But can we believe that this is the exact locality of Gethsemane? We know, at least, that somewhere in this valley at the base of Olivet, and just across the brook Kedron, was the secluded spot whither the Master came with His disciples after the Last Supper. But whether this is the precise location is uncertain. The Greeks, for example, have their Garden of Gethsemane a little farther up the hill, and are, of course, confident that theirs is the right one. To thoughtful and intelligent travelers it should be enough that somewhere in this limited area (the whole of which is, in a moment, open to the gaze) occurred that scene, whose narrative for over eighteen centuries has moved unnumbered listeners and readers to repentant tears.
Pool Of Siloam.
Mount Of Olives From Jerusalem.
When one seats himself in a retired portion of the Mount of Olives and looks out on the historic landscape, he realizes that it is the natural features and associations of the Holy-Land that really give him pleasure. The life which consecrated these Judaean Hills may not have left a trace within the church of the Holy Sepulchre, but it has made each portion of the Mount of Olives consecrated ground. No part of Palestine is hallowed by so many memories of Jesus as this hill; for to its olive groves He often came to escape the noise and turmoil of the city, and here He uttered words familiar now to millions of our race. It was from Olivet that He gazed tenderly upon Jerusalem and wept as He foretold its doom. Here also, more than anywhere else on earth, He held communion with His Father, thus gaining strength and inspiration for His life and death; and we are told that on some portion of this hill, having conducted His disciples out toward Bethany, He gave to them His benediction and parted from them forever.
Place Of The Treason Of Judas.
Church Of The Ascension.
Unfortunately, however, though there is surely enough material here for true religious sentiment, it by no means satisfies the average pilgrim. Upon the crest of Olivet, therefore, has been built the "Church of the Ascension." On entering this, we saw in the floor a small, rectangular space, surrounded by a marble coping. Pilgrims were prostrating themselves before it and kissing the pavement repeatedly. The cause was soon explained to us, for in the pavement is shown a slight irregularity, believed to be the imprint made by the right foot of Jesus as He left the earth.
This is an admirable illustration of Palestine, as men have made it. Practically disregarding the hill itself, which is unquestionably genuine, thousands of pilgrims prefer to crawl beneath an arch of masonry to worship so-called footprints in a stone! There are three kinds of travelers in the Holy Land. First, those who are wisely content to see the natural localities connected with the life of Christ, and therefore gain from Palestine the solemn inspiration of its priceless memories; secondly, those who lose themselves within the slough of superstition there; and thirdly, those who, thoroughly offended by the false, forget the value of the true, and ridicule it all.
Just beyond the crest of Olivet lies the little village of Bethany. Its site is undoubtedly authentic, and we are sure, beyond peradventure, that it was over this same hill, and to this very place, that Jesus loved to come to find rest in the home of his friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. The most satisfactory thing, however, for the traveler to do here, is to survey from a distance the town and the surrounding hills, whose contours have remained unchanged, and then to retire. For, if he persists in going nearer, he will experience the usual disenchantment. The modern Bethany is a cluster of miserable huts, without a building which seems to be more than a century old. Nevertheless, a swarm of blear-eyed, ragged children greeted us here with cries of "Backsheesh, Backsheesh! Tombo Lazarus! Tombo Lazarus!" For not only arc the ruins of the house of Martha and Mary pointed out, but also the tomb from which Lazarus is said to have come forth at the divine command.