« Prev Chapters 21-30 Next »

A Commentary on the New Testament
from the Talmud and Hebraica

John Lightfoot

A Chorographical Century
Chapters 21-30

Chapter 21

The first name of this city was Shalem, Genesis 14:18, Psalm 76:2, and it is still retained in the writing, however it is read Jerushalaim.

"The name of that place is Jehovah-jireh. Abraham called the place Jireh; Shem called it Shalem. Saith God, If I shall call it Jireh, it will displease Shem the Just; if I shall call it Shalem, it will displease Abraham the Just. I will therefore put that name upon it which was put upon it by both, Jireh, Shalem,--Jerusalem."--"We do not, therefore, put Jod between the letters Lamed and Mem in the word Jerusalem, that the word Shalem may be retained."

By the computation of Aben Ezra, it is situate in the three-and-thirtieth degree of latitude. For so he speaks, "The latitude of Egypt is less than thirty degrees. And the latitude of Jerusalem is three-and-thirty degrees."

Jerusalem was not divided among the tribes: for the tradition is, That houses are not hired out at Jerusalem, because they were no man's own. R. Eleazar Bar Zadok said, Nor beds also. Therefore, the master of the family received the skins of the sacrifices from the guests. Abai saith, You may learn this from hence, That it is a custom, that a man leave his earthen jug, and also the skin of his sacrifices, to his host. The Gloss: "The inhabitants of Jerusalem did not let out their houses at a price to those that came to the feasts, but granted them to them gratis." Compare Matthew 26:17.

Nevertheless, the city was divided between the tribe of Judah and Benjamin, and the distinguishing line went through the very court of the Temple: "What was in the lot of Judah? The mountain of the Temple, the Chambers of them that kept it, the Courts. And what in the lot of Benjamin? The Porch of the Temple, and the Temple, and the Holy of Holies. And a line went out of the lot of Judah, and passed on into the lot of Benjamin, and in it was the altar built." The Gloss; "The whole breadth of the outmost Court, on the east part, the whole Court of the Women, the whole Court of Israel, eleven cubits of the Court of the Priests" (these were within the lot of Judah). "From thence the altar, and thenceforward to the west, is within the lot of Benjamin."

In so exact distinction were these lots observed, that the south-east corner of the altar had no foundation; because that small part was in the portion of Judah, when the whole altar ought to have been within the portion of Benjamin.

"Jerusalem was holy above other cities, girt with walls, because in it they ate the lighter holy things, and the second tithe. These also are those things which are spoken of Jerusalem. They do not permit a dead body to remain a night in it: they do not carry the bones of a dead body through it: they do not let out houses in it: in it they do not let out a place to a proselyte inhabitant: in it they do not allow a sepulchre, except the sepulchres of the house of David, and the sepulchre of Huldah the prophetess; which were there from the days of the former prophets: nor in it do they suffer a dunghill by reason of creeping things; nor do they bring out of it into the streets scaffolds set up against the walls by reason of defilement: nor in it do they make chimneys, by reason of the smoke: nor do they nourish cocks in it for the sake of the holy things: nor do the priests nourish cocks throughout the whole land of Israel, for the sake of purity: nor is there in it a house for shutting out suspected of the leprosy: nor is it polluted with leprosy: nor is it become any way a city to be cursed for idolatry," &c.

"Never did serpent or scorpion harm any one within Jerusalem. Nor did ever any one say to his neighbour, 'The place wherein I am entertained at Jerusalem is too strait for me.'"

"There is no anathema at Jerusalem, nor hath any man stumbled. Nor hath a fire or a ruin happened there: nor hath any one said to his neighbour, 'I found not a hearth to roast my passover,' or 'I found not a bed to lie on.' In it they do not plant trees, except gardens of roses, which were there from the days of the former prophets: they do not nourish in it peacocks, or cocks, much less hogs," &c.

The fathers of the traditions give this reason, why they do not allow gardens in the city: "They make no gardens or paradises in Jerusalem, because of the stink." The Gloss, "Because of the stink from weeds, which are thrown out; and it is a custom to dung gardens, and from thence comes a stink."

The same Gloss, in the same place, gives this reason also, why they might not keep cocks: "It is also forbidden the Israelites to keep cocks in Jerusalem" (the priests may no where do it), "because of the holy things. For there they have eaten the flesh of the peace-offerings, and thank-offerings. And it is customary for dunghill cocks to scrape dunghills, and thence perhaps they might rake up the bones of creeping things; whence those holy things, which are to be eaten, might be polluted."

