We shall first take knowledge of the buildings themselves,--and then, as much as we may, of their situation.
I. The 'king's court' claims the first place in our view. Concerning which are those words, "Cestius" (having wasted the other places of the city) "came at length into the Upper City [Sion], and encamped against the king's court."
When the Romans had fired Acra, and levelled it with the ground, "the seditious rushing into the court, into which, by reason of the strength of the place, they had conveyed their goods, call away the Romans thither." And afterward: "But, when it was in vain to assault the Upper City without ramparts, as being every where of step access. Caesar applies his army to the work," &c.
II. The House of the Asmoneans, and the Xystus, or open gallery. King Agrippa calls the people of Jerusalem together into the Xystus, and sets his sister Berenice in their view, "upon the House of the Asmoneans, which was above the Xystus, in the farther part of the Upper City."
III. There was a bridge, leading from the Xystus unto the Temple, and joining the Temple to Sion. "A bridge joined the Temple to the Xystus." When Pompey assaulted the city, the Jews took the Temple, "and broke down the bridge that led thence into the city. But others received the army, and delivered the city and the king's court to Pompey."
And Titus, when he besieged the seditious in the court in the Upper City, raises the engines of four legions, "on the west side of the city, against the king's court. But the associated multitude, and the rest of the people, were before the Xystus and the bridge."
You see, these places were in the Upper City: and you learn from Josephus, that the Upper City was the same with the Castle of David, or Sion. But now, that these places were on the north side of the city, learn of the same author from these passages that follow:--
He saith plainly, that the towers built by Herod,--the Psephin tower, the Hippic tower, &c.--were on the north. "Titus (saith he) intrenched two furlongs from the city on the angular part of the wall near the Psephin tower, where the circuit of the wall bends from the north towards the west." And in the chapter next after; "The Psephin tower lifted up itself at the corner of the north, and so westward." And in the same chapter, describing the compass of the outmost wall, "It began on the north at the Hippic tower, and went on to the Xystus."--And when he had described those towers, he adds these words, "To those towers, situate on the north, was joined, on the inside, the Court." What can be clearer? The court was in the Upper City, or Sion; but the court was joined to the outmost northern wall: therefore, Sion was on the north.
Add to these, those things that follow in the story of Pompey, produced before. When the court was surrendered into Pompey's hands, "he encamped on the north part of the Temple." And of Cestius, "Being come to the Upper City, he pitched against the king's court." And a little after, "He attempted the Temple on the north side."
We shall not urge more at this time. There will occur here and there to us, as we proceed, such things as may defend this our opinion: against which what things are objected, we know well enough; which we leave to the reader to consider impartially. But these two we cannot pass over in silence, which seem, with an open face, to make against us:--
I. It may be objected, and that not without cause, that Sion was in the tribe of Judah, but Jerusalem in the tribe of Benjamin. But now, when the land of Judah was on the south part of Jerusalem, and mount Sion is to be reckoned within the lot of Judah,--how could this be, when Jerusalem, which was of the lot of Benjamin, lay between Judea and Sion?
I answer, 1. No necessity compels us to circumscribe Sion precisely within the portion of Judah; when David conquered it, not as he was sprung of Judah, but as he was the king of the whole nation.
2. But let it be allowed, that Sion is to be ascribed to Judah,--that dividing line, between the portion of Judah and Benjamin, concerning which we made mention before, went not from the east to the west; for so, indeed, it had separated all Jerusalem from all Sion: but it went from south to north, and so it cut Jerusalem in two, and Sion in two: so that both were in both tribes,--and so also was mount Moriah.
II. It is objected, that, at this day, a hill and ruins are shown to travellers under the name of Sion, and the tower of David, on the south part of the city.
I answer, But let us have leave not to esteem all things for oracles, which they say, who now show those places; since it is plain enough that they mistake in many other things: and let it be without all controversy, that they study not so much truth in that affair, as their own gain. I wish less credit had been given to them, and more search had been made out of Scripture, and other writers, concerning the situation of the places.