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Turning towards the east, the traveller sees at the foot of the hill the little village of Bethany, so often mentioned in the history of our Lord and of his personal followers; and at a greater distance, a little more on the left, he beholds the magnificent scenery of the Jordan and the Dead Sea.
That Ruin's merciless ploughshare must pass o'er
The offended majesty of Rome to mercy.” Old Sandys, a simple and amusing writer, describes Jerusalem as follows :-“This citie once sacred and glorious, elected by God for his seate, and seated in the midst of nations; like a diadem crowning the head of the mountaines; the theatre of mysteries and miracles; was founded by Melchisedek (who is said to be the son of Noah, and that not unprobably about the year of the world 2023, and called Salem (by the Gentiles Solyma) which signifieth Peace : who reigned here fifty years.—This citié is seated on a rockie mountaine; every way to be ascended (except a little on the north) with steep ascents and deep valleys naturally fortified; for the most part environed with other not far removed mountaines, as if placed in the midst of an amphitheater."-Lib. iii. p. 154.
There are two roads from Jerusalem to Bethany ; the one passing over the Mount of Olives; the other, the shorter and easier, winding round the eastern side of it. This village is now both small and poor, the cultivation of the soil around it being very much neglected by the indolent Arabs into whose hands it has fallen. Here are shown the ruins of a house, said to have belonged to Lazarus whom our Saviour raised from the dead; and, in the immediate neighbourhood, the faithful pilgrim is invited to devotion in a grotto, which is represented as the actual tomb wherein the miracle was performed. The dwellings of Simon the Leper, of Mary Magdalene, and of Martha, are pointed out by the Mussulmans, who traffic on the credulity of ignorant Christians. Nay, they undertake to identify the spot where the barren fig-tree withered under the curse, and the place where Judas put an end to his life, oppressed by a more dreadful malediction.
There is no traveller of any nation, whatever may be his creed or his impressions in regard to the gospel, who does not make the usual journey from the Jewish capital to Bethlehem the place of our Lord's Nativity. The road, as we find related, passes over ground extremely rocky and barren, diversified only by some cultivated patches bearing a scanty crop of grain, and by banks of wild flowers which grow in great profusion. On the way the practised guide points out the ruined tower of Simeon, who upon beholding the infant Messiah expressed his readiness to leave this world; the Monastery of Elias, now in possession of the Greeks; and the Tomb of Rachel, rising in a rounded top like the whitened sepulchre of an Arab sheik. “This,” says the honest Maundrell,
“may probably be the true place of her interment; but the present sepulchral monument can be none of that which Jacob erected, for it appears plainly to be a modern and Turkish structure.” Farther on is the well of which David longed to drink, and of which his mighty men, at the risk of their lives, procured him a supply; and here opens to view, in a great valley, that most interesting of all pastoral scenes, where the angel of the Omnipotent appeared by night to the shepherds, to announce the glad tid. ings that Christ was born in Bethlehem.*
As there was another town of the same name in the tribe of Zebulun, the Bethlehem that we now approach was usually distinguished by the addition of Ephrata, or by a reference to the district in which it was situated. The convent which marks the place of the Redeemer's birth was built by Helena, after removing the idolatrous structure said to have been erected by Adrian, from a feeling of contempt or jealousy towards the Christians. At present it is divided among the monks of the Greek, Roman, and Armenian sects, who have assigned to them separate portions, as well for lodging as for places of worship; though, on certain days, they may all celebrate the rites of their common faith on altars which none of
*“ Bethlehem soon after came in sight-a fine village, surrounded with gardens of fig-trees and olives. There is a deep valley below, and half-way down, on the top of a hill, is a green plain, the only one we have seen in Judea :-I could fancy Boaz’s field forming part of it. The convent is a very remarkable building, and well worth see ing. Without, it is a perfect fortress, with heavy buttresses and small grated windows; on entering, we immediately came to a magnificent church, with a double row of ten Corinthian pillars of marble on each side-forty pillars in all. On the arched roof are the remains of Mosaic, of the Empress Helena's time. One part was very distinct : it represented a city with temples, &c., and over it was written in Greek characters, Luodicea.”-Anonymous Journal.
them have been hitherto allowed to appropriate. There are two churches, an upper and a lower, un. der the same roof. The former contains nothing remarkable, if we except a star inlaid in the floor immediately under the spot in the heavens where the
supernatural sign became visible to the Wise Men, and, like it, directly above the place of the Nativity in the church below.
This last is an excavation in the rock, elegantly fitted up and floored with marble, and to which