Jerusalem's Moat of Blood

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(The following is a narrative from 1847, from the forthcoming book by Mr. Shelomo Alfassa, "A Window Into Old Jerusalem.") This short legend of Jerusalem has been long forgotten--until now.

On the east side of Jerusalem, opposite to the side of the Mount of Olives, lies the site of the Temple, to the southeast of the present town. To the north and the west are those large buildings, which touch the Western Wall, and surrounds the site on all sides. The Jews of Jerusalem perform their evening devotions near this spot each Friday afternoon and on the eves of their high festivals; but no one dares to tread on the inner part, which is strictly guarded by the Turks. On the site of the Holy of Holies stands a splendid building erected by Solomon, dedicated to the religious solemnities of the Mussulmam.

It is said that there is here to be found a cave; the contents of which are unknown however, to this day. The Jews assert that the sacred coffer of relics is concealed here. The first Turkish rulers wished to have it examined; but when persons sent for that purpose attempted to enter, they were struck dead; and so all further researches have ceased.

The Medrass of Solomon, a building erected by that king, is the spot, where, according to tradition, the Jews established the Sanhedrin (or high Court of Justice). To this place there are two entrances; one to the north, the other to the west; the southern side is distinguished by numerous windows. The way from this building to the Temple is through an avenue of trees, surrounded by a moat. The Arabians tread this path with bare feet; as they consider the soil sacred; and to this spot they bring their dead, previous to interment, in order to protect them from the judgments of God. There is, to the west of the Temple, a trench which is called by the Arabians Bir-el-dain (trench of blood); they believe that in that trench was poured the blood of the burnt offerings. Beside this trench, tradition goes on to say, Nebusaradan, a captain of Nebuchadnezzar, caused many children, Jewish mothers and Priests to be massacred, in order to avenge the innocent blood of Zachariah, son of the Priest Jehoiada.

Outside the city, but still within the walls surrounding it, is a cave, excavated by command of King Hiskia. It is related that Zedekiah, the last King of Judah, escaped through it, in order to avoid falling into the hands of the Chaldeans. This cave is near the gate Bab-el-Amoud [Damascus Gate], and according to the assertion of some Jews, it is said to be large enough to contain a man on horseback. They say also that in it is a square room hewn out of stone, which was intended for a synagogue; and in the wall of this room was embedded a written roll of the Pentateuch; but a search there is forbidden. Through a cleft in the rock which time had caused, I could perceive something of the interior of this cave.

Jerusalem, once so flourishing and prosperous, then for along time demolished and desolate, is now inhabited by people of all climes.


[From the writing of the Jewish traveler, Israel Joseph Benjamin, 1847.]

"A Window Into Old Jerusalem"

ISBN: 978-0-9763226-5-8 (0-9763226-5-X) 6x9 inch Casebound Hardcover, 371 pgs. w/ photos

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This page contains a single entry by Shelomo Alfassa published on December 19, 2007 9:28 AM.

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