orave." The pillar has long since perished, though it existed there in the time of Moses,
but other structures have preserved the memory of the spot. The present tomb, a Saracenic
building, subsequent certainly to the Crusading times, is neither rich nor imposing, but no
sumptuous mausoleum is needed to keep in memory the grave of Rachel—beautiful, beloved,
untimely taken away. The Jews, who never accept a Christian or Moslem tradition, still pay
visits of sympathy to this spot, which, as in the case of many other Old Testament worthies,
the Moslem rulers open to Jew and Christian alike. It is mentioned by Jerome and in the
Crusading chronicles, and was visited by Maundrell two hundred years ago. We may well
recall how the prophet represents Rachel sitting weeping for her children as the long train of
captive exiles passed from the south on their way to Babylon, and note how the tomb is close
to the roadside; and then as we see Bethlehem not a mile distant we understand how aptly
the Evangelist transfers the figure to the Massacre of the Innocents by Herod.
Crossing the shallow valley from Rachel's Tomb we rapidly wind up towards Bethlehem.
There are various soil-covered heaps, the remains of ancient villages, here and there, and the
modern guide will readily point out Ramah ; but for this identification there is no good
warranty, and the name Ramah, or some equivalent, is common all over the country applied
to any ruin on a hill.
A steep ascent leads up to Beit-Lahm, " the house of flesh," a phonetic accommodation
of the ancient name Bethlehem, "the house of bread." The hillsides are irregularly scarped
with terraces sweeping round the eastern shoulder, on which are many gnarled and silver-grey
olive-trees, while many a fig-tree occupies any spare corner, and vines are trained over the
irregular walls of the terraces. Below them is a fine velvet turf, on which tethered goats are
feeding. All bespeaks a care and cultivation uncommon in Palestine, for the inhabitants of
the little town above are Christians, and till the soil with perseverance and patience unknown
to their Moslem neighbours. The loosened earth under the olive-trees is carpeted in spring
with brilliantly coloured annuals and bulbs, bewildering in their variety and dazzling in their
brightness. Most conspicuous is the gorgeous scarlet anemone, pimpernels yellow and blue,
hyacinths, and especially a lovely pink campion.
The town itself, no longer walled, is still confined within its ancient limits. There are no
suburbs, and in fact, planted on the crest of a narrow spur that projects eastward from the
central ridge and then abruptly breaks off, it has no room to expand. The white chalky
ridge crowned with the long narrow street, with various alleys on either side of it, presents us
with one of the few remaining specimens of an old Jewish city, for, excepting in the disappearance of the wall, it is probably unchanged in architecture and arrangement from what it
was in the days of David.
We can ascend to the roof of one of the houses in the main street, for the owner will
give the Western traveller a hearty welcome, and here we can take in at a glance the chief
features of the landscape. Looking eastward, the great pile of buildings, without any definite
architectural features outside, is the famous shrine of the Church of the Nativity, and the