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TALMUDICAL TRADITIONS.-GOD OUR REFUGE.
to this day; and although there are now no cities of refuge, still no man-slayer is safe outside the city gate; and nothing, I believe, will effectually eradicate this custom of revenge but the prevalence of a pure Christianity.
If the Talmudical tradition be true that the roads to these cities of refuge were kept in good repair, and guide-posts, with the word “Refuge" written in large characters upon them, were erected at any place where hesitation or mistake was possible, we should have all the conditions necessary to render the application of the name, Refuge to God, eminently natural and appropriate.
It is possible that this particular title of Jehovah was first heard in the agonizing cry of some fainting fugitive, in despair of reaching such a sanctuary.
The natives of this land, Christian and Moslem, to this day, apply names and titles, not only to their patron saint or venerated wely but to God himself, according as their stress or circumstance suggests; and we may safely conclude that without these, or similar conditions, this name would never have been applied to God-not, at least, with the same delightful and blessed significance. Existing and co-operating with them, this title would surely become most precious to the hearts of God's people.
The transference from the visible symbol to the spiritual truth symbolized requires no elaborate illustration. The convicted sinner is the “man-slayer," and Jehovah-Jesus the only available refuge:
Dear Refuge of my weary soul !
On thee, when sorrows rise-
My fainting hope relies.
El Haram, Machpelah. - Authenticity of the Sepulchre.—Exterior of the Mosk.–Benjamin
of Tudela's Description.— Pierotti's Description of ei Haram.—Dean Stanley's Account of his Visit to Machpelah.—Houses in Hebron.—Population of Hebron.-Cities of Refuge not situated in Conspicuous Positions. —Pools in the Valley of Hebron.—Murderers of Ish-bosheth hanged over the Lower Pool.—Description of the Pools.- Vineyards of Hebron.—Grapes of Eshcol.-Appearance of the Vineyards Peculiar and Striking.–Vine Stocks.—Methods of Cultivating the Vine.—Dibs, Juice of the Grape.Houses and Rude Towers in the Vineyards. — Watchmen, and Biblical Allusions to them.—Watchmen on the Walls of the City.—Watchmen standing upon the Mountains guarding the Vineyards.-Cry of the Watchmen in Concert.-Abraham's Oak.-Relics and Mementoes manufactured from the Wood of Sacred Trees.-Fruit-trees in the Valley of Mamre.— The Pomegranate. -Several kinds of Pomegranates.- Description of the Fruit and Flower.- Biblical Allusions to the Pomegranate.-Outlook from the Mountain north of Hebron.—Region east and south of Hebron abounding in Biblical Sites. — Tell 'Arâd, Arad.—Keilah.—Zif, Ziph.—Maon and Carmel.-David, Nabal, Abigail.—Site of Ancient Carmel.–Fountain and Reservoir.—Ruins of Carmel.—Castle. -Church.-Masada.-Wolcott and Tipping.- Josephus's Description of Masada.Masada besieged by Flavius Silva.–Self-immolation of the Siccarii.-Canon Tristram's Description of the Ruins of Masada.–Pillar of Salt. - Jebel Usdum.-South-western Shore of the Dead Sea.—No Outlet to the Dead Sea.—Beer-sheba.—The Wells.—Dr. Robinson's Description.—Biblical Allusions to Beer-sheba.—The Seat of a Bishopric. -Ruins of Beer-sheba.- Arabic Inscription.- Tell es Seba', Sheba.-El Milh, Mola. dah.— Edh Dhoherîyeh, Debir.— Othniel, Caleb, Achsah.— Seil ed Dilbeh, the Upper Springs and the Nether Springs.-Ancient Remains at edh Dhoherîyeh.—Signification of the Names of Debir.
April 21st. I HAVE been out examining el Haram as closely as the insolent keepers would allow, and it seems to bear marks of a higher antiquity than anything I have yet seen in Palestine. Do you suppose that it encloses the identical cave, and the graves of the six ancestors of the Hebrew nation?