Gardens without the city were very frequent, and they stretching out a good way from the very walls of the city. Hence that in Josephus, concerning the hazard Titus ran, whilst he rode about the city to spy it. "It was impossible for him to go forward; for all things from the walls were fenced up with deep ditches for the gardening, and gardens lay cross, and many walls, that parted them."

The Talmudists relate also these wonders of the Temple: "Ten miracles were done for our fathers in the sanctuary. No woman ever miscarried by the smell of the holy flesh; nor did the holy flesh ever stink, or breed worms; nor was there ever seen fly in the house [or place] for slaughter; nor did ever the gonorrhea happen to the high-priest on the day of expiation; nor rains put out the fire of the altar; nor the wind prevail over the pillar of smoke; nor was any profane thing found in the sheaf of first-fruits, or the two loaves (of the high-priest), or in the show-bread. They stood (in the Court) crowded" (the Gloss explains it thus, "They did so press one another by reason of the multitude, that their feet scarcely touched the ground"); "but when they worshipped, they had room enough," &c.

"All Jerusalem was Carmelith, because it was like a common court." What Carmelith is, the Lexicons will teach us, and the Gemarists in the tract Shabbath; "There are four capacities of the sabbath" (or respects of places, as walking on the sabbath), "public, private, Carmelith, and covered lobbies. R. Chaijah saith, Carmelith is a place, neither public nor private. R. Jissa, in the name of R. Jochanan, saith, Carmelith is as the shop of Bar Justini," &c.

..."R. Ismael saith, A countryman, or a villager, who takes a field from a man of Jerusalem, the second tenth belongs to the Jerusalem man. But the wise men say, The countryman may go up to Jerusalem, and eat it there." The Gloss, Kartani &c., "A Kartani is one of those that dwell in villages."

Chapter 22
The parts of the City. Sion. The Upper City: which was on the north part.

There is one who asserts Jerusalem to stand on seven hills; but whether upon a reason more light, or more obscure, is not easy to say. "The whale showed Jonah (saith he) the Temple of the Lord, as it is said, 'I went down to the bottom of the mountains': whence we learn that Jerusalem was seated upon seven mountains." One may sooner almost prove the thing itself, than approve of his argument. Let him enjoy his argument to himself; we must fetch the situation elsewhere.

"The city itself (saith Josephus) was built upon two hills, divided with a valley between, whereby, in an opposite aspect, it viewed itself; in which valley the buildings, meeting, ended."

"Of these hills, that, which contained the Upper City was by far the higher, and more stretched out in length: and because it was very well fortified, it was called by king David The Castle: but by us it is called 'the Upper Town.'"

"But the other, which was called Acra, bearing on it the lower town, was steep on both sides."

"Against this was a third hill [Moriah], lower than Acra, and disjoined from it by a broad valley. But when the Asmoneans reigned, they filled up the valley, desiring that the Temple might touch the city; and they took the top of Acra lower, that the Temple might overlook it."

Bezetha and Ophel were other hills also: of which in their place, when we shall first have taken a view of these two, Sion and Acra, and the situation of each.

It is an old dispute, and lasts to this day, whether Sion or Jerusalem lay on the north part of the city. We place Sion on the north, convinced by these reasons:--

I. Psalm 48:2: "The joy of the whole earth is mount Sion, on the north side." Where Aben Ezra hath this note; "Mount Sion is on the north side of Jerusalem": and Lyranus, "Mount Sion is in the north part of Jerusalem." The Seventy, "The mountains of Sion on the sides of the north."

Sion's fair hills stand on cold Boreas' coast. Apollinar. [Metaphr. Ps.]

II. When the prophet Ezekiel takes a prospect of the new Jerusalem in a vision,--he saith, that he stood upon "a very high mountain, near which was, as it were, the building of a city on the south," Ezekiel 40:2. On which place Kimchi thus; "He placed me upon a very lofty mountain. That mountain was the Mount of the Temple: for the Temple was to be built in a mountain, as before. And the city Jerusalem is near it on the south." And Lyranus again, after the reciting the explication of some upon that verse, and his rejecting it; "And therefore (saith he) the Hebrews say, and better, as it seems, that the prophet saw two things,--namely, the city and the Temple,--and that the Temple was in the north part,--but the city in the south part."

Behold! reader, Zion on the north part in the Psalmist, and the city on the south part in the prophet!

The things which make for this in Josephus are various, and plain enough; which nevertheless we cannot frame into arguments, before the buildings of better note in Sion, or in the Upper City, be viewed:--of which the reader must be mindful; namely, that the name of Sion, after the return out of Babylon, was grown into disuse,--but the more vulgar was, the Upper Town.

Chapter 23
The buildings of more eminent note in Sion.

We shall first take knowledge of the buildings themselves,--and then, as much as we may, of their situation.

