etc.
But Joshua fell upon them and utterly destroyed them, root and branch. That was his usual policy in war. He never left any chance for newspaper controversies about who won the battle. He made this valley, so quiet now, a reeking slaughter-pen.
Somewhere in this part of the country -- I do not know exactly where -- Israel fought another bloody battle a hundred years later. Deborah, the prophetess, told Barak to take ten thousand men and sally forth against another King Jabin who had been doing something. Barak came down from Mount Tabor, twenty or twenty-five miles from here, and gave battle to Jabin's forces, who were in command of Sisera. Barak won the fight, and while he was making the victory complete by the usual method of exterminating the remnant of the defeated host, Sisera fled away on foot, and when he was nearly exhausted by fatigue and thirst, one Jael, a woman he seems to have been acquainted with, invited him to come into her tent and rest himself. The weary soldier acceded readily enough,
and Jael put him to bed. He said he was very thirsty, and asked his generous preserver to get him a cup of water. She brought him some milk, and he drank of it gratefully and lay down again, to forget in pleasant dreams his lost battle and his humbled pride. Presently when he was asleep she came softly in with a hammer and drove a hideous tent-pen down through his brain!...
...Stirring scenes like these occur in this valley no more. There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent -- not for thirty miles in either direction. There are two or three small clusters of Bedouin tents, but not a single permanent habitation. One may ride ten miles, hereabouts, and not see ten human beings. To this region one of the prophecies is applied:
"I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. And I will scatter you among the heathen, and I will draw out a sword after you; and your land shall be desolate and your cities waste."
No man can stand here by deserted Ain Mellahah and say the prophecy has not been fulfilled.
...I can see easily enough that if I wish to profit by this tour and come to a correct understanding of the matters of interest connected with it, I must studiously and faithfully unlearn a great many things I have somehow absorbed concerning Palestine. I must begin a system of reduction.
Like my grapes which the spies bore out of the Promised Land, I have got every thing in Palestine on too large a scale. Some of my ideas were wild enough. The word Palestine always brought to my mind a vague suggestion of a country as large as the United States. I do not know why, but such was the case. I suppose it was because I could not conceive of a small country having so large a history.
I think I was a little surprised to find that the grand Sultan of Turkey was a man of only ordinary size. I must try to reduce my ideas of Palestine to a more reasonable shape. One gets large impressions in boyhood, sometimes, which he has to fight against all his life. "All these kings." When I used to read that in Sunday School, it suggested to me the several kings of such countries as England, France, Spain, Germany, Russia, etc., arrayed in splendid robes ablaze with jewels, marching in grave procession, with sceptres of gold in their hands and flashing crowns upon their heads. But here in Ain Mellahah, after coming through Syria, and after giving serious study to the character and customs of the country, the phrase "all these kings" loses its grandeur.
It suggests only a parcel of petty chiefs -- ill-clad and ill-conditioned savages much like our Indians, who lived in full sight of each other and whose "kingdoms" were large when they were five miles square and contained two thousand souls. The combined monarchies of the thirty "kings" destroyed by Joshua on one of his famous campaigns, only covered an area about equal to four of our counties of ordinary size. The poor old sheik we saw at Cesarea Philippi with his ragged band of a hundred followers, would have been called a "king " in those ancient times.
...It is seven in the morning, and as we are in the country, the grass ought to be sparkling with dew, the flowers enriching the air with their fragrance, and the birds singing in the trees. But alas, there is no dew here, nor flowers, nor birds, nor trees. There is a plain and an unshaded lake, and beyond them some barren mountains. The tents are tumbling, the Arabs are quarreling like dogs and cats, as usual, the campground is strewn with packages and bundles, the labor of packing them upon the backs of the mules is progressing with great activity, the horses are saddled, the umbrellas are out, and in ten minutes we shall mount and the long procession will move again. The white city of the Mellahah, resurrected for a moment out of the dead centuries, will have disappeared again and left no sign.
WE traversed some miles of desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds -- a silent, mournful expanse, wherein we saw only three persons -- Arabs, with nothing on but a long coarse shirt like the "tow-linen" shirts which used to form the only summer garment of little negro boys on Southern plantations. Shepherds they were, and they charmed their flocks with the traditional shepherd's pipe -- a reed instrument that made music as exquisitely infernal as these same Arabs create when they sing. ...
