the Second Week of Lent
Click to donate today!
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
formerly called Jebus, or Salem, Joshua 18:28; Hebrews 7:2 , the capital of Judea, situated partly in the tribe of Benjamin, and partly in that of Judah. It was not completely reduced by the Israelites till the reign of David, 2 Samuel 5:6-9 . As Jerusalem was the centre of the true worship, Psalms 122:4 , and the place where God did in a peculiar manner dwell, first in the tabernacle, 2 Samuel 6:7; 2 Samuel 6:12; 1 Chronicles 15:1; 1 Chronicles 16:1; Psalms 132:13; Psalms 135:2 , and afterward in the temple, 1 Kings 6:13; so it is used figuratively to denote the church, or the celestial society, to which all that believe, both Jews and Gentiles, are come, and in which they are initiated, Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 3:12; Revelation 21:2; Revelation 21:10 . Jerusalem was situated in a stony and barren soil, and was about sixty furlongs in length, according to Strabo. The territory and places adjacent were well watered, having the fountains of Gihon and Siloam, and the brook Kidron, at the foot of its walls; and, beside these, there were the waters of Ethan, which Pilate had conveyed through aqueducts into the city. The ancient city of Jerusalem, or Jebus, which David took from the Jebusites, was not very large. It was seated upon a mountain southward of the temple. The opposite mountain, situated to the north, is Sion, where David built a new city, which he called the city of David, whereto was the royal palace, and the temple of the Lord. The temple was built upon Mount Moriah, which was one of the little hills belonging to Mount Sion.
Through the reigns of David and Solomon, Jerusalem was the metropolis of the whole Jewish kingdom, and continued to increase in wealth and splendour. It was resorted to at the festivals by the whole population of the country; and the power and commercial spirit of Solomon, improving the advantages acquired by his father David, centred in it most of the eastern trade, both by sea, through the ports of Elath and Ezion-Geber, and over land, by the way of Tadmor or Palmyra. Or, at least, though Jerusalem might not have been made a depot of merchandise, the quantity of precious metals flowing into it by direct importation, and by duties imposed on goods passing to the ports of the Mediterranean, and in other directions, was unbounded. Some idea of the prodigious wealth of Jerusalem at this time may be formed by stating, that the quantity of gold left by David for the use of the temple amounted to £21,600,000 sterling, beside £3,150,000 in silver; and Solomon obtained £3,240,000 in gold by one voyage to Ophir, while silver was so abundant, "that it was not any thing accounted of." These were the days of Jerusalem's glory. Universal peace, unmeasured wealth, the wisdom and clemency of the prince, and the worship of the true God, marked Jerusalem, above every city, as enjoying the presence and the especial favour of the Almighty. But these days were not to last long: intestine divisions and foreign wars, wicked and tyrannical princes, and, last of all, the crime most offensive to Heaven, and the one least to be expected among so favoured a people, led to a series of calamities, through the long period of nine hundred years, with which no other city or nation can furnish a parallel. After the death of Solomon, ten of the twelve tribes revolted from his successor Rehoboam, and, under Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, established a separate kingdom: so that Jerusalem, no longer the capital of the whole empire, and its temple frequented only by the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, must have experienced a mournful declension. Four years after this, the city and temple were taken and plundered by Shishak, king of Egypt, 1 Kings 14:26-27; 2 Chronicles 12:2-9 . One hundred and forty-five years after, under Amaziah, they sustained the same fate from Joash, king of Israel, 2 Kings 14; 2 Chronicles 25. One hundred and sixty years from this period, the city was again taken, by Esar-haddon, king of Assyria; and Manasseh, the king, carried a prisoner to Babylon, 2 Chronicles 33. Within the space of sixty-six years more it was taken by Pharaoh-Necho, king of Egypt, whom Josiah, king of Judah, had opposed in his expedition to Carchemish; and who, in consequence, was killed at the battle of Megiddo, and his son Eliakim placed on the throne in his stead by Necho, who changed his name to Jehoiakim, and imposed a heavy tribute upon him, having sent his elder brother, Jehoahaz, who had been proclaimed king at Jerusalem, a prisoner to Egypt, where he died, 2 Kings 23; 2 Chronicles 35. Jerusalem was three times besieged