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taken within. Even if the Agony did not take place
within the present enclosure, it must have been near at
hand. We read the narratives aloud among the old

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gnarled olive trees, and then once more went our way.
The Valley of Jehoshaphat soon widens out, like
Gihon, and then rises like the sides of a basin into the
surrounding hills. The north side had still to be
traversed to reach the place from which we started.
The road descends into a valley about the middle of
the length, then rises again. Now a word about that
valley. It goes north and south through the whole
length of the City, separating Mount Zion from
Moriah, and is called by Josephus the Tyropaeon. It
thus divided the City into two parts, and I have taken
a good deal of trouble to trace it. A good deal is
filled up by the debris of many sieges, and much is
built and arched over. But in ancient times this
valley was almost as deep as the Valley of Hinnom
between Zion and Moriah, which enables one to under-
stand the tremendous difficulty which Titus had in
taking the city piece by piece.

About the middle of the North Wall is the
Damascus Gate. It literally covers that through
which St. Paul rode, on his great journey of Acts ix.,
for my guide showed me the top of the old arch
beneath the present magnificent gate. And here I
am, possibly, at the most solemn spot of all. Just
outside this gate there is a long precipice of rock,


say 60 ft. high, running along the side of the road,
and surrounded by a crest of green grass. On my
right, as I look upon it facing north, is the place, at
the foot of the precipice, where St. Stephen was
stoned. A little further westward is a large cave in
the face of the rock. It is called Jeremiah's Grotto,
and here tradition asserts that the prophet, looking
from the height upon the ruined city, wrote his
Lamentations. But the top of that green hill, recent
explorations, and theories built upon them, have
claimed for it that it was the site of the central act
of the World's Redemption. It bears at present the
name of " The New Calvary." I shall have a few
words to say on this question presently, but now pass
on and reach the place from which I started. The
reader will bear in mind that we have been riding
round the City outside, and have not entered it. No
description of such a ride would be complete without
mention of the swarms of beggars. Many of them
are, I am told, professionals, but unmistakably there
are also " the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind,"
and, above all, especially at every gate, the leper,
ghastly and horrible. They crowd round you, with
a pitiful monotonous wail, the like of which I never
heard before. What can one do? Dragoman and
guide-books alike exhort and warn one to give them


nothing, and I saw a frightful scene in Cairo, where
I disregarded the injunction, and gave a few small
coins. If we saw a leper or two or a blind man alone
they generally got a trifle, but where there is a
number a fight will follow a gift. But none the less
is the sight sad. I believe these people are horribly
poor, and I could not but remember that these were
the scenes to the very life upon which the Good
Shepherd looked with compassion. " Have pity
upon us " was the very cry with which two blind men
met us at one of the gates last night ; so I was told
his words meant. It gives an impetus to the petition
"Thy Kingdom come,"" to remember that His
compassions were not special favours, but exhibitions
of a love to be revealed to all sufferers when the
Kingdom comes.

We enter the City, and I do not hesitate to say
that any inhabitant of Western Europe must stand
amazed at all that he beholds. "The streets of
Jerusalem " — do not think of the streets of London,
Belgravia, or Whitechapel, nor of any country town.
Tall houses of brown stone, the wide streets about
1 2 feet apart. The Via Dolorosa is rather wider in
places ; we measured it, and found that at one spot
it was 15 feet wide, at another only 10. I need not


say that it is no place for vehicles. You can drive
inside the Jaffa and Damascus gates for a few yards,
nowhere else. The streets are paved, and frequently
ycu go down steps ; the greater number are arcaded.
Leaded camels and asses pass to and fro unceasingly,
the drivers shouting continuously to clear the road,
which is always crowded with foot-passengers in their
picturesque Eastern robes. The city is divided into
four quarters, Moslem, Jewish, Armenian, Christian,
but they are a good deal intermingled. To these four
quarters must be added the Haram, or great area of
Solomon's Temple and its surroundings. It is four-
sidec, every portion steeped in the most sacred
recollections. In the centre a higher elevation
marks the site of the building itself. In the centre
a huge naked rock is roofed in by the Mosque of
Omar, and I am bound to say that so far as beautiful
work goes this is the most beautiful that I have ever
seer. The pavement, the mosaics, the beautiful
soft light from the small coloured windows, every-
thing is exquisite of its kind. But that great rock
is the top of Moriah, and everything goes to confirm
the universal tradition that it was the threshing-floor
of Araunah. Upon it Solomon set up his great
altar of burnt-offering. Immediately to the west of
it stood the Holy Place, and beyond that the Most


