James Silk Buckingham.

Travels in Palestine, through the countries of Bashan and Cilead, east of the River Jordan; including a visit to the cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryJames Silk BuckinghamTravels in Palestine, through the countries of Bashan and Cilead, east of the River Jordan; including a visit to the cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 26)
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SeconD ffiBition,






London :
Printed by A. & R. Spottiswoode,
New- Street Square.




Retrospective View of Jerusalem Page ]


From Jerusalem to Jericho 49


Passage of the Jordan 77


Journey through the Mountains of Gilead 103


From the Arab Camp to Jera9h 137


Ruins of the ancient Geraza 155


From Soof to Oom Kais 240



Kuins of the ancient Gamala Page 252


From Oom Kais, across the Hieromax and Jordan, to
Nazareth 296


From Nazareth to Tiberias 318


Journey along the Lake of Tiberias 333


Description of the Town of Tiberias 355


By the Plain of Esdraelon to Jeneen and Sanhoor 378


Shechem, or Neapolis, Mount Ebal, and Gerizim, and the
Wells of Samaria. 421


Return from Nablous to Nazareth 466






Our excursions around the city being now
closed, as well as our visits to the principal
places within its walls, I sat down to take a
retrospective view of the chief particulars which
we had noted in detail, and to unite them into
a more general picture.

Jerusalem is seated on unequal ground, on
a range of high hills, some few eminences of
which are even higher than those on which the
city itself stands, and in the midst of a rocky
and barren space, which almost defies the efforts
of human labour to fertilize by any common

vol. ir. B


The shape of the city is irregular, but it may
be said generally to have its sides facing the
cardinal points. Its circumference has been
variously estimated, both in the measurement
by time and by paces ; that of Maundrell may,
perhaps, be the most safely relied on, and this
makes it altogether 4630 paces, or just two miles
and a half.


%Calrarioe locus



Tlsciiia %\

Toisei .

SO 100 too


loo ' ' nno ' aoo
Strides Juduicfues

Its general appearance, as seen from the
Mount of Olives, the best point of view that we


could find, is given in the account of our visit
to that place ; and most of the conspicuous
objects seen from thence have been enumerated
in detail. Its boundaries could not be more
accurately described in prose than they have
been in the animated verse of Tasso, in his ad-
mired poem on its delivery. *

" Gerusalem sovra due colli e posta
D'impari altezza, e volti fronte a fronte.
Va per lo mezzo suo valle interposta,
Che lei distingue, e l'un de l'altro monte.
Fuor da tre lati ha malagevol costa :
Per Taltro vassi, e non par che si monte.
Ma d'altissime mura e piu difesa
La parte piana, e 'ncontra borea stesa.

La citta dentro ha lochi, in cui si serba
L'acqua che piove, e laghi e fonte vivi ;
Ma fuor la terra intorno e nuda d'erba,
E di fontane sterile e di rivi.
Ne si vede fiorir lieta e superb a
D'alberi, e fare schermo ai raggi estivi,
Se non se in quanto oltra sei miglia un bosco
Sorge d'ombre nocenti orrido e fosco.

Ha da quel lato donde il giorno appare,
Del felice Giordan le nobil onde ;
E de la parte occidental, del mare
Mediterraneo l'arenose sponde ;
Verso borea e Betel ch'alzo '1 altare
Al bue dell'oro, e la Samaria ; e d'onde
Austro portar le suol piovbso nembo,
Betelem, che '1 gran parto accolse in grembo."

Gerusalemme Liberata, Canto iii. s. 55.

B °2


During our stay here, I made the most accu-
rate estimate that my means of information ad-
mitted, of the actual population of Jerusalem at
the present moment. From this it appeared that
the fixed residents, more than one half of
whom are Mohammedans, are about eight thou-
sand ; but the continual arrival and departure
of strangers, make the total number of those
present in the city from ten to fifteen thou-
sand generally, according to the season of the
year. *

The proportion which the numbers of those
of different sects bear to each other in this esti-
mate, was not so easily ascertained. The answers
which I received to enquiries on this point, were