I. The 'king's court' claims the first place in our view. Concerning which are those words, "Cestius" (having wasted the other places of the city) "came at length into the Upper City [Sion], and encamped against the king's court."

When the Romans had fired Acra, and levelled it with the ground, "the seditious rushing into the court, into which, by reason of the strength of the place, they had conveyed their goods, call away the Romans thither." And afterward: "But, when it was in vain to assault the Upper City without ramparts, as being every where of step access. Caesar applies his army to the work," &c.

II. The House of the Asmoneans, and the Xystus, or open gallery. King Agrippa calls the people of Jerusalem together into the Xystus, and sets his sister Berenice in their view, "upon the House of the Asmoneans, which was above the Xystus, in the farther part of the Upper City."

III. There was a bridge, leading from the Xystus unto the Temple, and joining the Temple to Sion. "A bridge joined the Temple to the Xystus." When Pompey assaulted the city, the Jews took the Temple, "and broke down the bridge that led thence into the city. But others received the army, and delivered the city and the king's court to Pompey."

And Titus, when he besieged the seditious in the court in the Upper City, raises the engines of four legions, "on the west side of the city, against the king's court. But the associated multitude, and the rest of the people, were before the Xystus and the bridge."

You see, these places were in the Upper City: and you learn from Josephus, that the Upper City was the same with the Castle of David, or Sion. But now, that these places were on the north side of the city, learn of the same author from these passages that follow:--

He saith plainly, that the towers built by Herod,--the Psephin tower, the Hippic tower, &c.--were on the north. "Titus (saith he) intrenched two furlongs from the city on the angular part of the wall near the Psephin tower, where the circuit of the wall bends from the north towards the west." And in the chapter next after; "The Psephin tower lifted up itself at the corner of the north, and so westward." And in the same chapter, describing the compass of the outmost wall, "It began on the north at the Hippic tower, and went on to the Xystus."--And when he had described those towers, he adds these words, "To those towers, situate on the north, was joined, on the inside, the Court." What can be clearer? The court was in the Upper City, or Sion; but the court was joined to the outmost northern wall: therefore, Sion was on the north.

Add to these, those things that follow in the story of Pompey, produced before. When the court was surrendered into Pompey's hands, "he encamped on the north part of the Temple." And of Cestius, "Being come to the Upper City, he pitched against the king's court." And a little after, "He attempted the Temple on the north side."

We shall not urge more at this time. There will occur here and there to us, as we proceed, such things as may defend this our opinion: against which what things are objected, we know well enough; which we leave to the reader to consider impartially. But these two we cannot pass over in silence, which seem, with an open face, to make against us:--

I. It may be objected, and that not without cause, that Sion was in the tribe of Judah, but Jerusalem in the tribe of Benjamin. But now, when the land of Judah was on the south part of Jerusalem, and mount Sion is to be reckoned within the lot of Judah,--how could this be, when Jerusalem, which was of the lot of Benjamin, lay between Judea and Sion?

I answer, 1. No necessity compels us to circumscribe Sion precisely within the portion of Judah; when David conquered it, not as he was sprung of Judah, but as he was the king of the whole nation.

2. But let it be allowed, that Sion is to be ascribed to Judah,--that dividing line, between the portion of Judah and Benjamin, concerning which we made mention before, went not from the east to the west; for so, indeed, it had separated all Jerusalem from all Sion: but it went from south to north, and so it cut Jerusalem in two, and Sion in two: so that both were in both tribes,--and so also was mount Moriah.

II. It is objected, that, at this day, a hill and ruins are shown to travellers under the name of Sion, and the tower of David, on the south part of the city.

I answer, But let us have leave not to esteem all things for oracles, which they say, who now show those places; since it is plain enough that they mistake in many other things: and let it be without all controversy, that they study not so much truth in that affair, as their own gain. I wish less credit had been given to them, and more search had been made out of Scripture, and other writers, concerning the situation of the places.

Chapter 24
Some buildings in Acra. Bezeiha. Millo.

Mount Sion did not thrust itself so far eastward as mount Acra: and hence it is, that mount Moriah is said, by Josephus, to be "situate over-against Acra," rather than over-against the Upper City: for, describing Acra thus, which we produced before, "There is another hill, called Acra, which bears the Lower City upon it, steep on both sides": in the next words he subjoins this, "Over-against this was a third hill," speaking of Moriah.

The same author thus describes the burning of the Lower City: "Then they fired the Archivum and Acra, and the council-house, and Ophla: and the fire destroyed unto the palaces of Helen, which were in the middle of Acra."

