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slightly from the course below it. The wall itself is six and a half feet thick, and appears to be formed of two stones.
Ascending the stairs skirting the west and part of the south side, we reach the gate in the ancient south wall. The inside of the edifice is divided into two parts, namely, the mosk on the west, and a court on the south, where are placed sarcophagi, to represent the monuments of the patriarchs who, it is said, lie beneath. The mosk is supposed to be the church which the Crusaders built. It is divided into three naves of equal length, which end against the west wall of the enclosure. Two piers on each side separate the central from the lateral naves. These latter are thirty feet in height, the former forty-eight feet. The piers are adorned with columns of Palestine breccia, having varied bases and Corinthian capitals. The columns are in two tiers in the central naves. The arches, supported by the piers, are very pointed. The pavement of the mosk rests on the rock, as has been ascertained from a place in the court. According to Pierotti, the true entrance to the patriarch's tomb is to be seen close to the western wall of the enclosure, and near the north - west corner : “It is guarded by a very thick iron railing, and I was not allowed to go near it. I observed that the Mussulmans themselves did not go very near it. In the court opposite the entrance-gate of the mosk there is an opening through which I was allowed to go down for three steps, and I was able to ascertain, by sight and touch, that the rock exists there, and to conclude it to be about five feet thick.
“ From the short observation I could make during my brief descent, as also from the consideration of the east wall of the mosk, and the little information I extracted from the chief santon, who jealously guards the sanctuary, I consider that a part of the grotto exists under the mosk, and the other part is under the court, but at a lower level than that lying under the mosk. This latter must be separated from the former by a vertical stratum of rock, which contains an opening, as I conclude from two reasons: first, because the east wall, being entirely solid and massive, requires a good foundation; secondly, because the petitions which the Mussulmans present to the santon to be transmitted to the patriarchs are thrown, some through one opening, some through the other, according to the
DEAN STANLEY'S VISIT TO MACHPELAH.
place of the patriarch's grave to whom they are directed; and the santon goes down by the way I went, whence I suppose that on that side there is a vestibule, and that the tombs may be found below it. I explained my conjectures to the santon himself after leaving the mosk, and he showed himself very much surprised at the time, and told the pasha afterwards that I knew more about it than the Turks themselves. The fact is, that even the pasha who governs the province has no right to penetrate into the sacred enclosure, where, according to the Moslem legend, the patriarchs are living, and only condescend to receive the petitions addressed to them by mortals. As long as Palestine, or rather the Ottoman Empire, is in the way of progress, I can certify that no one, however powerful he may be, will manage to go down below the three steps I descended in the sanctuary of Hebron. I must not omit to say that the Jews who dwell in Hebron, or visit it, are allowed to kiss and touch a piece of the sacred rock close to the north-west corner, which they can reach through a small aperture. To accomplish this operation they are obliged to lay flat on the ground, because the aperture is on the ground-level."
Dean Stanley thus describes what he saw : “ In the recess on the right is the shrine of Abraham, on the left that of Sarah, each guarded by silver gates. The shrine of Sarah we were requested not to enter, as being that of a woman." The shrine of Abraham, after a momentary hesitation, and with a prayer offered to the patriarch for permission to enter, was thrown open. “The chamber is cased in marble. The tomb consists of a coffin-like structure, built up of plastered stone or marble, and hung with three carpets, green embroidered with gold. They are said to have been presented by Muhammed II., Selim I., and the late Sultan, 'Abd el Mejîd. Within the area of the mosk or church were shown the tombs of Isaac and Rebekah. They are placed under separate chapels, and the gates are grated, not with silver but iron bars. To Rebekah's tomb the same decorous rule of the exclusion of male visitors naturally applied as in the case of Sarah's. But on requesting to see the tomb of Isaac, we were entreated not to enter; and on asking, with some surprise, why an objection which had been conceded for Abraham should be raised in the case of his far less
eminent son, were answered that the difference lay in the character of the two patriarchs. Abraham was full of loving - kindness; he had withstood even the resolution of God against Sodom and Gomorrah; he was goodness itself, and would overlook any affront. But Isaac was proverbially jealous, and it was exceedingly dangerous to exasperate him. When Ibrahim Pasha, as conqueror of Palestine, had endeavored to enter, he had been driven out by Isaac, and fell back as if thunderstruck.