* In the time of Benjamin of Tudela, Jerusalem is said to
have been small, and surrounded by a triple wall, inhabited
by a mixture of all the nations in the world. The knighta
had then there two buildings, in one of which were 500 armed
men always ready for action, and the other was used as a
hospital for pilgrims. The first stood on the site of the temple,
where the great mosque of Solomon now stands. These armed
men were of the knights themselves, who had taken the vow
of perpetual adherence, besides many French and Italians,
who came here to fulfil a vow of service for a limited time.
Benjamin merely mentions the temple over the sepulchre of
Jesus of Nazareth, and describes the four gates of the city.
In the palace of Solomon were then seen the stables of his
building. The palace is described as a noble edifice, and the
Picine, or place where the victims were sacrificed, still existed,
on the walls of which the Jews wrote their names when they
visited it. — Bergeron's Collection.


framed differently by the professors of every
different faith. Each of these seemed anxious
to magnify the number of those who believed
his own dogmas, and to diminish that of the
professors of other creeds. Their accounts
were therefore so discordant, that no reliance
could be placed on the accuracy of any of
them. *

The Mohammedans are certainly the most
numerous, and these consist of nearly equal
portions of Osmanli Turks, from Asia Minor;
descendents of pure Turks by blood, but Ara-
bians by birth ; a mixture of Turkish and Arab
blood, by intermarriages ; and pure Syrian
Arabs, of an unmixed race. Of Europeans,
there are only the few monks of the Catholic
convent, and the still fewer Latin pilgrims, who
occasionally visit them. The Greeks are the
most numerous of all the Christians, and these
are chiefly the clergy and devotees. The Arme-
nians follow next in order as to numbers, but
their body is thought to exceed that of the
Greeks in influence and in wealth. The inferior
sects of Copts, Abyssinians, Syrians, Nestorians,
Maronites, Chaldeans, &c. are scarcely percepti-
ble in the crowd. And even the Jews are more

* Two centuries ago there were in Jerusalem three Christians
for one Turk. — 'See Travels of Two English Pilgrims, in the
Harleian Miscellany, vol. Hi. p. 339.
. B 3


remarkable from the striking peculiarity of their
features and dress, than from their numbers, as
contrasted with the other bodies.

From Christmas to Easter is the period in
which the city is most populous, the principal
feasts of the Christians falling between these
great holidays. At the latter festival, indeed,
it is crowded, and the city exhibits a spectacle
no where else to be seen in the world. Mecca
and Medina offer, perhaps, a still greater variety
of persons, dresses, and tongues ; yet there the
pilgrims visit but one temple, and are united in
one faith ; while here, Jews, Mohammedans,
and Christians, all perform their devotions within
a few yards of each other, each proudly believ-
ing that this city of the Living God is holy and
noble to himself, and his peculiar sect alone. It
is this persuasion that conjures up between them
that feeling which Mr. Browne meant to describe,
when he says of the Moslems and the Christians,
that " there exists between them ail that infernal
hatred which two divinely revealed religions can
alone inspire." *

In Jerusalem, there is scarely any trade, and
but few manufactures. The only one that at all
flourishes, is that of crucifixes, chaplets, and
relics, of which, incredible as it may seem, whole

* Browne's Travels in Africa and Asia, p. 362. 4to.


cargoes are shipped oft' from Jaffa, for Italy, Por-
tugal, and Spain. Religion being almost the
only business which brings men of opposite
quarters together here, there is much less bustle
than would be produced in a trading town by a
smaller number of inhabitants.

This city being included within the pashalic
of Damascus, is governed by a Mutesellim, ap-
pointed from thence ; and the nature of his
duties, and the extent of his responsibility, is
similar to that in other Turkish towns. No dif-
ference is created by the peculiar sanctity of this
place, as is done by that of the Arabian cities
of Mecca and Medina ; for while a governor of
either of these is honoured by peculiar privi-
leges, the Mutesellim of Jerusalem ranks only
as the magistrate of a provincial town.

The force usually kept up here consists of
about a thousand soldiers, including horse and
foot. These are armed and equipped in the
common Turkish fashion, and are composed of
Turks, Arabs, and Albanians. The walls of the
city, added to the strength of its natural posi-
tion, form a sufficient defence against any attack
from the armies of the country ; and some few
cannon, mounted at distant intervals on the
towers, would enable them to repel a besieging
force of Arabs, but it could offer no effectual

b 4


resistance to an attack conducted on the Euro-
pean system of war.

