« PreviousContinue »
an oblong table of stone, of nearly three feet in length, and nearly of the same height, has been erected, which serves the Latins for an altar. The low narrow door, or entrance, where the stone was fixed and sealed, till rolled away by the angel, still continues to conduct as into it; and, as it is not situated in the middle, but on the left hand, and as the grave or place, where Christ was laid, may well be presumed to have been placed within it, on the right hand, or where the Latin altar is at present, we may from these circumstances well account for Mary and John being obliged to stoop down before they could look into it.” Such is the account which Dr. Shaw gives of the holy sepulchre, and the church which was erected by St. Helena over it; but Maundrell has observed, that “ Although to prepare the hill of Calvary for building the church upon it, it was necessary to reduce the top of it to a plain area, by cutting down some parts of the rock, and elevating others, great care was taken that none of those parts concerned in our Saviour's passion should be altered or diminished ; and that the part of
l Calvary, in particular, where Christ was fastened to the cross, is left entire. It being about ten or twelve yards square, and standing so high above the floor of the church, that there are twenty-one steps to go up to the top. The same author adds, that, “ about the distance of a yard and a half from the hole where the foot of the cross was fixed, is seen a cleft in the rock, said by tradition to be made by the earthquake at Christ's death, when the rocks were rent. It appears to be a natural breach, about a span wide at its upper part; the sides of it answer each other, and it runs in such intricate windings as could not be counterfeited by art. The chasm is about two spans deep, but opens again below,
• John xx. 5, 11.
as may be seen in another chapel, contiguous to the side of Mount Calvary, and runs down to an unknown depth." (Travels, 26th March, 1696.)
With respect to the view from the north side of the outer wall, it was considerably obstructed by the hill Bezetha ; and the objects, seen on either side of it, were the valley of Kidron on the right, and the city of David on the left. It was not far from thislast, and in the king's dale, that Absalom's pillar or place was erected. It is mentioned in 2 Sam. xviii. 18; and, although its ancient form be unknown, it may be gratifying to learn its present appearance. It is about twenty cubits square at the bottom, and sixty cubits high. In the first twenty cubits it is ornamented with four columns of the Ionic order; for the next twenty, it is somewhat contracted, and quite plain, except a small fillet at the top; and for the next twenty, it changes into a cone, and terminates in a point. The whole is said to be cut out of the solid rock, and there is an apartment within, considerably higher than the level of the ground without, on the sides of which are niches, probably intended to receive coffins. It deserves notice, that it is surrounded by a heap of stones, which is continually increasing, from the superstitious Jews and Turks always throwing some as they pass,
in token of their abhorrence of his unnatural rebellion."
Thus have we endeavoured to give some account of the several gates in the outer wall, of the tower Antonia, and of the different objects which presented themselves to a person, when walking around the Mountain of the Lord's House. Topographical descriptions, according to their importance, excite very different degrees of interest; but the serious Christian will tread
• Encycl. Perth. Art. Jerusalem,
with pleasure those sacred precincts which his Saviour visited; and examine those scenes which increase his acquaintance with the oracles of truth. We shall, therefore, proceed to conduct our readers within the wall of the temple, and explain, in their order, the several objects which present themselves.
The Court of the Gentiles.
The chambers at the gates, and their uses; sheepfolds at the east gate ; chests
for the half shekel at the east gate; manner of collecting and disposing of it. The size of the Court; the beautiful pavement; the cloisters or piazzas round about; their grandeur. Tbe royal porch. Solomon's Porch.
In entering the Court of the Gentiles, the most natural approach is by the east gate, which, as we formerly remarked, was the principal gate of the temple; and, as we enter, we shall find, on each side of it, a building of two stories, the ground floors of which were for the porter's lodge, and shops (011n Heniuth) where those who intended to offer sacrifices, bought wine, oil, salt, flour, &c.; and at which were stationed officers to see that the sellers dealt justly: while the upper story of these, which also extended over the gate, and took in the whole length, was for a court of twenty-three, and afterwards was occupied by the Sanhedrim, when they left the room Gezith, which we shall examine in a subsequent page. As all the other gates in the outer wall had buildings adjoining to them of the same kind, this may perhaps lead us to understand the manner in which certain persons, connected with the priesthood, lived in the temple. They resided in these apartments at the several gates : for all within the outer wall was often
2 Kings sxiv. 14 ; 2 Chron. xxii. 11, 12. Luke ii, 37.
called the temple, unless we explain their never departing from the temple, to mean their never being absent at the hours of prayer: whether they resided within the Mountain of the Lord's House or not.
We may also notice, that near this gate were several pens or folds, containing sheep and lambs to be sold for sacrifice; so that our Lord probably pointed to these, when he delivered in the temple that beautiful discourse, concerning himself as the good shepherd, and his people as the sheep.' Perhaps the porter, in that discourse, may allude to the porter of the gate, without whose permission none obtained admittance; and the conduct of a shepherd, in going before his flock, might have been suggested either from memory, or from the observance of a flock coming to the pens, and following their keeper at that instant through the gate of the temple. For this is the eastern mode of conducting sheep, and it was our Saviour's custom to catch at circumstances, and render them the vehicle of religious instruction.
It was at this gate, Shushan, that the persons, who were appointed to collect the deficiences of the half-shekel, which every Israelite had to pay for the redemption of his life,sat for about three weeks before the passover, yearly. The common manner of collecting that tax was as follows:-The district collectors issued their notices on the first day of Adar, or the middle of our February, that the half-shekel was due, and that on the 15th day of that month, or about the 3d of our March, they would be in their places to receive it. There they sat for about eight days, collecting it from those who came voluntarily, but using no compulsion with those who refused. After the eight days were expired, their books were closed and transmitted to the general collector at Jerusalem, where, being examined, and the defaulters marked, two boxes were set at the gate Shushan, as being the most frequented gate of the temple; and persons were appointed to receive them. The one box was for the half-shekel of the current year, and the other for the arrears of former years. Nor were these persons to be refused with impunity; for their powers extended to the seizing of an equivalent from the effects of the refractory. They commonly began their sitting on the 25th of Adar, or the 13th of our March, which was immediately after the district collectors had ceased, and continued their sittings till the 14th of Abib, or the passover, which happened on the 3d of our April, supposing their years to have always begun on the 21st of March, or the vernal equinox; but we shall find afterwards that it was ambulatory, being guided by the appearance of the new moon in that month. After the passover, they carried the boxes into the temple, and emptied their contents into the treasure chamber that was appointed to receive them."
6 Exod. xxx, 13.
* John X. 1--16,
Dr. Lightfoot cannot determine the situation of that chamber; but, in speaking of the Gazophylacia, or treasuries connected with the temple, he gives us the following particulars, concerning it:-It was always locked and sealed, immediately after the emptying of the chests, except at three particular times in the year, when they regularly went to take money from it. These were fifteen days before the passover, fifteen days before pentecost, and fifteen days before the feast of tabernacles ; or, according to Rabbi Akiba, the son of Azai, on the 29th of Adar, the 1st of Sivan, and the 29th of Ab. Their method of procedure did not indicate much confidence in the persons employed. For he that went in
a Talmud Shekelim, cap. i.