Gray lizards, those heirs of ruin, of sepulchres and desolation, glided in and out among the rocks or lay still and sunned themselves. Where prosperity has reigned, and fallen; where glory has flamed, and gone out; where beauty has dwelt, and passed away; where gladness was, and sorrow is; where the pomp of life has been, and silence and death brood in its high places, there this reptile makes his home, and mocks at human vanity. His coat is the color of ashes: and ashes are the symbol of hopes that have perished, of aspirations that came to nought, of loves that are buried. If he could speak, he would say, Build temples: I will lord it in their ruins; build palaces: I will inhabit them; erect empires: I will inherit them; bury your beautiful: I will watch the worms at their work; and you, who stand here and moralize over me: I will crawl over your corpse at the last.
A few ants were in this desert place, but merely to spend the summer. They brought their provisions from Ain Mellahah -- eleven miles.
THE narrow canon in which Nablous, or Shechem, is situated, is under high cultivation, and the soil is exceedingly black and fertile. It is well watered, and its affluent vegetation gains effect by contrast with the barren hills that tower on either side. One of these hills is the ancient Mount of Blessings and the other the Mount of Curses and wise men who seek for fulfillments of prophecy think they find here a wonder of this kind -- to wit, that the Mount of Blessings is strangely fertile and its mate as strangely unproductive. We could not see that there was really much difference between them in this respect, however.
Shechem is distinguished as one of the residences of the patriarch Jacob, and as the seat of those tribes that cut themselves loose from their brethren of Israel and propagated doctrines not in conformity with those of the original Jewish creed. For thousands of years this clan have dwelt in Shechem under strict tabu, and having little commerce or fellowship with their fellow men of any religion or nationality. For generations they have not numbered more than one or two hundred, but they still adhere to their ancient faith and maintain their ancient rites and ceremonies. Talk of family and old descent ! Princes and nobles pride themselves upon lineages they can trace back some hundreds of years. What is this trifle to this handful of old first families of Shechem who can name their fathers straight back without a flaw for thousands -- straight back to a period so remote that men reared in a country where the days of two hundred years ago are called "ancient" times grow dazed and bewildered when they try to comprehend it! Here is respectability for you -- here is "family" -- here is high descent worth talking about. This sad, proud remnant of a once mighty community still hold themselves aloof from all the world; they still live as their fathers lived, labor as their fathers labored, think as they did, feel as they did, worship in the same place, in sight of the same landmarks, and in the same quaint, patriarchal way their ancestors did more than thirty centuries ago. I found myself gazing at any straggling scion of this strange race with a riveted fascination, just as one would stare at a living mastodon, or a megatherium that had moved in the grey dawn of creation and seen the wonders of that mysterious world that was before the flood.
Carefully preserved among the sacred archives of this curious community is a MSS. copy of the ancient Jewish law, which is said to be the oldest document on earth. It is written on vellum, and is some four or five thousand years old. Nothing but bucksheesh can purchase a sight. Its fame is somewhat dimmed in these latter days, because of the doubts so many authors of Palestine travels have felt themselves privileged to cast upon it. ...
...We left Jacob's Well and
traveled till eight in the
evening, but rather slowly, for we had been in the saddle nineteen
hours, and the horses were cruelly tired. We got so far ahead of the
tents that we had to camp in an Arab village, and sleep on the ground.
We could have slept in the largest of the houses; but there were some
little drawbacks: it was populous with vermin, it had a dirt floor, it
was in no respect cleanly, and there was a family of goats in the only
bedroom, and two donkeys in the parlor. Outside there were no
inconveniences, except that the dusky, ragged, earnesteyed
villagers of both sexes and all ages grouped themselves on their
haunches all around us, and discussed us and criticised us with noisy
tongues till midnight. We did not mind the noise, being tired, but,
doubtless, the reader is aware that it is almost an impossible thing to
go to sleep when you know that people are looking at you. We went to
bed at ten, and got up again at two and started once more. Thus are
people persecuted by dragomen, whose sole ambition in life is to get
ahead of each other...
The pilgrims took what was left of the hallowed ruin, and we pressed on toward the goal of our crusade, renowned Jerusalem.
The further we went the hotter the sun got, and the more rocky and bare, repulsive and dreary the landscape became. There could not have been more fragments of stone strewn broadcast over this part of the world, if every ten square feet of the land had been occupied by a separate and distinct stonecutter's establishment for an age. There was hardly a tree or a shrub any where. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country. No landscape exists that is more tiresome to the eye than that which bounds the approaches to Jerusalem. The only difference between the roads and the surrounding country, perhaps, is that there are rather more rocks in the roads than in the surrounding country.