From the general sterility of the surrounding
country, even when the early and the latter
rains favour the husbandman's labours, and
from the frightful barrenness that extends all
around Jerusalem during the parching droughts
of summer, every article of food is much dearer
here than it is in any other part of Syria. The
wages of the labourer are advanced in the same
proportion ; as the lowest rate given here to
those who perform the meanest offices, is about
the third of a Spanish dollar per day ; while on
the sea-coast of this country, it seldom exceeds
a sixth, and in Egypt is never more than an
eighth of the same coin.

So much has been said on almost every subject
connected with this city, from the natural de-
sire to gratify the ardent curiosity which the
very name of Jerusalem must excite, that it is
difficult to say any thing which should be per-
fectly new. On the other hand, that desire of
communicating or of dwelling on details, being
always as great on the part of the writer, as the
readiness to receive them can be on that of those
who read, it is equally difficult to know where
to stop. If, after these dry details, the reader
should still, however, desire to see them united,


or grouped, as it were, in a more general and
finished picture, I could not do better than refer
him to that which M. Chateaubriand has drawn ;
for though its chief merit is in the style of its co-
louring, there are many faithful touches in it,
and its dark shades will offer a striking contrast
to the "gorgeous magnificence of glittering
domes, and stately palaces/' which the illusions
of the first view have conjured up for more tra-
vellers than one, on first beholding this holy
city. *

* " Les maisons de Jerusalem sont de lourdes masses car-
ries, fort basses, sans cheminees et sans fen§tres ; elles se
terminent en terrasses aplaties ou en domes, et elles ressem-
blent a des prisons ou a des sepulcres. Tout seroit a l'oeil
d'un niveau 6gal, si les clochers des £glises, les minarets des
mosquees, les cimes de quelques cypres et les buissons de
nopals, ne rompoient l'uniformite du plan. A la vue de ces
maisons de pierres, renferm£es dans un paysage de pierres, on
se demande si ce ne sont pas la les monumens confus d'un ci-
metiere au milieu d'un desert ?

" Entrez dans la ville, rien ne vous consolera de la tristesse
exterieure : vous vous egarez dans de petites rues non pav£es,
qui montent et descendent sur un sol inegal, et vous marchez
dans des flots de poussiere, ou parmi des cailloux roulans.
Des toiles jet6es d'une maison a l'autre augmentent l'obscu-
rite de ce labyrinthe ; des bazars voutes et infects ach event
d'oter la lumiere a la ville desole"e ; quelques chetives bou-
tiques n'etalent aux yeux que la misere ; et souvent ces boutiques
meme sont fermees dans la crainte du passage d'un cadi. Per-
sonne dans les rues, personne aux portes de la ville ; quelque-
fois seulement un paysan se glisse dans l'ombre, cachant sous
ses habits les fruits de son labeur, dans la crainte d'etre


So much learning and critical sagacity have
been already exercised in dissertations on the
topography of this ancient city, and in endea-
vours to identify the chief points of it with the
local positions now seen, compared with the ex-
isting traditions regarding them, that it might
be thought an unwarrantable presumption to
dispute the accuracy of the inferences to which
these have led. The subject, however, is suffi-
ciently obscure even now, after all the learning
and skill that have been exhausted thereon, to
admit of new lights being thrown on it ; but
that, not so much from opening new and hidden
stores of learning regarding the changes which
this city has undergone, as from an examination
of the local features of its present site, free from
the shackles and fetters of monkish guidance and
unsupported tradition.

The principal cause of the errors which are
presumed to exist in the systems that pretend

d£pouille par le soldat ; dans un coin a lecart, le boucher
Arabe egorge quelque bete suspendue par les pieds a un mur
en ruines : a lair hagard et feroce de cet homme, a ses bras
ensanglantes, vous croiriez qu'il vient plutot de tuer son sem-
blable, que d'immoler un agneau. Pour tout bruit dans la cite"
deicide, on entend par intervalle le galop de la cavale du de-
sert : c'est le janissaire qui apporte la tete du Bedouin, ou qui
va piller le Fellah." Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem, torn. ii.
p. 176.


to fix with such infallibility the localities of
this celebrated spot, has been, no doubt, the
necessity of adapting the plans of the ancient
city to the exclusion of Calvary without the
walls. The place assumed for Calvary, is now
in the very centre of the modern town, so that,
on the face of such an assumption, it must
appear that the city has gained on the one side
by just as much exactly, as that is now w T ithin
and distant from its walls. In making this
place of Calvary the chief point from which
the relative positions and distances of the other
positions are ascertained, instead of fixing it by
reference to more decisively marked natural
features, a confusion has ensued, which it would
require the breaking down of all the fabric that
superstition has raised thereon to reduce into
intelligible order.

