NOWADAYS travellers in the Holy Land looking for the famous place with the beautiful name, the King’s Garden, descend the bed of the Cedron or the curve of Gihon and Hinnom as far as the old well En-rogel, take a drink of the sweet living water, and stop, having reached the limit of the interesting in that direction. They look at the great stones with which the well is curbed, ask its depth, smile at the primitive mode of drawing the purling treasure, and waste some pity on the ragged wretch who presides over it; then, facing about, they are enraptured with the mounts Moriah and Zion, both of which slope towards them from the north, one terminating in Ophel, the other in what used to be the site of the city of David. In the background, up far in the sky, the garniture of the sacred places is visible: here the Haram, with its graceful dome; yonder the stalwart remains of Hippicus defiant even in ruins. When that view has been enjoyed, and is sufficiently impressed upon the memory, the travellers glance at the Mount of Offence standing in rugged stateliness at their right hand, arid then at the Hill of Evil Counsel over on the left, in which, if they be well up in Scriptural history and in the traditions rabbinical and monkish, they will find a certain interest not to be overcome by superstitious horror.
It were long to tell all the points of interest grouped round that hill; for the present purpose, enough that its feet are planted in the veritable orthodox Hell of the moderns- the Hell of brimstone and fire- in the old nomenclature Gehenna; and that now, as in the days of Christ, its bluff face opposite the city on the south and south-east is seamed and pitted with tombs which have been immemorially the dwelling-places of lepers, not singly, but collectively. There they set up their government and established their society; there they founded a city and dwelt by themselves, avoided as the accursed of God.
The second morning after the incidents of the preceding chapter, Amrah drew near the well En-rogel, and seated herself upon a stone. One familiar with Jerusalem, looking at her, would have said she was the favourite servant of some well-to-do family. She brought with her a water-jar and a basket, the contents of the latter covered with a snow-white napkin. Placing them on the ground at her side, she loosened the shawl which fell from her head, knit her fingers together in her lap, and gazed demurely up to where the hill drops steeply down into the Aceldama and the Potter’s Field.
It was very early, and she was the first to arrive at the well. Soon, however, a man came bringing a rope and a leathern bucket. Saluting the little dark-faced woman, he undid the rope, fixed it to the bucket, and waited customers. Others who chose to do so might draw water for themselves; he was a professional in the business, and would fill the largest jar the stoutest woman could carry for a gerah.