Ramah, and Beroth, and on the
right saw the tomb of the prophet Samuel, perched high upon a
commanding eminence. Still no Jerusalem came in sight. We hurried on
impatiently. We halted a moment at the ancient Fountain of Beira, but
its stones, worn deeply by the chins of thirsty animals that are dead
and gone centuries ago, had no interest for us -- we longed to see
Jerusalem. We spurred up hill after hill, and usually began to stretch
our necks minutes before we got to the top -- but disappointment always
followed: -- more stupid hills beyond -- more unsightly landscape -- no
At last, away in the middle of the day, ancient bite of wall and crumbling arches began to line the way -- we toiled up one more hill, and every pilgrim and every sinner swung his hat on high! Jerusalem !
Perched on its eternal hills, white and domed and solid, massed together and hooped with high gray walls, the venerable city gleamed in the sun. So small! Why, it was no larger than an American village of four thousand inhabitants, and no larger than an ordinary Syrian city of thirty thousand. Jerusalem numbers only fourteen thousand people
dismounted and looked, without speaking a
dozen sentences, across the wide intervening valley for an hour or
more; and noted those prominent features of the city that pictures make
familiar to all men from their school days till their death. We could
recognize the Tower of Hippicus, the Mosque of Omar, the Damascus Gate,
the Mount of Olives, the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Tower of David, and
the Garden of Gethsemaneand dating from these landmarks could
tell very nearly the localities of many others we were not able to
A FAST walker could go outside the walls of Jerusalem and walk entirely around the city in an hour. I do not know how else to make one understand how small it is. The appearance of the city is peculiar. It is as knobby with countless little domes as a prison door is with bolt-heads. Every house has from one to half a dozen of these white plastered domes of stone, broad and low, sitting in the centre of, or in a cluster upon, the flat roof. Wherefore, when one looks down from an eminence, upon the compact mass of houses (so closely crowded together, in fact, that there is no appearance of streets at all, and so the city looks solid,) he sees the knobbiest town in the world, except Constantinople. It looks as if it might be roofed, from centre to circumference, with inverted saucers. The monotony of the view is interrupted only by the great Mosque of Omar, the Tower of Hippicus, and one or two other buildings that rise into commanding prominence.
The houses are generally two stories high, built strongly of masonry, whitewashed or plastered outside, and have a cage of wooden lattice-work projecting in front of every window. To reproduce a Jerusalem street, it would only be necessary to up-end a chicken-coop and hang it before each window in an alley of American houses.
The streets are roughly and badly paved with stone, and are tolerably crooked -- enough so to make each street appear to close together constantly and come to an end about a hundred yards ahead of a pilgrim as long as he chooses to walk in it. Projecting from the top of the lower story of many of the houses is a very narrow porch-roof or shed, without supports from below; and I have several times seen cats jump across the street from one shed to the other when they were out calling. The cats could have jumped double the distance without extraordinary exertion. I mention these things to give an idea of how narrow the streets are. Since a cat can jump across them without the least inconvenience, it is hardly necessary to state that such streets are too narrow for carriages. These vehicles cannot navigate the Holy City.
The population of Jerusalem is composed of Moslems, Jews, Greeks, Latins, Armenians, Syrians, Copts, Abyssinians, Greek Catholics, and a handful of Protestants. One hundred of the latter sect are all that dwell now in this birthplace of Christianity. The nice shades of nationality comprised in the above list, and the languages spoken by them, are altogether too numerous to mention. It seems to me that all the races and colors and tongues of the earth must be represented among the fourteen thousand souls that dwell in Jerusalem. Rags, wretchedness, poverty and dirt, those signs and symbols that indicate the presence of Moslem rule more surely than the crescent-flag itself, abound. Lepers, cripples, the blind, and the idiotic, assail you on every hand, and they know but one word of but one language apparently -- the eternal "bucksheesh." To see the numbers of maimed, malformed and diseased humanity that throng the holy places and obstruct the gates, one might suppose that the ancient days had come again, and that the angel of the Lord was expected to descend at any moment to stir the waters of Bethesda. Jerusalem is mournful, and dreary, and lifeless. I would not desire to live here.
One naturally goes first to the Holy Sepulchre. It is right in the city, near the western gate; it and the place of the Crucifixion, and, in fact, every other place intimately connected with that tremendous event, are ingeniously massed together and covered by one roof -- the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Entering the building, through the midst of the usual assemblage of beggars, one sees on his left a few Turkish guards -- for Christians of different sects will not only quarrel, but fight, also, in this sacred place, if allowed to do it. Before you is a marble slab, which covers the Stone of Unction, whereon the Saviour's body was laid to prepare it for burial. It was found necessary to conceal the real stone in this way in order to save it from destruction. Pilgrims were too much given to chipping off pieces of it to carry home. Near by is a circular railing which marks the spot where the Virgin stood when the Lord's body was anointed.
the great Rotunda, we stand before
the most sacred locality in Christendom -- the grave of Jesus. It is in
the centre of the church, and immediately under the great dome. It is
inclosed in a sort of little temple of yellow and white stone, of
fanciful design. Within the little temple is a portion of the very
stone which was rolled away from the door of the Sepulchre, and on
which the angel was sitting when Mary came thither "at early dawn."
