« PreviousContinue »
are more easily retained by the reciter, and produce upon his audience a more impressive effect. Hence, there has hardly been found to exist a nation so brutishly rude as not to listen with enthusiasm to the songs of their bards, recounting the exploits of their forefathers, recording their laws and moral precepts, or hymning the praises of their deities. But where the feelings are frequently stretched to the highest pitch, by the vicissitudes of a life of danger and military adventure, this predisposition of a savage people to admire their own rude poetry and music is heightened, and its tone becomes peculiarly determined. It is not the peaceful Hindoo at his loom, it is not the timid Esquimaux in his canoe, whom we must expect to glow at the war-song of Tyrtæus. The music and the poetry of each country must keep pace with their usual tone of mind, as well as with the state of society.
The morality of their compositions is determined by the same circumstances. Those themes are necessarily chosen by the bard which regard the favourite exploits of the hearers; and he celebrates only those virtues which from infancy he has been taught to admire. Hence, as remarked by Lesley, the music and songs of the Borderers were of a military nature, and celebrated the valour and success of their predatory expeditions. Rasing, like Shakspere's pirate, the eighth commandment from the decalogue, the minstrels praised their chieftains for the very exploits against which the laws of the country denounced a capital doom. An outlawed freebooter was to them a more interesting person than the king of Scotland exerting legal power to punish his depredations; and when the characters are contrasted, the latter is always represented as a ruthless and sanguinary tyrant. Spenser's description of the bards of Ireland applies, in some degree, to our ancient border poets. "There is among the Irish a certain kind of people called bards, which are to them instead of poets; whose profession is to set forth the praises or dispraises of men, in their poems or rhymes: the which are had in such high regard or esteem amongst them that none dare displease them for fear of running into reproach through their offence, and to be made infamous in the mouths of all men; for their verses are taken up with a general applause, and usually sung at all feasts and meetings by certain other persons, whose proper function that is, who also receive for the same great rewards and reputation amongst them."
For similar reasons, flowing from the state of society, the reader
must not expect to find, in the Border ballads, refined sentiment, and far less elegant expression; although the style of such compositions has, in modern bards, been found highly susceptible of both. But passages might be pointed out, in which the rude minstrel has melted in natural pathos, or risen into rude energy. Even where these graces are totally wanting, the interest of the stories themselves, and the curious picture of manners which they frequently present, authorise them to claim some respect from the public.
[From the new edition of The Pictorial Bible."]
JERUSALEM lies near the summit of a broad mountain ridge. ridge or mountainous tract extends, without interruption, from the plain of Esdraelon to a line drawn between the south end of the Dead Sea and the south-east corner of the Mediterranean: or more properly, perhaps, it may be regarded as extending as far as the southern desert, where, at Jebel Arâif, it sinks down at once to the level of the great plateau. This tract, which is nowhere less than from twenty to twentyfive geographical miles in breadth, is, in fact, high uneven table-land. The surface of this upper region is every where rocky, uneven, and mountainous, and is, moreover, cut up by deep valleys which run east or west on either side towards the Jordan or the Mediterranean.
From the great plain of Esdraelon onwards towards the south, the mountainous country rises gradually, forming the tract anciently known as the mountains of Ephraim and Judah; until, in the vicinity of Hebron, it attains an elevation of 3250 feet above the level of the Mediterranean Sea. Further north, on a line drawn from the north. end of the Dead Sea towards the true west, the ridge has an elevation of only about 2710 feet; and here, close upon the watershed, lies the city of Jerusalem. Its mean geographical position is in lat. 31° 46′ 43" N., and long. 35° 13′ E. from Greenwich.
The traveller on his way from Ramleh to Jerusalem, at about an hour and a half distance therefrom, descends into and crosses the great Terebinth vale, or valley of Elah. On again reaching the high
ground on its eastern side, he enters upon an open tract sloping gradually downwards towards the east, and sees before him, at the distance of about two miles, the walls and domes of the city, and beyond them the highest ridge of Olivet. The traveller now descends gradually towards the town along a broad swell of ground having at some distance on his left the shallow northern part of the valley of Jehoshaphat, and close at hand on his right the basin which forms the beginning of the valley of Hinnom. Further down both these valleys become deep, narrow, and precipitous; that of Hinnom bends south and again east, nearly at right angles, and unites with the other, which then continues its course to the Dead Sea. Upon the broad and elevated promontory within the fork of the two valleys of Jehoshaphat and of Hinnom, lies the holy city. All around are higher hills: on the east the Mount of Olives, on the south the Hill of Evil Counsel, so called, rising directly from the vale of Hinnom; on the west the ground rises gently, as above described, to the borders of the great valley; while, on the north, a bend of the ridge connected with the Mount of Olives bounds the prospect at a distance of more than a mile. Towards the south-west the view is somewhat more open; for here lies the plain of Rephaim, commencing just at the southern brink of the valley of Hinnom, and stretching off south-west, when it runs to the western sea. In the north-west, too, the eye reaches up along the upper part of the valley of Jehoshaphat, and from many points can discern the mosque of Neby Samwil (Prophet Samuel), situated on a lofty ridge beyond the great valley, at the distance of two hours.