and taken by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon within a very few years. The first, in the reign of the last mentioned king, Jehoiakim, who was sent a prisoner to Babylon, and the vessels of the temple transported to the same city, 2 Chronicles 36. The second, in that of his son Jehoiachin; when all the treasures of the palace and the temple, and the remainder of the vessels of the latter which had been hidden or spared in the first capture, were carried away or destroyed, and the best of the inhabitants, with the king, led into captivity, 2 Kings 24; 2 Chronicles 36. And the third, in the reign of Zedekiah, the successor of Jehoiachin; in whose ninth year the most formidable siege which this ill fated city ever sustained, except that of Titus, was commenced. It continued two years; during a great part of which the inhabitants suffered all the horrors of famine: when, on the ninth day of the fourth month, in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, which answers to July in the year B.C. 588, the garrison, with the king, endeavoured to make their escape from the city, but were pursued and defeated by the Chaldeans in the plains of Jericho; Zedekiah taken prisoner; his sons killed before his face at Riblah, whither he was taken to the king of Babylon; and he himself, after his eyes were put out, was bound with fetters of brass, and carried prisoner to Babylon, where he died: thus fulfilling the prophecy of Ezekiel, which declared that he should be carried to Babylon, but should not see the place, though he should die there, Ezekiel 12:13 . In the following month, the Chaldean army, under their general, Nebuzaradan, entered the city, took away every thing that was valuable, and then burned and utterly destroyed it, with its temple and walls, and left the whole razed to the ground. The entire population of the city and country, with the exception of a few husbandmen, were then carried captive to Babylon.
During seventy years, the city and temple lay in ruins: when those Jews who chose to take immediate advantage of the proclamation of Cyrus, under the conduct of Zerubbabel, returned to Jerusalem, and began to build the temple; all the vessels of gold and silver belonging to which, that had been taken away by Nebuchadnezzar, being restored by Cyrus. Their work, however, did not proceed far without opposition; for in the reign of Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, who in Scripture is called Ahasuerus, the Samaritans presented a petition to that monarch to put a stop to the building, Ezra 4:6 . Cambyses appears to have been too busily engaged in his Egyptian expedition to pay any attention to this malicious request.
His successor, Smerdis, the Magian, however, who in Scripture is called Artaxerxes, to whom a similar petition was sent, representing the Jews as a factious and dangerous people, listened to it, and, in the true spirit of a usurper, issued a decree putting a stop to the farther building of the temple, Ezra 4:7 , &c; which, in consequence, remained in an unfinished state till the second year, according to the Jewish, and third, according to the Babylonian and Persian account, of Darius Hystaspes, who is called simply Darius in Scripture. To him also a representation hostile to the Jews was made by their inveterate enemies, the Samaritans; but this noble prince refused to listen to it, and having searched the rolls of the kingdom, and found in the palace at Acmetha the decree of Cyrus, issued a similar one, which reached Jerusalem in the subsequent year, and even ordered these very Samaritans to assist the Jews in their work; so that it was completed in the sixth year of the same reign, Ezra 4:24; Ezra 5; Ezra 6:1-15 . But the city and walls remained in a ruinous condition until the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, the Artaxerxes Longimanus of profane history; by whom Nehemiah was sent to Jerusalem, with a power granted to him to rebuild them. Accordingly, under the direction of this zealous servant of God, the walls were speedily raised, but not without the accustomed opposition on the part of the Samaritans; who, despairing of the success of an application to the court of Persia, openly attacked the Jews with arms. But the building, notwithstanding, went steadily on; the men working with an implement of work in one hand, and a weapon of war in the other; and the wall, with incredible labour, was finished in fifty-two days, in the year B.C. 445; after which, the city itself was gradually rebuilt, Nehemiah 2, 4, 6. From this time Jerusalem remained attached to the Persian empire, but under the local jurisdiction of the high priests, until the subversion of that empire by Alexander, fourteen years after. See .
At the death of Alexander, and the partition of his empire by his generals, Jerusalem, with Judea, fell to the kings of Syria. But in the frequent wars which followed between the kings of Syria and those of Egypt, called by Daniel, the kings of the north and south, it belonged sometimes to one and sometimes to the other,—an unsettled and unhappy state, highly favourable to disorder and corruption,—the high priesthood was openly sold to the highest bidder; and numbers of the Jews deserted their religion for the idolatries of the Greeks. At length, in the year B.C. 170, Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, enraged at hearing that the Jews had rejoiced at a false report of his death, plundered Jerusalem, and killed eighty thousand men. Not more than two years afterward, this cruel tyrant, who had seized every opportunity to exercise his barbarity on the Jews, sent Apollonius with an army to Jerusalem; who pulled down the walls, grievously oppressed the people, and built a citadel on a rock adjoining the temple, which commanded that building, and had the effect of completely overawing the seditious. Having thus reduced this unfortunate city into entire submission, and rendered resistance useless, the next step of Antiochus was to abolish the Jewish religion altogether, by publishing an edict which commanded all the people of his dominions to conform to the religion of the Greeks: in consequence of which, the service of the temple ceased, and a statue of Jupiter Olympus was set up on the altar. But this extremity of ignominy and oppression led, as might have been expected, to rebellion; and those Jews who still held their insulted religion in reverence, fled to the mountains, with Mattathias and Judas Maccabeus; the latter of whom, after the death of Mattathias, who with his followers and successors, are known by the name of Maccabees, waged successful war with the Syrians; defeated Apollonius, Nicanor, and Lysias, generals of Antiochus; obtained possession of Jerusalem, purified the temple, and restored the service, after three years' defilement by the Gentile idolatries.
From this time, during several succeeding Maccabean rulers, who were at once high priests and sovereigns of the Jews, but without the title of king, Jerusalem was able to preserve itself from Syrian violence. It was, however, twice besieged, first by Antiochus Eupator, in the year 163, and afterward by Antiochus Sidetes, in the year B.C. 134. But the Jews had caused themselves to be sufficiently respected to obtain conditions of peace on both occasions, and to save their city; till, at length, Hyrcanus, in the year 130 B.C., shook off the Syrian yoke, and reigned, after this event, twenty-one years in independence and prosperity. His successor, Judas, made an important change in the Jewish government, by taking the title of king which dignity was enjoyed by his successors forty-seven years, when a dispute having arisen between Hyrcanus II, and his brother Aristobulus, and the latter having overcome the former, and made himself king, was, in his turn, conquered by the Romans under Pompey, by whom the city and temple were taken, Aristobulus made prisoner, and Hyrcanus created high priest and prince of the Jews, but without the title of king. By this event Judea was reduced to the condition of a Roman province, in the year 63
B.C. Nor did Jerusalem long after enjoy the dignity of a metropolis, that honour being transferred to Caesarea. Julius Caesar, having defeated Pompey, continued Hyrcanus in the high priesthood, but bestowed the government of Judea upon Antipater, an Idumaean by birth, but a Jewish proselyte, and father of Herod the Great. For the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, See.
Jerusalem lay in ruins about forty-seven years, when the Emperor AElius Adrian began to build it anew, and erected a Heathen temple, which he dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus. The city was finished in the twentieth year of his reign, and called, after its founder, AElia, or AElia Capitolina, from the Heathen deity who presided over it. In this state Jerusalem continued, under the name of AElia, and inhabited more by Christians and Pagans than by Jews, till the time of the Emperor Constantine, styled the Great; who, about the year 323, having made Christianity the religion of the empire, began to improve it, adorned it with many new edifices and churches, and restored its ancient name. About thirty-five years afterward, Julian, named the Apostate, not from any love he bore the Jews, but out of hatred to the Christians, whose faith he had abjured, and with the avowed design of defeating the prophecies, which had declared that the temple should not be rebuilt, wrote to the Jews, inviting them to their city, and promising to restore their temple and nation. He accordingly employed great numbers of workmen to clear the foundations; but balls of fire bursting from the earth, soon put a stop to their proceeding. This miraculous interposition of Providence is attested by many credible witnesses and historians; and, in particular, by Ammianus Marcellinus, a Heathen, and friend of Julian; Zemuch David, a Jew; Nazianzen, Chrysostom, Ambrose Ruffinus, Theodoret, Sozomen, and Socrates, who wrote his account within fifty years after the transaction, and while many eye-witnesses of it were still living. So stubborn, indeed, is the proof of this miracle, that even Gibbon, who strives to invalidate it, is obliged to acknowledge the general fact.
Jerusalem continued in nearly the same condition till the beginning of the seventh century, when it was taken and plundered by the celebrated Chosroes, king of Persia, by whom many thousands of the Christian inhabitants were killed, or sold for slaves. The Persians, however, did not hold it long, as they were soon after entirely defeated by the Emperor Heraclius, who rescued Jerusalem, and restored it, not to the unhappy Jews, who were forbidden to come within three miles of it, but to the Christians. A worse calamity was, however, speedily to befall this ill fated city. The Mohammedan imposture arose about this time; and the fanatics who had adopted its creed carried their arms and their religion with unprecedented rapidity over the greater part of the east. The Caliph Omar, the third from Mohammed, invested the city, which, after once more suffering the horrors of a protracted siege, surrendered on terms of capitulation in the year 637; and has ever since, with the exception of the short period that it was occupied by the crusaders, been trodden under foot by the followers of the false prophet.
2. The accounts of modern Jerusalem by travellers are very numerous. Mr. Gender, in his "Palestine," has abridged them with judgment; and we give the following extract: The approach to Jerusalem from Jaffa is not the direction in which to see the city to the best effect. Dr. E. D. Clarke entered it by the Damascus gate: and he describes the view of Jerusalem, when first descried from the summit of a hill, at about an hour's distance, as most impressive. He confesses, at the same time, that there is no other point of view in which it is seen to so much advantage. In the celebrated prospect from the Mount of Olives, the city lies too low, is too near the eye, and has too much the character of a bird's eye view, with the formality of a topographical plan. "We had not been prepared," says this lively traveller, "for the grandeur of the spectacle which the city alone exhibited. Instead of a wretched and ruined town, by some described as the desolated remnant of Jerusalem, we beheld, as it were, a flourishing and stately metropolis, presenting a magnificent assemblage of domes, towers, palaces, churches, and monasteries; all of which, glittering in the sun's rays, shone with inconceivable splendour. As we drew nearer, our whole attention was engrossed by its noble and interesting appearance. The lofty hills surrounding it give the city itself an appearance of elevation less than it really has." Dr. Clarke was fortunate in catching this first view of Jerusalem under the illusion of a brilliant evening sunshine; but his description is decidedly overcharged. M. Chateaubriand, Mr. Buckingham, Mr. Brown, Mr. Jolliffe, Sir F. Henniker, and almost every other modern traveller, confirm the representation of Dr. Richardson. Mr. Buckingham says, "The appearance of this celebrated city, independent of the feelings and recollections which the approach to it cannot fail to awaken, was greatly inferior to my expectations, and had certainly nothing of grandeur or beauty, of stateliness or magnificence, about it. It appeared like a walled town of the third or fourth class, having neither towers, nor domes, nor minarets within it, in sufficient numbers to give even a character to its impressions on the beholder; but showing chiefly large flat-roofed buildings of the most unornamented kind, seated amid rugged hills, on a stony and forbidding soil, with scarcely a picturesque object in the whole compass of the surrounding view." Chateaubriand's description is very striking and graphical. After citing the language of the Prophet Jeremiah, in his lamentations on the desolation of the ancient city, as accurately portraying its present state, Lamentations 1:1-6; Lamentations 2:1-9; Lamentations 2:15 , he thus proceeds: "When seen from the Mount of Olives, on the other side of the Valley of Jehoshaphat, Jerusalem presents an inclined plane, descending from west to east. An embattled wall, fortified with towers, and a Gothic castle, encompasses the city all round; excluding, however, part of Mount Zion, which it formerly enclosed. In the western quarter, and in the centre of the city, the houses stand very close; but, in the eastern part, along the brook Kedron, you perceive vacant spaces; among the rest, that which surrounds the mosque erected on the ruins of the temple, and the nearly deserted spot where once stood the castle of Antonia and the second palace of Herod. The houses of Jerusalem are heavy square masses, very low, without chimneys or windows: they have flat terraces or domes on the top, and look like prisons or sepulchres. The whole would appear to the eye one uninterrupted level, did not the steeples of the churches, the minarets of the mosques, the summits of a few cypresses, and the clumps of nopals, break the uniformity of the plan. On beholding these stone buildings, encompassed by a stony country, you are ready to inquire if they are not the confused monuments of a cemetery in the midst of a desert. Enter the city, but nothing will you there find to make amends for the dulness of its exterior. You lose yourself among narrow, unpaved streets, here going up hill, there down, from the inequality of the ground; and you walk among clouds of dust or loose stones. Canvas stretched from house to house increases the gloom of this labyrinth. Bazaars, roofed over, and fraught with infection, completely exclude the light from the desolate city. A few paltry shops expose nothing but wretchedness to view; and even these are frequently shut, from apprehension of the passage of a cadi. Not a creature is to be seen in the streets, not a creature at the gates extent now and then a peasant gliding through the gloom, concealing under his garments the fruits of his labour, lest he should be robbed of his hard earnings by the rapacious soldier. Aside, in a corner, the Arab butcher is slaughtering some animal, suspended by the legs from a wall in ruins: from his haggard and ferocious look, and his bloody hands, you would suppose that he had been cutting the throat of a fellow creature, rather than killing a lamb. The only noise heard from time to time in the city is the galloping of the steed of the desert: it is the janissary who brings the head of the Bedouin, or who returns from plundering the unhappy Fellah. Amid this extraordinary desolation, you must pause a moment to contemplate two circumstances still more extraordinary. Among the ruins of Jerusalem, two classes of independent people find in their religion sufficient fortitude to enable them to surmount such complicated horrors and wretchedness. Here reside communities of Christian monks, whom nothing can compel to forsake the tomb of Christ; neither plunder, nor personal ill treatment, nor menaces of death itself. Night and day they chant their hymns around the holy sepulchre. Driven by the cudgel and the sabre, women, children, flocks, and herds, seek refuge in the cloisters of these recluses. What prevents the armed oppressor from pursuing his prey, and overthrowing such feeble ramparts? The charity of the monks: they deprive themselves of the last resources of life to ransom their suppliants. Cast your eyes between the temple and Mount Zion; behold another petty tribe cut off from the rest of the inhabitants of this city. The particular objects of every species of degradation, these people bow their heads without murmuring; they endure every kind of insult without demanding justice; they sink beneath repeated blows without sighing; if their head be required, they present it to the scimitar. On the death of any member of this proscribed community, his companion goes at night, and inters him by stealth in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, in the shadow of Solomon's temple. Enter the abodes of these people, you will find them, amid the most abject wretchedness, instructing their children to read a mysterious book, which they in their turn will teach their offspring to read. What they did five thousand years ago, these people still continue to do. Seventeen times have they witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, yet nothing can discourage them, nothing can prevent them from turning their faces toward Sion. To see the Jews scattered over the whole world, according to the word of God, must doubtless excite surprise. But to be struck with supernatural astonishment, you must view them at Jerusalem; you must behold these rightful masters of Judea living as slaves and strangers in their own country; you must behold them expecting, under all oppressions, a king who is to deliver them. Crushed by the cross that condemns them, skulking near the temple, of which not one stone is left upon another, they continue in their deplorable infatuation. The Persians the Greeks, the Romans, are swept from the earth; and a petty tribe, whose origin preceded that of those great nations, still exists unmixed among the ruins of its native land." To the same effect are the remarks of Dr. Richardson: "In passing up to the synagogue, I was particularly struck with the mean and wretched appearance of the houses on both sides of the streets, as well as with the poverty of their inhabitants. The sight of a poor Jew in Jerusalem has in it something peculiarly affecting. The heart of this wonderful people, in whatever clime they roam, still turns to it as the city of their promised rest. They take pleasure in her ruins, and would kiss the very dust for her sake. Jerusalem is the centre around which the exiled sons of Judah build, in imagination, the mansions of their future greatness. In whatever part of the world he may live, the heart's desire of a Jew is to be buried in Jerusalem. Thither they return from Spain and Portugal, from Egypt and Barbary, and other countries among which they have been scattered: and when, after all their longings, and all their struggles up the steeps of life, we see them poor, and blind, and naked, in the streets of their once happy Zion, he must have a cold heart that can remain untouched by their sufferings. without uttering a prayer that God would have mercy on the darkness of Judah; and that the Day Star of Bethlehem might arise in their hearts."