Stooping low, we enter the vault -- the Sepulchre itself. It is only
about six feet by seven, and the stone couch on which the dead Saviour
lay extends from end to end of the apartment and occupies half its
width. It is covered with a marble slab which has been much worn by the
lips of pilgrims. This slab serves as an altar, now. Over it hang some
fifty gold and silver lamps, which are kept always burning, and the
place is otherwise scandalized by trumpery, gewgaws, and tawdry
...Every where about the Mosque of Omar are portions of pillars, curiously wrought altars, and fragments of elegantly carved marble -- precious remains of Solomon's Temple. These have been dug from all depths in the soil and rubbish of Mount Moriah, and the Moslems have always shown a disposition to preserve them with the utmost care. At that portion of the ancient wall of Solomon's Temple which is called the Jew's Place of Wailing, and where the Hebrews assemble every Friday to kiss the venerated stones and weep over the fallen greatness of Zion, any one can see a part of the unquestioned and undisputed Temple of Solomon, the same consisting of three or four stones lying one upon the other, each of which is about twice as long as a seven-octave piano, and about as thick as such a piano is high. But, as I have remarked before, it is only a year or two ago that the ancient edict prohibiting Christian rubbish like ourselves to enter the Mosque of Omar and see the costly marbles that once adorned the inner Temple was annulled. The designs wrought upon these fragments are all quaint and peculiar, and so the charm of novelty is added to the deep interest they naturally inspire. One meets with these venerable scraps at every turn, especially in the neighboring Mosque el Aksa, into whose inner walls a very large number of them are carefully built for preservation. These pieces of stone, stained and dusty with age, dimly hint at a grandeur we have all been taught to regard as the princeliest ever seen on earth; and they call up pictures of a pageant that is familiar to all imaginations -- camels laden with spices and treasure -- beautiful slaves, presents for Solomon's harem -- a long cavalcade of richly caparisoned beasts and warriors -- and Sheba's Queen in the van of this vision of "Oriental magnificence." These elegant fragments bear a richer interest than the solemn vastness of the stones the Jews kiss in the Place of Wailing can ever have for the heedless sinner.
Down in the
hollow ground, underneath the
olives and the orangetrees that flourish in the court of the great
Mosque, is a wilderness of pillars -- remains of the ancient Temple;
they supported it. There are ponderous archways down there, also, over
which the destroying "plough" of prophecy passed harmless. It is
pleasant to know we are disappointed, in that we never dreamed we might
see portions of the actual Temple of Solomon, and yet experience no
shadow of suspicion that they were a monkish humbug and a fraud.
So ends the pilgrimage. We ought to be glad that we did not make it for the purpose of feasting our eyes upon fascinating aspects of nature, for we should have been disappointed -- at least at this season of the year. A writer in "Life in the Holy Land" observes:
"Monotonous and uninviting as much of the Holy Land will appear to persons accustomed to the almost constant verdure of flowers, ample streams and varied surface of our own country, we must remember that its aspect to the Israelites after the weary march of forty years through the desert must have been very different."
Which all of us will freely grant. But it truly is "monotonous and uninviting," and there is no sufficient reason for describing it as being otherwise.
Of all the
lands there are for dismal
scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren,
they are dull of color, they are unpicturesque in shape. The valleys
are unsightly deserts fringed with a feeble vegetation that has an
expression about it of being sorrowful and despondent. The Dead Sea and
the Sea of Galilee sleep in the midst of a vast stretch of hill and
plain wherein the eye rests upon no pleasant tint, no striking object,
no soft picture dreaming in a purple haze or mottled with the shadows
of the clouds. Every outline is harsh, every feature is distinct, there
is no perspective -- distance works no enchantment here. It is a
hopeless, dreary, heart-broken land...
...Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists -- over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead -- about whose borders nothing grows but weeds, and scattering tufts of cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises refreshment to parching lips, but turns to ashes at the touch. Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed, lies a moldering ruin, to-day, even as Joshua's miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour's presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the "desert places" round about them where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour's voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes.
Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land?
no more of this work-day world.
It is sacred to poetry and tradition -- it is dream-land.