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SCRIPTURE NOTICE. “ And they journeyed from Bethel, and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath. . . . And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.”Genesis xxxv. 16—20. (xlviii. 7.)
“This is merely an ordinary Muslim Wely, or tomb of a holy person ; a small square building of stone with a dome, and within it a tomb in the ordinary Muhammedan form, the whole plastered over with mortar. Of course the building is not ancient ; in the seventh century, there was here only a pyramid of stones. The naked walls are covered with names in several languages, many of them in Hebrew.
The general correctness of the tradition, which has fixed upon this spot for the tomb of Rachel, cannot well be drawn in question, since it is fully supported by the circumstances of the scriptural narrative.
“ The Muslims keep the tomb in order ; and those of Bethlehem were formerly accustomed to bury around it. ..."-ROBINSON'S Researches, vol. i. p. 157 ; ii. pp. 322, 323.
Mr. Buckingham writes—“ In the way (from Jerusalem to Bethlehem) on the right, at a little distance from the road, is shown the reputed tomb of Rachel, which we turned off to enter. This may be near the spot of Rachel's interment, as it is not far from Ephrath, and may correspond well enough with the place assigned for her sepulchre by Moses, who says, in describing her death ... 'And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave; that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day. Instead of a pillar, the spot is now covered by a Mohammedan
building, resembling in its exterior the tombs of saints and sheikhs in Arabia and Egypt, being small, square, and surmounted by a dome.- We entered it on the south side, by an aperture through which it was difficult to crawl, as it has no doorway, and found on the inside a square mass of masonry in the centre, built up from the floor nearly to the roof, and of such a size as to leave barely a narrow passage for walking around it. It is plastered with white stucco on the outer surface, and is sufficiently large and high to enclose within it any ancient pillar that might have been found on the grave
of Rachel. This central mass is certainly different from any thing that I have ever observed in Arabian tombs; and it struck me on the spot, as by no means improbable, that its intention might have been originally to enclose either a pillar, or fragment of one, which tradition had out as the pillar of Rachel's
grave; and that as the place is held in equal veneration by Jews, by Christians, and by Mohammedans, the last, as lords of the country, might have subsequently built the present structure over it in their own style, and plastered the high square pillar within.”. BUCKINGHAM's Travels, vol. i. pp. 335—338.
THE WELL OF BETHLEHEM.
“ And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate. And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David : nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord. And he said, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it.”2 Samuel xxiii. 14, &c. (1 Chronicles xi.)
The following is an extract from Dr. Clarke's account of a well he visited near Bethlehem, which he seems to consider as identical with that of David :
“ Josephus makes allusion to a celebrated well, which, both from the account given by him of its situation, and more especially from the text of Scripture, (2 Sam. xxiii. 15,) seems to have contained the identical fountain of whose pure and delicious water we were now drinking.
“ It shall be related both with reference to the words of Scripture, and to the account given by Josephus.
1 Benjamin of Tudela describes the tomb of Rachel as being half a league from Bethlehem, built in a cross-way of twelve stones, according to the number of the children of Jacob, and covered by a dome supported by four columns. Upon the stones of this building the Jews who passed wrote their names.
David, being a native of Bethlehem, calls to mind, during the sultry days of harvest, a well near to the gate of the town, of whose delicious water he had often tasted ; and expresses an earnest desire to assuage his thirst by drinking of the limpid spring.
“And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate! The exclamation is overheard by three of the mighty men whom David led; by Adino, by Eleazar, and by Shammah. the most mighty of all the chiefs belonging to David's host, sallied forth, and having fought their way through the Philistine garrison (v. 14) at Bethlehem, drew water from the well that was by the gate, on the other side of the town, and took it, and brought it to David.' Josephus lays the scene of action in the valley, calling these renowned warriors by the names of Jessaun, Eleazar, and Sebas ; he further says, that as they returned back, bearing the water through the Philistine camp, their enemies, gazing in wonder at the intrepidity of the enterprise, offered them no molestation.
“Coming into the presence of the king, they present to him the surprising testimony of their valour and affection. David receives from their hands a pledge they had so dearly earned, but refuses to drink of water every drop of which had been purchased by their blood. He returns thanks to the Almighty, who had vouchsafed the deliverance of his warriors from the jeopardy they had encountered, and making libation with the precious gift, pours it upon the ground, an offering to the Lord.
1 That is to say, which was the price of blood. “ Is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives ?" (2 Sam. xxiii. 17.) It was contrary to the Jewish law to use anything which might be considered as the price of blood. Thus it is recorded by St. Matthew : “ The chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood."-(Matt. xxvii. 6.)
“ The ancient character and history of the early inhabitants of Judæa are beautifully illustrated by this brief record; but it presents a picture of manners which has not lost its prototype among the Arabs of the same country at this day. The well, too, still retains its pristine renown; and many an expatriated Bethlehemite has made it the theme of his longing regret. As there is no other well corresponding in its situation with the description given by the sacred historian and by Josephus, and the text of Scripture so decidedly marks its locality, at the farthest extremity of Bethlehem, (with reference to Jerusalem) that is to say, near the gate of the town on the eastern side, (for David's captains had to fight through all the garrison stationed within the place, before they reached it,') this may have been David's well.
66 It is known to travellers who have seen the wells of Greece, and of the Holy Land, that there exists no monument of ancient times more permanent than an artificial well.”—CLARKE's Travels, vol. iv. pp.
1 This appears from the context. “And the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem, and the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate,” &c. (2 Sam. xxiii. 14, 16.)
Bethlehem signifies the “ House of Bread;" and the place was likewise noted for excellent water. There Christ was born, who is the “ bread of life,” and who also gives us the “ water of life.”
_" The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.”—Note on 2 Sam. xxiii. 16, in Treasury Bible.