Page images
PDF
EPUB

Estens when it is remembered that it is not mentioned until the fourteenth century, ai thai sace then the records of travellers show that many of the holy places have

i sites!

Starting from the barracks, which are said to stand on the ground once occupied by be Pratorium, the residence of Pilate, the Via Dolorosa winds through various streets and lans until it reaches the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in which building are five of the furteen stations for prayer and meditation marked out for the devotion of the faithful. The first station is the chapel in the Prætorium, now Turkish barracks; next, the place where the cross was laid upon Christ; then comes an arch called the Ecce Homo Arch, from which Pilate is said to have uttered the words “ Behold the Man!” And so on in succession are pointed out, a column where He is said to have sunk under the weight of the cross, the spot where He met His mother, the spot where Simon of Cyrene had the cross laid upon him, an impression in the wall left by the shoulder of Christ when leaning against it, the place where He addressed the women : “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me! ” In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre the remaining “stations” are those to which we have already referred, including Calvary, the Stone of Unction, and the Holy Sepulchre itself.

In the south-east quarter of Jerusalem is the spacious area known as the Harâm-esh-Sherif, “ The Noble Sanctuary,” entered by eight gates, surrounded by lofty walls, studded with trees-the olive and the cypress-verdant with grass, and adorned with exquisite fountains and cupolas, prayer-niches and arches. In the centre is the Dome of the Rock (Kubbet-es-Sakhrâ), or Mosque of Omar, a building of exquisite beauty; and within the enclosure is also the massive Mosque El-Aksa.

This area is the most interesting spot in the whole world—sacred alike to Jew, to Moslem, and to Christian-for here it was that Ornan had his threshing-floor; that Abraham offered up his son Isaac; that David prayed for the plague-stricken people. Here it was that Solomon reared that “holy and beautiful house," the Temple of the Lord, wherein were the Holy of holies, the ark, the mercy-seat, and all the poetical symbols of the worship of Israel; here Zerubbabel reared the second Temple, after that of Solomon had been destroyed; and here was erected by Herod that gorgeous Temple into which our Lord so frequently came, where His gracious words were spoken and many of His wondrous deeds wrought.

After the destruction of Jerusalem, a.d. 70, when the Temple was burnt and razed to the T 122], Hadrian erected a temple here in honour of Jupiter and himself; to this spot Mkummed came; and here was built the so-called Mosque of Omar, which some claim to have town built by Abd-el-Melik, A.D. 6-6.

This is the spot where for ages the One God was worshipped, while all other lands were fed in idolatry; here were observed the stately rites and ceremonies of the Law; here 5 De forth the Shekinah; hither came up the tribes to the great annual feasts; here came the O ubo in Himself fulfilled the types and shadows of the Law and instituted His church. Ir ' first to last this was the centre of the religious, the poetical, and the political life of the

in muntiin. Every Jew regards this spot still as the most sacred upon earth; every (i-istian regarde it with reverential interest ; every Moslem looks upon it as the most holy pluie uitur Mecca.

[ocr errors]

;

Let us adopt the same course we pursued with regard to the Church of the Sepulchremake a tour of all the places of interest, and collect as we go the histories and legends of the sacred sites.

Standing on a platform ten feet high in the centre of the Harâm, and approached by a flight of marble steps, is the Dome of the Rock, an octagonal building, each of the eight sides being sixty-eight feet in length, covered with richly-coloured porcelain tiles, in which blue predominates; and above, a frieze of tiles running round the whole building, upon which are inscribed passages from the Korân. Four gates face the cardinal points of the compass, with inscriptions on the lintels dating from the year 830.

When the building is entered—and Christians have been at liberty to enter it since the Crimean War: a privilege not accorded to Jews, who, it is said, would not avail themselves of it if they could, for fear they should commit the sin of treading on the “Holy of holies”. it is difficult to see anything for a long time, the interior being so very dark, notwithstanding the fact that there are fifty-six stained-glass windows to the building. Soon the designs on the windows are visible, and they are found to be of wonderful brilliancy and beauty ; then the eye catches the golden letters above the windows, consisting of portions of the Korân, curiously enough referring to our Lord as “ Jesus, Son of Mary, the word of truth; and finally it wanders up to the Dome, ninety-seven feet high and sixty-five in diameter, richly adorned with bright colours on wood, and gorgeously-coloured glass in the octagon and drum. After awhile the arrangement of the interior becomes visible; and it is seen that the whole of the flooring is of marble mosaic, covered in places, however, with mats that there are two cloisters, or aisles, separated by an octagonal course of piers and columns, within which, again, is another circle of four great piers, and twelve Corinthian columns which support the Dome. The shafts of the columns are of marble, and many are of great antiquity-some from the temple built by Hadrian, and some, according to the guides, from the temples of Herod and Solomon.