I. The Archivum. Whether he means the magistrates' court, or the repository of the ancient records, according to the different signification of the word, we do not determine. There were certainly sacred records in the Temple, and civil records no doubt in the city, where writings and memorials of sales, contracts, donations, and public acts, &c. were laid up. I should more readily understand this of their repository, than of the magistrates' court, because, presently after, the council-house is distinctly named.

II. Acra: that is, either the buildings, which were upon the very head and top of the mount, or some garrison or castle in the mount. In which sense that word doth not seldom occur in the history of the Maccabees, and in Josephus.

III. The Council-house. He mentions elsewhere the council, and that, as it seems, in the Upper City. For he saith, that "the outmost wall on the north began at the Hippic tower, and went forward to the Xystus; and thence, touching upon the council" (or the court), "it went onward opposite against the west walk of the Temple." The council in the Upper City you may not improperly interpret the 'Court of the King': the council-house in the Lower City, the council of the Sanhedrim, whither it went, when it departed from the Tabernae.

IV. Ophla. Ophel, Nehemiah 3:26.

There was also a fourth hill, saith the same Josephus, "which was called Bezetha, situate over-against Antonia, and divided from it with a deep ditch. Now Bezetha, if you would render it in Greek, one might call it 'The New City.'" And yet there is a place where he seems to distinguish between Bezetha and the New City: for he saith concerning Cestius, "But Cestius, passing over, set fire upon Bezetha, so called, and the New City."

Bezetha was seated on the north part of Antonia, and that and Caenopolis (or the New City) filled up that space, where Sion ended on the east, and was not stretched out so far as Acra was. "(The city), abounding with people, crept, by little and little, out of the walls: and on the north side of the Temple, at the hill, making a city, went onward not a little; and a fourth hill is inhabited, which is called Bezetha," &c.

Interpreters differ about Millo. There is one, who supposes it to be a large place, appointed for public meetings and assemblies. Another interprets it of heaps of earth, thrown up against the wall within, whence they might more easily get up upon the wall: and when David is said to build Millo, that he erected towers upon these heaps, and banks. Some others there are, who understand it of the valley or street that runs between Jerusalem and Sion; and so it is commonly marked out in the maps,--when, in truth, Millo was a part of Sion, or some hillock cast up against it on the west side.

Let that be observed, 2 Chronicles 32:5; "And he restored, or fortified, Millo, of the city of David": or, as our English reads, "in the city of David." The Seventy read, "the fortification of the city of David." When, therefore, David is said to build "Millo, and more inwards," it is all one as if he had said, 'he built on the uttermost part of Sion, which was called Millo, more inwardly to his own castle.' And Joab repaired the rest, 1 Chronicles 11:8.

The street or valley, running between Sion and Acra, was called, as if one should say, The valley or street of cheesemongers. There was also, The market of beams, which Josephus joins with Bezetha, and the New City. "Cestius (saith he) wasted Bezetha and Caenopolis, and that which is called the beam-market, with flames."

Chapter 25
Gihon, the same with the Fountain of Siloam.

I. In 1 Kings 1:33,38, that which is, in the Hebrew, "Bring ye Solomon to Gihon: and they brought him to Gihon"; is rendered by the Chaldee, "Bring ye him to Siloam: and they brought him to Siloam." Where Kimchi thus; "Gihon is Siloam, and it is called by a double name. And David commanded, that they should anoint Solomon at Gihon for a good omen, to wit, that, as the waters of the fountain are everlasting, so might his kingdom be." So also the Jerusalem writers; "They do not anoint the king, but at a fountain; as it is said, 'Bring Solomon to Gihon.'"

The bubblings up of Siloam yielded a type of the kingdom of David, Isaiah 8:6. "Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Siloah that go softly," &c. Where the Chaldee paraphrast thus; "Because this people are weary of the house of David, which deals gently with them, as the waters of Siloam slide away gently." And R. Solomon; "Siloam is a fountain, whose name is Gihon and Siloam."

II. That fountain was situated on the west part of the city, but not far from the south-west corner.

Josephus, speaking of that deep valley which runs between Sion and Acra, saith, "it is extended to Siloam; for so we call the sweet and large fountain." But now the mounts Sion and Acra, and likewise the valley that cut between them, did run out from east to west. And the same author, in the same place, speaking of the compass of the outermost wall, saith these things among others, "And thence it bends to the south behind the fountain Siloam." After the tumult raised at Jerusalem by the Jews under Florus,--the Neapolitan tribune, coming thither with king Agrippa, is besought by the Jews, "that taking only one servant, he would go about through the city as far as Siloam" (that is, from the east to the west, through the whole city): and that thence, from the peaceable and quiet behavior of the people towards him, he might perceive, that the people were not in a heat against all the Romans, but against Florus only.

