« PreviousContinue »
A SKETCH OF THE TOPOGRAPHY OF THE CITY AND
Jerusalem-Valley of Jehoshaphat--Hinnom-TyropoonWalls-Gates-David Street-Via Dolorosa-Mount
To render the situation and description of the points of interest intelligible to those who are not familiar with the subject, a slight sketch of the topography of the city and adjoining country will be
Jerusalem is situated on the summit of the ridge which extends through Palestine from north to south; the only approach to the city being by wild mountain roads. The spur or plateau on which the city is built has a general slant to the south-east, and its average height above the Mediterranean is 2,475 feet.
This plateau is of tertiary limestone, the upper beds of which are a hard, compact stone called by the Arabs "Mezzeh," while the lower consists of a soft white stone called "Melekeh." It was in this latter that most of the ancient tombs and cisterns were cut.
The city is nearly surrounded by two ravines or valleys: Jehoshaphat on the east, and Hinnom on the west and south.
THE VALLEY OF JEHOSHAPHAT
commences well around to the north of the city, and at first its course is nearly east for a mile and a half; it then makes a sharp bend to the south, which course it follows to En Rogel, a deep well a short distance below the city. From this point it winds its way through the wild hilly country of Judea, twelve miles to the Dead Sea. Through this valley runs the brook Kedron.
THE VALLEY OF HINNOM
commences west of the city, and its course is at first, south-east to nearly opposite Jaffa gate, where it bends to the south, which course it follows to a short distance below the lower pool of Gihon; at this point it makes a sharp bend to the east, and, passing the south end of the city, joins the valley of Jehoshaphat at En Rogel. Both of these valleys are at first very shallow, mere depressions in the ground, but after changing their courses, the Hinnom to the east, and Jehoshaphat to the south, they fall and deepen more rapidly, so that at En Rogel they are six hundred and seventy feet lower than at their starting points. Between the valley of Hinnom and Jehoshaphat there is another ravine.
THE TYROPEON, VALLEY OF THE CHEESE-MONGERS, commences near the Damascus gate, and running nearly south, joins Jehoshaphat at Siloam. This ravine divides the plateau on which the city stands into two unequal halves, the western spur being one hundred and twenty feet higher than the eastern; on the latter-Mount Moriah-once stood the temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod. On the western was the upper city of Josephus, and here also stood the three great towers-Hippicus, Phasælus, and Mariamne. The sides of these valleys are now encumbered with much rubbish, still they are sufficiently steep to be difficult of access, so that in ancient times they must have afforded a strong natural defence for the south, west, and east sides of the city, and this it was which gave the Jebusites such assurance when they said to David, "Except thou take away the lame and the blind, thou shalt not come in hither."
The original city was built on Zion, and was surrounded by a strong wall, and as the city was enlarged a second wall was built; afterwards a third. The city is not nearly as large now as at the time of Christ, being only about two and a half miles in circumference. The present wall is very strongly built, its thickness being from twelve to fifteen feet, and its height varying from thirty to seventy feet, according to the inequalities of the surface of the ground.
There are five gates now in use: the Damascus gate on the north, St. Stephen gate on the east, the Sun and Dung gates on the south, and the Jaffa* gate on the west.
There are also five ancient gates, now closed, viz.; the Bab Azzahire on the north, the Golden gate on the east side of the Temple area, and the Single, Double,† and Triple gates on the south side.
runs from Jaffa gate on the west to the Temple area on the east; Dolorosa runs from St. Stephen gate on the east to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. North and west of David street is the Christian quarter of the city; near the centre of this quarter, at the west end of Dolorosa, is the church of the Holy Sepulchre; south of this is Zion, Zion gate, and the lepers' huts. South of this is David's resting-place, or tomb of David. North of the Temple area is a hill which is doubtless the Bezetha of Josephus. It is now occupied by Moslem houses, a convent built by the Cœurs de Sion, and the British, Prussian, and Austrian consulates.
Mount Zion is in the south-western part of the city. It is bounded on the west and south by the valley of
* Ancient Joppa, now Jaffa gate.
The ancient South gate of the Temple.
Hinnom, and on the east by the Tyropoon. From the valley of Hinnom the sides anciently rose up in steep rocky precipices, but the ruins from the many de structions of the city have been tumbled into these valleys so as to cover up, in many places, the precipices, and entirely obliterate all traces of the original brow of the hill. This is especially the case with the Tyropoon valley, which is now so filled with the accumulations of ruins, that opposite to Mount Zion it has hardly the appearance of a valley; even on the top of the hill, where a few years since the English church was built, nearly fifty feet of rubbish was dug through before the original soil was reached.
The southern brow of Zion is bold and prominent, and at the southwest corner of the city it is one hundred and fifty feet above the valley, and on the south three hundred.
Upon this mount the original city was built. Here was the stronghold of the Jebusites, which was captured by David, and here was the palace of the kings of Israel. But now how changed! On ground once thickly covered with public edifices and dwellings, among mounds of ruins, large patches of barley and wheat may be seen growing. "Therefore sball Zion, for your sake, be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forests." (Micah iii. 12.)
Several valleys begin north and west of the city, and wind south and west to the sea, the largest of which is Wady Beit Hanina, continued in Wady Surar. The mountains round about Jerusalem are