The Topography Of Jerusalem. -- By: John Forbes

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 027:105 (Jan 1870)
Article: The Topography Of Jerusalem.
Author: John Forbes


The Topography Of Jerusalem.

John Forbes

The reperusal, in the third Quarterly Statement of the Palestine Exploration Fund, of the views of Lieut. Warren on the site of Mount Zion, which I had only cursorily glanced over in the Athenaeum, when on the continent this autumn, and away from my books, has set me to re-examine the Topography of Jerusalem. This subject cannot but be interesting to the countrymen of Professor Robinson, whose “Researches in Palestine,” gave the impulse to all the investigations of recent times; and I beg a little space in the Bibliotheca Sacra to assist in dispelling an error now become almost inveterate, and which, by placing Mount Zion on the southwest, instead of the northwest mountain, as advocated by Lieut. Warren, has introduced inextricable confusion into all our inquiries. The correctness of his view seems demonstrated by the happy reconciliation which it effects of all the statements in the Bible, the First Book of Maccabees, and Josephus.

Josephus’s general description of Jerusalem is as follows (Wars, v. 4.1): “The city was built, one part facing another, upon two hills, separated by an intervening valley, at which, over against each other, the houses ended. Of these hills the one bearing the upper city was much the higher, and in length more straight. The other hill, called Akra [the Citadel], and sustaining the lower city, was crescent-shaped. Over against this was a third hill [Mount Moriah], by nature lower than Akra, and formerly separated by another broad valley. But afterwards in the times when the Maccabees ruled, they filled up the valley with earth, with the view of connecting the city with the Temple; and working down the height of Akra, they made it lower, so that the Temple might appear above it.”

I would humbly submit the following inferences as strictly deducible from this description, and from our other sources of information; numbering them for the sake of distinction and ease of reference, should any of them be called in question:

1. There can be no dispute which is the higher and which the lower city; that on the southwest hill being still about eighty feet higher than the one north of it, according to the Ordnance Survey Plan.

2. There ought never to have been a question whether the Tyropœon valley after coming opposite the Temple hill turns to the west. To separate the two hills, there must have been an intervening valley. Wherever therefore its place may eventually be found, whether, as Robinson thinks, in the direction of the Jaffa gate, or farther to the north, the Tyropœon, which skirts the pseudo-Zion on the east, must have turned westward, and joined the valley on the west side of Jer...

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