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The mount of olives was separated from Jerusalem by a valley, through which ran the brook Cedron, lo called from a Hebrew word signifying dark, black; either because it was shaded with trees, or that the blood of the sacrifices, which was poured round the altar, being conveyed thi. ther, rendered the water of it black. The valley of Cedron was bounded on the south by that of Hinoom (s), that is, the valley of Cries, or of the children of Hinnom, that is, of the children of Tears, because this was the place where the Israelites had sacrificed their children to Moloch. It was also named the valley of Tophet, or of the Drum, because during these abominable sacrifices, they were wone to beat drums, to hinder the horrible shrieks, and outcries of the tender and innocent babes from being heard. In our Saviour's time, the Jews Aung the rubbish of the city, and the bones of the facrifices, &c. in this place, and kept here a continual fire to consume them. This they reckoned as an emblem of Hell; and therefore gave it a game of Gehenna (1). Jesus Chrift alludes to this, Matth. v. 22. At the bottom of the Mount of Olives there was on the one side, a village called Gethsemane, which in Hebrew siguifies a press, because there were prefes in it for making oil. There was in this place, a garden, where Jesus Chrift was often wont to go with his disciples, and where the traitor Judas led the soldiers that were fent to apprehend him (*). On the other side, ftood the town of Bethphage, that is, the house of dates or figs ; the village where our Saviour sent some of his disciples to fetch che ass on which he rode into Jerusalem, a little before his crucifixion ; and where the barren fig tres grew, which he cursed (u). Somewhat further, viz. about fifteen furlongs from Jerusalem, lay Bethany, the town where Lazarus and his fifters dwelt (xx), and where Jesus led his disciples, and blessed them before his asceolion into Heaven.
Among the places about Jerusalem, there was none more famous than the fountain of Silsam, called otherwise Gihon. Writers are not agreed about the true situation of it, but it is a matter of very little consequence. What we are sure of, is, that it furnished with water several pools in Jerusalem, particularly that of Bethesda, which is supposed to be the same as Solomon's. It was named Bethesda, or the house of gathering, because it served as a reservatory for a great quantity of water ; or rather, the house of grace and mercy, because there was near it a hospital for the reception of sick persons, who were cured in a miraculous manner, by bathing in the waters of this pool, as the description St. John has given us of it seems to insinuate, who says, there were four porches or galleries belonging to it (y). It was near the Sheep gate; which was so called, because the sheep appointed for the lacrifices were brought in that way.
As neither Josephus nor any other Jewish author have mentioned this miraculous virtue of the waters of Bethesda, some have thereby been in duced to imagine that there was nothing supernatural or uncommon in
(s) 2 Kings xxiii.
(r) See the Chaldee paraphrase on Isa. xxxiii. 14.
(2) Matth. xxi.
the case; but that the true cause of the cures was owing to the blood of the sacrifices that were washed in it, especially at the feast of the pasover, when valt numbers of animals were Nain. They add moreover, that the angel, spoken of by St. John, was only an officer, whore business it was to stir the water when it was a proper season, for the cure of the distempers mentioned by St. John (2). It is indeed a good maxim, Not te multiply miracles without necellity, nor to receive any as trae, but such as are grounded upon sufficient evidence; because, under pretence of magnifying the power of God, we thereby injure his wisdom, and give fuperftitious people a handle of forging as many false miracles. as they please. But when, on the other hand, a miracle is clearly revealed, we must readily acknowledge it for such, when it cannot be fairly accounted for by natural means; which seems to be the present case, where every circumstance tends to represent the matter as fomething miraculous and supernatural. For those cures were only done at a certain feajon (a). The waters healed all sorts of dileafes. There was a necessity for an angel to trouble the waters: whereas people. chuse generally to bathe when the waters are still. In fine, he only was cured that first stepped in after the waters were troubled. Besides it is the opinion of the Jews, and of several Christian writers (6), that the entrails of the victims were always washed within the temple. And most certainly the pool of Bethesda was not in the temple. This one observation carries in it a sufficient confutation of those who maintain, that the power of healing diseases which these waters had, was occasioned merely by the blood of the sacrifices which were washed in them. And then farther.
