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Folk-lore of the Holy Land, Moslem, Christian and Jewish, by J. E. Hanauer [1907], at

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IN Mohammedan eschatology Bâb el Khalìl figures as the Gate of Lydda where ’Isa ibn Maryam will destroy Antichrist, though some amongst the learned, for instance Abulfeda and Kemâl-ed-dìn, assert that the event will take place near the entrance to the town of Lydda, and, as a matter of fact, a well inside a small domed building situated about halfway between Lydda and Ramleh, and called "Bir es Zeybak" or the Quicksilver Well, is pointed out as the exact spot where the "Dejjâl" (lit. impostor) or Antichrist will be slain.

Just inside the gateway, and on the left-hand side after passing the portal, there are two cenotaphs in an enclosure behind an iron railing. Old jars, and tins, saddles, etc., placed beside the cenotaphs, or piled up in the corners of the open space around them, show that two "Welis" or saints are buried here. As the once existing inscriptions are now quite effaced, no one knows exactly who they were. Some think the tombs are those of the two architect brothers under whose supervision the present city

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wall was built in the early part of the sixteenth century. Others have informed the writer that the monuments mark the graves of "Mûjahedìn," or warriors of Islam, in the days either of Bûkhtûnnussur (Nebuchadnezzar) 1 or of Salah-ed-din (Saladin), while still another story relates that the "wely" buried here was a namesake and contemporary of Salah-ed-din who was in charge of the gate when the Christians besieged the city, 2 and when he fell in the battle, his severed head seized hold of his scimitar with its teeth, and kept the Christians off seven days and nights.

Concerning Nebuchadnezzar, it is related that long before the destruction of pre-exilic Jerusalem, Jeremiah or ’Ozair (Esdras), the prophet, knew him as a starving lad, afflicted with a scabby head, and covered with vermin. Having foretold his future greatness, the prophet obtained from the youth a letter of "Amân" or safety for himself and particular friends to be available at the time when the disasters predicted by the prophet should come upon the unhappy Beyt-el-Makdas. When, many years later, Jeremiah heard that the Babylonian hosts were actually on their way, he went down to Ramleh, presented the document to Bûkhtûnnussur, and claimed the protection promised. This was granted;

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b when e prophet begged that the city and Temple might also be spared, the invader said that he had received command from Allah to destroy them.

In proof of his statement, he bade Jeremiah watch the flight of three arrows which he shot at random. The first was aimed westwards, but turned in an opposite direction and struck the roof of the Temple at Jerusalem. The second arrow, which was pointed northwards, acted in the same manner, and so also did the third, which was shot southwards. The city and Temple were utterly destroyed, and the golden furniture of the latter conveyed by Nebuchadnezzar's orders to Rome (sic).

’Ozair, however, received a promise from Allah that he should be privileged to behold the restoration of Jerusalem. Passing the ruins one day, with a donkey and a basket of figs, he could not help expressing a doubt if this were possible, when Allah caused him to fall asleep for a whole century, at the end of which he was restored to life and found the city rebuilt, populous, and prosperous. The skeleton of his ass, being restored to life and covered with flesh and skin, began to bray, and was admitted into Paradise, as a reward to that one of its ancestors which had been wrongfully beaten for refusing to convey Iblìs into the ark. On beholding the resurrection of his donkey, ’Ozair was convinced that his experiences were real and that he had actually been asleep for a hundred years. He then, in obedience to the Divine command, entered Jerusalem and instructed its inhabitants in Allah's Law. The very

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spot where the prophet slept so long is shown at El Edhemìeh, north of the Holy City, in the large cave called Jeremiah's Grotto; and a story like that of ’Ozair is read in the Greek churches during the service appointed for November 4th, when the fall of Jerusalem is commemorated.

Jewish traditions state that the celebrated Hebrew poet, Rabbi Judah ha Levi, of Toledo, 1 met his death at this Bâb el Khalìl. From his earliest youth he had yearned to visit the Holy Land and city, but had been prevented. At last, in his old age, the obstacles in his path were removed. But he never entered Jerusalem. On coming up to the gate he was seized with such emotion, that he prostrated himself in the dust, and lay there weeping, heedless of danger. A band of armed horsemen came galloping towards the town. The old man neither saw nor heard them; and so rapid was their approach, that before anyone had time either to warn or rescue the aged Jew, he had been trampled to death.

Many of the orthodox Jews of Jerusalem believe that, concealed within the gate-posts, there exists a "Mezûzah," or case like those to be seen at the doorways of Jewish dwellings, placed here by the Almighty and containing a parchment upon which are written, by the finger of God Himself, the texts Deut. vi. 4-9 and xi. 13-21. In consequence of this belief

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many pious Jews, at passing in or out, touch the gate-post lightly and reverently, and then kiss their fingers.


80:1 Nebuchadnezzar and Titus are often confused by Moslem Arabs. Thus St John the Baptist's blood is said to have continued walling up like a fountain under the great altar till the Temple was destroyed by Bûkhtûnnussur, and even then not to have stopped till Bûkhtûnnussur had slain a thousand Jews.--ED.

80:2 Which, by the way, did not happen in the time of Salah-ed-din; it was the other way about.

82:1 The author of many hymns, and particularly of the elegies for the 9th day of Ab, anniversary of the death of Moses, as also of the destruction of Jerusalem, first by Nebuchadnezzar, and then by Titus many centuries later.

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