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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the standards of measurement, or in their results
when applied to a comparison of the ancient
with the modern city of Jerusalem, the local
features and the respective boundaries of each
are so strongly marked, that neither of them can
be easily mistaken.

" In respect to the eastern part of Jerusalem,'*
says D'Anville, " there is no ambiguity. It is
notorious and evident that the valley of Kedron
served for the boundary of the city in the same,
or nearly the same line, as was described on the
border of that valley by the front of the temple
which looked that way. We arrive at the like
certainty in respect to the xcest of the city,
when we consider that the natural elevation of
the ground which bounds the area of Sion on
that side, as well as towards the south, continues


torun northward till it comes opposite the temple.
On the north, it may be added, that the royal
sepulchres, falsely called the tombs of the kings,
and with great show of probability identified
with that of Helena, Queen of Adiabene, forms
the utmost limit of the city that way." Jose-
phus says, " The beginning of the third wall
was at the Tower Hippicus ; whence it reached
as far as the north quarter of the city, and the
tower Psephinus ; and then was so far extended,
till it came over against the monuments of
Helena; which Helena was Queen of Adiabene,
the daughter of Izates. It then extended far-
ther to a great length ; and passed by the sepul-
chral caverns of the kings, and bent again at
the tower of the corner, at the monument which
is called the Monument of the Fuller *, and join-
ed to the old wall at the valley called the
Valley of Kedron."t The wall which separately
encompassed Zion would form the southern

From all these details, we gather that Jerusa-
lem stood on four eminences, with one very
deep valley, and two smaller ones, dividing
them ; that it was bounded by the monument
of Helena, and the sepulchral caves, on the

* Isaiah, vii. 3., and xxxvi. 2.

t Josephus, Jewish War, lib. v. c. iv. s. 2.

C 2


north ; by the southern brow of Sion, on the
south ; by the brook Kedron, in the valley of
Jehoshaphat, on the east ; and by the brow of
the hill of Acra on the west.

It is said by D'Anville that the most remark-
able declivity of Mount Sion looks towards the
south-west, being formed by a deep ravine,
which in Scripture is denominated " Ge-Ben-
Hennom," or the valley of the children of Hin-
nom ; and that this valley, running from west
to east, meets at the extremity of Mount Sion,
the valley of Kedron, which extends from north
to south. No authority is given by him for
placing the valley of Hinnom on the south and
west of Sion, any more than for making this
valley the boundary of the city there. Both
these facts are evidently deduced from the pre-
vious belief that the hill, now called Sion, is
really the Sion of the Scriptures, rather than
from any other data.

Pococke says, but also without citing his au-
thority, that " Mount Calvary, and Gihon, and
the Valley of Carcases, being mentioned as
north of Mount Sion, and without the city, has
made some people conclude that Mount Sion
was to the north of the city." This Gihon he
has inserted in his plan of Jerusalem as a hill ;
but the Scriptures load us to infer that it was
a low -place. In pursuance of the vow which


David makes to Bathsheba, that her son Solo-
mon should sit upon his throne after him, he is
taken down to Gihon, and there anointed king
over all Israel.* This same Gihon is proved by
Cellarius to be the same with Siloah. t Now the
valley which separated the upper from the lower
city, called the Tyropseon, or Valley of the
Cheesemongers, was still this same one, Gihon
or Siloaha, we have seen already from Josephus.
This went along to the south of Moriah and
Acra, and to the north of Sion.

There is great reason to believe, too, that the
Hinnom of the Scriptures is no other than the
Gehinnon or Gihon here mentioned. In divid-
ing the land among the seven tribes of Israel,
which had not yet received their inheritance,
while the congregation were with the tabernacle
at Shiloh, one of the borders of Benjamin is thus
described : " And the border came down to the
end of the mountain that lieth before the valley
of the son of Hinnom, and which is in the Valley

* 1 Kings, L 28- et seq.

f Idem tons etiam Gihon V\XV J vocatur, 1 Reg. i. 33. ubi Sa-
lomorex inunctus dicitur: nam quod Ebraice est pnj /V m
Gihon, sive ad Gihon ; id in Targum Jonathanis est {^rn/'C^ /
in Siloah. Et ibi Kimchi adnotavit clare, ni/'t^ N"l!"7 TimJl
Gihon est Siloah. Et ad Esa. viii. 6. ubi aqua Siloah leniter flu-
entes memorantur, R. Salomo Isacides ''niTDt^l Kin }"1J1
fons est, & nomen ejus Gihon. — Cellarius, Geog. Ant. lib. iii.
cap. 13. p. 333.

