The Life of Jesus in Harmony
THE ROCKY HILLS OF PALESTINE
THE ROCKY HILLS OF JUDEA, Samaria, and Galilee made these roads very rough travel. With considerable distances separating
towns and villages, the peril of bandits was always present, even under Roman
rule, as illustrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan; and after nightfall there was often danger from wild
Similarly, on the site of the Temple itself at different periods through the thousands of years of occupation,
outcrops of rock have been leveled down, and lower portions lifted, so that the
impossible adventure of destroying the existing vast and sacred pavement and the
Moslem buildings on it would be necessary in order to arrive at even an
approximation to the original Contours.
A vital fact geographically about the hills on which Jerusalem was built lies in the curious geological formation. On the surface is a very
hard limestone with lines of flint within it. Below this brittle top is a deep
bed of beautiful white limestone, uncommonly soft before it is exposed, but
hardening when out in the air. It is easy for masons to cut out perfect blocks for
building purposes. Underneath this deep deposit of porous limestone is a third
layer. It is still of limestone, but intensely hard and impenetrable to the
movement of water.
Obviously Jerusalem, lacking, as it does, springs of water, could not have
supported a considerable population apart from the fact that this curious
geological formation made it possible to hew out stupendous cisterns in the soft,
porous limestone to which the third layer of impervious rock made a perfect bottom.
In this way the city was literally honeycombed, as it is today, with these
great water cisterns that hold in the aggregate many millions of gallons of
rainwater. The Pool of Hezekiah, the scene of one of Jesus Christ's miracles, is just such a cistern and can be seen today.
The second important and interesting result of this soft and white nature of
the middle layer of rock, together with its power to harden swiftly in the air,
is the creation of the vast quarries that run underground deep and far beneath
the surface of Jerusalem. A convincing explanation of the strange achievement
by which in the building of Solomon's Temple no sound of mallet or chisel was
heard lies in the creation, probably by Solomon, of these underground quarries where the great blocks of stone could be hewn
into exact shape without a sound being heard at ground level, and then dragged
on rollers to the surface, and on to the plateau of what became the Temple area.