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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Jerusalem (2)

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JERUSALEM

1. Name.

2. Natural site.

3. Climate and Diseases.

4. Water supply.

5. Topography.

6. History of the city during period of the Gospels.

7. Jerusalem in the Gospels.

Literature.

1. Name.—This appears in the Gospels as Ἱεροσόλυμα and Ἱερουσαλήμ. The former of these names, and the more used, appears to have come into common vogue a century or so before the commencement of the Christian era. It occurs in 2 Maccabees (2 Maccabees 3:9), in the Letter of Aristeas, and in Strabo, and it is the form always employed by Josephus. In Latin Pagan writers, e.g. Cicero, Pliny, Tacitus, it is employed transliterated as Hierosolyma. Ἱερουσαλήμ unquestionably is much nearer to the Hebrew ידושׁלם, however this was vocalized, and is therefore the more primitive. St. Luke specially employs this both in his Gospel and in the Acts. It is noticeable that it is the form put into the mouth of Jesus when His words are professedly reported verbatim (Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34; Luke 23:8). The name , as used throughout the Western world, and the Arabic form used in Palestine to-day, , are both derived from this Greek form. In Matthew 4:5; Matthew 27:53 we have the expression, used previously too in the OT, ‘the holy city.’ This is familiar to us in Western lands, but it is also, for other reasons, the name for Jerusalem throughout the Moslem world. Kuds, or, more classically, Mukaddas, ‘the sanctuary’ or ‘holy place,’ is the common name for this city in the East.

2. Natural site.—Modern Jerusalem occupies a situation which is defined geographically as 31° 46′ 45″ N. lat. by 35° 13′ 25″ long. E. of Greenwich, and lies at levels between 2300 and 2500 feet above the Mediterranean. It is overlooked by somewhat higher ground to the N., to the E., and the South. On the West the outlook is somewhat more open, but even here the view is not very extensive; only along a narrow line to the S.E. a gap in the mountains exposes to view a long strip of the beautiful mountains of Moab across the Dead Sea, itself invisible in its deep basin. Although the exact situation of the city has varied considerably during historical times, yet the main natural features which gave Jerusalem its strength—and its weakness—both as a fortress and as a sanctuary, may be easily recognized to-day. Built, as it has been, in a peculiarly bare and ill-watered region, off the natural lines of communication, it could never have enjoyed its long and famous history but for certain compensating advantages.

The city’s site lies slightly to the east of the great mountainous backbone of Palestine, upon a tongue-shaped ridge running from N.W. to S.E. This ‘tongue’ is the central of three branches given off at this point. The N.E. one terminates opposite the city as the Mount of Olives, while a southern branch, given off near the highest point before the modern Jaffa road commences to descend to the city, runs almost due south, and terminates near the commencement of the Wady el-Wurd, at a point on which is situated to-day the summer residence of the Greek Patriarch, known as Katamûn. The whole mountain group is isolated from its neighbours on the N.W. and W. by the deep Wady beit Hanîna, to the S.W. by the roots of the Wady es-Surâr, and to the E. and S.E. by the Wady en-Nâr and other steep valleys running down towards the Jordan and the Dead Sea. To the north and south, where the ancient caravan road from Hebron and the Negeb runs towards Samaria and Galilee, it is separated from the main backbone by only shallow and open valleys. The special ridge of land on which Jerusalem stands is roughly quadrilateral in shape, but merges itself into higher ground towards the N. and N.W. The surface direction is generally downwards from N. to S., with a slight tilt towards the E.; this is due to the dip of the strata, which run E.S.E. Like all this part of the country, the rocky formation is grey chalky limestone, deposited in beds of varying hardness. The least durable, which still lies on the surface of the Mount of Olives, having been denuded here, the top layer over the city’s site, is a hard limestone with flinty bands, known locally as the Mezzeh. This is the formation most suitable for building-stone, though the hardest to work upon. Under this are thick strata of a soft white stone of uniform consistence, known locally as Meleki. These softer layers have been of the greatest importance in the history of the city, as in them have been excavated the countless caves, cisterns, and tombs which cover the whole district, and from them in ancient times most of the building-stones were taken. In many places this Meleki rock when first excavated is quite soft and easily worked with the most primitive tools, but on exposure to the air it rapidly hardens. The stones from this soft layer, however, never have the durability of those from the Mezzeh; and doubtless it is because of the poor material used that so few relies of real antiquity have survived till to-day. Under the Meleki is a layer of dolomite limestone which comes to the surface in the valley to the south of the city, and is of importance, because along its non-porous surface the water, which percolates through the other layers, is conducted upwards to the one spring—the Virgin’s Fountain.

The enormous accumulation of débris over the ancient site renders it difficult to picture to-day its primitive condition. The extensive investigations made here during the past fifty years, as well as the examination of many kindred sites in other parts of Palestine, lead to the conclusion that the whole area before human habitation consisted of an irregular, rocky surface, broken up by a number of small shallow valleys in which alone there was sufficient soil for vegetation. To-day the rock is everywhere covered with debris of a depth varying from 40 to 70 or more feet. Only those who understand how much this vast accumulation has blotted out the ancient natural landmarks can realize how very difficult are even the essential and elementary questions of Jerusalem topography.

Of the broad natural features that survive, most manifest are the two great valleys which demark the before mentioned tongue of land. The Eastern Valley commences a mile north of the city wall in a shallow depression near the watershed, a little to the N. of the highest point on the Jaffa road. It at first runs S.E., and is shallow and open: it is here known as the Wady el-Jôz. It then turns due south, and soon becomes a ravine with steep sides, called by the Moslems the Wady Sitti Miriam, and by Christians since the 4th cent. the Valley of Jehoshaphat* [Note: Eusebius, onomasticon2, 193, 20] (a name very probably connected originally with the neighbouring village of Shʻafat, and corrupted to Jehoshaphat because of Joel 3:2; Joel 3:12). This ravine, on reaching the northern extremity of the village of Silwan, turns S.W. and joins the Western Valley near the well now called Bir Eyyûb. In ancient times this part of the valley with its steep and, in places, precipitous sides, must have formed a most efficient protection to the whole E. and S.E. sides of the city. It is mentioned in the NT as the ‘brook’ (χείμαρρος) Kidron (John 18:1). The valley is almost all the year quite dry, but after a sudden heavy storm quite a considerable torrent may pour down its centre. The present writer has traversed the road along the lower parts of the valley immediately after such rain, with the water half-way to his knees.