C 3


of the Giants, on the north, and descended to
the valley of Hinnom, to the side of Jebusi, on
the south." * The Valley of Giants may possi-
bly be a name alluding to the idols worshipped
there, or may mean Rephaim, which is on the
north, but its relative position to Jebusi is deci-
sive. Jebusi, or the oldest Jerusalem, was on
the north of Sion, occupying only the two hills,
of Acra and Moriah ; and being commanded by
the citadel which David erected there. These
hills were separated by the deep valley of Gihon
or Siloa, which can be no other than that of
Hinnom, which thus, as it is said, passed by the
south of Jebusi, but was, for the same reason, to
the, north of Sion.

This valley was called by another name, that
of Topheth ; for it is said, in the history of
Josiah, " And he defiled Topheth, which is in
the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no
man might make his son or his daughter pass
through the fire to Molech." t That this too
was the same with the valley of Carcases, men-
tioned by Pococke, as situated to the north of
Sion, another passage of the Scriptures renders
equally clear. " And they have built the high
places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the
son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their

* Joshua, xviii. 1G. f 2 Kings, xxiii. 10.


daughters in the fire, which I commanded them
not, neither came it into my heart. Therefore,
behold the days come, saith the Lord, that it
shall no more be called Tophet, nor the Valley
of the son of Himiom, but the Valley of Slaugh-
ter, for they shall bury in Tophet till there be no
place. And the carcases of this people shall be
meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the
beasts of the earth, and none shall fray them
away." *

It has been necessary to be thus minute in
the authorities for fixing the relative position of
this Valley of Hinnom with regard to Mount
Sion, as upon that the identification of that
mountain itself will chiefly rest. There are, as
has been seen, several eminences which may, and
have been confounded with each ether ; but
there are only the valleys of Jehoshaphat and
Hinnom, and these are too distinct to be involved
in the same difficulty. The first of these, form-
ing the eastern boundary of the city, and divid-
ing the Mount Moriah from the Mount of
Olives, and the second separating the upper
from the lower city, or Acra, Moriah, and Beze-
tha, from Sion ; and these are identified with the
only two vallies found in the plan. We may
proceed, therefore, now, with better lights in
our search after the other principal positions.

* Jeremiah, vii. 31 — 33.
c 4


Let us first, then, seek after this Sion, which
formed, on many considerations, the principal
station throughout the whole of the history of
this celebrated city. On the south of the modern
town, at a distance of less than a quarter of a
mile, and separated from it by the deep valley
of Hinnom, is a conspicuous mountain, com-
pletely commanding the whole of Jerusalem.
" The top of this mountain, " says Dr. Clarke,
•■' is covered by ruined walls, and the remains
of sumptuous edifices ;" but he seems to be
quoting from Sandys, who, he says, " noticed
these, but did not hint at their origin ;" for he
observes afterwards, " Here again we are at a
loss for intelligence ; and future travellers will
be aware of the immense field of enquiry which
so many undescribed remains, belonging to
Jerusalem, offer to their observation/' * If the
foundations and ruins, as of a citadel, may be
traced all over this eminence, the probability is,
that this was the real Mount Sion,

As far as my own examination of its summit
went, no such ruins of walls and sumptuous
edifices arose to my view ; but I conceive the
position of the mountain itself, with regard to
the valley and the opposite hills, to be quite
satisfactory, even if not a hewn stone could be

* Clarke's Travels, vol. ii. p. 556, 557.


found there ; since we are told that Sion was
ploughed like a field *, and that such was the
desolation of the city, that not a single bird was
to be seen flying about it. t

The first mention of this city is under the
name of Salem, which signifies peace. After
the battle of the kings in the vale of Siddim,
and the return of Abram from the slaughter, it
is said, " And Melchizedek, king of Salem,
brought forth bread and wine, and he was the
priest of the most high God." % This city is
thought to have been founded in the year of the
world 2023, and is said, at that time, to have
occupied only the two hills of Moriah and Acra. §
The chronology of Josephus makes it in the year
1955 before Christ, or 2559 of the world, when
the event spoken of happened : " So Abram,

* After the final destruction of the temple by Titus and
Hadrian, a plough-share was drawn over the consecrated
ground, as a sign of perpetual interdiction. Sion was deserted,
and the vacant space of the lower city was filled with the
public and private edifices of the iElian colony, which spread
themselves over the adjacent hill of Calvary. — Gibbon, vol. iv.
p. 100.

f Chateaubriand, vol. ii. p. 54.. from Jeremiah and St.
Jerome. The prophet Micah thus denounces this rebellious
city of the houses of Jacob and Israel. " Therefore, for your
sake, shall Zion be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall
become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places
of the forest." Chap. iii. 12.