As for the supposition of those who imagine that the angel, spoken of in this place, was only an officer appointed for stirring the water at a certain season, it is, in my opinion, very groundless and extravagant. For I question whether there be any one paffuge throughout the New Testament, where the word angel (c) is used absolutely, and without some epithet or other; as, for instance, my angel, the angel of fome person, the angel of the church, or the like, is ever found to signity an officer or messenger. We are not ignorant, that the fourth verse of this chaprer is wanting in Jomc ancient manuscripts, and that consequently there is no meation in them, either of the angel that troubled the water, or of the fick persons that waited for the moving of it. But can it be reasonable to prefer the authority of three or four manuscripts, where this passage is left out, to so many others where it occurs ; especially since there is no manner of absurdity or contradiction in what it contains ? We must pass the fame judgment upon the filence of Josephus, and other Jewish writers about this point. For, first, all things considered, this may be reckoned as a good rule, That the silence or omission, even of many historians, ought noi 10 countervail or make void the testimony of any one author, who positively relates a matter of fact. Nothing is more common in history, than to find some particulars advanced by one historian, and omitted
ncient manne angel chof it. But ca where this phere is
by'all the rest, and yet who would from the filence of the one, take an occasion of charging the other with forgery and insincerity; especially if there be no 'manner of ground or reason for calling in question his veracity ? Secondly, St. John ought to be believed in this matter, thougb he were conlidered not as a divinely inspired writer, but only as an author endowed with a moderate share of judgment and prudence ; for it is not to be imagined thari he would not have exposed himself to that degree as to have advanced such a notorious untruth, and which might have been so easily detected, had it been one. As for Josephus, this is not the caly thing which he hath omitted, especially as to what relates to the historie of the gospel; for he makes no mention of the taxing under Augustus (d), of the far that appeared to the wise men (e), or of the Naughter of the infants at Bethlehem (f). And who knows, whether he, and the Thalmudists, looking upon this miracle as a forerunner of the Messiah, have not designedly, suppressed it, lelt any one should conclude from their own teltimony, that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, since we hear nothing of this supernatural event, either before or since the coming of Christ. Ar what time these waters were first endued with this miraculous power, we cannot exactly tell. . Thus much is certain, that they had it some time before our Saviour's birth, since the man of whom we read in'the gospel, had been a long time at the pool, to be cured (g). But because the authors of the Old Testament do no where speak of it, we may reasonably suppose that it had not this virtue in their time.
There was another famous pool, which was supplied with water from the fountain of Siloam, and borrowed its name. And that this also had a miraculous power of healing diseases, is evident from the cure of the man who was born blind (b). The Jews tell us, that David ordered that his son Solomon should be anointed by the fountain of Siloal, thereby to Jenote that his kingdom Mould be as lasting and extensive as the waters of this spring; and they fancy that God speaks of it in these words of the prophet, With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation (i). For which reason they made use of this water at the feast of tabernacles. It is not then without good and sufficient reason that St. John hath observed, by way of parenthesis, that Siloam is by interpretation, sent (k); for thereby he hints at this, That the healing virtue which was in the waters of Siloa!n, was an emblem of that great salvation which the Messiah, who was certainly sent from God, should bring into the world.
On the west end of the city was mount Calvary, called by St. Matthew (1) Golgotha, that is to say, the Skull, (either because the Jews were wont to behead criminals there, or else becausc it was shaped like a skull; and by St. John Gabbatha, that is, a lofty place). This place is noted for the death and sufferings of our blessed Redeemer. It was divided from Jerusalem by a deep valley, named, the Valley of carcases,
bferved, then withomade use of this tut of the
(d). Luke ii. 1. ::.
(e) Matth, ii, 2. 1. (f) Ibid. y. 16.
disciples, ofer it hority Emman
er falls. Mount Calvary stood without the city, according to the law (m). Aod to this St. Paul alludes in his epistle to the Hebrews, when he faith, that Christ, as a sacrifice for fin, suffered without the gate; and when he exhorts Christians to go forth out of the camp, that is, out of Jerufalem (*), this city being looked upon by the Jews as the camp of Israel.
As the village Emmaus was no more than sixty furlongs from Jeru. falen, according to St. Luke (n), and Jofephus (6), it may therefore be reckoned among the neighbouring places of this city, mentioned in the gospel. But we must take care not to confound it with a city of the fame name, which was 176 furlongs from Jerusalem, and was afterwards named Nicopolis. This village is the place where the two disciples, who disbelieved and doubted of the resurrection of Christ, were going, when he appeared to them, and convinced them of the truçh of it. We are told, that he yielded to their entreaties, when they desired him to abide with them, and that accordingly he went in, and eat with them. On what side of the city Emmaus lay is not well known. But it is very probable that it stood on the road that led to Galilee; and that the two disciples, of whom we have an accouot in St. Luke (), being Galileans, were travelling through this place into their own country, thinkiog there was nothing to be done in Jerusalem, after the death of their divine Master. As soon as they found that their Lord was risen indeed, they returned with the glad tidings, to such of their fellow.disciples, as had remained in Jerusalem.
