« PreviousContinue »
THE TRUE GOLGOTHA—THE PLACE OF THE SKULL (Notice the large eyes and mouth of the skull formed by cavities in the cliff. The place of execution is marked by the little heap of stones above.)
were outside, at the wicket of a tiny garden-a sweet, orderly little place where a pleasant German woman and a tall old Englishman with a spiritual face were letting us in. Then they led us to a little arbor, and directly—to a tomb, a real tomb, cut into the cliff overhanging the garden.
I do not know whether Jesus was laid in that tomb or not, and it is not likely that any one will ever know. But He could have been laid there, and it is not unlikely that He was laid there, for Golgotha—the hill that every unprejudiced visitor immediately accepts as the true Golgotha-overlooks this garden.
We could not ascend the hill—the Mohammedans no longer permit that—but we could go to the end of the garden and look up to the little heap of stones which marks the old place of stoning and of crucifixion. It was always the place of public execution. The Talmud refers to it, and the Jews of Jerusalem spit toward it to this day. We could make out the contour of the skull which gave it its name, and even the face, for in its rocky side ancient tombs and clefts formed the clearly distinguished features.
It is a hill; it is outside the walls; it is the traditional site of executions; it is the one natural place to which Jesus would have been taken for crucifixion. The Calvary in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was never a hill; it was never outside the walls; it was never a traditional site for anything until Queen Helena began to dream.
Perhaps the reader may say, “With all the tales and traditions and disputes and doubts, what does it matter?” Perhaps it does not matter. Perhaps that old question of Pilate, “What is truth?” need not be answered.
Yet somewhere amid the mass of confliction there follows a thread of fact. Sifting the testimony, it is difficult to deny that there once lived a man named Jesus—later, and perhaps then-known as the Christ; that He was of humble birth, and grew up to teach a doctrine of forgiveness and humility (a doctrine new to the Hebrew teachers of His day, whose religion consisted mainly of ceremonial forms); that He was able to heal the sick; that He had a following who, perhaps, hailed Him as their king; that it was because of these things that He was crucified on a hill outside of Jerusalem.
I think this is as far as general acknowledgment goes. The Scriptures declare more, the sceptic allows less; but the majority of mankind unite on the foregoing admissions. At all events, a great religion was founded on this man's life and death-a doctrine of gentleness when creeds are stripped away--and it is proper that such truth as can be established concerning the ground He trod, especially on that last dark day, should be recognized and made known. Of our little party of four there was not one who--standing there as the stars came out, and looking up at that hill outlined against the sky-did not feel a full and immediate conviction that this was indeed the spot where that last, supreme expiation was made, and that this sweet garden, guarded by these two gentle people, was the truer site for the Sepulchre which was “nigh at hand.”
AT THE MOUTH OF THE NILE
| AM not a gifted person; I cannot write about
existing places and things without seeing them, and I am afraid to steal from the guide-bookunintelligently, I mean. I have sometimes found the guid -book mistaken—not often, I admit, but too often to take chances. I should be struck with remorse if I should steal from the guide-book and then find that I had stolen a mistake. So I shall have to skip Galilee, Tiberias, Nazareth, and Hebron, for the reason that I could not visit those and include Egypt, too, by our schedule.
One must go to Egypt. If the “grand object of all travel is to visit the shores of the Mediterranean,” then the grand climax of that tour is Egypt. One must take all the time there is for that amazing land, and any time will be too short, even though it be a lifetime.
The guide-book says that the arrival at Alexandria is not very impressive. I suppose a good deal depends on the day and the time of day and one's mental attitude. As usual with our arrivals, it was early morning, and everything was hazy and yellow-misty with sunrise. We were moving slowly, and the water was glassy still. Here and there across the yellow haze drifted a barge-like craft with a lateen-sail, or