« السابقةمتابعة »
up into heaven." (St. Luke xxiv. 50, 51.) In the centre of a large court stands a small cupola, octagonal without, and round within. It encloses a large portion of the bare rock on which is the print of a foot or sandal, pointing towards the north, and said to be that which our Lord left at the moment of his ascension. Helena, the mother of Constantine, founded a monastery on the spot, which was subsequently converted into a mosque ;* but the whole is now in a sad dilapidated state.
From an elevation not far distant to the eastward, on the road to Bethany, there is a commanding view of part of the Dead Sea, and the mountains of Moab beyond it. A little to the northward of the chapel of the Ascension, is the highest summit of Olivet. Here the Apostles retired after the ascension of their Lord, and whilst they were still gazing up into heaven, not yet recovered from the extasy in which the recent glorious triumph of their Master had left them, two angels addressed them, "Ye men of Galilee,+ why stand ye gazing
* See Appendix. No. 20.
Most of the Apostles were natives of this province.
up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts i. 11.) From hence we redescended the mountain into the Valley of Jehosaphat, sometimes styled Tophet, and Valley of Slaughter, and which is a continuation of that of Kedron. In this narrow space, it is believed by the Jews, the last judgment will take place, from a passage in the prophecy of Joel-" Let the heathen be awakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehosaphat, for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Here consequently was the favorite burying-place of the ancient Hebrews, (*) and here, to judge from the few vacant spaces that occur amidst a countless number of scattered stones, marking the site of graves, it is still a place of predilection with their descendants for such purposes. The tombs are of the simplest kind, consisting of unpolished slabs, entirely without ornament,
This valley was used as a place of interment in times as ancient as the reign of Josiah, as we read that "he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kedron, and burned it at the brook Kedron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people." (2 Kings, xxiii. 6.)
the size alone distinguishing the condition of the possessor. The inscriptions are in the Hebrew character, recording merely the names and ages of the deceased, with the day of their deaths. The ground is so rocky that considerable labour is required to excavate graves. It is even said that the privilege of interment here, must be purchased at a high
Contrasting with this simplicity, in the same valley, are three sepulchres or rather mausoleums, bearing the names of Absalom, Jehosaphat, and Zacharias. Collectively, they are called the tombs of the Patriarchs. That assigned to Absalom is the most conspicuous. It stands detached from the living rock from which it was hewn. Its lower portion is quadrangular. Upon the four façades are cut lonic pilasters, above which is a frize with Doric metopes, and triglyphs. Over this base rises a square piece of masonry of similar dimensions, and the whole is covered by a tall conical dome, finishing to a point. The total height may be about eighteen or twenty feet. There is no perceptible entrance, but the upper story has been opened by violence. Into this aperture, Mahometans, Jews, and Christians, men
and women, old and young, are in the habit of throwing stones as they pass, meaning by this action to testify their abhorrence of rebellion on the part of a son towards his father. The ground all around is strewed with them up to a great height. This may be the "pillar" which Absalom "reared up to himself," "in his life time," "in the King's vale ; but it is not probable that he was buried here. It is rather to be supposed he was interred near the spot where he was killed, for we read in Scripture: "And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and laid a very great heap of stones upon him.” (2 Sam. xviii. 17.)
Immediately behind this monument, in the scarped face of the rock, is the architrave of an entrance to a sepulchral chamber. This is assigned to Jehosaphat, who gave his name to the valley ; but it cannot be his tomb, for we are told that "Jehosaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David, his father." It is more probably the tomb of Mannasseh, the son of Hezekiah, who was buried in the garden of his own house.-A little to the southward of the pillar of Absalom, is the tomb of Zacharias, the son of Barrachius. Like the former, its base is
quadrangular, and isolated from the parent rock, and adorned in like manner with Ionic pilasters; but, instead of the metopes and triglyphs, a heavy projecting architrave runs round it, above which rises a small pyramid of mason work.-Close by, is an excavation in the mountain's side, containing three chambers, the entrance being supported by low Doric columns. It is not upon the same level as the other monuments just described, so that, to enter it, one is obliged to clamber up the rock. This is called the Cave of St. James, where that apostle retired to, during the passion of our Lord, resolving not to take sustenance till he heard of his resurrection.-The mixture of Grecian architecture, with what was evidently a Hebrew construction originally, has puzzled all those who have seen these monuments, and has been by them variously explained. The subsequent work, without being able to fix the precise age in which it was done, evidently bespeaks a barbarous state of the art. (*)
The caravan road from Jerusalem to Jericho passes just above these sepulchres.-A little to the south