The Western Valley—known to-day as the Wady er-Rabâbi—is shorter and more crooked than that on the East. It commences to the S. of the modern Jaffa road close to the Birket Mamilla, its head being now occupied by a large Moslem burying-ground. After running E. towards the Jaffa Gate—near which it has been extensively filled up with rubbish during recent years—it curves south, and some 300 yards down is crossed by the arched, though now half-buried, ‘low-level aqueduct.’ A little further on it is transformed by the erection of a barrier across its breadth into a great pool—the Birket es-Sultân. Below the barrier it rapidly deepens and curves S.E., until at Bir Eyyûb it joins the Kidron Valley; the new valley formed by their union runs, under the name of the Wady en-Nâr (the Valley of Fire), down to the Bead Sea. The Wady er-Rabâbi is very generally considered to be the Valley of Hinnom. Several good authorities are against this identification, but for the present purpose there is no need to enter into this discussion, and here it may be provisionally accepted. Although not so steep a valley as the Eastern one, the Wady er-Rabâbi presented a much more effective protection to the walls in ancient days than present conditions suggest. In NT times it must have made attack along the whole W. and S.W. sides almost impracticable. Only to the N. and N.W. was the city without natural defence, and it was from these points that she always proved vulnerable.

The quadrilateral plateau enclosed by these valleys, about half a mile in breadth and some 1000 acres in extent, was subdivided by several shallow natural valleys. Of these the most important, and the only one which to-day is clearly seen, is a valley known as el-Wad. This, commencing near the present Damascus Gate, runs S. in a somewhat curved direction, dividing the modern city into two unequal halves, and after passing out near the Dung Gate joins the Kidron Valley at the Pool of Siloam. Although extensively filled up in places, the outline of the valley may still be clearly seen from any high point in the city near the Damascus Gate, and its bed is to-day traversed by one of the two carriage roads in the city. Though crossed near the Bab es-Silsileh by an artificial causeway in which was discovered ‘Wilson’s Arch,’ it again appears near the Jews’ Wailing-place, much of its bed being even to-day waste ground. At this point the W. hill still preserves something of its precipitous face,* [Note: Robinson, BRP i. 390.] but on its E. side it is largely encroached upon by the S.W. corner of the Haram. This valley is evidently that described as the Tyropœon or Cheesemongers’ Valley, and by it the whole natural site of Jerusalem is divided into Western and Eastern hills.

The broader and loftier Western hill is without doubt that called by Josephus the Upper Market-place and the Upper City, and it is the one which since the 4th cent. has been known as Zion. Josephus (BJ v. iv. 1) mentions that in his day it was called the Citadel of David, and this tradition survives in the name the ‘Tower of David,’ given to the fortress at the Jaffa Gate. This is not the place to discuss the position of Zion, but it is now fairly generally admitted that the tradition which placed the Citadel of David and Zion on this Western spur was wrong, and that these sites lay on the Eastern hill south of the Temple. Josephus (BJ v. iv. 1) describes the Western hill as ‘much higher’ and ‘in length more direct’ than the other hill opposite to it. The buildings on it extended southward to the Valley of Hinnom, but to the north it is bounded by a valley which runs eastward from near the modern Jaffa Gate to join the Tyropœon Valley opposite the Western wall of the Temple area. It is to-day largely filled up, but its direction is preserved by David Street. The first wall ran along the S. edge of this valley, and the suburbs which grew up to its north were enclosed by the second wall.

Regarding the Eastern hill, or, rather, regarding the name for part of this Eastern hill, there is much more dispute. Josephus (BJ v. iv. 1) wrote of the ‘other hill, which was called Akra, and sustains the lower city’: it ‘is the shape of a moon when she is horned; over against this there was a third hill’—evidently, from the description, that covered by the Temple—‘but naturally lower than Akra, and parted formerly from the other by a deep valley.’ He narrates how Simon Maccabaeus, after capturing the fortress which stood there, set his followers to work night and day for three years levelling the mountain, so that it should no longer be able to support a fortress which could overlook the Temple. As a result of this work, the valley between this hill and the Temple was filled up. The conclusion is therefore that this hill, which we learn was the ‘City of David’ at the time of the Maccabees, formed in the days of Josephus one hill with the Temple hill, and further that it was separated from the Western hill, whereon was the Upper City, by the valley which ‘extended as far as Siloam.’ All this points to the Eastern hill south of the Temple as the site of Akra* [Note: This view was apparently first put forward by Olshausen, and has been recently revived by Benzinger, G. A. Smith, and Sanday.] and of the Lower City. Akra cannot have lain north of the Temple, for here lay the Antonia (Ant. xv. xi. 4; BJ v. v. 8), the ancient Baris or tower, a fortress distinct from the Akra, indeed largely its successor; and north of this again was Bezetha, the New City.

There is much to confirm this view of the position of the Akra. The Akra was built on the ‘City of David,’ and this is identical with the Jebusite Zion. On quite other grounds Zion has been placed on this hill by many modern authorities. Then Akra is associated, in the description of the taking of Jerusalem, with ‘the fountain,’ i.e. the Virgin’s Fountain, and Siloam (BJ v. vi. 1). [Note: BJ v. iv. 1, vi. vi.3, and v. vii. 2.] The appropriateness of the name ‘Lower City’ for the part of Jerusalem which sloped down south from the Temple is as evident as ‘Upper City’ is for that which actually overlooked the Temple on the west. If this, the most ancient part of Jerusalem, is not that described by Josephus as Akra and Lower City, what name did it have? It must have contained a very large share of the ordinary dwellings of the people. Ophlas (the Ophel of the OT) seems in Josephus’ (BJ v. iv. 2) time, at any rate, to have been only a particular knoll near the S.E. corner of the Temple.

The topographical difficulties are not insurmountable if the history is borne in mind. It is highly probable that a valley does exist either south of the present Temple area or even on a line between the present Temple platform and the el-Aksa mosque. The name may have remained associated with the highest parts of the hill, even though the wall of the Temple at the time of Josephus may have encroached on the hill, and even have covered part of the site of the ancient fortress. The Lower City seems to have extended up the Tyropœon Valley at least to the first wall, and hence the descent by steps from one of the W. gates of the Temple described by Josephus presents no real difficulty to the view of the position of Akra here maintained.