Nothing can be more natural and reasonable, than to desire to know the fate of a city the most remarkable in the world, remarkable upon all accounts. It was four times taken, without being demolished ; 10 wil, by Shishak, king of Egypt (q), by Antiochus Epiphanes, by Pompey, and by Herod the Great; and twice utterly destroyed, by Nebuchadnezzar, and by Vespasian. After this last overthrow Cæsarea, formerly called Turris Stratonis (), or Strato's Tower, became the capital of the land of Israel. Some historians are of opinion that Jerusalem was reBuilt by Adrian. It is true, he built a city wbere Jerusalem stood before, which he called Ælia after his own name (s), and Capitolina in honour of Jupiter Capitolinus. But not satisfied with having given ir a profane name, he made it so very different from the antieot Jerusalem, that he seemed to have built it only with a design to be revenged of the Jews, who had rebelled against him, by bringing to their remembrance obis once glorious ciry. He did not take in mount Sion, which was the best and strongest part of Jerusalem. He levelled mount Moriah, that there Thould not be the least footsteps of the temple remaining, and joined mount Calvary with such parts of the old city, as were ftill Itanding. So that Ælia Capitolina was not above half as large as Jerusalem, and of a quite different form. Upon one of the gates he caused the figure
Sorefpafian. Afcerewice utterly dedi piphanes, by po
(m) Levit. iv. (*) Heb. xiii. 12, 13. (u) Luke xxiv. 13,
(r) Witfius Hift. Hierofol. (0) His name was Elius Adrianus.
hain all the tigh impro had pufcription of these
ns of heatherely temple, after the operly. This emperor
ple at Berbe's piet
this time at Jeruk, allo of
of a for to be carved (t), of which several reasons have been aligned; but the most probable, as well as the most natural, is, that he did it out of spite to the Jews, who had an aversion for this animal. Under the reign of this fame emperor, that unhappy people attempted the re. covery of their liberty, under the conduct of the false Messiah, Barcoche. bah; who was defeated and sain ar Berittus near Jerusalem. Ælia Capitolioa remained ia this condition till the time of Constantine the Great, when it was again called Jerusalem, though improperly. This emperor built therein a nobleland stately temple, after he had purged the place from the pollutions of heathen idolatry. We have a description of this temple in Eufebius (u). But an ill use was afterwards made of thefe illustrious monuments of Constantine's piety, as well as of his mother Helena's, who built a temple at Bethlehem, and another upon the mount of Olives ; and also of the emperor Justinian's, who erected likewise a temple at Jerusalem, which he dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It was this that gave superstitious people an occasion of ascribing a greater de. gree of holiness, contrary to the nature of the Chriftian religion, and the express declaration (x) of Jesus Christ himself, to these places, than to other parts of the world, and at last, proved the ground of those mad expeditions of the crusades, or holy war. . We have before observed the fruitless attempts of the Jews, to rebuild their temple; ander Constantine, notwithltanding the zeal of this em peror for the Chriftian religion, and under Jolian who favoured their deligo. The city of Jerusalem, (for so was Ælia Capitolina then called) continued in a flourishing state for a considerable time, under the Christian Emperors. But in the feventh century it fell into the hands of the Perfans, who were not long masters of it, and afterwards of the Mahometans, who built (as hath been faid) a mosque in the place where Itood the temple which was destroyed by Titus. The Christians recovered it in the twelfth century from the Sultan of Egypt, who had taken it from the Turks, but enjoyed not their conquest long; for the Sultan - gypt taking the advantage of their discords and contentions, took it from them again. It was however retaken in the thirteenth century by the emperor Frederick the Itd; but the Sultan of Babylon made himfe!f master of it in a few years after ; and at last, in the fixteenth ceatury, it came into the hands of the Turks, who are the present pofiesfors of it (y). According to the relations of travellers, it is still large and handsome. The chief inhabitants of it are Moors. There are some Christians, who are even allowed the free exercise of their religion, and but very few Jews, and those in a poor and mean condition. These lalt are persuaded, that before they are put again in possession of Jerusalem, it is to be consumed by a fire from heaven, that it may be refined, and parged from the pollution, contracted by being inha
advantagewever retakesultan of Babye Fixteenth crors
(t) Dio Caffius.
(y) It is now called Alkuds, i.e. tlae Holy, by the Turks, Arabs, and all other nations of the Mahometan religion in those parts. Dr. Prideaux Connect. P. I. B. I. under the year 610.