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It is well remarked by Chateaubriand, who had travelled among the native tribes of North America as extensively as among the Arabs of the Syrian wilderness, that amid the rudeness of the latter you still perceive a certain degree of delicacy in their manners; you see that they are natives of that East which is the cradle of all the arts, all the sciences, all the religions. Buried at the extremity of the West, the Canadian inhabits valleys shaded by eternal forests and watered by immense rivers; the Arab, cast, as it were, upon the high road of the world between Africa and Asia, roves in the brilliant regions of Aurora over a soil without trees and without water.
The Jews-the children of the kingdom-have been cast out, and many have come from the east and the west to occupy their place in the desolate land promised to their fathers. They usually take up their abode in the narrow space between the Temple and the foot of Mount Zion, defended from the tyranny of their Turkish masters by their indigence and misery. Here they appear covered with rags, and sitting in the dust, with their eyes fixed on the ruins of their ancient sanctuary. It has been observed that those descendants of Abraham who come from foreign countries to fix their residence at Jerusalem live but a short time; while such as are natives of Palestine are so wretchedly poor as to be obliged to send every year to raise contributions among their brethren of Egypt and Barbary.*
The picture given by Dr. Richardson is much more flattering. He assures his readers that many of the Jews are rich and in comfortable circumstances; but that they are careful to conceal their wealth, and even their comfort, from the jealous eye of their rulers, lest, by awakening their cupidity, some plot of robbery or murder should be devised. The whole population has been estimated by different travellers as amounting to from fifteen to thirty thousand, consisting of Mohammedans, Jews, and the various sects of Christians.
likeness of his face to Judas, who was condemned to die for him; and that, in consequence, Judas having been crucified, his body might have been contained in this sepulchre, but not that of Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that the Mussulmans do not perform any act of devotion at this monument, and that they ridicule the Christians who go to revere it.-Ali Bey, vol. ii. p. 237.
* Chateaubriand." Itinéraire, tomii. p. 169.
Description of the Country Northward of Jerusalem.
Grotto of Jeremiah-Sepulchres of the Kings-Singular Doors-Village of Leban-Jacob's Well-Valley of Shechem-Nablous-Samaritans -Sebaste- Jennin- Gilead-Geraza, or Djerash-Description of Ruins-Gergasha of the Hebrews-Rich Scenery of Gilead-River Jabbok-Souf-Ruins of Gamala-Magnificent Theatre-GadaraCapernaum, or Talhewm-Sea of Galilee-Bethsaida and ChorazinTarachea-Sumuk-Tiberias-Description of modern Town-House of Peter-Baths-University-Mount Tor, or Tabor-Description by Pococke, Maundrell, Burckhardt, and Doubdan-View from the Top -Great Plain-Nazareth-Church of Annunciation-Workshop of Joseph-Mount of Precipitation-Table of Christ-Cana, or Kefer Kenna-Waterpots of Stone-Saphet, or Szaffad-University-French -Sidney Smith-Dan-Sepphoris-Church of St. Anne-Description by Dr. Clarke-Vale of Zabulon-Vicinity of Acre.
UPON leaving the northern gate of Jerusalem, on the road which leads to Damascus, there is seen a large grotto much venerated by Christians, Turks, and Jews, said to have been for some time the residence, or rather the prison, of the prophet Jeremiah. The bed of the holy man is shown, in the form of a rocky shelf, about eight feet from the ground; and the spot is likewise pointed out on which he is understood to have written his book of Lamentations. In the days of Maundrell, this excavation was occupied by a college of dervises.
We have already alluded to the Sepulchres of the Kings, as very singular remains of ancient architecture, and standing at a little distance from the city. There still prevails some obscurity in regard to the origin and intention of these places of burial, occasioned chiefly by the fact recorded in Holy Scripture, that the tombs of the kings of Judah were on Mount Zion. Pococke held the opinion, that they derived their name from Helena, the queen of Adiabene, whose body was deposited in a cave outside the northern wall of Jerusalem; a conclusion which derives some countenance from the language of Josephus, and has been
adopted by Dr. Clarke. M. de Chateaubriand, on the contrary, supposes these grottoes to have been appropriated to the family of Herod; and in support of his views quotes a passage from the Jewish historian, who, speaking of the wall which Titus erected to press Jerusalem still more closely than before, says, that "this wall, returning towards the north, enclosed the sepulchre of Herod." Now this, adds the Frenchman, is the situation of the royal caverns.