Holy, the site of the last being now occupied by a
flight of steps. Through the eastern doors, open
according to custom, Isaiah was gazing when he saw
his sublime vision. To the east of the Mosque of
Omar is a small portico on the spot where the
priests examined lepers, and received gifts for
sacrifices, and here it was that the Holy Child was
presented to the Lord, and Simeon uttered his
Nunc Dimittis. But how can I dwell upon all the
associations ? I must not attempt it. Only one
more memory I will name. The N.E. part of the
enclosure was in New Testament days a secular
spot. The Tower of Anton ia stood there, where the
Roman garrison was quartered. We saw the open
space where the furious crowd surged round St. Paul,
and the site of the steps whence he addressed them.
Nay more, some of the steps may be there yet
(Acts xxi. 40). Some of the plain rock which still
forms the pavement must often have been trodden
by the feet of God. I will only mention here that
my readers have reason to be most grateful to Mr.
Hanauer, one of the Church Missionary clergy, who
is a native of the city and one of the Palestine ex-
plorers. He went over the ground with me, and 1
have faithfully set down here a few of the beautiful
lessons that he taught me.


In writing this letter on the subject of the " Holy
Places " in Jerusalem, the scenes specially connected
with the Lord's Passion and Victory, I am obliged to
ask the reader to set a map of the city before him.
Many Bibles have one ; that before me is the S.P.C.K.
map (No. 14) in the tenpenny Bible Atlas. The
Palace of Caiaphas I have already mentioned. Follow
on to Pilate's Judgment Hall. The site is now certainly
known. I do not venture to say that this spot, called
the " Ecce Homo," is that from which Pilate exhibited
our Lord to the angry Jews (St. John xix. 5), but the
" Gabbatha" of verse 19 is part of the convent of " The
Daughters of Sion," and one of the Sisters kindly
showed it to us. It is on the north side of the Via
Dolorosa, a pavement of hard Bethlehem marble.
(In the map just above the word " via.") Of course
we can only guess at the architecture of the house, but
probably the street was then a wide square at this
point, reaching to the tower of Antonia at the
N.W. extremity of the Temple area. The soldiers'
guard-room was adjacent to this pavement ; there
are some diagrams cut upon it where they used to
play games.


There were probably three arches spanning the open
square, and tradition goes that Pilate appeared on the
central one with the Divine Sufferer. On the subject
of this pavement there is unanimous consent.

But a very difficult question, and one which is still
a matter of earnest controversy, follows upon this —
" He bearing His Cross went forth " by the " sorrowful
way," which takes its name from the fact. It is, as I
have already said, a narrow street, not straight, but
with two right angles in its course. At one of them
a Latin inscription on the wall states that it was here
that the Lord addressed His words of pity to the
daughters of Jerusalem. At a certain point one path
leads to the Damascus gate, another to the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre. By which of the two was He led
to His death ? For fifteen centuries at least Christians
who came hither have believed that the place of the
cross and of the Lord's entombment are within the
great group of buildings known as the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre. But of late years this belief has been
disputed. Mr. Ferguson in Smith's Dictionary of the
Bible (art. " Jerusalem ") in a long disquisition contends
that the Mosque of Omar is really the Church of
Christ's Sepulchre. Respect for the writer as well as
for much valuable matter on other points in the


article leads me to mention his view, but it is now
universally rejected. I believe he had not visited the
city when he wrote his article, and was misled by
inaccurate statements.

But in the new edition of Murray's Guide to Palestine
it is contended that the Crucifixion took place on the
north of the City, outside the Damascus Gate. This
opinion was first put forth by a Dr. Anderson, it was
accepted by the German Thenius, and was warmly
taken up by the hero Gordon. It is an idea which
was never heard of until the present century. I pro-
ceed to examine the grounds for questioning the
received site.