"Jerusalem," remarks Sir Frederick Henhiker, "is called, even by Mohammedans, the Blessed City ( El Gootz, El Koudes. ) The streets of it are narrow and deserted, the houses dirty and ragged, the shops few and forsaken; and throughout the whole there is not one symptom of either commerce, comfort, or happiness. The best view of it is from the Mount of Olives: it commands the exact shape and nearly every particular; namely, the church of the holy sepulchre, the Armenian convent, the mosque of Omar, St. Stephen's gate, the round-topped houses, and the barren vacancies of the city. Without the walls are a Turkish burial ground, the tomb of David, a small grove near the tombs of the kings, and all the rest is a surface of rock, on which are a few numbered trees. The mosque of Omar is the St. Peter's of Turkey, and the respective saints are held respectively by their own faithful in equal veneration. The building itself has a light pagoda appearance; the garden in which it stands occupies a considerable part of the city, and, contrasted with the surrounding desert, is beautiful. The burial place of the Jews is over the valley of Kedron, and the fees for breaking the soil afford a considerable revenue to the governor. The burial place of the Turks is under the walls, near St. Stephen's gate. From the opposite side of the valley, I was witness to the ceremony of parading a corpse round the mosque of Omar, and then bringing it forth for burial. I hastened to the grave, but was soon driven away: as far as my on dit tells me, it would have been worth seeing. The grave is strown with red earth, supposed to be of the Ager Damascenes of which Adam was made; by the side of the corpse is placed a stick, and the priest tells him that the devil will tempt him to become a Christian, but that he must make good use of his stick; that his trial will last three days, and that he will then find himself in a mansion of glory," &c.
The Jerusalem of sacred history is, in fact, no more. Not a vestige remains of the capital of David and Solomon; not a monument of Jewish times is standing. The very course of the walls is changed, and the boundaries of the ancient city are become doubtful. The monks pretend to show the sites of the sacred places; but neither Calvary, nor the holy sepulchre, much less the Dolorous Way, the house of Caiaphas, &c, have the slightest pretensions to even a probable identity with the real places to which the tradition refers. Dr. E. D. Clarke has the merit of being the first modern traveller who ventured to speak of the preposterous legends and clumsy forgeries of the priests with the contempt which they merit. "To men interested in tracing, within its walls, antiquities referred to by the documents of sacred history, no spectacle," remarks the learned traveller, "can be more mortifying than the city in its present state. The mistaken piety of the early Christians, in attempting to preserve, has either confused or annihilated the memorials it was anxious to render conspicuous. Viewing the havoc thus made, it may now be regretted that the Holy Land was ever rescued from the dominion of Saracens, who were far less barbarous than their conquerors. The absurdity, for example, of hewing the rocks of Judea into shrines and chapels, and of disguising the face of nature with painted domes and gilded marble coverings, by way of commemorating the scenes of our Saviour's life and death, is so evident and so lamentable, that even Sandys, with all his credulity, could not avoid a happy application of the reproof conveyed by the Roman satirist against a similar violation of the Egerian fountain." Dr. Richardson remarks, "It is a tantalizing circumstance for the traveller who wishes to recognize in his walks the site of particular buildings, or the scenes of memorable events, that the greater part of the objects mentioned in the description both of the inspired and the Jewish historian, are entirely removed, and razed from their foundation, without leaving a single trace or name behind to point out where they stood. Not an ancient tower, or gate, or wall, or hardly even a stone, remains. The foundations are not only broken up, but every fragment of which they were composed is swept away, and the spectator looks upon the bare rock with hardly a sprinkling of earth to point out her gardens of pleasure, or groves of idolatrous devotion. And when we consider the places, and towers, and walls about Jerusalem, and that the stones of which some of them were constructed were thirty feet long, fifteen feet broad, and seven and a half feet thick, we are not more astonished at the strength, and skill, and perseverance, by which they were constructed, than shocked by the relentless and brutal hostility by which they were shattered and overthrown, and utterly removed from our sight. A few gardens still remain on the sloping base of Mount Zion, watered from the pool of Siloam; the gardens of Gethsemane are still in a sort of ruined cultivation; the fences are broken down, and the olive trees decaying, as if the hand that pressed and fed them were withdrawn; the Mount of Olives still retains a languishing verdure, and nourishes a few of those trees from which it derives its name; but all round about Jerusalem the general aspect is blighted and barren; the grass is withered; the bare rock looks through the scanty sward; and the grain itself, like the staring progeny of famine, seems in doubt whether to come to maturity, or die in the ear. The vine that was brought from Egypt is cut off from the midst of the land; the vineyards are wasted; the hedges are taken away; and the graves of the ancient dead are open and tenantless."
