DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—Knowing that all true reports of signs of our times are of interest to the TOWER readers, I venture to give first a short description of Jerusalem, and second a fresh letter, written by a German, Pastor Schlicht, of Jerusalem. The letter is styled thus: "Jerusalem Reviving!"
It may be well to mention, for those who are little familiar with the different names of this ancient city, that before Jerusalem became a place of residence, its sacred hill was called "Moriah" (2 Chron. 3:1), northeast of the hill Zion, and was early hallowed by God's trial of Abraham's faith. (Gen. 22:1-19.) Its most ancient name was "Salem." (Gen. 14:18; Psa. 76:2; Heb. 7:2.) Afterwards it was called "Jebus," as belonging to the Jebusites. (Judg. 19:10,11.) Several other significant names were given it: "Ariel" (Isa. 29:1,2,7); "The Holy City" (Neh. 11:1; Mat. 4:5; 27:53); "The City of David" (2 Sam. 5:7); and "The City of the Great King."—Psa. 48:2; Mat. 5:35.
Jerusalem is situated on elevated ground, south of the centre of the Holy Land, about thirty-three miles from the Mediterranean sea, and about nineteen miles from the river Jordan. From the time it was called "The City of David," according to 2 Sam. 5:6-9 (where the storming of its fortress by David is given), it also became the religious and political centre of the typical Kingdom by the divine, great King Jehovah's appointment. (1 Kings 11:36.) After the division of the tribes, "The City of David" continued for a time to be the capital of the kingdom of Judah, though several times plundered, until at length it was made "desolate" at the [R1297 : page 52] Babylonian captivity.—2 Chron. 12:9; 21:16; 25:23; 36:3,10,17-20; 2 Kings 14:13.
After seventy years of desolation, on the return of the Israelites from captivity (536 B.C.) it was rebuilt the second time (Ezra 5:2); but it did not remain long, for only a century later it was conquered by the Romans under Pompey, and plundered by Crassus, B.C. 54.
The third time it was rebuilt by Herod the Great, commencing in B.C. 20; and the city and its grand temple remained until they were taken by the Roman Titus, and totally destroyed, A.D. 70. This ancient city Jerusalem suffered in all thirty-two wars, was stormed and taken seven times, and was twice totally despoiled. Thus it has remained until recently—a "desolate" city—as Jesus, the Great Prophet, predicted: "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate;" and "Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."—Mat. 23:38; 24:2.
History tells us that the Emperor Julian, the Apostate, endeavored to rebuild the temple in A.D. 363, with the object of making void and of none effect the prophecy of Christ as above quoted; but his design was frustrated by an earthquake, and by fire bursting forth from the foundation-walls of the "thrown down" temple.
But though the "due time" for the rebuilding of the fourth temple (Ezek. 40-48) has not yet arrived, nevertheless "The City of the Great King" has been wonderfully reviving for the past sixteen years; and not only the city, but also the land, "a land [once] flowing with milk and honey."—Exod. 3:8.
"It is wonderful, and comprehensible only to those who truly believe the prophecy of the inspired Scripture; it is remarkable how the city of Jerusalem for the past sixteen years is growing in size and grandeur—a city, remember, in the midst of a rocky and for the most part unfruitful mountainous district, which, since its destruction, had nothing left of its ancient beautiful surroundings. Thus for the past eighteen centuries it had no commerce, no industry, no outward brightness, lustre and splendor. No! it had nothing of that which in general will elevate and advance a city. It has been truly a 'trodden down' city as predicted.—Luke 21:24.
"But, nevertheless, this 'desolate' city is mightily reviving, blooming up, and continually expanding. This is demonstrated by its continual, unceasing, new-arising business buildings, [R1297 : page 53] factories and dwellings. Surely this ought to be a measuring-scale of its being favored AGAIN from on high.
"The walls of ancient Jerusalem, which once enclosed all the buildings of the city, are no more, of course; and if they still remained, the enclosure would prove too small. For the past sixteen years the city is rapidly and continually expanding. Outside the ancient city wall, the school of Bishop Gobat, and the orphan asylum of Pastor Schneller, in the western district of the city, have stood for the last few years; and in that time dwellings have been arising all around them. Yes, dwelling-houses with surrounding gardens, asylums, church-buildings, business-blocks, factories, etc., are rapidly arising. It is wonderful that Jerusalem is now reviving to such an extent that from West to North there are streets from two and a half to three miles long, being filled with buildings. And notwithstanding this, the applications for dwellings and business-places are continually increasing, and the rents of these gradually rising.
"And not only is the city reviving, but the Holy Land also. For the past eighteen centuries, what the prophet Jeremiah says has been true: 'The ground is chapped, for there was no rain in the earth [land], the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.' (Jer. 14:4.) But this state of the land is rapidly changing, and is becoming as David says: 'Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly;... thou makest it soft with showers; thou blessest the springing [forth of fruit] thereof,' etc. (Psa. 65:10-13.) And more than this, we may even put the words of the prophet Jeremiah thus:—The ground is no more chapped, for there are NOW rains in the land, the plowmen are no more ashamed, and do not need to cover their heads any longer—for the favor of Jehovah is causing the city of Jerusalem to revive!"