III. Siloam was on the back of Jerusalem, not of Sion. Let that of Josephus be noted; "The Romans, when they had drove out the seditious from the Lower City, burnt it all to Siloam." This we therefore observe, because we may see some maps, which, placing Siloam behind Sion, do deceive here, and are deceived: when in truth it ought to be placed behind Acra. The pool, indeed, of Siloam was behind some part of Sion, westward; but the fountain of Siloam was behind Acra.

IV. It emptied itself, by a double rivulet, into a double pool, to wit, the upper and the lower, 2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 7:3. The lower was on the west, and is called 'The pool of Siloam,' John 9:7; Nehemiah 3:15. The upper, perhaps, was that which is called by Josephus, 'the pool of Solomon,' in the place lately quoted. "And thence (saith he) the outermost wall bends to the south behind the fountain of Siloam: and thence again bends to the east at the pool of Solomon." See 2 Chronicles 32:30; Isaiah 22:9,11.

V. They drew waters out of the fountain of Siloam, in that solemn festivity of the feast of Tabernacles, which they called, "The pouring out of water": concerning which the fathers of the traditions thus; "The pouring out of water, in what manner was it? There was a golden cup, containing three logs, which one filled out of Siloam," &c. The Gemarists inquire, "Whence was this custom? From thence, that it is said, 'And ye shall draw waters with joy out of the wells of salvation.'" R. Levi saith, "Why is it called The place of draught?--Because thence they draw out the Holy Spirit."

Thence, also, they drew the water that was to be mingled with the ashes of the red cow, when any unclean person was to be sprinkled.

The priests, eating more liberally of the holy things, drank the waters of Siloam for digestion's sake.

Let us also add these things; but let the reader unriddle them:--"He that is unclean by a dead carcass entereth not into the Mountain of the Temple. It is said, That they that should appear should appear in the court. Whence do you measure? From the wall, or from the houses? Samuel delivers it, From Siloam, &c. And Siloam was in the middle of the city."

Chapter 26
The Girdle of the City.
Nehemiah 3.

The beginning of the circumference was from 'the sheep-gate.' That, we suppose, was seated on the south part, yet but little removed from that corner, which looks south-east. Within was the pool of Bethesda, famous for healings.

Going forward, on the south part, was the tower Meah: and beyond that, "the tower of Hananeel": in the Chaldee paraphrast it is, 'The tower Piccus,' Zechariah 14:10; Piccus, Jeremiah 31:38.--I should suspect that to be, the Hippic tower, were not that placed on the north side, this on the south. The words of Jeremiah are well to be weighed; "The city shall be built to the Lord, from the tower of Hananeel to the gate of the corner. And a line shall go out thence, measuring near it to the hill of Gareb, and it shall go about to Goath. And all the valley of dead carcasses, and of ashes, and all the fields to the brook Kidron, even to the corner of the horse-gate on the east, shall be Holiness to the Lord," &c.

The hill of Gareb:--not that Gareb certainly, where the idol of Micah was, [Judges 17] concerning which the Talmudists thus; "R. Nathan saith, From Gareb to Shiloh were three miles, and the smoke of the altar was mixed with the smoke of Micah's idol":--but, as Lyranus, not amiss, "The mount of Calvary."

Goathah: the Chaldee, 'the calves' pool,' following the etymology of the word, from bellowing. Lyranus, Golgotha.

The valley of carcasses and ashes. The Chaldee paraphrast and the Rabbins understand this of the place where the army of the Assyrians perished: nor very subtily; for they seem to have perished, if so be they perished near Jerusalem, in the valley of Tophet, or Ben-Hinnom, Isaiah 30:33. And Jeremiah speaks of that valley, namely, the sink and burying-place of the city,--a place, above all others that compassed the city, the most foul and abominable: foretelling that that valley, which now was so detestable, should hereafter be clean, and taken into the compass of the city: but this mystically, and in a more spiritual sense. Hence we argue, that "the tower of Hananeel" was on the south side of the city: on which side also was the valley of Ben-Hinnom; yet bending also towards the east: as the valley of Kidron bent from the east also towards the north. It will be impossible, unless I am very much mistaken, if you take the beginning of that circumference in Nehemiah, for the corner looking north-east, which some do,--to interpret these words of Jeremiah in any plain or probable sense; unless you imagine that which is most false,--that the Valley of Hinnom was situate northwardly.