3. On the accomplishment of prophecy in the condition in which this celebrated city has lain for ages, Keith well remarks:—It formed the theme of prophecy from the death bed of Jacob; and, as the seat of the government of the children of Judah, the sceptre departed not from it till the Messiah appeared, on the expiration of seventeen hundred years after the death of the patriarch, and till the period of its desolation, prophesied of by Daniel, had arrived. It was to be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the time of the Gentiles should be fulfilled. The time of the Gentiles is not yet fulfilled, and Jerusalem is still trodden down of the Gentiles. The Jews have often attempted to recover it: no distance of space or of time can separate it from their affections: they perform their devotions with their faces toward it, as if it were the object of their worship as well as of their love; and, although their desire to return be so strong, indelible, and innate, that every Jew, in every generation, counts himself an exile, yet they have never been able to rebuild their temple, nor to recover Jerusalem from the hands of the Gentiles. But greater power than that of a proscribed and exiled race has been added to their own, in attempting to frustrate the counsel that professed to be of God. Julian, the emperor of the Romans, not only permitted but invited the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem and their temple; and promised to reestablish them in their paternal city. By that single act, more than by all his writings, he might have destroyed the credibility of the Gospel, and restored his beloved but deserted Paganism. The zeal of the Jews was equal to his own; and the work was begun by laying again the foundations of the temple. It was never accomplished, and the prophecy stands fulfilled. But even if the attempt of Julian had never been made, the truth of the prophecy itself is unassailable. The Jews have never been reinstated in Judea. Jerusalem has ever been trodden down of the Gentiles. The edict of Adrian was renewed by the successors of Julian; and no Jews could approach unto Jerusalem but by bribery or by stealth. It was a spot unlawful for them to touch. In the crusades, all the power of Europe was employed to rescue Jerusalem from the Heathens, but equally in vain. It has been trodden down for nearly eighteen centuries by its successive masters; by Romans, Grecians, Persians, Saracens, Mamelukes, Turks, Christians, and again by the worst of rulers, the Arabs and the Turks. And could any thing be more improbable to have happened, or more impossible to have been foreseen by man, than that any people should be banished from their own capital and country, and remain expelled and expatriated for nearly eighteen hundred years? Did the same fate ever befall any nation, though no prophecy existed respecting it? Is there any doctrine in Scripture so hard to be believed as was this single fact at the period of its prediction? And even with the example of the Jews before us, is it likely, or is it credible, or who can foretel, that the present inhabitants of any country upon earth shall be banished into all nations, retain their distinctive character, meet with an unparalleled fate, continue a people, without a government and without a country, and remain for an indefinite period, exceeding seventeen hundred years, till the fulfilment of a prescribed event which has yet to be accomplished? Must not the knowledge of such truths be derived from that prescience alone which scans alike the will and the ways of mortals, the actions of future nations, and the history of the latest generations?
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Jerusalem'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​wtd/​j/jerusalem.html. 1831-2.