The older view of Robinson, Warren, Conder, and others, that Akra was the hill now sustaining the Muristan and the Church of the Sepulchre, north of the W. branch of the Tyropœon Valley, presents many difficulties. This was the area enclosed by the second wall, and Josephus calls it not the Lower City, but ‘the northern quarter of the city.’ Then the condition of neither the hill nor the valley tallies with the description of Josephus, and in his day the valley between this and the Temple must have been very much deeper than it is to-day. Josephus is more likely to be wrong in stating that the hill had once been higher than the Temple and was separated from it by a deep valley—a statement which depended on tradition—than in describing the hill as lower in his time and the valley as filled up—facts which he must have seen with his own eyes.

3. Climate and Diseases.—The climate of Jerusalem, while bearing the broad characteristics common to the land, presents in some respects marked features of contrast to that of the Jordan Valley and other low-lying places which were the scenes of the ministry of Jesus. There is every reason for believing that the general climatic features are the same to-day as then. On the whole, Jerusalem must be considered healthy, and what disease there is, is largely due to preventable causes. The marked changes of season, the clear pure atmosphere, with frequent winds, and the cool nights even in midsummer, combine to give Jerusalem a climate superior to the lower parts of Palestine. In winter the cold is considerable but never extreme, the lowest temperature recorded in 20 years being only 25° F. As a rule, a frost occurs on some half a dozen nights in each year. January, February, and December are, in this order, the three coldest and wettest months, though the minimum temperature has occurred several times in March, and a night temperature as low as 40° at the end of May (cf. John 18:18). Snow falls heavily at times, but only in exceptionally severe winters. The average rainfall is about 26 inches, a lower mean than at Hebron, but higher than in the plains and the Jordan Valley. The maximum fall recorded (1847) was 41.62 inches, the minimum (1870) was 13.39. So low a fall as this, especially if preceded by a scanty fall, means considerable distress in the succeeding dry season. During the summer no rain falls, and the mean temperature steadily rises till August, when it reaches 73.6, though the days of maximum heat (near or even over 100°) are often in September. It is not, however, the seasons of extreme heat or cold that are most trying to the health, but the intermediate spring and autumn, especially the months of May and October. This is largely due to the winds. Of all the winds the most characteristic is the S.E.—the sirocco—which in midwinter blows piercingly cold, and in the spring and autumn (but not at all in the summer) hot, stifling, and often laden with fine dust from the deserts whence it comes. On such days all Nature suffers, the vegetation droops, and man not only feels debilitated and depressed, but is actually more liable to illness, especially ‘fever’ and ophthalmia. The N.W. is the cold refreshing wind which, almost every summer afternoon and evening, mitigates the heat. The S.W. wind blows moist off the sea, and in the later summer brings the welcome copious clouds and, in consequence, the refreshing ‘dews.’ In the early mornings of September and October thick mists often fill the valleys till dispersed by the rising sun. The onset of the rains, in late October, is not uncommonly signalized by heavy thunderstorms and sudden downpours of rain, which fill with raging and destructive floods the valleys still parched by seven months’ drought. As much as 4 inches of rain has fallen in one day.

The diseases of Jerusalem are preventable to a large extent under proper sanitary conditions. Malarial fevers, ophthalmia, and smallpox (in epidemics) are the greatest scourges. Enteric fever, typhus, measles, scarlet fever, and cholera (rarely) occur in epidemics. Tubercular diseases, rheumatism, erysipelas, intestinal worms, and various skin diseases are all common.

4. Water supply.—The water supply of Jerusalem has in all its history been of such importance and, on account of the altitude of the city, has involved so many elaborate works, which remain to-day as archaeological problems, that it will be well to consider it separately. The city never appears to have seriously suffered from want of water in sieges, but probably at no period was Jerusalem more lavishly supplied with water than it was during the Roman predominance, and most of the arrangements were complete before the time of Christ.

Of springs we know of only one to-day, and there is no reason to believe there were ever any more. This spring is that known to the Christians as ‘Ain Sitti Miriam—the spring of the Lady Mary—or the Virgin’s Fountain (from a tradition that the Virgin washed the clothes of the infant Jesus there), to the Moslem fellahin as ‘Ain umm ed-deraj—‘the spring of the mother of the steps,’ and to the eastern Jews as ‘Aaron’s (or “the priests”) bath.’ The water arises in a small cave reached by 30 steps, some 25 feet underground, in the Kidron Valley, due south of the Temple area. Though to-day lying so deep, there are ample evidences that originally the mouth of the cave opened out on the side of the valley, and that the water flowed out thence. It has become buried through the accumulated debris in the valley bed. At the back of the cave—some 30 feet from the entrance—is a tunnel mouth, the beginning of the famous Siloam aqueduct (see Siloam). The flow is intermittent, about two or three times a day on an average. This fact is recorded by Jerome, and is by many authorities considered a reason for locating here the Pool of Bethesda (see Bethesda). The water is brackish to the taste, and chemical examination shows that, to-day at any rate, it is contaminated with sewage. It is undoubtedly unfit for drinking purposes: it is used chiefly by the people of the village of Silwan, especially at the Siloam-pool end of the aqueduct, for watering their gardens.

Further down the valley, at its junction with the Valley of Hinnom, there is a well, 125 feet deep, known as Bir Eyyûb, or Job’s Well. This, though rediscovered by the Crusaders, is almost certainly ancient and may have been the En-rogel of the OT. From here great quantities of water are drawn all the year round, much of which is carried in skins and sold in Jerusalem, but it is in no way of better quality than that from the Virgin’s Fountain. After a spell of heavy rain the water rises up like a genuine spring, and overflowing underground a little below the actual well mouth, it bursts forth in a little stream and runs down the Wady en-Nâr. Such an outflow may last several days, and is a great source of attraction to the people of Jerusalem, who, on the cessation of the rain, hasten out to sit by the ‘flowing Kidron’ and refresh themselves beside its running waters. During the unusually heavy rains of the winter 1904–5 the ‘Kidron’ ran thus four times. A little farther down the valley there occurs, at the same time and under the same circumstances, another apparent ‘spring’—the ‘Ain el-Lôz—due to the water of Bir Eyyûb finding its way along an ancient rock-cut aqueduct and bursting up through the ground where the conduit is blocked.

The Hammâm esh-Shefa (bath of healing) under the W. wall of the Haram area has by many been considered an ancient spring. To-day the water collects in an extensive underground rocky chamber at the bottom of a well 86 feet deep. Quite possibly before the area to the north was so thickly inhabited, when, for example, this well was outside the walls, a certain amount of good water may have been obtainable here, but now what collects is a foul and smelling liquid which percolates to the valley bottom from the neighbouring inhabited area, and it is unfit for even its present use—in a Turkish bath.

More important than springs or wells are the innumerable cisterns with which, from the earliest times, the hill of Jerusalem has been honeycombed. It has already been pointed out that the rainfall of this region is considerable, and rain-water collected on a clean roof and stored in a well-kept cistern is good for all domestic purposes. There are private cisterns under practically every house, but there are in addition a number of larger reservoirs for public use. In the Haram—the ancient Temple area—there are 37 known excavations, of which one, the ‘great sea,’ it is calculated, can hold about 2,000,000 gallons.

In other parts the more important cisterns are—the Birket Mamilla, Hammâm el-Batrak, Birket Israël, Birket es-Sultân, ‘The Twin Pools,’ the so-called ‘Pool of Bethesda,’ and the two Siloam pools—Birket Silwan and Birket el-Hamra. The last three are dealt with in the special articles Bethesda and Siloam respectively. The Birket es-Sultân, the misnamed ‘Lower Pool of Gihon’ in the Valley of Hinnom, was probably first constructed by German knights in the 12th cent., and was repaired by the Sultan Suleiman ibn Selîm in the 16th cent., while the Twin Pools near the ‘Sisters of Zion’ were made in the moat of the Antonia fortress after the destruction of the city in a.d. 70; so neither of these needs description here. The other three require longer notice. The Birket Mamilla, incorrectly called the ‘Upper Pool of Gihon,’ lies at the head of the Valley of Hinnom, about 700 yards W. N. W. of the Jaffa Gate, and used to collect all the surface water from the higher ground around; in recent years the Moslem cemetery in which it lies has been surrounded by a wall, which has largely cut off the supplies. After a spell of heavy rain it often used to fill to overflowing. It is 97 yards long, 64 yards wide, and 19 feet deep. It appears to be ‘the Serpents’ Pool’ of Josephus (BJ v. iii. 2). The outlet on the E. side leads to a conduit which enters the city near the Jaffa Gate and empties itself into the great rock-cut pool—Birket Hammâm el-Batrak (the pool or bath of the Patriarch), commonly known as the Pool of Hezekiah. The pool, 80 yards long by 48 yards wide, is largely rock-cut, and lies across the W. arm of the Tyropœon Valley; there are indications that it extended at one time further north than it does at present. Josephus apparently refers to this as the Pool Amygdalon (κολυμβήθρα Ἀμύγδαλον), a name perhaps derived from Berekat ha-migdalim (Pool of the Towers) on account of the near proximity of some of the great fortresses on the neighbouring walls. As the pool is not mentioned in Josephus until after the second wall had been captured, it may be presumed that it was within that wall (BJ v. xi. 4).

The Birket Israël is built across the width of a natural valley which runs from N.W. to S.E., and passes under the N.E. course of the Haram at this point. It is supposed by some authorities that the pool itself did not exist at the period of Christ’s ministry, but as a defence to the Temple enclosure and to the neighbouring Castle of Antonia (wh. see) it may well have been the Pool Struthius mentioned by Josephus (ib.). He says the fifth legion raised a bank at the tower of Antonia ‘over against the middle of the pool that is called Struthius.’ It must, however, be stated that M. Ganneau and others propose to identify the ‘Twin Pools’ with Struthius.

Constructed for Jerusalem, though seven miles from the city, are the three great reservoirs known as ‘Solomon’s Pools,’ or el-Buruk. They lie one below the other down a valley; their floors are made of the valley bed, deepened in places, and they are naturally deepest at their lower or eastern ends; they increase in size from above downward. The largest and lowest is nearly 200 yards long, 60 yards wide, and 50 feet deep. To-day they are useless, but when kept in repair and clean were no doubt valuable as storeplaces of surplus supplies of surface water from the surrounding hills and of water from the springs. Regarding the question when these pools were made there are most contrary opinions. It is highly improbable that they go back anything like as far as Solomon’s time, and the association of his name with any great and wise work is so common in the East that the name ‘Solomon’s Pools’ means nothing. On the whole, it is likely the work was not later than Roman times.

The system of aqueducts which centre round these pools has a special interest. Two were constructed to carry water from the four springs in the Valley of the pools to Jerusalem, and two others to supplement this supply. The first two are the well-known high- and low-level aqueducts. The former appears to have reached the city somewhere about the level of the Jaffa Gate, and may also have supplied the Birket Mamilla. It is specially remarkable for the way it crossed a valley on the Bethlehem road by means of an inverted syphon. Large fragments of this great stone tube have been found, and from inscriptions carved on the limestone blocks the date of its construction or repair must have been in Roman times and, according to some authorities, as late as about a.d. 195. Unless, however, the account given of the royal palace gardens of Herod is greatly exaggerated, the aqueduct must have been in use in Herod’s days, as it is the only conduit by which running water could have readied the city at a level high enough to have supplied these gardens. The low-level aqueduct, still in use along a good part of its course, may easily be followed to-day along its whole length of 11½ miles. It brought water from the springs into the Temple area. It is very probably the source of the ‘spring’ which is said by Tacitus (Hist. v. 2) to have run perpetually in the Temple. Of the two supplementary aqueducts, one, of exactly the same construction as the last mentioned, brought water from the copious springs at Wady Arrûb—two-thirds of the way from Jerusalem to Hebron—along an extraordinarily winding conduit 28 miles long. The other, built on an altogether different principle, is a four-mile channel which gathers water from a long chain of wells in the Wady Biâr on the plan of a Persian kharîz, such as is extensively used in Northern Syria. This, pronounced by Sir C. Wilson ‘one of the most remarkable works in Palestine,’ is probably comparatively late. It seems to have been used to supplement the water of the springs in the Valley of the Pools.