I have no doubt of it, and therefore I regard it as the most interesting of all sepulchres on the face of the earth. Other places
269 might be equally sacred and precious could we be sure of their identity, the manger at Bethlehem, Calvary in Jerusalem, or the last resting - place of Adam, or Noah, or Moses, for example; but doubt and obscurity, absolute and impenetrable, rest on all such sites. Here, however, there is no room for scepticism. The identical cave in which the patriarchs and their wives were reverently gathered "unto their people,” one after another, by their children, remains. Such a cave will endure as long as the "everlasting hills" of which it is a part; and from that day to this it has so come to pass, in the providence of God, that no nation or people has had possession of Machpelah who would have been disposed to disturb, or allow others to do so, the ashes of the illustrious dead within it.
There is something in mere mystery that strangely fascinates the imagination. I was conscious of an intense desire to penetrate the hidden recesses of Machpelah which the fanatical custodians of the Haram so jealously conceal.
Something more and better than idle curiosity justifies one's indignation at being officiously driven away from the sepulchres of the patriarchs; but as there is as yet no remedy for the indignity, we must be contented with what information can be gathered from various sources, however unsatisfactory this may
be. Like other travellers, I have been permitted to examine, at a respectful distance, the outside walls of el Haram, and, like them, can give my own impressions. The position on the declivity of the hill, with the town below, to the south and west of it, adds greatly to the imposing appearance of the edifice. The external walls are, doubtless, very ancient-probably of Jewish workmanship—though I cannot think that they date back to Solomon, or to any time anterior to the captivity. The stones are large, but with a shallow bevel; and the face is worked off smooth, like some parts of the wall about the area of the Temple at Jerusalem. The square pilasters, without capitals or any well-defined cornice, are a feature quite unique, and mark it off from any other edifice I have examined. There are sixteen of these on each side, and eight on the ends. The height of the wall, including the more recent additions of the Saracens, is at least fifty feet, perhaps more. Dr. Robinson gives two hundred feet for the length, one hundred and fifty for the
breadth, and sixty for the height. The rock on the hill-side above the cave is intensely hard breccia; and portions of it are of a pale red color, like that from which crosses and other curiosities are made in Bethlehem for the pilgrims. I succeeded, in 1838, in breaking off specimens of it, though not without danger of a mob. The cave is beneath this stratum of hard rock. Until recently
we had no good description of the interior of the edifice. I have studied Aly Bey's drawings, and his very unsatisfactory account explanatory of them, but am unable to say whether or not they confirm the particulars gleaned from other sources. Benjamin of Tudela, upon whom I have wished on many occasions to be able to rely, and never more than in this instance, says that the real
PIEROTTI'S DESCRIPTION OF EL HARAM.
sepulchres are not shown to ordinary visitors; but if a rich Jew arrives, the keepers open an iron door which has been there ever since the days of our forefathers, that is, of the patriarchs themselves. Through this they enter, descend into a first cave, which is empty, traverse a second, which is also empty, and reach a third, which contains six sepulchres—those of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah-one opposite the other. He says, also, that all these sepulchres have inscriptions, the letters being engraved, that of Abraham thus: “This is the sepulchre of our father Abraham, upon whom be peace !" and so of all the rest. But Benjamin wrote so carelessly in other instances, where we can follow him, as to shake our faith when we cannot. The day is not far off when this and every other sacred locality will be thrown open to the inspection of all who wish to know the truth in regard to them. Several parties have gained admittance to this venerable edifice. Dean Stanley, in company with the Prince of Wales; the celebrated architect, Mr. Fergusson ; Lord Bute and party, and also M. Pierotti, visited it. From their various accounts we gather much additional information of special interest.
The mosk occupies the highest part of the town, and is sunk in the mountain on the east and north sides. Its external wall forms a parallelogram, the two sides of which, on the north and south, have a length, according to M. Pierotti, of one hundred and ninety-eight and a half feet, the east and west sides one hundred and thirteen and a half feet. The height of the ancient wall is forty-eight feet. The longer sides contain sixteen flat buttresses, and the shorter eight. These have a regular breadth of four feet, while on the four angles they have a double breadth. The projection of all from the flat surface of the wall is sixteen inches. They have no capitals, but support a highly relieved cornice. The whole of this enclosure wall consists of regular courses of magnificent blocks perfectly squared and slightly rusticated, and all admirably joined together. In the lower courses the stones are much larger than in the upper. Dr. Wilson mentions one thirty-eight feet long and three feet four inches high: others are sixteen feet long and five feet high. As the courses rise higher, the dimensions of the blocks diminish, and it is remarkable that each course recedes