J Genesis, xiv. 18. § Chateaubriand, vol. ii. p. 53.


when he had rescued the captive Sodomites, Lot
also, his kinsman, returned home in peace.
Now the king of Sodom met him at a certain
place, which they called the King's Dale, where
Melchizedek, king of the city Salem, received
him. That name signifies " the righteous king ;"
and such he was, without dispute ; insomuch
that, on this account, he was made the priest of
God : however, they afterwards called Salem,
Jerusalem.' ' *

It is said, that, fifty years after its foundation,
it was taken by the Jebusites, the descendants
of Jebus, a son of Canaan ; that they erected
on Mount Sion a fortress, to which they gave
the name of Jebus, their father ; and that the
whole city then received the appellation of
Jerusalem, which signifies, " Vision of Peace."
Joshua, it is added, made himself master of the
lower town of Jerusalem in the first year after
his arrival in the Land of Promise. The Jebu-
sites still retained possession of the upper town
or citadel of Jebus, and kept it till they were
driven out by David, 834 years after their en-
trance into the city of Melchizedek. t

In the combination of the kings to fight
against Joshua, after his taking of the city of

* Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. i. c. 10. 3.
| Chateaubriand, vol. ii. p. 53.


Ai by stratagem, the Jebusite is enumerated
among those of the league. Shortly after,
another confederation is made, of which Adoni-
zedek, the king of Jerusalem, is at the head, to
fight against Gibeon, which had made peace
with Joshua. * These five kings of the Amorites
were defeated, and a detail is given of the ope-
rations against several cities afterwards ; but no
mention is made among them of Jerusalem. It
may be inferred, however, that this was taken ;
for it is said, " And Joshua smote all the country
of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale,
and of the springs, and all their kings ; he left
none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that
breathed, as the Lord God of Israel com-
manded/' t

Salem, Jebus, and Jerusalem seem, therefore,
to have been all names of one place, and these
distinct from Sion. In the marking out of the
borders of the lot of Judah, it is said " And the
border went up by the valley of the son of Hin-
nom, unto the south side of the Jebusite, which
is Jerusalem. And the border went up to the
top of the mountain that lieth before the valley
of Hinnom westward, which is at the end of the
valley of the giants northward" X " And the

* Joshua, ix. l.andx. 1. f Joshua, x. 40.

% Joshua, xv. 18. This would agree with the vale of Rephaim.


children of Benjamin did not drive out the
Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem, but the
Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin
in Jerusalem unto this day." *

It has been seen that there was a Lower City
and an Upper City. When David first laid siege
to Jerusalem, it is said that he took the Lower
City by force, but the citadel still held out. This
entering into the Lower City is meant, no doubt,
when it is said in the Scriptures, " And the king
and his men went to Jerusalem, unto the Jebu-
site, the inhabitants of the land." For it is after-
wards said, " Nevertheless David took the
strong-hold of Sion, the same is the city of
David ; so David dwelt in the fort, and called
it the City of David. And David built round
about from Millo and inward." t This account
of the taking of the Lower City first, and after-
wards of the citadel on Mount Sion, is confirmed
by Josephus with the same details. He adds,
however, " David made buildings round about
the Lower City, he also joined the citadel to it,
and made it one united city ; and, when he had
encompassed all with walls, appointed Joab go-
vernor. It was David, therefore, who first cast
the Jebusites out of Jerusalem, and called it by
his own name, the City of David. For under

* Judges, i. 21. f 2 Samuel, v. 7—9.


our forefather Abraham, it was called Salem
or Solyma. But after that time, some say that
Homer mentions it by that name of Solyma,
according to the Hebrew language, which de-
notes security" *