But whoever was buried here, this is certain, to use the words of the accurate Maundrell, that the place itself discovers so great an expense both of labour and treasure, that we may well suppose it to have been the work of kings. You approach it on the east side through an entrance cut out of the rock, which admits you into an open court of about forty paces square. On the south side is a portico nine paces long and four broad, likewise hewn out of the natural rock, and having an architrave running along its front adorned with sculpture of fruits and flowers. The passage into the sepulchre is now so greatly obstructed with stones and rubbish that it is no easy matter to creep through; but having overcome this difficulty you arrive at a large room, seven or eight yards square, excavated in the solid body of the hill. Its sides and ceiling are so exactly square, and its angles so just, that no architect could form a more regular apartment; while the whole is so firm and entire, that it resembles a chamber hollowed out of one piece of marble. From this room you pass into six others, all of the same construction; the two innermost being somewhat deeper than the rest, and are descended to by a certain number of steps.
In every one of these, except the first, were coffins of stone placed in niches formed in the sides of the chamber. They had at first been covered with handsome lids; but the most of them have been long broken to pieces, and either scattered about the apartment, or entirely removed. One of white marble was observed by Dr. Clarke, adorned all over with the richest and most beautiful carving; though, like all the other sculptured work in the tombs, it represented nothing of the human figure, nor of any living thing, but consisted entirely of foliage and flowers, and principally of the leaves and branches of the vine. The receptacles for the dead bodies are not much larger than European
coffins; but, having the more regular form of parallelograms, they thereby differ from the usual appearance presented in the sepulchral crypts of the country, where the soros is of considerable size, and generally resembles a cistern. The taste manifested in the interior of these chambers seems also to denote a later period in the history of the arts; the skill and neatness visible in the carving is admirable, and there is much of ornament displayed in several parts of the work.
But the most surprising thing belonging to these subterranean chambers is their doors; of which, when Mr. Maundrell visited Jerusalem, there was still one remaining. "It consisted," says he, "of a plank of stone of about six inches in thickness, and in its other dimensions equalling the size of an ordinary door, or somewhat less. It was carved in such a manner as to resemble a piece of wainscot: the stone of which it was made was visibly of the same kind with the whole rock; and it turned upon two hinges in the nature of axles. These hinges were of the same entire piece of stone with the door, and were contained in two holes of the immoveable rock, one at the top and another at the bottom.*
We are informed by Dr. Clarke, that the same sort of contrivance is to be found among the sepulchres at Telmessus; and, moreover, that the ancients had the art of being able to close these doors in such a manner that no one could have access to the tomb who was not acquainted with the secret method of opening them, unless by violating the abode of the dead, and forcing a passage through the stone. This has been done in several instances at the place just named; but the doors, though broken, still remain closed with their hinges unimpaired.t
In pursuing the road to Nablous, the ancient Shechem,
* Journey, p. 76.
† Pausanius, describing the Sepulchre of Helena at Jerusalem, mentions this device: "It was so contrived that the door of the sepulchre, which was of stone, and similar in all respects to the sepulchre itself, could never be opened except upon the return of the same day and hour in each succeeding year. It then opened of itself by means of the mechanism alone, and after a short interval closed again. Such was the case at the time stated; had you tried to open it at any other time, you would not have succeeded, but broken it first in the attempt." Paus. in Arcad. cap. xvi.-Clarke's Travels, vol. iv. p. 383.
the first village which meets the eye of the traveller is Beer, so named from the well or spring where the wayfaring man stops to quench his thirst. The inhabitants, who appear to be chiefly Arabs, are in the greatest poverty, oppressed and alarmed by the incessant demands of their Turkish rulers. It is the Michmash of Scripture, celebrated as the place whither Jotham fled from the anger of his brother Abimelech. It presents, too, the remains of an old church, erected, as tradition reports, by the pious Helena, on the spot where the Virgin sat down to bewail the absence of her son, who had tarried behind in Jerusalem to commune with the doctors in the Temple.
Beyond this interesting hamlet, at the distance of about four hours, is Leban, called Lebonah in the Bible, a village situated on the eastern side of a delicious vale. The road between these two places is carried through a wild and very hilly country, destitute of trees or other marks of cultivation, and rendered almost totally unproductive by the barbarism of the government. In a narrow dell, formed by two lofty precipices, are the ruins of a monastery, being in the neighbourhood of that mystic Bethel where Jacob enjoyed his vision of heavenly things, and had his stony couch made easy by the beautiful picture of ministering angels ascending and descending from the presence of the Eternal.
The next object of interest is connected with the name of the same patriarch. It is Jacob's Well,-the scene of the memorable conference between our Saviour and the woman of Samaria. Such a locality was too important to be omitted by Helena while selecting sites for Christian churches. Over it, accordingly, was erected a large edifice; of which, however, the "voracity of time, aided by the Turks," has left nothing but a few foundations remaining. Maundrell tells us that "the well is covered at present with an old stone vault, into which you are let down through a very straight hole; and then removing a broad flat stone you discover the mouth of the well itself. It is dug in a firm rock, and extends about three yards in diameter and thirty-five in depth; five of which we found full of water. This confutes a story commonly told to travellers who do not take the pains to examine the well, namely, that it is dry all the year round except on the anniversary of that