Nehemiah 3:3: The Seventy render it by, The fish-gate. That was also southward. Of it mention is made, Zephaniah 1:10; where the Seventy have something obscure. Many conjecture this gate was called the 'Fish-gate,' because fish were carried into the city through it: I rather, because it was the 'fish-market': as the Sheep-gate was the market for sheep. Zephaniah addeth, "And he shall howl from the second." The Chaldee reads; R. Solomon, 'from the Bird-gate': perhaps the gate, near unto which fowls were sold. Kimchi reads, 'from Ophel'; more plain indeed,--but I ask, whether more true? This Bird-gate perhaps was that which is called the Old-gate, Nehemiah 3:6.

Near the corner, looking south-west, we suppose, the fountain of Siloam was; and that, partly, being persuaded by the words of Josephus before alleged,--partly, being induced to it by reason itself. For hence flowed that fountain by the south wall eastwardly to the Sheep-gate, as we suppose; thence the river, somewhat sloping, bends towards the north into the valley, and ends, at length, in the pool of Siloam, at the foot of mount Sion.

On the west was, 1. "The gate of the valley," verse 13, being now gotten to the foot of mount Acra. And, 2. A thousand cubits thence, "The Esquiline, or Dung-gate," verse 14. And, 3. "The Fountain-gate," verse 15; not that of Siloam, nor of Draco; but another.

And now we are come to the pool of Siloam, and to the foot of Sion, whither they went up by certain steps, verse 15. The pool of Siloam was first a fountain, and a river, on the west, without the walls: but at last, Manasseh the king enclosed all, 2 Chronicles 33:14, that the city might be more secured of water, in case of a siege: taught it by the example of his grandfather Hezekiah, but more incommodious, 2 Chronicles 32:3.

The wall went forward along "burying-places of David, another pool, and the House of the strong," verse 16. And, not much after it, bended eastwardly.--And now we are come to the north side. See verses 19, 20.

At the turning of this corner, Herod built the most famous Pspehin tower, of which Josephus thus; "On the north-west corner, the admired Psephin tower lifts up itself, near which Titus encamped," &c.

There was no gate on this north side. The buildings, which were inward, are mentioned, Nehemiah 3:20-24; and the Hippic tower is mentioned by Josephus.

On the east were, 1. A tower, advancing itself in the very bending of the north-east corner. Within was the 'King's House,' and the court of the prison, verse 25. 2. The Water-gate, of which is mention, Nehemiah 12:37. 3. Ophel, and the Horse-gate, Nehemiah 3:27,28; of which mention is also made, Jeremiah 31:40. Whence was the beginning of the valley of Ben-Hinnom: which, running out below the city southward, at last bent into the west. Therefore, the Water-gate led into the valley of Kedron: but the Horse-gate into the valley of Hinnom, at that place touching on the valley of Kedron. 4. The Gate Miphkad: the Vulgar calls it, The Gate of Judgment. 5. Not far distant thence was the south-east corner. And thence a little on the south side was the Sheep-gate, whence we first set out.

Let us add the words of Josephus, describing how the outmost wall went. "It began on the north at the Hippic (or horse) tower, and extended to the Xystus (or open gallery); then touching upon the Council-0house, it ended at the east walk of the Temple. On the other side, westwardly, beginning from the same tower, it stretched along by a place called Bethos, to the gate of the Essenes; and thence it inclined to the south behind the fountain Siloam: and hence it bowed again eastwardly unto Solomon's pool, and passed on to a certain place, which they call Ophla, and joined to the east walk of the Temple."

In which words let us observe two things for the asserting the procession that we have gone:--1. That this description proceeds from the north to the west, the south, and the east. 2. That Ophla, or Ophel, lay between the south-east corner and the porch of the Temple; which cannot at all be conceived, if you begin Nehemiah's delineation at any other place than where we have. To these may be added, the situation of Siloam, of which those things, spoken in Josephus and the Scripture, can in no manner be said, if you reckon it to be near Sion.

Let us add also the processions of the choir, Nehemiah 12:31. They went up upon the wall, and went forward on the right hand to the Dung-gate, the Fountain-gate, the city of David, &c. verse 37. Let those words, "They went forward on the right hand," verse 31, be observed: which could not be, unless according to the procession which we have laid down,--if so be they went up on the wall on the inside of the wall, which it is rough and strange not to think.

The other part of the choir went on the left hand, towards the south west, and to the gate of Ephraim, and the Old-gate, and the Fish-gate, &c. verse 29. Of the gate of Ephraim nothing was said in the delineation given chapter 3. Mention also is made of it, 2 Kings 14:13; where the Corner-gate is also spoken of; concerning which, also, here is nothing said.

In Nehemiah, seems to be understood that place, where formerly was a gate of that name,--but now, under the second Temple, was vanished.

Chapter 27
Mount Moriah

"Wherefore is it called mount Moriah? R. Levi Bar Chama and R. Chaninah differ about this matter. One saith, Because thence instruction should go forth to Israel. The other saith, Because thence should go forth fear to the nations of the world."