Enough has been said to prove that Sion was
a mountain apart from the hills on which the
lower town of Jerusalem stood, divided from
them by the valley of Hinnom, and overlooking
the whole on the south. No other such moun-
tain exists besides that now on the south of the
same valley, totally- excluded from the present
site of the modern city ; and this, with the united
ones of Acra, Moriah, and Bezetha, on the
opposite side of the valley, forming but txvo con-
spicuous hills, agrees perfectly with all the scrip-
tural accounts, as well as with those of profane

* Josephus, Ant. Jud. 1. vii. c. 3. s. 2. It is the Cadytes of
Herodotus, which D'Anville thinks to be the same with the
Koddes (• — &J^£ \j—& the holy and the noble,) of the present
day. The one being the Greek name, the other the Syriac.

f Urbem arduam situ, opera molesque firmaverant, quis vel
plana satis munirentur. Nam duos colles immensum editos
claudebant muri per artem obliqui, aut introrsus sinuati, ut
latera oppugnantium, ad ictus patescerent. — Tacitus, lib. v.
Hist. cap. 11. and 12.

In the mids.t of a rocky and barren country, the walls of
Jerusalem enclosed the two mountains of Sion and Acra, within
an oval figure of about three English miles. Towards the
south, the upper town and the fortress of David were erected


All round the sides of this mountain, which
I conceive to be the real Sion of the Scriptures,
and particularly on that facing towards the valley
of Hinnom, are numerous excavations, which
may have been habitations of the living, but are
more generally taken for sepulchres of the dead.
Many of these fell under our own observation,
as may be seen in the account of our excursion
round the city ; but Dr. Clarke has described
them still more fully. We did not perceive,
with this traveller, any " marvellous art" in their
execution, nor " immensity " in their size ; but
these are terms of very indefinable import.
They were numerous and varied, both in their
sizes and forms ; and I think, with that traveller,
that of such a nature as these were indisputably
the tombs of the sons of Heth, of the kings of
Israel, of Lazarus, and of Christ *, as has been
proved by Shaw t, and elucidated by Quares-
mius in his Dissertations concerning ancient

on the lofty ascent of Mount Sion ; on the north side, the
buildings of the lower town covered the spacious summit of
Mount Acra ; and a part of the hill, distinguished by the name
of Moriah, and levelled by human industry, was crowned with
the stately temple of the Jewish nation. — Gibbon, vol. iv.
c. 23. p. 99.

* Travels, vol. ii. p. 550. f Travels, p. 263. London, 1 75/.

t Vide cap. vii. (De forma et qua!itate veterum Sepulchro-
rum), Elucid. T. S. Quaresmii, torn. ii. p, 127. Antw. 1639.


It has been asserted that the cemeteries of the
ancients were universally excluded from the
precincts of their cities ; and this is said to be
evident from a view of all ancient cities in the
East, as well as from the accounts left by authors
concerning their mode of burial. This, how-
ever, though true of the Greek and Roman
settlements, is not accurate when said of Hebrew
towns ; and that it was not the case at Jerusa-
lem, there is the most unequivocal evidence,
since we have accounts both of royal and of
private tombs within the city. " So David slept
with his fathers, and was buried in the city of
David *," which is Mount Sion. " And Ahaz
slept with his fathers, and was buried with his
fathers in the city of David." t Though, it is
added in another place, that, from the wicked-
ness of his reign, and perhaps chiefly on account
of his idolatry, though they buried him in the
city, even in Jerusalem, yet " they brought
him not into the sepulchres of the kings of
Israel." {

Now, in the hill commonly called Sion, at Je-
rusalem, over one part of which the present wall
of the city actually goes, there are no sepulchres
known. Those found on the north of the city,

* 1 Kings, ii. 10. f 2 Kings, xvi. 20.

X 2 Chronicles, xxviii. 27-


and called the tombs of the kings, must have
been without the town, and are seated almost in
a plain. They are even now at a good distance
from the northern boundary of the modern city,
notwithstanding that the town has been thought
to have encreased so much in that direction, as
to include places formerly without it. Both
their situation and their style of ornament make
it highly probable that these were the monu-
ments of Helena, Queen of Adiabene, and the
royal caverns of Josephus j but it is, for the
same reasons, quite certain that these were not
the sepulchres of Israel and Judah within Mount

What then are the excavations around the
sides of this mountain to be considered, if not
those very sepulchres in question? It is said
by Dr. Clarke, in his account of these same
caves, " The sepulchres we are describing, carry,
in their very nature, satisfactory evidence of
their being situated out of the ancient city, as
they are now out of the modern." * What this
evidence is, that they carry in their very nature,
it is not said ; but probably it is meant, by
syllogistic inference, that, since the sepulchres
of the ancients were universally excluded from
the precincts of their cities, and since these are

* Travels, vol. ii. p. 55 1 .

retrospective view of Jerusalem. S3

indisputably sepulchres, they must therefore
have been situated somewhere without the town.

