THE following from the pen of an eminent Bible historian gives quite a vivid picture of Jerusalem at the time of the advent of our Lord: 

"A thoughtful, venerable man might be seen riding slowly along the road from Hebron to Jerusalem, and at last entering the holy city. It is the aged Zacharias, a priest of the course of Abia; it has come to his turn to serve his week at the temple, for the priests of each of the twenty-four orders have to attend in succession a week at a time.

"Jerusalem is not like the Jerusalem of former times. As he passes Mount Zion, on his way to the temple, he gazes with a mournful feeling on the palace of Herod, surmounting the height where of old King David dwelt. A heavy sigh escapes him as he makes obeisance to the king, rolling in his Roman chariot; for in place of the gentle piety and fatherly benevolence of a David or a Josiah, he can read in that old wrinkled face nothing but the cruelty of an Iduniiean, and the stern shrewdness of a Roman governor. Jerusalem has been greatly improved of late, and each time that Zacharias visits it he finds some new building to admire. But in no case is his admiration unmingled with pain.

"There, along the northern brow of Zion, are the towers of Hippicus, Phasaelus, and Mariarnne, all built by Herod, the last recalling the memory of the beautiful but 'ill-fated daughter of the Maccabees, and the tragic end of the second dynasty of Jewish kings. There, guarding the temple, is the fortress of Antonia; it has lately got that name from Herod's friend and patron, Mark Antony; but how can Zacharias look on it without remembering the guilty life and sad death both of the Roman triumvir and his beautiful paramour, Cleopatra? There, near the base of Mount Zion, is the circus or hippodrome, erected, in Roman fashion, for horse and chariot racing; and yonder, in the plain to the north, are two stupendous buildings, the theatre and the amphitheatre, where Herod has begun to introduce the gladiatorial fights and other savage sports of Rome. Everything about Jerusalem has a half-foreign air. The very language is not the language of Abraham and David; the Hebrews speak a sort of mixture of Syriac and Chaldee; others talk in Greek; and the strong-built military men, with the stern, determined countenances, speak the language of distant Rome. It gives little comfort to Zacharias to receive the salutations of the precise, formal men, with the broad phylacteries, who are making long prayers at the corners of the streets, or carrying across the stately bridge that joins Zion to the temple their tithes of anise, mint, and cummin. The Sanhedrim still has control over matters of religion, and there is something imposing in the appearance of that fine hall, reared aloft on piers and arches close to the temple, where the council meets; but Zacharias cannot have much sympathy with the Hillels, and Shammais, and other great rabbins, who seem to love their own traditions so much, and the word of God so little. The temple is no doubt much improved, and these long colonnades, supported by Corinthian columns of purest marble, form noble coverings for its courts; but are not the money-changers and sellers of doves usurping a more prominent place than they ought to have in them, and giving a too mercantile aspect to the house of prayer? And where is the spirit of former times? Has the glorious old line of kings and prophets come to an end? Where is the Branch of Jesse that was to bud forth in latter days? Does not communication with Heaven now seem to be entirely broken off? Shade of Ichabod! may not thy name be seen on each stone of these proud walls?"