"It is a tradition received by all, that the place, where David built an altar in the threshing-floor of Araunah, was the place where Abraham built his, upon which he bound Isaac; where Noah built his, when he went out of the ark: that in the same place was the altar, upon which Cain and Abel offered: that Adam offered there, when he was created; and that he was created from thence. The wise men say, He had the same place of expiation as he had of creation."

Mount Moriah was so seated, that "the city, in the manner of a theatre, lay about the Temple": on this side Sion, then Acra, and a little on the back of Bezetha.

The mount of the Temple (that is, the place where the buildings of the Temple were) was a square of five hundred cubits (see Ezekiel 42:16,17), compassed with a most noble wall,--and that fortified (shall I say?) with double galleries or halls, or adorned with them, or both. It went out beyond this wall, towards the north-west corner, to such a dimension,--that there the tower Antonio was built, of most renowned workmanship and story.

The whole space of the courts was hollow under-ground: "And the whole platform stood upon arches and pillars," that so no sepulchre might be made within this sacred space, whereby either the holy things or the people might gather pollution.

Chapter 28
The Court of the Gentiles. The Mountain of the House, in the Rabbins.

In the Jewish writers, it is ordinarily called "The Mountain of the house"; or the "Common Court." Hence is it, that a gate, descending hither from the Court of the Women, is called "The gate whence they go out from the Court of the Women into the Common Court." Hence the author of Tosaphtoth, "They go out by the gate leading from the Court of the Women into the Common Court. And some vessels of stone were fastened to the wall of the steps going up into the Women's Court, and their covers are seen in the Common Court."

And that, because hither the heathen might come: "Rabban Gamaliel, walking in the Court of the Gentiles, saw a heathen woman, and blessed concerning her."

And those that were excommunicated and lamented. "All that entered into the mount of the Temple, enter the right-hand way, and go about: but they go out the left-hand way: except him, to whom any accident happens: for he goes about to the left hand. To him that asks, 'What is the matter with you, that you go about to the left hand?'--he answers, 'Because I lament': and he replies to him, 'He that dwells in this temple comfort thee.' Or, 'Because I am excommunicated': and to him he replies, 'He that dwells in this house, put it into their heart to receive thee.'"

And not seldom those that are unclean. Yea, he that carries away the scape-goat might enter into the very court, although he were then unclean. "Is he polluted, who is to take away the goat? He entereth unclean even into the court, and takes him away."

"The greatest space of the Court of the Gentiles was on the south; the next to it, on the east; the third, on the north; but the least space was on the west. Of that place, where the space was greater, the use was greater also."

In the wall compassing this space were five gates: and within, joining to the wall, were "double galleries" or "halls," which yielded delightful walks, and defence also from rains.

There was only one gate eastward, and that was called, the Gate of Shushan; because the figure of Shushan, the metropolis of Persia, was engraven in it, in token of subjection. In this gate sat a council of three and twenty. At the gate, on both sides, were shops; and the whole gallery-walk, on this east side, was called "Solomon's porch."

On the south were two gates, both called the Gate of Huldah: of the reason of the name we are not solicitous. These looked towards Jerusalem, or Acra. The hall or gallery, gracing this south side, was called "The king's walk," which was trebled, and of stately building.

On the west was the gate Kiponus; haply so named from 'Coponius,' governor of Judea. By this gate they went down into Sion, the bridge and way bending thither.

On the north was the gate Tedi or Teri, of no use: for so is the tradition, "The gate of Tedi on the north was of no use." On this side was the castle Antonia, where the Romans kept guard; and from hence perhaps might be the reason the gate was deserted.

Chapter 29
Chel. The Court of the Women.

The Court of the Gentiles compassed the Temple and the courts on every side. The same also did Chel, or the Ante-murale. "That space was ten cubits broad, divided from the Court of the Gentiles by a fence, ten hand-breadths high; in which were thirteen breaches, which the kings of Greece had made: but the Jews had again repaired them, and had appointed thirteen adorations answering to them."

Maimonides writes: "Inwards" (from the Court of the Gentiles) "was a fence, that encompassed on every side, ten hand-breadths in height, and within the fence Chel, or the Ante-murale: of which it is said, in the Lamentations, 'And he caused Chel and the Wall to lament,'" Lamentations 2:8.

Josephus writes, "The second circuit was gone up to by a few steps: which the partition of a stone wall surrounded: where was an inscription, forbidding any of another nation to enter, upon pain of death." Hence happened that danger to Paul because of Trophimus the Ephesian, Acts 21:29.

