GREAT STONES — COSTLY STONES — HEWED STONES
WITHIN the last twenty years much valuable knowledge has been acquired as to the “Holy City,” and its, wondrous Temple, or rather Temples of Solomon and Herod, especially as to the questions of locality of the quarries whence the “great stones” were brought, and the difficulty of transporting them to their destination. The valuable labors of the Engineers of the Palestine Exploration Fund have done much towards determining the location of the quarries; indeed, it may safely be said that the long-existing doubt is solved.
The Reverend J. King, in “Recent Discoveries on the Temple Hill at Jerusalem,” devotes a chapter to “The Royal Quarries, ” from which we extract a few sentences, and advise our readers to procure the book; it is published by the Religious Tract Society. “Every traveler who makes a sojourn in Jerusalem should visit the Royal Quarries. They are vast caverns, reaching far beneath Bezetha, the northern hill on which the Holy City is built; and not only do they throw light upon the stonework of the Temple, but their vastness at once impresses the mind with some adequate idea of the gigantic character of the sacred edifices that once crowned the summit of Moriah.” “When it is remembered that nearly the whole city of Edinburgh has been built out of Craig Leith Quarry, and that many a town in England has been built of stone taken from one rock-cut excavation; when, moreover, we reflect upon the immense size of the Jerusalem quarries, we are led to the conclusion that all the stonework of the Holy City, including the Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel, and Herod, the gigantic walls of the Haram, as well as the walls encompassing the. city, have been excavated from one and the same spot, namely, from the Royal Quarries underneath the north part of the Holy City.” “There is a prevailing notion that the polished blocks of Solomon’s Temple were sent by Hiram from Lebanon or Tyre, but such a notion receives no proof either from Josephus or the Bible......Hiram sent cunning masons and stone-squarers to help Solomon’s cunning workmen to cut, square, hew, and polish the stones for the sacred edifice; but nowhere is it stated that the blocks were forwarded to Jerusalem.…Indeed, the limestone around Jerusalem is so abundant, and so excellent in quality, that it would have been folly to send stones from a distance, as well as an immense labor to have transmitted blocks, such as now appear in the Haram wall, from Phoenicia to Jerusalem.”
THE GREAT CORNER STONE
“The foundation stone at the bottom of the south-east angle [of the east wall of the Temple area] is the most interesting stone in the world, for it is the chief corner stone of the Temple’s massive wall. Among the ancient Jews, the foundation corner stone of their great sanctuary on Moriah was regarded as the emblem of moral and spiritual truths. It had two functions to perform; first, like the other foundation stones, it was a support to the masonry above; but: it had also to face both ways, and was thus a bond of union between two walls. The Bible abounds in interesting allusions to this corner stone.” “Seeing, therefore, that the corner stone is a symbol of Christ Himself, it ought to be regarded as the most interesting stone in the whole world.”
The Engineers, in order to ascertain the dimensions of this foundation stone, worked round it, and report that it is three feet eight inches high and fourteen feet in length. At the angle it is let down into the rock to a depth of fourteen inches, while the northern end seems entirely embedded in the rock. The block is further described as squared and polished, with a finelydressed face. It does not appear to have any marginal draft at the bottom, and indeed this was not necessary, as the lower part being sunk in the rock, would always be hidden from view; but the absence of the lower draft indicates that the block was dressed in the quarry in a somewhat peculiar style, with a view to its being the foundation corner stone. The draft or the upper margin of the stone is four inches wide. Fixed in its abiding position three thousand years ago, it still stands sure and steadfast, a fitting emblem of the ‘Rock of Ages,’ that cannot be removed, but abideth fast for ever.” — From “Recent Discoveries on the Temple Hill. ”