But the first assertion being ungrounded, at
least as applied to Jerusalem, the inference is
consequently unwarranted. It seems equally
inconsistent, too, while endeavouring to identify
this hill itself with Mount Sion, which was dis-
tinguished by the presence of the tabernacle,
called by pre-eminence the Holy Hill, and en-
closed as the city of David, within the common
boundary, to make the excavations around its
sides without the city, while every part of the
hill itself was within • yet these are the conclu-
sions to which the argument set up by that
writer necessarily lead.

In speaking of the hill commonly called
Mount Sion, a portion of which is covered by
the walls and buildings of the present Jerusalem,
Pococke expresses the same disappointment
that must be felt by every one in searching
there for the sepulchres of the Jewish kings.
" There were also," says he, " several remark-
able things on Mount Sion, of which there are
no remains, as the gardens of the kings, near
the pool of Siloam, where Manasseh and Amon,
kings of Judah, were buried ; and it is probable
this was the fixed buryihg-place of the kings,
it being the ancient eastern custom to bury in



their own houses or gardens." * " And Ma-
nasseh slept with his fathers, and was buried in
the garden of his own house, in the garden of
Uzza. And Araon was buried in his sepulchre,
in the garden of Uzza, and Josiah his son
reigned in his stead." t

If, after all this, there remained any further
doubt on the identity of Mount Sion with this
hill, on the south of the valley of Hinnom, it
would be removed by the inscriptions which have
been found deeply carved on the fronts and
sides of the sepulchres there. One of these
contains the following Greek words, legibly
written ; + Thc aitac ciwn, " Of the Holy
Sion," in two places. X The affix of the cross
proves it to have been a Christian inscription, if
it be coeval with the letters in point of age.
The work of the excavation itself might, how-
ever, have been Jewish ; and indeed, from its
situation on Mount Sion, and its numerous sub-
terranean chambers and apartments, it might
have been one of the early sepulchres of the
Israelites, used for Christian burial after Sion
had become desolate. That of David, which

* Pococke's Travels, vol.ii. part 1 . p. 9.
f 2 Kings, xxi. 18 — 26. and Josephus, Ant. Jud. 1. x.
c. 3. 2.

£ Clarke's Travels, vol. ii. p. 553.


the rest probably resembled in their general
form, is described as having many rooms ; for
both Antiochus and Herod are said to have
opened several of these, and yet neither of them
came at the coffins of the kings themselves, for
their bodies were buried under the earth so
artfully, that they did not appear even to those
that entered into their monuments. *

Next to Sion, the hills of Acra, Moriah, and
Bezetha, deserve our notice, and Calvary shall
be considered apart.

Acra, which is said to be a Greek word Ax§^
signifying " a high place," was, as we have
seen, in the western quarter of the old Jerusalem,
and had a citadel on it which commanded Mount
Moriah on the east, until its summit was levelled,
as has been described, t This is still the high-
est part of the modern Jerusalem, and on it
stands the Latin Convent of the Terra Santa,
the Castle of the Pisans, or Citadel of David, as
it is vulgarly called, the Gate of Jaffa, &c. over-
looking the rest of the town.

This hill was originally separated by a broad
ditch from Mount Moriah ; but we are expressly
told by Josephus, that the Asmoneans subse-
quently filled up that valley with earth, and had

* Josephus, Ant. Jud. 1. vii. c. 15. 3.

f D'Anville's Dissertation, in Appendix to Chateaubriand's
Travels, vol. ii. p. 311.



a mind to join the city to the temple * ; and
this valley is distinctly marked, so as not to be
mistaken for the Tyropseon, or Valley of Hin-
nom, mentioned afterwards as the Vale of Siloam.
It is before coming to the low ground, which
may mark the place of this valley now rilled up,
that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands ;
and on the low part itself that the present
Jewish Synagogue, with its subterranean divi-

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 2 of 26)