Objections to the site of the Holy Sepulchre,
and of Calvary, in which it is fixed, were urged,
even by pious Christians, at a very early period,
and Quaresmius undertook to answer them.*

* Quaresmius opens his chapter, entitled, " Objectiones
nonnullee quibus impugnatur Veritas sanctissimi Sepulchri,"
by saying " Audivi nonnullas nebulones occidentales hsereticos
detrahentis iis quae dicuntur de jam memorato sacratissimo
Domini nostri Jesu Christi Sepulchro, et nullius momenti
ratiunculis negantes illud vere esse in quo positum fuit corpus
Jesu, &c." (Vid. cap. 14. lib. 5. Elucid. T. S.) In the fol-
lowing chapter (15.) he offers a refutation of the objection


These have again been renewed by Dr. Clarke,
the latest, and, for a long time, the only Pro-
testant traveller into the Holy Land, who had
enough of the love of Scriptural illustration to
think the topography of Jerusalem worth en-
quiring about. According to the opinion of
some of the critics, he has succeeded in proving
that the spot assumed for Calvary and the
Holy Sepulchre, is not the one which they
really occupied* ; while others think the matter
still doubtful, and incline rather to the hypo-
thesis which he has attempted to overturn, t

The most satisfactory way of examining this
question, will be, perhaps, to go over the original
authorities for the topography of the city itself,
and of such remarkable places as are mentioned
in its immediate neighbourhood, as these will
form the safest guides by which to infer the
positions of others.

Josephus, in his chapter appropriated ex-

urged by Gulielmus de Baldensel, which was, that the origi-
nal sepulchre was an excavation, whereas the present appeared
to be a building. "Monumentum Christi erat excisum in
petra viva, &c. illud vero ex petris pluribus est composituin,
de novo conglutinato csemento." This is admitted to be true
of the exterior of the sepulchre, but not of the interior, which,
it is contended, is the original rock contained within a more
costly casing.

* Quarterly Review. f Edinburgh Review.


pressly to the description of Jerusalem, says,
" The city of Jerusalem was fortified with three
walls on such parts as were not encompassed
with impassable valleys ; for in such places it
hath but one wall. - The city was built upon
two hills, which are opposite to one another,
and have a valley dividing them asunder ; at
which valley, the corresponding row r s of houses
on both hills end. Of these hills, that which
contains the upper city is much higher, and in
length more direct : accordingly, it was called
the Citadel by king David ; he was the father
of that Solomon who built this temple at the
first ; but 'tis, by us, called the Upper Market-
place. But the other hill, which was called
Acra, and sustains the lower city, is of the shape
of a moon, when she is horned. Over against
this, there was a third hill, but naturally lower
than Acra, and parted formerly from the other
by a broad valley. However, in those times,
when the Asamoneans reigned, they filled up
that valley with earth, and had a mind to join
the city to the temple. They then took off
part of the height of Acra, and reduced it to
be of less elevation than it was before, that the
temple might be superior to it. Now the
valley of the Cheesemongers, as it was called,
and was that which we told you before dis-


tinguished the hill of the upper city from that
of the lower, extended as far as Siloam ; for
that is the name of a fountain which hath sweet
water in it, and this in great plenty also. But
on the outsides, these hills are surrounded by
deep valleys, and by reason of the precipices on
both sides, are every where impassable." #

We shall not follow the details regarding the
walls and the towers, since this is a subject
which D'Anville has already done at great
length, and one upon which little curiosity
would now be excited. Let us rather confine
ourselves to the more remarkable features of
the ground, and the positions of the hills, by
which the great outline will be more easily

The loftiest, the most extensive, and, in all
respects, the most conspicuous eminence, in-
cluded within the site of the ancient city, was
that of Sion, called the Holy Hill, and the
Citadel of David. This we have positive autho-
rity for fixing on the south of the city. David
himself saith, "Beautiful for situation, the joy
of the whole earth, is Mount Zion, on the sides
of the north, the city of the great king." f

* Josephus, Jewish Wars, book v. c. iv. s. I.
f Psalm xlviii. ver. 2.


The second hill, both in size and importance,
was Acra. " This," says D* Anville, " rose to
the north of Sion, its east side facing Mount
Moriah, on which the temple was situated, and
from which this hill was separated only by a
chasm which the Asamoneans partly filled up by
lowering the summit of Acra, as we are in-
formed by Josephus in the place quoted above ;
for this summit commanding the temple, and
being very near it, according to the account of
Josephus, Antiochus Epiphanes erected a for-
tress upon it to over-awe the city and the
temple, which fortress having a Greek or Mace-
donian garrison, held out against the Jews till
the time of Simon, who demolished it, and at
the same time levelled the summit of the
hill." *

The third eminence was Mount Moriah, on
which the temple stood, and this was to the east
of Acra, but like it to the north of Sion, these
two being divided from each other by the broad
valley subsequently filled up by the Asamoneans,
and both being separated from Sion by the
valley of the Cheesemongers, or the Tyropaaon,
which extended as far as the fountain of Siloam.

* D'Anville's Dissertation on the Extent of Ancient Jeru-
salem, in the Appendix to Chateaubriand's Travels, vol. ii.
p. 311.


" The east side of Mount Moriah,'* says
D'Anville, " bordered the valley of Kedron,
commonly called the valley of Jehoshaphat,
which was very deep. The south side, over-
looking a very low spot (the Tyropseon) was
faced from top to bottom with a strong wall,
and had a bridge going across the valley for its
communication with Sion. The west side
looked towards Acra, the appearance of which
from the temple is compared by Josephus to a
theatre. And on the north side, an artificial
ditch, says the same historian, separated the
temple from a hill, named Bezetha, which was
afterwards joined to the town by an extension
of its area." *

We see thus that though there were only two
great hills on which Jerusalem stood, namely
Sion and Moriah, the one containing the ark
and the citadel, and the other the temple,
divided from each other by the deep valley of
the Tyropaeon, and connected by a bridge ; yet
that the northern division contained in itself the
three separate eminences of Acra, Moriah, and
Bezetha, as inferior parts of the same great hill,
and separated from each other by less marked
boundaries than the two great ones were.

The extent which the area of the ancient city

* D'Anville's Dissertation, in App. p. 312.

jnufc L'fnt.

Gmtto'ot 'Jeremiah %,

Empwrd It ■'»'■' Hull. Rm \- »,•'/,•/,*.„,,/. >



occupied, lias been variously estimated, from
the discordancy of the authorities on which such
calculations must necessarily depend. D'An-
ville, however, has endeavoured to reconcile
them, by measuring each estimate by a separate
standard, so as to make the lowest estimate of
twenty-seven stadia, given by Eusebius, agree
pretty nearly with that of fifty stadia, given by
Hecataeus, merely from calculating each by a
stadium of a different length. I do not think
this method inadmissible in all cases ; but, in
the present, it seems rather like the bending of
facts to support a system, than to be borne out
by the arguments which he urges in favour of
this licence. According to this mode of inter-
pretation, the greatest measure given to the
circumference of Jerusalem is 2700 French
fathoms, and the least is 2550.*

Pococke, without citing the data on which
this conclusion is made, says, that " the ancient
city was above four miles in circumference,
but that now it does not exceed two miles and
a half." t This estimate of its present size
accords perfectly with that given before by
Maundrell, who measured it from gate to gate
by paces, and these 4630 paces, or 4167 English

* D'Anville's Dissertation, p. 325.
f Vol. ii. chap. ii. p. 7. folio.


yards, as turned into French fathoms by D'An-
ville, make 1955. According to the highest
standard of its ancient measurement, therefore,
the circumference of the city has become con-
tracted from upwards of four miles to two and
a half, and according to the lowest standard,
from 2550 to 1955 French fathoms : that is, by
the first, the modern city covers a less space
of ground than the ancient, by more than a
third ; and by the last it has lost only a fourth
of its original size.

Whatever difference may exist, however, in

Online LibraryJames Silk BuckinghamTravels in Palestine, through the countries of Bashan and Cilead, east of the River Jordan; including a visit to the cities of Geraza and Gamala, in the Decapolis (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 26)