Our Lord died outside the City. This appears
from St. John xix. 20, Heb. xiii. 12. The Holy
Sepulchre and the alleged place of crucifixion are
in the very heart of the present City. The question
therefore turns upon the boundaries of the ancient

I have already said that David built the first wall,
the northern portion of which lay east and west along
the north of Mount Zion. A second wall was built
north of this by succeeding kings. A third was


added yet further north by Herod Agrippa. This last
was of course subsequent to our Lord's time. We
therefore have only two walls to take into account.
The S.P.C.K. map (No 8) makes this wall start north
from the corner of David's Palace, after a while it
turns eastwards and then again goes north. Within
the right angle thus formed Golgotha is placed, outside.
In other words, this map accepts the received site. I
must once more ask attention to the map to make clear
my next point. The editor of Murray, following
certain members of the Palestine Exploration Society,
draws the segment of a circle from Herod's Palace to
the Prsetorium, reaching nearly to the Damascus Gate.
If this were really the line of the wall, the church of
which I have been speaking is inside it, and all who
regard it as the scene of the death are clearly mistaken.
The same writer having thus rejected the ordinary
view, contends that his own answers all the conditions,
that the Jewish tradition favours it, and that the real
Holy Sepulchre is close beside it. He has stated his
argument with great force and clearness in an article
in Murray's Magazine for Sept., 1891, and I must
refer the reader to it. But I must also add that,
having several times read it, certainly without
prejudice, I reject it so far as my own belief is con-
cerned, and believe the received site to be the true one.


In the first place, his contention, and that of Conder
and others, about the second wall, cannot be sustained
by facts. No fragment of the old wall has been dis-
covered to justify the innovation. On the contrary,
I have seen a portion of the old wall, lately
discovered, which is exactly where the S.P.C.K.
map places it, just east of the Holy Sepulchre.
The explorations are at present very imperfect, but
everything yet brought to light is in favour of the
traditional view. Mr. Hesketh Smith, the editor
of Murray, makes much of the appearance of
a skull on the face of the rock on the site for
which he contends. Very curiously Mr. Hanauer,
to whom I am indebted for much of this paper,
showed me from the papers of the Palestine
survey how strikingly the shape of a skull comes out
on the received site.

By all means let us at all times be ready for new
light. I do not want to dwell on the long ages during
which the opinion has been maintained, or on the
millions of worshippers who have worshipped on this
spot. I should, I confess, find it difficult to suppose that
they have all been mistaken, and that it was reserved
for the nineteenth century to show it. But surely it is
not uncritical to believe that as there has always been a


Church of Jerusalem from the days of the Apostles,
it is, to say the least, improbable that the site of an
event so transcendently important should have been
forgotten by them. Our Editor says that the
Christians retired to Pella during the siege, which is
quite true, and that thus the site was forgotten. But
they did not retire for a period such as is covered by
the ordinary life of a man, and all probability is
against this view. Let the story about the Empress
Helena go for what it is worth, the current ideas
which she found prevailing must be regarded as at
least weighty.

But the reader will naturally look for some account
of the place itself. You enter by the beautiful front
with which pictures have made us all familiar, a
building dating from the days of the Crusaders.
Immediately in front as you enter is what looks like
a long canopied tomb. The stone covered by that
canopy is called "the stone of the anointing."
Generally there are persons kneeling before it in
devotion. A few yards to your right is a flight of
steps. Ascending it you find yourself in a chapel, and
at the further end, which is richly decorated, is an
altar consisting of a slab, open underneath. You look


down, and if the belief of many ages be well founded,
you see the place of the Cross of Christ. A gold
plate covers it, but so hollowed in the middle that
you can look down on the solid rock. There are
several portions of this rock visible about the chapel
and beneath it, and there can be no question, at any
rate, that here you have a part of an original portion
of a hill. I need not say that I knelt down. The
bare possibility of the authenticity called for so much
reverence, but as I have already said, I hold it to be
the true site. Whilst I was there a procession of
monks entered singing the Vexilla Regis very sweetly,
but I did not stay to hear the service which