"The Chel or Ante-murale" (or second enclosure about the Temple), "was more sacred than the Court of the Gentiles: for hither no heathen, nor any unclean by that which died of itself, nor who lay with a menstruous woman, might come."

"From hence they ascended into the Court of the Women by twelve steps."

On the east it had only one gate, called in the Holy Scripture, 'Beautiful,' Acts 3:2. In Josephus, the 'Corinthian' gate: saith he; "Of the gates, nine of them were every where overlaid with gold and silver, likewise the posts, and the lintels. But one, without the Temple, made of Corinthian brass, did much exceed, in glory, those, that were overlaid with silver and gold. And two gates of every court were each thirty cubits high, and fifteen broad."

On the south was only one gate also, and one on the north: and galleries; or court-walks within, joining to the wall, in the same manner as in the outer court, but not double. Before which were the treasuries placed, or thirteen chests, called by the Talmudists, Shopharoth; in which was put the money offered for the various services of the Temple; and, according to that variety, the chests had various titles written on them: whence the offerer might know into which to put his offering, according to his quality.

Upon one was inscribed, "The new shekels"; into which were cast the shekels of that year. Upon another, "The old shekels"; into which were gathered the shekels owing the last year. Upon another, "pigeons and turtles." Upon another, "The burnt sacrifice." Upon another, "The wood." Upon another, "Frankincense." Upon another, "Gold for the propitiation." And six chests had written on them, "Voluntary sacrifice."

"The length of the Women's Court was a hundred thirty-five cubits, and the breadth a hundred thirty-five cubits. And there were four chambers in the four corners of it, each forty cubits, but not roofed." See Ezekiel 46:21,22.

"At the south-east was the court of the Nazarites: because there the Nazarites boiled their thank-offerings, and cut their hair, and put it under the pot."

"At the north-east was the chamber of wood: where the priests, defiled with any spot, searched the wood, whether it was unclean by worms. And all wood in which a worm was found was not fit for the altar."

"At the north-west was the chamber of the Leprous."

"At the south-west was the chamber of wine and oil."

"On the highest sides" (we follow the version of the famous Constantine L'Empereur), "was the smooth and plain Court of the Women; but they bounded it round about with an inward gallery, that the women might see from above, and the men from below, that they might not be mingled."

In this Court of the Women was celebrated the sacred and festival dance, in the feast of Tabernacles, called the "Pouring out of Water": the ritual of which you have in the place cited in the margin.

"The Court of the Women was more sacred than the Chel; because any, who had contracted such an unclearness that was to be cleansed the same day, might not enter into it."

Chapter 30
The Gate of Nicanor, or the East Gate of the Court of Israel.

From hence they went up from the Court of the Women fifteen steps. "There were fifteen steps (saith Josephus) ascending from the partition wall of the women to the greater gate." Concerning these steps, the Talmudists, relating the custom of the dance just now mentioned, speak thus: "The religious men, and the men of good works, holding torches in their hands, danced and sang. The Levites, with harps, lyres, cymbals, trumpets, and infinite other musical instruments, stood upon the fifteen steps going down out of the Court of Israel into the Women's Court, singing according to the number of the fifteen psalms of degrees," &c.

The east gate of the Court of Israel was called the "gate of Nicanor."--"All the gates were changed to be of gold, except the gate of Nicanor; because concerning that a miracle was shown: others say, because the brass of it did exceedingly shine."

In the gate of Nicanor, they made the suspected wife drink the bitter waters; they purified the woman after childbirth, and the leper.

Of the miracle, done about the folding-doors of this gate, see Constantine L'Empereur, Middoth, p. 57, and Juchasin, fol. 65. 2, &c.: who also produceth another reason of the name, in these words: "In the book of Josephus Ben Gorion it is said, that the gate of Nicanor was so called, because a miracle was there shown, namely, that there they slew Nicanor, a captain of the Grecians, in the days of the Asmoneans: which may also be seen in the end of the second chapter of the tract Taanith."

The history alleged is thus:--Nicanor was one of the captains of the Greeks; and every day he wagged his hand towards Judea and Jerusalem, and said, "Oh! when will it be in my power, to lay them waste!" But when the Asmonean family prevailed, they subdued them, and slew him, and hung up his thumbs and great toes upon the gates of Jerusalem. Hence 'Nicanor's day' is in the Jewish calendar.

This gate was 'fifty cubits in height'; the doors contained forty cubits, and very richly adorned with silver and gold, laid on to a great thickness.

In that gate sat a council of three and twenty; as there was another in the gate of Susan.

None of the gates had (a small scroll of paper fixed to the posts), but the gate of Nicanor.

« Prev Chapters 21-30 Next »


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |