Tombs Of The Kings.
Entrance To Quarry.
In our walks around Jerusalem we often found ourselves before huge openings in the hillsides. One of these is called the "Tombs of the the stone. The cost of making many of them proves that persons of great wealth or rank were buried here. Some of their entrances seem to have been closed by stone doors turning on socket-hinges, and fastened by bolts on the inside. Strangely enough, no inscriptions tell the names of their former inmates or even the dates of their entombment, and now the sepulchres are tenantless alike of earthly treasure and of human dust.
Kings." Whether or not authentic names have been attached to them, certain it is that all the hills around Jerusalem are honey - combed with rock-hewn sepulchres of great antiquity. They are of every shape and size. Some have fine carvings chiseled in But sepulchres are not the only excavations in these hills. Among them are the royal quarries, where architects obtained the enormous blocks of limestone for the walls and Temple of Jerusalem. The evidence is abundant that skilful stone-cutters once labored in these rock-hewn labyrinths, and that in many instances the blocks were carried forth, all carved and ready for their appointed place. This, therefore, verifies the statement of the Scriptures that, in the building of the Temple, the stones were all prepared before being brought there; so that neither hammer, nor ax, nor any tool of iron was heard within the sacred precincts during its construction. One of these quarries is known as the "Grotto of Jeremiah," and in its gloomy shadows the prophet is said to have written his Hook of Lamentations.
The Grotto Of Jeremiah.
Pool Of Hezekiah.
One Of The Pools Of Solomon.
Jerusalem has never had a natural supply of water sufficient for its needs. King Hezekiah did much to improve the city in this respect, and Solomon built reservoirs in the hills ten miles away, - still known as the Pools of Solomon, - from which ingeniously constructed aqueducts brought a copious flow of water both to Bethlehem and Jerusalem. For centuries, however, these well-built conduits have been in ruins. Now and then one or another of them has been repaired and rendered serviceable, but negligence has soon allowed it to relapse into its former useless state. The so-called "Pool of Hezekiah" in Jerusalem is an open tank, capable of containing four million gallons of water; but this too is in bad repair, the bottom is covered with vegetable mold, and since it is surrounded by houses, the water it contains is often foul. Few people use it, save for washing purposes; but, in summer, when there is a scarcity of water in Jerusalem, the poorer classes sometimes drink it with evil consequences.
The Pool of Bethesda is in a still worse condition, since it has no water at all, is largely filled with rubbish, and even receives the drainage from the neighboring dwellings. It is a melancholy illustration of decadence that the city of Solomon, which was three thousand years ago abundantly supplied with water, and boasted of its pools of Gihon, Solomon and Siloam, is now chiefly dependent upon private wells and cisterns.
Pool Of Gihon.
No visit to Jerusalem would be complete that did not include an inspection of some of the places of transcendent interest, lying within a radius of a few miles of the Holy City, - Jericho, the Jordan, the Dead Sea, Mar Saba, Bethlehem, and Hebron. Excursions to these localities may be easily made on horseback, even by ladies unaccustomed to that form of exercise; and, on a journey thither, the nights spent in water-proof tents, carpeted with rugs and furnished with every needed comfort, are among the pleasantest memories of a tour in Palestine. The distance from Jerusalem to Jericho, as the crow flies, is only thirteen miles. Few routes, however, are more precipitous and rough; for the Plain of Jericho is thirty-six hundred and twenty feet lower than Mount Zion. Moreover, the road is still so dangerous that one is even more likely now, than in the time of the Good Samaritan, to fall among thieves in making the journey. The traveler's safety, therefore, lies in being openly robbed at the start, by purchasing protection from the Bedouins who practically levy blackmail on all tourists. There is, however, honor among thieves; and the Arab tribes that inhabit the hill-country of Judaea agree not to molest the traveler, if one of their chiefs has been retained by a sufficient fee.