Descending the steps and passing the stone of
anointing, you come to a lofty rotunda resting on
rows of massive pillars, and in the middle of this is
another shrine. Entering it you are in an ante-
chamber, and beyond this again is a small doorway,
which you have to stoop to enter. And having
entered, you are standing beside the sepulchre. The
tomb occupies about half the chamber reaching along
the full length of the right side. There is room for
three persons to stand beside it. The roof is invisible


for the many beautiful lamps which are suspended
from it. I do not stay to describe the other chapels
within the same great pile of buildings, the Latin in
one part, the Greek in another, that of the Empress
Helena, and that under the staircase of the Calvary
containing the tomb of Godfrey of Bouillon, as well
as some relics of him, his sword and part of his

One remark I am moved to make, concerning the
" new Golgotha " for which the editor of Murray
contends. Though I do, not believe in it, I am free
to confess that it must at any rate look more what
the real Golgotha looked on the first Good Friday
than the other. No chapel covers it, there is nothing
to mark it. We walked over it and gathered a few
flowers in the quiet afternoon. I am not quarrelling
with the devotion which has covered the other site
with costly decorations, but without question these
decorations have destroyed the original appearance.

I forgot to mention in its proper place that in the
ante-chamber of which I spoke there is a stone lying
on a pedestal, which is called the stone which
covered the mouth of the tomb, and which St.
Matthew tells us the angel rolled away. As for this
stone, we saw more than one example of the way


that it was placed. There is a magnificent series of
tombs about twenty minutes from the City on the
north side, known as " The Tombs of the Kings,"
though Mr. Hanauer satisfied me of the untruth of
this. The Kings in his opinion were buried beneath
Mount Zion, and the site is as yet undiscovered.
You pass down into an open square below the level
ground, on one side of which is the entrance under a
beautiful entablature, and find yourself in a perfect
labyrinth of burial places. In one of these we saw
the stone which closed the sepulchre standing beside
the opening ; it was circular, and could have been
rolled to its place by a strong man. But it was
grooved behind a wall, and whoever wished to move
it would of course have to get round behind it. How
is he to get at it ? There is a door by the side which
he would have to creep through, and if this door were
locked up he could not possibly get at the stone. It
seemed to me that I saw here the meaning of the
sealing of the stone in St. Matt, xxvii. 66.

It would be impossible in the space at my disposal
to give an account of the day's visit which I paid to
the Jewish synagogues. I really do not know how
many there are, but the Jewish quarter is full of them.
Here there were the Cabbalists. We were there on



the Sabbath. A large number of men of ascetic
aspect, pale, thin, and of piercing eyes, arrayed in
white robes and hoods, were mostly standing motion-
less with their faces to the wall on the Temple side,
though a few were sitting down. In one corner an
old man was reading portions of the Scripture, and
from time to time offering prayers to which they gave
their " Amen." Ever and anon they made longer
responses in which I could distinguish " Q'odesh,
q'odesh, q'odesh (Holy, holy, holy)," and "Adonai,"
the name which they substitute for Jehovah. But the
strangest part of his prayer was a monotonous sound
exactly like the hum of a bee, sometimes loud and
with gestures to accompany, sometimes very soft.
I found, on enquiry, that he was offering his secret
intercession for them, and that when he was evidently
excited and earnest, this expressed his special im-
portunity and eagerness. And I confess that
Romans viii. 26 came into my thoughts, the " groan-
ings which cannot be uttered." Then, not far off,
were the Karaites, a sect so strict that not only they
will not cook food, but will not have it cooked by
Gentiles, will not have a fire, or even strike a match.
They welcomed us very warmly, and showed us their
synagogue and their habitations. One very handsome
old fellow of nearly fourscore took us up into his


study, a plain, stone-paved, uncarpeted room, with
divans round two sides on which we had to sit. He
has an immense collection of books, all, so far as
I could see, in Hebrew. He is a Rabbi, greatly
respected, and as he is too infirm to go to the
synagogue three times a day as heretofore, the other
Rabbis come to him, and listen to his expositions.
But each nation has its own synagogue, and nearly
all nations in the world seem to send Jews to
Jerusalem. In the Jewish school of the London
Society for their conversion I found that there were
Arabic, Spanish, Moorish, German, Persian, Italian,
Turkish, Greek, Russian, Roumanian, French, and
English Jews.

Many of the race are wretchedly poor. The stories
which were told me to prove it were all but incredible,
but equally striking and pathetic were the other
stories which went to show their patriotism, the
marvellous self-denial shown even by the poorest on
behalf of the object dearest to their heart, the
restoration of their race to Jerusalem. The " wailing-
place " on the western side of the Temple wall
interested me more than I can tell. But oh ! the
awful condition of their dwelling-houses. I have
never seen anything approaching to it, and I have

G 2


seen a good deal of London slums. One house under
another, deep under ground, apparently to the very
original base of the Tyropoean, no sort of sanitation.
For many days I had the smell of these clusters of
habitation in my nostrils.


Before leaving Jerusalem there is just one word
which I ought to say concerning a visit which I was
privileged to make to the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the
present occupant of the office which was once held
by St. James the Just whose tomb I have already
mentioned. My old and very kind friend, Bishop
Blyth, offered to introduce me, and it was a great
delight to me to accept his offer.

At the appointed hour the Bishop called for me
and we went off together to the Patriarchate, preceded
by an official with sword and silver wand. So much
ceremony is regarded as imperative, and so much the
better. I do not see that a Bishop is likely to lose
anything by magnifying his office. We proceeded


down " Christian-street," like all the rest a narrow,
crowded thoroughfare, in which a carriage would be
about as passable as a man-of-war, and so we reached
the residence. Again much ceremony. Chaplains
came forward in their long black cassocks, and tall
hats without brims, made their salutations to my
Bishop, and at length, having passed through several
rooms, we were ushered into the Patriarch's presence.
He is a tall, dark man, with a long, black beard,
I should judge about forty years old, very dignified
in manner. He sat in his tall chair in the middle
of the room, and had us placed by his side, addressed
to us a few measured words in Arabic which the
interpreter we had brought with us translated. He
expressed to us the great obligations which his
communion owed to the late and present Archbishops
of Canterbury, telling us how enthusiastically the
late Archbishop of Syros, Lycurgus, always talked
of his visit to England and his reception by Arch-
bishop Tait and the English clergy. I ventured to
tell him how warmly I and my brethren welcomed
every sign of brotherly love between the Anglican
Church and the East and expressed my hope that
the union might be yet closer, and the divisions of
Christendom healed and he cordially reciprocated
my sentiments. Then we had refreshments, of the


same character as I had had at the old Jewish Rabbi's
a few days before. A servant hands a tray on which
are as many glasses of water as there are guests, an
equal number of spoons, and three sorts of sweetmeats.
You take a spoonful of the sweets, then lay your spoon
in the receptacle as for things out of use, and drink
some water. No. 2 takes a clean spoon and does
the like, and so on till everybody has helped himself.
After that a biggish glass of liqueur ; we all hold our
hands with these till everybody is helped, when the
Patriarch pledges us, clinks his glass against ours,
and then we all drink. These glasses disposed of, we
finish with small cups of strong coffee. After a little
more talk about English literature, in which " his
Beatitude" seemed well up, we took our leave. I
cannot help congratulating Bishop Blyth on the hearty
goodwill which he is creating between the English
and Oriental communions. If once the Moslems
could sec Christians at peace one with another, there
might be some hope of their joining the Church !
At present no progress towards their conversion
seems to be made. There is indeed good work for
the English Church to do if she will do it, not pro-
selytising from the Greeks, but teaching them and
showing sympathy with them. But I will not go
into controversy.


I proceed to our first excursion from Jerusalem.
It was to Bethany. Starting from the eastern side of
the city, past the enclosure of Gethsemane, we went
up the Mount of Olives by a rugged path of loose
and slippery stones, the same path by which David
went weeping when he fled from Absalom. At the
top of the Mount, a little on the further side, is the

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Online LibraryWilliam BenhamThe letters of Peter Lombard (Canon Benham) → online text (page 6 of 16)