 

The special interest of the great ‘low-level aqueduct’ described above, with its total length of 40 miles, lies in the historical fact that it, or some part of it, was one of the causes of the recall of Pontius Pilate. ‘Pilate (Ant. xviii. iii. 2) undertook to bring a current of water to Jerusalem, and did it with the sacred money, and derived the origin of the stream from the distance of two hundred furlongs.’ A riot took place, and a ‘great number’ of people were slain. This may be the incident referred to in Luke 13:1 f. Josephus is correct in saying that Pilate was bringing water a distance of 200 stadia (= 26 miles), then this must apply to the extension of the aqueduct to Wady Arrûb. In any case, it is highly improbable that his was the initiation of the whole work. The very absence of inscriptions and of contemporary references makes it probable that the condnit was at least older than Roman times. If we allow that the high-level aqueduct goes back to the days of Herod the Great, then the low-level aqueduct may well go back some centuries earlier.

5. Topography of the City in the time of Christ

The city walls.—At the time of Christ, Jerusalem had two walls which had been restored by order of Julius Caesar (Ant. xiv. x. 5). In a.d. 43, Agrippa i. commenced a third one of great magnificence, which, however, seems never to have been properly finished.

(a) The first wall had 60 towers; it encompassed the ancient and most important secular buildings of the city. Though some minor details are yet unknown, its general course is perfectly clear. The tower Hippicus, at which it arose—one of those magnificent towers built by Herod—was situated close to the present so-called ‘Tower of David,’ in which indeed its remains may even be incorporated. From here it ran along the S. edge of the W. arm of the Tyropœon Valley. It then passed the Xystus, joined on to the Council House near the present Mehkemeh or Town Hall, and ended at the Western Cloister. It probably crossed the Tyropœon Valley, where to-day there is the causeway leading to the Bab es-Silsileh of the Haram. The western wall commenced at the tower Hippicus, and probably followed the line of the present western wall to the great corner tower, the rocky foundations of which are now included in the C.M.S. Boys’ School. Somewhere near this part of its course it passed ‘a place called Bethso’—unidentified; it then bent S.E. ‘to the gate of the Essenes, and went thence southward along the steep edge of the Valley of Hinnom down to the Pool of Siloam.’ It had ‘its bending above the fountain Siloam,’ which probably implies that it surrounded the pool on the W., N., and E., but did not enclose it, as a wall at another period undoubtedly did. It then ran on the edge of the steep rocks above the Virgin’s Fountain—called, apparently, by Josephus ‘Solomon’s Pool’—and thence to ‘a certain place which they called Ophlas, where it joined to the eastern cloister of the Temple’ (BJ v. iv. 2).

Extensive remains of this wall have been traced. Those of the great tower at the S.W. corner were examined by Maudslay in 1874. He found the base of a tower 20 feet high hewn out of the native rock. It was nearly square, and projected 45 feet from the scarp to which it was attached—altogether a great work, and at a point which must have always been specially well fortified.* [Note: PEFSt, 1875, p. 83.] A little to the east is another great scarp, and here Bliss [Note: Sec ‘Excavations at Jerusalem, 1894–97,’ Bliss and Dickie, PEFSt.] began to trace out the buried remains of the south wall. He found near the commencement of his excavations a gate which may very probably be the Gate of the Essenes. In tracing the wall towards Siloam, foundations belonging to two distinct periods were excavated. Bliss considered that the higher of these belonged to the wall of the period between Herod and Titus. A little to the W. of Siloam he found the remains of a fine gateway showing three periods of use—the sill lying at different heights in each period—and a fine rock-cut underground drain, almost certainly Roman work, which he traced for a great distance up the W. side of the Tyropœon Valley, where it came to lie under a paved street ascending the valley in the direction of the Temple. After leaving the before-mentioned gate, there were indications—not, it must be admitted, decisive—that the wall at one period surrounded the pool on three sides, as Josephus apparently describes, while at another period it crossed the mouth of the Tyropœon Valley on an elaborate dam. To the east of the pool the rock scarp is exposed, and almost every trace of the wall has been removed. As regards the E. section of this southern wall, Sir Charles Warren in 1875 traced the buried remains of a wall 14½ feet thick and, in places, 70 feet high from the S.E. corner of the Temple southwards for 90 feet, and then S.W. for 700 feet. Two hundred feet from the end he unearthed the remains of a massive tower standing to the height of 66 feet and founded upon rock. The wall itself had been built, not on rock, but on virgin soil. The course of the wall, as described by Josephus, thus appears to be very fully verified by modern discoveries.

(b) With regard to the second wall a great deal of uncertainty prevails. There are few more hotly disputed problems in Jerusalem topography. This second wall appears to have been on the line of that made by the later kings of Judah, to have been repaired by Nehemiah, and used by the Hasmonaeans. It is dismissed by Josephus (BJ v. iv. 2) in a very few words; it ‘took its beginning from that gate which they call Gennath, which belonged to the first wall; it only encompassed the northern quarter of the city and reached as far as the tower of Antonia.’ It had 40 towers on it. No remains of the gate Gennath have been found, but the configuration of the ground makes it improbable that the wall could have taken its rise very far to the E. of the present Jaffa Gate, as here there exists a narrow neck of high ground, but a little to the E. the level abruptly descends into the W. arm of the Tyropœon. In 1886 some 30 yards of the remains of what seemed a city wall were discovered 15 feet below the street, where the foundations of the Grand New Hotel were dug. They were supposed by Messrs. Merrill and Schick to be part of the second wall at its W. end, but too short a piece was examined to allow of positive conclusions. The other supposed traces of the second wall are even more ambiguous. In the N. part of the Muristan, where to-day stands the German church, Schick found remains of which he said, ‘I am convinced that these are traces of the second wall’: these would fall in line with a wall 10 or 12 feet thick, which, according to Robinson (BRP [Note: RP Biblical Researches in Palestine.] i. 408), was found N. of the Pool of Hezekiah, when the foundations of the Coptic Convent were laid. Again, just to the N. of the German church and E. of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre were found extensive ruined walls, which are to-day treasured by the Russian ecclesiastical authorities as sure evidences that the site of the traditional Holy Sepulchre was outside the ancient walls. It is, however, much more probable that these remains, which are quite unlike city walls, are really fragments of Constantine’s Great Basilica.