The surface of the elevated promontory itself, on which the city stands, slopes somewhat steeply towards the east, terminating on the brink of the valley of Jehoshaphat. From the northern part, near the present Damascus gate, a depression or shallow valley runs in a southern direction, having on the west the ancient hills of Akra and Zion, and on the east the lower ones of Bezetha and Moriah. Between the hills of Akra and Zion another depression or shallow valley (still easy to be traced) comes down from near the Jaffa gate, and joins the former. It then continues obliquely down the slope, but with a deeper bed, in a southern direction, quite to the pool of Siloam and the valley of Jehoshaphat. This is the ancient Tyropoon. West of its lower part Zion rises loftily, lying mostly without the modern city; while on the east of the Tyropoon and the valley first mentioned lie Bezetha,
Moriah, and Ophel, the last a long and comparatively narrow ridge, also outside of the modern city, and terminating in a rocky point over the pool of Siloam. These last three hills may strictly be taken as only parts of one and the same ridge. The breadth of the whole site of Jerusalem from the brow of the valley of Hinnom, near the Jaffa gate, to the brink of the valley of Jehoshaphat, is about one thousand and twenty yards, or nearly half a geographical mile; of which distance three hundred and eighteen yards are occupied by the area of the great mosque of Omar, which occupies the site of Solomon's temple. North of the Jaffa gate the city wall sweeps round more to the west, and increases the breadth of the city in that part. The country around Jerusalem is all of limestone formation. The rocks every
where come out above the surface, which in many parts is also thickly strewed with loose stones; and the aspect of the whole region is barren and dreary; yet the olive thrives here abundantly, and fields of grain are seen in the valleys and level places, but they are less productive than in the region of Hebron and Nabulus. Neither vineyards nor fig-trees flourish on the high ground around the city, though the latter are found in the gardens below Siloam, and very frequently in the vicinity of Bethlehem.
The Scripture affords few materials for a connected view of the ancient city; and, although Josephus is more particular, the idea which he furnishes is less distinct than it may at the first view appear. His descriptions also refer to a time later even than that of Christ, although in all essential points applicable to the New Testament period; and then the city had become in most respects very different from the more ancient city which the Old Testament presents to our notice. Still his account affords certain leading ideas which must have been applicable at all periods, and its substance may therefore be stated in this place. He describes Jerusalem as being in his time inclosed by a triple wall, wherever it was not encircled by impassable valleys; for there it had but a single wall. The ancient city lay upon two hills over against each other, separated by an intervening valley, at which the houses terminated. Of these hills, that (Zion) which bore the upper city was the highest, and was straighter in extent. On account of its fortifications, it was called by King David the Fortress or Citadel; but in the time of the historian it was known as the Upper Market. The other hill, sustaining the lower city, and
called Akra, had the form of the gibbous moon. Over against this was a third hill, naturally lower than Akra, and separated from it by another broad valley. But in the time when the Asmonæans had rule they threw earth into this valley, intending to connect the city with the temple; and working upon Akra, they lowered the height of it, so that the temple rose conspicuously above it. The valley of the Tyropoon or Cheesemakers as it was called, which has already been mentioned as separating the hills of the upper and lower city, extended quite down to Siloam-a fountain so named, whose waters were sweet and abundant. From without, the two hills of the city were enclosed by deep valleys; and there was no approach because of the precipices on every side.
Dr. Robinson, in comparing the information derivable from Josephus with his own materials, declares that the main features de picted by the Jewish historian may still be recognised. "True," he says, "the valley of the Tyropœon and that between Akra and Moriah have been greatly filled up with the rubbish accumulated from the repeated desolations of nearly eighteen centuries. Yet they are still distinetly to be traced; the hills of Zion, Akra, Moriah, and Bezetha are not to be mistaken, while the deep valleys of the Kidron, and of Hinnom, and the Mount of Olives are permanent natural features, too prominent and gigantic indeed to be forgotten, or to undergo any perceptible change."
Recurring to the walls, Josephus says: "Of these three walls the old one was hard to be taken; both by reason of the valleys, and of that hill on which it was built, and which was above them. But besides that great advantage, as to the place where they were situate, it was also built very strong: because David, and Solomon, and the following kings were very zealous about this work." After some further account of the walls, which has no immediate connection with our present subject, he adds that "the city in its ultimate extension included another hill, the fourth, called Bezetha, to the north of the temple, from which it was separated by a deep artificial ditch."
From this account of Josephus, as compared with those furnished by others, it appears that Jerusalem stood on three hills, Mount Zion, Mount Akra, and Mount Moriah, on which last the temple stood. we may consider them as two, after Mount Akra: had been levelled, and the valley filled up which separated it from Mount Moriah.