“The shrines of Jacob and Leah were shown in recesses similar to those of Abraham and Sarah, but in a separate cloister, opposite the entrance of the mosk. Against Leah's tomb, as seen through the iron grate, two green banners reclined, the origin and meaning of which were unknown.” The gates of Jacob's tomb were opened without difficulty, but it calls for no special remark. With these descriptions we must for the present rest content. Of course, the tombs seen were not the real ones, which are in the cave beneath them.
It is strange that the Biblical notices of Hebron end with the rebellion of Absalom against his father, as you will find by turning to the fifteenth chapter of 2 Samuel. The cave of Machpelah is not again mentioned after the burial of Jacob in it. None of the sacred writers appear to have visited it, nor did our Lord or any of his disciples; and yet it is evident, from Josephus, Jerome, and other authors, that it was known and believed to be the last resting-place of the patriarchs. There is, perhaps, more in this reticence than mere accident, and it teaches most emphatically that the idolatrous reverence for such sites, and for the relics of departed saints, was wholly unknown amongst pious Hebrews. There is no evidence that access to the cave was prohibited before the introduction of Muhammedan fanaticism, and yet Machpelah never became a place of superstitious pilgrimage.
Hebron appears to be well built. The houses are generally two stories high, and have flattened domes, such as we saw at Jaffa, Ramleh, Gaza, and other places in the south part of this country.
The same as at Jerusalem, and the reason is that timber is too scarce and dear to admit of flat roofs. I presume it was thus in the days of Solomon, for he had to bring the beams and boards for
POPULATION OF HEBRON.-SITE OF THE ANCIENT CITY. 275
the Temple from Lebanon; and much of what is now used in these cities is brought from thence by sea to Jaffa, and afterwards carried on camels. Hence the rooms are nearly all vaulted, even when there is a second story. The roofs, however, may be made flat by raising the exterior walls and filling in until level with the top of the arch. This is done on the convents and other massive buildings, by which a fine promenade is secured.
What may be the population of Hebron?
I estimated it at between seven or eight thousand in 1838, and it remains about what it was then. Some think this estimate too low, while others speak of only five thousand; but that is certainly below the truth. There are some seven hundred Jews; all the rest are Moslems, and of a most bigoted and insolent character. There are but few Christians either in the town or district.
Hebron furnishes another refutation of the ancient fable about the cities of refuge, that they were situated in conspicuous positions. Here it lies in this long valley, with no prospect in any direction except towards the south-east, and even that is not very extensive.
If it was of any importance, we might refer to a tradition as old, at least, as Benjamin of Tudela, that the original city did actually occupy the north-western hill. I do not, however, believe it; there is nothing there to support it; and many things in and about the present town seem to settle its claims to be one of the oldest cities in the world, and on an immovable basis.
We will devote this forenoon to ride around the suburbs of Hebron, and I promise you a pleasant excursion through the vineyards to Abraham's famous oak. We may as well stop on our way, and examine the larger of the two pools in the vale below the town.
In 2 Samuel iv. 12 it is stated that by the command of King David they slew the murderers of Ish-bosheth, “and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up over the pool in Hebron.” Do you suppose that these pools are as ancient as the time of David ?
I see no reason to doubt that both this one in the bottom of the valley, between our tents and the town, and also the smaller one farther up the wady, date back to those days; and as it was not a
pool, but “the pool in Hebron,” it is quite possible that we have here in this lower pool the precise spot indicated. Such structures thus located in the bottom of a valley, and strongly built, may last for centuries; and if at any time repairs were needed, they could be made without disturbing the original site. I regard the larger
pool especially as amongst the surest evidences that the town of Hebron has always occupied substantially its present position. It is one hundred and thirty-three feet square, and about twenty-two feet deep. The upper one is eighty-five by fifty-five, and nineteen feet deep. They are rarely full of water, though I have seen them