The question is thus quite an open one, but the argument that the second wall cannot, on military grounds, have followed a course S. of the site of the Sepulchre is an unsafe one. As Sir C. Wilson* [Note: PEFSt 16903, p. 247 footnote.] points out: ‘There are several Greek towns in Asia Minor where the city walls or parts of them are quite as badly traced according to modern ideas. In ancient towns the Acropolis was the principal defence, the city wall was often weak.’ It may indeed be suggested that this very weakness made Agrippa undertake his new wall along a better line for defence.

(c) The whole question of the second wall depends largely on what view is taken of the course of the third wall constructed by Agrippa i. The most widely accepted opinion to-day is that this followed much the same course as the present N. wall. It was begun upon the most elaborate plan, but was never apparently finished on the scale designed, because Agrippa feared Claudius Caesar, ‘lest he should suspect that so strong a wall was built in order to make some innovation in public affairs’ (BJ v. iv. 2). It was, however, at the time of the siege, over 18 feet wide and 40 feet high, with 90 massive towers. It began at the tower Hippicus, and had its N.W. corner at a great octagonal tower, called Psephinus, 135 feet high and overlooking the whole city. [Note: It does not appear whether this tower was one of Herod’s constructions or of later date, but the latter now seems the more probable.] From here was an extensive view of Arabia, i.e. the Land of Moab, at sunrise, ‘as well as of the utmost limits of the Hebrew possessions at the sea westwards’ (BJ v. iv. 3). The foundations of this tower are supposed to survive to-day just inside the N.W. angle of the modern city, under the name Kalât el-Jalud, or Goliath’s Castle. From this corner the wall ‘extended till it came over against the monuments of Helena, queen of Adiabene, the daughter of Izates’ (BJ v. iv. 2). This, however, must be read in the light of the statement of Josephus in another place (Ant. xx. iv. 3) that this tomb is ‘distant no more than three furlongs from the city of Jerusalem.’ The so-called ‘Tombs of the Kings’ are now very generally identified as the very notable tomb of Queen Helena, and, that being so, the distance given, 3 stadia or furlongs (700 yards), is a fair description of the distance of this monument from the present north wall near the Damascus Gate. He next states that ‘it extended further to a great length, and passed by the sepulchral caverns of the kings’—these last may very well be the extensive caves known as ‘Solomon’s Quarries.’ The wall ‘bent again at the tower of the corner,’ which then may have been where the present Stork Tower at the N.E. corner of the city is, ‘at the monument which is called the monument of the fuller’—probably destroyed—‘and joined the old wall at the valley called the Valley of the Kidron.’ This was probably near the present St. Stephen’s Gate. The exact course at the N.E. corner is very doubtful; it is quite possible that it turned S.E. near ‘Herod’s Gate.’ It will be observed that the description fits in very well with the course followed by the existing N. wall. At the Damascus Gate there are unmistakable evidences that a gate at least as ancient as Roman times stood there. The supporters of the view that the second wall ran here lay stress on certain supposed remains of the third wall further north. A candid examination of such of these as survive, and of the accounts, both verbally and in publications, of those that have been removed, does not seem very convincing. One of the best marked pieces, forming the side of a cistern near Helena’s Tomb, proved on recent examination to be but a piece of smooth scarp facing towards the city, and not remains of a building at all.

As is clear from the history of the taking of the city, there was another wall, no doubt greatly inferior in strength to those before mentioned, which ran along the western side of the Tyropœon, bounding in that direction the ‘Upper City’ (Tacitus, Hist. v. 11), and it is probable that some kind of wall, though doubtless only a temporary one, ran along the opposite or eastern side of the valley.

Towers.—Of the great towers the three erected by Herod the Great yet remain to be described. Josephus, in his usual exaggerated manner, says they ‘were for largeness, beauty, and strength beyond all that were in the habitable earth’ (BJ v. iv. 3). They were dedicated to Herod’s friend Hippicus, his brother Phasael, and his wife Mariamne, whom he had murdered. Each of these towers was of solid masonry at the base. The base of Hippicus was about 44 feet square and 50 high, over which was a reservoir and several rooms, and, surmounting all, battlements with turrets: the total height was 140 feet. The second tower, Phasael, was 70 feet square at the base and nearly 160 feet high, and, it is said, ‘wanted nothing that might make it appear to be a royal palace.’ The Mariamne tower was smaller and less lofty, but ‘its upper buildings were more magnificent.’ As to the position of these towers, the present ‘Tower of David’ is generally considered to contain the remains of Phasael, with various Crusading and Saracenic additions. Hippicus must have been near this spot, perhaps where the Jaffa Gate now stands, and Mariamne probably a little more to the east on higher ground. The three are all described as being ‘on the north side of the wall,’ and from a distance they all appeared to be of the same height. The N.W. corner of the city, where they stood, was one without much natural defence, and they bore the same important relation to the King’s Palace as the other fortress, the Antonia, did to the Temple.

Of the other great architectural works of the period we have but scanty description and still scantier remains, with the exception, of course, of the Temple, for which see art. Temple.

Herod’s great palace, built on the site of the palace of the Hasmonaeans (Ant. xx. viii. 11), evidently adjoined the before-mentioned towers on the south, and occupied an area of land now covered by the English church and schools and the Armenian quarter, probably extending also to the Patriarch’s house and gardens—the greater part, indeed, of the area between the present David Street (along the line of which the first wall ran) to the N. and the modern city walls as far east as the Zion Gate to the south, it is quite possible that the present course of the southern wall was determined by the remains of the S. wall of this palace. From the walls an extensive view could be seen, and at a later time Agrippa II. gave great offence when he added a lofty dining-room from which he could watch all the doings in the Temple. To frustrate this, the Jews raised a wall upon the ‘uppermost building which belonged to the inner court of the Temple towards the west.’ This gave annoyance not only to Agrippa but also to Festus, who ordered it to be removed. On appeal, however, Nero gave his verdict in favour of the Jews. The palace had walls, in parts over 50 feet high, with many towers, and was internally fitted with great luxury. Around it were numerous porticos, with ‘curious pillars’ buried among groves of trees, and gardens well irrigated and ‘filled with brazen statues through which the water ran out.’

Between the palace grounds and the Temple lay the Xystus, a gymnasium surrounded with columns, for Greek games. Connecting the W. wall of the Temple with the W. hill and the ‘Upper City,’ was a bridge which had been broken down when Pompey (Ant. xiv. iv. 4; BJ i. vii. 2) besieged the Temple in b.c. 65, but had been repaired. The projecting arch of this bridge was first recognized by Robinson, and the PEF [Note: EF Palestine Exploration Fund.] excavations not only uncovered the central pier, but beneath the early Roman pavement found an old voussoir of the earlier bridge of Pompey’s time, which had fallen through into an ancient drain below the street. No remains of this bridge have, however, so far been recovered further to the west.

The hippodrome apparently lay somewhat to the south, on the borders, perhaps, of the Tyropœon Valley near the present Dung Gate; this was very probably the ‘place of exercise’ of 2 Maccabees 4:12 (cf. 1 Maccabees 1:15), and the description ‘under the very castle’ would well suit this place if Akra was where it is here proposed to locate it. Of the position of Herod’s theatre nothing at all is known.

Next to the Temple, perhaps the most famous building in Jerusalem was Antonia, the great fortress of the Temple, and the acropolis of the city, which from its lofty height is described by Tacitus (Hist. v. 11) as pre-eminently conspicuous. It had received the name Antonia from Herod after Mark Antony, but it had in Hasmonaean times been known as Baris. Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:8 Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885) mentions a castle (birah) as being here—to the north of the Temple: this the high priest Hyrcanus (BJ i. vi. 1) made his headquarters. It is interesting that at least a portion of the site with so great a reputation as a military stronghold should even to-day be occupied by troops—the Turkish garrison. A great rock scarp on which part of the ancient fortress stood is still clearly visible from the Haram, and in the moat cut to protect its northern aspect lie the ‘Twin Pools.’ The fortress lay at the N.W. corner of the Temple enclosure, and is described by Josephus as being built on a rock over 87 feet high, ‘on a great precipice’; the rock was covered with smooth stones, and upon the rocky platform was a building 70 feet high fitted up with great magnificence. At the four corners were towers 87 feet high, except that at the S.E. corner, which was over 120 feet high; from it the whole Temple was overlooked, but a considerable space separated it from the Temple itself (BJ vi. ii. 5–7). At the W. corner there were passages into the W. and the N. cloisters by which the Temple guards could obtain access to the Temple. The Western boundary was probably on the line of the present W. wall of the Haram, and the moat (BJ v. iv. 2) to the N. appears to have been demonstrated, but the S. and E. boundaries are unknown. The total area must have been large, as it held a whole Roman legion, and it is clear from history that it was a powerful fortress. Even before its extension by Herod, Antigonus could not capture it until after the city and the Temple had been taken by storm, and in a.d. 70 the capture of Antonia is recorded as one of the fiercest of the fights of the siege (BJ vi. i. and ii.). It is commonly believed that the Prœtorium (Mark 15:16 ff.) was in part of Antonia, for there undoubtedly was the Roman garrison (Acts 21:34). See Praetorium.

Near the W. wall of the Temple where is now the Turkish Town Hall (el-Mehkemeh) was the Town Council House. Possibly it was here the high priest held his court.

The palaces of Monobazus, king of Adiabene, and of his mother Queen Helena appear to have been on the southern slopes of the Eastern hill, the former probably due east of the Pool of Siloam.

Of the great number of tombs around Jerusalem the majority of the most conspicuous and notable belong to a later period than Christ’s life. The monuments of Queen Helena, known as the ‘Tombs of the Kings,’ and probably almost all the tombs in the valley in which the ‘Tombs of the Judges’ are situated, are of a date very soon after Christ’s death. The same is probably true of the famous group of tombs near the S.E. corner of the Temple, the so-called ‘Pillar of Absalom,’ the ‘Tomb of Jehoshaphat,’ the ‘Grotto of St. James,’ and the ‘Pyramid of Zacharias.’ It is very tempting to connect these highly ornamented tomb structures with the words of Jesus (Matthew 23:27; Matthew 23:35), spoken as they probably were almost within sight of this spot. If so, the indications of work of a later period may be additions to earlier constructions of the Herodian era. The so-called Tombs of Joseph of Arimathaea and of Nicodemus, to the W. of the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre, though only by a late tradition associated with these NT characters, are undoubtedly old tombs, probably much before Christ’s time. The traditional tomb of Christ has been treated in a separate article. See Golgotha.

A general view of the city in the time of Christ from such a height as Olivet must have been an impressive sight. In the foreground lay the great Temple in a grandeur and beauty greater than it had ever had in all its long history, its courts all day crowded with throngs of worshippers from every corner of the known world. To the north of this, Antonia, with its four massive towers, stood sentinel over the city and the Temple. Behind these lay the Upper City crowned by the magnificent palace-fortress of Herod, with its great groves of trees and well-watered gardens. To the right of this lay the great towers Hippicus, Phasael, and Mariamne. Then between these buildings and the Temple lay the central valley with the Xystus and its many columns, the lofty bridge, and, a little to the south, the great Hippodrome. Then somewhere among the houses, which rose tier above tier from the valley, very probably in that part of the city which is described by Josephus (Ant. xv. viii. 1) as like an amphitheatre itself, lay the theatre of Herod, doubtless facing the distant mountains of Moab. Then southward, covering both the hills as they descended into the deep valleys towards Siloam, were the thick built houses of the common folk, with other palaces such as those of Monobazus and Helena rising like islands from among them. Enclosing all were the mighty walls of the Temple and of the city—these latter alone with a hundred towers—rising up, in many places precipitously, from deep valleys, suggestive at once of strength and security. To the north lay the New City, yet unwalled, where, doubtless, countless villas rose amid the fresh greenness of gardens and trees.

‘The devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them’ (Matthew 4:8). Did they not all lie beneath the gaze of the Man of Galilee if He were brought from the neighbouring wilderness into the blaze of material glory—Greek, Roman, and Hebrew—spread out beneath Him in the Holy City?

The city over which the Son of Man wept (Luke 19:41) must have been a city representing, in small area, more extravagant display, more intense contrasts of materialism and religious zeal, of Rome’s iron discipline and seething rebellion, of the East and the West, and more seeds of that fanatic hatred that spells murder than the world has ever seen. Elements were here gathered that made the city a miniature of the whole world, of a world, too, hastening to destruction.

The total population of the city cannot have been large, and the numbers given by Josephus (BJ ii. xiv. 2, v. vi. 1, vi. ix. 3) and Tacitus (Hist. v. 13) are manifestly exaggerated. The present permanent population of modern Jerusalem, which covers a considerably larger area than the city in the time of Christ, is about 65,000. However closely the people were packed in the ancient city, it is hardly possible that there could have been so many as this, and many put the estimate at one-half this number. At the time of the Passover, when numbers were camped on the Mount of Olives and at other spots around, it is possible to believe that the population may have been considerably higher than that of to-day.

6. History of Jerusalem during the period of the Gospels.—For a few short years before the birth of Jesus, Jerusalem enjoyed a time of extraordinary material prosperity, during which the great architectural works of Herod the Great were completed. It is evident, as has often been the case in the East, that this work was carried out only by means of great oppression, so that the king, while he left behind him vast monuments in stone, left also a memory execrated in the hearts of the common people. Some twenty years before the birth of Jesus the magnificent palace of Herod was finished;* [Note: Palace built b.c. 24; Temple restored b.c. 19–11.] the three great towers, the theatre, the Xystus, and the Hippodrome (these last two adorned, if not initiated, by Herod) were completed early in his reign. Several years (b.c. 19–11) were also spent in adorning and extending the Temple, a work which was being continued during the life of Christ (John 2:20). At this time the Temple must have attained a grandeur and beauty exceeding all previous eras. Yet the declining days of Herod the Great found the city seething with rebellion, which, just before his death, found vent in the public destruction of the golden eagle (BJ i. xxxiii.) which he had erected over the gate of the Temple. In revenge for this forty persons were burnt alive, and others were executed in less terrible ways. When the king considered that his last hour was imminent, he shut into the Hippodrome the most illustrious of the Jews, with orders that they should be executed when he died, so that the city might on his death be filled with mourning, even if not for him.

Herod’s death in b.c. 4, the year of the Nativity, let loose on all sides the disorderly elements. Archelaus, the heir by Herod’s will, advertised his accession by ascending a golden throne in the Temple on a ‘high elevation made for him,’ and hastened to ingratiate himself by promising all kinds of good things to the expectant and worshipping crowds. He was, however, unable to satisfy the excessive and exacting demands of the unruly crowds, who had been deeply stirred by the heavy punishment meted out by Herod in the affair of the golden eagle, and at the approach of the Passover a riot followed which ended in the massacre of three thousand Jews—mainly visitors to the feast, who were encamped in tents outside the Temple. Archelaus forthwith hastened to Rome to have his appointment confirmed, leaving the city in utter confusion. As soon as he had taken ship, Sabinus, the Roman procurator, hastened to the city, seized and garrisoned the king’s palace and all the fortified posts of which he could get possession, and laid hands on all the treasures he could find. He endeavoured to assert his authority with a view to opposing the absent Archelaus, for he at the same time sent to Rome a letter accusing him to Caesar. At the succeeding feast of Pentecost the crowds of Galilaeans, Idumaeans, and trans-Jordan Jews, with recruits from the more unrestrained elements from Jerusalem, rose in open rebellion, and commenced to besiege Sabinus in the palace. One party assembled along the whole Wt wall of the Temple to attack from the east, another towards the south at the Hippodrome, and a third to the west—apparently outside the W. walls of the city. Sabinus, who seems to have been an arrant coward, sent an appeal for help to Varus, the governor of Syria, who was then in Antioch, and shut himself up in the tower Phasael. From there he signalled to the troops to fall upon the people. A terrible fight ensued, at first in the city itself and then in the Tyropœon Valley, from which the Roman soldiers shot up at the rioters assembled in the Temple cloisters. Finding themselves at great disadvantage from their position in the valley, the soldiers in desperation set lire to the cloisters, and their Jewish opponents, crowded within and upon the roof, were either burnt to death or were slaughtered in attempting to escape. Some of the soldiers pursuing their victims through the flames burst into the Temple precincts and seized the sacred treasures; of these Sabinus is stated to have received 400 talents for himself. Upon this, other parties of Jews, exasperated by these affairs, made a counter attack upon the palace and threatened to set it on fire. They first offered a free pass to all who would come out peaceably, whereupon many of Herod’s soldiers came out and joined the Jews; but Rufus and Gratus with a band of horsemen went over to the Romans with three thousand soldiers. Sabinus continued to be besieged in the palace, the walls of which the Jews commenced to undermine, until Varus arrived, after which he slunk away to the seacoast. The Jerusalem Jews excused themselves to the governor by laying all the blame on their fellow-countrymen from other parts. Varus suppressed the rebellion with ruthless firmness, crucifying two thousand Jews; and then, leaving a legion in the city to maintain order, he returned to Antioch. Archelaus returned some months later as ethnarch, and ruled for ten years, until, being accused to Caesar of oppression, he was banished to Vienne.

During the rule of Coponius (6–10), the procurator who succeeded, another Passover disturbance occurred. This was due to the extraordinary and defiant conduct of a party of Samaritans, who threw some dead bodies into the cloisters of the Temple just after midnight,—a step which must, without doubt, have deepened the smouldering hatred between Jews and Samaritans (John 4:9). Marcus Ambivius (11–12) and Annius Rufus (13) after short and uneventful terms of office were succeeded by Valerius Gratus (14–25), whose eleven years were marked only by the many changes he made in the high priesthood. His successor, Pontius Pilate (26–37), left the stamp of his character on secular history by making a great show of authority, in constituting Jerusalem the military headquarters, and introducing Caesar’s effigies into the city, but entirely reversing this policy when it was vigorously opposed by the more fanatic elements of the Jews. On this occasion a great gathering of Jews assembled in, apparently, the Xystus (ἐν τῷ μεγάλᾳ σταδίῳ), and preferred to bare their necks to Pilate’s soldiers to withdrawing their demands (Ant. xviii. iii. 1). Mention has already been made of the ‘current of water’ Pilate brought to Jerusalem, and the riot which followed because he used for the work ‘sacred money’ of the Temple. When persuasions had failed to quell the tumult, Pil


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Jerusalem (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/j/jerusalem-2.html. 1906-1918.

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