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النشر الإلكتروني

128

ABSALOM'S PILLAR.

plored with much difficulty. Returning thence, we walked through the Jewish burial-ground, upon the side of the mountain looking toward Jerusalem. The Jews love to be buried here, because they say their Messiah will come and stand upon the Mount of Olives, and they will then rise to dwell and reign with Him in the restored city and kingdom of Israel. Then we came to Absalom's Pillar, in the valley of Jehoshaphat. It is cut in the solid rock of the mountain, to which the base is still attached, and is in the form of a circular pyramid upon a pedestal ornamented with sixteen Ionic columns. A large hole has been broken at the side, and Jewish children are taught to throw stones into it, in contempt for the unnatural rebellion of Absalom against his father David. There is very little evidence, however, that this is the identical pillar that ‘Absalom reared up for himself in the king's dale,' because, he said, 'I have no son to keep my name in remembrance. In the rear of this monument is the tomb of Jehoshaphat, said to be filled with ancient manuscripts of the law. And just below is the tomb or grotto of St James, extending into the side of the Mount of Olives. Here, it is said, the apostle took refuge in a time of persecution and distress. Just below stands the so-called tomb of Zechariah, who was 'slain between the temple and the altar.' It is also of pyramidal form, and hewn out of the solid rock. Each of its sides is ornamented with six Ionic columns, and a broad cornice runs around the shaft. No visible entrance to the interior has yet been discovered. “ It is doubtful whether

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of these monuments can be truly assigned to the persons whose names they bear. They appear to be of the Egyptian style of architecture, intermingled with Grecian ornaments.

FOUNDATIONS OF TEMPLE.

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“We now crossed the valley, and ascended again to the walls of the city. Passing underneath the golden gateway, now closed, we observed the beautiful columns of verd, antique, and marble thrust into the wall by the Turks, and examined the immense blocks of stone on which the foundation rests, some of which measured twenty-four feet in length by four in thickness, and are doubtless a portion of the outer wall of Solomon's temple remaining in position to this day. They are dressed and beveled in the peculiar Jewish style of workmanship, and no cement is used in joining them together.

“Turning the south-east angle of the wall, we discovered an inverted tablet inserted near the top, containing a Latin inscription partly effaced, to Hadriano Diro Augusto, &c., probably a slab from the temple of Jupiter, which that emperor erected on the site of the Jewish temple. Ascending the south side of Mount Zion, we looked down the valley of the Tyropoeon to the pool of Siloam, and the king's gardens, that are watered from this fountain. Beyond is the well of Nehemiah and En-rogel, where Jonathan and Ahimaaz waited to bring intelligence to David when he was driven from the city by the rebellion of Absalom. Higher up in the valley of the son of Hinnom is Tophet, where the children of Judah built the high places to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, for which sin the Lord brought signal judgments upon His chosen people.

“The sun had just set behind the mountains of Judea, and the moon rose beautifully over the Mount of Olives, as we entered Zion gate, and returned to our home within the city. “We have thus 'walked about Zion, and gone round

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about her; told the towers thereof, marked well her bulwarks, and considered her palaces;' and rejoice to say with the Psalmist, This God is our God for ever and ever : he will be our guide even unto death.'

“In the evening we ascended to our house-top on Mount Zion, and enjoyed a moonlight view of the city, the Mount of Olives and the mountains of Moab in the distance. The sky of the Orient was pure and bright, the moon and stars were shining with celestial beauty, and in the presence of the scene we could not but call to mind the exclamation of the Psalmist, When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?'

"We rose early this morning to enjoy the sunrise view from our house-top on Mount Zion. The morning star was in the east, and the dawn lovely with purple and rosy light. Then came the reddening rays as the sun shone glorious over Moab, lighting up Olivet, the minarets of the city, the domes of Omar, and the Holy Sepulchre, flooding the streets with golden light, falling upon Gihon and the mountains of Judea beyond, and filling the entire landscape with new life and beauty. The moon was just sinking in the west as the sun was rising in the east, and the whole formed a scene of transcendent beauty, such as I have never before witnessed in the Orient. In the language of the Psalmist, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun; which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. We then went to visit the

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tomb of David upon the southern summit of Mount Zion, without the walls. It was formerly a Christian church, now converted into a Mohammedan mosque, and is regarded by Moslems, Jews, and Christians as enclosing the sepulchre of Israel's king. With some difficulty we succeeded in gaining admittance to the room where the tomb stands. It is built in the Mohammedan style, covered over with a green cloth, and filled upon the outer surface with the names of Jews in Hebrew characters, who have been privileged to visit the place. It is greatly venerated by the Jews, as occupying the precise spot where the royal dust of David reposes; and they frequently resort to the next chamber—as near as Moslem bigotry will permit them—to weep over their fallen condition.

“ In an adjoining part of the building we were shewn the large ‘upper room,' where it is said the Saviour celebrated the last passover with His disciples. They also point to a recess in the wall as the seat occupied by Jesus on that occasion. The room is now used for religious services by the native Christians, and the Moslems also have a praying place here, looking towards Mecca. It is remarkable that Mohammedans hold many of the localities connected with the patriarchs and prophets of Old Testament history in even greater veneration than the Christians and Jews. But they seldom reverence any that pertain to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, though they regard Jesus as the last and greatest of prophets before Mahomed. Upon leaving the mosque, we passed a ruined stone wall, where it is said the Virgin Mary lived with the beloved disciple, John, in his own house after the crucifixion. It is greatly venerated by

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the Latin, Greek, and Armenian pilgrims, and several were here, crossing, prostrating themselves, and kissing the stones of the wall.

“Then we visited the American convent near by, which, they tell us, occupies the site of the house of Caiaphas, the high priest, where they led away Jesus the night after His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. The place of the Saviour's imprisonment and mocking is here shewn, also where the Apostle Peter denied his Lord, when the cock crew, and Peter went out and wept bitterly. Likewise behind the altar they have a large, rough block of stone, which is said to be the identical stone that was rolled before the door of the Saviour's sepulchre. The pilgrims kiss it with much devotion, and bedew its surface with many tears. Though Protestant travellers, overcome by the emotions of the place and hour, frequently yield implicit belief in all these sacred relics and localities, I am rather inclined to conclude, that for wise reasons, for the most part, they are entirely lost. Yet one cannot but have his faith strengthened, and devotion quickened, by visiting the precise spots where tradition relates that these scenes of the Saviour's mission upon earth were witnessed.

“Entering Zion gate, we now pass the lepers' quarter, a few miserable hovels near the city walls. They live apart by themselves, are outcasts from society, and are obliged always to intermarry with each other. Consequently, not only themselves but their children are all afflicted with this loathsome disease. No sympathy seems extended to them, and they are suffered to live and die in filth and wretchedness, the most pitiable objects in the world

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