In the centre of the building, under a large silken canopy like a tent, and enclosed by a coloured wooden screen, giving to the place an unfortunate resemblance to an equestrian circus, rises the Sacred Rock, bare, rugged, and unhewn. “ The rock," says Captain Wilson, “stands about four feet nine and a half inches above the marble pavement at its highest point, and one foot at its lowest; it is one of the 'missæ ' strata, and has a dip of 12° in a direction of 85° east of north. The surface of the rock bears the marks of hard treatment and rough chiselling; on the western side it is cut down in three steps, and on the northern side in an irregular shape, the object of which could not be discovered. Near, and a little to the east of the door leading to the chamber below, are a number of small rectangular holes cut in the rock, as if to receive the foot of a railing or screen, and at the same place is a circular opening communicating with the cave.”

Jews and Moslems alike pay reverence to this remarkable rock as the site of the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite. Just such a place as this must originally have been, is the customary native threshing-floor at the present day, a breezy spot on a lofty plateau of rockin this case not quite on the ridge of Moriah, but a few feet south of it,—the ridge or peak itself being occupied by the cavern for corn—the usual accompaniment to the threshing-floor -in which the grain is garnered. On this rock, according to the Jews, Melchizedek offered siering, and the Ark of the Covenant stood.

e tiragh which the blood of the sacrifices u Kron, outside the city.

st of the rock leads to the famous cavern ud of controversialists. In this cavern, tra

the saw the destroying angel, hid themselves Com. Sy when their Prophet ascended to heaven on

w in, and started for that purpose, but the angel is left the impress of his fingers, which may be seen ....... at the mes is still suspended in the air, but has been walled

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

"y's who proua pilgrims were afraid to pass under it—in proof of which assertion they tap Thall, which end forth a hollow sound. (nume call the atrangent theories, but one which had many supporters, was that put

Ale Meryem that this cave is none other than the Sepulchre of our Lord. All the theory there aro many convincing objections.

The loom longth of the Haram area from north to south is something under 1000 thing like twice the extent of the Palace of Westminster, little more than od ball times that of Trafalgar Square. As nearly

As nearly as possible midway stands the ... in the Hook, covering the mysterious cavity which, according to the theory of

I'd flowering in the actual Sepulchre of our Lord. Now 600 feet is the narrowest migheid, on any hypothonis, to the area of the Temple, with its court and precincts. lub that this Nepulclire must have been distant less than 200 feet from the northern will the Temple. Not much beyond a stone's-throw from the Holy of holies itself, in the hor of the brain and most sacred portion of the city, we are, according to this Wany, imagine the place Golgotha," where malefactors were publicly put to death, for

it was “in the place where he was crucified” that there was the garden with the tomb in it newly made by Joseph.

Among the arguments against the theory may be mentioned the general statutory prohibition of executions within the city-a topic which, in the most august of instances, is made the ground of typical or prophetical illustration (see Heb. xiii. 12). No criminal, it is well known, could by Jewish law be executed or buried within the city limits; and

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

as we shall see, there is convincing proof that the Harâm area, within which the rock stands, was in the time of our Lord within the circuit of the city wall.

Of the numerous Mohammedan holy places and legends connected with the Dome of the Rock, it will be sufficient if we mention only a few. In the cavern they point out the praying-places of Abraham, David, Solomon, Elijah, and Mohammed. On the floor of the cavern is a slab of stone covering the Well of Spirits, from whence, on the Day of Judgment, all souls will be brought up, to appear before the throne of God, which will be planted upon the rock.

In the mosque are shown the banners of Mohammed and Omar, the footprint of the Prophet, hairs from his beard, and the shield of his uncle. Near the northern entrance

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »